Starting to Do One Simple Thing and Having It Mushroom into Many Tasks (How Does This Happen?)

14 Apr

About 18 months or so ago, Jerri and I attended training to become tour guides at the Nevada State Museum (NSM) in Carson City.   This was shortly after I moved to Minden/Carson Valley and I thought it would be a good way to meet people and learn more about Nevada history. This was accomplished and I’ve been enjoying giving tours of the museum and the state capitol to students and tourists. This was basically all I ever wanted to do at the museum and that is how it went for the first six months or so.

Taking the kids on a History, Mint and Mine tour

Taking the kids on a History, Mint and Mine tour (Photo by RD Schmidt)

Then I was asked to help with Friends of the Nevada State Museum bake sales during the NSM Coin Show (August) and Nevada Day (October). The original chair was involved in a bigger fundraiser for the museum and needed help. Well, that didn’t seem like too much work, so I said yes, I’d help. I think she neglected to tell me that acceptance meant that I’d be a member of the Friends Board. How did that happen?

Then, the same chair (now the major fundraiser committee) asked me to be Black Barbara in the play she and others were writing to perform at the Museum and also the encore performance at the Governor’s Mansion. They said they were desperate and I’d be perfect for Black Barbara. How can I resist such flattery? Soon, I was attending rehearsals and what not, getting ready for the big nights. We raised a lot of money for the Museum and it was good. But, how did that happen?

Accusing Poker Alice the murder

Accusing Poker Alice the murder (photo by RD Schmidt)

 The year moved on with meetings, tours, and Friends’ field trips to other museums. Then, the Friends learned of a collections crisis in the NSM’s storage facilities. In a nutshell, the museum desperately needs additional space to house artifacts and collections according to standards of the American Alliance of Museums. I could write for hours about this stuff as I have learned so much. I won’t go into the details of the facilities (especially items stored at the NDOT(NV Dept. of Transportation) facility. Trust me when I say our collections are in crisis and many artifacts are in danger of being destroyed by air quality, dust, vermin and pigeons.

Carriage being destroyed by mice and pigeons (at NDOT facility)

Carriage being destroyed by mice and pigeons (at NDOT facility)  Yes, it’s really old but mice are using stuffing for nests and pigeons do their business from the rafters

I began to learn about this crisis when Jim Barmore, Director of the NSM, spoke about it at one of our Friends board meetings. I innocently asked how we could help, thinking he’d probably say that we could volunteer to help clean up the facilities and help with artifacts. But, instead, he suggested that we write letters to the governor and legislators about the state budget, explaining the needs and how critical the situation is. So, we mounted a campaign and I actually wrote quite a few letters. (I NEVER did that in California. I NEVER thought that anyone there would pay attention.) Many of us actually received letters in response. They were diplomatic and didn’t really say much, but I felt good about them anyway.

Then the state budget was presented and the storage addition proposal wasn’t on it. Rats!!! It’s the same old story. There is never enough government money to go around.   We talked about it in our next board meeting.  We decided to write stronger legislative letters including pictures and perhaps contact a TV station and the Nevada Appeal (our local newspaper). I emailed the pictures and a little packet to the Reno ABC affiliate and they actually sent a reporter that very day! The report was aired that evening. Pretty good, huh?

The same day of the TV report, I received a letter from the Senate Chair of Finance. He suggested that I attend the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means and speak to try to make the museum’s case there. So I worked hard to prepare a speech accompanied by the pictures and the packet and I went to the meeting on April 10. (It was a momentous day as it was the first time I’ve worn a skirt since moving to Nevada. A real sacrifice!)  Two other Friends went with me and we made our points. Speaking in front of the committee was daunting and exciting at the same time. Don’t want to do it again, though. How did it go from just writing a one-page letter to speaking at the Legislature? I don’t know. It just happened.

Unfortunately, all this effort will probably go for naught. The Nevada legislature meets biannually for 120 days only. By the time we got involved with the process, budgets had pretty well been set. But, there is a very slight hope that something for the museum could be appended to another bill at the tail end of the session. Another way to look at it is that seeds have been planted. Some of the fertilizer (and it wasn’t BS) that we talked about might stick on the walls and something may come of it in the next biennium.

Oh, in the midst of all this activity, I will become chairperson of the Friends of the NSM in May. I sort of think it was by default because most of the other board members have already served a term. How did this happen when all I wanted to do was be a tour guide?  I think Jerri was smart in stepping back and doing only a few activities with the tour guides.  🙂

So this is my saga about things mushrooming.  This epistle might sound like a giant vent, but it really isn’t.  I’m just wondering how these things happen.


3 Responses to “Starting to Do One Simple Thing and Having It Mushroom into Many Tasks (How Does This Happen?)”

  1. Dick Schmidt April 15, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    “These things happen” because you are The Coralizer – you make things happen.

  2. Connie Raub April 15, 2015 at 4:00 am #

    Ah, Coralee! Why do you question the Universe? I agree with Dick, that you step up when you feel called and passionate about a cause – thereby being “the Coralizer” – a great new name for you! Once people discover how valuable, intelligent and capable you are they invite you into a place where you can “make things happen”! Thank you for sharing your experience and questions. I would not ask “how does this happen?”, but rather how you can turn a desire to learn into an opportunity? It looks to me like you have done just that!

  3. Glenda Gregory April 26, 2015 at 1:09 am #

    Being The Coralizer suits you, and all of your adventures in and around Minden have steadily prepared you for this as your interest in and appreciation of your new home has grown and strengthened. You’re a natural for the position of chairperson of the Friends of the NSM!

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