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RVC Columns

THE TENTH STORY for August

The quarterly meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) was held on Thursday, July 7, 2022 at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, NV. There were eleven motions on the published agenda, plus one additional motion added at the meeting. Six of the motions passed, while the other six were referenda to be passed to the membership at the next election.

The first motion was the Consent Agenda, which covered the routine business of accepting quarterly reports and appointing action committee members. Following this was the motion for the AMC to confirm certain Committee Chair roles and other individual appointments, as required by our ASIEs (Actions Still In Effect, AKA ongoing policies).

The next motion was to accept the Audit. This is routine business, required before the financials may be published to the membership at large. Since the motion passed, the audited financials can now be found online at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/financials/

After the acceptance of the Volunteerism Task Force report, a motion was presented to add Volunteerism to the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. This is now the fourth Key Initiative Focus under the Value priority. The Strategic Plan can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/planning/strategic-plan/

At the March 2022 AMC meeting, the revised Information and Privacy Policy (Appendix 15 of the ASIEs) was adopted. Subsequently, a housekeeping motion to amend the Membership Data Agreement was passed at this meeting to bring it in line with Appendix 15. This is the agreement all local group officers have to sign in order to protect member information.

In response to the requests of several members for clarification on the matter, a Statement of Member Rights and Responsibilities was compiled from the existing ASIEs and other governing documents. The full text of this Statement was included in the Agenda, which included bracketed references to each of the existing policies. At the meeting, some amendments were made, allowing for this Statement to be updated as needed when policies change, along with a couple of other minor changes. These are outlined in the Mini-Minutes of the meeting, which can be found along with the Agenda at the 2022-07-07 - Sparks, NV dropdown at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/

Not included in the published agenda was a clarification on Testing Sessions for minors, which stated that while parents could accompany their children to a testing session, they could not be in the room while the testing took place unless they were also taking the test. This policy was already in place in the Proctors' Handbook, but had not been adopted in the ASIEs until this motion was passed.

There were six Ombuds referenda being considered, but because the election is still almost two years away, there was no urgency in getting these passed at this meeting, and in order to get it right the first time it was decided to table these motions until September to spend more time working on the wording. One of the referenda did pass to ballot, to shorten the term of office for the Ombuds from six years to three. As our previous National Ombuds stated at the meeting, six years can seem a very long time for a single term.

In addition, the Treasurer and Executive Director gave presentations before the business of the meeting, and the Treasurer gave additional "Education by The Treasurer" following our business. The two bookended Treasurer presentations were provided to address some misunderstandings that a few members have expressed about our financial position. These presentations will be available at the meeting reports link provided above, along with a recording of the meeting for members to review.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
Mensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

THE TENTH STORY for July

At this writing, the agenda for the American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting in July has not been finalized, so I cannot provide details. However, I will post notices on the Region 10 Mensa Connect community and the Region 10 Facebook group once the agenda has been finalized. By the time you read this, the agenda for both the AMC meeting and the Annual Business Meeting (ABM) plus the quarterly reports from officers and committees should be available at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/.

The AMC meeting will be held on Thursday, July 7, 2022 in conjunction with the Mensa Annual Gathering (AG) at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, NV, and the ABM will be held the next day, on Friday, July 8. I expect that members who are not in attendance at the AG will be able to listen in on the AMC meeting via a link to be provided in early July, or via a recording posted after the meeting. At this time, I do not know if the ABM will be similarly recorded (it was not last year).

____________________________________

Before each AG, the Mensa Foundation presents a full-day Colloquium on a single major topic, with this year's topic on July 5 being "Giftedness Across The Lifespan: A More Complete Picture". Speakers will present on topics ranging from emotional and social lives of gifted youth, careers and work environments of gifted adults, aging and support for gifted elders, and more. For the first time, the Colloquium will include a livestream option, so members who cannot attend in person can still participate, both in observing the presentations and participating in the question & answer sessions. There is a (discounted) fee of $99 for virtual registration, or $79 for Mensa members, with an additional $20 discount for students. More information can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/attend/colloquium/.

