The Roots of Eco-Gardening

Monday's meeting took on an air of freshness as our Toastmaster for the evening, Glenice took us through the history of eco-gardening and current trends. A fascinating evening ensued as one after the other, toasters and speakers, incorporated some form of eco reference to fit in with the theme.

John gave us a toast to greening our roofs, and showed three images of distinctly different roofs which had various plant species growing on them.
One of them included a full grown tree - how's that for a roof over your head!

Ryan's word of the evening had everyone in a spin - it was, debatably, the longest recognised word in the dictionary, with 45 letters, and referred to a lung disease caused by silica inhalation. The word? Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. Try saying that 10 times fast - let alone incorporating it into your speech. But whilst some referred indirectly to it's usage, Rod Ruth and Glenice managed to fit in, and thus can now claim to have used (appropriately) the longest word around.

The first speech of the evening was enlightening, humorous and was also a CC1!
Jim Powell gave his Ice Breaker to the group and highlighted some of the highs and lows in his life. Perhaps one of the funniest moments was finding out that he only questioned where South Africa was - once he was half way in the air!
It was well thought out, and had the audience captivated - more great things are expected in his upcoming CC's.
Ruth repeated her Demo speech from a few days back, on stress and stress management. The slides that accompanied her presentation provided all the humour required to relieve us all of any stresses we may have had, and she appropriately finished with a flower - yes, always take time out to stop and smell the roses.

Jerry gave a 15 minute speech of wonder. Clearly a huge amount of preparation had gone into it, and he regaled his audience with humour that was distinctly himself. Guests visitors and members leaned forward trying to ensure they did not miss out on any of the subtle references he was making, and when he shook his "imshumi-wam" to finish, it was clear he had won best speaker of the evening.

Forestry in South Africa

Keith once again brought the projector into play and gave a presentation on sawmill logging in South Africa. How many times do we get to listen to the intricacies of this industry?
To have it presented to us by one of our most experienced members was a delight.

A short recess was followed by Rod taking control of Table Topics, and asking participants to tell us how they would grow and nurture and harvest and utilize two green items of produce.
Ryan, John, and Ruth took up the challenge of Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits, and if their words are anything to by, we can be expect some exciting new produce to hit the shelves this space!

Our next meeting on the 29th of March 2010 is our bring a friend evening - so gather your friends and family, even your boss, and join us for a special night.

Raid on George

Transformers Toastmasters made a raid on Hatch Toastmasters in an attempt to bring home George, the Traveling Gavel. Four members, Keith Bowen, Mary Byrne, Jim Powell and John-Peter Gernaat braved the portals of corporate-dom only to find another visiting club, CIS Toastmasters, with six member having the same intention as ourselves. Formidably out-numbered we graciously stood aside to allow CIS to take George home with them. But we will not permit them to keep George for very long.

The evening was nonetheless very pleasant with three prepared speeches, a programme topic of Vacations to Nowhere and impromptu speeches about interesting if obscure vacation destinations.

John-Peter was asked to provide the Toast of the Evening and evaluate a speech, while Mary undertook the roles as Timekeeper and General Evaluator. In her evaluation of the evening she gave a critical and constructive report of the evening proceedings. Jim participated in the Table Topics. CIS provided a prepared speech, an evaluator and a Chief Evaluator to the evening. The visiting clubs did not sit idly by and watch the evening’s programme. Hatch is a small club and one quickly experienced the work expected of so few to hold a successful meeting.

Hatch did provide a full dinner with dessert and the most fabulous hot chocolate source, but what is it with Toastmasters clubs: the evening ended with chocolates being presented to all attendees.

Transformers holds its next club meeting on Monday, 8th March and as always guests are very welcome to attend.

Annual Contest

Transformers Toastmasters Meeting number 576 (can you believe that so many meeting have already been held – makes the club between 24 and 25 years old – time to investigate our history!) on Monday, 22nd February was given over to our annual contests. Three contests were completed and competed! – bad grammar! Contestants competed in three contests: the International Prepared English Contest in which the winner advances to the Area contest, the winner of which advances to the Divisional Contest and so on to the District Contest and eventually to the International Contest in Florida; the Impromptu Contest and Evaluation Contest, the latter two completing at District level.

District 74 Secretary and Immediate-Past Division H Governor, Graham Nicholls chaired the contests for the evening. We had visiting Toastmasters from SpeechQuest and Rivonia Toastmasters to assist with judging the contests and keeping time and Willem Gous of Rivonia presented the demonstration speech for the Evaluation Contest. After the opening formalities of the evening a recess was called during which the contestants and judges were briefed and everyone piled into the snacks for nourishment or to calm nerves.

And then they were off!

