For our last day of the 30 day Holiday Countdown we thought we'd share something that doesn't need to be wrapped or shipped, something that could serve as a perfect last minute gift: society memberships. Through these memberships, your loved ones gain access to information and events from a variety of incredibly epic fields, from astronomy to gravestone studies. We're sharing a few organizations that we love but feel free to use this idea as inspiration to discover societies that are relevant to the people on your holiday gift list!
First we have the Association for Gravestone Studies in Massachusetts.
The Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) was founded in 1977 for the purpose of furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. AGS is an international organization with an interest in gravemarkers of all periods and styles. Through its publications, conferences, workshops and exhibits, AGS promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives, expands public awareness of the significance of historic gravemarkers, and encourages individuals and groups to record and preserve gravestones. (1)
Membership to the AGS offers you access to the AGS quarterly magazine, monthly newsletter, and annual journal, as well as other publications that collectively include "feature articles and regular columns on conservation, epitaphs, and international gravestone studies. Usually there are also book reviews,...definitive illustrated articles on cemeteries and gravemarkers, as well as an extensive annual international bibliography of recent scholarship" so you can discover the magnificent artistry and history of gravemarkers (2). For those who are lovers of history or those who adored gravestone rubbings as children, this is an exceptional membership that we're confident no one will expect!
Succulents have become a crushingly popular home decor item in recent years and, with quarantine underway, it seems even more people have embraced the uniqueness and boldness of these fantastical plants. While it is now a bit cliche to gift succulents, a membership to the Cactus and Succulent Society of America is an excellent way to embrace the popularity of plants in an unexpected way!
Founded in 1929, The Cactus And Succulent Society Of America (CSSA) is a worldwide community of avid gardeners, hobby and commercial horticulturists, nurserymen, and professional scientists who all share an appreciation for cacti and other types of succulent plants. (3)
Members of the CSSA get access to the Cactus and Succulent Society Journal (published four times annually), the To The Pointe newsletter, the CSSA Biennial International Convention, members-only field trips, and reduced prices on seeds from the CSSA Seed Depot. For the plant-lovers in your life, a CSSA membership makes an incredible gift!
Our flagship publication, Cactus and Succulent Journal, has been the leading publication of its kind since 1929. It features popular and scientific articles about cacti and other succulent plants...Each full color, quarterly volume features horticultural instruction, new plants, research and conservation reports, travelogues, biographical and historical material and book-reviews. Numerous photographs of plants in habitat or in cultivation and fine botanical paintings...enrich the text. Lively travelogues give a sense of discovery, while (friendly) instructions on cultivation, propagation and pest control encourage a safe immersion in the world of succulents. (3)
Next on our list we have the Explorers Club in New York City. Maintaining a beautiful Jacobean townhouse headquarters on E 70th Street in Manhattan, the Explorers Club is a love letter to curiosity and adventure that we imagine everyone wants to be a part of!
In May 1904, a group of men active in exploration met at the request of Henry Collins Walsh, to form an organization to unite explorers in the bonds of good fellowship and to promote the work of exploration by every means in its power...For more than a century, members of the Club have traversed the earth, the seas, the skies, and even the moon, on expeditions of exploration. First to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean, first to the surface of the moon—all accomplished by our members. (4)
It shouldn't come as much surprise that, given the tremendous accomplishments of its members, not just anyone can declare themselves an explorer and gain membership. However, there is a Friends of the Club membership level for "individuals who wish to associate with The Explorers Club and support its mission" that is available to those of us who haven't "made documented contributions to scientific knowledge through field expeditions" as evidenced by publication (5). By submitting an application supplemented by a letter of sponsorship from a current Club member or fellow, one can begin the review process for Friends of the Club membership. If that seems like too much of a commitment or too lengthy a process, we completely understand and recommend gifting a one, two, or three year subscription to The Explorers Journal, the official quarterly publication of the Explorers Club since 1921. It's nothing short of epic and the perfect introduction to the Club for your intrepid loved ones!
Finally, we have the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Founded in 1930 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, WHOI is "dedicated to advancing knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society" (6).
WHOI’s leadership in ocean science and engineering has resulted in a long line of notable discoveries and advancements in knowledge of the ocean. These range from the distribution and role of microbes in the marine environment to development of revolutionary new tools and techniques to study the ocean to the discovery of life in the deep ocean near hydrothermal vents to a deeper understanding of the nature and impacts of hydrocarbons in the ocean. (7)
Membership to WHOI "provides priceless support to the researchers and engineers at WHOI who are applying novel ideas and technologies to understanding the ocean for our planet and our future" but also gives you or your loved ones access to a weekly e-newsletter, invitations to special tours, talks, and events, and depending on the membership tier, a subscription to the Oceanus magazine, an Atlantis poster, or a truly phenomenal t-shirt featuring a whale and the message 'Extinction is FOREVER'. We think the t-shirt alone makes the WHOI membership an easy sell!
All of the above memberships offer the people on your holiday gift list an opportunity to feed their curiosities and develop passions so we are confident they are well worth the dues. In closing out this feature, we want to take this moment to thank you all so much for joining us on this 30 Day Holiday Countdown! Hopefully you found gift-giving inspiration!