It was just last year that I was attempting to push myself into the world of volunteerism, grasping at the reasons why I should just give up with the cold shoulder of indifference and warmly embrace a cause that I felt strongly about.
For me, it was the South Dakota Festival of Books. Later, it became, for the second year in a row, The Big Read – a program that encourages people from around South Dakota to read the same, classic book.
Just a month away is the fourth annual South Dakota Festival of Books. It’s in Deadwood this year, and I’ll be going to help out – to expand my volunteerism from the cozy radius of my home and into the rest of the state. I’ll be there doing God knows what, live blogging a little and celebrating the art of the book in all of its glory.
And I’ll be doing it in a new capacity. For I am no longer a simple volunteer; a man that can forget about the formal connections and casually return home unburdened by the South Dakota Festival of Books’ baggage. No, now I’m deeply connected, integrated into the DNA of the group, forever associated with everything that the South Dakota Humanities Council does.
Now I’m on the board.
Board membership. Complete with an announcement in the newsletter and official meetings. Responsibility, and all that comes with it. Kind of scary, actually.
Let’s be honest – this isn’t a monumental announcement. People are elected to boards every day. I’ve actually been on the SDHC board for about two or three months, though we haven’t formally done anything that I have been able to attend. I haven’t said anything because, well, it didn’t seem very real. Or important. Or noteworthy in any sense of the word.
But the more I think about it, the cooler it seems. This is it – my first board appointment, at a young age, with no formal training or experience. This is it – my first turn as part of a group’s voice, as a representative of a cause.
I won’t lie – I’m totally excited. I’d always felt a twinge of jealousy at other people I’ve known who have been board members. I’ve wondered, “Why them?” I contemplated on how I could find a cause I truly cared about or a group I could back, let alone how I could make it on to the decision making machine that helped run it.
The prospect is part daunting, part thrilling. Will I do a good job? Will I impress the people that took a chance in selecting me? Will I succeed in representing the group – a statewide organization that promotes not just literature, but art, culture, everything that is everything about the humanities in South Dakota?
Next month, I’ll find out. I’ll be in Deadwood, in an official capacity, leading writers around or introducing or whatever it is that we board members do. Maybe I’ll just be working the information desk. Regardless, it’s my first shot at making a difference statewide, on backing up my words with action, on promoting reading and literature and all of that throughout South Dakota.
You could say I’m board certified in literature, I guess. Now I just have to prove it.