April 27 Minutes

Minutes of the Association Meeting in Chicago – April 27 – 29, 2012
Dinner 4/27/12

(These are brief notes on the evening’s discussion. LouiseLanzilotti takes full responsibility for possibly missing some points.)  Please weigh in if Louise missed something in the minutes for the entire weekend.

Part One – wonderful dinner at Maggiano’s Litttle Italy. Introducing ourselves. Hopes – getting a national structure so that we can work together; building something to take back to individual Boards; being sure the discussion includes the much wider ES community; moving as slowly or as fast as we need to create something that will fit our needs nationally; not getting to rigid; getting it done, etc., a way to help each other

Part Two – Beth Babcock

Agenda for tomorrow – everyone needs to choose one of three working groups

  1. Bylaws group – working mission, vision, draft Bylaws – these don’t have to be completed
  2. Structure of the Board and Ratification Process – all of the aspects of how we run ourselves, ratification Processes – definitions of membership levels, nomination process, first Board nominations, how to vote, including who votes; other processes
  3. Ramp up process and Implementation

We most likely will not get all of these things finalized. We want to move forward in an important way.

Katie mentioned that none of these groups fits her perspectives. Therefore, what should be her role? Beth said that she should make sure her ideas get heard within a group.

Louisa (Ghandi) asked about spreading understanding and inclusion to the whole group that’s not here. Beth said that people interested in that issue should be in the ramp up group.

Beth said she realizes there are concerns. She feels a membership organization allows us to own all concerns and to work to establish group will. It will be imperfect. It will involve. But it WILL be ours.

Beth asks us how we will know that these two and a half days have been spent well.

Rey – a plan that we can take back to the rest of the community, to see whether we want to be part of it.

Beth – translating Rey – a clear document that gives everyone something to react to.

Margaret – moving forward enough to let the larger community weigh in on the potential association.

Rey likes to “bring a deal to the table.”

Stan feels that this group reflects all of the viewpoints that we’ve been hearing nationally. He also said that we have all jumped into our programs with some fear, but he currently feels that this is a very positive group effort. We’re all in it together.

Mark S. would like to see a consensus out of this meeting that we can take back to people. (Everyone fundamentally agreeing on everything).

Louisa Ghandi – slight variation – she’d like to see agreement on a process.

Beth – associations are set up to mediate differences, not create total agreement.

Bob – worried that this will drag on for years. He doesn’t care if we please everybody. If there is a critical mass that agrees, he’d like to keep driving it forward. It can always change. What is the plan following this meeting? Is there a date by which we will become an organization?

Louise Lanzilotti – as one who literally used to jump off cliffs and still takes a lot of risks to grow the program, she’s cautious about this process leading to a form that’s too rigid for the movement and could be divisive. Would like us to achieve ho’oponopono – word for a Hawaiian group problem solving process that talks through all of the issues until it reaches what is pono (right, correct) for the whole group.

Margaret – we all took leaps of faith – let’s keep going

Albert – emphasis on difference is what we value in this movement. The way we build this will change over time.

Beth – we’re aiming for a description of what this organization will be – enough to be able to share it with the Board.

Stephanie – every decision we make needs to be with the children and families we serve in mind – are they best served? Children and programs should always be at the heart of what we do.

Bob asked whether there is still resistance in the field to this idea and process.

Boards will want to see what is tangible – how is value added to their program.

Rey said the imbalance is healthy – it will help us teeter into the right balance. We don’t need to “sell it”. People will change what they don’t like.

Leni – timing is important. Agrees with Louise L. Her fear is that we’re still a fragile movement. She’s concerned about making something that will disappoint. While her organization is strong, many are not yet. She feels there has been a lot of forward movement. If we formalize too much and don’t live up to expectations, it might hurt the movement. She wants the wind at our backs, not against us.

Stan clarified that what he had hated over the past two years was the isolation. He likes the national movement and the work that were doing on this process.

Leni thinks we may still be at the young, networks stage.

Beth said that as an outsider she looks at us as an organization made up of programs with an average budget of under $200,000 a year, and  that is unsustainable For the majority, there’s pretty significant isolation, very little cash, basic questions with no answers, etc. She sees enormous strength and talent, but in pockets.

Louise L. said that she does want us to have a vehicle, but what form is the best for it to have? Is the association structure that we’re forming workable for the entire movement? Currently, we’re like an amoeba. she doesn’t want an association to become like a rock.

Mark feels the time is now to come to some kind of agreement. The process is not currently sustainable.

Bob said that we can change things in the future if we don’t like the form it takes at first.

Margaret said that there are hundreds of thousands of people who will support this work, if we can demonstrate that we are effective.

Beth – whatever shape it takes there is a need for a place – somewhere for people to call when they want to give nationally, when they want to start a new organization, when they want to manage internal problems.

Beth’s dream is to hear the national El Sistema orchestra on television, with children from all of the nucleos.

Louisa (Ghandi) said that one reason she’s here is because of Beth’s confidence, but she keeps hearing voices of caution.

Leni wonders whether the association could help with the financial realities of the nucleos – if that’s what they are expecting and it couldn’t deliver, what would happen?

Beth says its not outside us. The association is nothing but a set of rules that guide what we do.

Margaret – it needs to be larger than the sum of its parts.

Bob – we have to put in if we’re going to get back out.

Beth has great faith in us and great respect for what we’ve accomplished already. She’s been involved in other associations that have created great successes through their combined strength. She feels we’re quite parallel to those.

Margaret – this gives us the power to divide up the work that needs to be done – advocacy, development, research, etc.

Bob – Light diffused is fog, but brought intensely together is a laser that can cut diamonds.

Louise L.  – we are all in agreement that we want something national, but we need to be sure that in the process of forming this organization we don’t hurt the larger movement.

Beth – a student at Michigan State University has written his thesis on us. We all want to see it.

Albert – there are many things we can share – making sure that those things we share are resource based rather than prescriptive or proscriptive.

Much to discuss tomorrow.


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