BARE AND FREE
|Volume 26, Number 2||2014 June|
In this Issue
Days To Remember
Brief Membership Meeting June 29
There will be a brief membership meeting after the June picnic to elect someone as Recording Secretary, to fill the vacancy when Paul leaves. Members are invited to stick around for the board meeting that follows, as we nail down plans for our Open House. Because of the meetings, we will eat at 1:00, and meet at 2:00. Paul is hosting the picnic.
When we scheduled the membership meeting, we thought we might have to debate a $15 dues increase to pay for renting a storage space. (Club equipment too valuable to leave at the lake has for years been stored in Paul's attic, and the club library rests in Grant's storage space. Both of those places will no longer exist.) Fortunately, Jim O. has agreed to store our equipment, and Wendy will store our library. Thanks to their generous offers, we do not have to discuss a dues increase
Celebrate National Nude Weekend July 11-13
National Nude Weekend begins with our Full-Moon Skinny-Dip on Friday night. With new lights on our volleyball field, a midnight challenge just might happen. And of course there will be s'mores and good times around the campfire. Camping is available throughout the weekend.
Sunday is our annual Open House. Admission is free for everyone. (The full- moon swim is also free, but Saturday is not.) Light refreshments will be served. Sunday's unusual dress code is:
Visitors are invited to come whenever they feel comfortable, and stay as long as they want.
Because this is an election year, we are again inviting local political candidates to come and meet our members during the clothed hour. (We were the first nudist club in the nation to do this, back in 1994.) We understand that nudists don't like to wear clothes, but we encourage you to come at 10:00 to impress politicians with our numbers, and get some informal face-to-face talk with the candidates.
And we are cleaning out our surplus material. Old nudist magazines, some in storage for years, will be on sale for the last time. We are selling the latest AANR park guides and TNS world beach guides for just $3. And donated surplus equipment, T-shirts, and towels are available for a slight donation. This will be your last chance, so bring money. (That's another reason to come early when you will have pockets.)
Catching Up on Old News
It's been a while since we issued a newsletter. At our Annual Business Meeting, the bylaw amendment passed, and we elected these officers:
A few weeks later, at our College Greek Athletic Meet, Nancy of FSU took the crown for female athlete, and Robert of TCC earned the male non-athlete wreath. Non students Andrew and Helena placed first in the male athlete and female non- athlete divisions.
Flooding in early May meant we couldn't quite complete the new High Ridge Trail connecting the sandy field with the beginning of the Nature Trail. We plan to make that part of the bicycle course during the Trynudethon in September. When the ground is dry, we need to complete the route. Jim P., Paul, Steven H., Bruce K. and Doug all worked on the project. Paul observed, "Whenever there's physical work to be done, you can always depend on the old men to do it."
This year, we tried moving our Sinkhole Tour to May, and it was lightly attended. We may try again later if enough people express interest. Special thanks go to Dustin for taking over leadership on sudden notice.
Our Greek Athletic Movie Shows In India
The last week of February, Paul attended an academic conference of the Indian Society for Greek and Roman Studies in New Delhi. There he did a slide presentation of the contents of his planned book on the Gymnosophists, or Naked Philosophers Alexander the Great met in India. Because the attendees were deeply interested in ancient Greece, Paul took along our College Greek Athletic movie. But nudity is highly censored in Indian movies, and conference organizers could not get permission to make our movie an official part of the program. So it was screened an hour-and-a-half after the conference formally ended. Except for the discrete beginning of Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia, there is no other movie known that shows naked athletes competing in the Greek games.
Paul stayed on in India for another week, during which he met with national nudist leaders in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay.) He showed the movie to them too.
We carefully guard the privacy of our "movie stars." Though others may watch the film, only participants may own a copy.
How to Recognize a Hostile Takeover
by Paul LeValley
I have finally finished retiring 50 years after I started teaching. I am moving to Cypress Cove, in a house a block from the American Nudist Research Library. I plan to be a volunteer librarian in my dotage. My intended departure in late July may be delayed, depending on the sale of my house in Tallahassee.
For years, we have heard rumors about a group of disgruntled former members waiting for the day I leave, so they can come back and turn this into a sex club. I never believed the rumors, because I know a lot more people than me will speak up for standards, and protect what we have all built together.
