The annual Boston Sea Rovers film festival marks two things for fellow New England divers – another year passed, and the cold, dark winter is nearing an end with the next dive season is right around the corner.
While I’ve participated in the annual clinic as a daytime speaker in the past, a casual observation of the daily musings at the annual clinic seem to be a decent barometer of the state of our little industry. To be honest, in recent years, it hasn’t been too good. Exhibitor #’s have gone down, exhibits themselves are pared down to more modest displays, fewer new and innovative widgets are creating hype on the floors, and attendance at presentations has thinned out dramatically.
It’s a sad reality…or is it?
Like the rest of the world, the underwater community is changing. Not immune to today’s financial woes, the pressures of general economics have taken their toll, but more optimistically, and for the better, we are amidst much needed change.
Online communities, both social networks and web based storefronts, have changed the dynamics of commerce in all industries. Frankly, there is no choice but to embrace this at some level. For example, why drive 20 minutes and spend 30 minutes BS’ing with a store owner when trying to buy a new $30 dive mask, when you can get that same mask online for $15 in 30 seconds. Time is money these days. For those who argue the social benefit of the small shops, I don’t disagree, however it is a safe assumption that the next wave of consumers would rather chit chat with 500 like minded people in a Facebook group than sit on rusty folding chairs and drink bad beer at a ‘club meeting’. Times have changed.
Now, I’m not knocking our roots by any stretch of the imagination. However, I am challenging all to keep up with the times for sake of saving our community. We have no choice. Rest assured that a small little handful of old schoolers are not going to stop the influx of web and interactive technologies into the dive industry. Take it for what it is.
While dive shops, clubs, and community events are struggling at the ground level, larger scale events are feeling the pain as well. This year’s Boston Sea Rovers event is no exception. It is not being held at its normal location, and is taking on a whole new format – leaving the daytime clinic to the wayside, with only the Film Festival showing in the evening. Is this radical change forced by necessity, or is it a bold new move into a new era for the club?
In either case, I’ll be there. I attended my first Boston Sea Rovers Clinic more than a decade ago, and the one thing that does stay consistent year after year is the renewed inspiration and sense of pride I have for being part of this community, and in being so privileged to have the opportunity, time and time again, to bring just a glimpse of the underwater world back to the non-diving public through my own efforts.