IN THE BEGINNING
The North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA) began in 2006 as an idea whose time had come simultaneously on both coasts by several people with a passion for sea glass. The two individuals who were largely responsible for getting the Sea Glass Association ball rolling were Charles Peden on the West Coast and Richard LaMotte on the East Coast. Chance brought them together and from their earliest collaborations, the North American Sea Glass Association inched its way onto the national scene as a means by which those passionately involved with sea glass, either as their life’s work or favorite pastime, could meet and share their knowledge and experience and sea glass discoveries with each other. In October 2022, the name of the association was changed to the International Sea Glass Association (ISGA).
THE GENUINE ARTICLE
From the very beginning in the early 2000s, issues surrounding the buying and selling of genuine sea glass and the development of criteria by which to distinguish genuine sea glass from artificially created sea glass were crucial to the mission of the organization. But one of the difficulties in establishing ethical guidelines arose from the realization that the Sea Glass Association would have to deal with the very important question of “Who are the experts?” Since no one out there had heretofore established him or herself as the go-to source for sea glass, LaMotte and Peden gathered a group of knowledgeable sea glass enthusiasts who, together, might constitute a gathering of experts, so to speak.
WHO COULD HELP
Using what information was available to them on the internet, about fourteen known collectors and artisans from all around North America were invited to help form an organization whose combined wisdom might contribute to the world’s knowledge of sea glass. Ten of the fourteen were willing and able to comprise the first board of directors and they were, in addition to Charles and Richard, Teri Reed and Jennifer Reed, Lisa Hall, Sharon Umbaugh, Linda Jereb, Mary Beth Beuke, and Cindy Kuhn.
Charles began the building of the Sea Glass Association website and its first pages. He also, along with Richard, Mary Beth and a few others, began contributing to the content with a commitment to the collecting public, to sea glass education, and to helping differentiate artificial from genuine sea glass. A mission statement was written, a code of ethics established, and the beginnings of getting the first annual national sea glass festival off the ground began.
With the first festival just months around the corner, a labor force and funding was needed. Charles called upon those who gravitated to this nascent organization to collaborate, brainstorm, research, edit and financially support in whatever way they could.
A membership was offered through the website and funds were collected. Also, throughout the first year, a gradual base of Professional Members joined and paid the first dues which went directly toward web design fees and upkeep. Richard helped to compile and print the first Shorelines newsletter and the first festival posters. Charles and Lindsay Furber helped to ship them out.
Just before the First Annual North American Sea Glass Festival however, Charles shared with the volunteer board that he’d felt the urge to work in another profession and made it clear that he’d no longer be able to serve on the board.
Since much time and energy had already been invested into the festival endeavor, it was decided the event must go on though the Sea Glass Association had no operating funds at this time. All monies for rental of the space, advertising and logistics required money to secure, and these were put up by that early group of volunteer board members who had faith that a national festival would be enthusiastically welcomed. If you build it they will come! No Professional membership fees or general membership fees underwrote the first festival. It was done on a shoestring budget by those first few volunteers who believed in the organization and supported it with their personal finances, time and energies. It was a very successful event with collectors attending from all over North America and from overseas. It quickly became very clear that the Sea Glass Association was already reaching the world of sea glass collectors.
Coming off such a positive event, the very next board meeting was dedicated to organizing the Sea Glass Association structure to accommodate the growth and to designate specific roles for board members. So, formal nominations were taken for 2007 officers and board members; our first election! Mary Beth was elected President, Richard LaMotte, Vice President, Linda Mickevicius, Treasurer and Sharon Umbaugh, Secretary. The five other board members were Gary DeBlois, Lisa Hall, Linda Jereb, Jennifer and Teri Reed and Cindy Kuhn. At this first national event it was agreed by the board to establish the Sea Glass Association as a “non-profit” organization.
COMMITMENTS AND MISSION
A regular board meeting schedule was set and bookkeeping was turned over to the treasurer Linda M. The Sea Glass Association was registered as a non-profit organization with the mission of serving sea glass collecting community and making a commitment to shoreline restoration. Sharon began keeping meeting minutes as well as an email database of all the Sea Glass Association contacts. A new web designer was found to help keep the site updated.
KEEPING THE CODE
It was at this time that the liability of keeping a feasible Code of Ethics be considered. With the issue of artificial, frosted glass product being often sold as ocean tumbled sea glass, the board renewed its commitment to functioning as an educational group as opposed to legislative group. With thousands of buyers and sellers in the world, the Sea Glass Association volunteers would neither have the time nor the legal qualifications to go between parties disputing artistic design issues or the “genuine” issue. Positive steps like the Genuine vs. Artificial pages on the website were freshened up so that the general public could be cautioned and educated. Several members volunteered to send out the first Sea Glass Association mailing with posters, a “Genuine vs. Artificial” placard, thank you letters and a sample of real vs. tumbled glass to all who donated start up investments.
BYLAWS AND TERM LIMITS
The board voted on a set of by-laws that were written with 2-year term limits set when a board member could be re-elected to office. This enables the Sea Glass Association to invite new volunteers to serve and helps to rotate off, those who have served faithfully and at length.
The Board of Directors changed the name of the organization to the International Sea Glass Association on October 1, 2022. Over the preceding years many other artisans and sea glass-related businesses wanted to be a part of our association, but lived outside of the United States. We look forward to the change and the possibilities it provides to expand our organization and mission. The new name reflects the inclusive nature of ISGA and supports our mission of educating collectors and sellers around the world about the characteristics and significance of genuine sea and beach glass.
Shoreline Restoration: As a nonprofit organization the Sea Glass Association is committed to annual donations to Shoreline Preservation organizations. In 2008 the Sea Glass Association donated $2,500 to The Ocean Conservancy and $1,500 to Cape Henlopen State Park. We actively seek suggestions regarding organizations to send donations.
None of the board members, professional members or executive committee is compensated for their work on behalf of the organization. The financial success of the first festival has allowed the Sea Glass Association to hire outside service providers in order to reduce demands on volunteers who could no longer afford to give of so much of their time. The organization is deeply grateful to the unsung heroes who manage the accounting, the newsletter, the festivals, the data bases, the professional membership, the communication, the shoreline restoration work and more.
Respectfully compiled by the team of: Richard LaMotte, Sharon Umbaugh, Cindy Kuhn, Mary Beth Beuke, Linda Mickevicius, Lisa Hall, and Jennifer Reed.