Minutes for

OH Steering Committee Meeting, Portsmouth, NH,

January 22, 2019

Present: Emily Balch, Nat Balch, Bill Barrett, Carter Bascom, Keith Force, Eric Gotthold, Moose Meserve, Stroker Rogovin, Elizabeth Seabury, Kim “Shroeder” Steward, John Thompson.

  • Treasurer’s Report (Moose)

A number of candidates have expressed interest in assuming the duties of OHA treasurer, but have withdrawn from consideration, mostly due to further consideration of the scope of the duties or inability to commit to the position for the preferred minimum of five years.  A few names are still in the hat.  Moose plans to retire from the position at the end of 2019, after nearly 30 years of service (!!), so appointing a successor and training them over the remaining months is our top priority.

Venmo account will be coming soon to an OHA near you.  Moose is working out details with our web tech guru, Taylor Burt.  Venmo is a mobile payment service—a “digital wallet”—that will allow OH to pay for things like cabin stays and dues via mobile devices.

2)           Cabin (Stroker)

Caretaker Mike Waddell arranged for an updated survey of the access road and land immediately to the N of the cabin, to help us better understand our holdings and options regarding parking improvements.  Road work was also recently completed, and should stabilize the road for years to come.

Stroker sheepishly admitted to still working on improved signage for the cabin, and a corresponding pamphlet for the PNC desk, for OH picking up the cabin key.  Consistency and simplicity of cabin info materials is expected to help cabin visitors better understand cabin care and maintenance.

Plowing of parking spaces along Rt. 16 has been less than ideal, with available spaces at a minimum lately.  Stroker contacted the Harvard Cabin treasurer to ask if more spaces could be created.  Harvard Cabin is only at or near full capacity two weekends a year—in January and February, for ice-climbing weekends.  Going forward, HC management will try to send us those dates for posting on our cabin calendar, to alert potential cabin visitors to the possibility of limited parking on those weekends.  Otherwise, parking isn’t generally a problem, and OH cabin overflow can use the Harvard Cabin lot (as well as space along Rt. 16).

Cabin receipts for the past year were roughly double what they’ve been in recent years, with no clear and proven explanation why.  It’s believed a number of factors may be contributing to the welcome uptick in income, which only pays for a fraction of actual cabin costs.  Among these factors are: (a) educating current croos that the property is not owned or maintained by the AMC, and its use is a privilege—with responsibilities—and not a guaranteed benefit of hut employment; (b) asking croo at Gala to “pay to stay” or do a chore; (c) reminders in the Resuscitator and on the website to pay your fair share; (d) providing alternative payment options, including PayPal and Venmo; (e) the introduction of “season passes” for individual members and families; and (f) staying “on message” with consistent and clear expectations at everything from OHA events and meetings, to the PNC front desk, the cabin itself, etc.  It seems that OH and Hut culture is gradually shifting to a greater appreciation for the fact that ALL cabin users benefit from the place and ALL have a role in caring for it.

Our neighbor up the road has asked us to stay off his property.  Stroker will ask Mike Waddell if a “no trespassing” sign is up at the property line, and if it’s visible above a snow pack.  We should remind current croo of this at Gala.         

3)           2019 Events (Stroker)

Spring reunion attendance has been wildly inconsistent in recent years, and isn’t attracting a younger crowd.  The general trend seems towards lower attendance, so the Steering Committee pondered ideas to attract more and younger members.  Among them: combining the reunion with work events like trail and cabin maintenance, and introducing live music (participatory jamming or as background entertainment).

Ideas for Fallfest speakers include: Ken Olsen and Doug Teschner (on early ed programs in the huts), Mark Hitchcock (photos); Doug Mayer and Hillary Girardi (world-class trail running); Al Koop (hut history); Rebecca Oreskes (USFS-AMC partnership), Ty Gagney (search and rescue); and Jon Martinson (his work with MSF).

Nominee for this year’s Special OH award: Ken Kimball (recently retired as AMC Director of Research after 35 years).

4)           Joe Dodge Award (Bill Barrett, John Thompson)

               John Thompson announced that he was making his seat on the selection committee available (the OHA gets to appoint 3 members).  Schroeder to post the position on Faceplant.  Liz Seabury volunteered to serve if nobody else was forthcoming.

5)           Trail Crew 100th, August 23, 2019 (Stroker)

               2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the AMC Trail Crew, which is planning weekend celebrations at Camp Dodge.  The OHA has been invited to send up to 7 members to join the fun on Friday, 8/23, for lunch, dinner, and activities, including a salute to recently deceased Bob Proudman.  Signed up so far: Stroker, Mike Waddell, Schroeder, and Carter Bascom.  Other interested parties are invited to contact Stroker directly, ASAP.  The rest of the weekend’s festivities will be closed to non-TC, and as a matter of pubic safety, that’s probably a good idea.

6)           Photo Project (Stroker)

               Sally Dinsmore has completed the Flea photo display update, which is slated to be installed this spring.