I wrote the following advice a long time ago. But in thirteen years, no national nudist or naturist magazine would publish it, because they didn't want to admit there could ever be bad nudists. I would be remiss if I did not pass on to you some of what I have learned:
There are times in the history of every organization when a change in leadership can bring new vitality. People with fresh energy can build on the foundation carefully laid by leaders who have gone before. But that's not what we are talking about here. Today's topic is a scorched-earth campaign to gain control—even if it means destroying the work of years. Yes, such things do occasionally happen, even among nice people like naturists.
Tallahassee Naturally has experienced two such attempts at an unfriendly takeover by fellow-nudists with a different agenda. The first attempt occurred in 1992, and the second followed nine years later in 2001. Because so much time had passed since the earlier disturbance, few of the later leaders had been through that experience. But those who remembered were astounded at the similar sequence of events. We even took to predicting (quite accurately) what the next outrageous step would be. We couldn't stop things from happening, but we could recognize the pattern.
First Danger Sign: Low attendance at meetings. Unlike AANR resorts which are most commonly owned by a single proprietor, Naturist groups almost always organize as co-operative democracies. And democracies work only when everybody takes an active part. Low attendance at meetings may be a silent vote of confidence that the current leaders will always do the right thing. But if only a dozen people show up for an election, that makes it easy for a small group to stack the meeting and take over.
Second Danger Sign: Someone actually wants a job. At this point, trouble has become, not a potential, but an actual threat. For most of twenty-eight years, we have gotten wonderful service from people who reluctantly took their turns as officers of the organization. Only twice have people nominated themselves, and they both turned out to be argumentative disasters. Beware of anyone who campaigns for the job. Beware of people who have little life outside the club, for they lack balance and perspective. And never, ever vote for a person who utters the word, "power." Anyone who sees our tiny organization as a power base is a small person, indeed.
Third Danger Sign: Board members nominate their friends. From the beginning, we wisely insisted that only one member of a married or social couple could serve on the board at a time. You can't have effective decision-making if two of the board members are more concerned about keeping peace at home. (I also know of a club that elected a husband as president, and his wife as treasurer; they signed the money out of the bank, and ran.) A well-balanced board has someone to speak up for each different age, sex, race, economic class, and political philosophy. You lose valuable input and judgement when people fill the board with like-minded friends. And it leads directly into the next step:
Fourth Danger Sign: Cliquishness. Now you are in deep trouble. Clique members huddle frequently. Because they talk only with each other, they lose touch with reality. Fortified with constant approval by the only people who matter to them, they have no idea when their ideas become outrageous.
Fifth Danger Sign: Government by surprise. Everything is decided in a pre-meeting of the clique. There is no need for deliberation at the actual meeting because "everybody" agrees (except of course the other board members who had no idea the topic was even going to come up). The majority trample over the minority—with or without letting them speak. From the beginning, our club has operated on consensus rather than majority rule: we have to keep working until we find a solution everybody can live with. But in times of hostile takeover, consensus government gets completely ignored.
Sixth Danger Sign: Gossip. Small enclosed communities such as landed resorts always run the risk of becoming gossip mills. In a more open organization, the same thing can happen within a clique. Character assassination becomes a tool. Such stories repeated enough times in the same circle hardly need facts to sound like self-evident truth.
Seventh Danger Sign: "Nobody cares." The circle tightens. The usual willing volunteers get cold-shouldered out of the way, and the clique find themselves doing more and more of the work. They conclude that nobody else cares. And since nobody but themselves really care, the board should assume leadership and dictate to the rest of the club. After all, they were elected to lead.
Eighth Danger Sign: Refusal to call a membership meeting. In our club, the members, not the board, have the final say-so. Though the board is entrusted with the details of daily operation, good boards like to call membership meetings every once in a while to keep everybody involved. But request a membership meeting when a clique is in power, and you will see stonewalling like never before.
Ninth Danger Sign: Bending the bylaws. Members of the clique grumble increasingly about too many rules getting in their way. In a search for loopholes, they concoct bizarre ways to maneuver around club regulations and precedents.
Tenth Danger Sign: Abandoning national standards. Just as the clique find the bylaws inconvenient, they also begin to find national standards a burden they would prefer to be free of. They especially dislike The Naturist Society's insistence that speaking up for standards is everybody's business—not just the privileged officers. Individual renewals of national memberships slow to a trickle.
