Mark Satoria: 2019 Election Questions

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

I don’t know about favorite, but I’ve had enough appreciation for the organization to see to helping out with projects such as working on the classroom build out, wire routing for the metal shop, working on/repairing equipment, picking up trash and throwing it out, and of course, being area lead for the ERP.

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

There are plenty of things that I am not, but being unreasonable is not one of them. I’m always open to compelling arguments, and while just like everybody else, I generally don’t enjoy being wrong, I’m willing to accept when I am. Nor do I take disagreements as personal insults. My interests are in the viability of the organization, and the benefit of the membership as a whole.

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 served in the past.

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

Yes, when necessary. I know what you may be thinking: “It’s always necessary!”, but I don’t think that’s the case. Let me elaborate… In the case of board meetings, I’ve reviewed all 108 posted board minutes, and a large portion of those comprised of topics that in the grand scheme of things are negligible to the organization, or are obvious/sensible enough that any additional pair of cents is frankly unnecessary. The most significant meetings in the past have been in the early years when major policies and procedures were being hammered out, and the pre/post move to 1500 E. Douglas from the Bluebird location. When the agenda has items of major importance, I will always try to make it. Sometimes it’s better when the kitchen isn’t full of cooks.

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?

As an entirely volunteer run organization, any top-down approach would be limited in its effectivity. These are things that should be important to all members, so any initiatives by fellow volunteers that are in line with our mission should be receiving support from the board within reason. We should be reaching out to membership more regularly not just with ideas the board concocts, but also seeking out ideas from them. MakeICT is nothing without its members! So we need effective ways of reaching out, such as e-mailing (or even snail mailing!) bi-weekly or monthly newsletters. Members need to know what’s going on, and when their help is needed. When we have sufficient hands on deck, we’re more likely to sail towards our mission.

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

I really think this is going to be the year of the move. People have been talking about it since I joined some time in 2016, and just recently we’ve come closer than we ever have. Judging by the results from the former Booth Elementary vote, the membership is ready by a large margin.

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

Besides getting into a more permanent home, I think it’s extremely important to try to entice members to increase their involvement in the organization. When we can barely muster one person to accept an area lead position, it’s the board’s job to figure out how to improve the state of affairs. We should be generating excitement, and people should be excited to serve!

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

The organization is better off as a whole than it was the previous year, and more excited members.

4. How do we keep and grow membership?

Sustaining membership levels doesn’t appear to take too concerted of an effort from a board position, and I’d argue it would be more work to tank them. It’s the area leads that I feel have the biggest impact here, as they work to cater to the wants and needs of the general membership. We need to be supporting them and trying our best to maintain or increase morale. Micromanaging them is extremely unhelpful.

As for increasing membership, I think that would require us to “grow up” a little. I think it takes a certain kind of person to overlook our somewhat chaotic and unprofessional appearance. That’s not a knock on us, as we’ve made do with the space and resources (both monetarily and volunteer efforts) and we should all be grateful for what we have, but changes would have to be made to take us to the next level, if that’s where we want to go. That’s something I don’t think would be worthwhile to strive for at our present location.

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

This is not something specific to the last 12 months, but something that has been done in the past that I’ve found unsavory: When officially reaching out to members that requires their approval for things such a bylaw changes, it’s not ok to use wordings containing bias or misrepresentations. Just because some board members may wish to achieve a certain outcome does not make such tactics appropriate. At most, a balanced pros/cons list should be provided.

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

Find a new home, of course.

3. How much Autonomy should Area Leads Have?

We’re all in this together, so autonomy probably isn’t the right word. As I’ve stated earlier, we certainly shouldn’t be micromanaging them either. If there is one major policy I take issue with, it’s the way equipment/item sales from a given area go to the general fund which rarely sees it’s way back to the area. As long as a critical piece of equipment isn’t being sold to fund an item which is a lead’s pet interest and doesn’t benefit the area as a whole, we should have no problems with this.

4. What experience do you have in grant-writing or fundraising?

None… For now at least. Given that we haven’t received any major grants since 2014/15, unfortunately it doesn’t seem like many others do either.

5. What are your ideas on promoting Volunteerism and a Community Mindset at MakeICT? (ie Scholarships, funded leadership conferences…)

Reaching out to members more directly instead of expecting them to reach out to the organization, as I mentioned earlier. As it stands, I don’t think most people know how to do that.

1. Do you promise you can serve out your entire term until next June? Do you predict that you’ll be open to running for a second or third term so MakeICT has a continuous, stable board of directors?

I can’t predict the future, but I don’t see why I would be unable to serve the entire term. What happens after that is hard to imagine.

2. Have you read our bylaws and standing rules ?

Yes, but don’t ask me to recite them off the top of my head. I think there’s something in there about being on fire.

3. What areas of the makerspace are you proficient/not proficient in?

Most of the basic/standard tools in the wood and metal shop I’m familiar with. Most of the fablab stuff (though I haven’t used the laser cutters in a long time) as well. Haven’t spent any time in ceramics, textiles, or print shop. Generally I learn as I go. If there’s something I need to learn for a certain project, that’s when I’ll learn.

