Well, this was a little different. Rather than ruin our neat little carbon footprint, we thought we would try a 'virtual meeting', by e-mail, as an experiment. The truth is, we do far more business by e-mail nowadays than over a table, so we have to ask ourselves: how many actual meetings do we need every year? This was an attempt to answer that question ...
All the usual trappings: agenda, reports, John presiding, yours truly scribbling notes, someone slumbering in a corner ... but virtually. One thing about a virtual meeting is that there are no apologies for absence: even Geoffrey Greatrex, in distant Ottawa, was as much there as the rest of us. And, of course, if you lost your internet connection, you couldn't tender apologies anyway, could you? Discuss.
David Kelso, as Secretary, reported on ongoing business, of which there is a surprising amount. The review of the Constitution is moving forward and (touch wood) should be ready for the AGM. No progress recently on our joint project with Indian colleagues. A £50 donation, to help someone learning Esperanto, to buy a computer, has been sent on to Africa, with a top-up from the Association, through Hilary Chapman. Discussions with the European Esperanto Union re a possible joint congress in 2011 are ongoing, but proving somewhat laborious.
Joyce Bunting, Treasurer, updated us on matters financial. The accounts for the Letchworth congress have, at long last, been finalised, involving a small deficit for the Association. The value of some of our investments has recovered somewhat in recent months, after the precipitous fall in the stock market, but interest rates (for cash and fixed-interest) remain very low, so all in all, we are still considerably worse off than a couple of years ago. Our policy of drip-feeding from cash to equity-based investments is working nicely, though.
Angela Tellier delivered another Education report jammed with news. One of our Springboard pilot schools has dropped out, but another, in Bradford, has recently joined, so we still have four pilot schools. [If anyone has good connections with local Primary schools, please let Angela know.] Our new 'sole use' agreement with Wedgwood Memorial College (whereby we take over the College for a week or weekend) proved a great success at Somera Festivalo this year, so we shall repeat it for other courses. That way, we can actually reduce prices and have the place to ourselves - but we must fill the place, so if you haven't been to Barlaston for a while, sign up now.
Clare Hunter assured us that preparations for the 2009 Language Show in London are well in hand, with Helen Fantom once again at the helm. Tim Owen, Bill Walker and others have put together a special freebie CD for the occasion. Geoffrey Greatrex is reviewing our publicity arrangements, with a view to a 'fresh start'. [Anyone who would like to get involved, please contact Geoffrey at: greatrexuottawa.ca
David Bisset told us about a recent offer to the Butler Library of a 'most interesting' book collection; the Library Committee are giving intense consideration to how best to benefit from this very generous offer. Geoffrey King, Hon. Librarian, also enlightened us about the Library's policy on book acquisitions and on binding of periodicals, topics which perhaps do need a conventional meeting for an adequate discussion.
Edmund Grimley Evans raised the intriguing possibility of digitising the contents of the Library, or at least starting with one part, perhaps a complete periodical series, as an experiment. He is in discussion with the erstwhile editors of 'Fonto' about the possibility of digitising that. Watch this space.
Clare Hunter has been 'liaising' with the editors of La Brita Esperantisto (Paul Gubbins) and Update (Geoffrey Sutton), and with Bill Walker, our 'Webmaster'; one early result is a competition for the best contribution to either publication or to the website in the course of the year (which you no doubt read about in the last issue of Update). She and Bill have also discussed how the appearance of the website might be improved.
And that was virtually it. It sounds rather like any other ManCom meeting, which must prove something. We shall be discussing, at our next 'real' meeting in February, how well the virtual event worked and whether we might make it a regular part of our activities.
from the real David Kelso (Secretary)
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