Tell us about yourself
My name is David Springs, and I’ve been an active member for about three years. I’m 57, and am married with six grown children.
What are some favorite things you have already done for MakeICT?
I’ve been involved in a whole lot of projects. A few of the most recent are arranging for our new sign, getting clear title to the bus, and getting the camera system updated. I’ve set it up so that our instructors get their checks much quicker each month, usually issuing them on the 1st or 2nd instead of the 15th.
Most projects are more than just one person, though, so I owe thanks to many members for their hard work. I continue to benefit from the efforts of our previous Treasurer, of our Program Director and Area Leads, and of many others.
What in your opinion qualifies you to be a board member?
In my mind, my main qualifications are that I truly care about the future of MakeICT, and I believe that I have the ability to work with others and make thoughtful, well-considered decisions. I’m very involved. I love to actually make things. I want to be able to come in and be a maker long after I’m no longer on the Board.
If you have served on the Board in the past, What do you feel you did right?
I’m finishing my first year on the Board. Just like everyone else on the Board, I’m learning to work with others to accomplish common goals. As time goes by, I hope that I’ve gotten better at it. I was able to arrange for us to put surplus funds into an account that puts our money to work for us, rather than letting the bank use our money interest-free by leaving it in a business checking account. Converting us to Quickbooks, when finished, will allow us to keep far better track of not only where our money is going, but what brings it in, area by area. Every cent that comes in is now tracked by the area it came through, so that we can do a better job of deciding how to allocate our resources in the future.
What do you think you did wrong, or could have done better?
Learning to build consensus is always better done earlier. I’m sure that some folks would say that I was somewhat abrasive early on, perhaps unnecessarily. I also took on too many other responsibilities, taking time away from my main, elected job. Fortunately, I’m finding other qualified members to take on those important-but-not-Treasurer jobs. I’ve certainly learned from the experience, and hope it will make me a better Board member in the future. It will also give others a chance to be more invested in MakeICT.
Are you able to be at Board meetings, Maker Mondays and other events for the duration of your term?
I could be mistaken, but I don’t believe I’ve ever missed a Board meeting. I attended them long before I sat on the Board, as well, and I rarely miss Maker Mondays.
It is our mission to innovate, learn, and build community at the intersection of art, technology, science, and culture. How would you support our mission as leadership?
I think that it is important for Board members to help set the tone for how we interact with each other and with the rest of the world through our own decisions, actions, and behavior. We should do this by enlisting cooperation and persuading, rather than challenging and opposing. Finding mutual ground is important, as is overlooking personal differences whenever possible.
What should we do next?
I’d like to see us grow. It seems to me that we could stop where we are, but that the “build community” part should be an ongoing thing and never an accomplished task. Growth means more community, more innovation, more learning, and more community. It means more art, more technology, more science, and more varied culture. It also means more capabilities, more equipment, and more people doing more varied things as they become makers.
What are your thoughts about MakeICT’s direction in the coming year?
For the Board, it should be about maturing into doing more looking forward, and less about day-to-day operations. The Board should be interacting with the community at large, forging relationships with business, government, and education, and giving MakeICT a clear picture of where we want to be in 5 years. We should be looking at grants and partnerships. We should also work out how to gauge our progress and line out specific steps we can take along that road.
What’s your agenda for what you want to accomplish in the coming year?
Specifically, I very much want to finish the project I started this year as Treasurer. That is to make the financial side of MakeICT much easier to handle and more automated. “Treasurer” should not be tantamount to “Bookkeeper”. Moving to Quickbooks was one step, but the big project I’d like to see finished in the next year is the automated kiosk to replace the steel drop box and envelope system we currently have. This would allow member payments and purchases to be credited in real time, rather than waiting for the Treasurer to make a trip to pick up envelopes, then manually updating all of our membership and financial records. It would allow us to choose a Treasurer based on something other than the ability to learn bookeeping, or having huge amounts of time to devote to Treasurer duties. Wouldn’t it be great to have a number of candidates to choose from, based on their desire to make MakeICT a better place? People don’t run for Treasurer because of the inordinate committment involved, and it doesn’t need to be that way in the future. The kiosk will be set up to take payments – even cash, with the bill acceptor we’ve already acquired – and update our membership software through its API. No more shut off keys because someone wasn’t able to pay until the day before their due date. Walk up, pay your dues however you want, and you’re done. No more waiting on the Treasurer to make another trip to record what’s in the box. Combined with the capabilities of Quickbooks, it will make it much easier to generate snapshots of how we’re doing at any time, which in turn makes life easier for everyone else – Area Leads and Board Members, especially. I need one more term to finish this project, and then intend to step aside and let other makers have a chance.
