06. January 31, 2012 @ Take A Stand Symposium

Forming an Association Meeting at the
LA Take A Stand Symposium

January 31, 2012
Stanford Thompson and Beth Babcock

(Notes from the large pieces of paper are at the end of these minutes)

Associations are known to represent groups of people with shared vision and mission, have different categories of membership – including individual and student memberships.

Beth summarized the work leading up to now. Summaries can be found on this website in the links above.

Ten purposes were raised during the conference calls and prioritized into a few categories:

  1. Using the association for internal capacity building – shared resources, Evaluation tools, etc.
  2. Using the association for external capacity building – fundraising, marketing, etc.
  3. Future development of the movement – standards, shared performance, etc.

The group decided that an association with the core membership group having specific values and guidelines makes sense. Other interested parties can be secondary members of various types, to be determined.

The group agreed that the quality of programs should also be included as a category for membership – one idea to be explored further was a minimum number of hours, with clear aspirations to increase that.

Built upon the values of El Sistema – examples:

  • Provide equal access to all children regardless of ability to pay
  • Emphasize ensemble performance
  • Publicly identify as built on values of El Sistema
  • Use a name that includes El Sistema or names with social change

Mission – a few mission statements were proffered – see survey results.

  • Social change
  • El Sistema Values

Question: Will the association be a working group or just convene once in a while? Not determined yet, but it appears that people are interested in a more active group.

Uniform collection of data could be very important to the movement.

This is a critical stage of our development in America – in some cases (like the Arab spring groups) the current movements are networks, not associations.

Canada is looking to form a regional association.

Comment/Question: One institution is critical to this movement and that is schools. Where do they fit into an association model? Probably as some form of affiliate. Importance of school-based outcomes

Steps to form an association are posted on the website. Beth outlined these. 

The immediate next step is to create a document that lays out a form for the group and send it out for reaction, feedback, and buy-in.

Someone asked what if we don’t fit core membership?  Thae answer to this question will come as a result of the development of the association.

Someone asked for a vote on preference for a network or an association. We actually already have a network. There are no paid staff and it’s very informal. Dalouge has kept us all informed through email since we formed the network last year in San Antonio at the Sudden Summit. We need to keep moving on the process of looking into the formation of an association now.

Stan pointed out that we’re losing opportunities from the success of a few of the organizations that have some history, lots of reserves, maybe some funding sources that might be valuable to all of us. We have a responsibility to leverage success for everyone.

The person who started a nucleo in NJ recently said that she didn’t get that much feedback from the network, which doesn’t have the capacity for it. She also feels we need a national body.

Dalouge Smith pointed out that this is the first conversation that we’ve had about starting an association. We’ve grown so fast that we didn’t have a chance to have the conversation previously. The first and most important investment is our own investment. We need to value this enough that we are investing significant time, etc. in the process. There is a need for staff, internal investment and external investment from the community. We don’t have to do all of the work ourselves – we can use outside resources. He asked when in the process we investigate other resources.

Beth said that we need a strategic plan, which comes wi the formation the association.

How do we keep up with the current work and initiatives developing while we’re in the process of developing the association? Maybe ask everyone through a survey, then make a collection of resource areas.

We need to remember what the Venezuelans were saying about how much we in America already have.

There was a call to use teaching artists to help out with this work. (Puzzle funding)

Someone suggested getting seed money to move forward and to pay a few people to keep working on the process. There is funding out there to help the association once it forms. Others felt that it’s important for us to go through this process together.

Why not jus use Take a Stand? The difference between an association and groups like Take a Stand is that the primary purpose of the association will be to advocate for everyone. Other groups, like Take a Stand, are willing to share what they do, but not necessarily do the advocating for everyone.

Mark Churchill said that there’s a limit to the sense of membership in a group that’s sponsored by an outside organization. This association will not have that limit, because it will be independent.

Metaphor of the association as orchestra, with each of our nucleos and groups as parts of the orchestra. Variety of instruments all working together.

Beth said that she was shocked with the speed of the process so far. We’re almost to the point of forming an association.

Meeting continues tomorrow in the foyer of the church at 7:30am.


Potential Association Agenda

  1. Overview of work to date
  2. Results to date of process of working group
  3. New Association – Point of Departure document
  4. Next steps


  • Unity of philosophy
  • Sweeping movement
  • Shared resources
  • Questions – do these associations do real work – what kind?
  • Purpose – uniform data management/outcomes
  • Individual and regional decision making vs. national decision making
  • Where do schools fit in structure/strategy? Importance of school based outcomes

Ideas –

  • Function of association – should be fluid and natural
  • Process – can work in subcommittees
  • What if we don’t fit core membership? TBD
  • Association needs staff to do more than we can currently do
  • New organization startup needs support – current energy being wasted
  • Seed funding is needed – can be achieved for buildg the association
  • Discussion about differences between an association and Take A Stand
  • Rapid growth has gotten ahead of larger networking discussion re organization
  • Establishing organization takes contribution of time, talent and treasure.
  • Teaching artists and other program staff could be a huge resource.

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