American Mensa Region 10
RVC Columns: 2014
The next meeting of the American Mensa Board of Directors will be held on December 6 in San Diego. The agenda for this meeting has been posted on the American Mensa website under Read > Board Meeting Reports. The main motions in this agenda are:
There will also be several presentations. Along with the regular Treasurer's and Executive Director's reports, there will be a review of the current programs offered by American Mensa to discuss their value to the organization in order to make budget decisions in the future, and a presentation and discussion of our insurance and risk coverage.
The hot button item, as usual, is the dues motion, which has been discussed vigorously in some of the online forums. Naturally, the most frequently voiced opinion is that members do not want a raise in the dues. (Who would?) People also want to reduce the tasks that the National Office performs in order to reduce the budget. Yet at the same time, there are those who want increased support from the National Office (often the same people asking for cuts). It is, as always, a complicated topic, and there's much to discuss. I've mentioned in a previous column that I believe a dues increase is inevitable, but there is not enough information in the motion as presented to persuade me to vote for this one. The motion states that this increase will be used to increase Local Group funding, but does not specify in what form or by how much. It also states that it would be used to partially pay for IT infrastructure improvements, but again, without sufficient details to determine if the increase is worthwhile. Generally, I would prefer to see what a budget is intended to cover and
then determine how to fund the budget, not the other way around.
Over the past few weeks I've been visiting most of the local groups in Florida to attend their ExComm meetings, business meetings, and major events, and most of our groups are doing well. Southwest by South Florida Mensa held their Bikers vs. Brainers Trivia Challenge, and it was so successful that they're holding another one on January 18, 2015, and Manasota is looking into holding one of their own. Miami Mensa has new members on their ExComm and will be participating in the King Mango Strut on December 28. Central Florida Mensa will be holding their "Sun-n-Games" RG on January 16-18 (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend), with details at sun-n-games.org. Many chapters have committed to helping with a big regional promotion at the MegaCon in Orlando in April, promoted as the largest fan convention in the South. And further into the year, online promotions have begun for Tampa Bay's "Margarita Bay" on Memorial Day weekend and Broward's "FLoRanGe 2015 -- Another Excuse to Each Chocolate" on Labor Day weekend. Your local groups are working hard for you -- volunteer to help them to prosper, or just attend and have fun!
In late September the AML Board of Directors held a teleconference in order to decide whether or not to approve a contract for the 2018 Annual Gathering proposed for Indianapolis. The contract had to be signed before the next regularly scheduled meeting in December, hence the special meeting. While we were convened, we also approved the minutes of the September 6 Board meeting, and clarified two bylaws referenda which had been approved for balloting earlier, plus a new dues increase motion was placed on the agenda so it could be voted on at the December meeting. All items passed except the dues increase, for which discussion was postponed until December. A few days later we approved the minutes to the teleconference by email, and minutes for all our meetings are now available on the American Mensa website under Read > Board Meeting Reports.
Unfortunately because of the timing I was unable to notify you about this meeting in my column last month. Notices were posted to the various online venues (the AML Today email notice, the AML Community Forums at the national website, American Mensa Firehouse and American Mensa Hospitality (our two official Facebook groups), and some of the unofficial e-lists, but anyone relying solely on print media would have missed out on the announcement.
Local groups are still required to make certain that notices of all official membership and business meetings are available to their members in print if requested. No group is allowed to limit notifications only to those who choose online notifications, be they by email, websites, or social media. However, it is becoming more prevalent that unofficial items (lunch and dinner gatherings, games nights, bar meets) are circulated via social media and do not make it into the newsletters.
In Region 10, at least nine of the local groups maintain Facebook groups (only Mensa of Jacksonville, Tallahassee Mensa and Palm Beach Mensa lack a Facebook presence that I am aware of). Many of these groups (including Jacksonville) also maintain email lists, primarily via Yahoogroups. And Palm Beach County Mensa makes use of Meetup to notify their members of upcoming events.
