oh OTW no

Saturday, 12 November 2011 09:15 pm
renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)
[personal profile] renay
Disclaimer: my views do not reflect the opinions of the Tag Wrangling Committee nor Volunteers & Recruiting.

Since my post last week I have been overwhelmed with the really thoughtful commentary and discussion on my previous entry. Particularly with fellow volunteers who really helped me feel less isolated who have worked in other parts of the organization: [personal profile] copracat, [personal profile] sanders, all the folks who have emailed me and reached out privately...thank you. The wranglers that have stopped by: thank you, as well, because your support means so much. Plus, my staff, who assured me, hey, Renay, you haven't failed, except for your habit of being late to meetings because of farm equipment (okay, they didn't say that, they said other more thoughtful, awesome thing, but...I do seem to have bad luck with farm equipment and Tag Wrangling meetings). It's all been very energizing and uplifting and hopeful, while at the same time, getting harder and harder as I approach the end of the term.

More personally and closely, as I have been reading more and more about wrangling and the discontent involved: if you are a wrangler and have been unhappy and discouraged, I am sorry. If you have questions you want answers to and feel safe enough to ask them, you can always, at any time, email me at bottle.of.shine@gmail.com and I will try to answer them. I cannot promise resolution to issues, I cannot promise neat answers, but I can offer you what I know if it is in my ability to do so. You worked on the archive; you deserve a safe space to ask.

Meanwhile, there's been a lot of changes since my post. One of the candidates I am supporting, Lucy Pearson, has withdrawn from the field of candidates. This is very disappointing on a personal level because I know Lucy to be excellent at dealing with people. I had high hopes that she would help the Board treat volunteers and their ideas fairly. She would have been an asset. However, in light of my own struggles, I am pleased she chose self-care over the OTW so she can still volunteer in the future. I feel lucky to have worked with her closely when I had the chance and hope to again once day. Lucy, you are awesome. ♥

There have been other posts and other commentary that spans a wide array of topics. I've been reading everything; it's a marvel to think you're mostly alone and then to realize you're not, either in experience or opinion. However, even with Lucy's departure, my ticket has only lost one person and I am not sure I will be replacing the space Lucy occupied. Which means my ticket becomes: Julia Beck, Jenny Scott-Thompson, Nikisha Sanders. There are now 2011 OTW Candidate Profiles that I have to read more closely before I decide whether or not I can vote for Betsy Ronsenblatt after what I felt was not a great answer to the server name question (a situation that really upset me as a fan from non-Western fandoms). We'll see.

The first quote, from Another OTW election post: Do All The Things is not a strategy by [personal profile] tanaqui, says: OTW regularly seems to add new things to its to-do list, distracted by the latest shiny idea—with no real thought as to how it will deliver them. In short, OTW has one of the worst cases of “mission creep” I’ve ever seen in an organisation.

See the comments from both [personal profile] sanders and myself about having our work shut down on that entry. The project I am so invested in was stomped by one Board member and has been asleep for seven months. So, not only do we continue to add projects that will never be done or never started because we're running out of bodies to do them or running those bodies out of the organization entirely (but we're not suffering from burnout, remember), we have a Board with member(s) that will stand in front of contributions so even the things we do have completed and ready to go will fail to become reality. Super healthy! For further information feel free to check out this thread about Board interactions (but please, take some adult beverages). Hysterical laughter and disbelief is the theme of the day, for real.

However, if you're like me and have no clue what a strategic plan is in the context of that discussion, read On Strategic Planning by [personal profile] sanders. Very useful.

From Anger as a positive force by [personal profile] via_ostiense: I have seen a lot of conflict and argument over the past few months. In every circumstance, it has been necessary to face that conflict, work out the cause, and follow the conflict to the end of the road in order to resolve it and come up with a solution that rectifies the problem. This has not always happened; some conflicts are shelved for the sake of a surface harmony that is the equivalent of putting concealer over a gaping wound and pretending that the problem is solved.

VolComrades: Mediation Rockstars. \o/

From OTW Elections! Now with less confusion! by [personal profile] bookshop: There are 4 seats open for this election, but there's only 1 question--and that's whether or not to vote Naomi N back onto the board.

Aja lays out the reasoning in her post. Given my experience with the current Board, my experiences on my committees, I do not believe it is a wise decision to re-elect Naomi for the next three years when there is already another founder on the Board for the next two years that I find problematic. Too many founders.

