Monthly Letter from Greg (CSA board chair) to all CSA members
November 17th, 2016 • Fort Collins, Colorado
Dear CSA Community,
For this monthly message, allow me for a moment to step outside of my volunteer role as chair of the Citizen Science Association Board of Directors and into my other role as founder and director of CitSci.org. The CitSci.org platform has as its mission providing comprehensive online support for citizen science projects globally. A core value of the CitSci.org team is providing free services to help people – especially the inspirational folks who champion innovative citizen science projects that generate important impacts and outcomes for science, society, participants, and the world. Yet – as an ecologist – I understand fully the basic tenet that ‘there is no free lunch’ underpinning most ecological dynamics, relationships, and phenomena. It takes resources in the form of energy expenditure to acquire food, for example. Thus, just as so many open source software applications have done, we at CitSci.org continue to wrestle with how we can provide free services while at the same time advancing features and building customized platforms that allow our organization to succeed over the long-term.
One way to combat this basic ecological tenet is to team up – to bring in the talents, resources, and expertise of your entire village. This approach is very familiar to those of us involved in citizen science. Our project champions on CitSci.org are testament to this notion, for example, and often pull off hugely successful projects on a shoe string by leveraging their network and forming teams. This – to me – is the very exciting thing about citizen science – how we help each other succeed through collaboration.
Last week, we announced that CSA will soon introduce membership dues. Since its inception in 2014, this organization has run nearly entirely on volunteer effort. However, to provide our growing membership with support and services that will help us meet our collective goals, we need to generate a basic operational budget. Establishing paid membership dues is one mechanism the board has determined that should be implemented and tested to help realize this goal. The first year of this new strategy – estimated to open for paid members in January, 2017 – will be a trial period, allowing us to assess pros and cons as well as the fit of benefits provided. Some of the services we already offer will continue to be free to everyone (see, for example, our open access journal). Others – many of which will be new or enhanced- will require membership. We envision a world in which people understand, value and participate in science, and look forward to working towards that with your support. Thanks for being part of our village and team.
Sincerely, Greg Newman