2022-03 From the President: Finding our way forward

In my circle of family and friends, where there was once agreement on what is safe behavior in the pandemic, there is now more clamor. COVID case numbers and positivity rates are declining, and we all want to spend time together again. But, while we each look at the same data from the Minnesota Department of Health, we take away very different conclusions about what to do with it. In my book club, for example, of people who have been meeting every month for 30-plus years, I’ve been surprised by the very divergent opinions about when it’s safe enough to meet again around each other’s dining tables.

We need to understand both the objective public health data and the reality that these decisions are very personal. That is what prompted the UMRA Board to survey our members to get a snapshot of where you stand at this time regarding when to resume UMRA’s in-person luncheon forums. Thank you to President-elect Ron Matross, who developed the survey, and to all who responded! 

The aggregate picture provided by the survey was clear: of all the members who replied, only 16 percent said they would be likely to attend an in-person forum in March. The respondents’ comments on the survey helped to round out the picture. Thus, your board has made the call to continue using the Zoom format for our monthly forums, at least through March.

The requirements for securing our reservations at the Campus Club and giving timely communication to our members means that we will need to continue to anticipate decisions eight-plus weeks in advance. Thanks to the good work of the Transition Task Force [see UPDATE], the resulting preparations by the Program Committee, and the nimble minds of the technical production team for our forums, we are well positioned to move to in-person forums when the time is right. 

The UMRA Board will return to this question as often as we need to until we find our way forward through the clamor and are meeting each other in person again. 

—Jan Morlock, UMRA president, jam@umn.edu