Chat Transcript with Soledad Griffin and Margaret MacRae – Oct 31, 2014

briar_pipe

Hi everyone, and welcome to our candidate chats! This is the second of a series of three, 90-minute-long chats with two of our Board candidates – the candidates present today are Soledad Griffin and Margaret MacRae. The purpose of these is to see how candidates interact, both with each other and the public, and to give OTW volunteers and members a chance to ask questions not already covered in their manifestos, bios, and Q&A, as well as to ask individual questions of specific candidates. Please note that the transcripts of these will be posted publicly.

We welcome all questions, subject to the following restrictions:

– Please keep them reasonable and polite (I may declare a question out of bounds if necessary, in order to spend our limited time on questions the candidates can reasonably answer).

– Please make sure your question is not a repeat of one already answered in the manifestos (http://transformativeworks.org/news/board-candidate-manifestos-qa-and-chats) or the Q&A (http://transformativeworks.org/news/elections-2014-qa-and-chats). If it’s a follow-up to any of those, please say so.

– Specify who your question is for, or if it’s for all candidates.

– Raise your hand to speak, like this: o/. You will be called on when it is your turn to speak. Use /done when you’re finished.

I’m going to start us off before opening the floor. This is another question that was sent in during the Q&A but was aimed specifically at Sole:

“In your answers, you said, “While many committees are great places to work, in general, we do not trust each other in the organization.” Can you clarify the meaning of this? What makes you think so? What experiences led you to this understanding? How do you think they might impact your actions as a director?”

Soledad G.

/typing

briar_pipe

ty ^_^

hele

o/ (unrelated, to MJ)

Soledad G.

When I started as a tag-wrangler, the relationship between the staff and the volunteers wasn’t… the best and the root of it was that many wranglers did not trust the staff to have their own best interests at heart. (That wasn’t the case.) When I was in Cat Change, I saw that same fear and it’s a fear that’s specially about the Board not being competent/making bad choices.
Now, this doesn’t mean I believe that we should never question the choices the Board makes, but good faith in our discussions is central and pivotal.

Michelle D.

o/ (unrelated, question for both)

Soledad G.

That’s what I mean by trust – not always agreeing, just believing that every other staffer also believes in this org and what we are doing.
Many times, we believe the worst. And that’s not a productive starting point, at all. So as a Director I will trust you, in the sense that I will belive you’re giving me your honest opinion and that you, in turn, know that I’m here to work honestly. /done

briar_pipe

Thanks, Sole. Hele, you had a question for MJ?

hele

yes!

In question seven, you answered, among other things:

“If it comes down to it, until we can develop new funding sources, the org would need to deliberately slow its growth.”

how do you envision that happening? Because practically speaking I see no way, since even closing account creation would not slow the Archive’s. /done

(which is our bigger expense, I mean)

M. J. MacRae

practically, I think it would be a nightmare and anything that we did could have long term affects that aren’t worth it. If we were close account creation we could lose a huge group of fans who move on to other things. Limiting the amount of space people can use i.e. you can only upload so much data in a certain time would also mean people going to other places

hele

I don’t want to interrupt

briar_pipe

hele, please let MJ finish.

hele

but I think our biggest growth factor is consumer users

briar_pipe

Then I’ll call you for a follow-up.

M. J. MacRae

(still typing I will say done.) Personally, I would like our fundraising to be more prospective than reactive

hele

(it’s not a new question, I’m clarifying a tech detail)

M. J. MacRae

which ideally would avoid an issue with an operating deficit

briar_pipe

(*nods* I’ll call you for a follow-up, I promise)

M. J. MacRae

however, its proven to be hard to predict the rate that the archive will grow, or at least that is my understanding.

I am totally opposed, personally and as a member of the org, to charging for any part of the archive which means that we can’t use price to control growth.

What I said was a worst case situation, but if things were truly dire I would absolutely consider every option that would ensure the org survived./done

briar_pipe

Ok, hele, did you want to ask a follow-up?

hele

(no need for follow up, I just wanted to know if MJ had concrete ideas she was referencing)

briar_pipe

Ah, ok, thanks hele and MJ. ^_^
Michelle, you had a question for both?