7)           Website (Schroeder Steward & Stroker)

Current webmaster and ex-officio Steering Committee member Taylor Burt is still recovering from a lingering and serious back injury which has dictated that he reduce his workload as our webmaster.  Shroeder has agreed to take over, with Taylor staying on as our Tech Guru so Schroeder can focus on “soft” business like monitoring privacy and security concerns, posting content, answering queries, vetting requests to join (she already does this for the OHA Faceplant account), and other duties more to do with content.

Moose continues to slog through contact info and employment data for over 1200 OH, to update our member database.  This is a monumental task, and critical to our ability to communicate with our membership.  He’s asked for—and received—help finding contact info for MIA OH from many other OH.

If you haven’t heard from us in a while and aren’t sure we have your current email and postal address, get in touch!   Contact Moose, Stroker, Schroeder, or anyone now on the Steering Committee.  You may know where you are, but your friends may not.

Relative to the above, Moose is consulting with web-designer Dan Racowsky about options for streamlining the data entry process.

Definitive action on our FB privacy settings was tabled until next meeting.  At the November meeting, a sub-committee of David Kruger, Phoebe Howe, and Steph Maraldo was tasked with studying the matter and issuing a recommendation, but it was submitted with insufficient time for adequate review and discussion, and since none of the authors could attend the meeting, the Committee decided to table discussion until one of them could present their findings.  Reasons both for and against changing our privacy setting were discussed anyway, for informational purposes, including pros and cons for both options (Public and Closed).

The argument in favor of changing the status to Closed turns largely on the concern over public access to possibly “compromising” content.  The argument in favor of remaining Public turns on a number of factors: the lack of any examples of “compromising” content in past or current posts; the site is actively monitored for such content on a near-hourly basis; content can be managed with clear guidelines and perhaps even pre-publication review; virtually all current FB administrators (12) endorse keeping the group Public, as well as current and former webmasters, and the Huts Manager (speaking for the AMC).  The last and most important argument in favor of remaining Public is the critical importance of FB to OHA communications, as a platform for real-time notifications, news, and discussions.

Changing our status to Closed will deny access to OH not signed up to use the site (over 500 OH); sister groups like the Obs and Trail Crew; AMC staff; friends and family of OH (including spouses, parents of deceased OH, etc.); authors and journalists researching the huts and environs, etc.  The conversation basically comes down to balancing risks (mostly anticipated vs. actual) vs. rewards (the ability to communicate in real-time with hundreds of our own members who would otherwise be completely clueless about our activities—members don’t use the website the way they use FB).  Needless to say, the matter deserves serious further consideration, at the next meeting.  Anyone wishing to contribute insights is welcome to contact Stroker directly, prior to 3/19.  Expertise in managing social media and internet privacy is particularly welcome, although by no means required.

8)           Resuscitator (Stroker for Beth Weick)

Spring issue due out in April or early May.  The Resuscitator continues to play an important role in reminding members of the boring but necessary basics like “pay to stay” at the Cabin, update your contact info, send us your news (and dues!), etc.

9)           Hut System Report (Eric Gotthold)

               30 returns for 2019, 20 new hires.  Construction projects: new tables for Lakes & Zool, new Gale kitchen stairway, and new batteries throughout the huts.

For the first time, the huts will have a full-time Huts Maintenance Tech, for summer 2019, to help croos better understand some of the increasingly complicated systems that handle their electricity, waste, etc.

10)         Trails Report (Bill Barrett)

               2019 marks the official 200th anniversary of the Crawford Path, with many trail projects planned as part of the celebration.  The OHA isn’t officially sponsoring any work crews, but individuals interested in helping can contact the USFS or sponsoring trail clubs.

OH trail work continues, largely under the guidance of Bill Barrett and John Thompson, with serious backup from Elizabeth Seabury.  Sweeps of the Old Hutman’s Trail and Halls Ledge Trail are usually conducted the same weekend as Spring Reunion, or shortly after.  Contact Bill for further info (click on volunteer info, on the website).

11)         New & Other Bidness

As if the Trail Crew 100th and the Crawford 200th weren’t excitement enough, Pinkham Notch Camp will be celebrating it’s 100th birthday in 2020.  OH Tom Deans, Chris Thayer, and others have been tapped to help plan the festivities, so stay tuned!

Following up on a recommendation from the Young Members meeting at last Fallfest, Carter Bascom will be spearheading a social event for New Hampshire OH, probably a ski meet-up at Castle In the Clouds, Moultonboro, NH, around mid-February.  Jenna Koloski will be doing likewise for Vermont alum, as she’s done in recent years.  Stay tuned!

Both Carter and Jenna have asked for lists of OH broken down by region, and Moose agreed to try to provide it.

Sadly, the Committee wishes to note the passing of Joe Brigham, helicopter pilot to the huts and countless hut croo.  The Committee approved a donation to the AMC in recognition of his invaluable service and many lifelong friendships with OH.

A “road trip” Steering Committee meeting has been tentatively set for April 23, in Portland, Maine.


12)         Next Steering Committee Meeting: March 19, 6:30 PM, Blue Fuji, Medford Square, MA.

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