Jeremiah's Answers to Questions. Election 2018

By posting my answers early, I hope to get others following suit. This gives membership more time to get to know the Nominees. Goodluck to everyone in the 2018 Election.

                  Tell us about yourself.

My name is Jeremiah B. (AKA JB)

I am running for 2 positions Vice President and Director at Large.

Most of the membership will know me as the awesomely friendly Metalshop lead.
As the Metalshop lead, I have learned to work together with other members to create a great team of volunteers. I have implemented new equipment and tools, and shared my knowledge along the way.I teach a wide range of classes. I am around the space quite frequently, and this allows me to deal one on one with many members new and old.
I believe Area leads are the life blood of MakeICT, They deal with membership daily, they find and fix issues most people know nothing about. (because we fix them so quickly), and as such would make great Board members.

As a Board member one of my goals is to continue pursuing a new building, documenting our needs vs wants, and starting fundraisers to get this done. We are definitely getting crowded in certain areas. I believe a new building should remain centrally located if possible, include adequate parking, and have plenty of room to grow.

I am always listening to members ideas, concerns, and complaints. I will bring those to the board, as well as other ideas to better our organization.
I am not shy,I am not afraid of change, and I am always up for a challenge.

                                     Thank you for your consideration. 

1. What are some favorite things you have already done for MakeICT?

I have done many things to help MakeICT. From Taking over the Metalshop, and working with others to get it to where it is today. A Small group of us built the cnc plasma cutter, Powder coating oven. Paul And I got the keeper license, and all profits currently go to the area leads wish list. To date we have helped give 4 areas $1000 to put towards their areas. I currently teach several classes, and met so many great members doing so.

2. What in your opinion qualifies you to be a board member?

I have experience with the membership on a daily basis. I hear the concerns, positives, and opinions from membership directly. I have made the Metalshop what it is today with the help of a great group of volunteers. As a member I have tried to attend most of the board meetings since I Joined 2+ years ago.

3. If you have served on the Board in the past, What do you feel you did right? What do you think you did wrong, or could have done better?

I have not been on the board, But there are always things we could do better. Don’t dwell on the bad, push forward and learn from your mistakes.

4. Are you able to be at Board meetings, Maker Mondays and other events for the duration of your term?

Absolutely. I will do my best to show up to needed meetings, and activities.

5. 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?

Our mission is very open to interpretation. However I believe we have to start with what we do best, then slowly start opening up new doors. We can’t do everything all at once. Remember Focus First.

                         **What should we do next?** 

1. What are your thoughts about MakeICT’s direction in the coming year?

It’s time to create a dedicated building fund, We are already out of space in many of the areas. Having a fund set aside with some funds in it only for a building allows us to do fundraisers for a new building. Members can see where their donations are going, and where we are at on our Fund amount.

2. What’s your agenda for what you want to accomplish in the coming year?

This is almost the same question as above. I would like to see us actively fundraising for a new building. Getting classes set up in each area, and maximizing the current space we have until we find a building.

3. How will you gauge whether we’re successful as an organization?

I would say we are already very successful, If we get one person involved, inspired, or excited, we are successful. I would like to see stable membership levels, more volunteers, and more doing. But we will remain successful forever due to the things we have already done.

4. What should our priorities be in terms of trying to find a different space versus extending the lease on our current building?

Obviously we need to maximize the current space either way. But I think we should look at areas that could be improved. Big questions I hear are: If we are out of space why do we have a gallery? Lounge? Consignment takes up space and isn’t used. Why? I’d like to see the issues looked at, discussed, and determine a course of action.

5. Do you think MakeICT should focus on one space down town or multiple satellite locations in underserved communities?

This is a very simple decision. One large space is always better. It builds community, allows people to use all areas without driving to a different location. Multiple locations divide the community, and would provide less to members at those locations. It adds to our rent, bills, etc. and would require leads and leaderships to frequent all locations.

