From the Executive Director, Roberta L. Spencer: Dear Members, Names and Happenings: Boston has a lot of historical significance here in the States. A lot of us grew up hearing about the “shot heard 'round the world” and the midnight ride of Paul Revere, but have you ever heard of William Dawes? If you are like me, probably not. That shot and Paul's ride are important historical events we are taught at a young age in school. However, it was not an event perpetrated by a lone individual here or there that started the American Revolution; rather, it was an accumulation of individuals dissatisfied with paying taxes without representation (as the story is told in the States). So, our hotel this year is an aggregation of meeting rooms named after historical figures including William Dawes. Like Paul Revere, Dawes rode out to warn the militia and its leaders that the British were coming, but no poems were ever written about him and his name is not as familiar. Other names of meeting rooms include Crispus Attucks, the man considered to be the first casualty of the American Revolution; Molly Pitcher, the nickname give to woman who carried water to troops; and Haym Solomon, an immigrant from Poland who aided the American Revolution by arranging financing for the Continental Army. There is also a room named after William Garrison, an abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer with a prominent voice for the women’s suffrage movement who was born well after the American Revolution near Boston. The meeting room names should have significance to all participants at this year’s conference regardless of which country you are from. Whereas most people will look at these rooms and see the names of people and event they are famous for, we, as system dynamicists, will see a system of interconnected parts encompassing horsemen and soliders willing to fight with their lives, but also water and finances and social reformers. We understand that it is the underlying structure of the system that generates the behavior that journalists and historians explain in terms of events.

The conference brings together people from around the world who are interested in understanding and educating others about the importance of the underlying structure. In fact, as of mid-June, more than half the conference registrants are international visitors from every continent, from Australia to Venezuela: 48 countries and counting!

When there is a new event at the conference, it needs a name. In 2000 the first “Fireside Chat” with Jay Forrester was scheduled, and we learned that some participants were not familiar with this term. The term comes from the series of radio addresses made by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the ’30s and ‘40s that facilitated informal, direct communication. We will have our third Fireside Chat this year. (Did you know some Fireside Chat clips are on the Society’s Facebook page?)

This year we had some fun picking the name for the new event "Model Expo." Click here to see a few of the names considered. Besides the Model Expo, this year there are other new events and back-by-popular-demand sessions scheduled. There is a broader Lunchtime Series, a Practitioners' Day and a night at the movies. Please take a look at the Tentative Schedule, and click on links to learn more. Also, please know that we have listened to your feedback and are making adjustments to the structure of the conference to improve your experience.

The Secret to Life
A while ago a system dynamicist friend of mine drew this stock and flow diagram on a scrap piece of paper. It hangs on a wall in my office. It is interesting to find myself moving around in all these processes. Recently, I was in the process of learning from my dad how to rewire an exterior lighting fixture.

View from nearby the Society office
Due to failing eye sight he was unable to get this easy-for-him job done. So, from memory, he was transferring his wisdom, step by step, to me. Remarkably, the light works and the house did not burn down. I am continuously aware of, and always pleased to see, the transfer of wisdom, the chances for learning, and the opportunities for accomplishments our Society and community offer. At our conferences, in email and other communication, and in courses and seminars around the world, system dynamics is happening everywhere.

Did you see the March 20 “Happy First Day Of Spring!” post on the Society’s Facebook page? If not, please take a look back and compare; see what a difference three months makes! Here’s to the beginning of a great summer. And, all of us at the Society office look forward to seeing you next month in Cambridge. Best, Roberta

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Milne 300, Rockefeller College, University at Albany, Albany, New York 12222 USA
Phone: +1 518 442 3865; Fax: +1 518 442 3398; Email: [email protected]

The System Dynamics Newsletter is published by the System Dynamics Society.
Editors: Robin Langer, LouAnne Lundgren, Weijia Ran, Erin Sheehan, and Roberta L. Spencer.