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February 2008 RVC Column

(Written and posted 1/5/08)

Northwest Passages

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

When I was in college 40 years ago (!), there was a lot of discussion on my campus about Robert Maynard Hutchins and his educational theories. Despite the passage of years, I believe that Hutchins' ideas would still appeal to many members of Mensa in particular, and I encourage you to take a look at what Hutchins had to say and think about how his ideas could be incorporated into our intellectual development today. If you are unfamiliar with Hutchins, a good place to start would be to read the Wikipedia article about him.

Perhaps the most famous quote attributed to Hutchins was the statement, "Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until the urge passes." While I can see that this would also appeal to many Mensans today, it's not my personal credo. I believe that a balanced life includes a lifetime of learning as well as a lifetime of physical involvement with the world, and I have consciously made an effort to include exercise in my life for my health and enjoyment. When I swim laps or take walks, it also gives me a lot of time to think, so I find all the more reason to get out and about. Especially when I am looking for ideas for my column!

Something that gives me a great deal of pleasure in my job as Regional Vice Chair (RVC) for Region 8 is to hear from members about things that they want to do for Mensa. Not long ago I met with Alexis Sterling Wise, the Teen SIG Coordinator, who wants to help promote recruitment of teens in Mensa. I think Alexis has terrific ideas, and I would like to see all of our local groups work on finding ways to recruit and involve teens in their activities.

Ken and Anna Wright contacted me recently about their plans to chair a Regional Gathering (RG) for Northern Nevada Mensa in Reno, NV. This has been a dream of mine for years, and I hope that their plans come together in the near future; I have asked Assistant RVC Debra Reiger to work with them to help make it happen.

Just the other day, I received a note from Diane Clayton, a long-time member and proctor in Southwest Idaho Mensa, who wants to jump start the testing program in her local group. I'm very excited to hear that! Testing in Diane's group could use the boost, though I am happy to report that testing in Region 8 as a whole has exceeded the average for American Mensa as whole in the past year.

Following up on my pledge last month to talk about goals, one of the short-term goals that the American Mensa Committee adopted in December was to "research and review local group participation in the testing program and consider and implement incentives and support to increase participation." On Dec. 31, 2007, Mensa membership in Region 8 stood at 5,501, up 2.7% from a year earlier. Of the 4,047 prospective members tested by American Mensa in 2007, 479 were tested in Region 8.

While the above numbers show that our region is doing its part to contribute to the continued growth of American Mensa, there is much more that can be done to improve our performance, and I applaud Diane and all the other folks in our local groups who have made testing a high priority. I would love to hear more about any ideas or methods for increasing participation in the testing program that have proven successful in our local groups, and could be shared with other groups who have not had as much success.

In conclusion, I would like you to join me in congratulating three brave Mensa volunteers who have stepped forward to shoulder major responsibilities for their local groups. They are the new LocSecs in Region 8: Steve Bean in Monterey County Mensa, Rosmaire Duffy in Sacramento Regional Mensa, and Harold Ward in Southwest Idaho Mensa. Good luck to each of you!

And as always, I invite everyone to join me at our upcoming gatherings: Mensa of Western Washington's EveRGreen 2008: Romp & Circumstances on Feb. 15-17 ( www.mensaww.org/gather.htm ), Oregon Mensa's BeaveRG XI: Power SuRGe! on May 4-6 ( www.oregon.us.mensa.org/rg/ ), and the 2008 Annual Gathering In Denver on Jul. 2-6 ( www.ag2008.us.mensa.org ). Hope to see you there!