After nearly 40 years of continual District One leadership and high memberships, the Toastmasters club formerly known as Peninsula Toastmasters Club 174 met its unceremonious end on March 31 2022.
The club was started in Palos Verdes Peninsula (hence, the name) chartering in 1983 and was attended by founding members Larry Savell and Shelley Stockwell Nicholas until the end of the club’s time. This club was marked by attendance of world class speakers, authors, elite leaders of business and social systems, executives, students and retired people. It was also attended by many people of color, who’s native languages were not always English, and were still warmly encouraged to learn and grow by participating as equally supported and supportive members.
Eventually the club ran into difficulties attracting new and retaining its members due to the excessive growth of the number of competing Toastmasters clubs in the local vicinity and more recently, the global pandemic, which forced our vibrant in-person meetings to take place by virtual meetings in Zoom or Google Meet.
After 20+ months of virtual meetings, member attrition and dwindling marketing outreach, the club reached a very low water mark of 6 paying attending members and was notified of its non-compliant status. With no correction efforts, this clubs life was at its end.
Sadly, the last club president and remaining attenders (mostly non-renewing free attenders) who were contacted many times and were the point of contact for Toastmasters International and the district leadership, yielded to the easy path of letting go of the work that they felt was too much for the value that they saw in restoring the club.
When this author contacted Toastmasters International at the near end of March of 2022, TI club services was of little value to assist restoring this club, which would have required an extension of its termination date, a waive of the fees and reinstating Peninsula on TI’s website for club business. None of these things were of interest to Toastmasters International and they ignored additional phone calls and emails from me.
This club may be rebuilt as a new club however its doubtful unless there is some major value changes brought about by Toastmasters International, which seems to have lost it’s way.
Toastmasters at this point has a lot of work to do to interest a segment of younger people that are overwhelmed by instant gratification from social media platforms, competing updated inexpensive learning systems, a mobile device first priority, and free video on demand classes and traditional education and entertainment sources. Most of Toastmasters platforms (called Pathways, AKA Basecamp) is antiquated, having merely digitized their formerly familiar paper-based learning system and added new types of the same content. This author thinks that they’ve missed the mark for what Gen Z is looking for in their learning experiences.
Maybe this is the beginning of the end for Toastmasters too? Time will tell if society pulls Toastmaster International’s charter next.