I'm certain it's not the intention of any of these groups to disenfranchise any of their members. All official business is still available to all members. But clearly online is the direction that information is moving, and in order to make their budgets stretch as far as they can, your groups need as many members who are capable of it to be available via the online venues.
If you're not already connected, please consider joining one of your local group's social media or email discussion/announcement lists. If your group doesn't have one of these, volunteer to help to set one up, if you are able. Over 85% of the adult members in our Region have email addresses, but fewer than 15% are members of the various social groups. This is your opportunity to connect; please consider doing so.
I hope to see you at one of the upcoming local group gatherings in the coming season.
I've just returned from the AML Board of Directors' meeting in Grapevine, Texas, located near the National Office. It was a busy weekend, starting with a planning day on Friday and ending after 10:00 pm on Saturday. The planning day included introductions to many of the new staff hired since our last visit, and presentations by each of the staff directors. There was also a presentation on methods of strategic planning and an interpretation of the different roles of Boards vs. Committees, and later we broke into various national committee meetings.
The next day we got into the main event, the Board meeting itself. The mini-minutes have already been posted on the American Mensa website, but I'll hit on the high points. Before we addressed any of the motions on the agenda, we received an IT Assessment from a representative of DelCor, a company hired to provide an independent, impartial review of our technology usage and status. This was an overview; the full written report will follow later in September.
Prior to the motions, we received initial comments from the audience, which consisted of a number of members who had traveled from various parts of the country to personally address the Board. Most of the comments were on the theme of membership value and against raising the dues. We then moved into the main part of the meeting.
Briefly: We passed a motion that will permit non-Mensan parents of gifted Mensan youth to serve as Gifted Youth Assistants to local group Gifted Youth Programs, helping the Gifted Youth Coordinators (or if the group doesn't have a Gifted Youth Coordinator, helping the LocSecs) to provide programs for our growing number of young members. We passed a motion approving AG registration discounts for Mensa members starting with the 2016 Annual Gathering. We approved the first two phases of a Local Group Revitalization pilot project, and we sent two Bylaws amendments to the ballot in the 2015 election (one for housekeeping and required changes to meet the Minimum Standard Constitutional Requirements of Mensa International, and a second for clarification of the Ombudsman role). Finally, we did not pass the proposed dues increase from $70.00 to $76.00 in 2015 and $79.00 in 2016.
I voted against this dues proposal, but I should be clear on this: While I opposed this particular proposal, a dues increase is inevitable, albeit painful. Over the past few years Mensa International has increased the component that we have to pay them as a national chapter of Mensa from 4% to 7% of our per-member dues. Local Group support has not increased in many years, and as noted in the presentation by DelCor, we have failed to properly maintain the technical infrastructure that we already have, letting it fall into obsolescence. These are additional expenses that cannot be absorbed by any reasonably proposed cuts. Our Treasurer plans to propose another dues motion at the December 6 Board meeting in San Diego. Depending on the supporting material provided with the new motion, I may find myself supporting it the next time around.
Finally, we moved into closed session to discuss personnel and contract matters which must remain confidential, but afterwards a statement by Chairman Dan Berg was read into the minutes of the meeting, and sent directly to the LocSecs the next day.
I am open to any questions you may have, and as always can be reached at RVC10@us.mensa.org.
Since my previous column, several things have happened right on top of each other on the National front. The minutes of the March 29 Board of Directors meeting were posted on the American Mensa website, having been approved at the July meeting, then the minutes of the July meeting were posted, having been approved unanimously via email vote. This should bring us up to date, but it's too much information to cover in a singlemonthly column, so I'll point you to the minutes on the website and hope that will suffice: Log in to http://www.us.mensa.org/meetingreports, then choose the meeting from the dropdown and click "Minutes". You can also select the September meeting in Grapevine, TX to see the upcoming Agenda, which is short but promises to engender a lot of discussion.
