What is the Austin Junto?
We are a non-profit, unincorporated, educational association with a limited membership based in Austin, Texas.
How old is the Austin Junto?
The first meeting occurred on February 12, 2008 and the group has been meeting regularly since that time.
How is the Austin Junto connected to Ben Franklin?
That was the name Franklin used for his group and, being inspired by his example, we used the name, too.
What did Franklin’s group do?
In his Autobiography, Franklin describes a group of close friends and colleagues who met every Friday night and discussed a wide range of issues, from civic, business and personal concerns, to politics and scientific inquiries (you can download a free eBook of Franklin’s Autobiography here).
For a discussion of the original Junto’s meetings, look here.
What eventually happened to Franklin’s group?
The Junto members were Franklin’s partners in many of the famous “firsts” including the first fire station, first lending library, etc. Although the Junto itself disbanded, many of its projects live on, including a discussion group in Philadelphia that continues to this day: the American Philosophical Society.
Why was Franklin’s original group called the “Junto?”
Franklin does not explain that in his Autobiography, perhaps because he assumed everyone in the 1700’s would know.
In England in the late 1600’s the first political parties were taking shape. The Whig party tended to favor common people, merchants and free trade (as opposed to inherited status and royal prerogatives). Although the Whigs elected to Parliament were not from the nobility, through skill and effort they rose to positions of leadership. By 1708 a group of 4 Whigs was the dominant force in the British government. They were known informally as “the Junto.”
In 1727 to name your group the “Junto” implies that you are “in charge.” But when Franklin’s group was formed the members were the opposite of being in charge: they were very young men, without wealth or position, without noble blood, and located in the colonies (far from London). Apparently irony has a long history in the jokes of young people, or maybe the name was as much or more a sign of ambition. Through years of selfless and dedicated service, Franklin eventually had a much greater impact on his country than anyone could have imagined when the group first chose its name.
How is the Austin Junto connected to Junto groups in other cities?
There are various groups across the US using the name “Junto.” There is no connection among these groups other than the common inspiration of Benjamin Franklin’s example.
What does a modern Junto group do?
None of the groups fully embrace all of the aspects of the original Junto. Instead, each group chooses a single facet that they emphasize. For examples, see the discussion of “Modern day Juntos” here.
How do you say “Junto?”
The word can be pronounced 4 or 5 different ways. Pick the way that is easiest for you, and we will know what you mean.
How do I apply for membership of with the Austin Junto?
Our membership roster is currently full, but if you would like to be considered in the future please email your contact information here.