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August 2007 RVC Column

(Written and posted 7/10/07)

Northwest Passages

RVC Column for August Newsletters in Region 8
by John Recht, Region 8 RVC

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents over Midway Airport, and as a result, our return from Birmingham took a good deal longer than expected. Except for that, Linda, Marissa, Rachel, and I had an excellent time on our trip to the 2007 American Mensa Annual Gathering (AG). Marissa and Rachel spent their week totally immersed in TeenSIG activities, while Linda and I took advantage of the wide variety of program offerings afforded us at the AG, and we all agreed that the event was a success.

As many of you undoubtedly know, the host group for the AG, Central Alabama Mensa (CAM), declined to continue in their role as hosts after the nationally elected officers of the American Mensa Committee (AMC) voted to relieve CAM of their responsibility for hospitality, due to concerns first brought to the attention of American Mensa's National Office by the Birmingham Sheraton Hotel. Chicago Area Mensa volunteers took on the job of hosting with less than two weeks to go, and many of the original volunteers stayed on to make sure that the AG would be the best it could be under the circumstances.

The result was that the show did go on, and the mood of the Mensa members and guests who attended was very positive overall. For some, though, especially the members of CAM and those who worked hard for years to put the 2007 AG together, the memories of this AG will be tinged with pain and regret. My personal hope is that we will learn from this experience as an organization: what we had here was a failure to communicate, and what we need now is to reach out to one another to heal the wounds that came about despite the best efforts of brilliant, capable, hard-working and well-intentioned people at the local and national levels.

Many members of Region 8 were in attendance at the AG, and I was delighted to find myself in conversation with quite a few Region 8 members throughout the week, too many to name here. In addition, one of the highlights of the AG for me was the recognition that our members received at the Awards Luncheon. Here is the list of awards won by Region 8 members:

* Oregon Mensa's CultureQuest team, A Good Omen, captained by Dan Burg, took 20th place in the competition, earning $65 for local group scholarships.

* Redwood Empire Mensa took three awards in the Publications Recognition Program, while San Francisco Regional Mensa and Oregon Mensa took one each.

* Oregon Mensa took both first and second place in the Community Activities Program.

* Oregon Mensa received the Group of the Year Award in the Class II category (groups with 400 to 899 members).

* Kathe Oliver of Oregon Mensa received an American Mensa Certificate of Appreciation for her noteworthy contributions on behalf of gifted children.

* Columbia River Mensa received a Prolific Owl (Outstanding Membership Growth) Honorable Mention for their 14.47% increase in membership during the year.

The AMC meeting on Saturday provided an additional thrill for Region 8, when the joint bid for the 2011 AG by Oregon Mensa and Mensa of Western Washington was accepted. Michael Meagher, the 2011 AG Chair, and his team will have their chance to show all of American Mensa a terrific time in Portland, and I expect it will be a huge success. Glad I have a front row seat for this one! For now, I expect to enjoy the summer with my family and friends, and to take part in more Mensa fun...hope to see you there!