Board minutes from March 14th, 2020

Mission Statement

Esperanto USA is a non-profit organization that encourages and strengthens the Esperanto community in the United States and its territories by facilitating support and communication for local groups and providing a centralized set of resources for our members.

I. Call to Order 1:00 PM EDT

Board Present:

  • Phil DORCAS, President
  • Ben SPEAKMON, Vice-President
  • Murray MERNER, Treasurer
  • Timoteo BORONCZYK, Director
  • Fred MEYER, Director
  • Paige MILES FELDMAN, Director
  • Jordon KALILICH, Director

Quorum satisfied: Yes

Staff Present:

  • Bill HARRIS, Director of the Central Office

Visitor(s) Present: Alex MILLER

  • Chloe EVERHART

II. Changes to Agenda

No changes were requested.

III. Approval of Minutes

Fred motioned to approve the minutes from February’s board meeting. Murray seconded the motion. The minutes were unanimously approved.

IV. Standing Reports

A. Director of Central Office

  • Bill is preparing the year-end and Landa Kongreso report.
  • Bill plans on spending time with Jordon to help him understand the Central Office’s finances.

B. Treasurer

  • No report made. Murray did not have access to the financial information in time to prepare a treasurer’s report because it was sent prematurely to Jordon.

C. Membership Committee

  • Murray sent the list of members of this committee to Phil. The members are: Fred, Murray, Timoteo, Jordon, and Nick.

  • Phil will schedule a meeting for the committee to discuss the scope of their responsibilities, elect a chair, and start work on a project plan. This is high priority because growing the organization’s membership will have a positive impact on finances.

D. Publicity Committee

  • Esperanto was featured in a segment on CBS on February 16th. Esperanto- USA was mentioned specifically, and a link to the website was given in the online version of the report. Jordon reported that we saw a large increase in ad impressions, clicks, and conversions as a result.
  • Jordon also noted that we are using only 10% of our ad budget, although our ads are now more effective than when we were using the full budget. We still have room for improvement. Any help would be appreciated.
  • Phil would like to involve local groups in our publicity efforts. He and Jordon will meet to discuss possible future actions for the publicity committee regarding this.

E. Landa Kongreso

  • The Landa Kongreso will take place in Montreal. Phil reported that 150 participants are registered to attend. 800 participants are registered for the UK.

  • There is no word from UEA or the UK committee with regard to cancelling or re-scheduling the UK. We will continue as planned and re-evaluate if necessary as the events draw closer.
  • Phil reported our sessions have been preliminary scheduled with Jenya AMOS but still must be finalized. There may also be a cost for sessions (to cover equipment rental, etc).
  • Page is researching possible spaces for the pre-course. It would cost approx. $600/day per room the conference base (Sheraton), and she has been unable to find complimentary space in a church or community center. She suggested it may be best to meet at a coffee shop depending on the number of participants.

F. Youth/USEJ

  • Bill brought attention to a request sent to the board for reimbursement for an expense during VEK. This will be discussed during new business. G. Local Groups
  • Fred reported that he did not meet with the regional coordinators as planned because only 4 coordinators were available. He will continue to try to schedule the meeting.
  • Bill received a message from James BRIDGES expressing interest in becoming a coordinator for the Great Lakes region.
  • A message was also received from Chris NELSON expressing interest in having a regional coordinators session during the LK.
    • Phil noted that regional coordinators is an official Esperanto-USA activity and therefore a session should be included. There is a question whether the session should be closed to coordinators only or open to the public. Fred and Phil plan to discuss this more offline.
  • Murray reported that he sent messages to regional contacts and received replies from three people. He sent a follow up message to the non-respondents informing them they will be removed from the website.
    • It would be preferable to have at least 1 contact person in each state. This may be difficult with regard to Mississippi as Esperanto-USA has no members in that state.

V. Old Business

A. Esperanto in the USA Campaign

  • Phil reported the Esperanto in the USA campaign was renewed for 2020 and we’ve already received small donations. He will write a general letter to the membership to advertise it.
  • Phil expressed his desire to reach our goal prior to Montreal so funds can be used for youth to participate. That would free ourselves to use remaining contributions for the general fund, video fund, and endowment funds.
  • For the campaign to be successful, we need a good landing page, clear goals, and testimonies from previous recipients. Phil recommended we establish a committee to manage the campaign. Paige volunteered for the committee.

B. Landa Kongreso 2021

  • Ben has been in contact with Eric KILLIAN regarding Chicago hosting the next LK. He noted the discussions have been positive, but it would help if we had documentation or help from previous organizers to offer.
    • Phil noted that documentation already exists but it needs to be updated. Phil also suggested members who helped with Seattle and Boston as potential resources. There are other major Esperanto speakers in Chicago who should also be able to help.
  • Phil noted having a local club volunteer to organize the event is better than searching for organizers. Since there are large pockets of Esperanto activity in San Francisco, Texas, New York, and Atlanta, those may be potential targets.
  • Timoteo asked Ben and Jordon about their experiences organizing the Seattle event. Both responded that it was very rewarding and listed it as an accomplishment they are most proud of. It is a serious undertaking, though. Ben added that three dedicated people are required as a minimum to plan the event, and five would be better.