4. What are the best and worst aspects of your leadership and communication styles? What can you do to improve or mitigate your worst quality?

It can be difficult for me to collect my thoughts on the spot. I’m better off when I’ve had some time to mull it over.

5. If MakeICT didn’t exist, what would you do with your time?

This is a very interesting question, and something dear to me. I moved to Wichita from out of state at the beginning of 2015 with no friends or family near by. I was a stranger and pretty much stayed that way until I became a member here. In MakeICT, not only have I found resources that I could have only dreamed of which enabled me to work on almost any kind of project I could have thought up, but maybe more importantly, I found friends and camaraderie almost unlike any other I’ve ever found before. It’s just about impossible for me to imagine my life here in Wichita without MakeICT, and that’s why ensuring it’s future viability is of such great importance to me.

6. What steps would you take outside the Maker space to continue growth of the knowledge of our existence, so we’re not Wichita’s “best kept secret”?

I’m not the social media type, but I’ve praised our organization to many of my coworkers.

Additional comments*

I’d like to thank all the people who have helped in one way or another create and sustain this jewel we have here. It’s not always obvious, but lots of time and effort have gone into making the organization what it is today, and we should all be grateful even when we don’t exactly get the results we hope for. If I get voted onto the board, I will try my best to ensure that our mission is adhered to, and that any step back is at least followed by two steps forward. I’d also like to say that we have quite a compelling list of candidates, and I think we’d be in good hands with pretty much all of them!

-Mark Satoria

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Thanks for running, Mark. I’ve really come to notice and appreciate your energy and enthusiasm lately, and it’s exactly the sort of thing that motivates others :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the kind words, Dom. It means a lot to me coming from you (and you were the very first person I talked to from MakeICT!).

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Dom was the first person I met too!

Mark, how important is it to you to keep dues at $25?

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Erik,

While I’m not sure we can maintain $25/mo indefinitely, as nobody can escape inflation, I don’t foresee a dues increase being necessary in the near future. While the additional revenue might seem appealing, there’s a double edge sword in the sense that all those people who maintain their membership despite not frequenting the space are basically subsidizing those who do use the space often. That generosity might not extend much beyond the $25 range. The dropout of those members could have a cascading effect which might place the entire organization in jeopardy. I think we’d be much better off having fundraisers and soliciting grants, thus maintaining our current bargain rate which is something we should all be proud of.

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Hey Mark! You’re a smart guy and I was really grateful that you jumped in to be the ERP area lead. I’m glad you’re running for the board.

As for board meetings - it kind of is necessary to attend them, hate to say it. If we don’t have a quorum of six board members we can’t pass anything. Seems like there’s always somebody sick, traveling for work, etc. And as for the clean agenda of pre-discussed items, that’s always our goal but it takes homework from all board members to make sure that happens. Sometimes it’s just faster to hash it out at the board meeting itself. If you ask people to do that work on your schedule, you’re putting more work on your fellow board members.

I did my best as president to keep board meetings to 60-90 minutes (one clocked in at 45!) unlike the last board who suffered through 3-4 hours at a time, so I hope the next board can be organized enough to keep that going. We purposefully delegated a lot more out, ie asked ourselves “does this really need to be a board vote?” frequently the answer was no. We had an agenda published before every meeting. I had to cut some people off from soapboxing :slight_smile: I’m not perfect. I walked out of a couple board meetings this year because they were going too long and I had work or family issues in the way. But if at all possible, encourage efficiency to fix the problem that keeps you from wanting to go to board meetings, instead of just not going to board meetings.

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Thanks for pointing out that a quorum is now 6 rather than the 5 it used to be, which managed to embed itself in my brain somehow. Having reviewed the meeting minutes, I too made the observation that it’s not unusual for a board member to be missing from roll call. In which case, you’re right that it would be inappropriate or at least unfair of me to miss out on meetings. As for trying to only bring hashed-out topics to the meeting, it was Dave who mentioned it, though I would agree that it’s theoretically a good idea and something we should strive for when possible. I take no issue with doing my homework, so to speak, as that tends to be how I spend most of my time for my own projects. I prefer to not bask in my own ignorance intentionally.

I do maintain the opinion that without an effective system to reach out to and recruit volunteers, the board can want in one hand and, er, doing something else in the other and see which fills up first. That often seems to lead to a much too small of a group that frequently tries to take all the bites leaving little room to chew. That’s a recipe for burnout, stress or lack of progress, which is unhelpful for everybody. I’ve tried to be realistic about this in my personal life, and while it still happens from time to time, I’ve gotten better. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with that. Any vote on implementing a program needs this to be just about at the top of the list in discussions. I know it is, but we also need to raise this concern with the people volunteering to undertake it. It’s in everyone’s best interest.

That said, you won’t hear me claim that I’m the best candidate for the position, or even the best candidate running. People have made the suggestion in the past, and I waved off the idea then. Once again I’ve had people request I do, and while still somewhat reluctant, I chose to throw my hat in the ring given that people think of me as a reasonable candidate, even if I don’t exactly see it myself.

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