A lot of the work of teaching bonsai falls to the clubs – the organizations that make the meetings, workshops and exhibits from which we learn possible.
I’ve been a member of several clubs over the years, but most of my experience has been with a single organization – Bay Island Bonsai (aka BIB).
I wanted to highlight a few BIB policies and activities that have helped me learn bonsai over the years.
- Workshops are mandatory in BIB, and thanks to Boon, the workshops are a valuable resource.
Boon in the workshop
- Members participate in evaluation exercises. By evaluating trees and reviewing our scores as a group, members can learn about the traits to look for in given varieties.
Bonsai evaluation forms
- Programs featuring visiting professionals focus on critiques of member trees. This exposes members to other professionals and provides feedback aimed at improving member trees.
Daisaku Nomoto sizing up a black pine
- Members create practice displays at almost every meeting. The year-round focus on display helps members refine their displays ahead of the annual exhibit.
Boon reviewing a practice display
- BIB encourages members to have at least 1-2 trees that will be displayed in the club exhibit. This encourages quality and provides incentive for following-through with longer-term projects.
- No tree can be shown two years in a row. This provides incentive for members who want to show trees every year to have more than one exhibit-quality tree.
- Members share trees, pots, stands and other display elements at the exhibit. This informal practice has resulted from the focus members place not just on their own trees but on the exhibit as a whole.
Many of these practices are valuable thanks to Boon. As a sensei club – a club with a teacher – we’re fortunate in that we are exposed to consistent, quality education.
Clubs without regular teachers have their benefits too – chief among them is the great flexibility they have in creating programs to meet member needs.
Speaking of which, what are the practices you’ve found most conducive to learning in your clubs?
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