Potentially World-Changing Group of Horticulture Professionals Decides Instead to Devolve into Irrelevant High School Social Clique

The Independent Garden Centers and Nurseries Facebook group that I had been promoting has taken what I consider to be a step backwards. But it’s not all bad news. Let me explain.

First the good news. The group has not fragmented in a significant way, it appears. I still like the people in the group, and almost no one seems to be leaving, including me.

A dispute has arisen over who is to be admitted to the group. Growers who don’t operate a retail site have traditionally been excluded according to the original group standards, except for one who was asked to join in the early stages of the group. So this fellow finally got kicked out, but then everyone wanted him to come back, because they like his input. Then he was saved by the bell when the group quickly decided to let him back in. But any other growers who want to be let in the group will be voted in or not on a case by case basis, and many in the group have already decided they won’t be voting for any more growers except this one since they like him and his contributions to the group. How’s that for consistent and fair!?

So here’s the problem. Why is just one grower in the group? Why is the group setting itself up to vote on admitting individuals based on whether we know and/or like them? That’s not a professional organization; it’s a social club. A professional organization decides upon consistent standards for who is to be admitted and sticks with those standards. If a change needs to be made, a procedure ought to be in place for voting on the standards, but not on individual people!

To further illustrate this point, someone in the the more inclusive offshoot group Retail Independent Garden Centers, Vendors and Media, having found out about this whole situation through that group, posted (and I’m not making this up), “So, this page is like the overflow room for the party the cool kids got invited to?” Yeah actually it would appear that pretty much sums it up. If the group had consistent standards they would have some way of producing a sensible reply to this. But apparently they don’t, and this post went unanswered.

Group administrators have since deleted most of these discussions for the sake of moving on. That doesn’t bother me in itself since it seems once again that these actions are based on what people in the group want. This blog post, then, serves as a semi-permanent record of what happened.

Now to the other side of this discussion: the thing to be remembered is that for some people the group actually is more of a social club. For some, it’s no big deal to vote on individuals, and if we start getting too “black and white” with the rules, the group becomes less fun. This one grower can be grandfathered in because he was there from the start and why kick him out?

OK, so I can appreciate the opposing perspective. The reason I don’t favor it is a fundamental disagreement on what the group is to me, what it is for, and what it is (or was?) potentially capable of.

I certainly appreciate that not everyone is in the group for the same reasons. Some are there to discuss business matters, while others enjoy the more social aspect to the group. Others are there just to learn, and that is a big part of why I am there as well. But at a deeper level, many of these horticulture professionals appear to be reasonably content with the state of the industry as it is, or else see problems with the industry but undervalue the group as a potential vehicle to correct them; while others (including me) think that nothing short of an industry-wide revolution is needed and had hoped this group would be the one to catalyze it.

So if I wanted something different, I guess I should just start my own gol-durned group with a different focus. After all it’s not like I’m always stuck in second gear. It’s just that no one told me life was going to be this way.

So here’s my solution. I am going to start a group called “Horticulture Professionals who I Personally Happen to Think are Cool.” Hey, there’s nothing like honesty. Our mission: to continue rehashing this issue until we get tired of talking about it and think of something else to discuss instead, like discussing all the ways in which we are superior to everyone else, or which one of us is more popular.

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