Decisions that we have made about the evolution of TC

Evolution Home - Original proposal - Steering group activities over the past year(pdf)
Minutes 11 Jan - Minutes 18 Jan - Minutes 25 Jan
Questions and issues - People's comments so far - Decisions so far

The following decisions represent the consensus of the group who attended the meeting on 15 January 2010.

Please feel free to add in comments or let me know if you feel I have made not correctly noted the group's decisions (Anna).

The main decision that we made was that we will use the hub model, with 2 spokespeople from each sub-group, who will have equal rights to speak at the hub meetings. We felt that with the small number of groups currently in existence, this would not be too many people, at least to start with, and this is bound to evolve as new groups come into being.

How the hub will work

The hub will work by consensus, facilitated by a hub process group. The current steering group will elect this process group initially (likely to be current members of steering group), which will be in place for the first 3-6 months, until the first review (see below). It will then take in new members, and will be open to anyone who wants to take on this role and who has appropriate skills and training. After 3-4 months, new people will be approached and encouraged to come forward to share this role. Members of the group will receive training in the consensus process and how to use it in meetings (Cambridge Action Network can provide this, and Anna has already been in contact with Tom Lord; Ben is able to train people in this method). Later on they may act in pairs, with a more experienced facilitator mentoring a less experienced facilitator.

The process group will take on the following duties:
- arranging meetings (date, time, place, booking venue)
- calling for and compiling items for the agenda in time for the meeting
- facilitation of the meeting
- keeping minutes of meetings

The process group will consist of 3-5 people (number not specifically agreed on); so far, Bev, Nicky, Ben and Anna have offered to take this role. The members will take turns, presumably ensuring that at least 2 of them are present at every meeting (number not specifically agreed at meeting). Officially this process group could be considered to be part of the admin group.

We will conduct a review in the next 3-6 months (more likely 6), at a big meeting to which everyone will be invited to comment on whether the new system is working. The system is regarded as a trial system. The current steering group agree to monitor how things are going and to step in if they feel this is necessary.

Who the spokespeople for each group will be

Each sub-group will elect 2 spokespeople from their group (i.e. not self-selection, although it may happen that only one or two people are interested in attending hub meetings). The spokespeople will be responsible to their group, and their duties will include representing the group to the hub and reporting back on hub decisions to the group. The group will be able to check that they are being accurately represented by checking the minutes of hub meetings; if the group feel that they are not being represented appropriately, it is up to the group to agree a course of action and elect a new spokesperson to attend. The spokespeople will be expected to make a commitment to attend both hub meetings and group meetings during the time they take on this role (undecided how long, see below). A formal "job description" will be created outlining the roles and responsibilities of spokespeople; the current steering group (Anna in particular) committed to creating this document. (Presumably we will also need to prepare a document that summarizes all these decisions, in particular the new roles and responsibilities of the hub.)

Who else may attend these meetings

We agreed that anyone who was interested would be able to attend meetings as a silent observer. In rare cases, it might be necessary to invite a non-hub member along to provide information to the meeting, e.g. if a decision needed to be made in relation to something technical, and the person could immediately provide such technical information.

Issues that are still to be discussed at the next meeting

I am putting these in a suggested order for the meeting. I'm aware that the discussion around decision making may not reach a definite conclusion as we can't really know what kinds of decisions the hub will need to make until we try it, so I'm putting this last. We may have to leave this undecided if we can't reach a consensus. Nicky will be facilitating Monday's meeting, at 7:30pm in the basement of CB2 cafe on Norfolk Street.
- how often the group will meet, where and when
- how many hub meetings in a row spokespeople will be expected to attend i.e. what commitment they are expected to make when they become spokespeople (probably a few, as it may take a couple of meetings before a person gets a feeling for how the hub works and is able to fully take part in meetings)
- how the current activities of the steering group will be divided between the future sub-groups (particularly the new awareness raising group, admin group and hub) - see list of activities taken from previous minutes
- as part of this, the specific responsibility of the hub, i.e. TC strategy and policy, regional/national stuff, big decisions that span sub-groups such as financial decisions), liaison (at last week's steering meeting 21 Jan, we felt that liaison should continue to be whoever was already in contact with a particular group, so this would be shared amongst several groups, and would just need feeding back to the hub; liaison would include with the council, other local groups, the regional and national transition network and possibly others)
- the decision-making process - how it will go back and forth between the hub and the groups
- what decisions the hub can take without referring to sub-groups (e.g. ones with an urgent deadline)

Discussions so far on decision-making

Some people felt that a long-decision making process would be counterproductive, and that the hub should be encouraged to make decisions as much as they could, unless it was clearly essential to consult with sub-groups. Sub-groups will continue to make most of their own decisions, only referring decisions to the hub that affect several sub-groups/transition as a whole.

Others felt that very few big decisions with short deadlines were likely to come up, and that therefore a formalised decision-making process would be OK and wouldn't slow things down unnecessarily. In this case, decisions would be passed from the hub to sub-groups and then back to the hub. Such big decisions should really be decided by everyone.

Almost everyone agreed that the meeting facilitators should have the power to call this, i.e. whether to make a quick decision or involve the larger group by going back to the sub-groups.

At the review in 6 months' times we can look back on the decisions that the hub has made to see what decisions come up and how the current decision making process is working, or what could be improved.

We don't want to lose the current feeling that if you have a good idea that you are able to run with, then it's OK to just go ahead with it providing it's obviously part of the transition ethos - although obviously you need to tell people (the hub) that that is what you are doing! We also want to keep the feeling that people are doing what they care about, and following their passion; ie no-one should be forced to do something they don't want to, e.g. to become a spokesperson if they don't have time.

Other issues that were discussed

Bev asked if it might be appropriate for members of other local green groups to attend meetings, and it was generally felt that such meetings with other groups should happen separately at special meetings or conferences, to be held every few months. The steering group discussed this at their last meeting (7 January) and agreed that it would be great, as per Ben's suggestion, to arrange a meeting with other local groups. Ben has suggested organising a meeting with Cambridge Action Network to see how we could work together.

With regards to fund-raising, we agreed to appoint a fund-raising person who could just make sure that different groups/people aren't unknowingly applying to the same grants, as this might reduce the chance of either group getting the grant. Who will do this wasn't decided yet, but there's no particular need for this to be part of the hub's responsibilities. Presumably this person would be part of the admin group, and Anna is currently the main person applying for grants, but she would like someone else to take on this role (while being happy to continue writing or helping others write applications).