From the President

(YYYY-MM From the President: Title)
 

2022-10 From the President | Programming modalities and mobility

After the long pandemic shutdown, many of us were excited to once again attend an in-person UMRA luncheon and forum in May. Zoom is great, but it can’t fully duplicate the experience of gathering in person—the table chats, the hallway conversations, the fun of meeting interesting new people. In person, you can experience nuance and serendipity to a much greater extent than you can when you are meeting virtually.

Nevertheless, we heard from several UMRA members who have appreciated our Zoom programming. We heard from people who don’t live in the area (either year-round or as snowbirds), and we heard from people who would rather avoid trekking into the Campus Club for forums in mid-winter. We also heard from members who live locally but whose circumstances limit their mobility—including some who have significant caretaking responsibilities and others whose physical condition limits their own ability to get around.

So, what to do going forward? How should we program for our diverse membership?

The UMRA Board has concluded that our 2022–23 monthly programs should be a mix of in-person and virtual events. Our forums, focused on things happening in the world around us, will be in-person luncheon meetings at the Campus Club—except for January and February, which will be virtual forums via Zoom. Our monthly workshops, focused on wellness, both broadly defined and with some topics of particular interest to those with health issues, will all be Zoom webinars. In addition, we will continue to look at putting on social events like our August summer social and September Mississippi riverboat cruise.

I’m pleased with this planned mix, but I wonder whether we could be doing more for those with limited mobility. Specifically, can we find new ways to help these members experience the camaraderie and fellowship of in-person interaction with fellow UMRA members?  

One possibility could be a luncheon venue with close parking that doesn't involve a long trek like the one from the East River Road Parking Garage to the Campus Club. Perhaps we should also pursue an idea proposed by my friend and longtime UMRA leader Earl Nolting: having neighborhood get-togethers specifically for older members and those who find moving around challenging. What do you think?

—Ron Matross, president, r-matr@umn.edu

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