Additionally, I want to find qualified volunteers to take over some of the non-Treasurer tasks that I have been doing. Being Treasurer is work enough, especially with the kiosk project, without also trying to cover vacancies in Security and overseeing or participating in several Special Projects. Finally, I’d like to steer us towards reducing our reliance on borrowed equipment whenever possible. It certainly made sense in the past, but it creates extra hurdles sometimes that it would be nice to avoid. I’d add that I’d never wish to do this at the expense of our solvency, but we have alternatives to simply writing checks for things, including special fundraising and seeking corporate donations of both equipment and funding. We haven’t done a thorough job of exploring potential community resoruces, and I’d like to see the Board give that some focus in the coming year.
How will you gauge whether we’re successful as an organization?
Are we solvent? Are conflicts being resolved? Are we all on the same page, or at least heading in the same general direction? These are all important things, but it comes down to “Are makers making because of us?” Are we fulfilling our mission?
What should our priorities be in terms of trying to find a different space versus extending the lease on our current building?
My opinion is that for us to continue to fulfill our mission, we should pursue growth. That alone makes it pretty plain that we’ll have to look for a larger place sooner or later. I believe that we will ultimately be able to find a place that suits our current and future space needs and still be more affordable in the long run. Our own building would also give us more freedom in terms of making the space perfectly suited to our needs, with our investments in improvements remaining ours to enjoy for years to come. The fact is that our rent is only going to go up as time passes and the building we’re in appreciates.
Do you think MakeICT should focus on one space down town or multiple satellite locations in underserved communities?
Multiple spaces would be a neat thing, but I’m afraid the cost, both in dollars and in community, would be pretty high. I think our best bet is to remain one big family for the forseeable future.
How should we operate?
That’s pretty vague, but I’ll try. The Board should be looking out for us as an entity - present and future. The Program Director, Area Leads, and Comittee Leads should deal with running the physical space and equipment.
Do you believe the Board should deal with day to day issues? Should area leads have more authority over day to day operations?
As a rule, no. Area Leads (under the Program Director and along with Commttee Leads) should be managing the building and equipment. If there’s a problem the PD shouldn’t handle, he can bring it to the board.
Do you support an expansion of board terms from 1 year to 2 years? Why or why not?
I’m generally not in favor of 2 year terms. It seems like the current “do your job or get voted out” is a pretty practical system for us.
Would a 2 year term affect your decisions to accept a nomination?
I’m pretty sure that anyone considering serving would have to decide whether they were willing to make twice their current committment. While it is true that a Board member could resign at any time, that certainly isn’t what’s best for MakeICT.
Would you support staggered elections June and December for general directors seats? Why or why not?
I’d be opposed to it. New Board members once a year is enough, and twice a year looks like twice the trouble to me.
Would you support staggered elections with half the board elected at each Annual meeting?
Tell us one thing the Board did in the last 12 months that needs an undo. Be specific.
I can’t be specific, but we certainly would be served by moving away from trying to handle day-to-day operations. If we’ve made a mistake that needs fixing, our members don’t seem shy about pointing it out.
Tell us one thing not done in the last 12 months by the Board that still needs done. Be specific.
Again, I can’t be specific. Sometimes things don’t get done as quickly as we’d like. Sometimes it is from circumstances. More often it is because there’s nobody available to do what needs done. If the Board hasn’t accomplished it by now, it will end up being in the lap of the next Board. Giving Area Leads and Committee Chairs ownership looks to be a good way to deal with specific issues that need dealt with.
Do you believe the entire membership should vote each year at the annual meeting on the organizations Standing Rules? Refer to Article III Section 2 of the bylaws.
This specific issue? I don’t care. What I do care about is that we come to a consensus of what we want to do going forward, put it in clear, unambiguous terms, and then follow them.