The Esperanto Club of North Texas is an informal club that meets in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We typically have ten to twenty participants in our meetings. We have a website and a mailing list for conversations between meetings.
The club began regular meetings in 1992. After attending the Universala Kongreso in Warsaw in 1987, and having a friend from Koszalin, Poland visit north Texas in 1991, I felt we needed to have a club in North Texas. After calling many people in the ELNA membership list, Roy Crochet, Barry Friedman and I began to meet irregularly every month or two. After some time we decided we needed to advertise. The three of us got together with Jarlo Bills at SMU where Barry worked, pooled some money and placed an advertisement. In response to the ad, we had our first meeting at the home of Joe and Anna Burba. At that meeting we decided to hold our meetings monthly. We met at the Burba’s home for many wonderful years.
By calling the club “informal,” I mean that we do not have a regular set of officers. Our sole officer is our Treasurer who tends to our money when we have some. Jarlo fills this role. Otherwise when a task needs doing, we find someone willing to lead that task. So Phil Dorcas sends out meeting announcements, and Ron Wolf tends to the website. When we sing, Jarlo and Rhanda Hasley play and lead the music. I try to get members to talk about some topic. Our rule is that we may talk in English if the topic is Esperanto. For other topics, we talk in Esperanto. This rule is suspended when we have beginners come to one of our meetings.
I bring an agenda to our meetings so we can do things in a regular order. The usual order at club meetings is to greet one another, chat about some topic, go around the table discussing what we have done for/in Esperanto in the last month, plan for upcoming events, and finally play a board game to help us learn vocabulary. The games are good for younger members and enjoyed by everyone.
In the past we have had three gatherings a month: two conversational circles and one regular club meeting. We have had only the regular club meeting for the past several months for lack of meeting places for conversational circles. Conversational circles are small group meetings where we discuss events in Esperanto and play vocabulary-building board games. Conversational circles need relatively quiet, public meeting places.
Member retention is our largest problem. We greet new members enthusiastically and speak in both English and Esperanto so they can hear the language and still remain comfortable. We try to connect them with Esperanto learning resources. We get their contact information and try to follow up with a welcoming email during the first week after the meeting. Still, our long-term membership grows slowly.