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European Leaders Meeting
London, 3-4 June 2000
<< cofnij

Relacja ze spotkania na razie tylko w wersji angielskiej. Polska w przygotowaniu.




The leaders of the Mars Society in the UK, Germany, Poland, France, Netherlands, Austria and Sweden have met 3-4 of June near London. We wanted to get to know each other, have a chance to swap ideas and experiences, and generally lend each other some impetus. The talks took us one day and a half, during which we made some important decisions (details below).


List of attendants:

Bo Maxwell(UK)
Philip Dembo(UK)
Peter Loftus(UK)
Daniel Loftus(UK)
Piotr Moskal(Poland)
Arno Wielders(Netherlands)
Frans Blok(Netherlands)
George Overmeire(Netherlands)
Richard Heidman(France)
Bertrand Spitz(France)
Claes Nordquist(Sweden)
Hannes Griebel(Germany)
Manfred Hettmer(Austria)





The meeting agenda was prepared by Philip Dembo, Bo Maxwell and Peter Loftus from the British Chapter and it included several issues, like: membership management, outreach, education, fundraising, publicity, technical projects and others. During the meeting we discussed those subjects in detail, some additional issues were proposed as well. Below you will find the list of all the most important conclusions and decisions we made. The text is divided into three parts: development of existing chapters, creating new chapters and joint european initiatives. I hope you will find it interesting

Piotr Moskal
President, Mars Society Poland



DEVELOPMENT OF EXISTING CHAPTERS
1) Member benefits
We agreed that MS chapters have to be attractive to people in order to get as many members as possible. Here are some ideas concerning the things we can offer to our members:

#  discounts on TMS products (gadgets, educational materials etc.) or on tickets (in case of non-free presentations)
#  the possibility to attend chapter meetings -- we think that it is a good idea to organize chapter meetings even as frequently as once a month (as the UK chapter do) to get people more involved and to let them know each other better
#  access to our online archives (articles, photos, animations and so on) and news page
#  the French Chapter is printing a bulletin for their members (~10 pages, in color, includes articles about Mars, Mars Direct and so on). We think it is a good idea to have such a journal, of course if a chapter can afford it. The other way is to provide an online newsletter -- in this case the only problem is to find a team of people who will do it.

2) Promotional brochures
In the near future each of our chapters will print color brochures (similar to those printed in the US). We considered printing a large quantity for all the european chapters, but due to language difficulties we decided that it will be better to have separate versions for each country.

3) Commercial activity
We browsed through the possibilities of commercial activity and products we could manufacture. Here are some ideas: T-shirts, postcards, stickers, pens, mugs, Mars globes etc. So far, the UK chapter manufactured T-shirts and the Austrian Chapter pens. Philip Dembo from the UK chapter made some research on the Net, here are the results, maybe you will find it useful: inflatable Mars globes can be found at http://www.screameria.com/order.html , and at http://www.diyprint.com/diyprint you will find a page where you can upload your logo and apply it to a mug / pen / whatever to find if it looks good. If so, you can order the merchandise.

4) Lobbying with other organizations
Joining forces with other space oriented organizations may be a valuble option for any MS chapter. Such lobbying gives us more influence in any actions. However, in some cases the goals of such organizations may differ from ours. If so, we should focus on common elements in our statutes and try to find some points of agreement. We discussed also what influence may have letters to governement members from space oriented organizations. The oppinions were divided here and we were unable to find an absolute answer to the question if such actions might prove successful in Europe. And back to the lobbying -- in Poland we made our first step by joining forces with Uranos, an Internet organization that have many common goals with Mars Society. Our cooperation proved very beneficial for both sides, so I advise all other chapters to do the same.

5) Educational outreach
In the upcoming months we will try to get in touch with schools in our countries. While public presentations are very valuable, we agreed that getting kids involved will have a long term positive effect on our cause, so school presentations are one of the most important things we should focus on. So far we have no experience in such actions, I hope one of the european chapters will make the first step soon.

6) TV outreach
It is not a secret that good TV outreach is the key to success. The British Chapter was involved in the production of a short documentary about Mars (something similar to the "Pioneering the planet"). In the upcoming months all the other chapters will try to get in touch with TV stations in their countries and will try to do the same. The more programs wemanage to produce, the better, so we should try to get as amny TV stations involved as possible (I mean we shouldn't stop after finishing just one show).

7) Public outreach
In order to organize the issue of public outreach, each chapter will try to create a separate task force that would spread the word about TMS. The task force members will be provided with appropriate materials, texts, slide shows photographs etc. and they will organize presentations around the country. It is important to organize as many such events as possible, but from my own experience I can say that 2-3 speaker for a chapter is not enough. We need a large task force to do it properly.

8) Museums
The German Chapter shared some valuable experiences concerning lobbying with museums. They managed to make an exposition in a wide known museum, showing to people materials on Mars, Mars Direct and other Mars related things. This is a very good way to make a publicity of The Mars Society. Probably in any country such partners could be easily found -- any space museum, aircraft museum, astronomy museum or so will probably do just fine.

9) Industrial partners
Of course the best way to get involved in advanced technical projects is to get in touch in the space industry in our countries. Sadly, not in each country this industry is developed... In this area, the British, French and German chapters have most possibilities. We are already in contact with the ESA, in the future we will try to develop this link. Also, each chapter will try to get in touch with space officials in its country, even if the space industry isn't very developed there.