                                 **How should we operate?**

1. Do you believe the Board should deal with day to day issues? Should area leads have more authority over day to day operations?

As an area lead, I believe this has been getting better. However the Board spend too much time on little issues. I believe the Director of the makerspace, and the area leads can work together to deal with these smaller issues. Allowing the board to do the rest.

2. Do you support an expansion of board terms from 1 year to 2 years? Why or why not?

I do not support this. We have a high turnover on the board, Some board members do great, and others do not. I don’t want someone who isn’t doing well in their role to remain a board member. If you want to run for another year, then run, but let the membership decide if you deserve that 2nd year.

3. Would a 2 year term affect your decisions to accept a nomination?

Yes. I am willing to give more than a year to trying to make things better. But if I do things wrong, I want the membership to be able to replace me if they see fit at the next election. Also someone may not be able to give 2 years to the organization. Forcing them to resign can be looked at as a negative.

4. Would you support staggered elections June and December for general directors seats? Why or why not?

Yes. I think staggering the board makes sense.

5. Would you support staggered elections with half the board elected at each Annual meeting?

If we are talking about 2 year terms, then no. (see answers above on term length)

6. Tell us one thing the Board did in the last 12 months that needs an undo. Be specific.

Committees were created to get people involved, and spread the load of different areas / events. What ended up happening is some people are on almost every board. This isn’t fair to the membership. It isn’t right for one person to have an influence over every committee. Pick 1 or 2 and that’s it. If you are already a board member or area lead, I don’t think you should be a committee lead either. We also allow the committee leads to choose their members. This means that some members wanting to be on a committee are told no. Some committee leads only choose their friends. Again this isn’t fair.

7. Tell us one thing not done in the last 12 months by the Board that still needs done. Be specific.

Setting funds aside for a building, allocating the funds as such, and getting everyone involved in input for a new space.

Hi JB, good answers and thanks for getting us kicked off.

On the building fund, we have a chicken/egg issue. Do we pick a building based on our budget, or pick a budget based on the building we find? Thoughts?

My other question is about committees. I also agree that it’s preferable to have lots of different volunteers but we’ve struggled. If a committee has no volunteers to lead it would you dissolve it, leave the seat vacant, or use someone who’s already on the board or leading a committee? Do you have more ideas for how we can recruit volunteers for these?

For the record, we do let committee leads pick their members. When someone fills out the committee interest survey (http://bit.ly/makeict11) I forward that on to the existing committee lead who can do whatever they want with that information. The security team gives us a heads up, the others don’t have to. I agree it would be nice to know who’s on what committee.

The main thing is setting funds aside and allocating them to a building. Gathering all our needs, and doing fundraising for a building. Getting people involved and excited. We don’t have to move next month, but we should be raising funds and planning for the eventuality.

I’ve decided I’m not a big fan of committees, I don’t think they are working very well. It was a good idea, but most of the committees haven’t done anything. It seems like an elusive club for certain people.

As far as getting more volunteers, I’m at a loss. Some people join makeICT just to use the space and go home. They don’t want to be bothered with volunteering, meetings,or even voting on policy changes or elections. This is something we will have to figure out. because by the time we get a new volunteer, we have usually burned out 2 others.

I also agree whole heatedly with your comment about voting for people who take the time to answer these questions and put it all out there. If you can’t be bothered to answer some questions for the election, then maybe you aren’t the right fit.

What is the turnover on the board? Of all who were elected last year how many resigned?

Board member history, in a spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TBbMdTGes9luLoT_ciGvIUTFOFIRF8oaBnlS0EWZKWo/edit?usp=sharing

Out of 9 Board members 3 decided to run again at the last election. of the 9 this year 1 has resigned and we currently have 8 board members.

It’s not an easy position.

