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Geneva Area Pond Club Pages


Club members and visitors starting to gather around a pond before a typical meeting

The free Geneva Area Pond Club was founded in 2004 by Suzanne Cherney and Peter Kacalanos, expatriate New Yorkers now living in Switzerland. The club's free get-togethers are held from 3 to 6 p.m. (15:00-18:00) on both the first and the third Sundays of every month throughout the year. These informal meetings take place in the homes and gardens of club members in the towns around Geneva, Vaud, and nearby France. Most meetings start with an informative discussion on a specific pond-related topic, typically moderated by an expert on that subject. All those who attend--whether novice or experienced--participate by asking questions or offering advice. The rest of each event is more informal, with lively conversations about ponds and everything else under the sun. The casual discussions are conducted in both English and French, and are fortified with prodigious volumes of snacks and drinks. Visitors are always welcome, whether their ponds are large, small, or not yet designed.
Many club members volunteer to offer the use of their homes and gardens so that they can each host one of the meetings. This gives all attendees the opportunity to examine and admire many different kinds of ponds. Some ponds look so natural that they seem untouched by human hands; others are very formal and geometric, decorated with urns and statues. Seeing the wide variety of ponds with different plants, fish, streams, waterfalls, cascades, fountains, islands, bridges, lights and other features inspires club members to incorporate desirable features in their own ponds.
In warm weather, the twice-monthly meetings occasionally take place beside the ponds in the club leaders' attractive garden in Nyon, about 15 minutes northeast of Geneva. It features two large ponds totaling 29,000 liters (over 7,000 gallons), connected by a sparkling cascade of recirculating water. Water lilies, lotus, cattails and over 100 other varieties of aquatic and bog plants produce a lush tropical effect, with something blooming all the time. Hundreds of goldfish and a few golden orfes and bitterlings can be seen swimming in the crystal-clear water.
Also seen swimming in the ponds are Suzanne and Peter's many turtles, and their many tortoises stroll through the entirely fenced-in garden. Peter is a serious herpetologist, so he designed this Turtle and Tortoise Sanctuary there as an ideal environment for these interesting animals. The Sanctuary adopts turtles and tortoises when the pets' original owners can no longer give them the care they need. Anyone interested in these ancient reptiles might want to learn about the other free organization the couple founded, the Geneva Area Turtle and Tortoise Society.
But this web site is about the Geneva Area Pond Club, which had an interesting beginning. When Peter finished constructing the ponds in their garden, he added just a dozen goldfish. Apparently the fish fell in love and decided to start a family. The couple soon had hundreds more goldfish than they needed. Their 'plant parenthood' was also more successful than expected, so they had more than enough aquatic plants in their ponds. It seems the protected micro-climate in their garden encourages every living thing to breed prolifically there. The real reason Suzanne and Peter started the Geneva Area Pond Club was to find other local pond owners to whom they could give their surplus fish and plants. They searched but found no organization of pond owners, so they created their own. An unexpected and very welcome bonus was the warm friendships made with the dozens of water gardening families who soon joined the club. Suzanne and Peter still give other pond owners all the goldfish and aquatic plants their ponds can hold, and other club members share their surplus plants, fish, and pond equipment as well. You can read about how the club was founded in the Water Garden International Journal's illustrated article, How to Create a Water Garden Club in the Mountains of Switzerland.
If you're interested in ponds, you're welcome to attend a free club meeting to enjoy some snacks, drinks, and good conversation in French or English with like-minded pond hobbyists. You can ask or give advice on breeding goldfish, koi, turtles and other pond inhabitants. Learn which aquatic plants are ideal for our local environment. Ask the experts which is the best liner, pump, filter, and other equipment for your own pond. Socialize with other friendly people who share our love of water gardens. For further details about this club or about water gardening, write to Suzanne and Peter at PeterSuzanne2@hotmail.com.
Visitors to this web site are welcome to join the Geneva Area Pond Club for free by clicking on the big red link marked Sign up. It won't take long, did it? Registering gives you membership instantly, and then you can get all the benefits of membership. You can also browse through the rest of the web site to see all it has to offer. Clicking on the links on the left side of the screen on every page will lead you to some interesting sections:

The Home section has very brief descriptions of the latest additions to this site. It highlights the pond club's next meeting, and lists below it the next few meetings, plus the last few meetings. Clicking on each meeting's title will produce full details of the event, plus photos of the hosts' pond. Clicking on each past meeting's title will also display reviews of the event posted by some of those who attended. The Home section also lists the newest members who joined the club, the latest discussions or articles in our Message Board section, the latest pictures in our Photos section, the latest items in our Files section, etc. To get the full details of each new item, just click on its title.
The Meetups section describes all of the club's free twice-monthly get-togethers, called Meetups. There you can click on the Calendar link to see calendars of past, current, or future events two months at a time, or click the Upcoming link to see a much clearer chronological list of all the upcoming meetings, or click the Past link for a list of the more than 100 meetings we've already had. Clicking on an upcoming meeting's title will reveal full details of the event, including its location, the main topic of discussion, a growing list of members who have already submitted an RSVP for that meeting, how many guests they're bringing along, and their comments. (Members and visitors should submit their own RSVP on that page to indicate whether or not they plan to attend, so that the meeting's hosts will know how many people to expect. --And mark the date on your calendar to assure you won't miss a good meeting.) The meeting's location is visible only to registered Geneva Area Pond Club members, and only members can download and print our road maps and driving directions to the venue.