Michelle D.

yes, thanks! One of the potential goals for the strategic plan is creating an alliance/coalition with at least 3 orgs. What is one org that you think would be a good fit for an alliance with the OTW? (If no specific org, what kind of org do you think would make a good alliance?)

Renay

o/ (new question for both)

hele

o/ (new question for MJ)

Michelle D.

(sorry, I was done!)

M. J. MacRae

Well shooting for the moon, I would love to work with Google’s Made with Code or Girls who Code

Soledad G.

Personally, I admit I haven’t thought of specific orgs (well, I have been researching local academical groups that might be interesting to work alongside with), but I think that other groups that work with copyright law.

/done

M. J. MacRae

since many fans are young women who are also under represented in tech fields I think that fanworks are a great way to get young women interested in coding

/done

briar_pipe

Thanks, Michelle, MJ, and Sole.
Renay, a question for both?

Renay

What are your thoughts on chair track training, or on other methods you see in the org (or would like to see in the org) to attract volunteer leaders to the OTW? /done

Soledad G.

THAT IT’S THE BEST IDEA EVER.

That’s my reaction as a soon-to-retire chair.

M. J. MacRae

WORD

Should I go into more detail?

Soledad G.

As a soon-to-be Board member, I think it’s incredibly important we do attract people willing to lead to the org.

A lot of chairs are people who *had* to become Chairs and might be more comfortable in other positions. Chairing requires management skills that are not necessarily staff skils. Plus chair training is something we really need /done

Renay

If you have more detail, sure? ๐Ÿ™‚ (But it’s fine if not)

M. J. MacRae

because simply put I think that we have to start recruiting specifically for people with management skills or interest in developing management skills and entering management roles. I don’t know what else to say other than I think Volcom knows that I will give them any support they need to make this happen

/done

briar_pipe

Thanks Renay, Sole, and MJ!

hele, you have a question for MJ?

hele

yes! pretyped and everything

This is a short one! In question 6 you said “Of course, itโ€™s impossible to please everybody anytime, or anybody all the time, and I assume that there will be times that the orgโ€™s needs will upset individual committees.” Did you have concrete ideas in mind, or was that just a ‘it could happen’? (I literally can’t imagine an idea that would upset a committee, vs individual people in committees, so I would love an example that illustrated the concept)

/done

(pretyped everything but that >_<)

M. J. MacRae

Well, I could seeing a situation where you told a committee, we won’t be able to fund your proposal this quarter because we have decided that buying a new server is the number one priority for the org right now.

(there proposal might be to hire a contract graphic designer which is important)

(wrong there, it was their)

I can also see a committee coming to Board with a great idea that is somewhat outside their purveiw and Board having to say we love this idea, but right now you are understaffed and not fulfilling your duties already

like if SP had said to board we want to do the NP 101 sessions instead of finishing surveying the org, that wouldn’t really work. /done

hele

that makes sense, thanks!

briar_pipe

Thanks, hele and MJ!

Are there any other questions right now?

Michelle D.

o/

briar_pipe

Go ahead, Michelle.

Michelle D.

(thanks!) to both: do you have any goals for your first three months as a Director? /done

M. J. MacRae

not cry? I would like to have support staff in place for Board and have met with each chair

Soledad G.

Retire from I&O in a reasonable manner./done

M. J. MacRae

/done

Soledad G.

Those are great goals. I’m stealing them./done

briar_pipe

^_^

hele

o/ (for MJ)

briar_pipe

Go ahead, hele.

hele

You mentioned in question…

sorry, less prepared now

13ยฐ

“Personally, I hate that the org talks about things in terms of โ€œcanโ€™t, wonโ€™t, no!โ€”

As someone who _is_ currently somewhat opposed to some of the Board’s plans, I find that phrasing curious — can you detail where ‘the org’ is opposing stuff like 3yos?

