In the very beginning of local group structure, a group of London members went with Bernard Billings (who was the very first Local Secretary, or LocSec for short) to the coffee bar in the Stork Hotel at Birmingham to lay plans for the very first Mensa local group. Because London was a central hub for world travelers during that time as it perhaps is now too, word of the formation of a Local Group spread throughout the world – like a new game in town spreads. (Serebriakoff, Mensa, pp. 59, 65)

What usually happened next was that other groups started with the appointment of a LocSec by the center of national organization. Eventually then a new group started a local newsletter for communication within the local membership body. (Serebriakoff, Mensa, pg. 82) Today, the official newsletter of Mid-America Mensa is known as the Mension. It is published monthly with a Rooster (comprising a list, or roster, of current member information) inserted in it at least once a year.

In addition, a regional gathering (RG) is a particularly interesting smaller version of the Annual Gathering (AG). This regional sort of tradition started at a Quaker retreat at Charney Basset in Berkshire. Later, committee meetings were held in conjunction with the regional gatherings and this helped to renew some interest in Mensa. Each RG had its own unique personality which brought out the local atmosphere and cultural flavor. (Serebriakoff, Mensa, pp. 133-34)

Mid-America Mensa’s recent Cabin Fever event, for example, was a lot like a small RG in many ways. The program of events included a variety of lectures in smaller rooms to attract an interested audience, food from around the world (like India), a holiday ambiance with a ‘hospitality’ comparable to nowhere else, and a games room for the more daring, adventurous type of members. MAM’s Cabin Fever in February 2020 featured excellent topics of discussion in subject areas like: ‘Is the Press Really Free?’ (Salon with a Twist), how to harvest and make chocolate (Susannah Sulsar), how to do your own genealogy research (Paul Hough), and even a crochet demonstration. One option being discussed is to expand Cabin Fever into an RG next year.

Finally, a note about Ethnic Eats (Karin Miller): How are you feeding your creative cuisine while safe at home? Any adventurous potato bread bakers? Trader Joe’s is helping me – along with local restaurants during this ‘safe at home’ lockdown. Here’s to Las Palmas, Tao Taos, Pine and Bamboo Garden, and the local ethnic restaurants in your neighborhood. Hope to see you soon.