I do believe that in many ways AO3 is our flagship project — I would not have spent two years leading a sub/committee of Tag Wrangling if I didn't believe it was important — but it does a disservice to the project to build it at the expense of every other project the OTW has under its umbrella with its myriad of volunteers, which is what I believe is happening. As [personal profile] anatsuno pointed out in her post, OTW's mission(s) & Archive vocabulary problems:

There is no ARCHIVE committee - maybe if there was the problem would even have been clearer. There is an Accessibility, Design, & Technology committee [...] They are not and should not be thought of as “the Archive”. No disrespect intended to the people of AD&T but I’m sorry, they’re just not. The Wranglers and part of Support and part of Volunteers and part of Open Doors and part of the Vidding project and and - all the other committees feeding people hours and new bodies into the eager maw of our flagship project should be considered part of the Archive.

Her post is excellent; please check it out if you haven't.

I defended this organization before I was even a member or a volunteer, when others called it a vanity project, a BNF circle jerk with no future. I don't regret that decision and think that myself and others like me who have finally had enough and spoken up prove that it was starting to become something bigger, brighter, and more promising than even the founders could have imagined. But you can't build something up if you don't have the people to do it or the people that are doing it resent the hell out of you or you constantly undermine and roadblock their efforts to grow. It doesn't work. People will sit down and shut up plenty, but eventually they will hit the breaking point where they will not only stand up, but they'll launch out of their chair, heave it over their heads and chunk it through the window and they won't even think about apologizing for spraying you with the glass. I reached that point when I lost my mentor. I don't even know how to explain how angry I was, still am, will always be that this was allowed to happen. I have no words for the fury, the loss, the unimaginable waste of driving away such a valuable team member. It's pathetic that the organization has done this, has let this happen. It's shameful.

There were people who started this organization. They're important. They have skills and talent that are valuable. I was always interested in the concept and they got me interested by nature of their influence. But those founders? They did not make me believe in this organization. I believed in The Organization for Transformative Works because Allison Morris was my mentor and she loved the fuck out of it and she shared that love with me. She shared a lot with me, actually: her knowledge of how the organization works, her knowledge of how to get things accomplished. I am on Volunteers & Recruiting because of her, and I didn't even know I would love it as much as I do. She gave me skills for a lifetime and a committee I could serve proudly for years and years. She is an excellent mentor. She was an excellent lead when I was a wrangler, an excellent chair on VolCom, and excellent Board member. I treasured her feedback, I went to her when I was stuck or scared or confused, she helped me through organization problems, she helped me not lose my mind during Yuletide 2010, she taught me to listen better and communicate more effectively. She was my rock.

And she's leaving. She's leaving because she has reached the point of "can't". Her, countless others. "Can't."

I have more support, true. But for me, I only had one organization mentor, and she was it. For the last two years she's been there every step of my journey. I can't imagine what not having her in the org with me, working side by side will be like. And I am infuriated that it has to be this way, but not at her. She deserves this; she deserves to leave and do things in places that will value her. She wrote a post, look it's not a gchat transcript, in which she said:

You need the little voices, too. We need to show that it isn't one woman or five friends, but thousands worldwide, maybe more, and we engage, we think, we create. That's the insides of our brains. That's what we do while working third shift or doing data entry or driving our commutes or talking with friends or reading a magazine. We are in conversation with the world. We are NOT passive in that: CONversation, WITH -- and advertising, arts, events, books, movies, TV, comics, all of it, we interact with it. We aren't just consuming. We are never passive. We're thinking, musing, exploring, joking, discussing, wanting, mocking, hating, and loving.

I volunteered for this organization because I wanted to carve a space for my fandom. I stayed because Allison convinced me it would be beautiful over here. It still could be. I want to stay and make it beautiful, for her to one day feel comfortable coming back to. This is why I am sticking: because she gave me a voice, because she gave me confidence, because she believed in me when I didn't believe in myself, because she stuck by me through every mistake and taught me how to be better, because she admitted her own and moved forward and set an example I want to follow. I care so deeply and personally about the volunteer experience in this organization because she cared personally about this experience of this volunteer, this no-name fan who showed 1% initiative, ended up with all the things, and also a chair.

The organization is richer and more loving because of her effort and it poorer for the lack of her. She's my mentor and my friend and I will miss building this org with her but look forward to seeing her happier, more whole, at peace. Thank you, Allison, for everything. ♥

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 03:48 am (UTC)
boundbooks: Zhang Ziyi (otw)
From: [personal profile] boundbooks
Something to think about due to the way the OTW board elections do preferential voting:

"I believe that (particularly in light of the OTW's usage of preferential voting in its balloting) I need to make an endorsement for that fourth seat, because there is definitely one candidate whom I believe shouldn't be in it. My reasons for declining to endorse Naomi Novik, and encouraging people to vote against Novik in the election, have not changed." - http://starlady.dreamwidth.org/464578.html

Basically, something to consider is that if you feel that Betsy Rosenblatt is a better candidate than Naomi Novik (or specifically do not want Naomi on the board), it's a better strategic vote to vote for Betsy *specifically* to block Naomi from the fourth seat.

