julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
Hi! Sorry for the long radio silence. Sickness, shame, etc. I meant to post excerpts from the candidate chat follow-up answers (are you reading them?) (massive pages of text, but so, so interesting.)

But then something else happened -- being seriously alarmed by some of the recent rhetoric that paints some candidates and volunteers as "too angry" and incapable of collaboration.

One:

Whoa. False dichotomy alarm!

Here's the thing, seeing as I'm being described as so balanced.

I decided to run for Board because at one moment, I was SO FUCKING LIVID that I cried. One more of the people that I depended on was leaving, bogged down by politics and silence. I felt so hurt, and so bereft, that I said, fuck this shit, one last try. One last try of throwing myself into the breach and doing the fucking scary thing of standing up for my people, for what I believe is right, and necessary, and telling people I love and respect that their shit.is.not.on. Just, you know, nicer, because I'm not that angry anymore. (It's a character flaw. Seriously, I wish I could hold onto anger better). But no, I'm always and compulsively trying to look at all sides of the equation, and my solution is and will always be dialogue and consensus-building, where-ever possible. It's how I roll. But I'm not a doormat either. I *get* anger, and I still get angry.

To be clear: I don't hold grudges, and I'm not going to lash out at anyone. I want pragmatic resolutions. Because at the end of the day, I need to look beyond whatever history I may have with a person and trust that they, like me, want the best for OTW, and that we respect each other for that.

So yeah, I do expect Board members to challenge me, and to allow me to challenge them. We will never solve our huge, extant issues by being *nice* to each other; if we're on equal footing, but you don't respect me enough to call me on my shit, how can we work with each other? (If we're not on equal footing, the initiative is on you, actually. See #5 below.)


Two:

Speaking of trust, and how scary it is? If you say "they're so angry" or "they've really hurt person X", then I can only reply: then talk to them. Because it all boils down to trust in the other's good faith, doesn't it? And it's curiously asymmetrical to expect one party to act in good faith, be conciliatory and diplomatic, and not act accordingly yourself.

So, you know. If you have issues with [personal profile] sanders, take them to her. From my own experience: she will listen.

[I hold myself to that, too, obviously. If I've hurt or dismissed you, or made your work harder, let me know? I know this is asking for your trust, but I'd be honoured if you felt you could talk to me openly. The thought that I'm going all holier-than-thou on people here is making me squirm.]


Three:

If we can't tolerate that level of open, constructive criticism as an organization, what does that say about us?

(...and people are seriously wondering why some people refer to an atmosphere of fear inside OTW? Have a taste.)


Four:

So is [personal profile] sanders wilfully creating dissent and strife out of thin air? Or is she giving expression to existing, but suppressed attitudes and feelings that continue to cost us volunteers?

I'm not going to defend [personal profile] sanders because I don't think she needs defending or justifying, and you can make up your own mind if you support her or not. I'll just say this: She's been an unknown quantity to me too, but I made a leap of faith and reached out. Worth it. As someone who has worked with her, talked to her, and has actually read what she has to say, attributes like "crazy" (wait, seriously???) or "unreasonable" simply do not compute. (Nevermind that I'm frankly appalled that the tone card is being pulled on the candidate of colour, here.) Being critical of another candidate's statements calls for comparisons to the Israel/Palestine conflict? I don't think so.

Sanders has also gone out of her way to engage with and talk to people where she could; she has been honest; she has made mistakes, and apologized for them. I respect that. (Nevermind that I've grown to like her: she's calm, thoughtful, and funny.)

[random data point: It was [personal profile] sanders who came up with the suggestion to have a moderated candidates-only roundtable, so we could engage in dialogue *with* each other, in contrast to the more performance-focused public chats. (Considering the effort of coordinating the first two chats, and the energy consumed by the follow-up questions, it sadly did not come to be.) Sounds pretty constructive to me, and I'm sorry it didn't work out. (Next year!)]

I'd like to take a step back and remind everyone that we are not talking about random outsiders out to destroy OTW. We are talking about people who have a multi-year history of successful collaboration inside OTW. Have they fucked up? I don't doubt it. So have I. The real question is: are we seriously dismissing their experience and opinion only because they are not palatable, or don't match ours?


Five:

There is value in anger, and in being sincere. I believe there is incredible value in speaking out publicly, because it means these statements and issues cannot be easily ignored.

Do I wish we could have had these conversations internally, before they boiled over into public? Yes. Do I ever. The pressure created on the parties addressed is so much more likely to make everyone defensive and unresponsive to critique; and Lord knows the last thing we need is more siege mentality.

Public pressure goes both ways, by the way -- I am unhappy with Naomi's very public declaration of wanting to make the internal wiki public, not because I disagree with the idea per se (I mean, yay openness!), but because it was extremely inconsiderate of any committee other than AD&T and created a lot of unexpected pressure on volunteers (and a couple near-nervous breakdowns). It's that pressure that has made the reactions to that particular suggestion so uncharitable. (I'm sure some of you have wondered "why so hostile?", so here's part of an answer.)


Another part is that thing about power. I think the illusion of equality within OTW is disingenious, and yes, I do think it's troubling if (founding) Board members don't acknowledge their position of power. I don't believe that it's intentional -- I wasn't lying when I said that I trust in everyone's goodwill and best intentions. But I also feel that many people inside OTW don't get power inequality and marginalization at *all*, because we all identify as "the little fan", because we all, as fans, are marginalized in some way. But I know I'm not the only one who wavered between writing That Critical Mail and potentially damaging her committee by the repercussions. I'm not the only one who picked her (and her committees') battles very, very, very carefully. (I don't think this is true for all committees, and it shouldn't be.)

