Headwaters is a growing and evolving chapter. We are about to start our fourth basic training cohort this April. Should all thirteen trainees graduate (not a forgone conclusion) our chapter size could be fifty-three. We may be ready to move toward a more member centric governance as an interpretation of our current Bylaws prescribes. This column seeks to start a conversation about that possibility.
Currently a Bylaws Committee of four is engaging in an overview of our Bylaws and at least one member seeks a comparison between prescription and reality, between original document templates and the current document. How has it changed? Why has it changed? Does it serve us as is? How might it serve us better? A through understanding of the Bylaws then and now and an agreed upon interpretation of the same is necessary for solid and guided growth. This is a conversation that must be held by the membership as a whole. No one is suggesting a dramatic overnight change, but it may be time to start thinking about where governance resides (and why) and how that might shift a bit in the future.
This column is meant to be part of that conversation. I see it as a beginning dialogue from an investigative perspective. It’s not a jazzy subject – most of us want to get this kind of issue behind us as quickly as possible. I know that’s how we began our charter – I was there. And I couldn’t have cared less about the subject. I care now, though. Very much.
Turns out, it can make a difference real fast if interpretation of Bylaws is not addressed, discussed and agreed upon by the majority. Who gets to interpret? Dunno . . . but it’s an important question.
How important is it to take the document as a whole? Very important, I discovered. Words do have meaning and when you change the wording you change the meaning. Where is the original meaning? What is the original meaning? Anyone like to play detective? That’s what this column will be – sleuthing through the documents that govern and guide Headwaters.
So why call it Quixote’s Column? Do I intend for you to take the literal meaning of Cervantes’ knight-errant – running amuck and fighting imaginary enemies? Well no, of course not. But I do admire Cervantes’ literary achievements and his ability to cause the reader to examine the concept of reality, engage in revelatory discourse and scrutinize assumptions. So, although many elements of the story of Don Quixote are farcical – the work itself is not a farce. Literary scholars laude Cervantes’ methods of transporting the reader from the simplistic to the thematically complicated narrative forms throughout the three works of Don Quixote’s world. I am no Cervantes but I do hope to engage, educate and provide a platform for discussion about who we are and where we might be going.
I am hopeful you will respond with questions, comments or whatever suggestions you may have to: firstname.lastname@example.org as the Bylaws committee struggles with providing a guiding document that serves us well and is well understood.
Next month we will look at what our governing documents have to say about authority and governance.
Those governing documents to be inspected will be:
• Headwaters Bylaws as of November 2, 2013 (found on VMN-VMS under Documents and Newsletters)
• The Bylaws template provided by the VMN Program (found on the VMN Program state website)
• The Headwaters Operating Handbook adopted November 10, 2011 (found on VMN-VMS under Documents and Newsletters
• The template for Chapter Operating Handbooks provided by the VMN Program (found on the VMN Program state website)
– RoxAnna Theiss, March 2015