The Association for Somali Cats:
A New Club with New Ideas for a New Century

by Ray Benter (Artshow Somalis)

It's SO exciting! The Association for Somali Cats (TASC) is launched at last! I can't begin to tell the story of how we arrived here, without exclaiming first what a tremendously fulfilling time (to say nothing of the hard work) this has been for all of us who followed a shared vision to form this club! Somali owners and Somali cats will benefit immediately and far into the future. This is a club built on many important foundation stones. These include respect, democracy, equality, fairness, caring, commitment, discernment, and a lot of other adjectives. You will learn about them in these pages, or by joining TASC and becoming a part of the ongoing story of doing the right things for Somali cats and Somali owners, breeders and exhibitors all over the world.

TASC grew, as many good ideas do, out of friendly conversations among people dedicated to shared ideas and ideals. In 1998, a congenial group of Somali fanciers (Somali owners and breeders from all around the world) were enjoying a wide variety of email exchanges. They ranged from chit-chat about the antics of Somali cats, to serious discussions of cat illnesses and even death. This combination of silly and serious allowed the list members to cross cultural and national boundaries, and to learn about one another in greater depth than many face-to-face clubs had allowed in the past. Email, even with its lack of sight and sound, instantaneously linked us to new friends around the world. Bonds were formed; nicknames were devised. "Somalifriends," as Suzan Meijer (Silfescian Somalis) from The Netherlands called the group, were open and communicative about topics that were rarely or never discussed in other settings. It was becoming obvious that the Somalifriends were new and precious international resources for each other and synergistically for the Somali breed worldwide. The one thing we lacked was an international Somali club under whose banner we could move forward to implement our ideas and ideals.

Once individuals began to see that their shared vision could be directed to do great good for individual Somalis and the whole breed, not just locally, but internationally, the idea of a club began to be mentioned more often. Barb French (Tarantara Somalis) wrote that she and Marianne Harris (Rampageous Somalis), "...talked about the idea of a new cat club at length, both at the 1998 CFA International (when a bunch of us mused about this very topic over beer and Woodchuck Cider at a wonderful little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant), and in a long conversation by phone." Private emails were exchanged all around the list and, like "an idea whose time had come," the concept of a new international club was in the air everywhere. Roy Albert (Silkenfire Somalis) volunteered to establish a private list for those who were interested in discussing a new club.

But how to begin? None of us had formed an online breed club before, much less an international one. We tried several things; we floated ideas of how to organize; and we called ourselves TheNewCatClub, for lack of a better label. Barb French suggested some organizing principles and methods to begin the task of defining the new club's structure and substance. Working Groups were founded for:

  1. Incorporation
  2. Constitution/Bylaws
  3. Officers
  4. Membership
  5. Goals and Purposes
  6. Standard of Conduct
  7. Newsletter
  8. Web Site

Preliminary work was accomplished, but working only online proved to be time-consuming and sometimes difficult. Virtually no one gave up, however, as the ideas that were being bounced around were inspiringly fresh and potentially consequential. Methods of voting on issues were devised. Arguments and counter arguments were discussed. The Standard of Conduct working group, under the leadership of Nancy Bailey (Foxbrush Somalis), struggled with ethical questions about what makes a good Somali owner or breeder. The Goals and Purposes working group, led by Roy Albert, set about defining what TASC would try to accomplish for Somali cats and for Somali fanciers. The Constitution/Bylaws working group tried to flesh out a document that encircled all the other elements, sometimes guessing at an approximate structure which was yet to be defined by other groups. Mark Rowe (Gray Castle Somalis) led this effort with steady determination. Like the proverbial Phoenix rising from its own ashes, TASC members drew plans for the club even as it was evolving.

Names were bounced around. Would we be a traditional club? A network? Did we want to emphasize our online profile or our international flavor? In the end, The Association FOR Somali Cats was the winner because we realized that we were actively designing a club where Somali cats were going to be the center of efforts, the main reason for existence.

Eventually a temporary board of directors volunteered to work in smaller groups to shape the club. Hundreds of volunteer hours were poured into making the TASC Constitution an effective instrument that reflects the respect we have for each other and the commitment we share for the welfare of our Somali cats. Although not yet complete, the TASC Constitution forms the backbone of the club. Once sections on officers had been written the club elected members to the Board of Directors and to the offices of the club.

The first document to be completed and approved was the list of Goals and Purposes for the club. Then the Standard of Conduct was completed. These documents tell a great deal about TASC; they form a recognizable face for the club. TASC will be guided by its Goals and Purposes and wants its members to be guided by its Standard of Conduct. If, when you read these documents, you find yourself nodding your head in agreement, then you are probably someone who would enjoy belonging to The Association for Somali Cats. We welcome your Involvement; spelled with a capital "I" because we really mean Involvement! TASC members are encouraged to participate for two reasons; 1.) we need your ideas and hard work, and 2.) Democratic Involvement makes a better club. To join TASC simply submit the Membership Form and dues to the club secretary.

As a member, you receive the benefit of knowing that, backed by the wisdom and power of an organized group of Somalifriends, you are doing the right things for Somali cats and Somali fanciers worldwide.

The Association for Somali Cats
P.O. Box 1201
Philomath, OR, USA 97370

This page was last updated on November 25, 2000.