Tuesday, December 15, 2020

An e-mail exchange with the members and Board of Pumping Station: One

Below is an exchange I had recently with the membership of PS:1. It has resulted in the termination of my membership, with no opportunity to defend myself and no option to appeal. Any names I'm attaching are because those people are either Board members, speaking as former Board members, or otherwise speaking with the intent of expecting to be seen as an authority within the organization.

The membership has declined from 550 to 450 since the pandemic lockdowns began; however, since partial re-openings have started, PS:1's expenses are closer to usual, what with members using and breaking things, and maintenance is an ongoing expense. Since people like me are not allowed to participate in this "diverse and inclusive" intentional community, I am going to find out how their budget fares with open criticism... and, once they re-open to in-person meetings, with picketing... since they've decided to aggressively defend their dubious ethics with exclusionary tactics rather than meet me at the table to discuss these problems, and viable solutions to address them, in good faith.

This post will evolve a bit as I recall points to make. For instance: Molly is a Board member, and was on the DRC last winter when they initially decided to punish me for establishing my position against the PS:1 leadership's poor character. In the process, she privately tried to leverage our "friendship" to get me to create less work for the DRC during the holidays; nevermind that I'd just spent a Board campaign being maligned by a Karen while the rest of the membership did... nothing at all.

Molly [Katherine Adamski, of Workshop 25]

Nov 22, 2020, 10:17:22 PM
to Pumping Station: One
I am proposing a vote to make changes to the Bylaws. There is more information here. Please use this thread to discuss the proposed changes.


Jonny friggin Panic

Dec 4, 2020, 9:50:53 AM (11 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I am going to raise a concern, now that I am allowed to communicate with the organization with the illusion of "being a person" again (as I was banned from online interaction conveniently at the same time COVID and my health risks kept me from the physical space, shutting me out entirely), that the issue under "Term of Office" seems... perhaps still... to be designed to allow the same few persons to maintain membership on the Board indefinitely, at their collective convenience, by simply swapping office among them. It has the feeling of making sure a core group of elitists never loses control.

More of my criticism of PS:1's progress can be found at landriverfiresky.com, starting with "A message to Pumping Station: One concerning the Board election ". 

I am of two minds about such an issue:
1. If there is a necessary Board position that is simply not being filled, a per-instance easement could be made to let such a person fill that role.
   1a. We're also heading into some major issues that will need a stable body to manage; most notably: moving. Assuming that's still on the block. I don't know; I've been shut out for months.
2. It ensures control of the organization never leaves the control of a ruling class. I'm not going to get into that here; it's why I repurposed landriverfiresky.com: to document why I've been so uncomfortable with PS:1's community development the last 3-4 years. But if PS:1 really does espouse an ideology of equality and equity, and of fostering "a creative, collaborative environment" that "interacts with the local community", then loopholes allowing the continuous trade of Board positions among members of a "ruling class" need to be closed.

michael....@gmail.com [Mike Thompson]

Dec 4, 2020, 10:30:25 AM (11 days ago)
to pumping-s...@googlegroups.com
Don't the term limits explicitly cap constant musical chairs of board membership? It's also hard to muster a lot of immediate worry about the emergence of a ruling class when we struggled to fill the ballot for this year's board election.

That's not to say it isn't a valid concern; soft power accrual happens little by little until suddenly one or a handful of folks have a big club to bash folks over the head with. I would be more worried systematically about unelected positions like area hosts (such as myself). We have a lot of power, specifically we can remove access whenever from users. We don't have term limits and even disgruntled volunteer authorizers have caused trouble in the past.

All of that said, I have a lot of skin and gender privilege so I am going to take you on face value about your writings on your website. I wish I had a better recommendation than to run for office yourself, but volunteering is expensive and so is being poor (this is more of a United States issue than a PS1 issue). Our volunteer efforts are the quality the volunteers can provide, and the minimum ask is 3 hours a week. I put in 3-4 times that and I am still not making the progress I wish I could for my area.

I agree that we need more outreach, and we need volunteers to do that. I don't know where to find more, though. What kinds of outreach would you suggest? Reaching out to Rossana Rodriguez, our alder? What concrete action items can be taken? I didn't see any in your writeup.

Ryan Pierce

Dec 4, 2020, 11:01:36 AM (11 days ago)
to pumping-s...@googlegroups.com
The term limits issue deeply concerns me as well. There’s been a gradual creep, and I find it worrisome.

Before, we had a 3 year term limit on the board.

Now, for board members, it is a 3 year term limit in one office, 5 years cumulative on the board in any office. But only full terms count. So if someone resigns and you take over, you could have close to an extra year that doesn’t count. And once you step off, you don’t even need to wait a full year to get back on the board; you’re eligible for a position if someone resigns mid year, and that won’t count against your next 3 and 5 year limits.