____________________________________

Over the past year the Volunteerism Task Force has worked on examining volunteerism in social organizations in general and providing recommendations to improve volunteer levels and satisfaction in Mensa, with a final report to be included for the July meeting. This report will be included with the committee reports at the link referenced above. The report is comprehensive, and will be valuable at the local group, regional, and national levels.

____________________________________

One of the places I need to improve upon in this area is getting more volunteer involvement at the Regional level. While I have focused on attending Local Group business meetings when I could, I have not been able to put as much time into the various project-level positions in the Region. For instance, all local groups should have some sort of Gifted Youth program, but I'm not fully qualified to help with that.

A better approach would be to have a Regional Gifted Youth Coordinator to help the local group Gifted Youth Coordinators with advice and support. While I have been managing the Region 10 social media, having an individual serving as a Region 10 Social Media Coordinator to advise and support the local groups would be more efficient. There are a significant number of young adult Mensans, but I'm not in that demographic anymore (however much I wish I were), and having a Regional Young Adult Mensan (YAM) Coordinator to help encourage and develop YAM programs in local groups would be invaluable. And so forth.

To this end, and to help identify leadership beyond the local group level, I will be posting Region 10 Coordinator positions on the Volunteer Marketplace (https://www.us.mensa.org/volunteer/volunteer-marketplace/). In addition to the positions already mentioned, I'll be looking to appoint a Regional Ombudsman, Regional Testing Coordinator, Regional Membership Coordinator, and more. I'll announce these on the Region 10 social media platforms (links below) as I complete each posting. If you're interested in any of these, or have any feedback to offer, please read up on the descriptions and let me know.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomasMensa Connect https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10
Region 10 Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

THE TENTH STORY for June

The next meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held on Thursday, July 7, 2022 in conjunction with the Mensa Annual Gathering at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, NV. The Annual Business Meeting will be held the next day, on Friday, July 8. The agendas are not yet available, but will be posted at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ in June.

For those who attend the Annual Gathering, I will be hosting a Region 10 Meet and Greet on Wednesday, July 6 at 3:00 p.m. Come and meet other Region 10 members and discuss topics of interest - I look forward to seeing you there!

____________________________________

In last month's column, I mentioned the clean-up of the Actions Still In Effect (ASIEs) Appendix 23: Policy and Guidelines for Administrators of Internet Communication Services. Following that, Mensa Connect was updated on May 10. This did not have a large impact on the Communities, but did require that users logging into Mensa Connect sign a one-time agreement to the Terms of Service before they may post or reply to comments (they may still receive posts from their respective Communities).

Included in the Terms of Service were limits to content and behavior for participants in the Communities. Unfortunately, there were some members who immediately tested these limits, but fortunately the moderators were on top of it and blocked and removed the offending comments. It is hoped that this will make the national discussions less toxic and more inviting to our members. I am pleased to say that we have not had any similar problems in the Region 10 Community, or any of the Local Group Communities in Region 10.

To view the Terms of Service, visit https://connect.us.mensa.org/termsandconditions294. It may require that you log in to read them. As thorough as they seem, they do not address all possible circumstances but provide guidelines for how the communities may be used. The moderators have broad discretion, since every bright line rule we may provide tends to invite some gamesters to look for ways to get around them, which only leads to endless arguments about rules (which is not conducive to a friendly environment for the rest of the membership).

____________________________________

In last month's column I also mentioned that the proposed Criminal Acts Task Force was committed back to Beth Anne Demeter (RVC 7), who was to be the Chair of that Task Force, for revisions to the charter. I was not persuaded that the original charter as provided addressed the broader concern of member safety that I had been hearing from several members. I am fully in favor of a Member Safety Task Force, because it has become clear that some members have been threatening to others, without clear recourse on how to deal with the issues. We already have a process for addressing member complaints (Appendix 3 of the ASIEs), but it is not well-understood or implemented, and that needs to be corrected and enhanced as necessary. The ASIEs can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/policydocuments/actions-still-in-effect/, and can be easily navigated via the table of contents.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

