Everyone loves going to the beach: the surf, the sun, the sand! Lounging around, not a care in the world… Except us loyal ASBPA members who may get carried away examining grain size, dune vegetation or the offshore bar location (knowing many of you, I expect that you already know the onshore bar location…).
Still, admit it. You’re a bit of a beach geek. You look at the beach a bit differently. The question is have we reached all the other beach geeks who ask these types of questions and, maybe more importantly, would appreciate the answer? How do we let them know that there is an organization that could help them with both technical and policy items related to the coast? How do we get them to join ASBPA and help advocate for coastal issues?
Well, our membership committee has been hard at work trying to answer these questions and expand ASBPA’s reach and visibility. Our membership committee drafted several recommendations:
We recognize that not every knows or cares about Munsell color or the latest WRDA bill. Let them enjoy the beach care free. However, coastal practitioners care, and our content is designed to appeal to them. If part of your livelihood is tied to understanding how the coast works, how policy affects permitting timelines and/or project funding, or you need a resource when sargassum or red tide overwhelms your slice of heaven, then you should want to be a member of ASBPA.
We’re looking for invested members who can learn from, and contribute to, other ASBPA members. Our goal is to market that target audience of coastal practitioners so that they’re aware of ASBPA and recognize the value of being a member. We’re currently focusing on a few states and developing a plan to engage our wider ASBPA membership to support this effort.
ASBPA has been actively broadening our scope beyond beach nourishment over the last decade. Our members deal with a myriad of coastal issues and ASBPA can provide a forum for continual learning and discussion of a wide range coastal challenges. Broadening our membership and thus the range of experience benefits everyone. Coastal resilience and grey/green infrastructure have become standard discussion topics at our conferences and chapter meetings. Over the last few years we have reached out to beach/coastal operations and coastal ecosystem/habitat restoration professionals. Our content must reflect the needs of our membership. As with recommendation #1, this effort is ongoing. ASBPA’s Science & Technology and Governement Affairs committees are leading the charge on this front. Reach out to the committee chairs if you can assist with this effort.
This audience extends beyond the coastal practitioners to those who have a vested interest in the beach or healthy marsh but not necessarily the technical aspects. We characterize these potential members as “sellers”. This “seller” audience will primarily be concerned with information on the economics of beaches, the number of people who use beaches, social science on human behavior on coastlines, health benefits of coastlines, public messaging about resilience and sustainability of coastlines and other information that allows them to sell their coastal opportunity more effectively. They appreciate the value of restoration and recovery post-disaster but don’t need to understand the technical side as much. These are tourism boards, convention and visitors’ bureaus, coastal developers, etc. They are potentially a powerful advocacy group who become members to support a cause from which they directly benefit. This is a longer term vision, that will take additional thought but provides insight as to one avenue of where we think ASBPA can expand and make for a stronger organization.
So fellow beach geeks (and you’re one if you’ve read this far), if you know of others that look at the beach a little differently, encourage them to join ASBPA. Let them read your copy of Coastal Voice or Shore & Beach, or send them to our website or Facebook account. I think this organization and our coast will be all the stronger if we can get every like minded beach geek to join ASBPA.