Birth and Growth of the Geology Group
2021 was the 11th year of the Geology Group, which morphed from a Geology Study Group run by Kitty Reed (paleontology and scientific editing) and her husband Gerry Thorsten (Quaternary Geologist) under the auspices of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center (2001-2009). After Gerry’s passing in 2009, Kitty and Michael Machette (a newcomer to Port Townsend) decided to recast the Group’s activities and online presence starting with Pat Pringle’s dendrochronlogy talk in January 2011. Since then, we formed an advisory committee to run our activities (see Board of Advisors). Recently, we’ve seen rapid growth, expansion, and unbridled success at bringing college-level Earth Science lectures and field excursions to the Quimper Peninsula. We’ve had nearly 75 events in the past 10 years, 10-fold membership growth, and thousands of contacts about earth sciences in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
In the fall of 2011, we moved our base to from the Port Townsend Marine Science Center to the Jefferson Land Trust, which has a more obvious connection to the land. In addition, they provided 501c3 status, accounting and tax reporting, and liability insurance. It was a good move: we now have a symbiotic relationship through which they expanded their educational outreach and community involvement. Initially, we drew 50-75 people for 3-4 lectures a year and a field trip or two in the summer. For years we met at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Foundation (QUUF), which has a great presentation venue. With seating of 175, we never tested its capacity until Gary Greene gave a talk on the Geology and Ecology of the Salish Sea and we drew a standing room audience of about 200. Changes in the rental policies of QUUF forced us to look elsewhere, so in 2018 we moved to the First Baptist Church of Port Townsend. With the invaluable help of Pastor Skip Cadorette, we hosted a wide variety of talks in a comfortable but smaller venue; however, our increasing exposure and popularity in the community led to several “sold out” events.
Turning interested citizens away from events is never a good thing, so we searched again and found a larger, comfortable venue for 2019 (and beyond). Our new home is the Port Townsend High School Auditorium, which seats 300. We started to have large events here (200-250 attending) before the Covid-19 pandemic forced us out the auditorium and onto Zoom in March 2020. Attendance suffered (no social element now), but we’ve gained many members from the region that didn’t attend owing to travel distances. As of the Fall of 2021, we are continuing with Zoom lectures but hoping to go to hybrid in-person and zoom lectures in 2022.
Over the summer of 2019 we changed the name of our group to the Quimper Geological Society, to better reflect our scope and stature in the community (see Our Name Changed). With this change, we’ve expanded our web presence and are gaining audience at a rapid rate. We currently have about 1000 email members, at least 50 of which are professional geologists that live in the Puget Sound. We are larger and draw more attendance than the Washington Geological Society, a long-lived geoscience group in the Seattle area. We have different, but equally important missions: we focus on community outreach whereas they cater to a professional Earth Science base.