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[personal profile] julia_beck
There's been a flurry of talk after the Oct. 17th candidate chat, so if you're looking for a one-stop overview, check the information digest compiled from candidate statements & chat [personal profile] facetofcathy created. Highly recommended, also: unbiased.

A look at the OTW Board of Directors elections and the candidates.

My other recommendation for you, after facetofcathy's digest, would be to read read OTW Board member [profile] hele's OTW Election post, because it articulates very well what the current challenges inside the org are by giving a candid high-level overview from an inside perspective.

I think the org is coming (has been coming) at a crossroads. It's growing, and it's really big already, and diversity and sustainability are becoming Issues. I mean this seriously. There's a lot of talk, and I want you, if you care about the org (and I know this sounds patronizing, sorry, but yeah), to pay attention to what is said by each candidate, because it's true that there's a limit to the org's resources, but that's a given, and the fact is, if the org doesn't start pulling itself together on those issues, it will only become harder. Failing at it not only will weaken the organization, it also means that it will be failing at its mission.

My post, though, is inspired by my tl;dr reaction to [personal profile] elz's comment in [personal profile] jennyst's journal. Different perceptions of the state of OTW, basically.

When I talk about the importance of processes and guidelines, I don't mean "let's pile on more tools/requirements/hoops to jump through, harr!"

What I mean is: let's whittle down those processes and choose our tools so that they're as intuitive and simple as possible. (This is hard. I'm so unhappy with the translation process atm, let me tell you. But we'll keep trying.)

What I mean, most of all, is: clear structures, consistent guidelines and transparent processes are crucial, because they help create an equal environment.

They translate to lowered barriers for participation. They mean that you don't need to be personally influential, know the right people, or secret pathways in order to create a successful initiative. (As an example: if the structure is clear, purview becomes clearer, so you know who to turn to and ask for support or collaboration. It also fosters accountability.)

Sure, no guideline can actually make things happen -- personal initiative is always key. But if the structure is opaque, and you're new or not the most socially adapt person out there, you'll end up stepping on people's toes, creating a lot of friction and losing goodwill ([personal profile] jennyst writes about that experience.)

I've managed to navigate that more or less successfully, like many others, so obviously it's absolutely possible to create successful initiatives and projects inside the OTW! But I didn't know that when I started out. I was so very intimidated in the early days and felt as if there was an unspoken, but clear limit to what I, a lowly staffer, was allowed to do.
It took me about two (three-ish?) years and a lot of mentoring (my eternal gratitude, [personal profile] jinjur) and support (too many awesome people to list -- actually, I should make an appreciation post some day, there's an idea) to really grow beyond that, and I'm a pretty assertive person. (Hi! running for Board!)

But two years to feel you're "arrived"? Even as an individual/subjective data point, that's way too long.

We can't wait for people to struggle their way to the top -- not least of all because it's a selection process that is detrimental to diversity. No, really. Think about it. It's not only about certain personality- and neurotypes prevailing -- it's also that advocating for non-mainstream perspectives always, always takes more energy. So simply saying that everyone is welcome without adapting internal structures to match? Doesn't cut it.

And despite everything I wrote above, the OTW has still, overall, been the happiest and most supportive working environment I've even been in. And -- yeah, here my starry-eyed idealism is showing, but -- if people are willing to put in the work, they deserve to have that opportunity, an even chance at making their experience inside OTW satisfying and meaningful.

[personal profile] lucyp has a wonderful post that focuses on how you translate this into practice inside a particular committee; I'd like to take this and adapt it into a kind of best practice for mentoring, and we need both this personal approach that Lucy embodies so well, and the volunteer training and clarity of processes and structures that Jenny is advocating for (and that we are already trying to implement, tiny initiative by tiny initiative.) And sanders understands this fusion intimately, and on top of that has shown a clarity of focus that I admire.

What I expect of the OTW Board is that they communicate better, that they foster transparency by example and by driving for clear structures and processes, and that they *consistently* equip chairs with the tools and the support they need.

And I expect you to hold me to that if I'm elected.

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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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