The proposed bylaws make this far worse. Someone can serve consecutively for 4 years in one office and 6 years on the board. But only consecutive full terms count. This is even more problematic when one considers terms will now be two years. Someone taking over an office 3 months into a resigned officer’s term has an extra 21 months that doesn’t count. And once they step off the board due to term limits, they can step on again almost immediately.

I’m of the opinion that we should stop the musical chairs by considering > 1/2 a partial term equivalent to a full term for term limit purposes. That’s how the US Constitution’s 22nd Amendment works. And once a person reaches their term limit, they should be required to wait a full term before being eligible to get back on the board.

I’m also opposed to the extension of terms from 1 year to 2 years. If we have a problem finding people willing to serve, doubling the time they are committing to serve will only make that problem worse. I see continuity as less of an issue, given that we’re now electing a board in November so there’s 1 1/2 months overlap.

Also, I’ve been dealing with finals for university, so I haven’t had time to comment until now. I found several legal issues with the Bylaws that aren’t consistent with the Illinois Not For Profit Corporations Act, a problem where the org is confusing policies and bylaws, and a functional change that may break the board’s ability to respond to health and safety issues. I really wish the board had actually referred the whole language of such significant changes to outside legal counsel. And I’m questioning if I should even say anything here because past experiences where I’ve tried to help keep the bylaws and policies compliant with the law have seldom been appreciated by either the board or the membership.


Jonny friggin Panic

Dec 5, 2020, 9:41:04 AM (10 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I am VERY opposed to 2-year term limits in general; my only concern is that we need to look at the major one-time tasks the organization has on our plate; I can see creating a one-time easement for a two-year term to give us a stable leadership for moving, but not crystallizing it as standard.
However, we already have trouble keeping people for more than one year, as I understand it; being a good President, one that tries to hear and serve the membership rather than pressure and force the organization into being what they want, can be unforgiving. The people I can think of who would serve multi-year presidencies... I REALLY do not want as President. We've already had a three-year streak of that kind of problem under Andrew [Camardella], and PS:1, as a community, hasn't recovered. We might have been able to, but COVID-19 pretty much derailed that, and put good people on the ropes.

As for me running, I can't. Not simply because of last year's mindbendingly frustrating experience trying and being operationally shut out, but also because, while I'm in a rare position to be both a "member in need" and a "member who can explain why these changes in mindset are necessary", I have to own up to a few things: I am very angry now (especially after the 2020 I've had); and I do NOT have the background to actually know how to tackle these issues, while other members do, so I would spend a lot of time re-inventing the wheel and not actually getting anywhere. I'm smart and have a background of being a minority, and of poverty and severe trauma, so I know, intellectually, why people with such a background struggle in this environment, and I know how privileged members make it easy for them to leave, shutting them out via simple negligence, but there are others who would much better know how to address that... and they just don't. I'm barely surviving 2020 by my bloody fucking fingernails, so there's no space in my RAM to just casually research systemic solutions; I'm still going out of my way to try to find ways to explain the Venn overlap of race, poverty, and trauma to spoiled, privileged people in the first place, while also getting the professional help I needed after RBG died to not spend $500 to buy a 9mm and plan to blow my brains out should Trump win the election and subject us to a new level of violent white-supremacist nationalism.

Which reminds me to remind the membership: self-care is work. As in: valid work. It takes time, and effort, and resources. The work load is not the same from person to person, and not everybody has the resources they need; be mindful of that.

Electrotrash [I don't know who this is]

Dec 5, 2020, 3:14:40 PM (10 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
Great work everyone who put together these changes. They’re all very thoughtful and clearly expressed, as well as being much needed to the functioning of our organization. There’s a lot in here and some of these changes are absolutely ESSENTIAL to our organization’s stability and even its continued existence 

I’m voting YES and I highly encourage everyone else who is invested in the health and functionality of our organization moving forward to vote yes as well!

Jonny friggin Panic

Dec 5, 2020, 3:24:16 PM (10 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I voted against until the term limits issues can be resolved. We don't need 2-year term limits as a standard, and we do need to end this toxic practice of letting an elite core membership trade Board memberships among themselves.

Ryan Pierce

Dec 5, 2020, 8:12:04 PM (10 days ago)
to pumping-s...@googlegroups.com
I am strongly recommending a vote of No. Bylaws changes require 2/3 supermajority to pass, so successfully opposing this may be possible.

I applaud the efforts around updating the DRC processes, moving the annual meeting so as not to conflict with national elections, changing provisions related to grants, and removing the duplicate ID check.

I disagree with changing the terms and term limits of officers and directors.