/done

(or, more neutrally phrased: opposed to things unreasonably)

M. J. MacRae

Let me clarify, I didn’t mean we should force consensus or that disagreements are bad

briar_pipe

(Thanks for rephrasing, hele.)

hele

o/ (brief non-question clarification)

M. J. MacRae

I am going to use a irl example here: so my coworker’s 14 yr old daughter wanted to spend Friday night with her friends instead of trick-er-treating with her family even though her dad is leaving on a two week work trip right afterwards.

Instead of fighting her parents, she asked if her friends could join the family, which was a great compromise

hele

o/ (correct that to follow up question, sorry)

M. J. MacRae

I realize that its not always possible to offer solutions, but I really appreciate when someone says “hey thats not going to work for XYZ but if we do ABC instead we will get to the same place.”

Or “I think your ultimate goal is wrong, but if we do this we can accomplish this part of it which is why you want that goal to begin with.”

does that make sense?/done

briar_pipe

hele, go ahead. ^_^

hele

First, to clarify, I didn’t take your answer to mean that disagreements are bad or anything like that! However, it does worry me that you’re qualifying current disagreement like one would qualify a child’s — as being unreasonable.

so I’m not looking for how to would define reasonable disagreement in general

(I think we probably agree in general terms)

but rather, you made assertions about the org as it is

I’m interested in what disagreements you would qualify as unreasonable currently

/done

briar_pipe

(I’ll allow this one, but I do ask that we focus more on questions for the candidates, rather than outright discussion for now.)

(Hopefully there will be opportunities to have full discussions in later contexts.)

hele

(I’m not looking to discuss! Purely informative about MJ’s opinions)

M. J. MacRae

I don’t actually see the issue as disagreements, but a cultural attitude of thinking that things are impossible. I know that at least one of the goals that I suggested at the retreat was shot down because it was going to be hard and a stretch for the org.

I would rather someone come to board with an ambitious proposal then say its impossible to hire the coders that we need because it costs to much.

lets identify the problem, and work together to create a solution instead of starting with “no we can’t do that.”

/done

Renay

o/ (new question for both!)

briar_pipe

Thanks, hele and MJ! Renay, go ahead.

Renay

What specific project management skills will you bring to the organization as part of the Board? Do you have any experience with risk management (either formal or informal)? ๐Ÿ™‚ /done

M. J. MacRae

are we talking like legal risk managment?

Soledad G.

(I’m. googling what that means >.<)

M. J. MacRae

i.e accessing the org’s legal liability for certain decisions?

briar_pipe

Renay, if you would like to clarify, please do.

Renay

Sure, sorry. ๐Ÿ™‚

Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks during the planning stages of a project or initiative.

How things might go wrong — and how we’ll deal with them if they do.

Soledad G.

Ah, okay.

M. J. MacRae

thanks, you say risk management and I am like of course I can access whether a decision opens up to a lawsuit its what I do all day.

Soledad G.

I’d say I have experience with it (informally). In my RL volunteering, we have to reassess whether what we are doing opens us up to new risks all the time.

M. J. MacRae

assess not access

Soledad G.

(Risks that range from ‘kids will be bored’ to ‘this is opens up to lawsuits :D’)

We create new projects all the time and that’s an intengral part of it.

M. J. MacRae

outside of the legal arena, and I really have only dealt with employment law, civil rights, and criminal liability, I understand the concept but its not something I have directly dealt with

Soledad G.

/done

M. J. MacRae

/done
I am not sure that I answered your question?

briar_pipe

Thanks Renay, Sol, and MJ.

Renay

no, it did!
Thank you!

Soledad G.

[For the record, I’m leaving tomorrow for a 10000+ people HUGE EVENT OF HUGENESS. I might not be. at my best.]

briar_pipe

Are there any more questions?
Ok, if no more questions appear in the next minute or so, what I’d like to do is ask each candidate to choose a topic they would like to talk about that either hasn’t been discussed yet or that you have more thoughts on that you weren’t able to express earlier, and tell us about it.
So please be thinking of topics while we wait to see if there are any questions.

M. J. MacRae

I would love to ask anyone who feels up to talking about it, why they think we don’t have more people interested in running for Board?

briar_pipe

Is that a question for the room, or a topic you’d like to talk about yourself?

