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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can save the "you don't know what you're talking about" for the playground.
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.
- 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.
So, no, running isn't an option.
1. If you're polite, you're ignored.
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.
>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".
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.
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.
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.
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