There’s an all too common arc for board members of 1) initial excitement, motivation, and feeling of “surely we can at least do better than that last board”; followed by 2) deepening frustration; followed by 3) being found curled up on the floor in the fetal position surrounded by lots of stuffed animals and singing Kumbaya with Mr. Rogers on the telly… :wink:

I don’t feel any of the issues I personally experienced as a board member would at all be helped by longer board terms. In fact I think it would do more harm than good. In the abstract, staggered two year terms make perfect sense, but MakeICT is a different beast from every other board I’ve been associated with. So be careful proposing “standard” solutions for MakeICT without having experience the issues first hand. For instance, I was the one who proposed adding an “Immediate past president” position in 2016. This is common on other boards and can really help in transitioning to a new board. But in retrospect, I feel it has probably caused more problems than it solved at MakeICT. So just because something makes sense in theory and has worked well at other non-profit boards, doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense at MakeICT with the current board structure. It is more likely these will only serve as bandaids that fail to address the deeper issues.

Curt

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Curt has a good point, but I think with anything (familiar and unfamiliar), we should be willing to try something out even if we don’t know how it’ll go, but also willing to abandon things that don’t work.

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The one thing I feel is a mistake is making changes to the bylaws piecemeal. When we do this we seem to always end up with a conflicting mish-mash of bylaws and standing rules that later requires even more changes to try to fix the earlier changes.

I feel strongly that the only way to fix a lot of the organizational problems we keep having (and will continue to have in the future) is to have a complete and consistent rewrite of the bylaws brought before the membership for a vote up or down. I don’t know any reason why we can’t base such a rewrite on known working models, so that we aren’t rewriting everything from scratch. I can’t really see much about MakeICT in principal that requires a “non-standard” set of bylaws. This seems to only lead to problems down the road. To me this isn’t an area where it pays off to be experimenting.

JB - glad to see you putting yourself out there!

When it comes to anything serious, you have a no-nonsense attitude which, IMO, maximizes productivity. I’ll try to do the same here. It’s great because people don’t have to guess what you’re thinking or feeling - you just say it. Sometimes you sacrifice tact for honesty, and it certainly isn’t appreciated by everybody all of the time. Oftentimes people just don’t understand your sense of humor or personality, but sometimes you really just seem like a jerk. An honest jerk, and frequently right, but still a jerk.

Board members represent the entire organization and every member of it. Do you think that your personality accurately represents the “personality” of MakeICT? Many of our members will expect a board member to exercise more tact and kindness than what we usually see from you. Would that be a challenge for you? How will you handle it?

No one on the Board is going to be tactful all the time. As I recall even when you were president you we accused of being a bully and an asshole by members and other board members. I believe that comes with the territory. I am a firm believer in speaking your mind, and putting everything on the table. If you ask people who have taken my classes, the classes are professional and all about learning. Some people say they are surprised by how good they actually are. There is a time and a place for everything. I can guarantee that I won’t always be a ray of sunshine with glitter on top. What I can tell you is I will do my best to get things done jerk or not.

Curt - I agree with you regarding a fresh slate on the bylaws.

JB -

Perfect is the enemy of good, so certainly anybody who expects absolute perfection will have to live with disappointment. We should, however, select our leaders and representatives from the best among us.

It certainly is an impossible challenge to please everybody when the population is as large and diverse as ours. There will be an occasion for anybody on our board when they will upset someone else. Perhaps one difference between a good leader and a poor one is whether or not they enjoy the experience of making someone else upset. Which side do you land on?

Besides observing some of your interactions with people around the makerspace, my concern also comes from having seen how you represent yourself publicly. Not just in person, but also in social media and even on our very own forums. Some of what you’ve written publicly has been, IMHO, reprehensible and abhorrent. Your response in this thread doesn’t sound like we’d see much change in you as a board member. Many individuals have worked really hard at building a positive image for MakeICT within the community, and I wouldn’t want to award my vote to someone who won’t do their best to protect and maintain that reputation. The ideal leader would be working to improve upon it.

