Open letter to ECN members from Mark Meisner

Mark Meisner's picture

Syracuse, July 29, 2011

Dear ECN Members,

Change is coming and it's going to be great.

As many of you know, over the past couple of years a dedicated group of colleagues from within the Environmental Communication Network (ECN) have worked to create the new International Environmental Communication Association (IECA). A big thank you to everyone who lent a hand to make IECA happen!

The ECN was a core partner in that process, along with Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, and the Conference on Communication and Environment.

Now, these three entities have come together in a new association that will be much greater than the sum of its parts. And I have been honored to be hired as its Executive Director.

Here is the plan.

The ECN is going to be incorporated into the IECA. Over the coming month or so, we will be moving most of the ECN content over to the IECA web site. The exact form it will take in the new location has yet to be determined. Some of the ECN content is outdated and will not be transferred.

Once that transition is complete, I will shut down the ECN web site and redirect it to the IECA site. Most of what is available on the ECN web site will continue to be freely available to anyone who visits the IECA web site. We're not planning on taking anything away. But we will be adding new things exclusively for members of the association.

The current ECN LISTSERV will also be replaced by an IECA hosted forum/mailing list which will have the ECN name. For now let's call it ECN2. Everyone on the current ECN list will be given a free ECN2 membership with access to the new forum/list once it is set up (probably some time in September). At that point, you will be asked to confirm your membership in ECN2 by providing IECA some details about yourself. But ECN2 will be only a small part of what full IECA members will have access to.

In the coming months, the IECA Board is going to consider membership categories. Part of that will mean assessing the value of the free ECN2 forum/list. If we have enough people who join the organization and pay fees, then we'll be able to support more free services for others who perhaps can't afford to join. Another possibility is to create heavily-discounted ECN2-only memberships. I can't make any promises at this point. So that's the plan.

Now here is where you come in.

For the past 11 years, I have been proud to provide the ECN as a free service, based entirely on my own volunteer time. I have enjoyed being able to work with and serve all of you by creating opportunities to help the field of Environmental Communication coalesce. I created the space, and you all made it happen.

But I couldn't keep on like that indefinitely. The web site features and communication technologies need to be updated. More, fresher, and better content needs to be included. And new opportunities for collaboration need to be created. We also need to ensure continuity for what we have and to continue to raise the profile of the field. It needs to move beyond a volunteer-only effort.

And here is my request to you.

There are over 850 people currently subscribed to the ECN mailing list. The IECA currently has just over 150 founding members (thank you!). That leaves 700 of you who I know are interested in the field and want to be part of what's going on. Why not join the IECA? We have discounted rates for students and people from developing countries. Full details are on the web site.

For the next couple of months you can still join IECA as a founding member. Founding memberships (individual and organizational) are the only means of support we have to get this thing off the ground right now. If you have benefitted from the ECN, please support the IECA by joining up. Better yet, get your organization to join. And your colleagues.

In addition to helping launch the IECA, founding members will enjoy discounted future membership renewals. Only founding members will have that benefit.

You will also be able to join the members-only conversation that has already started and be able to participate in IECA committees. We are working on member-only benefits such as directories, a collaboration service, job boards, and more. And of course members get a subscription to Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture and discounts on registration for the Conference on Communication and Environment. Now is the time to join.

OK, so there is my pitch. And I must say, it sounded a bit too much like an informercial for my own comfort (Limited time offer! Only available on ECN!). But this appeal is really no different from what it would have been if I was not the IECA Executive Director. You know my passion for the field!

Thank you all for being a part of the ECN. I hope you will also choose to be a part of the IECA. The more people who join, the more we will be able to accomplish. It's that simple.

Feel free to send me your questions or to post them to the list. I'll do my best to answer them.

Take care and enjoy the season, whatever it may be in your part of the world.

- Mark

Mark Meisner, Ph.D.
Executive Director
International Environmental Communication Association (IECA)