Eleventh Danger Sign: Strange alliances. Actually, this one could happen at any point in the process, but surely by now. As the clique hunker down in an us-vs.-them mentality, they rationalize that the enemies of their enemies are their friends. They seek out people who might have been slightly miffed about something else two or three years ago. Longtime antagonists suddenly become bosom buddies. Kid-haters suddenly blossom as champions of family values. Gay-bashers begin to explore their own dubious sexuality. Conservative couples decide that swingers might not be so bad after all. But never fear; the clique will turn savagely on their new friends as soon as the present crisis is past.
Twelfth Danger Sign: Attempted expulsion. By now, the clique have compiled a long enemies list—namely anyone who has spoken the truth. The move to expel someone will come without warning, and with such a claim of emergency as to allow no time for due process. And having acted, the clique will think it is over, and will move on to making life miserable for their perceived enemies number 2 and number 3.
But of course, it is not over. It has finally boiled over into a crisis that can be straightened out only by a full membership meeting. Getting out the vote is important for that meeting. If asked, long-time members that you haven't seen for years will come out of the woodwork to make sure that justice is done. The clique will, of course, be totally dumbfounded because they thought that "everybody" agreed with them and that nobody else cared.
We have both times managed to stop the process at this point. And both times, the clique stomped out in a huff. Don't be surprised if they try to organize a rival group. But don't worry much: they have nothing to offer but their own bitterness—a sure turn-off for any possible new recruits.
A few people will have won. A few sore losers will have gone home mad. No real loss there. The big loss will come at renewal time when large numbers of really nice people in the middle decide they no longer want to be part of a quarrelsome group. In our experience, the first clique reduced a group of 77 down to 32 renewals. Most of the fine people who left never came back. The second clique ran an organization of 131 down to 29 who were willing to renew. Again, few of the nice but disgusted people ever returned. A small handful of angry people can destroy a lot in a short time; it takes at least two or three years of dedicated effort—sometimes much longer—to rebuild the numbers and the goodwill.
This analysis was written thirteen years ago. I have been waiting until we could report a happy ending. But there is no happy ending to report. Old-timers stepped up to get the club back on course, and we have enjoyed thirteen peaceful years. Yet membership remains only half of what it was before. We hear that other clubs have also lost membership, so there may be other factors at work, as well. The good news is that the leaders of both coup attempts eventually came back as good club members. They were not bad people at heart.
[Editor's note: The opinions expresed are those of the author. The author is a member of the Tallahassee Naturally Board—but is not here speaking for the board, but in his own right.]
For five consecutive months, someone or something from our club made news in the AANR Bulletin. In January, the newspaper compiled a short calendar of exciting events that included our College Greek Athletic Meet and the Trynudethon. February saw the first installment of Paul's new column on nudist-friendly family-friendly movies. In March came the announcement of our Greek Athletic Meet. That same month, the Florida regional newsletter published a story on our strengths in attracting young people and working with politicians—which was reprinted in the April Bulletin. Then in May, came the second of Paul's movie review columns.
AANR has slightly raised its student rate to $15. Paul was behind getting the original student rate of $12.50 many years ago. It was based on the cost of mailing The Bulletin, so the increase is understandable. The student rate is available up to age 25. Anyone 29 or under can join AANR for $29.
Surprising news: Sunnier Pines over toward Pensacola has closed after three years. They were former residents of Sunburst Resort when it went clothed. Like us, Sunnier Pines operated on rented land. But they could not break even financially, so they closed
A nineteen-year-old woman in Jacksonville has started a petition for a nude beach there. The mayor is completely opposed, citing the usual arguments that nude beaches are somehow not good for families, and that less-than-beautiful people might attend. The enterprising young woman is not part of the local non-landed club, but they have gotten behind her effort. Northeast Florida Naturists do mostly house parties, and so have had to limit their numbers. There is a waiting list to get in.
Meanwhile in south Florida, nudists have launched a well co-ordinated effort to get official recognition of the ongoing nudity at a beach near New Port Richy. This is not nearby MacArthur Beach, donated to the state by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for continued nude use—an agreement the state has always refused to honor.
If you see puddles in our driveway, stay in the track. It has a solid gravel foundation—unlike the soft shoulders, where you will make a mess that we have to rake smooth before we can mow the grass.
Single men especially, remember the club in your will or as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. You can discuss details with Paul.
The lake opens at noon on Friday, the 4th of July.
© 2014 Tallahassee Naturally