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Come and Try Square Dancing

January 19, 2009

The Wild Frontier Square Dance Club is offering non square dancers the chance to come and try on sunday 22nd March 2:00PM to 6:00 PM

See the advertisement below or go to http://wildfrontiersquaredanceclubinc.com/learn/ for additional information.

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The Traveling Hoedowners Offer Free Websites

January 3, 2009

Today a web presence is a practical necessity. A website gives you a central place to keep the key information about your club. This enables visitors to your area to find you and dance at your club.

The author is part of a group dedicated to the promotion of square dancing, The Traveling Hoedowners, and we can support a free basic webpage for your club requiring no web skills on your part.

We have allocated space for club websites under www.squaredancesites.com. If your club does not have a website and would like one, the author is willing to create a simple site for you under that domain.

You will need to supply basic information: your club’s name, your dance location, when you dance and at what level, and contact information (at least one contact name with an email address or phone number or both). If you have several contacts (president, caller, raid leader, etc.), I can list them all. Your site will be much more attractive if you supply a couple of photos for the site – a dance in progress is always nice, or a photo of your caller or officers. There will be no cost to you of any kind, but any website will have, at the bottom of the site, a graphic and a link to the Traveling Hoedowners’ homepage.

Send this information to: websites at travelinghoedowners dot com (modify syntax before use)

There are some caveats – this free service is primarily to help people find you; it is not suitable for general communications with your membership. Obviously you will need changes made (a new president, a new location, new dance times) but please keep edit requests to a minimum. Mistakes are inevitable and it is up to you to check the site and report errors. If you are unhappy with this free service your only recourse is to ask me to take your site down.

It is my sincere hope that eventually you will decide to take control of your website and will host and edit it on your own, at which time, if you supply the needed information, your site on squaredancesites.com will simply refer visitors to your new site.

These sites will be maintained on a best effort basis only. Further, we reserve the right to refuse a listing on our domain for any reason and may shut down at any time. This is a free service to promote square dance clubs ... nothing more.

Michael A. Craft - The Traveling Hoedowners

Dancing Alone

January 3, 2009

The steady erosion in Square Dance membership is of concern to us all. In doing research into ways to fight the trend, I discovered that Robert D. Putnam, a political scientist at Harvard University, has studied a more general form of the problem and has produced several books on the topic. His “Bowling Alone” was published in 2000 and offers considerable insight into the problem.

I here draw attention to several points extrapolated from his popularly published, but nonetheless quite detailed and semi-scholarly, work.

In the first place, we (square dancers) are not alone. Virtually all forms of communal activities (visiting with friends, voting, bowling in leagues, attending church, belonging to the Knights of Columbus, Parent-Teacher organizations, NAACP, and so on) follow similar patterns. With appropriate scale adjustments, most participation metrics graphed over time look something like this (the membership metric is intentionally unspecified):

Activity Participation Graph

Activity Participation Graph

The great depression set back participation but after WWII there was a steady rise until the late 1960s or so; from then on we have seen a steady decline in participation. People will often claim membership in various organizations, but non-participatory membership is not of interest here (most people who “belong” to Greenpeace simply pay dues).

Putnam believes, but indicates these are his estimates, that the important elements leading to the steady decline in communal activities are, in rough order of importance:
1. Generational change – the replacement of a civic generation by less involved children and grandchildren. It strikes me that this simply begs the question – why is one generation less involved than the next? However, he lists it as a reason for the decline.
2. Pressures of time and money, especially with two career families now being the norm; this is one way today’s generation differs from earlier generations in an important way.
3. Electronic entertainment, especially television.
4. Suburbanization and commuting (urban sprawl).

Putnam says that these factors together are far from sufficient to answer the whole question; there are important missing pieces.

One of the brightest spots in his book, offering a powerful argument when we recruit, is the powerful and well documented health benefits of participation – even in organizations that have no exercise component.

What follows is a statistical result, but Putnam makes plausible arguments for causation; for details on the studies that reached this and similar conclusions you’ll need to look at his writings.

As a rough rule of thumb, if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half (!). The connection of health and social capital persisted even when the studies took into account social class, race, gender, smoking, drinking, obesity, lack of exercise, and (significantly) health problems. Further, people who developed health problems did better, and appeared to respond better, when they had social connections.

Improve your life – make friends – square dance.

by Michael A. Craft - The Traveling Hoedowners

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