Town Hall Meeting 2011
The first Free Geek Town Hall Meeting was held on Sunday, October 2nd, at the Eagles Lodge.
Our lovely outreach coordinator, Jessa, created and presented several reports on the state of Free Geek.
As this was the inaugural town hall meeting, both (newly-created) volunteer representative board seats were to be filled. The candidates were formally introduced at this meeting and voting began.
- Jason Owen
- Eric Hamilton
- Joe Bourguignon
- Larry Lloyd
One of the major elements of the meeting was a collection of round-table discussions based around topics that were generated by the group at the meeting. Attendees were given post-its and posted potential topics, which were then clustered into five rough topics. Each topic had a table and facilitator. Their notes:
- "Changing technology" group
- "Community and volunteer experience" group
- "Funding and public awareness" group
- "Improving the physical space" group
- "Improving the staff and board experience" group
- "Education and Job Training" group
We knew going into this that there would be many mistakes made as we figured out how to organize and run such an event. There are two things that happened around the same time but are very distinct: the volunteer representative election and the town hall meeting itself.
The meeting, including both planning and the meeting itself, took (conservatively) about 50 staff hours.
Some of the things we should have done differently include:
- get @freegeek.org email addresses to candidates before bios are posted, and include them in the candidate descriptions.
- post bios further in advance.
- explain the voting system better.
- have plans (including whose responsibility it is) ahead of time for tallying votes, notifying candidates, and posting results.
- randomize candidate order on the ballot and include randomization process in election literature.
- better publicity of election results.
- avenues of communication.
Some of the things that went swimmingly:
- Meet and greet at the THM.
- ballot distribution - crossing people off a list when they received a ballot was simple and worked well.
Next time, perhaps we should change...
- get a setup crew and a cleanup crew of volunteers (maybe earning hours?)
- a more clearly defined division of labor - one person should not have had to do all the reporting.
- document the results more quickly after the meeting.
- rotate discussion groups - people seemed to enjoy the small group discussions, but wanted to be in more than one group.
- clarify the means (governance) vs. ends (operations) division of focus between board and staff; make sure that people know that operations elements are not in the purview of the board, we are looking for larger-picture discussion. have this guide the selection of topics for roundtables (or decide topics beforehand)
- post reports much farther beforehand
- know what reports there are to be
- have a database category for the staff work so we can track hours & expense
But we should definitely still do...
- the discussion-seeding brainstorming was pretty cool.
- the discussion format worked really well.
- a cadre of assistant facilitators helps train our people as well as create more support for the meeting
- having an outside facilitator was great