Currently, I'm training for Blackthorn gym (Gym no. 8). I really enjoy playing SS, mainly because every trainer is a pushover. I don't know if I'm training harder, or the levels are just lower, but I defeat every trainer I come across. I've only been beaten once, by my Rival. But Clair is a step up, and she is the only gym I've actually had to train for. My top Pokemon (Feraligtr) is only Lv. 38, and her top Pokemon (Kingdra) is 41. My Weepinbell is only Lv. 29, so some training is in order for that alone.
I picked SS because I prefer Lugia to Ho-Oh, same as you. Unfortunately though, I wanted Kyogre but I'm stuck with Groudon.
I haven't really been in contact with many members. Only Cosmar, I think. Arceus Master, Sheer Cold, Cain Nightroad and the rest have vanished without a trace. I have seen Cain posting, though.