By George Moore
The much-maligned World Health Organization has defined “Healthy” as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.” Well, by that definition, I am profoundly unhealthy. I miss the social part. I miss the give and take with colleagues at work, the joyfulness of family events and visits with children and grandchildren. I also miss the encounters with Bar members at both formal and informal events. It’s not the events themselves, but the informal catching up, networking, and social interplay, that rounds out our social selves. It gives depth and understanding to our lives and the lives of those we connect with. Somehow, Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, or even Facetime don’t fulfill that need. Better than nothing, but not good enough.
So, it was with some ennui that after consultation with the Bar Officers, I faced the inevitable, and moved to cancel all the events and activities planned for the 2020 Annual Meeting. From a Friday night banquet at the brand-new AC Hotel in Portsmouth, to the sails on the historic Gundalow, to a Saturday night lobster bake under a tent at the Wentworth by the Sea Country Club, they all seemed from a past world.
One thing that startled me was the fact that I was using the “force majeure” clause in our contracts to get deposits returned and room blocks released. Remember that clause from Contracts 101? Nice to know about, and I understood if ISIS just took Boston, and was heading up 95 toward Portsmouth, I could use the clause to cancel contracted plans. But to actually be in the middle of an event that warranted its invocation? These are truly strange times.
Until we get through the pandemic, no other large gatherings are planned. We are still holding our organizational breath to keep on the books the New Hampshire Bar Foundation Annual Dinner in late September, and we will get an early start on planning for the February Mid-Year Meeting. Let us all hope we can associate, with social distancing, by that time.
This is the first and only time the Annual Meeting, as a social event, has been cancelled since the Bar’s unification in the early 1970’s. Our Constitution and Bylaws require the organization to hold an Annual Membership Business Meeting before October 15, 2020. The Board of Governors has decided to hold that meeting, remotely, on June 19th. There will be notices published in the Bar News, website, and e-bulletin.
The Annual Business Meeting will begin with a movement to pass a handful of bylaw changes and any other business that has been noticed. At the end of the Board’s business meeting, the 2020-2021 Board of Governors will be installed, and the gavel will pass remotely, from Ed Philpot to Dan Will. Members are invited to attend, virtually, and a passcode procedure is presently being developed with the Bar’s GoToMeeting technology.
My last challenge is to find a way to have Ed virtually exit his GotoMeeting window and hand Dan the gavel in his window. If Hollywood can do it, we can do it, and folks much more adept than I are looking into it.
The specialness of the New Hampshire Bar has always been the collegiality between members and the relationships we develop and nurture over time. The coronavirus pandemic has robbed us of those opportunities right now, but let us hope that the future affords us the chances to revisit those friendships. As President Lincoln put it lyrically in his First Inaugural speech, while trying to hold the Union together, friendship is “nurtured by the mystic chords of memory.” Let us remember and look forward to renewing our connections at the 2021 Annual Meeting!