This is also why I believe it is the Board's responsibility to initiate conversation. It's somewhat naive to expect your random intimidated volunteer/member to bring up concerns and criticism with the People Wot Can Make Their Life Very Very Difficult if there is no real precedent of those people actually listening/taking criticism to heart.

If it is one lesson I have learned that I want to take to Board, it is this. I may feel like The Little Fan, but if I was on Board, I'd have a certain power, and with great power...well, you know how it goes.

And...the thing is, I get that this is hard on the current Board members, because suddenly so many people are telling them that they've been suffering in silence all these years, or something, and they just didn't know. No-one told them. I do sympathize, but...as Board, gauging the atmosphere in the *entire* organization, seeking out opinions, is your job. I'm sorry, but it is.


Six:

I don't want to end this with criticism of the current Board, because you put yourselves out there, and I am grateful for what you did accomplish (-> Diversity brainstorming!). It's kinda hard to balance exasperation with gratitude and be sincere at both, but there you are. (That's me, always with the complex emotions.) Mostly, I am certain that I am failing miserably at some things that you are doing splendidly. And now I'm going to do something unbelievably sappy. I'm allowed, I'm still sick and all. >_<;

[personal profile] rbarenblat: thank you for all you've done for Fanlore, and personally, for being open, kind, and gracious when I criticized your actions that time. (When I grow up, I want to be as well-spoken as you.)

[personal profile] general_jinjur: ugh, for EVERYTHING. *squishes*

[profile] fcoppa: Thank you for listening to I&O, and going above and beyond with the Fan Video pages! (also, you gave us our name, inadvertently. Tho I should have considered that it's totally untranslatable D: Trufax.)

[personal profile] hl: thank you for being my better half in everything, and for building bridges. I will do my best to emulate you.

Sheila: I'm sorry I didn't get to work with you more, I hear you're awesome! Thank you for your time on Board.

[profile] igladkova: Thank you for your passion and sincerity and your continued advocacy for anime/manga/gaming fans. *fistbump*

[personal profile] juniperphoenix: TRANSLATIONMASTERS!! forever. That is all.

<3
julia_beck: GIF with Sackboy and captions "cute. capable. determined!" + "OTW translationmasters!!" + "now with added jetpacks" (translation_masters)
Happy Ada Lovelace day!

Your task for today: highlight one excellent woman in tech. You have 20 minutes!

Truth to be told, if it weren't for the OTW, I'd spend these 20 minutes frantically trying to remember female game designers/writers (uuhmmm... Jennifer Hepler? *blank* ... ... oh brain, why so scatter?)

But since I am a happy little cog* in that glorious open culture contraption, I'm faced with an embarrassement of riches -- only one woman? /o\

My first inclination was to write about Kristen Murphy, our Webmasters chair. But that would mean ignoring allison morris, who has been coaxing Drupal into cooperation before her; and then I thought about how inspiring Elz has been to me; and of Rebecca, who has my undying gratitude because she rose up to become the "someone" in "someone should build that Archive translation interface..."

...cue INDECISION 2011...

Faced with so many choices I... decided to return to my initial inspiration, the one I'm acquainted with most closely.

Why am I choosing Kristen as my tech heroine?

Together with the webmasters team, she administers the various OTW websites, from our mains site transformativeworks.org to the Transformative Works and Cultures platform, all based on existing OSS like OJS or Drupal.

...that doesn't sound very creative on the face of it, does it?

But it means adapting and maintaining sometimes extremely recalcitrant content management systems and modules. That is, constant problem-solving and bug-sleuthing and hand-wringing (okay, the hand-wringing is usually my part, Kristen herself always exhibits extreme serenity under pressure.) I wasn't joking when I wrote about "coaxing Drupal into cooperation" above -- and Kristen, who took over liaising with the Translation committee from allison, has always been very diligent in trying to accommodate our translatorly needs, keeping us up to date, and in explaining problems and hiccups in a way that we can understand.

It's not that she can bend Drupal to do everything we want it to, sadly, hah. But her friendly, respectful and transparent communication inspires confidence that we'll get there, eventually, together. That is worth so much to me as someone who is very curious, but has all too often experienced equivalents of "just sit back and wait, you won't understand this anyway."

In fact, that "oh! I get this!" impulse has made me confident enough to lurk the Drupal forums and wanting to get more involved (*knocks on wood*), to the degree that I've now decided to learn PHP. (/o\ YES I am actually kind of terrified? Look I can't even play Metal Gear Solid without tears of frustration. Sad truth.)

I'm pretty sure I will be mediocre at best, and, knowing myself, I won't get very far before ultimately throwing my hands up in frustration. But what I've finally grokked is that it's perfectly okay to try scary technical things out ...and fail at them abyssmally.

I just shouldn't let my preconceptions keep me from trying. That's all.


(and imagine, it only took three years in the OTW for this to seep in! Hah. Those were some persistent internalized attitudes.)


Let's celebrate those preconception-busting heroines today :D Do tell/link me yours?



Related links:

- [personal profile] lucyp (herself an inspiration): portrait of [personal profile] lim

- the AO3 team's celebration of [personal profile] sidra

- plus, of course, the general OTW post on the subject

- [personal profile] via_ostiense's three heroines: undersigned.



ETA:
* oh, right, happy little cog? )

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julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
Julia Beck

February 2013

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