[hackerspaces] Members and membership

Al Jigong Billings albill at openbuddha.com
Thu May 31 19:51:28 CEST 2012

Huh, well, I've had the opposite experience. Our hackerspace has a five person board (which I am on) with no specific responsibilities. It also has a secretary, treasurer, and president. 95% of the organizational leadership is done by those three officers. Getting the board to even meet on a regular basis, let alone make decisions about anything, is next to impossible. Too many people are too busy. The actual officers are on the hook for organizing things, which is how most things require group decisions have gotten done. Basically, the board appoints these three officers and they then do most of the work. 


Al Jigong Billings

On Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM, B F wrote:

> Not knowing how your organization is structured, I don't know what
> needs to be fixed.
> However, in many organizations, little effort is made to include
> newcomers, and this is a shame because newcomers are often more highly
> motivated than anyone else. I wrote the bylaws for an organization
> that is about 15 years old and going strong. Rather than organize it
> like your typical club -- president, 1st VP, 2nd VP, Treasurer,
> Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, Ways & Means Chairman,
> Program Chairman, Hospitality Chairman, ad nauseum - this group has a
> board, period. All board members share all responsibilities. Without
> office holders or chairmen, there's nobody to block progress -- which
> is what unpaid officers do, more times than not. The board can elect
> new members to the board at any time. The effect is to bring in the
> most active people right away and give them the rope to hang
> themselves (but not necessarily the money). There's no limit to the
> size of the board (and a quorum is 1/3 of the board or 5 minimum), but
> the preponderance of the membership has no interest in being on the
> board. This structure is very successful, and our organization has
> many times more activities than any other comparable group,
> nationwide.
> Obviously, this would not translate directly to a makerspace, but it
> should be food for thought.
> BTW, the secret to getting volunteers is -- to ask them!
> On Thu, May 31, 2012 at 11:23 AM, Nathaniel Bezanson
> <myself at telcodata.us (mailto:myself at telcodata.us)> wrote:
> > I've noticed a thing which probably affects all member-driven
> > organizations at some point: New members act like "customers", they don't
> > see themselves as owners/directors/stakeholders.
> > 
> > Three months after we formed, a new member would say something like "Are
> > we gonna get involved in that event I just heard about?"
> > 
> > Today, a new member would say something like "Are you gonna get involved
> > in..." or "Is i3detroit gonna get involved in..."
> > 
> > Part of this is self-evident. There's less organizational building and
> > shaping going on, so newbies are less apt to see themselves as builders
> > and shapers. But this also means they hesitate before diving into things,
> > in ways that seem to hinder their use of the space and resources.
> > 
> > How can we fix that? I'd like to tear down some perceived walls, make it
> > obvious that new members are just as valued as the old founding farts, et
> > cetera. Open to any and all ideas.
> > 
> > -Nate-
> > 
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> > 
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