The first contest of the evening was the International Prepared English in which John-Peter Gernaat, Ryan Ebedes and Glenice Ebedes competed. John-Peter repeated his speech of last week on water, its structure and how it is influenced by its environment implying that our body, which consists largely of water, and therefore our wellbeing, is influenced by the nature of our thoughts and our words. Ryan regaled the judges and audience with an informative and entertaining speech on the nest-making adventures of the social weaver bird (Philetairus socius). It creates one of the architectural wonders of the world together with some 500 of its fellow when it constructs its social nest. Glenice recounted the adventures of one their “Journeys” into the wilderness to enjoy and photograph wildlife. Such journeys are not without their own adventure when fuel runs low and the next town seems beyond the reach of the remaining fuel, flat tyres need to be changed and unplanned detours are taken to town that no longer appear on maps because they have recently undergone a name change. Worst is when a battery that has taken you a deserted watering hole goes defunct with no help in sight and wild cats making a push-start very risky. Journeys like these build strength and character and Glenice urged her audience to take journeys of their own. This speech was well deserving of second place.

After a short recess, Willem presented his demonstration speech entitled “Don’t assume anything yet!” His opening lines were directed at insulting members of the audience. He then went on to explain the typical reaction that such insults might engender; how people respond violently to criticism. He used wonderful metaphors like “spit spraying like muzzle flashes” and “being bloodies by well aimed words”. He provided useful advice that would rapidly defuse such a situation if the insulted party simply asked: “Why do you say that?” and continued to question to offender until the situation was fully explained. Taking the general situation into the intimacy of personal relationships he asked the response to the question: “Do you still love me?” from a spouse or lover. This is a question fraught with danger but again Willem provided sage advice. Willem joined Toastmasters in November last year and already speaks like a seasoned veteran. He did write, direct and act in play for his thirtieth birthday as entertainment for his guests and a musical for his thirty third birthday – a man who challenges himself for the fun of it.

It was the turn of Evaluation contestants, Mary Byrne, Kay Kotelo, Glenice and John-Peter to evaluate Willem’s speech. Mary won this contest and certainly is one of our best evaluators. Glenice came a competent second by providing a balanced evaluation of the good points and areas of improvement.

Last contest for the evening was the Impromptu Contest in which Mary, Kay, Glenice and John-Peter competed. The Contest Chair gave the competitors the word “window” on which to speak. John-Peter spoke about eyes being the windows to the soul. Glenice sat through a boring meeting only to find the plate of snacks after the meeting crawling with cockroaches so that she hurled the platter out of a window. Mary explained the unusual design of the windows of her house that barely allow air to enter in the swelter of summer heat. Kay spoke about windows of opportunity and whether striving for such opportunities are worth forgoing the good things in life. She studied to become a Chartered Accountant in order to open windows of opportunity in the future but had to forego all the joys of student life. Kay won the contest with this speech and Mary came second.

In summary:

International Prepared English was won by Ryan Ebedes with Glenice Ebedes coming second.

Evaluation Contest was won by Mary Byrne with Glenice Ebedes second.

Impromptu Contest was won by Kay Kotelo with Mary Byrne second.

The thanks of the club goes to our visitors for their participation and assistance in making for a successful Club Contest.

In our Hall of Fame we learned that our Chief Judge for the evening and Distinguished Toastmaster Keith Bowen had participated in the Midmar Mile swimming race, and not for the first time. Visiting Toastmaster Willem Gous is about to become a father for the first time.

The evening was brought to a close by our Vice-president Education, Ryan Ebedes presenting everyone with a slab of Whole Nut Chocolate. I guess one has to be a nut on a certain level to compete in contests for no reward except personal achievement.

Club members will be off to Raid George, the Traveling Gavel from Hatch Toastmaster on 23rd February.

The next club meeting will take place on Monday, 8th March and as always guests are very welcome to attend.

History, Water, Zebras and Shoes

Transformers Meeting of Monday, 8th February provided a full programme with great information and variety.

Our Toastmaster of the Evening, our club President Ruth Taylor, regaled us with the history of Toastmasters. The prepared speeches ranged from water and health, creating success from small ideas, the history and good work of Meals on Wheels to the history of shoes. Quite a spread!

Everyone associates Toastmasters with Ralph C. Smedley! Smedley was an educationalist and worked as a teacher even while studying. After graduating he started working at the local YMCA in Bloomingdale, Illinois. He discovered that there was a need for training in speech and formed a club where the boys took turns in presiding and speaking. The speeches were evaluated and so the young men learned leadership skills and speaking. The club only lasted a year after Smedley moved to the YMCA at Rock Island, Illinois as General Secretary in 1910. The same thing happened with the speakers clubs he formed in YMCAs at his next two appointments. In 1924 he formed a Toastmasters Club in the YMCA in Santa Ana, California and a year later he assisted the first non-YMCA group to start a club in Anaheim, California. These are still clubs number 1 and 2 of Toastmasters International. As our Toastmaster for the Evening pointed out the survival of Toastmasters Clubs is dependant on people – the members of each club. The aims of Toastmasters has not changed since inception: to teach people to speak (with confidence) and to teach leadership skills, through the practice of doing both. At Transformers we add to that the aim of having fun in the process.