The main points in the upcoming Board meeting include:
H2. Restoration of a Nominating Committee rule pending a vote on a Bylaw amendment,
H3. Increasing the AG Registration discount for members,
H4. Setting a new dues rate (revised since the July meeting),
H5. Approval of the Local Group Revitalization Program and pilot project,
H6. A consolidated Bylaws amendment that addresses both housekeeping and substantive changes which apply to all fourteen articles of the Bylaws.
I expect that many of you will have feedback on several of these topics, as well as on the motions that were passed in our previous two meetings. A good place to start is the Region 10 Discussion list. Most local group officers are already on this list, and if you'd like to join you can subscribe at the following link: http://lists.us.mensa.org/mailman/listinfo/region10. Discussions are also taking place on the Mensa Region 10 Facebook group ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/641128319231852/ ) and the AML Community Forums, particularly the "Mensa Matters" Forum (http://community.us.mensa.org/forums/19.aspx ).
In Regional news, Southwest by South Florida Mensa is once again holding their Bikers vs Brainers trivia event in Fort Myers on October 26. This has been a good public publicity magnet, with proceeds going to their scholarship fund.
Speaking of Scholarships, the 2014-2015 Mensa Scholarship Program has launched, with Dr. Laura Peralta once again serving as our Region 10 Scholarship Chair. I hope that your group is participating!
I also hope your group is participating in Mensa Testing Day this year on Saturday, October 18. Let your friends and acquaintances know, and contact your Local Group Testing Coordinator or Executive Committee (ExComm) if you can help with testing sites, logistics, or even training to become a proctor.
At the Annual Gathering in Boston during the first week of July, there were several announcements that concerned Region 10 -- primary among them that the 2017 Annual Gathering will be held in Hollywood, FL at the Westin Diplomat in Broward County. This will be a great opportunity for many in our region to attend an AG, particularly those who usually cannot travel for long distances or long periods over the 4th of July holiday. It'll be the first Annual Gathering in our region since the World Gathering in 2006. There will be much more information to follow, so stay tuned.
The Board of Directors meeting is where most of the national appointments are made for the coming year. I appointed David Fleming of Central Florida Mensa as Assistant RVC 10. I've given David the task of helping to develop leaders among our Gen Y/Millennial members. Please join me in congratulating David and wishing him well.
There were also many awards presented at the AG. A National Service Award was presented to Charlie Bruce (currently of Central Florida Mensa), who has served as American Mensa Treasurer, Chair of the Finance Committee, RVC and served on nine national committees. Maggie Truelove and Michael Tuchman, also of Central Florida Mensa, received National Certificates of Appreciation for their years of service, and a Chairman's Service Award went to Sylvia Zadorozny of Tampa Bay Mensa for her long-time service to the chapter and to Mensa.
A new set of awards, the Jewels, were presented for the first time this year. These are for recognition of various levels of achievement by our local groups, and is replacing the former Group Of The Year Awards (or GOTYAs). There are three levels of achievement: Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby, with the greatest achievements by local groups meriting the Diamond Award. Northwest Florida Mensa took home the Diamond Award this year for Class IV groups (groups with between 100 to 199 members). Central Florida Mensa also excelled as one of only three groups to earn a Sapphire Award for Class II groups (groups with between 400 to 899 members). Northwest Florida Mensa also reached the Silver level in the ACE Awards (Achieving Communications Excellence), which recognizes achievement in combined media: Newsletter, Website and Social Media. The ACE Awards replace the former PRP (Publication Recognition Program) awards.
Several groups from Region 10 did well in CultureQuest, with Tragic Kingdom (from Central Florida Mensa) coming in first in the nation! Holly Horton was the captain of the winning team, which scored 183 out of 200 possible points, earning $420 in funds for their local group. Other winners included:
Congratulations to all for their achievements!
It's been a very busy couple of months! First, congratulations are due to Tampa Bay Mensa for their very successful Regional Gathering (RG) over Memorial Day weekend. "MaRGaritaville" was the largest gathering they've thrown in years, with members attending from all over the country (thanks to terrific of support from members of the American Mensa FaceBook community) to a new hotel venue in Oldsmar. Kudos to all involved in putting this event together, including Art Schwartz, Sylvia Zadorozny, Melissa Stephens and Jack Brawner, and all other volunteers who helped to make this a success!
