What is "democracy"?

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Afon
NCI Officer
Posts: 154
Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:18 pm

Re: What is "democracy"?

Post by Afon » Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:49 am

I understand how Beverly feels. Since Carl left, we have had to work hard to ensure that NCI continues, we lost 2 classrooms (one with no notice) and yet events and classes continued with barely a ripple, the finances had to be sorted and bills paid, adnodes and freebies are now more reliable than before and getting better, we have improved transparency and communications, etc. All this has been done below most folks radars, to most folk, NCI has just continued. It is perhaps a measure of our success that folk are asking for more rather than complaining about bad service. NCI is like a duck, it looks nice and photogenic, but below the water, is the legs paddling like billyo just to keep the major part looking so good. The legs are the BoD, and its sometimes not pretty down here. We do occasionally feel beleaguered, esp with folk seeming to question our right to be where we are, none of us wanted this or asked for it, but that goes with the territory. By all means, discus alternative strategies for the BoD, but occasionally stop and think where NCI would be if we had failed.
Any sufficiently advanced information is indistinguishable from noise.

Quite Oh
NCI Officer
Posts: 180
Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2009 11:21 pm
Location: Canada

Re: What is "democracy"?

Post by Quite Oh » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:41 pm

Afon wrote:NCI is like a duck, it looks nice and photogenic, but below the water, is the legs paddling like billyo just to keep the major part looking so good. The legs are the BoD, and its sometimes not pretty down here. We do occasionally feel beleaguered, esp with folk seeming to question our right to be where we are, none of us wanted this or asked for it, but that goes with the territory. By all means, discus alternative strategies for the BoD, but occasionally stop and think where NCI would be if we had failed.
Nicely put. Want my job, Afon? :)

Janet Rossini
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Re: What is "democracy"?

Post by Janet Rossini » Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:09 am

Beverly ... and all ...

I don't think most people, or even many, are challenging individuals much less saying anything bad about them. There have been hot tempers on all sides, as there always are when people care about things a lot, but not much ill will if any. I think there has been caring and opportunity offered to the Board, and that the Board has squandered much of it.

Nevertheless, I know that the Board is working hard and trying to do the right thing. I honor that, while I am about to write about things that have not been done as well as they might have been:

Delegated Projects

I was initially very excited about the possibility of a more participative NCI, not in a voting sense but in the sense that little projects could be set up to let normal citizens contribute. With rare exceptions, as you know, most NCI builds have been done by board members. (I note that Dizzi Sternberg has been authorized to do some landscaping, but even that required top-top level approval.)

I wrote up a number of articles on how such projects could be done in 21st century fashion, with some overall project guidelines, the right to make decisions delegated far downward, and with frequent feedback for oversight. It had seemed to me that some projects could be started immediately, and that they would provide some of the sense of participation that was probably behind much of the concern you've been feeling from people.

The answers to that were a bit positive but nothing happened. The reasons given were that the board was too busy. I found those reasons unsatisfying, since it seemed to me that it would have taken just a little discussion to decide to give something a try. I felt I was being put off, and the result was to crush my enthusiasm for something that I thought would help, and to cause me to be disappointed in the new decision processes.

Transparency

It was explicitly stated that there would be more transparency into what is going on, and while there have been some attempts at useful meetings, there has not been much real change. Much of the written material from Quite, the Board's PR person, has been to the effect that the Board are working their tails off. I'm sure they are, and at the same time many of the postings here have sounded more like calls for sympathy than useful information.

We do not really know much about what is being worked on or what is being decided. Now that is not new: we never used to. However, it seemed that promises were made, and they have not as yet borne much fruit. Again, this isn't all bad .. it's just disappointing.

"Democracy"

A couple of people have pushed for some kind of "democracy" in NCI. The main purpose, as I read it, is that the transition from "King Carl" to our present situation was rather abrupt. As it happens, I was at the early meeting that was held at the time of the change, so I happen to know that the transition was not as orderly a hand-off as has been suggested here.

Now I personally do not particularly favor anything approximating a pure democracy, and I am indifferent, really, to whether the board is elected or whether they hold power by virtue of an armed insurrection or by the divine right of kings. I am more concerned with how we are governed than with the way the government comes into power.

I have chimed in on the democracy issue, however, in an attempt to inject a little reason into a discussion that was running into language barriers, and other communication issues. It seems to me that it is a sensible question which could have been dealt with in a civil fashion -- especially on the board's part.

The issue has not been dealt with with particular civility, nor with any conclusions yea or nay. This is disappointing.

Which leads to Politeness and Civility

I strongly favor polite, civil discourse. I find that incivility rarely leads to commonality of understanding or of purpose. As they are the "ruling body", it seems to me that the burden of civility falls more heavily on the shoulders of the Board. Individual Board members have generally been quite civil. However, this has not always been the case in the apparently official PR commuincations from the Board. Many of those have been unresponsive to what people were saying, instead taking offense or making heavy arguments against rather than drawing out real needs of the concerned citizens. That, too, I have found to be demoralizing. If those commuincations were from the Board, they are quite disappointing. If they were not, then that needs to be made clear and the Board needs to recognize that when their PR person speaks, we hear the Board speaking.

Summary

I, for one, am not "against" anyone here. And I have had long chats with other vocal individuals, including both Trinity and Loris, and I believe that they are only motivated positively as well, though -- again without prejudice -- they haven't always managed to express their ideas in easy-to-swallow ways.

