[theforum] Bits from the Finance Front

Erika Meyer ekm at seastorm.com
Wed Jan 21 22:36:02 CST 2009

Dean Mah wrote:
> It speaks to the dysfunctional nature of evolt.org.  For better or for
> worse, since Dan left we've really had no leader.  We don't even have
> a steering committee anymore.  No one is willing to step up and take
> on the ultimate responsibility of leading the community.  


The first part is a fact.  The second part ("No one is willing to step 
up") is an assumption.  I don't think we have a structure that allows 
anyone to step forward and take "ultimate responsibilty."  Not 
necessarily a bad thing, but it could likely be done better.

We don't have formalized structure.  That doesn't mean we can't create 
it.  AND have a proper leader, a board of directors, etc.

When I looked back at what we were trying to do with a non-profit style 
structure in the past (when Dan was elected Chairman), it didn't look 
"right" to me, and even less so in retrospect.  We were doing the best 
we could without really knowing what we were doing. Usually nonprofits 
have a Board Chairman and an Executive Director and they are two 
different people. Evolt essentially put all of that power into one 
person (Dan), and it was the wrong move. We didn't have our power 
structures balanced, we didn't really have bylaws, we were just 
half-assing it.  Obviously, it didn't work out well.

This is one reason I've been fascinated by the Wikipedia model. 
Granted, Jimmy Wales was independently wealthy when he founded 
Wikipedia, so he could devote all the time in the world to it... he also 
was able to hire one full time employee right way.  Today they have a 6 
million annual budget, they have around 25 full time employees now (led 
by Executive Director Sue Gardner).

I have made moves towards starting a cooperative group of web developers 
here in Portland. It occurred to me that I really need good legal 
counsel to make it work, and it further occurred to me that I was 
modeling a lot of what I was doing on evolt.org.

I think for us to have any ambition at all, as an organization, we need 
to have a formalized balance of power, people holding real offices, and 
taking real responsibility.  I do believe there is a path to that point, 
but that the most active participants in the org would have to decide to 
go this direction as a group, then actively map out, and take steps in 
that direction.

my 2¢


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