But most importantly, the new Bylaws are riddled with inconsistencies, ambiguities, and points that contradict 805 ILCS 105. The majority of the problems pertain to changes relating to directors, director quorum, and voting. Paradoxically, the new bylaws specifically eliminate the ability for the board to spend money pertaining to health and safety in the midst of a pandemic. Additionally, the level of specificity on voting is inappropriate for Bylaws and should be captured as an external policy, not in the Bylaws itself.

It is clear that the exact text of these bylaws was not reviewed by legal counsel. I’m strongly of the opinion that some kinds of hacking are best left to professionals. You wouldn’t attempt DIY open heart surgery in the space, and I don’t believe hackers should DIY their own lawyering. This organization is of such a size that it can afford legal counsel on issues like these, and has enough to lose that it should do so.


Ed_B [Edward Bennett, of the SAIC]

Dec 6, 2020, 12:49:19 PM (9 days ago)
to pumping-s...@googlegroups.com


I'm sorry I have to be terse, but I'm busy today and can't stop for a discussion till later. Again in the name of terseness, I must submit that if you did read the changes doc or the bylaws, you did not do so carefully. An important accusation that need refuting is answered, hopefully, here:

Art. VII Sec. 7. Contractual Authorization. Novel agreements which include a clause placing significant risk on the Organization such as fines for breach of contract or claims to property as recourse, for example, must first be authorized by a vote of the Members. The Board will authorize at its own discretion expenditures to recover from exigent circumstances due to things such as, but not limited to: natural disasters, force majeure, pandemics, fire, failure of building infrastructure, severe injury in the shop, retaining outside counsel, or any other acute situation that requires closing the facility.

I hope this helps understanding the scope to the Board's power to spend money to deal with things like the aforementioned detail of pandemics.

Happy Happy

Ryan Pierce

Dec 6, 2020, 1:29:11 PM (9 days ago)
to pumping-s...@googlegroups.com
I stand corrected on that specific point, and agree that pandemics are covered by the proposed change. I also think this points to an organizational flaw in the new Bylaws. That bold sentence has less to do with contractual obligations and more to do with issues proper for a board vote, so it belongs in the section that I referenced. A person shouldn’t have to look in multiple places to find the full extent of the board’s spending authority.

It also doesn’t address the original reason that this language was put into the Bylaws. 

We had a health and safety issue pertaining to members creating fumes in the shop. The board voted to spend money to have roofing work done so the spray booth could have a vent stack installed. A former member pointed out that the board didn’t have the authority to spend the money, even though it was something to improve the air quality, hence health and safety of the space. So the project was scuttled. The next Bylaws rewrite included the current language around spending funds and creating policies for health and safety. The roof vent was later installed.

I think the board needs explicit authority to spend money pertaining to health and safety. One might try to argue that “exigent circumstances” can be interpreted broadly to include this, but it could also provoke an argument, and a conflict-adverse board might shy away from addressing important health and safety issues because they have no explicit authority to do so. (Remember what happened when the 2015 board tried to set policies around dogs and alcohol? Making board powers explicit is a good thing.)

As it stands in this proposed bylaws revision, the board’s hands appear to be tied except in the most extreme of circumstances. The board is powerless to address issues like what the exhaust fan in the spray booth was meant to fix. Worse, if a fixable safety flaw is identified in a machine and brought to the board’s attention, we have to wait, not just for an injury, but for a *severe* injury, before the board will have authority to spend funds to correct it.

Yes, member votes can be proposed, and area hosts can pay for safety projects out of their budgets. But it seems reckless to strip the board of the power to spend money pertaining to health and safety except in highly restrictive cases. The board has fiduciary responsibility for the organization, and under these bylaws, it arguably has little spending authority to correct health and safety issues.


Dec 6, 2020, 1:52:44 PM (9 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
In Article 6 Section 6 it is stated that the board has the power to  “vi. Fulfilling any obligations to ensure the health of the organization.
vii. Creating, modifying, and revoking policies, regarding health and safety in the Corporation's Workspace.”

Your examples of dog and alcohol policies clearly fit into the above language. The bylaws are a living, evolving document (as they are for any healthy organization). While you may be right that making the language on board spending powers more explicit could be an improvement, I fail to see why we should let the (imaginary) perfect be the enemy of the good.

Ryan Pierce

Dec 6, 2020, 2:06:27 PM (9 days ago)
to pumping-s...@googlegroups.com
This one point is important, but also a distraction from the larger issue.

My core criticism is that the exact language of these bylaws changes have not been reviewed by legal counsel. As I said below, “But most importantly, the new Bylaws are riddled with inconsistencies, ambiguities, and points that contradict 805 ILCS 105. The majority of the problems pertain to changes relating to directors, director quorum, and voting.”

