Kari Dayton 2021 Q&A: OTW Mission/Goals

[Note: There will be 3 Q&A posts total, covering all the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. Candidates were limited to 300 words per answer.]

Where would you like to see the OTW in five years? How would you like to set the stage for that over your Board term?

In five years I would like to see the OTW even more financially stable than it is currently by continuing to fundraise and look at ways to sustainably grow that money (such as via low-risk investment, as outlined in our 2020 Budget). I would like the OTW to have purchased even more servers for the Archive and to have imported and preserved even more at-risk transformative work archives, i.e. continuing to support Open Doors’ work. There are definitely things that need additional hands, so recruitment is another area that should be supported. Board could reach out to all committees and see if there are things we could do – the committees themselves would be the best source of information for how we could assist, and we should absolutely defer to them. One area that would be worth investigating would be paid contractors to help support Chairs, who are the ones who direct recruitment. If we can find ways to help them by hiring paid contractors, this would in turn help them with recruitment efforts, which would in turn help the Organization as a whole. Finally, I would like the Board to continue investigating options for hiring paid contractors in places where we may need additional assistance, such as roles that have been traditionally difficult to find volunteers for.

What measurable steps are you going to take to further the OTW agenda?

If by “the OTW agenda” we take to mean the OTW mission statement, I think that the OTW has succeeded in most, if not all of its goals. (The goals are readily available on the linked site above.) It may be time to look at further afield goals, but that would be important to discuss not just with the Board members but the entire Organization as a whole. The Board represents only a handful of voices in the OTW, so it is imperative that we look at ways to hear from others in the OTW as well. I think expanding our current scope, as addressed in my previous answer (more servers, more financially secure, more imported transformative work archives) is important work and definitely supports the heart of what we as the OTW strive to do.

What are you currently doing to address racism in AO3 and in the larger OTW?

Personally, I am educating myself on issues of racism and reading as much as I can about the issues faced by those experiencing racism. I am actively working to unlearn unconsciously racist biases and working to educate others in my sphere of influence: within my volunteer committee, within my group of friends and family, and at work.

As an organization, the OTW is wrestling (internally) with a definition of racism that is understandable and acceptable to a worldwide organization. This is not a topic that can or should be addressed lightly. “Racism” is defined differently in different countries and around the world.

I think that hiring someone (a paid contractor) who has experience in these areas might be a good first step for the OTW in looking to address this issue. An outside voice (such as a paid contractor or advocacy group, as stated in Board’s statement from June of last year) that is sensitive to the unique OTW situation (worldwide, online, volunteer-driven) would be helpful to help us more objectively look at places where we may have blind spots and help us construct a plan to move forward. At the same time, we must make sure to make space for feedback from all of our volunteers and make sure that their feelings and positions are heard and considered as well. One of the hurdles we face is that when asking for marginalized voices to speak up, they must identify themselves as marginalized. A key belief of the Organization is the right to users’ and volunteers’ privacy, and we must balance that right with the belief that we can do better as an organization. What we can do is create resources on these topics that will help educate our volunteers.

If you were elected, what steps would you implement in combating racism within fannish and transformative work space?

I can only speak to what the OTW and its projects could do to combat racism, as the OTW is not the entirety of “fannish and transformative work space”, although we are a large part of it. As stated in my previous answer, it is difficult to define racism in a way that honors the fact that the OTW is a worldwide organization. What is defined as “racist” in one country could be radically different in another. Similarly, we cannot expect anyone experiencing marginalization (whether as a result of racism or any other discrimination) to self-identify, as this could be dangerous, or they simply don’t wish to be outed. This is their right and we are not going to pressure them to self-identify. This complicates the situation, as while we are eager to hear from those who may be experiencing marginalization, by definition, they must identify as marginalized first. The Board currently offers ways that volunteers can submit anonymous feedback, so soliciting that regularly (and reminding people that channels for feedback exist) would be a good first step.

As stated in my previous answer, I also support the OTW investigating the possibility of contracting someone skilled in identifying areas where our organization may have ventured into questionable territory and identifying ways to help prevent circumstances that enable racial inequality/discrimination from arising in the future. Again, this isn’t a simple answer, as we can see from the world stage – racism can’t be solved simply or quickly, and will need time and careful thought for what we as the OTW can reasonably accomplish.

How are you planning to update the way OTW communicates, both internally and externally (not all details, but general outline)?

The OTW is a large organization, and as such, can often take time to change. I think a good place to start would be to analyse how we currently communicate (both internally and externally) and critically evaluate areas that need additional support. This review and analysis should be done in support of and with our Communications committee, as by definition, they are our hub for communications both internally and externally.

Currently, Communications facilitates a monthly newsletter for internal use by requesting reports from all committees and then compiling them. This is an easy way for all committees to be kept abreast of what is going on across the Organization. External updates are posted to the Archive’s front page, the transformativeworks.org front page, and the OTW Twitter account, among others.

I would love to discuss with Communications other ideas to communicate with the public (such as publicising the public Board meetings more widely/to a wider audience) and gather ideas from them as the experts in their field within the Organization to find out how the Board can support them further. As stated in other answers, this may be an area where a contractor could be of assistance, but I would absolutely defer to Communications’ expertise. Finally, until and unless we hire a contractor, we as an Organization always need to consider that volunteers put all posts and newsletters together (and translate them), so we must balance the desire for more frequent communication with the realities of working with a volunteer workforce.

[Note: All questions from members and candidate responses appear in the form they were submitted and represent only the views of the individual who wrote them. Questions and responses are not endorsed by the Organization for Transformative Works.]