It's March, which means that the entire 501st Legion has gone through an election, including the New England Garrison and the Green Mountain Squad. My friend Brian Anderson won the election to head up the garrison this year, and I volunteered to act as the Garrison's Public Relations Officer (PRO) under his administration. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't been on the Garrison staff for a while, and this will be a slightly different thing than I've done for the group before. It's not a job change for me — I'm still at The Verge, and while I cover cosplay, I don't really cover the 501st, to avoid any conflict of interest.
I'm well qualified for it: working for a major news site sort of helps, and I had jumped on social media for both the NEG and the 501st Legion (I started the Facebook pages for both way back when). I've got a bunch of ideas for what we'll be doing for the group in the coming months, such as more media outreach and growth of our social media channels.
What struck me the other day as I was working on getting some of these plans jotted down, was how much the environment has changed since I became an active member in 2007. Facebook was around, but it was only for college students. The iPhone was hardly the ubiquitous gadget that everyone carried around with them: people who wanted pictures taken had their own digital or disposable cameras, or used a flip phone. They'd get someone to hold their camera and take a picture. Now, we pose for selfies, and any time we march out in public, the phones are out and our pictures go up all over the place. It's a hugely different environment.
The 501st has grown considerably as well: it's no longer a small club where folks just hang out and dress up. The core of that is still there, of course, but it feels like there's more of a need for a professional administration to handle the growth and logistics to keep our mission going. That's good and bad — you get people complaining about the good old days of just having fun and not dealing with the serious, organizational stuff, but on the plus side, the group is stronger than it's ever been. Hopefully, this year will be a good one for getting the word out for what we do.