It seems people wish to ram through these changes without referring to outside legal counsel, and they will probably succeed. So any time I spend on this now, with the vote ongoing, is wasted. I’m done with this.


Dec 6, 2020, 2:14:55 PM (9 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I’m professionally *very* familiar with 805 ILCS 105, and I dont see any contradictions or legal issues with the proposed bylaws. Everything is above board as written. 

Not liking the proposed bylaws is one thing; baseless allegations of illegality when you haven’t even read them is quite another.

Jonny friggin Panic

Dec 6, 2020, 2:17:28 PM (9 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I agree that such a statement encapsulates broad ability of the Board to address such issues, including spending. We cannot itemize every single possibility in the Bylaws, or nothing will get accomplished; given the Board's underlying duty to the organization, we need to recognize that they can make decisions about things not addressed in the Bylaws, and then a bylaw can be created from the precedent if it warrants it.

Obsession with documenting minutiae in the Bylaws has resulted in changes taking far longer than they should, sometimes years, just to satisfy some authoritarian's decision to dive down a rabbit hole of reductio ad absurdum. We need the Board and the organization to be able to make decisions and changes flexibly enough to keep up with the membership and the challenges the organization faces. A certain cautious faith in the body of the Board, followed by vigilant critique and accountability, should be called for, here.

However, I am still deeply bothered by the loophole indicated previously. Given that our new Board is frustratingly, even alarmingly, homogeneous, it also occurs to me that we have no mechanism in-place to encourage diversity on the Board. I know the pickins were slim this election (because many members are trying to make their own ends meet, and the organization as-is doesn't make allowances for that to still encourage and enable them to participate... ah, the problem-solving powers of a "hackerspace"....), but I know of at least ONE point where that could have been addressed... and it wasn't. Which speaks volumes about the character of those involved.

And, Ed, "terseness" does not excuse "I must submit that if you did read the changes doc or the bylaws, you did not do so carefully." 
You can save the "you don't know what you're talking about" for the playground.

Jonny friggin Panic

Dec 6, 2020, 2:19:48 PM (9 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I also would like to know, if all this was run past a legal professional, were they made aware that some portion of the membership might take issue with such sections, and advice solicited not just to ram it through, but to address it for the same of the minority as well as the majority? Or was it just passed by them so they'd give it an "it passes" stamp, and then summarily presented to us as "this is what we're doing"?

Aushra Abouzeid

Dec 6, 2020, 5:34:26 PM (9 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I writing to help clarify the thinking behind the 2-year terms for directors on the board.

As mentioned on the wiki page describing the vote (https://wiki.pumpingstationone.org/Bylaws_Amendments_2020_vote), an outside observer, Tanya Pietrkowski, Director of Development at CARPLS Legal Aid, was kind enough to read our bylaws, speak with the board, and write a list of recommendations for PS1, which reflected her best judgement based on her 20+ years working in nonprofit administration in Chicago. I don't mean to imply that I'm appealing to her long years of experience as a source of unquestionable authority. Her experience does, however, mean that her recommendations are not arbitrary; they rest on a solid knowledge base that may or may not apply to our situation in every detail.

Tanya observed that the length of a term for someone serving on a board of directors is typically 2 years or longer, in order to give an organization some continuity of leadership. The 1-year term at PS1 is outside the norm for the way nonprofits usually operate. That's it. That is the sum total of the observation/ recommendation that we received and the thinking that underlies the proposed change to our bylaws AFAIK.

We can debate whether or not having 2-year terms is appropriate for PS1 in particular. A related question is term limits with respect to multiple, possibly consecutive terms on the board.The major objection I'm hearing in the thread is a concern about the consolidation of power in the hands of a few people.

Here's the thing: It's very hard to get anyone to volunteer their time to do anything. Period. Full stop. Most of us have full time jobs, families, and/ or other important personal responsibilities and commitments. So asking anyone to devote multiple hours per week attending meetings, cleaning the space, filling out paperwork, performing tool and facilities maintenance, fielding questions from new members, managing disgruntled old members -- all the myriad repetitive, boring, difficult and/or time-consuming things that need to get done in order to keep PS1 limping along as it does -- IS A BIG FUCKING ASK. 

Do y'all understand what I'm saying? Everyone on the board, everyone on the MMT, GenOps, the area hosts and authorizers -- EVERYONE -- is doing their best and is stretched to the max in terms of their ability to give more to the organization. So to think that extending term limits is a power grab is to miss the big picture completely. NOBODY WANTS to do PS1's dirty work. It's really hard to get people to WANT to join the board -- in no small part because we treat each other like enemies in forums such as this. 