Also, I'd like to continue my congratulations to the Central Florida Mensa public relations team, led by Public Relations Officer David Fleming and Membership Officer Debbie Freeland. Following up on their well-received booth at MegaCon 2014, Debbie sent information for 92 prospects who had signed up at the event to 10 of the 12 local groups in Region 10, requesting more information about membership in Mensa. That doesn't include the 100 plus prospects that Central Florida itself garnered, or any prospects from outside our region who attended the Con. Now we just have to arrange to test all these new and eager prospects!
This leads into another recent bit of news. Over the last couple of months, proctors have been asked to review and sign a new Ethical Guidelines and Code of Conduct for Proctors, which was deemed necessary by Dr. G. Frank Lawlis, Supervisory Psychologist for American Mensa. This provided a better defined outline of the responsibilities and requirements of proctoring, and the majority of proctors and proctors-in-training signed the form before the deadline. However, since we always have more prospects in line to take the Mensa Admission Tests, we likewise need a steady supply of proctors to administer these tests. Becoming a proctor requires that you have a four-year degree (required by the company from whom we license the tests, not by Mensa), observing up to two proctored tests being administered, and being observed administering up to two proctored tests. If you'd be interested in this important position of first contact for many new members, contact your local group testing coordinator or local secretary (president) to find out more.
Other news over the past couple of months: I worked with Gainesville Area Mensa to appoint a new Executive Committee, after a series of events left them without any leadership. Thanks to Mark Kelly, Mike Perry, Pat Bartlett and Kathleen Stipek for stepping up until their elections in November, and for moving forward with updating their bylaws. I foresee exciting things in their future!
Also, Tampa Bay Mensa is partnering with Central Florida Mensa and Broward Mensa to create a cross-chapter event on Saturday, August 16. The plan is to assemble a large group of M's to do a zip-line tour in Kissimmee with Zip Orlando! If this sounds like something you'd find fun, email Melissa Stephens at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Finally, I don't want to leave out the Annual Gathering in Boston, where I will be hosting a Region 10 Meet ‘N' Greet on Saturday, July 5 at 10:30 a.m. If you're going to the AG, I hope you will join us and meet with other members of the Region!
One of the National committees on which I serve is the Local Group Revitalization Task Force. The purpose of this committee is to determine ways to identify when a Local Group is having difficulty, before that group reaches a crisis stage. There have been examples of these types of crises in the last year, with one Regional Vice Chairman (RVC) who had to step in and replace a full Local Group Executive Committee (ExComm), while another RVC had to dissolve a Local Group that had stopped functioning entirely.
We're not immune to that in Region 10. One chapter had been publishing warning signs in their newsletter that they were considering dissolving their group. Another group wound up without an ExComm at all. I met with both groups in May to try to help them get beyond these rough spots, but it brings me back to the question posed to the LG Revitalization Task Force: How do we identify these types of problems before they become problems?
One of the things that we keep coming back to is that this is a volunteer organization, and when members don't volunteer, it can create frustration for and pressure on the people who are currently leading their chapters. Things may seem to be running smoothly, but this frequently is due to the herculean efforts of a small number of volunteers. In reviewing the Officers' Roster for Region 10, there isn't a single chapter that doesn't have at least one person holding multiple leadership positions, and most have two or more individuals in that situation.
I'd like to see our Region doing more, but I'd also like to see these individuals doing less -- not because they're not doing a good job, but because they deserve the same opportunity to enjoy their membership as everyone else. I do understand that sometimes people are not in a position to take on volunteer tasks for an organization because of other priorities --family, work, health, etc. -- and I don't fault those who cannot make volunteering for Mensa a priority. Each individual must decide for themselves how much time they can devote. But if you can help with your local group, won't you please consider it?