When the changes took place, I felt that it was a great opportunity to set NCI in an even better direction, one that would better respond to the volunteer nature of our organization. I felt that it was an opportunity for the citizens to better understand the issues. I felt that it was a time to improve what our policies are, and how we express them. I felt that the time was right to seize those opportunities, and hoped that the Board would do so.

That has turned out not to be the case. I myself am disappointed and demoralized about that, and have given up any attempt to improve things. I plan to do my job well, as I always try to do, and to find opportunities to help people, as I always do. As for how we are governed and how our projects are done, it'll be what it becomes. I can live with that, or vote with my feet as the situation warrants. I expect things will be just fine: it's just my enthusiasm which has been dashed.

I note that there have really only been a few people who even cared enough to come here and offer ideas and to try to help. I can only speak for me, and I say freely that I have had much of that caring drained away by how my ideas have been treated here. I am a caring person: I can't stop caring, I don't want to, and I won't. I place my caring where it will give me the biggest returns of joy.

My Officer and Helper job in NCI gives me joy, which is why I come around so often to do it. The new governance opportunity could have added to that. To date that has not come to pass. Perhaps at some future time it will: I hope so. Until then, I've stopped asking for things like I've talked about here, because I don't like being told no, explicitly or by inaction.

I always try to turn my attention to places where I can make a difference. The subjects above do not seem to be that place.

I'm an almost insanely positive person, and nonetheless I am disappointed. I think that is something that the Board really needs to think about, and I hope you all will.

Thanks for all your hard work. I know you are trying hard to do the right thing.
I don't work here: I volunteer here. I don't have duties: I have small gifts which I offer.

Janet Rossini
NCI Supporter
http://valkyriejanet.wordpress.com

Afon
NCI Officer
Posts: 154
Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:18 pm

Re: What is "democracy"?

Post by Afon » Sat Oct 24, 2009 1:42 pm

Many thanks for your views, Janet. I'd like to perhaps put some answers forward to your points (and possibly get flamed for them, but thats fine :D ).


Delegated Projects
I would love to see folk coming forward with ideas, small or large. We have seen a couple of ideas on the forums already and I'd like to see more. My main concern, and why ideas need some sort of approval, is to ensure the 'look and feel' of the various locations is maintained. I don't think anyone of us want NCI to appear a hodge podge of styles and textures.

Each location has a SLO who can authorise any ideas without reference to the BoD, for class (classrooms) and events, Gramma and I can authorise, and there is a BoD member responsible for other areas. What I would like to see is individuals, or teams, approaching the SLOs, etc, and taking responsibility for the ideas. The BoD is there for guidance and overall control, the details should be down to members.

I'd like to see well thought through ideas presented, that way we don't need too much discussion to make a decision. 'Why don't we....' is ok, but the response is likely to be 'good idea, we will try to get round to it', whereas 'why don't we ..... and here is how it can be done' is more likely to get the response 'good idea, go ahead and run with it'

Transparency
We are moving from a situation of zero transparency, so it will take time. Folk are often uncomfortable with transparency to begin with, but I'm pushing for more. Please bear with us, its still a work in progress.

"Democracy"
I feel the BoD dose not have the right to produce a binding policy on this yet. Personally, before any such binding policy is brought into place, the membership would have to be consulted. Any such policy would have to be carefully written, and the comments, etc already posted will play a key part. Its possible that no binding policy is required and the board can choose how to fill a post depending on the situation at the time.

At the end of Feb, Gramma is stepping down as Chairperson, when that happens, the BoD has to decide how to fill the post. We could ask for a volunteer from the BoD, or the BoD elect one, or ask for nominations from the members and BoD vote, or ask for members to vote for a current member of the BoD, or open it up fully.

Unfortunately, I don't feel we can give a yea or nae yet.

Politeness and Civility
There is no question about this, we must be polite and civil at all times. Period.

Summary
Please don't give up on us yet. I read every post in the forum and though I may not make any comments, I still take notice.
Any sufficiently advanced information is indistinguishable from noise.

Trinity Coulter
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:09 pm

Re: What is "democracy"?

Post by Trinity Coulter » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:12 pm

At the end of Feb, Gramma is stepping down as Chairperson, when that happens, the BoD has to decide how to fill the post. We could ask for a volunteer from the BoD, or the BoD elect one, or ask for nominations from the members and BoD vote, or ask for members to vote for a current member of the BoD, or open it up fully.
At the last meeting(s) you had with the Land Officers, the official answer given was that you are looking or are planning on looking for suitable replacements. I would say if we just wait around until February to decide how this will work out, we're a lot less likely to get the best choice.

One thing to also consider is looking outside of NCI for someone with RL experience, a good relationship with Linden Lab (if that's possible), a positive outlook and vision, good understanding of SL, and 100 other good qualities that might help NCI do well in the future. Not simply passing it on to those who are here now... altho we might have some people who are a diamond in the rough, it almost seems like it would be nicer to just find a diamond and encourage them to get acclimated and take over in February.

You have 3 months until February gets here, along with people becoming involved in doing other things for holidays and stuff. In other words.... you don't have a lot of time to decide and put off the decision. My suggestion would be that you create a list of what you think the Executive should be able to do, write a list of duties, and start actively asking people for recommendations of who might be a good replacement.

Afon
NCI Officer
Posts: 154
Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:18 pm

Re: What is "democracy"?

Post by Afon » Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:59 am

dacuhnaa, I was not aware that NCI had anything in the Iranian sim, and I'm not aware of any avs named 'Obama'. We don't get involved in third party disputes, we are not the grid police, perhaps you need to address this to LL?

Please keep non NCI politics off this forum :)
Any sufficiently advanced information is indistinguishable from noise.

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