[hackerspaces] Inclusivity, alienation and a lame duck

matt matt at nycresistor.com
Fri Feb 20 01:08:12 CET 2015

A hackerspace that could content itself with external reforms would not
have the slightest chance of success in the general struggle for life among
the hackerspaces of the world. A movement that would confine its mission to
such adjustments, which are certainly right and equitable, would effect no
far-reaching or profound reform in the existing order. The whole effect of
such measures would be limited to externals. They would not furnish the
hackerspace with that moral armament which alone will enable it effectively
to overcome the weaknesses from which we are suffering today. In order to
elucidate this point of view it may be worth while to glance once again at
the real origins and causes of the cultural evolution of mankind.


On Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 6:31 PM, Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen <
dreamingforward at gmail.com> wrote:

> The best thing you can do in such a situation, is get the "eye of the
> tiger".   Get so good at something, something that is respected there,
> and then YOU can become the dictator.
> Cheers!  ;^)
> Marxos
> On Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 2:15 PM, Morgan Gangwere
> <morgan.gangwere at gmail.com> wrote:
> > My hackerspace has 3 problems that are feeding into each other:
> >
> > (This is somewhat scattered -- read all the parts or you'll lose
> context).
> >
> > 1. The board (you'll see a recurring theme soon) has declared that we
> must
> > be "Inclusive" -- and so a task force (lead by a board member, who is
> also
> > wife of the president of the board) reached out to people who had at one
> > point expressed an interest in joining but had not yet. This came down to
> > "inclusivity."
> >
> > Don't get me wrong, I'm far from being the typical cis-het-white-male,
> and
> > I'd love to see more non cis-white-het-male folk in our space. The
> following
> > note is *my view* of this and I'm trying very hard to *not* point at any
> one
> > person.
> >
> > The inclusivity policy was enforced by the president of the board,
> before it
> > was actually presented to the membership for discussion, over what came
> down
> > to a mis-communication between himself and the person who had just simply
> > vented (who is also on the board; We'll get to her later)
> >
> > The board held a straightforward, but very heated conversation with the
> > membership. El Pres makes everything about him (and how it's not his
> doing),
> > the one who wrote it made it (somehow) all about sex, and one who
> originally
> > vented and started this insanity rumbling made it all about how she
> doesn't
> > like men.
> >
> > We hammered it out, with the members that care enough to show up (about
> 20,
> > out of a population of 80ish) being mostly upset at the process: a
> member of
> > the space, who has done quite a bit of the space, was alienated on a
> policy
> > he had no idea existed, over a misunderstanding that would have been
> solved
> > with someone asking some basic troubleshooting questions.
> >
> > 2. We've moved into our second space. Over the last about 2 years, we've
> had
> > a hell of a ride, with an indiegogo to kick off the party. One of the
> perks
> > of getting us moving money was to be able to name a room. One of the
> rooms,
> > the electronics lab, was named after an MLP fan-video-gone-viral. There
> was
> > some argument over if this was appropriate and overall, the whole process
> > was fairly unorganized and frustrating for those involved. Some were
> > confused as to how long the name lasted, etc.
> >
> > The individual that named the electronics lab that did it to make people
> > think, confront their discomfort, etc. It's been a bone of contention
> among
> > some of the membership.
> >
> > Over the week, the board has used the name as a means to beat on members.
> > The actions of several board members (notably, the ones already
> mentioned;
> > there are 6 on our board, plus president, who is the longest standing
> board
> > member with 1 year terms). Several of our members are older guys. Yes,
> the
> > name is a bit annoying, but they have their own qualms, and the board has
> > used this as a means to (subversively) ostracize and alienate those
> members.
> >
> > For those quietly attacked, it feels like discrimination. For pretty much
> > everyone else? *nobody gives a damn*.
> >
> > 3. The president of the board is useless, has no leadership skills, and
> has
> > become in some ways a lame duck; He is a non-voting member of the board
> > according to his bylaws, but can still enforce power as president to make
> > things happen. I cannot attest to this, but it seems like many are
> speaking
> > behind his back, actively trying to usurp his power. At the moment,
> there's
> > no way for the membership to remove a president from their position. The
> > fact his spouse serves on the board raises concerns for some of us.
> >
> > Our previous president moved on due to his promotion in the military. He
> was
> > trained to lead and manage. Since leaving, our space has become prone to
> > infighting and argument over semantics with the board.
> >
> > I've considered calling for a vote of no confidence by the membership,
> but
> > there's a problem: A majority of the membership doesn't even really show
> up
> > nor care at this point. Yet that silent majority keeps the doors open.
> Our
> > bylaws state that votes need a quorum of the membership (defined as 70%)
> and
> > *three times in a row* we've had to come to a board-decision to lower it
> > down to 50% in order to pass the board vote.
> >
> > There are members, people who are in the space and who are much more
> suited
> > to be president, and who have come up in the past as being on the ballot.
> >
> > A note on processes: The space meets once a month, meeting to discuss
> things
> > within the space and give progress reports on projects, bring up any
> input
> > from the membership, etc. The board meets once a quarter, and that's when
> > any actions that the board enacts happens. Recently, the board has been
> > meeting more regularly than the membership meetings and having
> > conversations. These are not often announced. The board is in some ways a
> > set of BDFLs (several members of the board have been there since the
> > inception of the space) and there is rarely any major discussion that
> > happens at the membership meetings, which are run on timers and a "Let's
> > just get this over with" mentality.
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Discuss mailing list
> > Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> > http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> >
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