There are 12 chapters in Region 10. Each chapter must have a Local Secretary, but in three of those chapters the Local Secretary is also filling the position of Newsletter Editor. Each chapter must have a Treasurer, but one of those Treasurers is also serving as their group's Webmaster. Each group should have an Ombudsman, but in fact only six of them do. We have the highest number of Young Mensans of any Region -- not just in percentage, but in real numbers -- but only five groups have Gifted Youth Coordinators. Four groups are currently without Membership officers. And so forth.
Personally, I have found volunteering in Mensa to be very fulfilling and enriching. I hope you will consider finding a way to contribute to your own local group.
And to those of you who already volunteer, THANK YOU for all that you do!
First order of news for May: Don't miss Tampa Bay Mensa's "MaRGaritaville" Regional Gathering over Memorial Day weekend. They've been working very hard to produce a large number of quality programs and events, and enthusiasm is running high. A Gathering is one of the best opportunities to enjoy an "immersion experience" in Mensa, where you can interact with over a hundred people as curious and intelligent as you are. There will also be a panel discussion/Q&A with Communication Officer Marc Lederman, Secretary Brian Reeves, and yours truly about what's happening in American Mensa.
Central Florida Mensa hosted a tremendously successful promotional event at MegaCon 2014 in Orlando in March. They served as a sponsor for the Con, and over a three day period their booth was visible to thousands of convention-goers, hundreds of whom stopped by to visit and ask about Mensa, pick up promotional materials, and take the on-site Mensa Admission Test. This is the biggest promotional event of its type held in Florida, and David Fleming and his team of volunteers deserve kudos for their dedication and hard work.
Also in March, I re-booted the Region 10 email list which had been sitting fallow on the American Mensa server for the past few years, and added as many local group officers as I could so we could openly discuss Mensa matters, including the American Mensa Board of Directors meeting held in late March. I'm happy to report that there was more discussion on that list in the first couple of weeks than had occurred in any two-month period since it was initially launched, demonstrating that it will be a useful tool to ask questions and share information about local group issues as well as national concerns to local groups. However, it's not just for local officers, but for anyone who has an interest in Mensa events and policies. If you'd like to join, go to http://www.lists.us.mensa.org/mailman/listinfo/region10 and fill in the Subscribe section. (Note: This list is only open to current members of Mensa in Region 10.)
Going over the membership metrics for the end of the 2013-2014 membership year, I found a surprising factoid. Under demographics, Mensans are sorted into six Generations, the youngest of which are Millennials (ages 14-32) and Homeland Generation (ages 13 and younger). Surprisingly, nearly a quarter of you fall into these two groups, defying the conventional expectation that Florida would have an older-skewing membership. In fact, Region 10 has a higher percentage of young members than any of the other nine Regions! This is a good sign for the future of Mensa, and I look forward to seeing more of you taking on volunteer and leadership positions in your local groups and beyond as you make Mensa your own. If you have any comments or suggestions for me to help you with this, you can reach me by email at RVC10@us.mensa.org, or by text at RVC10@vtext.com.
Thomas George Thomas
At the time I write this, the American Mensa Board of Directors will be meeting on March 29 in Charlotte, NC to receive several reports, notably from Treasurer Nick Sanford, Executive Director Pamela Donahoo, and Director of Science and Education Joanne Soper, as well as a demonstration of the online Compendium and presentations on all-electronic elections and the role of the RVC , plus voting on a number of motions that have come up since the December Board Meeting. The agenda for this meeting is available on the American Mensa website at http://www.us.mensa.org/meetingreports by clicking the dropdown "2014-03-29 - - Charlotte, NC". Unfortunately, the agenda was provided 30 days prior to the meeting (per the relevant ASIEs (Actions Still In Effect, a.k.a. Policies)) and therefore was not available in time to post the information in your March newsletter, and the meeting may have come and gone by the time you read this column in your April newsletter. I did post this information on the Mensa Region 10 Facebook page, as well as the seven Region 10 Local Group Facebook pages I'm subscribed to, but offer my regrets to anyone who was interested in this information but was not connected through one of the active social media groups or the American Mensa Online Community (http://community.us.mensa.org/forums/).
