2012: Change is in the air

Kathleen J. McCully,
Executive Director

Isanti County Historical Society

So this is 2012, the New Year, Week 26, and the Isanti County Historical Society is ready to face the year ahead of change and decision. Change is really hard. We all like the comfort of tried and true ways to conduct business and do our jobs, even move through life. We do everything the same, over and over, never looking to see if there is a better way, or another way, until something happens, or breaks that changes the rhythm of the task.

This is what happened to the historical society. Overnight everything that we knew was gone. Our job descriptions were no longer valid (and I hate to have to write new ones, too), the tools we used to do our jobs were gone and we were broken at a massive scale. In 2012, the board, staff, volunteers and those with a passion for history are working at various levels to find other ways, hopefully better ways, to restore the rhythms of our business.

This is a very exciting time to think that we have a clean slate and can transform the business of history into a different form in Isanti County. In a world where information is readily available on the web, and technology is changing faster than anyone could ever have imagined, ICHS is determining how we fit in. Our collections are specific to Isanti County. What services can we provide to those interested in those collections? What types of expertise do we need to provide said services? How will those positions be funded, now and into the future?

David Grabitske of the Minnesota Historical Society presents five 21st Century challenges to local historical organizations <http://discussions.mnhs.org/mnlocalhistory/blog/2011/11/28/five-early-21st-century-challenges/> and we are not unique in trying to determine how we fit in and the questions we need to ask about how to remain viable and relevant to our community. How to fulfill our mission, how to satisfy 21st Century customer expectations, what types of workers are needed, how to remain fiscally solvent in a world of programmatic funding, what to collect, how much to collect and how to make it accessible. Everyone wants to know how to affect change in positive ways, including ICHS. We just have to also consider a few other variables in order to move forward.

We also have the decision of where… to relocate or rebuild? Another team of folks are doing research to determine the availability of alternate locations with suitable space, affordable rent, easy access, etc. Then we will move on to determine the costs of relocation or rebuilding? How much fundraising will we need to do, regardless of the location? Pros and cons will be weighed in order for the appropriate decisions to be made.

2012 is a pivotal year for the Isanti County Historical Society. These are huge decisions, all of which we have been trying to break into smaller steps so that we can manage them. Our intent is that knowing what type of services we provide will drive what type of location, or facility we rebuild. The final variable to the equation, however, is money in hand, and future funding.

This is a very exciting time for ICHS and the county’s history. Want a unique journey in 2012, a means by which to stretch your knowledge, meet new people, add to your resume, or just become involved as a volunteer. Knowing all that is ahead, I invite anyone who is interested in preserving the history of Isanti County, or that wants to be part of this legwork and decision making to call me. Change is in the air this year and I can’t wait to see what evolves.

Donations are greatly appreciated and can be made by mail, at our website, or directly at Cambridge State Bank. For all other inquiries, visit www.ichs.ws, follow us on Facebook, call us at 763-689-4229, email at [email protected] or drop us a letter at 1700 E. Rum River Drive S., Suite K, Cambridge, MN 55008. We are open by appointment only at this time.