Look, the value you create can’t be overstated. It’s truly unfortunate that some of the good you do is shadowed by some of your… less favorable qualities. You certainly deserve some adulation, and I hope you don’t take this as a personal attack. You value honesty though, so if I’m being honest with you, I’m so far unconvinced that you’d make an ok board member, let alone VP.

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I think your right and probably also why everyone likes this place. :slight_smile:

Dom, to be fair, I don’t need your blessing to do anything. If you don’t like me or what I stand for then don’t vote for me. If you don’t like what I post on social media, don’t look at it. I’m far from a people pleaser. We don’t agree on religion, politics, food,or half the other stuff in the world. That doesn’t make me a bad person. I’m one person trying to make a difference.

I never said or thought that you did? I’m not trying to argue with you. I’m sharing my honest opinion with you (expecting you’d appreciate it) and, frankly, I was optimistic that you might change my mind. You have no obligation to try to convince me or even reply at all.

That isn’t what I’m talking about. With regards to business and going-on at MakeICT, you and I generally agree. Your position on things that don’t have anything to do with the makerspace have no bearing on whether I think you’d make an ok board member or not. In this context, my concern for you is the manner in which you choose to conduct yourself and how it reflects on our organization.

It’s not what you post (generally); it’s how you behave and treat other people. Even if I could ignore your social media, we can’t ignore what you’ve brought to the MakeICT forum in the past. If you recommend I also ignore you here, then you’d certainly be reinforcing my current position on your leadership potential.

More importantly though, you’re absolutely wrong if you think that people who observe your interactions - either in person, online, or in any other context - can simply ignore the bits they don’t like and separate your persona from the nonproft board you’re trying to join. A member of our board represents us in both a cultural and a legal sense 24/7/365. I remain unconvinced that you’re the type of person I would want to represent our organization.

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What I’ve brought to the forum in the past? Did you forget the part where you thanked me for calling someone out when that happened. Lol

Shouldn’t you be answering all these questions since you plan on running at the last minute? I don’t see how you bring anything more than I do to the table. Again, I don’t care if I get your vote or not. I’ll continue to voice my concerns whether I’m on the board or not. You won’t even show up for a Meetup because it’s held at a place Hartman owns. We don’t need your personal politics getting in the way of MakeICT.

I can agree with your message without agreeing with your delivery. Regardless, my ability to find a silver lining in very ugly clouds says nothing about your ability to lead.

lol - first of all, wasn’t that a social event? Why does that matter here? Secondly, just FTR, I said I wouldn’t buy anything there, not that I wouldn’t go. Back to the point I keep having to explain though, this isn’t about a difference in politics, it’s about how YOU behave and how YOU treat other people. If you want to talk politics, start a different thread, I guess.

No. I’m not sure why you want to make this about me so badly. This is your thread where you have an opportunity to make a case for your candidacy. I guess you’re free to spin your wheels attacking someone who isn’t running, but I don’t see what purpose that serves for your candidacy. You do you though. I will say that you shouldn’t participate in behind-the-back gossip. It’s not healthy for the community and doesn’t reflect well on you.

Lastly, while I still appreciate your cards-on-the-table attitude, I wish you were as gracious in receiving opinions as you are eager to deliver them.

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Trust me I hear you trying to bully and troll me. It doesn’t bother me in the least. I graciously read through all your complaints. I get it, you don’t like me or the way I act. Too bad. I won’t change who I am for you. If you feel the need to try to troll me more, have at it.

@Christian that is a cool spreadsheet, thanks!

@curt.gridley Just curious, why do you think MakeICT’s board is more stressful than others you’ve served on? Is it our bylaws/processes, is it the people being passionate/quirky/critical/maker-y, is it the nature of a makerspace and all the stuff? Other volunteer organizations I’ve served on have had every bit as much drama. I guess one reason I’m asking is that you’ve hinted a few times about a major bylaws re-write, but I haven’t felt that inhibited by the bylaws this term. There’s some quirks sure but life is full of systems to work in that are not ideal.