Katarina Harju 2015 Q&A: OTW Culture and Communication, Group 1

How do you plan to engage staff and volunteers in dialogue regarding Board decisions and the direction of the organization? How about the membership?

I think there are a lot of people serving in the OTW who would currently be happy to engage if an avenue of dialogue was given to them, and they did not need to worry about reasonable comments being taken as personal attacks. There are, of course, some that will prefer not to get engaged, and as we are an organization comprised of volunteers, we cannot try to force people to engage beyond the level that they have volunteered for. What we can do is be open and transparent and invite discussion so that those who do want engage—both those volunteering in the organization and those outside it—have a forum where they can make their voice heard.

There are already several existing ways that Board could use to keep people informed and invite discussion. Board meetings should of course be open sessions, the Board sections of both the internal and external newsletters are often missing or are non-informative at best, this should never happen. The office-hour chats where anyone could come chat with a Director is something we should start doing again.

Talk about one thing a committee you served with did really well and how this taught you something valuable about collaboration in the OTW.

The Translation committee puts a great deal of importance on communication and transparency, both inside our own committee and in regards to other committees. Because of our function, we are of course in regular official contact with many of the other committees. Both sides experience these interactions in a positive manner, and we’ve also developed a more unofficial and personal communication with other committee members. Simply talking to each other has made our collaboration better and easier, and has helped build a sense of community.

What are three things you think Board can learn from committees?

I think there’s quite a few things that Board could learn from different committees, but the first that come to mind are transparency, communication and professionalism. I think both of the committees I currently serve in (Abuse and Translation) are very good at those three things, even though they do have slightly different approaches to them. I don’t think Board necessarily needs to copy exactly what the committees do, but they could certainly benefit from the experience of people who have served on different committees.

What are your thoughts on a more public ‘in person’ presence being established by the Org? How might you see this balanced with the desire and in some cases need for privacy?

We can’t really escape the fact that fandom is becoming more public, and that the OTW needs to do its best to keep that publicity as a positive experience. This does mean that it often needs to take the initiative and make itself more visible. However I’m firmly of the opinion that everyone’s need or wish for privacy absolutely has to be respected. There are many different ways to have an “in person” public presence: OTW members can be at cons in their fannish identity wearing an OTW button, and thus show a public face that doesn’t expose them more than being at the con does. In other cases, many academics and lawyers may publish and give interviews under their legal name, yet keep it separate from their fan presence and thus retain some privacy that way. However, others interact with the public under all their identities and are happy with that. I do believe that an overall stronger public presence or even individual appearances do not necessarily affect anyone’s privacy.