If any of you reading this message is genuinely interested in seeing more diversity in PS1's governing bodies, please don't waste your energies arguing about how many angels can (legally!) dance on the head of a pin. If we want more diversity and less hegemony:
  • Make it more appealing to volunteer at PS1 by treating volunteers with KINDNESS -- and that includes the members of the board. If people didn't see board members perpetually subjected to personal attacks, they might feel safer choosing to run in a board election. I know that's the main reason I, myself, never wanted to get involved with the board. So you want more women and minorities on the board? STOP ATTACKING THE BOARD! Learn to see the board (and all our volunteers) as the hard-working, competent, well-intentioned people you want them to be, and I guarantee you'll be amazed at how everyone will rise to the occasion.
  • Make it more appealing for women and BIPOC to join PS1 as regular members in the first place, and they will naturally start filling more of the volunteer positions. How do we do this? I don't have the answers, but let's do some brainstorming and try some things. I can tell you that we will NOT accomplish this by beating each other up. An atmosphere of conflict inside our walls is only likely to turn away people who have been subjected to suppression and violence in the larger society outside our walls. 
  • Volunteer in some way, or run for the board your-own-darn-self. Yes, YOU. I'm talking to YOU. Don't like the way something is done at PS1? Quit complaining, roll up your sleeves, and do the work to fix it. For that is the PS1 way.
Finally, back to the 2-year term length for a sec... In light of all of the above, I think it's highly likely that board members elected for a 2-year term will end up stepping down before their term expires. So we'll end up with lots of special elections happening at random times throughout the year. While I appreciate the need for continuity, I doubt that this particular idea is going to be workable for us. Just my 2 cents.

Jonny friggin Panic

Dec 6, 2020, 7:27:14 PM (9 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I can live with the 2-year limit, but only if the position-swapping loophole is closed. That is an absolute must. Easements, allowances, can be made for such a person to fill a position if no-one else will, but that's where we should draw the line. For several years, the organization has been under the control and/or supervision of the same small group, with members of that group stepping in to take up positions in order to keep a hand on the wheel whenever it looks like the organization might go where they would be uncomfortable going.

This includes making exceptional efforts to do outreach for, and seek to retain, minorities, the poor, and women. And, before you complain about what they're seeing... I know at least some of them are seeing what I'm seeing: nobody stepping up, publicly, and reeeally making a point to say this is a problem that needs to be addressed, and firmly. The men here, especially, dance around committing to it; you'll notice that organized "inclusive" movements here are generally lead by women. So, yes... in this kind of case, I'm a man calling the men out; I know what privileges are being abused.

I was told, three years ago, to not worry about what upset me, because it'll all change over time. It hasn't at all. It's gotten worse. The practices that made me feel welcome and engaged (such as having potential members introduce themselves and talk about what they hack, at the weekly meeting) were lopped off because a few core members-of-influence "didn't like to do it". It "felt awkward" to them. It was "inefficient". So, off it goes. And there was no real way to insist otherwise... once a certain few members decide "we're doing it this way", that's what we're doing. It's stagnated the "community" and ensured only people like them stay and like what they experience.

I'm not attacking the Board, per se, I'm calling that core leadership to task... whether they're currently on the Board or not. That we now have such a homogeneous Board speaking absolute volumes about my point... being on the Board is a limited privilege they won't share out if they don't absolutely have to. Try running for the Board? I did; I was shut out, after two election delays, because I said I was going to require greater accountability for community abuses like sexual harassment, which the "boys" of PS:1's leadership have proven they don't like to take seriously. They convinced one of the core members to run instead, and I was edged out. Then, when I stopped being polite and started getting angry about how we need to do better in being considerate toward struggling members, I was demonized and expelled from the online community just in time for COVID-19 to also keep me from the physical community. I was a paying, but completely unrepresented, minority member in exile.

So, no, running isn't an option.

There are two rules for someone in my outsider position in "polite" (read: "civil" Colonial-European "polite") society:
1. If you're polite, you're ignored.
2. If you're not, you're demonized.
...and I'm fed up pretending those are my problems; they're actually bad practices of the community and the leadership, and I'm not going to feel guilty for that any more. I was polite and understated for years, nobody bothered to hear me. I was made fun of, and flat-out mansplained to repeatedly. Never a person. Definitely not an "equal".

People don't have to like it, but PS:1 has an openly hypercritical member now. That is actually a thing that can happen. And it's a legitimate, valid position to have.
If people don't like it, they can start time-travelling back to three or four years ago and try to hear me when I was being polite about it. If they can't do that, they can still admit I have valid points and concerns, and spend less time demonizing me and more time addressing these problems and asking me for some insight as though maybe... juuuust maybe... I know what I'm talking about. I don't need some petty validation... I do know what I'm talking about... but everybody's so busy going "Jonny is so angry! We don't like his choice of words! Let's shame him!" that nobody wants to admit to listening.