As of March 1, we had 1,644 members yet to renew out of 4,153 members in our region. I hope that number is much smaller by the time the membership year ends on March 31, since your local group officers then have the task of reaching out to those who hadn't renewed in time -- referred to as "lapsed members". Effective this year, local groups have a new tool available to them to help with that. LocSecs, Assistant LocSecs and Membership Officers will have the ability to look up contact information for lapsed members going back up to 10 years. This is a good volunteer opportunity for members who would like to help reach out to past members to have them rejoin your groups. If you're interested, let your local leaders know.
Another volunteer opportunity is to join the Ombudsman team. Right now only half of the local groups in Region 10 have an ombudsman, and this position is recommended for all local groups in the minimum standard bylaws. It's also recommended to have a Regional Ombudsman, but we're short on that by one. Fortunately, from my discussions with the Region 10 local groups, the ombudsman is almost never called upon, because we generally get along better than most groups! So it would be a low-stress volunteer position. If any of you are interested in serving as your Local Group Ombudsman and they don't have one (or the one they have wants to retire), please contact your Local Secretary to volunteer. And if you know someone you would like to recommend as Regional Ombudsman, let me know.
Thomas George Thomas
I attended the Central Florida Mensa "It's All Sun 'n' Games" RG over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, and it was one of the best, if not the best, regional gatherings I've been to in Florida over the past ten years. Kudos to Debbie Freeland, David Fleming, and all their team for putting together a great event. They're already working on next year's RG, which will be held at the same great hotel near SeaWorld. In the meantime, many of the Tampa Bay Mensa RG team were inspired by Central Florida's gathering, and are working to assemble an equally fine event for "MaRGaritaville" over Memorial Day weekend. If you missed CFM's event, try to make it to Oldsmar in May.
Gatherings are one of the most obvious social aspects of Mensa. There are in fact many social opportunities in Mensa, depending on your local group. But while many long-time members consider social events the most important mission of Mensa, this seems to be less and less of a value for many of our members. As social media takes on more emphasis, a smaller percentage of our membership participate in the face-to-face events posted in the local group calendars and social media.
Is Mensa primarily a social club anymore?
Consider: The Constitution of Mensa has, since 1982, listed three main purposes.
1. 1) Identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity.
2. 2) Encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence.
3. 3) Provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for members.
Social interaction is the third item, not the first or second. It seems as though we spend more time addressing this than the first two, and yet a 20% member participation level is considered wildly successful.
I acknowledge that my purpose in joining Mensa back in 1989 was to join a social community after I'd moved to a new city where I didn't know anyone, and I knew I could belong here in Mensa. And I still feel that way. Participating in, or even just listening in on the sidelines to the sorts of free-wheeling conversations I find during Gatherings are some of the high points of my year.
But what about the other 80% of you? What do you get out of Mensa? What do you find valuable enough to renew, some of you for decades, even when you don't come to events?
Certainly we achieve the first purpose through our testing programs. (An aside: Please tell your friends to take the test during March -- your chapters will receive an extra $10 per prospect testing through the end of the month!) Our Scholarship programs also help with this goal. And the Mensa Foundation works to accomplish the second goal through its programs and publications, such as the Mensa Research Journal and the (mostly) annual Colloquium.
I get feedback from our social members frequently, since I often encounter you at events. But how about the rest of you? What do you get out of Mensa? Write to me at email@example.com and let me know!
Thomas George Thomas
Membership renewal season is now upon us, and you will be receiving plenty of reminders to renew. Since approximately a third of you won't need to renew (either because you are Life Members or have multi-year memberships -- or even renewed early), I'd like to focus instead on your Member Profile.
Your profile is very important to your local group and to American Mensa as a whole. It lets us know what our members are most interested in, and provides us with important information to help us decide what we should focus on when developing new programs and events.
