I would love to be part of something - but since I live 3500 miles away the commute would be unreasonable.

Suggest that you start by organizing events rather than meetings. Start with some field trips to interesting shooting locations. Then, after a few of those, schedule an informal session to show and share the results of the shoots. That way, the initial sessions have clear objectives while still providing an opportunity for casual conversation and testing the water for a regular and more formal series of activities. It also keeps things clearly focused on phtography rather than club building.

And frankly, if all that comes out of it is building a group of people who enjoy shooting together and sharing work, that's probably better than the formality of a club with dues and competitions and end of the year dinners and all that stuff.