In the meantime: A message to Pumping Station: One concerning the Board election this post is still valid.
And PS1: Issues With Campaigning points out just how easily we're ignoring resources we could have been using for years, regardless of my participation.

But yes, that position-shuffling loophole needs to go. For a start.


Dec 7, 2020, 12:44:46 AM (9 days ago)
to pumping-s...@googlegroups.com

Johnny wrote:

>And, Ed, "terseness" does not excuse "I must submit that if you did read the changes doc or the bylaws, you did not do so carefully. You can save the 'you don't know what you're talking about' for the playground."

Sure it does. People are likely voting now, and Ryan's and your opinionated arguments stated as fact are designed to put the people who give of themselves to make the place go (including the people who've worked long and hard on our bylaws), on the defensive for reasons that apply to very few individuals or are specious. In the past, I've been in a couple of difficult situations brought on by my not stepping up early on to correct some-or-other inaccuracy, and the inaccuracy becoming a "fact" by consensus and then "common knowledge", that had unpleasant consequences for me. I really dislike having to participate in public disagreements, especially in situations where I feel the the person across from me is likely not not representing themselves in good faith.  I call it like I see it: I don't think you've read the changes document on the vote proposal page, either. There's stuff in there that is a hard-won gift to Members who value the possibility of PS1 being a member run organization. Neither you nor Ryan have mentioned any of that. 

Now, having dealt to my own satisfaction with your ad hominem "You can save the 'you don't know what you're talking about' for the playground" I've said all I have to say on this matter and pray that in discussions on PS!'s governance it will be a long while before again writing the words "I", "me", or "you".

Happy Happy

Ryan Pierce

Dec 7, 2020, 8:43:59 AM (8 days ago)
to pumping-s...@googlegroups.com

Whisey Tango Foxtrot? Is this a race to the bottom here? I have been trying to help the space pass bylaws that are clear, unambiguous, in compliance with state law, and all I get in returns are attacks and libel.

Ed: "I must submit that if you did read the changes doc or the bylaws, you did not do so carefully."

Electrotrash: "Not liking the proposed bylaws is one thing; baseless allegations of illegality when you haven’t even read them is quite another."

Ed: "I really dislike having to participate in public disagreements, especially in situations where I feel the the person across from me is likely not not representing themselves in good faith."

Also: "There's stuff in there that is a hard-won gift to Members who value the possibility of PS1 being a member run organization. Neither you nor Ryan have mentioned any of that." I *have* read this material, and I though I was clear in my first e-mail that I mostly *liked* the majority of the changes. I'm just unhappy about the changes to officer terms and term limits, think limiting the board's power to spend money to address health and safety issues is a really bad idea, and am deeply concerned about the legal issues I have identified.

There's stuff in the background that isn't known by most people on this thread. I read the changes shortly after they were proposed. I reached out to David on Nov 23 to discuss this, making clear that in general they look good, I had some objections to the officer term length and term limit changes, but most importantly there were areas that I believe were not in compliance with 805 ILCS 105. He invited me to attend a board meeting to present them, and discouraged me from posting them to this thread. I checked the Slack announcements for the meetings the next day and just saw the member meeting link, not the board meeting link. I thought board meetings were every other week, so I figured I needed to wait a week. Then Ed posted an aggressive schedule to lock the language, and I found out from David later that I missed the (unannounced?) board meeting. The board intended to barrel ahead with locking the language just as my university was going into finals week. By the time finals were over, language was locked.

At this point, spending the several hours necessary to go through the changes point by point, comparing them with 805 ILCS 105, and pointing out the discrepancies and issues would take hours. If I posted it here, it'd be a "wall of text", I'd probably be flamed even more, and I don't think anyone else in power would really listen at this point. I want an actual lawyer to review the bylaws in light of the discrepancies I'm noting. I don't think this is unreasonable. But it seems that can't happen because the current board seems to want to ignore me and force through these ill-advised changes on Tuesday come hell or high water.

Jonny friggin Panic

Dec 7, 2020, 10:51:40 AM (8 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I dealt with this approach to expectations of authority in the post I linked, titled "PS1: Issues With Campaigning", and my critique of your poor character in the other post, "A message to Pumping Station One concerning the Board election". 
You holding communications with the attorney as tribal knowledge (if you're the one to talk to the attorney, nothing reaches them that you don't want to address), and being able to contact an electrician, does not excuse you from the humanist work of an intentional community with a stated conceit that "every member is equal". When you decide to assert authority and you aren't getting the recognition you want, you are very demeaning, and you look for openings in a conversation to get what you want, hurt or humiliate your target, or invalidate the issue at-hand, regardless of what the other person is genuinely trying to accomplish.