Clicking on the Ideas link will give you the opportunity to suggest a potential meeting, or a main topic of discussion, or a particular activity, or a good location for an event. Members will see your suggestion, and can vote on it by clicking 'I like this.' Suzanne and Peter will see the results, and that's how a new meeting can be scheduled.
The Members section lists the families or individuals--now well over 100-- who are current members of the Geneva Area Pond Club; some have included their photos. Clicking on the members' names will bring up the written profiles they submitted, including descriptions of their water gardens and their ponds' inhabitants, plus the members' special interests. New members are encouraged to upload their own portrait photographs there, so that they'll be recognized when they attend meetings. Answering the few introductory questions on the member's personal Profile page will let others know of the new member's particular interests.
Members who have similar interests can write to each other by e-mail without revealing their e-mail addresses. We dislike spam as much as anyone does, so members' e-mail addresses are never displayed. But clicking on the little envelope symbol to the right side of each member's name will permit a registered member to write to another member with neither e-mail address being revealed.
The Photos section includes over 500 captioned pictures in dozens of albums. The photos in some of the albums can help you identify the many varieties of goldfish and koi, and the hundreds of species of plants available for your pond or bog. There are separate albums of photos taken at previous meetings, showing who attended and what went on at these events. You'll also find dozens of photos of the ponds of club leaders Suzanne and Peter, and many albums of the ponds of other members as well. The album titled Club members' ponds gives members the opportunity to upload photos of their own ponds for others to admire. If you send digital photos of your own pond to Peter by e-mail, he'll create a new album of those photos on the web site so that other members can admire your pond. In any album, clicking on a small photo will enlarge it to show all the details.
The Message Board section gives club members the opportunity to communicate with other members, including asking questions for others to answer, and offers of free pond fish, aquatic plants, or pond equipment. The section also includes dozens of informative and tutorial articles about ponds. They're on such topics as designing and constructing ponds, making them safe for children, creating trouble-free biological filters, preparing your pond for winter, healthful fish foods from your kitchen, protecting your fish from herons, how bitterlings hatch their fry within mussels, and other subjects for ponders to ponder. Most of the articles are excerpted from Peter's book on ponds, scheduled for publication next year.

One of the links on the top of the web site's page is labeled More. That link opens up four more pages: Polls, Files, Promote, and Stats.
The Polls section lets registered members vote on all club-management questions up for discussion at the time. The votes are calculated automatically, and the results are shown instantly as each member submits a vote. Every visitor to the web site can see the questions and the current vote tally for each, but only registered members can vote. Only one vote per member gets counted, but members can always revise their votes if they later change their minds, and immediately see the change in totals. The pond club has always been managed very democratically, and its members' votes determine what changes should be made in its policies.

The Files section features detailed road maps and written travel directions to each home where pond club meetings are held. They can be downloaded and printed (by registered club members only) for their drive to the next event. Non-members can instantly become members for free right on this web site by clicking on the big red link marked Sign up. They can then get the maps and directions, vote in our polls, post photos of their ponds on our web site, post notices on our message board, learn of all future free club events, and get the other benefits of membership. The Files section also includes some profusely illustrated articles from the Internet's largest web site about ponds, WaterGardenersInternational.org (WGI). The articles were written by Geneva Area Pond Club co-leader Peter Kacalanos, who in 2007 was appointed the WGI Journal's editor for all articles from Europe.
The Promote! section lets you promote our pond club in many ways. You can add a pond club badge to your MySpace or blog site, print promotional materials to post on bulletin boards or distribute to friends, and get personalized pond club T-shirts, hats, mugs and other items. On that page you can also easily send an e-mail message at once to all your non-member friends who should learn about the Geneva Area Pond Club. Just insert their e-mail addresses where indicated, add your personal message, and click Submit. None of the e-mail addresses will ever be stored, so again there's no chance of spammers getting any of them.

The Stats section is a playground for anyone who loves statistics. On those pages you can track the growth of the pond club by the week, by the quarter, or from the day it was first founded in 2004. Click on the various links to see charts showing the number of members who joined in each period, or for the number of RSVPs they submitted during those periods, or the totals of members versus active members, etc.
Look for the little blue link marked Profile near the upper-right corner of the screen. (If you don't see that link, it means you're not yet a member of the Geneva Area Pond Club. Non-members see a red link marked Sign up instead, through which visitors can join the club for free.) Once you become a member and click on the Profile link, you'll see your own membership profile. Be sure to answer the few introductory questions there, letting us know about your pond and its inhabitants, and your particular interests. In that way, Suzanne and Peter will know which specific topics to discuss at the club's twice-monthly meetings, and which tutorial articles to add to our web site. Members who know a little about your interests will feel more comfortable in starting conversations with you at our events. While you're at your Profile, upload a portrait-type photo so that we'll recognize you when you attend the meetings.
Club leaders Suzanne and Peter are always eager to get feedback from members and visitors about the club and its web site, whether negative or positive. You can send the leaders questions and suggestions by clicking on the Contact us link under their photo, which is on every page of this web site. You can decide whether or not they should see your e-mail address before you click Send; you'll still get a reply. They look forward to hearing from everyone interested in water gardening and the Geneva Area Pond Club.

Entire contents of this site copyrighted, 2004-2010, by Peter Kacalanos

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About Geneva Area Pond Club June 20, 2010 11:50 AM Suzanne and P.

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