26 August 2013

The NextGen Genealogy Network (NGGN) -- Guest Post by Kassie Nelson

Guest post by Kassie Nelson

The NextGen Genealogy Network (NGGN) is a new kind of society for a new age that targets a very specific group of genealogists- those who are younger than the ‘typical’ genealogist.  The mission of NGGN is to foster the next generation’s interest in family history and engagement in our community through digital channels which virtually connect members throughout the world. Since the inception of this society, what our mission will be has continued to evolve and grow. NGGN was born from the combination of ideas and reflections of Jen Baldwin, D. Joshua Taylor and I.  The subject of Gen Y and subsequently a society geared towards specifically Gen Y came up during #genchat on Twitter. We decided to join forces and put our ideas into motion. Our target audience quickly expanded to Gen X and other age groups who have same of the concerns as Gen Y as well as those of any age of who support our mission. As word began to spread about the NGGN, leaders of other genealogical societies began to approach us wanting to know how can they attract and retain more members of the younger generation. Helping other societies has become another objective of ours. The excitement and positive feedback have solidified the need for a society such as this.

The NGGN is the microphone through which the younger generation can speak through. Together we can work together to show the genealogy community on a whole what we know, that we want to learn more and that yes we do actually exist!  Social media is what brought three co-creators together and has helped build a community but it is not the most important factor in bringing more young genealogists into the field. It is simply our presence and secondly our attitude.  The perception that genealogy is just for ‘old people’ is diminished every time a young genealogist steps forward. We hope that not only will we encourage younger genealogists to research their family trees but that we will encourage them to become active members of the genealogy community including in the capacity of leaders.

Innovation, openness and flexibility are the hallmarks of this organization. With a board mainly comprised of people under the age of 40, we are well aware that our day to day lives have a strong influence over how much someone is able to participate and commit to a society. We know what it is like to try to race across town during to rush hour traffic to make it to a meeting or not want to have to choose between spending time with our families and going to a Saturday morning meeting. These issues are not just Gen Y or Gen X issues. Grandparents, aunts and those who started families later in life are in the same position. The challenge of providing structured meetings in a flexible enough manner to meet today’s hectic schedules is one we have gladly taken up. In order to do this we have to be willing to try doing both old things in a new way and entirely new things.  We also realize many of our potential members are college students, living from pay to paycheck or trying not to go broke joining societies. Thus we are committed to keeping our dues low. Our dues will be $15 a year or 15 hours of volunteer work on a calendar year basis.

The NextGen Genealogy Network was officially organized this summer as such we are still working on getting completely setup. We are fortunate to have determined volunteers who have been working hard to develop ideas and bring them to life. Newsletters, holding monthly meetings at alternating times, mini-meetings, support groups, webcasts, providing educational material for other societies as well as our members on topics such as social media usage and research methodology are just a few of these ideas.  As we are able to raise funds through the collection of dues and other fundraising efforts we endeavor to provide research grants to young genealogists and scholarship opportunities to help members attend national conferences. 

Early on we knew we wanted to create an all-inclusive sense of community where we celebrate our different backgrounds and approach one another with an open mind. In order to do so we have also needed to create a safe environment in which both small and significant issues can be discussed in a constructive manner. Our chair likes to use the metaphor building bridges when speaking of NGGN. Building bridges is only possible with open communication and cooperation. We hope to not only help build bridges between the young and the old but between nonprofessional and professional, genealogist and historian.

Lastly but certainly not the least, we think genealogy is fun. Certainly we will provide our members with educational opportunities and structured meetings but we also want to have fun together. Connecting with other genealogists your age when you are under 40 is easier said than done. Having laughs with one another is an important part of building a sense of community.  Our members are the best members in the world. They ooze enthusiasm and have already taken the lead on organizing informal meetups at local and national conferences.  We have some creative and fun plans we are looking forward to announcing later this year. 

If you would like to join our community please check us out at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nextgennetwork/

Copyright 2013 by Kassie Nelson

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