Volunteering for this task combined different interests for me – a love of ‘organizing’ knowledge plus a zest for U3A networking whatever the geographical location.
Some suggestions arose following a Sources advertisement, but 99% of this indexing has come from website visits. I searched keywords on ‘sitebuilder’ websites although greater subtlety was often needed in searching: group names can be imprecise or unintentionally misleading.
Larger U3As were naturally the most fertile hunting ground and national advisers were also consulted. A most obvious potential limitation was the constant rise and fall of groups.
Groups indexed were genuinely special. So, not Art, but ‘ Art as Therapy’. Languages like Turkish or Danish. Music groups are plentiful; Mozart, or Barbershop are rare. Calligraphy is popular, but for Graphology contact Jersey.
Rare groups included: Sex in ancient times, Bolsheviks, Fungi, Zulu War Studies, Walking Netball, Writing Limericks. One group does email exchanges with a Russian equivalent.
Indexing is itself educative. Do you recognise any of the following? Medau, Algilez, Pickleball, Zentangle, Geocaching, Halma, Makaton. What variety we have. There are different ‘takes’ on some themes and studies offered of very diverse individuals, e.g. William Morris, Jane Austen, Carl Jung or Bob Dylan.
Visiting around 1000 websites meant a vast indexing journey: what’s covered by Wild Things? Does Rowing relate to rivers or arguments! Some sites offer amusing titles or provocative phrases: Maritime Song group proclaims it is “never knowingly over-rehearsed”.
Perhaps a use of the index might be for those starting an ‘unusual’ group to contact people who have done so successfully in other, quite different, subject areas to analyse “how”.
The index is a 2017 snapshot. Update mechanisms and whether it may become directly available to enquirers are under discussion.
Members may contact Arthur with further ideas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The index is available at sources.u3a.org.uk/index-of-the-rare