If you haven't viewed Joey Baer's ASL blog on the dying culture of Deaf Clubs, log on at joeybaer.com and click on the one with blue shirt, and "5 minutes" caption underneath. Interesting narrative on diminishing numbers of deaf clubs across the country. He resolves to resurrect these old days of deaf clubs, for us to toss aside the modern technology that took us away from personal socialization/interactions, and is the cause of changing landscape of the deaf community. He is right - technology HAS changed the landscape even though it brought us closer to the mainstream society and enable us to communicate with the public at large without language barrier which is great. The question is DO we want to resurrect the deaf clubs or accept it as part of a life cycle of a community? A beginning is a means of an end. Is it just time for the deaf club to die out? Or should we hold on to it Or just create a different kind? For me, the third is the logical option.
During my parents' time, it was a NECESSITY. These deaf clubs provided a support system. Deafies flocked to the clubs to rant and rave, to ask questions, to listen to advice on how to solve problems at work, with families, with children, with bosses, etc. It was a bloodline for the Deafies. They attended deaf clubs religiously. My time, as a young child, it was more social. Workshops. Celebration. Holidays. Sports. You get the idea. Within 20-30 years, it evolved. We had interpreters, relay service and increased awareness of the deaf. We had IDEA. We had Civil Rights laws. Now, it evolved again. What does a deaf club serve for us now? Seems to be uncertain. What is the "job description" of a deaf club? Sports remains a mainstay part of the club in most places. Referrals is another part in places where there is no state agency for the deaf. We have one here in Arizona, so our PAD (Phoenix Association of the Deaf) does not provide a referral service. Ah, yes, KODAs organization. A relatively new organization for increasing number of parents experiencing parental difficulties with hearing children and a support system for the KODAs. Deaf parents nowadays are more articulate with issues with raising hearing children, the issues they face as CODAs, thus needing an organization.
So, creating a new kind of deaf clubs may be unnecessary since it apparently already has evolved, but for the social aspect, it seems to become an irrevelant part of the deaf club culture. As for myself, I dislike going to deaf clubs solely for social functions due to the fact deaf people are notorious gossipers. I have had my fill of that in my youth and had experienced the destruction of idle gossip, so I avoid that like the plague. I believe many other Deafies feel the same and avoid deaf clubs for similar reasons. It is simply that there is more to life than gossip. I'd rather do other things. An organization is supposed to serve a shared goal by their members for the betterment or enhancement of their lives, not to gossip about others and to destroy others' reputations. That is my view of a deaf club.
So, Joey, you have a genuine passion to preserve the deaf culture which is commendable, but time has an annoying way of evolving, of changing, so the reality is not always accommodating. We STILL have deaf culture, but different from our parents' time. That is part of life. We need to re-define what a deaf club constitutes of and how it should serve the deaf.
Any comment, anyone?