Keith Bowen, Distinguished Toastmaster, member of Cabinet and Toastmaster since 1995 reminded us that in previous years the practice had been to follow the Loyal Toast with a Toast to Toastmasters International, after which the Toast of the Evening was offered. He elected to offer a Toast to TMI as Toast of the Evening, reminding us of the bond that exists between all Toastmasters and the friendliness that we have come to expect whenever we meet or have dealings with another Toastmaster.

Rod Taylor was asked to respond to the Toast and provided an excellent example of a response. He enthused about the Toast and carefully explained the finer points of offering an appropriate Toast.

Word of the evening by grammarian and lexicologist, Glenice Ebedes, was “cultivate” and received nine insertions into the discourse of the evening.

John-Peter Gernaat presented the first of the prepared speeches of the evening. In his project 7 speech of the Competent Communicator manual his requirement was to demonstrate that he had researched his topic. In his speech entitled: “Your body of Water” he highlighted some of the anomalous properties that enables water to sustain life, such as the ability to rise in the trunks of trees against gravity and tens of atmospheres of pressure. Research has shown that water molecules relate to each other to form structures and these structures act as memory cells recording the influence of everything with which water comes into contact. When cryogenically frozen water droplets form crystals when the water is pure, wholesome or a positive word or sentiment has been spoken to water. If a hateful word is spoken or water is ill-treated, becomes polluted for example, no definable crystal forms. Our bodies consist of about 60% water and therefore the health of this water and probably our overall health is influenced by our thoughts and words and the words and intentions of others.

Ryan Ebedes, completing the second project from the Entertaining Speaker advanced manual, entitled his speech: “Unveiling your Zebra”. He showed us a lovely, but non-descript photo of two wildebeest and a zebra and then went to provide an entertaining tale as told by a mother elephant to her calf as to why this zebra hung out with the wildebeest. The gist of the tale is that the zebra’s mother was killed by predators and that the young thing ran until it found the wildebeest herd where it was then fostered. Suddenly the non-descript photo gained a life and the viewer formed an emotional attachment. Authors have written successful books about a simple idea: a seagull that wanted to improve its flying skills became “Jonathan Livingstone Seagull” for pilot Richard Bach and a boy who thought he was a wizard became the Harry Potter series for J K Rowling. Ryan challenged each of us to unveil our simple idea that might become a mighty success and for his superb speech won the trophy for best speaker of the evening.

Cheryl-Lynn Langley completed a project from the Persuasive Speaker advanced manual that she entitled: “Will you?” Providing a history of the origins of Meals on Wheels in the United Kingdom after World War II to help people left destitute by the war and the good work done locally by selfless volunteers, she asked whether we would all subscribe to a monthly debit order of a mere R25 per month to feed one person for the month. This was clearly a well rehearsed presentation and speech and the plea left us in no doubt that this was a cause worth everyone’s support.

The final prepared speech of the evening was presented by a visiting Toastmaster from Accenture Toastmasters, Angela Murphy, in completion of project 5 of the Competent Communicator manual. Her speech entitled “Shoes, glorious shoes” demonstrated her passion for shoes and provided titbits of the history of shoes from various countries. Geta sandalsJapanese wooden geta sandals make a sound as the wearer walks. Couples always buy their shoes together to ensure that the sound of the two pairs of shoes is not disharmonious when the couple walk together. Pointed toes for men’s shoes in France once represented standing in society - the longer the toe the higher one’s standing, prompting the Church to raise an official complaint because worshipers could no long kneel comfortable due to the length of the points of their shoes.

Table Topics, chaired by Angela, provided great fun as each of four speakers was given a historic news headline relating to shoes to transform into a tale. We heard from Mary Byrne how the Pointy Shoe Gang was caught by accidentally leaving an ostentatiously pointy shoe at a crime scene. Glenice Ebedes extolled the features of penguin shoes that create happy feet. Jerry Goodman reassured concerned women that high heeled shoes were not about to be discontinued and was awarded best impromptu speaker for the evening. Finally, Keith Bowen explained that a new Nike Tennis Shoe would be the only apparel to be worn at a Greek-style Olympic contest.

The evaluations of the prepared speeches and a general evaluation of the evening were of a very high standard and very informative to the speakers and audience. Glenice was awarded best evaluator of the evening.

Club member news is that Glenice has resigned from formal employment to pursue a passion in landscape design. Club President, Ruth, has again been requested to lecture at the University of Johannesburg to journalism students of the role of a sub-editor.

Club members will be off to Hatch to collect George, the Traveling Gavel.

Important News: On 22nd February Transformers holds its Club Contest Evening with three contests on the programme: English Prepared (entrants must have completed the 6th project of the Competent Communicator manual), Impromptu and Evaluation. The last two contests are open to anyone. Guests are very welcome to attend this evening and although the programme for the evening is not the usual it will illustrate the level of public speaking that can be achieve through Toastmasters.