10) The Space Week
4-10 of October has been proclaimed International Space Week. We intend to organize some public outreach events during this period. Of course each chapter will deal with this opportunity on its own, but we agreed on the main course of action: a public presentation accompanied by some slide or photo show would surely do the trick. From our experience here, in Poland, we can say that such events are often a success - last weekend we celebrated the Science Day in Warsaw. Many science oriented organizations made their presentations (on open air), we held a stand along with the Space Research Center. We presented some pictures, demonstrated materials from Ares CD and gave some speeches about Mars Direct. Our intention is to organize some similar event during the Space Week.


FORMING OF NEW CHAPTERS
Comparing to other areas of the world, the Mars Society chapter structure in Europe is very dense. We have now 7 big and active chapters, around 11 smaller ones are struggling to gather enough members to start their projects. I made a few maps to show the situation:



CHAPTER ACTIVITY IN EUROPE
In those countries we have an active chapter
In those countries chapters are less active or we have only a contact person there
In those countries we dont have any contacts



CHAPTER WWW SITES
Those chapters have WWW sites
Those chapters don't have WWW sites



WHO SHOWED UP IN LONDON
Those countries participated in the meeting...
...and those did not


11) Inactive contact persons
There are a number of names listed as chapter contacts on the web that appear to be defunct. Some of them have been out of date for some time (like Italy, since a month after the first conference in 98). We've been aware of this for some time, but didn't think there was any harm. However, it was pointed out at the meeting that if there is a name, for example, for contact in Italy, but no one to reply for it, it becomes ten times harder to start anything up. People from Italy who are interested will not get a reply and loose interest, and certainly anyone wanting to start a chapter will think there is one in existence already, and not bother. Philip Dembo volounteered to organize this action and he has written to Italy, Belgium, Iceland and Switzerland, asking them if they are still active, and to get back to within a week (a couple of days to go). If they will keep ignoring mails, the old inactive contact persons will be wipped out in order to give others the possibility to take initiative in the region.

12) Expanding our influences
Within the next six months we will try to reanimate chapters in those countries that lost their momentum and to create chapters in countries that still dont have one. Our targets will be as follow: Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Spain and Ireland. If everything goes OK, we expect representatives of those coutries to show up on our next meeting in Germany.


JOINT EUROPEAN INITIATIVES
And now lets proceed to the most important section -- the results of our negotiations concerning european cooperation. The meeting proved to be very satisfying in this matter, we agreed to join forces and came up with some really intereseting joint projects. Below you will find a list of all areas where the european chapters will cooperate.

13) European Committee
We decided to create the European Committee, a structure that will help organize our actions across Europe. All the persons who have been in London are now in the EC, we hope to gather more members (chapter leaders, in general) when new european chapters will be created. To help us communicate we created a group on the e-groups server, the same that hosts the Chapters Council. The main purpose of the EC is to support the cooperation between european chapters.

14) Regular meetings
The European Committee will meet twice a year to establish global european course of action and to discuss progress made so far. The next meeting will take place on 2-3 of December, in Munich (Germany). We have 6 months to execute all the decisions made in London, probably the main purpose of the meeting in Munich will be to discuss how it worked.

15) European conference
We decided to organize an european conference similar to the annual Mars Society convention. The first one will probably take place 14-15 of October in Amsterdam or in Paris (we'll decide soon).

16) European tour of dr Zubrin
In the next year (probably during summer) we hope to organize a tour by dr Zubrin in Europe. After the stunning success of such tour in Australia it became clear that we must organize a similar event in Europe to improve our performance. This is only a free idea now and we didn't contact dr Zubrin yet, but Bo Maxwell, President of the British Chapter will do it soon. All the chapters represented on the meeting in London were interested in the tour, we hope also that by the time of the tour some new chapters will show up (such event would be a very good begining for a news chapter, as it would surely attract many people interested in the subject, who would probably also be interested in joining the chapter).

17) Pressurized rover project
During the meeting we presented briefly our entries to the pressurized rover contest otganized by the HQ. The Britsh chapter and the Polish chapter have already sent their proposals to the US and now we are preparing more detailed versions. But the important thing is a proposal made by the representatives of the British chapter: if our projects will not pass to the next round in september, it is possible that european chapters will join forces to build a joint rover using our own funds. We agreed that it would be a very interesting project and that we would like to do it. However it is, of course, not settled yet and we don't have any sponsor for the moment, but the idea appeared and it might be our first joint technical project in Europe.

18) CD-ROM
In the near future several of european chapters would like to prepare a promotional CD, a bit similar to the Ares CD. It would contain presentations of The Mars Society, Mars Direct and so on. We considered making one version for all the european chapters, and then changing only the language version, leaving graphics and animations intact. It would surely be cheaper (due to the quantity). However, wre not sure if the language difficulties wont prove too annoying, so the project is still only an idea and it is probable that we'll decide to produce the CDs separately.

19) Sharing resources
Finally, we decided that it would be good if we could share our resources in Europe. For the beginning, it was proposed to make a database containing articles that we have written (or someone from outside MS have written for us). There is of course the problem of language, but we'll try to resolve it somehow. In the future maybe we'll be able to share more resources, like models, displays and so on.



The meeting in London was a very interesting event and we all enjoyed it very much. I hope that our chapters will all benefit from the initiated cooperation and I cant wait the next meeting. See you in Munich!



Piotr Moskal
President, Mars Society Poland






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