Well, I hope I didn't raise expectations to high in regards to what was required of the next CAMRA YVR prez because, as it turns out, I am that person.
Talk about setting myself up!
When I wrote that post, I had no idea I would be filling the position. Being named president comes as a bit of a surprise to tell the truth. Being nominated didn't surprise me because I had let the remaining executive know I was interested, but I was sure that there would be strong competition from multiple others. There are some strong leaders in the Vancouver craft beer community, many of which I thought might like to put their stamp on CAMRA YVR during this exciting period of growth. In the end, I am not in the position because I was the best person, or convinced the executive and the membership I was the right person, I am there because I was the only person who, when asked to accept a nomination, responded with a "yes". But at this point, it does not matter how I got there, only that I am now in a position to make a direct difference working with the executive on behalf of the CAMRA YVR membership.
I am a little nervous about how it will all go, especially at the start. It is always hard joining a team in mid-season but due to the fact I have been actively involved in the Advocacy and Policy Meetings and am good friends with Martin, I have some idea what I am walking into. I do have strong opinions and tend to voice them more often than not, just ask my wife. But, I believe years of experience being in leadership roles has taught me to be open, flexible and to listen to others, even if their ideas and beliefs are not in sync with my own.
Many of my thoughts about what CAMRA should and could be here in Vancouver and in the bigger picture, BC, are similar to Martin's. I think the biggest similarity is that both of us feel that the membership has to be active, involved and engaged in the actual advocacy and education portion of CAMRA's mandate. Supporting craft beer and real (cask) beer is as easy as buying and consuming it, but advocating and lobbying for changes to the status quo here in BC regarding the liquor industry, specifically how it relates to the consumers of craft beer, will be arduous and tedious work. It takes energy, focus, careful strategy and numbers, as in a substantial enough amount of people to make the politicians take notice.
I am a believer that CAMRA Vancouver needs to continue to grow and must become more focused and active as an advocacy consumer group to be effective. I would like to see CAMRA Vancouver executive continue to move in the current direction of trying to motivate and activate its membership. I would also like to see CAMRA Vancouver working in concert with CAMRA BC and the other CAMRA chapters in this province to formulate a plan and create one strong voice that cannot be ignored.But before CAMRA can become an effective and successful consumer advocacy group in this province, it must increase its membership, develop political connections and insert itself into the political realm. Organizing beer festivals, beer bus trips and securing 10% discounts at local establishments are activities that CAMRA should continue to carry out for their membership but I feel CAMRA here in BC can be much more than that and can actually effect positive change for the craft beer consumers of BC. CAMRA can set standards and be leaders in the local craft beer community, being proactive instead of reactive & passive. Craft beer consumers deserve to be acknowledged, considered and should not just accept the status quo, unless of course, they are satisfied with the status quo. If the membership is not willing to do so, then CAMRA YVR will never been seen by outsiders as more than a beer appreciation group for beer snobs and beer geeks.
Unfortunately, many do hold this perception of our group and CAMRA must change this perception. The membership needs to continue to grow and, in fact, I believe this is key as those who are in position politically to effect change to our liquor laws and taxation will take notice quicker if CAMRA's numbers are in the thousands as opposed to the hundreds. At times, I think that those in the craft beer scene lose sight of the fact that they are a distinct minority and there are many among those who love craft beer here in this city who are not CAMRA members, many by choice. CAMRA must work hard to try to enlist these folks to join the cause and must work even harder to try to introduce those outside the craft beer scene into the fold and encourage them to join CAMRA to try to effect the changes we all want to see.These are some of the ideas I have in regards to CAMRA here in BC and CAMRA YVR in particular. Time will tell in regards to how well my ideas, hopes and wishes for the group melds with those of the membership and the existing executive already in place. In the end, it is not about me and what I want, but about what the membership wants. If it turns out that there is no will to go beyond organizing festivals and going to cask nights to socialize, my time as president may be short and I will move on to do what I do.
Having said all that, we have to remember that this is about craft beer. We are not charged with curing cancer, stopping world hunger or initiating world peace. We all have families, friends and lives out in the real world and must always remember to maintain that balance. What CAMRA is doing is important, but should be kept in perspective in regards to what we hold dear in our lives. Along those lines, I will continue to blog as I enjoy the process of looking into issues, researching, writing and advocating. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you can continue to expect the same erratic, all-over-the-map approach. When I started doing this, I had no idea what blogging was really about...many will say I still don't.
So, the journey as prez begins. Please feel free to let me know what it is you would like to see happen for CAMRA YVR. If you are not a member, please consider joining up and getting involved. Together we can make our voice be heard.
And remember, advocating, effecting change are better enjoyed with a great craft beer in hand.