Bonsai Club/Society Members - What activities or events get you to meetings?

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Hey folks,

I'll be taking a much more active role in my local club next year and it's gotten me thinking about some things. For those of you who attend club meetings, what tends to get you out the door or inspires you to keep the club dues coming in year after year?

- What do you like/dislike about your clubs communication? (I.e. Newsletters, announcements, social media)

- What tend to be your favorite club events?

- What would make your local club better? More education? Bringing in big names for demos? More informal meetings for tree work?

- Are you interested in multi club events/shows?

- What's it going to take to get you to bring some trees to the meeting?
 

Bonsai Nut

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Make sure to create an annual calendar. Get people involved - and specifically assign different meetings to different people, both to get the involved and to rotate responsibilities.

Try to have a show - even a modest one - each year. It tends to give a season to the club and is a great way to attract new members. Starting out, you don't have to run your own show; piggyback on someone else's. State fairs are a good (and simple) place to have a show table, as are garden shows.

Club members love events where they come away with new trees. Have tons of raffles. Have tree swaps. Bring in starter trees where people get a set of six uncommon seedlings.

Most importantly... ask your members for anonymous feedback after each meeting to get an idea of what works and what doesn't.
 

Bonsai Nut

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The other thing I would suggest would be to have every meeting have a similar rhythm. For example:

(A) Welcome and club news
(B) Member tree discussion (each meeting a different club member brings a single tree to discuss - good or bad - for club participation)
(C) Main event - primarily focusing on design, technique, horticulture, or visitor.
(D) Close - raffle or club drawing or tree swap.

Make sure you run a tight timeline so that people know when the meeting starts, and when it ends.

I cannot under-emphasize - try to get members to run the meeting themselves. Get people to sign up for different agenda items and then they run the meeting - not you.
 

Forsoothe!

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The people operating the club can only do so much. The more people giving back in the way that they personally can is important. I'm old and what I can do is run a raffle at each meeting to both raise funds for the board of directors to use and to give people one more reason to come to the meetings. They find presenters that are interesting each of the 9 meeting per year is worth attending. I buy some stuff with the funds I raise, but not much anymore. Most of what I raffle off has been contributed by members. Pots, trees, magazines, tools, mudmen, rocks, you name it, somebody has it in their garage and is tired of moving it around. I buy aluminum wire in 1 kg spools and divide it into 6, 166 gram spools, except 1.0mm which I divide into 10, 100 gram spools. I package that up as sets of 1.0mm, 1.5mm, 2.0mm, 2.5mm, 3.0mm, 3.5mm & 4 or 4.5mm for 1.1 kg of 7 kinds of wire. It's a pain in the neck, but I do it watching TV in winter and it's very popular with everyone, but I do it especially for the newbees who balk at buying enough wire to get in the game. I tell everyone all the time that you can't really do sophisticated bonsai unless and until you do wiring. The wire package almost always goes first in four drawings per meeting.

I also run a raffle at the annual show. I sit in the same place in the show the whole time both days and hawk tickets at $1 each, or 6 for $5. I'm a pretty good salesman and nobody gets by me without hearing my pitch so I raise another 5 or $600 at the show. The prizes are mostly donated by vendors and include one kit containing my package of wire, a beginner's book, 4 tools, soil, pot and a starter fig. Others prizes are usually nice, big hardy and tropical pre-bonsai, a special pot, special books, etc. Something for everyone. Other people do their thing and all together we get a lot done and that's why the club has about 100 members.
 

HorseloverFat

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Bay Area Bonsai (Green Bay, WI) is doing this event that I consider MIGHT prove entertaining..

A raw-stock workshop-style tournament.... which
i think SOUNDS kind of neat... but I’m curious as to how it will actually “go”..

I will go watch.. but I am not a member... I’d like to be... but they don’t really seem open to new members... OR guys like me...

That’s sad.... for THEM.

🤓
 

LanceMac10

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Bay Area Bonsai (Green Bay, WI) is doing this event that I consider MIGHT prove entertaining..

A raw-stock workshop-style tournament.... which
i think SOUNDS kind of neat... but I’m curious as to how it will actually “go”..

I will go watch.. but I am not a member... I’d like to be... but they don’t really seem open to new members... OR guys like me...

That’s sad.... for THEM.

🤓


Stick in the arse types? Elitist with more money than sense? Plenty of that to go around here, why bother catchin' slack from a bunch of tossers?
 

BrianBay9

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I like raffles, club sales, silent auctions. Every meeting should have an opportunity to get new stuff.

I also like encouraging people to bring in trees they're working on or, better yet, set up a display for a tree. Then encourage an informal discussion of the tree's positive and negative points before and after the program or during breaks. I've never seen more than a handful of trees show up at any one meeting so there's always enough time for it.
 

HorseloverFat

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Bay Area Bonsai (Green Bay, WI) is doing this event that I consider MIGHT prove entertaining..

A raw-stock workshop-style tournament.... which
i think SOUNDS kind of neat... but I’m curious as to how it will actually “go”..

I will go watch.. but I am not a member... I’d like to be... but they don’t really seem open to new members... OR guys like me...

That’s sad.... for THEM.

🤓
As a very wise man made me realize recently.

I should not be so short-sighted and ill-informed before speaking unkindly of Organizations/Societies.

The truth is..

I spoke to two people from this Club.. one was Rude and seemingly uninviting, and one was very easy going... so by CONTRAST the more aggressive would stand out.

I AM going to the event to get more of a feel for the club.. perhaps speak directly to the Club’s organizer..

Shouldn’t let one bad apple let ME spoil a reputation OR cut/sell myself short learning opportunities.

...that ONE lady was just SO rude. 🤣🤣
 

meushi

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My favorite club events would be the workshops and the trips. We normally meet twice a month: one meeting and one workshop. During lockdown, we went to a couple of nurseries and shops. Once a year, we're supposed to have a class with a big name and a class with other clubs but Covid has changed the schedule a bit. Before lockdown, we'd also visit the large exhibitions at a reasonable distance from us... The Trophy, Maulevrier, Saulieu every year and the Eda Uchi Kai Ten every three years.

One thing that would improve the club would be to organize internal "bonsai basic intensives" for the new members. We currently have four types of members: experienced practitioners (20+ years of bonsai), junior practitioners, "we don't do bonsai, we do tree/topiary in a pot" and total newbies. At the moment, I don't think the total newbies are getting a lot of benefit out of joining the club. I can understand that the more experienced practitioners don't want to work on shitty mallsai or sticks in nursery pots... but the total newbies won't stay if nobody helps them progress. I've already organized informal work sessions with a few members at my place, and already offered to do a series of "basic" workshops at my place (terminology, fertilizers, wiring, ...). This lead to discussions of group splitting in the monthly meetings and two people (myself included) volunteered to take care of new members. In the last three months, every attempt to discuss it was met with excuses to delay. The "tree/topiary in a pot" gang also tend to shoot down any offer of technical presentation.

Multi club events/shows can be nice when well organized. My previous club is part of a "three nations" bonsai exhibition... there's one club from France, one from Luxembourg and one from Germany that take turns in organizing the exhibition in their home country. The three clubs are within a 2h drive from each other. My current club organized a bonsai flea market two years in a row, with surrounding clubs joining in. We were also supposed to organize the French national exhibition last year, which was pushed back to this year then next year due to Covid.

I always take two to three trees to the meeting, sometimes to discuss species or even work on them ;)
 
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