THE TENTH STORY for May

The quarterly meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) was held on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at the American Mensa/Mensa Foundation headquarters in Hurst, TX. There were ten motions on the agenda, plus some housekeeping items in the Consent Agenda. All but one of these motions (the establishment of a Criminal Acts Task Force) passed. Full details of the motions and the accompanying documents can be found at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/

The first motion, carried over from the November meeting, clarified changes to the use of membership lists. Due to concerns with the rollout of the Oral History Project, it was deemed necessary to place additional controls around the way member communication preferences are observed. This motion ensures that a member's third-party communication preferences are carried over to any new communication categories, such as the Projects category that was created for the Oral History Project. There will also be communication efforts to advise members of such novel programs before they begin, so members have a chance to opt in or out of the program as they choose.

The next three motions were finance related. The budget for the upcoming year is always voted on at the spring AMC meeting, and the draft budget, which was approved, can be found at the link above. Next was the appointment of the Auditor, to audit our financial statements and tax filings, which is also done each year. Thirdly, a Three-&-Five Year Membership Fund was officially established. This is similar to the Life Member Fund, and has existed for many years, but we have not had formal documentation of this fund until now.

The next two motions concerned the establishment of new Task Forces. Due to some process issues, the Volunteerism Task Force and Criminal Acts Task Force were created at the beginning of this term without the approval of the AMC, as required by our ASIEs (Actions Still In Effect). While the Volunteerism Task Force was approved by acclamation, the Criminal Acts Task Force was debated at length (as can be heard in the recording at the link above). Because of some of the concerns about the charter for this task force, it was committed back to Beth Anne Demeter (RVC 7) until the next meeting in July for further refinement.

The last four motions were all Communications related. First was a housekeeping motion to remove the Communications Officer as the administrator for AML Forums, which no longer exist as originally defined, and which currently extend beyond the Communication Officer's responsibilities since they encompass Regions, Local Groups, Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Committees. The administration responsibilities are covered in more detail in Appendix 23 of the ASIEs (Policy and Guidelines for Administrators of Internet Communication Services), so ASIE 2006-019 is no longer needed. Second was an amendment to the Release of Information section of Appendix 15 of the ASIEs (Information and Privacy Policy). Because members can change their communications preferences at any time, it is important that Local Groups do NOT maintain their own separate directories, as these can almost immediately become inaccurate. Third, the Online Services section of Appendix 15 was amended to be brought up to date with changes since it was established over 12 years ago. Fourth, Appendix 23 was replaced in its entirety, since it was also established over 12 years ago, before many changes to social media that are now commonplace took hold.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

THE TENTH STORY for April

I am writing this column before the American Mensa Committee (AMC) meeting so won't have anything to report until next month's column, but you can find the agenda and mini-minutes for the meeting at https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ and selecting 2022-03-19 - Hurst, TX from the drop down menu.

__________________________________

When I first started as RVC in 2013, my primary stated focus was to improve communication between members, and even before that I had been serving on the national Communication Committee since 2009. At the time, the main method of communicating for the membership was through the local group newsletters, which for the most part included reports from local events and from the local officers, notices of upcoming events, and feature articles and puzzles from members. Although newsletters are still the only communication avenue enshrined in local group charters and bylaws, organizational entropy has set in over time, and newsletters have become smaller, and/or have gone from monthly to bi-monthly or quarterly (and in a couple of cases local groups have ceased to produce them entirely, in violation of their charters). Since we still have members who do not or cannot engage online, local group newsletters are still required, and National Communication Officer Robin Crawford has indicated that this will not be changing anytime soon.

Nevertheless, time marches on, and technical and societal changes continue to take place despite the reluctance of or resistance from some members. Online member-to-member communication has evolved from old Bulletin Boards and IRC chats, through Usenet and online forums (including Yahoo Groups, which shut down in 2020), and on to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. While these still hold on for some Mensa communities, they have been fading for a variety of reasons that would be too involved to go into here. However, a couple of reasons worth noting is the lack of security and accountability with these platforms, and the necessity to opt in to use them, which many members simply never did.