M. J. MacRae

several people have brought up that our lack of contested elections is less than ideal, which I agree with, but I don’t really have solutions to offer since my mindset clear is “well, I’ll run then.”

Soledad G.

That was my exact reaction lol

M. J. MacRae

As I said in my Q&A I don’t think I am the right person to at least identify the factors that make people hesitant to run. Iam happy to work on fixing those problems though

Soledad G.

Yes, more than… a subject I’d like to talk about I have a few questions I want to ask?

Or rather, i could talk about why questions are the basis of leadership for me.

M. J. MacRae

(mine is really just a topic.)/done

briar_pipe

Ok

Soledad G.

You want to go first, MJ?

briar_pipe

This is kind of flipped from the intent, but it’s a small group, so maybe we could make this work?

Soledad G.

Let’s try, at least ๐Ÿ™‚

briar_pipe

MJ or Sole, if you want to ask questions, people could raise their hands to answer?

M. J. MacRae

If no one wants to talk about it I understand, but developing more Board candidates is a longterm goal for me and I really want to know what are the big road blocks right now. So if anyone wants to jump in please do /done

briar_pipe

Is that ok with both of you?

Soledad G.

It’s okay, yep

M. J. MacRae

yes.

briar_pipe

Ok, so MJ has a question about the lack of board candidates. Does anyone want to answer from their own perspective?

Renay

o/

briar_pipe

Renay?

Renay

I’m speaking just for myself here, not my committee (want to be clear!)
But the reason I have not run for Board in the last two years (when I was interested in doing so) is because there was no position description and I had no clue what kind of hourly commitment I was making.
That’s since been fixed, but those PDs are new and haven’t been stress tested
There’s no training at all
There is no hint to how the body handles tasks internally
It’s very opaque about work distribution and task management, and just very very daunting. /done

Soledad G.

You’re making me rconsider, Renay.

Renay

Too late. The only way out is through. ๐Ÿ˜›

M. J. MacRae

I am writing a list to start fixing each of these. They are such good issues, Renay

Soledad G.

Yes, it’s so. concrete.

briar_pipe

Thanks, Renay. Does anyone else want to answer MJ’s question?

Jessica S.

/claps

briar_pipe

Ok, Sole or MJ, do you have any other questions you’d like to ask the room?Soledad G.

Hm, yes.
It’s a very simple question, actually. What do you expect Board to do?
/done

briar_pipe

Does anyone want to answer? Feel free to raise your hand.

Renay

o/

briar_pipe

Renay?

Renay

That’s really open-ended! So just some ideas off the top of my head: financial care, spending our money wisely, investing in our future via reserves or actual investments if that is something that’s possible

Michelle D.

o/

Renay

Outreach to other orgs to continue building relationships and partnerships

Investment in organization leadership (chairs, staff) so directors can step back and have more *time* for strategic direction
Also, documentation. Docs for the whole Board! For everything. \o/ /done

briar_pipe

Thanks, Renay. Michelle?

Michelle D.

similar to one of Renay’s points, networking to increase visibility, resources/skills available to the org, and support fans in new ways (if possible!) /done

briar_pipe

Thanks, Michelle.
Does anyone else have an answer for Sole?

briar_pipe
Ok, we have about 5 minutes left. Are there any additional questions for Sole or MJ?
Ok, Sole and MJ, do either of you have further questions for the folks here?

M. J. MacRae

No. I just want to thank everyone for coming
and for letting us turn the tables on them

Soledad G.

Me too. And I’ll warn you that I will keep asking questions. ๐Ÿ˜€

Michelle D.

thank you MJ and Sole! and Mei for modding!

briar_pipe

Thanks for coming, everyone!

Renay

Thanks for all your answers! ๐Ÿ™‚

briar_pipe

I doubt this is an issue this time, but we’ll be accepting follow-up questions based on anything in this chat for the next hour, via our public form: http://transformativeworks.org/contact/elections

The final chat, with Jessica and MJ, will take place on Saturday at 15:00 UTC: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?iso=20141101T1500

Feel free to hang out here if you like, but I’m going to declare us done 30 seconds early. ^_^