Friday, November 9, 2012

Menzies' First UNA Secretary's Report

The following is the text of my initial report as secretary to the UNA. A slightly different version is to be included in the UNA Board Meeting Package published online by the UNA. 
[Update: changes in procedures at the UNA will likely make this the last 'official' secretary's report.  I will continue to provide monthly reports to the community on what I have done in my capacity as UNA Elected Director] 

Secretary’s Report

Charles Menzies
November 8, 2012

The First Secretary’s Report

According to the UNA Bylaws and Constitution the Duties of the secretary include the following specific tasks.
The Secretary shall, either directly or by delegation:
(a) issue notices of meetings of the Association and Directors,
(b) keep minutes of all meetings of the Association and Directors,
(c) have custody of all records and documents of the Association,
(d) have custody of the common seal of the Association, and
(e) maintain the register of members.
These duties loosely fall within the domains of communication and recording keeping – the two central features of my intended activities during my term as Secretary.  This report, and subsequent reports, will focus on activities that I have engaged in between reports as related to the above-identified domains of activity. 

In this report I report back upon: my activities in relation to the Listen In workshop, Oct. 30, 2012 (a separate report from the workshop has been submitted elsewhere on this agenda) with my recommendations for future Listen In workshops; my recommendation for improving communications with members by enhancing public access to the deliberations of the board, and; a summary of local media coverage of the UNA.  This last point is, I think, particularly important.  As part of our systematic maintenance of a publicly available historical archive and as part of our efforts to understand and work well with all our neighbours we need to be tracking media reports that quote UNA Directors and Staff and/or focus upon the UNA.

Listen In

Under the domain of communications with members of first Listen In workshop was held October 30, 2012 at Tapestry in Wesbrook Place. The forum was attended by about 30 community members and 20 observers which included UBC/UNA staff, UNA Directors (Alexander, Byers, Burges, Menzies, and Wu), two campus reports (John Thomkins, CR; Arno Rosenfeld, The Ubyssey), and an undergraduate student from the Faculty of Arts doing a class research project (Mathew Ebisu).  Claire Robson (Wesbrook Place resident) facilitated the meeting as a volunteer.  Maria Harris (Metro Electoral Area A Director) answered the call for a volunteer from the floor to take flip chart notes.

The workshop proceeded in three stages: (1) what works, (2) what needs improvement, (3) what can the UNA do (transformed into ‘action' items).  Volunteer translators were present for those who preferred to speak in either Chinese or Korean. 

A more detailed report on the contents of the Listen In workshop is included in a separate report.  Images of the flip chart notes and audio notes (that record voice and written notes) are posted on my personal U-Town news blog.  Ideally the UNA will develop the capacity to be able to host these types of enhanced community engagement documents in the near future.

Overall my personal assessment is that the event was a success that we should build upon it.

Future of the Listen In series.

The Listen In event held in October created a positive opportunity for non-conflictual communication with and between members. Following from the success of this workshop I propose that we continue this experimental process of broad-based community consultation and that we charge the governance committee with organizing and setting up three additional workshops to be held in Chancellor Place, Hawthorn Place, and East Campus and/or Hampton Place.  The overall format and structure is very effective with the size of attendees.  It is also sufficiently flexible to adapt to larger attendance by using small group breakout and report back process.  The cost factor is relatively small – refreshments, some staff time, potential room charges.  By drawing upon community volunteers for facilitating we save money, but more importantly, we empower community members through inclusion in the process and thereby expand the feeling of goodwill.

We need to develop a robust virtual platform to support the expanded reporting aspects of our Listen In series.  For the first session I used a device that records audio and the handwritten notes of a note taker.  The device, a Livescribe Pen, can then upload the electronic files to a web server and the resulting flash animation can be viewed and listened to simultaneously.  This has the advantage of further expanding the possibility of participation and also limits the possibility of the development of an official perspective emerging from these discussions – this sort of technology., combined with other forms of social media will enable a wider reach of our listen series then simple face-to-face communications and bricks and mortar style print communications. 

Communications and Public Standing Committee Meetings

Effective communication with the UNA membership and the broader University Town community is an important goal.  There are a number of actions that we need to consider.  The first one concerns transforming our standing comities into public meetings.   There appears to be no legal reason not to hold standing committees in a public setting.  Thus, it seems reasonable to enhance our communications capacity by holding Standing Committee meetings in public.  This matter was discussed in the Governance Committee last month (see Governance Standing Committee Report for details).   One hopes that it will not have to wait yet another month before being put into practice

Moving standing committees into the public setting allows for enhanced communication with members.  It also allows for the enhancement of civic responsibility through observation.  Opening these discussions to the public allows for reasoned discussion and ensures that minority views are not constrained by a majority decision.

In order to move the standing committees to a public setting a basic procedure for holding the committee meetings in public is required. 

I propose the following to apply to the Governance SC, the Operations & Sustainability SC, and the proposed Civic Engagement SC.  Human Relations is an in camera SC.  It might be advisable for Finance to remain as it is currently.
1.     Any member of the public (UNA members, UBC staff/student/faculty, UEL residents, members of the media, or any other interested person) is welcome to attend and observe the proceedings of the committee. 
2.     Only members of the Standing Committee, staff resource people, or invited speakers will participate in the committee deliberations. 
3.     Delegations will be allowed as per the procedures for the monthly UNA Board meetings with the exception that delegations will be scheduled at the beginning of the committee meeting and in advance of the committee’s own deliberations.

Media Coverage

The following articles from local media quote UNA Directors and/or staff and report on activities of the UNA.  Full copies attached to report.
UBC Insiders: Oct. 23, 2012: UNA seeks consultants to takethem seriously
The Ubyssey: Oct. 21, 2012. Transportation: UBC’s notoriousparking

Overall the UNA is presented positively in the news articles.  The two editorials poke fun and criticism at the UNA – just what editorials are supposed to do. 

1 comment:

Thomas Beyer said...

Good Listen-In and media summary.

The resolution was defeated because
a) too many directors felt too much media attention on topics in discussion is not a good idea, and
b) that some privacy is good to discuss topics, perhaps even yell or raise your voice, before it is presented to the open board meeting held monthly, for discussion and a vote.

A compromise might be a publication of topics to be discussed at committee meetings, then a delegation can speak to a topic, and then leave while committee members discuss issues.