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Old Englewood Village Association
home : features : old englewood village association
July 26, 2021

7/9/2021 1:43:00 PM
Informational Overload

Todd Tracy

By now, it is too late to say Happy Independence Day, suggest a family barbecue recipe, a favorite firework, or share a secret Englewood location to watch the annual display. Instead, I would like to take advantage of the holiday’s afterglow by reminding us all that our spirit of independence is just as important today as it was on July 4th, 1776.   
Independence means many things to many people. For some, it is challenging complicated political or social structures. For others, it is finance, mobility, moving out of mom and dad’s basement or dropping a cable subscription. For this story, I would like to focus on what I believe is one of this generation’s biggest independence challenges, information.
What inspired this line of thought was a recent debate at an Old Englewood Village Association (OEVA) meeting where we discussed “adding value to our members”. Value, like truth, is very subjective in this age, so the conversation was interesting. Some suggested that we as a community organization had an informational responsibility to our memberships, even the public at large.
I agree that organizations should engage their members using as many modern informational tools as possible, and that outreach has community value. What I disagreed with was the notion that organizations have a one-way responsibility to educate their members and the public, suggesting that society is already too full of informational opportunities for those that wanted to be informed and engaged. That perhaps an organization’s time and resources would be better spent getting things done.     
To support my minority opinion on informational saturation and personal responsibilities, I searched the internet for like-minded opinions and found several articles of interest.  One was published on June 29 in 2017, by “ieeessit”, entitled “Drowning in Information.” It suggested that there was a paradox between information and meaningful knowledge. I agree with the premise completely; more information does not automatically create a smarter or happier community.   
My peers seem convinced that reaching out to the membership via social media, weekly newsletters, updates from the association President, engaging folks on the street, even buying promotional advertising would add value to the membership. Granted, in a perfect world where people were not already overwhelmed and everyone was honestly interested, it might work. But lives are busy, families are complicated, jobs are demanding and even our golden retirement years leave precious little time to get excited about even more delivered information.        
Then I reminded everyone that fellow private and public organizations have done all the above for years. That despite their tens, even hundreds of thousands of out-reach dollars spent, they still fail to reach everyone, as if that were even possible. The comic relief was when a member suggested that he loved the near daily “annoying and seldom read” outreach from a fellow community organization.
OEVA, like all the rest of the great organizations and publications in this community, would love to keep everyone perfectly informed and content, but the reality is that we cannot. There are simply too many facts and opinions from too many sources that are constantly in flux for any local organization to report, much less get consistently right in a timely manner.
No matter how many man hours volunteers give, or how many organizational dollars are spent on employees and consultants, the net results would be the recreation of a sub-standard wheel. My point would be that if you really want a professionally managed global informational source that is constantly updated, reliable, with links, maps, photos, business bios, hours and even their menus, simply pick up your smart phone.  
Membership value was equally an interesting debate, and again, I believe that value and valued is not a one-way street either. But that discussion will have wait, my time is nearly up.
In closing, did you know that OEVA is deeply involved in the Englewood Arts District? That OEVA continues to work on its organizational structure and platforms, messaging, promotion, and continues to work with other organizations towards the future management of our downtown. Just because you did not receive a newsletter, get invited to a picnic, or win a contest does not mean that the association has been lax; it might mean that more is getting done, with fewer words.    
OEVA continues to play an important role in our community. Our Town Hall Meetings continue to engage the public, events are being planned and the artists and businesses are appreciated and supported, but we could use your help. Please join us at www.OldEnglewood.com, to learn more and volunteer.

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