Well, I have come to my final “Deanery.” When I started in with these bits of scribbling, over three years ago, I had absolutely no idea how engaged I would become in writing them, nor could I ever have imagined the response they would elicit from my readers. Although I was intent from the beginning on writing things that were true, useful, or, at the very least, entertaining, it was an unexpected surprise to get feedback, almost every month, from a different reader or two whose reaction was evidently strong enough for them to take the time and trouble to sit down and email me, or to mention it in the course of an unrelated conversation. I am very grateful to have had this interaction; I take it less as a commentary on my writing skills than as a testament to the hunger that lurks in us all, nowadays, for anything that manages to break out of the mold of the perfunctory and formulaic. In an age of quick and constant contact, when a swipe of the finger on a touchscreen brings us more noise and news than we know what to do with, we paradoxically long for personal connection as never before.
The opportunity to make genuine connections and to feel a sense of community has always been one of the greatest benefits of AGO membership. Yes, the programming may be exciting, the educational opportunities invaluable, the food plentiful and tasty, but it is the people that “make” the chapter. Our chapter is a comfortable size; the tent is big enough to hold a wide variety of interesting characters (and we do want it to grow) but not so huge that we feel like members of an anonymous herd. As Dean, I worked with some members on a regular basis, others I may have met a handful of times and many I know only from email exchanges or perhaps a single phone call – whatever the case, acquainting myself with so many wonderful people has been a distinct pleasure, one that I have no intention of forgoing.
Soon the chapter will be in the quietly capable hands of Peter Niedmann. Peter is one of the most talented people I know, with gifts running in many different directions: he is a composer, an organist, a pianist, an improviser, a conductor, a humorist – and that’s just for starters. There is no doubt in my mind but that an exciting and fruitful time lies ahead. But whatever should come, triumph or trials, let’s all take a look around and acknowledge the riches we have in one another.