This is a good time to go to the American Mensa website to update your profile. Just go to us.mensa.org and select "My Mensa" from the top menu (it's over on the far right), then click Member profile (it's in the menu on the left). This page gives you the opportunity to opt for an electronic version of your local newsletter where available (and save your group printing and postage costs). You can easily submit address, email or phone number changes from here -- so your local group can let you know what's going on! You can subscribe to a variety of eNewsletters, including AML Today. You can update your Personal Data Questions (PDQ), where you can select up to eight Areas of Interest (particularly useful for local groups to create events and useful member directories).
Please note the checkboxes on "Release my phone number/email address within the organization". Please check these, because it's important for the functioning of your local group. Contrary to some recent statements, this does NOT mean you will start receiving spam. American Mensa does not provide your name, address, or email to any external vendors or solicitors. We do allow you the opportunity to take advantage of some offers, but YOU control that through a different checkbox on your profile specifically for Benefit and Service Providers. If you don't want those contacts, make sure that box is not checked, but please check the boxes that allow us to get in touch with you.
Are you interested in the direction of American Mensa? We're beginning the National Election process once again. If you're interested in serving on Region 10's Nominating Committee, let your Local ExComm know. I'll be asking each chapter to recommend members to serve, and the region's Local Secretaries will select three people from the pool to serve on the committee. We hope to have the NomComm representatives determined by the end of February, so they can be ratified at the American Mensa Board of Directors meeting on the weekend of March 28.
Don't miss out on CultureQuest on April 27! Teams are beginning to form, and we've had some great teams from our Region in the past. Registration is now open online at us.mensa.org/culturequest, and closes on Monday, March 31. Teams of up to five members compete for cash prizes and bragging rights, so don't delay! Someone else may recruit the best players before you get to them, so get your team together first.
Thomas George Thomas
This past month the American Mensa Board of Directors met in Palm Beach County, and while several motions were passed, rather than give any of them short shrift I will leave it until the official minutes are released to discuss them in detail. However, there were also some interesting presentations and discussions, one of which resulted in a new motion at the meeting to establish a Local Group Revitalization Task Force, on which I will be serving.
The topic of struggling Local Groups was raised based on events over the past few months in which chapters were no longer functioning according to their own bylaws, and all attempts to bring them back on track had failed. In one region, an RVC had to fire and replace an entire dysfunctional Executive Committee. In another region, a chapter of over 300 members simply did not have enough people willing to take on leadership positions, and their membership was reassigned to two different neighboring groups.
All regions, including ours, have similar struggling local groups, just as all regions have thriving groups. This is not always clear at the local level: some large groups with active calendars, healthy treasuries and copious volunteers complain about not having enough, while other small groups who fail to put out their newsletters or hold regular business meetings or elections claim to be very happy just as they are (even though the newsletter and meetings are part of the required charter for every group). In practice, every group is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the well-being of a local group, nor even common approaches for equally-sized groups. On the other hand, it can be perplexing for a member who moves from one group to another where it feels like they're in an entirely different, alien organization because local practices are so different, yet both are part of American Mensa.
The purpose of the Local Group Revitalization Task Force will be to identify those groups which truly cannot continue to function as they have been, and find ways to turn that around. If you have concerns about your local group, or suggestions on how a struggling group can thrive once again, I'd be happy to hear your views at RVC10@us.mensa.org.
In my column last month I mentioned several ways of participating in policy or general Mensa discussions. I missed one: the official Region 10 eList that Elissa Rudolph established in January 2006 fell into disuse in mid-2008, but still exists. I'll be inviting all current Region 10 officers to join this list, but anyone else who is interested in joining can subscribe by visiting http://www.lists.us.mensa.org/mailman/listinfo/region10. If you do not provide your name, or if your email address is not the same as the one in the AML directory, I may ask for more details before I approve your request.
Don't miss the Central Florida "Sun-N-Games" Regional Gathering on Jan. 17-19 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando/SeaWorld! Details can be found at sun-n- games.org. Regional Gatherings are a great way to immerse yourself in the Mensa experience, and I hope to see you there.
Thomas George Thomas
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