I want to change the world. Well, at least the AKA kite world. I want to change the way we structure our AKA convention. Before we go too far let me say up-front that I am not anti-competition, merely fond of finding other ways to play. I have found kite competitions to be a bit oxymoronic. I fly kites for fun. Feels pretty good, too. Kite flying is naturally co-operative rather than competitive. Finding balance between the wind and the kite and the flyer. That is the reward. If the joy of flying isn’t there, I don’t understand how getting a medal or a trophy or a plaque makes it any better. Scott Skinner turned me on to the idea of having the competitors judge themselves. His scenario was a Grand Master Kite Building Competition where the flyers themselves would vote for the best out there. I like that. Who better to notice and appreciate the level of expertise in that level of construction?
With sport kites, I figure the reward for winning regional kite competitions is the invite to come fly at the national convention before a collection of the best kiters around. But the nationals, too often, have unusually empty skies for a kite festival and only a few spectators (mostly friends, family and the other competitors).
This is our big gathering of some of the best kite flyers in the world and we don’t seem to be celebrating it and sharing our joy. I’d love to participate in a showcase of kites and flyers – Filling the sky with incredible creations. Wandering about, meeting the incredible people flying them.
I’d like it if we had a showcase every afternoon where we could spotlight the amazing collection of talents assembled. A few hours of demos and performances and fun stuff – Designed to entertain. Attracting an audience would be easier if we put on a show.
I’ve heard the suggestion made that someone visit the local schools around Gettysburg in the weeks before our convention, doing kite classes with the kids. This would be a wonderful gift to the community, if anyone has the weeks to volunteer to do this. Remember, even if this happens, the kids aren’t really welcome at our convention, at least not as kite flyers or attendees to the seminars and such.
We don’t put out much of a welcome mat to outsiders. Is there a field for free flying? Is it close to the action? Anybody not in the AKA finds it tough to fly kites with us during the convention. Is this the best way we can promote kiting?
Why don’t we open the seminars up to all comers and really share our joy of kite flying? We talk about ways to grow our organization but we aren’t embracing change like we could. I know some will say that the seminars and workshops are what we pay for and freeloaders would get in for free – It would be unfair! I feel we pay for much more than simply our own entertainment. Through our efforts we can provide a realistic outreach into the communities.
I’m sure a few will take advantage and think they’re “getting over on the man” by attending and not paying, but I am equally sure that no-one can attend our convention, meet some of the folks we treasure, have the time of their kite lives and not see the value. These people will quickly become members.
Why don’t we have seminars specifically designed to “teach the teachers” about kites in the classroom? We could promote the seminars through the schools and leave behind a real legacy of kiting in every community we visit for our convention.
I know change can be scary. Remember, change is what allows growth to occur. We should try to think a bit more outside the box. Create new ways for our organization to grow. I’m trying to help change things. At least the ways we look at who we are and what we’re doing. What are your new ideas?
“Often wrong… Never in doubt”