Bear with me, as this is a convoluted means to an end...
Back in 2004, I fell in love with my new golden retriever, Sam. He was a pup from an unknown KY backyard litter - he was awesome, then quickly he wasn't. He ended up with two blown knees, two expensive TPLO surgeries & eventually bone cancer - and we lost him before he was 9.
When it came to getting another golden, (enter Charlie) I bought one from a reputable breeder - what I learned there was amazing. Debra Keen, of Brio Goldens shared her vast knowledge about the breed, & how the intent of breeders is to maintain the integrity of the line. Breeding the best with only the best (hopefully) only helps to strengthen the line and keep hip, cancer, elbow, eyes, heart etc. issues to a minimum.
So - yes - here's my point.
Yesterday I was reading the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) page/forum on FB - where Libby Leuchtman was talking about the importance of supporting the ISGB. I, for many reasons, agree. I have been making beads for over 16 years and learned in, what was essentially, a vacuum. How would my experience have been different if I'd had people to bounce things off?
There was one post from a woman who questioned the $65 membership fee - why it was so important to join - going on to say how she was struggling to have money for glass, let alone this additional fee. Within minutes there was an incredible outpouring of reasons supporting membership AND many, MANY offers to send her supplies! What an incredible outpouring of support! I was totally floored. This is more the norm than the exception... how cool is that?
I can tell you that over the years I've gone to the forum on the official ISGB site to look up technical questions, find resources, teachers & answers. So - much like the breeder - the goal of this professional organization is to educate and promote this craft. To help glass artists produce art that is in the upper echelons when it comes to quality. It's very easy for this to be an incredibly solitary sport... and it's just so much nicer to have peers to encourage a direction or answer a nagging question.