I know that that's a huge part of how I'll be voting.

I also like Betsy Rosenblatt's work for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which I think is the kind of legal advocacy that I'd like to see the OTW do in the future.

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 04:25 am (UTC)
radish: (Default)
From: [personal profile] radish
I have no idea what is going on with OTW but I think it's really admirable the work people like you have put into it, and I'm sad to see it face stormy waters.

And this is coming from a super cynical person who has a verrrry limited trust in any institution/organization, so take that into account. <3

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
were_duck: Ellen Ripley from Alien looking pensively to the right in her space helmet (OTW Robot)
From: [personal profile] were_duck
Thank you so much for this post. I am an org staffer on Web and while I love my committee very much, I am leaving this term for personal reasons. allison has been a huge mentor to me as well, within the org and without--she's the reason I joined, because her belief and passion for it convinced me. And while I'm relieved to see her make the decision she made, I'm also so heartened to see people with the commitment and passion like you have, who share her love for the project, carry on within the OTW. I hope we can give you a Board that will support you and the org in the challenges it'll face this year, and thank you so much for the work you do and the vision you have.

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 04:51 am (UTC)
ainsley: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ainsley
Thank you, Renay, for sharing this, and thank you, allison, for everything you gave Renay. ♥

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 05:25 am (UTC)
anatsuno: (waves in my heart)
From: [personal profile] anatsuno
♥ Like [personal profile] were_duck, I hope we can give you a thoughtful, open Board that will support you. I am so grateful to you for staying on with your ideas and ideals and personal commitments. <3

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 05:29 am (UTC)
sister_coyote: (celes shore)
From: [personal profile] sister_coyote
Thank you for this.

I haven't said much recently, because, honestly, I haven't felt entitled to do so. I was a tag wrangler for a while--I remember chatting with you while hacking through Final Fantasy 7 tags, in fact!--but various organizational snafus and entanglements (none of them as far as I know the committee's fault--the Yuletide situation of last year was one, and I know that didn't come from y'all) plus an untimely computer death forced me to retire as a wrangler. I sort of felt that I'd failed, in my inability to keep up my wrangling through a combination of RL and... well, discouragement.

But oh, dear lords and ladies, you hit the nail on the head on where so many of those discouragements came from! As a user, as a member, as a volunteer. As someone from the oft-misunderstood anime-manga-and-video-games end of fandom. As someone who has participated in successful professional software releases... and seen the lack of communication and endless feature creep that is the enemy of successful releases.

As someone who just wants her work to be recognized, her observations to be heard, her point of view to be valued.

So thank you for speaking out. I didn't feel that I had the right, as I had 'failed' and retired, even from my small and replaceable job as wrangler. But I'm glad you did.

(And I'm still glad for what we did for the Final Fantasy tags!)
Edited Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 05:29 am (UTC)

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 06:45 am (UTC)
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Thank you for posting this. Like you, I know that the OTW is poorer without Allison, full stop.

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 07:21 am (UTC)
cypher: (huggins!)
From: [personal profile] cypher
More <333333 for you, and I swear we don't even blame you for the farm equipment. It's an obstacle on the field, that's all. XD

And just. Yes, so much this. I didn't work as closely with allison as you did, but she was right there being the core of TW when I was getting my feet under me, and helping us talk through things and hammer out guidelines and making sure we were all listening to each other, and she has just always been great and smart and ♥ ♥

I feel downright lucky that the org has had people like you and allison stepping up into the under-fire positions, especially when it's been so thankless and such an uphill slog for so long, and I wish like anything that it weren't costing so many smart, passionate people so much heartache and trouble.

Here's hoping this election will help to move us in a direction where the cost of participating won't be so damn high.

Date: Sunday, 13 November 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
ane: Earth and sun (Default)
From: [personal profile] ane
As in your post, I've seen it mentioned numerous times about projects that were shut down by a board member, but I don't think I've ever seen it mentioned what these projects were (except for the planning for the strategic plan).

I was wondering if there was a reason why no one is sharing what these projects are/were?

Date: Tuesday, 15 November 2011 04:31 am (UTC)
kate: Kate Winslet is wryly amused (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate
I believed in The Organization for Transformative Works because Allison Morris was my mentor and she loved the fuck out of it and she shared that love with me.

Yes, this.


renay: Pink pony with brown hair and wings on a yellow background bucking hind legs in the air. (Default)