You are sly about your insults and quickly take shelter behind expectations of PS1-style "civility" (an exclusionary kind of "civility" you've helped shape and define to your convenience, which is an abuse of influence that is openly hostile to the idea of being "inclusive") on the return, because you know you are privileged and that tactic will favor you. I've been on the receiving end of it several times (such as when you indirectly declared me a "nobody"), and I've seen you do it to others whenever your temper rises or you get frustrated with not being taken at face-value as the authority you want to be seen as. And, yes, you do have a temper, and its surfacing heads straight to "tear the other person down". Your poor character shows when you get angry; you get more openly spiteful. You are a very privileged member, and you don't hesitate to punch down.

As I posted in "A message...", I have had a very bad 2020, full of dealing with violent, spiteful, frightening, and/or smug white authoritarians threatening me with violence, terrorizing the black woman I've been COVID-dating when she still had to go to work during the summer protests, putting the life of my black-single-mother-nurse-best-friend at risk when she felt she had to join this summer's protests despite police violence, kicking me out of the white side of my family for saying I'm brown and scared of Trump, and going through convolutions to slyly exile me "accidentally" in the supposedly ""enlightened" and "inclusive" community I've adopted when I finally got angry and pointed out it is not, after years of trying to point that out more politely with lots of whisper allies but zero open allies... and I am all out of patience with the entire construct. What we've seen this year, as a nation, is reflected in PS:1 in miniature, just with a veneer of that well-practiced, weaponized Anglo-Saxon "civility" that summarily strips "undesirables" of their right to basic human respect... like you did in that line, and then danced a tarantella to try to justify it.

It is not my obligation to fulfill your expectations of lopsided, weaponized "negative peace" (silence and obedience, not justice and cooperation) "civility", and I am flatly stating that your expectations as-such are not my burden to bear, try as you might to push them onto me.

Some people are going to have to start learning how over-reaching their privilege, and expectation of same, has become. Since my experience across years of trying to talk about it "politely", and keep it internal, has had zero sum effect, I'll be as loud about it as I choose. If people want to discuss my observations about how PS:1 can genuinely be more just, fair, and "inclusive", we can have a constructive conversation... but as long as spoiled people are going to talk down to me and demonize me for not conforming to their scripted expectation of convenience and privilege, I am going to keep calling BS and fight right back.

Sevin Straus

Dec 7, 2020, 4:51:42 PM (8 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
 Johhny, can you give us more details on how you couldn't run?  Everyone nominated themselves or was nominated, nobody was struck from the list and I have yet to see your name on a ballot. Ever.

As a former member of The Evil Board (as it/was known), NOBODY wants to run for the board, there is no evil cabal passing the crown amongst themselves.  People who care enough to run in the first place, are standing at the end of a year thinking to themselves: "God I hope some people run this year, so I can get off the merry-go-round. I HATE this" 

How about help with adding  in a program to address what you want?  Cant run for the Board (whatever the reason), go find some members who are not "fill in your demographic" and get them to join, get THEM to run if YOU want.

In all of the messages I have seen from you over the years (and, let me grab the red paint for the target on my chest), I hear complaining about what is/isn't/entitled/whatever, and I have NEVER seen you do anything other than expect others to fix YOUR issue with PS1.

Yes, this is incisive, asshole behavior on my part, but if you want a topic for this: create it, stay off the bylaws changes topic for your personal ax to grind, and let the people who are trying to make the organization better do so.  If you want to have an opinion on term limits, fine, express that, but leave out the rest of the baggage that doesn't belong here.

If you want to change PS1: JFDI

And if you REALLY want to change it, you need to change who the members are, because the members are who they are, and THEY run for the Board to make it better IN THEIR VISION.  Everyone's "better" is different. Not everyone will clean up after themselves, or be respectful of others property.

7 - former Evil Board member who whishes being on the Board was less like getting kicked in the balls every day, while running the risk that everything you own can be taken away because some asshole decides to be, well, an asshole.

P.S. A big thanks to ANYONE who has served on the Board, been an Area Host, or otherwise has volunteered to make PS1 the great place it is.

I will now exit my soapbox to the left.

Jonny friggin Panic

Dec 7, 2020, 5:51:00 PM (8 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
I ran last year for one of the new "director at-large" positions, after unexpectedly being nominated. The election was delayed twice while more people were convinced to run, because I had told key people (such as Ed) that I intended to set more stringent standards for member accountability regarding abuses of privilege, and then I wasn't elected. The same night, I was rudely teased and taunted repeatedly by another core member (I forget his name... smaller guy, glasses, tons of technical and programming know-how) for floating ideas abut how to make the site more accessible to less-PC-literate members and guests until I lost my cool and started slamming my fist on the table while yelling about how the underprivileged still deserve respect.

