Members of the board of directors and the staff of The Center for Northern Woodlands Education met in western Massachusetts this July for a planning retreat focused on change. We discussed ways to keep The Center relevant and explored the idea of partnering with similarly focused organizations that might be interested in using our publishing strengths to fill a void in their own organizations. The current debate in Massachusetts over forestry practices on public land was held up as evidence of the urgent need for the kind of information and voice that we provide.
We also talked about whether we should structure the organization to be more membership focused, rather than defining our relationship with our readers as subscribers and donors. We’re struggling for a way to make it clear that The Center for Northern Woodlands Education is a not-for-profit whose educational mission is served through publishing materials in print and on the web.
Much discussion centered around internet strategies. On the one hand, the everincreasing array and use of online reading options indicates that a digital presence is a “must have” for any publisher in the 21st century; on the other hand, it’s not yet clear how any of the existing models generate the revenues that make web publishing possible. While no consensus was reached on the best online options, it was clear to everyone that continuing to produce a hard copy magazine is vitally important in serving our existing readers and in reaching new audiences throughout the Northeast.
All of these deliberations will be considered as we revise the strategic plan that drives our annual work plan and budget. Ultimately, what matters most is serving the loyal readers and donors who make this magazine and our other educational services possible. We’re exploring the idea of a reader survey to help ensure we stay on the right course. In the meantime, I invite you to contact me, other staff, or members of the board to offer your insights about future directions we should be exploring.