So American Mensa launched its own platform with Mensa Connect, which is automatically open to almost all members. Every adult member who has an email address who does not opt out is a member of the Mensa Connect platform, and all but one local group in Florida has a Community in which all members are enrolled. Many members are not aware of this, however, because the default setting is Daily Digest, and unless someone posts to the group, members don't see any messages. Local Groups that have been making good use of the platform to communicate with their members include Palm Beach Area Mensa, Northwest Florida Mensa, Tampa Bay Mensa, and Miami Mensa, and I have been working with Ruth Danielle in Manasota Mensa over the past couple of weeks to get the members of that group more engaged as well.

There is also a Region 10 Members Community which you can find by searching the available communities in https://connect.us.mensa.org/communities/local-groups/region-10.

All members may post to these Communities, so they can be used for interactive discussions, but a member may not initiate a conversation unless they agree to the terms of use by logging in for the first time at https://connect.us.mensa.org/home.

The Communities have certain advantages that members like, such as being able to participate without sharing their private email with the other users of the community, since all emails are sent through the platform with names but no email addresses included. Only other Mensa members may participate, and real names are used, so there is no anonymous trolling.

Let me know if you have any questions. I hope that more members will make use of this tool now that we have it available.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas
Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

THE TENTH STORY for March

The next meeting of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2022 in Hurst, TX at the American Mensa headquarters. At the time I'm writing this column the agenda has not been finalized, but it's scheduled to be posted to https://www.us.mensa.org/lead/amc/meeting-reports/ by the end of February.

That said, it appears that the agenda will be packed. Because it's been a while since the last meeting in November, a lot of committee work has been underway in the interim. I expect there to be motions to create a pair of Task Forces which have already started working in anticipation of being approved (these being the Volunteerism Task Force and the Criminal Acts Task Force). The Communications Officer has been working on a number of motions regarding Internet Communications Services (which includes websites, email services and social media). The Gifted Youth Committee has been working on their Gifted Youth Coordinator (GYC) handbook, which hadn't been updated for many years. The Finance Committee has been working on the budget for 2022-2023, which will be presented for approval by the AMC along with a motion to clarify our investment policies. A motion has been prepared to address concerns about the use of our membership lists. And these are just the ones I know about; others may be coming in over the next few days.

Aside from business to be conducted at the meeting, committees have been working on their projects. The Gifted Youth Committee kicked off their quarterly GYC roundtable in February. Simone van Egeren (Chair of the AML History Committee) posted an article in the February Mensa Bulletin discussing the work of the committee. The Events Planning Committee has been working on site selection research for the 2026 Annual Gathering. The Bylaws Committee has started to receive new updates for Local Group Bylaws. And there are many others I'm not aware of yet, but I expect that they will be reporting their progress via their quarterly reports at the link above.

__________________________________

Moving to Regional activity, I attended the Central Florida Regional Gathering ("It's All Sun 'N' Games") over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, this year being held at the CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort in Orlando. As usual, Debbie Freeland did an excellent job of pulling it together after locating a venue on short notice, with the great assistance of Hospitality Chair Jennifer Keating and Speaker Chair Bill Keevan, along with the many speakers and game and tournament chairs.

I've noticed that several local groups have already started pulling together their CultureQuest® teams, but there's still time if your group hasn't joined in - or if your group has enough interest in a second team! Registrations can still be taken up to March 31.

__________________________________

Local Groups have slowly started to hold in-person events again, although many members are still wary of group activities. As a reminder, the official position of American Mensa is to recommend that groups follow all CDC, federal, state, local, and venue requirements when hosting an event. As an aside and as a matter of courtesy, guests should follow the wishes of the host of an event, and conversely, hosts should make it known in advance whether or not they are requiring masks or vaccinations, especially for events to be held in private homes.

Until next month (or until I see you online),

Thomas George Thomas Email: RVC10@us.mensa.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thomas.g.thomas https://www.facebook.com/groups/MensaRegion10/

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