C. Treasure Transition

  • Murray has already sent Jordon documentation and believes everything is in good order for the transition. Jordan and Murray will discuss the transition with Bill to be certain.
  • There was some confusion whether the board voted to approve the transition. Fred noted we held an online vote but didn’t recall receiving a summary of the results. Phil responded.
    • The proposal was whether Jordon will be our treasurer starting at the end of the March 14 board meeting. The vote was carried out February 14 and 15. Eight out of ten eligible votes were cast, all in favor. The proposal passed.

VI. New Business

A. Vinalkosmo Contract

  • La Perditita Generacio (LPG) performed a concern in 2018 which was recorded by Esperanto-USA. Vinalkosmo (VK) wants to release the recordings as an album. The contract proposes a three-way profit split between Esperanto-USA, LPG, and VK. Furthermore, Esperanto-USA would retain copyright over of the recordings but VK would have exclusive release rights for three years.
    • Ben noted the sale price will be $10 an album, and at 100-200 copies would generate maybe $600 income for Esperanto-USA.
    • Several board members expressed concern that the contract is written in Esperanto, which is not tort in either the United States or European Union. Is it a legally enforceable contract or a good faith agreement?
    • Additional concerns were expressed over VK‘s future. Ben noted the contract states if VK shuts down then the contract is void and rights revert back to LPG and Esperanto-USA.
  • The board wishes not to agree to a contract with questionable enforceability with a company that may disappear.
  • Ben motioned the board at least approve of the three-way split income. Timoteo seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

B. Reporting of Financial Information

  • Members need to know the status of funds and how much money is available to have a better idea of how much money is available for projects.
    • Murray noted that this information is presented in monthly financial reports to the board and quarterly interest reports. The monthly reports are submitted in writing as to how things are going operationally. Investment reports are made verbally, generally a month or two after end of quarter.
    • The overall financial situation is available to membership in the annual report. Phil noted that our annual report is carefully reviewed before it’s published and a tremendous amount of work goes into it. It is impractical to release a full report quarterly.
    • Murray also noted that the status of the investment accounts is currently in a state of flux, depending on the market and how the boar allocates money between accounts to fund various events, stipends, etc.
  • Jordon will respond to Lee MILLER’s email about fund status, informing him that he is the incoming treasurer and has been advised of his concerns, and that we are considering ways to make the information more readily available to the membership. Phil had previously responded to Lee’s emails.

C. Funds for USEJ

  • Alex MILLER received a reimbursement request for $176.75 for a meal expense during VEK. Currently there is no money in the USEJ account. Charolette had requested $500 be transferred to the account to accommodate the reimbursement request and to handle additional unexpected expenses in the future.

  • Murray recommend establishing a deadline (perhaps 1 week) to submit expenses for reimbursement.
  • Timoteo motioned to move $500 from the Goldman Fund to USEJ’s account. Ben seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

D. Radaro Membership

  • A request was made to consider subscribing Esperanto-USA members to Radaro. The website has the potential to supplement Usona Esperantisto with more timely information and to reach prospective members.
  • Radaro is not an official project of Esperanto-USA. Both Page and Timoteo expressed concern over any subscriptions made without a member’s consent, especially to a third-party project.
  • Phil will send a one-time email to our members informing them of the benefit of subscribing to Radaro.

E. Zoom Account for Local Groups

  • Zoom can help local groups communicate more effectively than they have in the past. Esperanto-USA currently share a Zoom account with ESF, and Fred noted we can establish multiple meeting ids. However, a shared account means both organizations can’t use it at the same time. If local groups use it, we’d run into scheduling conflicts. Phil suggested we have an account which we can share with local groups.
    • Subscription cost would be $149 a year.
    • Timoteo asked why this is necessary. Are local groups asking for this? And why Zoom, since other free alternatives exist. He believes it should be up to the groups’ organizers to determine what’s best for their group and can ask for a stipend.

F. English-Esperanto textbooks for Kenyan Esperanto Group

  • Bill received a request to send English-Esperanto textbooks to the Esperanto group in Bungoma, Kenya. He is asking the board to consider sending copies of Step by Step in Esperanto.
  • Shipping cost would be approximately $25 shipping. The books themselves cost $4 each and are sold for $8. We have 140 copies in stock.
  • Fred asked why this particular group? Phil responded that the request came from the chair of the Africa Commission of UEA.
  • Murray motioned we supply 10 copies of the text as requested. Timoteo seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

VII. Adjournment

Adjourned at 3:00 PM EDT
Next meeting is April 11, 2020 at 1PM EDT

Respectfully submitted,
Timoteo BORONCZYK, Director

ACTION ITEMS

  • Phil will schedule a meeting of the Membership Committee.
  • Jordon and Phil will discuss future actions of the Publicity Committee.
  • Phil will reserve UK sessions.
  • Page and Phil to form Campaign Committee and plan actions.
  • Jordan and Phil will send Alex MILLER existing documentation on organizing a Landa Kongreso.
  • Phil will organize a page on our website that has clear procedures for how to submit an application for projects and stipends.
  • Phil will send an email to our members informing them of Radaro.