- I could say quite a bit [about Midnight Squares' unique organizational model], given that I was administrator for most of 1996 thru 2006, but I will try to be brief.
- The annual roster contains the organizational outline of the club. I suggest that everyone read it. For example, the view that unlawful decisions would be unleashed upon the membership is specifically addressed.
- The club has always used majority rule.
- For historical perspective, when I joined the club in 1992, there was very little as far as ANY structure whatsoever. Between 1992 and 1996 I was instrumental in putting structure into the club. We were beginning to have more classes, and the increasing complexity and demands of the club started to become more of an issue. Let me tell you, when we first started having meetings, people would take turns running them. That's how loose things used to be. In effect, nobody was officially in charge. (That changed after the SF convention in 1996 when I stepped up to the plate and became administrator. Midnight Squares was essentially shut out of the running of the convention, and I see that as a turning point.)
- In addition to Harlan Kerr, Roger Miller and Claire Meisel were regulars at those meetings. Claire was the treasurer, but no longer dances. Roger is still a member. You probably want to have him give you his view of how things used to be. Russ is a longterm member, but I don't believe he was much involved in the running of the club. I may be wrong, but if he was, there wouldn't have been that much to it since the club didn't start seeing big growth until the mid-ninety's. East Bay Richard (real name needed here) was out of square dancing for a long time, and I was running the club when he returned. I don't know how involved he was during his first go-around.
- Why are we still organized this way? A few reasons.....
- By the time people get to Midnight Squares, many who are interested in lending their talents have already done so at the lower levels and are burnt out. Other than a few important positions, Midnight Squares' model allows people to volunteer here and there - or as little or as much as they wish. Having a more rigid structure where so much time is spent on Robert's rules of order instead of making decisions is counterproductive. I see other clubs expend an extraordinary amount of time on soliciting people to run for offices, and then the running of the elections. What comes of that? A lot of wasted time, people roped into positions they are not 100% enthused about, and the complete disinterest in the running of the club once they are termed out. If this rigid model was adopted by Midnight Squares, you would soon learn that you would not be able to get a quorum, and the complaints of undue secrecy, bad decisions, etc. would be deafening. This is why meetings are open to the whole membership. This open membership decision making model is also supposed to cut down on the clickish nature that some people tend to gravitate towards.
- Big decisions should be made at the meetings. Those truly interested will know about them way in advance because they're listed on the website. Those less inclined to go to the website are alerted by the request for agenda items sent out in what should be a timely manner. This is a representative democracy. Those in attendance gain the right to cast the votes.
- Can't attend a meeting? There is absolutely NOTHING preventing someone from expressing their views to a surrogate who will be in attendance. This was done all the time when I was running the club. Were their opinions counted? Absolutely. There is also NOTHING in the guidelines that says topics of discussion can't be debated BEFORE the meeting, with the outcomes of those debates presented AT the meeting. In fact, meetings would be better run if more of this took place - leading to better decisions when put to a vote at the meetings. One last thing to reiterate as it relates to attendance and voting rights at our meetings: People should be encouraged to get more involved with the club and if they can't make it to a particular meeting, find someone who believes in what you are doing, what you are saying, how you think things should be run. Have them represent you, to express ways you'd like to volunteer, etc.
- One thing to think about to address the concern of which classes should be held, etc. The treasurer should be speaking up and alerting those in attendance of what the financial ramifications are with any decisions that are being made. If forecasts of class attendances are way off, this should be a topic to bring up. Pros and cons can be fleshed out, with the hopeful result being the best decisions possible.
- And of course the pros and cons would include the impact that club decisions have on other clubs, etc. Need to ensure other clubs' views are expressed? Make sure there is someone from each of the local clubs who can share what they are up to, what their long term plans are, who can speak to how Midnight Squares decisions would affect them, etc.
-- Jeff Hamilton, 10/26/09