Last message from the President
We write this summer with renewed optimism – after the extraordinary, pandemic-influenced year of 2020. As discussed in our previous report, the unexpected end to so many in-person group gatherings (monthly meetings, quarterly meets, regional and national conventions, ops sessions, and train shows) changed almost everything about our social hobby experience. Still, this wasn’t all bad, as many members enjoyed more modeling at home, some joined or upped their participation to provide a needed life distraction, and still others kept (or grew) their social connections through new online pathways like NMRAx, SIG group sessions, and division zooms. We’ve survived – and in some regards have even thrived in this tumultuous year.
Many of the NER’s divisions have held at least one or two online events (like zooms) – and some have had regularly scheduled online sessions for many months. These meetings tend to draw beyond the local and usual suspects, to across the region, nation, and world. Similarly, recorded virtual layout tours of NER railroads have brought global exposure to many fine NER modelers – some of which we likely wouldn’t have seen without the pandemic.
Other Initiatives and Happenings:
Note: The NER election period will end on July 1, but the new President will not be officially installed until our Fall convention in October. Since I will be assuming the role of (National) Eastern District Director on July 2 (and thus cannot continue as NER President) these duties will be assumed then by current NER Vice President Bob Dennis.
The Northeastern Region conducts all its BoD meetings online - via Zoom web conferencing – and has done this now for many years (well before the Covid pandemic). These regular, consistent meetings have resulted in better communication, region-division connection, and more forward progress for both the Region and its divisions.
We postponed last year’s NER Annual Convention and will now host the event Mill City 2021 Convention in Westford/Lowell, MA, in October 2021. Plans are well underway, registration has opened, and we are expecting a mostly ‘normal’ event to occur – barring any unforeseen changes or new restrictions. Beyond this, we’ve pushed out all our future convention plans one year: Nutmeg Division in CT in 2022, and on Long Island with the Sunrise Trail Division in 2023. Additionally, we have early interest from two additional divisions, for events in 2024 and 2025.
In lieu of the 2020 in-person convention, the NER (with considerable leadership, effort, and support from the host HUB division, other Region members, and the talented NMRAx team) –hosted our first NERx online video-based convention in December 2020. Our convention was modeled in part after other NMRAx events (but with our own NER spin), and it was, we think, a great success. NERx 1 was held over a four-night period early in the holiday season and included sixteen clinics (all from NER modelers), nine video-based home or club layout tours, a model and photo contest with 25 and 28 entries (respectively) – and rolling recognition of AP participant and merit award winners. Also, it was a lot of fun! The NER Convention team then successfully hosted a second NERx 2 event earlier this Spring (much like the first) and again it was a nice success for the Region and the NMRA.
The NER publishes a quarterly newsletter, The Coupler – to positive acclaim from membership and others. Color print subscriptions are available for an extra $10 per year cost, and though the print demand is declining, it is still today near 800 per issue. We have recently transitioned to a new newsletter editor. Additionally, we regularly reach our membership using a Constant Contact based e-newsletter for ongoing communications and announcements.
Other potential activities for 2021 (pending the direction and decision of new NER leadership) include:
The NMRA’s Northeastern Region has survived the 2020 Covid pandemic, and our divisions have (at least in part) adapted and shifted to meet the new reality. And while new, online, and social media paths for connecting, sharing, and learning have been good for some (and great for others) – missing the in-person connection of local division meetings and other activities has certainly impacted the NMRA. We expect that as things open, revived, and new in-person activities will further reinvigorate many in the hobby and in our Association – and help us to again provide greater value to our membership and the model railroading community.
President, NMRA Northeastern Region