[Noisebridge-discuss] catching up with "what's wrong with discussing things at the Tuesday meeting"

Al Sweigart asweigart at gmail.com
Thu Mar 27 04:53:50 UTC 2014


Moving to a more democratic system would be untested for Noisebridge, but
at the same time it works well for many non-profit organizations. What
isn't hypothetical are the problems that consensus brings about, or rather,
fails to solve. We've had it for five years and what's it has delivered is
a dwindling membership, the remainder of which has voted for a board that
has stated they won't be merely symbolic like previous boards have been.


On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 4:59 PM, Naomi Most <pnaomi at gmail.com> wrote:

> I am so, so with you on the "as light as possible" idea.
>
> I'm not anti-change.  But I would prefer to change towards things in
> an incremental manner, watching to see what the effects of any one
> change have on the community before pushing out a bunch of other ones.
>
> Right now, the item on the board's docket that is the least well
> supported by convincing arguments, IMHO, is the concept of moving to a
> "democratic" vote at meetings.
>
> Consensus is a construct that certainly struggles to accommodate all
> of the bullshit we're trying to pipeline into it.  I don't think the
> correct response is to increase the throughput of the pipeline.  We
> should be seeking to eliminate (or greatly reduce) the bullshit.
>
> Municipal planners know it all too well that whenever you increase the
> throughput of a highway, you get increased traffic to match...
>
> --Naomi
>
>
> On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 3:55 PM, rachel lyra hospodar
> <rachelyra at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Thanks for this thoughtful answer Naomi.
> >
> > Perhaps folks will continue playing with ways to scale the meeting which
> > address these issues.
> >
> > In other circumstances, I have seen 'scaling'  related to 'more
> structure'
> > in a pretty inevitable way, but still the most successful scaling
> attempts
> > were the lightest-handed, adding the minimum possible addition, making
> the
> > minimum viable changes.
> >
> > So my suggestions and input to that conversation would be around meeting
> > structures that I have seen used, and help kicking around ideas on how to
> > implement them (or other structures) here at noisebridge.
> >
> > I'd be open to that discussion in person, sometime in April. I'm
> available
> > most Mondays and Tuesdays in that month if anyone wants to put something
> > together to which I could be invited to input or attend or even help
> > organize I'd be thrilled.
> >
> > I recognize that many people have worked on this issue, and I both
> respect
> > their attempts and don't have any particular solution in mind. But I do
> have
> > lots of experience at organizing with humans with many varying degrees of
> > success and I'd be happy to share my learnings in the hopes of helping us
> > all be in a situation where we learn more together about how to run our
> > learning-place.
> >
> > Meta, dude.
> >
> > R.
> >
> > On Mar 26, 2014 11:56 AM, "Naomi Most" <pnaomi at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> Rachel asked:
> >>
> >> > Is there some problem with using it as a venue for coming together to
> >> > build
> >> > comradery, discuss our issues, and try to consent to each other's
> ideas?
> >>
> >> Yeah, there's a bit of a problem... *sigh*
> >>
> >> (TL;DR -- Drama, retrofitted into a consensus policy process, easily
> >> breaks the meetings!  But I believe the board is working on a good
> >> solution, and it involves the Community Working Group.)
> >>
> >> What you've enumerated are all good ways-of-being rooted in real
> >> experiences.  But the latest version of "the Noisebridge experience"
> >> turns these old ways into obsolete technology.
> >>
> >> Here's the reality:
> >>
> >> Because so many social issues have been, by convention, pushed to
> >> consensus discussion -- the group has to pick and choose which issues
> >> it wants to work on.  That means that there's no guarantee that an
> >> issue you care about comes up for consensus at the meeting you made
> >> time in your schedule.
> >>
> >> Further complicating things: we have a convention about an issue being
> >> "up for discussion" for a week, with the following week being the
> >> first time an issue CAN be consensed upon.
> >>
> >> There's no guarantee of either of the above things ("up for
> >> discussion" or "up for consensus") occurring on any given week or even
> >> in succession.  Why?  Because SO DAMN MANY issues at noisebridge have
> >> been pushed to the general meeting, that the moderator generally has
> >> to take a "straw poll of interest" just to whittle the number of
> >> consensus items down to a reasonable number that we can discuss (say,
> >> 4 -- and I think that's too many!).
> >>
> >> So, the affected / interested parties on an issue have no way to plan
> >> around their involvement in a thing, other than to come back to the
> >> meeting Every Single Week.
> >>
> >> Personally speaking, I will *DIE* if I go to a Noisebridge meeting
> >> every night.  I mean I will mentally break down and probably start
> >> crying uncontrollably.  Not because NB is such a bad place.  But
> >> because I am a single mom (for those of you just tuning in) and I only
> >> have 3 nights a week of free time to work with to destress from my two
> >> jobs (the kid and the job).
> >>
> >> Systemically speaking, this "structure" has had devastating
> >> consequences.  For example, social issues that really should have been
> >> solved in other ways (which don't exist at Noisebridge -- yet!) have
> >> been able to wash out more practical and mundane proposals.
> >>
> >> Sometimes social issues push aside other social issues, which -- when
> >> you put it to a straw poll -- results in a classist and racist
> >> prioritization of issues.
> >>
> >> Please see the whole "Lee Sonko" saga (documented in the mailing list)
> >> for how this process can go Very Wrong.
> >>
> >> And I think the unsung subplot-problem in the Lee Sonko case was that
> >> there were several very pressing social issues that didn't come up for
> >> discussion, involving what turned out to be very problematic
> >> individuals, despite an advocate's dutifully putting the issue up for
> >> straw-poll-to-discuss for many weeks, BECAUSE it was (apparently) so
> >> urgent that we ban Lee Sonko.
> >>
> >>
> >> Final note:  I'm not sure "every week at the same time and place"
> >> qualifies as "maximum accommodation" -- the case of Lee Sonko
> >> providing a stark example to the contrary.
> >>
> >>
> >> I know that discussion is what the weekly NB meeting was designed for.
> >>  But the engineers didn't plan to have to scale.
> >>
> >> --Naomi
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> On Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 2:30 PM, rachel lyra hospodar
> >> <rachelyra at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> > I encourage everyone to get together in person whenever they like, as
> >> > often
> >> > as possible.
> >> >
> >> > We have this regular Tuesday meeting. It serves many functions. One of
> >> > which
> >> > is this in-person thing which I think is a great idea. Its recurring
> >> > weekly
> >> > nature is designed for maximum accommodation of varying scheduling
> needs
> >> > of
> >> > peoples lives.
> >> >
> >> > Is there some problem with using it as a venue for coming together to
> >> > build
> >> > comradery, discuss our issues, and try to consent to each other's
> ideas?
> >> >
> >> > That's what it was designed for.
> >> >
> >> > R.
> >> >
> >>
> >>
> >> --
> >> Naomi Theora Most
> >> naomi at nthmost.com
> >> +1-415-728-7490
> >>
> >> skype: nthmost
> >>
> >> http://twitter.com/nthmost
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
> >> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> >> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
>
>
>
> --
> Naomi Theora Most
> naomi at nthmost.com
> +1-415-728-7490
>
> skype: nthmost
>
> http://twitter.com/nthmost
> _______________________________________________
> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
>
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