Before this goes further, I'm going to establish a few things:

1. I do not want to be on the Board. I was gone for a year before the nomination planning to do exactly this, and my 2020 has only made it more clear how badly this organization needs an ethics enema. The nomination actually delayed my intent to do all this, because it gave me a momentary hope that I could create change from a position of being a stern personality on the Board, not easily swayed by the expectations of elitist authoritarian community leaders, and protecting vulnerable and at-risk guests and members. Before that, I had been almost entirely gone for a year, still a member, but not coming to PS:1 because this same exclusionary, elitist behavior made me feel unwelcome and uncomfortable. While you're making it sound as though I'm always around making this noise, you ignore that I am gone from PS:1 for months at a time; this is why.

2. I am significantly disabled, both physically and psychologically. Technically, when I say that, nobody has the authority to ask "how?", unless they're fulfilling a lawful duty that requires that information... and then, it must be well-documented and kept private for that purpose. However, I have already documented "how" quite thoroughly, for public edification; along with organizing criticism of PS:1, it's why my restructure of my blog exists. You an start with "Who Am I?"
It would be a very bad idea to attempt to weaponize or exploit this, because I am aware that I am allowed to discuss my physical and mental health and still expect basic human respect, so "oh, he's crazy" goes right out with the trash.
As a side note, I'll also add that nobody has a right to ask a member what they've been doing here with an eye toward arbitrarily having some self-appointed authority to decide if the answer validates or justifies them. Ed's done that to me, too, in tandem with Andrew. 

3. My background is one of need, not one of capability. There are plenty of people here who know how to address the issues I've brought up; they just don't. I don't know how to address them, and attempting to address them by dragging information and insight piecemeal from such people would exhaust me... which, since I'm long familiar with such tactics, I know is intentional. I would get exhausted, nothing much would get done, that would somehow be "proof" that we "can't". Given that I already devote the majority of my daily processing power (or "spoons") to surviving each day despite suicidal ideation that's haunted me since I was seven years old, I don't have a lot of resources to spend on being pointlessly exhausted trying to do something others could do with ease. I'm done pretending the fact of their carelessness doesn't offend me, though.

4. However, given the current climate of PS:1, I can also state that, even if I achieve the change we need to make as a community and an organization, I wouldn't be able to participate; some key members would be looking for me to do so in order to claim I have a "conflict of interest" and undermine my efforts. So I'm literally arguing for something I can never benefit from as long as such spiteful opportunists aren't called to task. And that rests on the community at-large.

5. This is JFDI. I've stopped playing "preferential colonial Euro-centric nice", and I'm putting my foot down. PS:1 has issues with racism, classism, sexism, and has even let sexual predators run unchecked following public performances. Hell, I'm not even sure the organization isn't engaged in tax fraud, at this point... especially during the pandemic. If we're expected to engage in autodidacticism, I've been doing so to learn which facets of this community's dominant clique are domineering and exploitative, using what language, and I'm just flat-out calling it out... including that demanding autodidacticism is exclusionary and a curriculum would help address that. I've tried a number of things in PS:1, like woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, stained glass, guitar, programming, soldering, lockpicking, drawing, even trying to ride a bicycle, and none of it has stuck because of a long-term, PTSD-induced learning disability... and I've come to realize that's actually okay. But my position is to hack PS:1 to make it more helpful and welcoming to people like me (those traumatized by systemic underprivilege), and this is my no longer feeling like I have to play along with gaslighting by people like Ed (as evidenced above) or Andrew, and just holding a big, bright light on how PS:1 needs to address these issues and this behavior if we're actually going to be "inclusive" and "diverse", and stop tolerating people who abuse it for privilege and prey.


Dec 8, 2020, 3:48:49 PM (7 days ago)
to Pumping Station: One
Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and comment on the proposed amendments. I believe that the changes will have a good effect on the community if they pass. 

As far as term limits go, I was the one who changed that, to an even number, to correspond with the even numbered terms. Given how many early resignations I've seen during my time on the Board (six?), I honestly don't think someone would be able to serve longer than a few years. But I can see the concern about someone staying on the Board past those limits. None of the members in the "cabal" were responsible for that change. I am not committed to keeping the term limits that way and would have been happy to change the language... when the language was open. 

As we've learned over the last two years, we can change the bylaws as often as we like. If someone would like to draft language to close those "loopholes" and shorten the term limits, we can certainly run a vote to do so. It would be much simpler to discuss and implement because it would only be one change. Hopefully in the future, we'd be able to keep the vote discussion on topic.

Thanks to this thread and the negative, aggressive, and off topic commenters, we now have another Board seat to fill. If anyone reads this and would actually want to be on that Board, I would say you're crazy, but good luck. You will probably run unopposed.