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Author Topic: Questions for all EC Candidates  (Read 5422 times)

suziqsmith

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2012, 01:41:54 PM »
Thank you for your thoughtful responses, Inkera!

Syd Malicious

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2012, 09:13:53 PM »
Yo, I've seen this and I'll be back to answer as soon as my department is done with new staff interviews. Gotta do homework, unfortunately.

Sam Castello

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2012, 12:19:12 AM »
acknowledging this as well. hope to have my responses up very soon....

LoGic

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2012, 12:44:24 AM »
crafting my response, it will be up tomorrow

-logic
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LoGic

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2012, 01:27:52 PM »

1. "The mission of Poetry Slam Incorporated (PSI) is to promote the performance and creation of poetry while cultivating literary activities and spoken word events in order to build audience participation, stimulate creativity, awaken minds, foster education, inspire mentoring, encourage artistic statement and engage communities worldwide in the revelry of language."

How do you plan to help this organization grow and accomplish this mission?  Please be specific. 


I think before I would rush into implementing various ideas and personal projects it would be important to take a organizational inventory. As we are currently running for entrance into the executive council the EC has been working on a variety of different items. Rather than break down everything and start from scratch I think it would be important to take stock of where we are, a state of the EC so to speak. This is especially important with the large turnover, we may need to take some time and really see what projects are worth keeping, what projects may need to be scrapped, and what project need to be immediately implemented. For example,  different members of the EC have stated that they have begun the process of a PSI youtube page, one of my goals is to increase our presence online, so it would behoove me to see what kind of work and progress has already been made towards that goal, so I am not replicating work that has already been done. So specifically, the first step would have to be an assessment of where we are, before we can find the best path forward.

2. What experience do you have with non-profit organizations - as an employee, as a volunteer, as a board member?  I am especially interested in hearing about experience working with non-profit ARTS organizations, but I do think that all of your professional experience is relevant.

Besides my volunteer work with PSI which I will detail later on, I have had extensive experience working with nonprofit organizations. I have worked as a volunteer for various community based groups such as AmeriCorps, I was an organizer for the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs, I held the office of President, Parliamentarian and Sgt. At arms for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (which is largely a service based organization) I coordinated their Voteless People is a Hopeless People Campaign, the Go to High School go to College project, as well as a sex awareness course with teens. I was also volunteer coordinator for North Lansing for Organize for America, as well as a teen organizer for the Boys and Girls Club, where I organized community based service projects.


3. How many hours a week do you have available to dedicate to PSI?  And what is your typical availability (days/evenings/weekends)?   
My availability changes form semester to semester but I could easily find 20+ hours. From talking with a variety of current EC member a t of the day to day activities are handled online, so we are essentially talking about reorganizing web priorities to make sure the business of PSI gets done. There is no reason that I could not have an active presence on a daily basis.


4.  What would you most like to see changed about PSI?  What would you most like to see preserved?
I would like to see the core beliefs and mission statement of PSI preserved. If there are places where we need to adapt to meet an increasingly different type of audience, poet, judge, event, I see no problem with it as long as it doesn’t interfere with the core mission of PSI. This question is a bit hard to give a direct answer to , because as we potentially electing many new EC members. These member are going to come with a variety of ideas, and experiences, many of which will revolve around this question of “change”. So it may be a bit hard to go into specifics until we reach a point where these specific agendas and ideas are put forth. But as I stated in my bid, I believe in measured growth, growth that must occur for a organization to adapt and evolve so it doesn’t become obsolete, but I don’t believe in change for the sake of change. And I believe that all ideas must be properly vetted before implementation.


5. Do you believe that the concept of legacy is important to PSi? If not, why not? If so, how would you see that manifested?

The strongest organizations have a definitive and direct link to their past. If we are unable or unwilling to rely on the advice of those who have been here then we’re doomed to repeat mistakes and waste time, effort and manpower. There is a wide berth of experience in our community and to me those who have paid their dues have earned the right for their voice to be heard. Does that mean we become stagnant? No, not at all, it means to me that the time, effort, sweat and tears that others have put in has to be honored, and that time should be valued as any other type of currency.
In recent years, concerns have been raised about the safety of the female members of our community while attending (and traveling to/from) events. What actions have you taken (or policies have you enacted) at your home venue to address these issues? What actions do you plan to take/ suggest on the national level to address this growing concern?
On a national level , as we continue to grow it may be worth having a forum at national events that discusses these issues. I think raising the awareness if the community is priority one, we have many new poets joining on a yearly basis, it would behoove us to educate them on some of these issues, with awareness and education, we start to proactively deal with the issue as opposed to being reactive. I am also aware of my own male privilege  concerning this issue, so I think it would be extremely important to make sure that any type of educatory process is spearheaded by those members of the community it would affect the most. Otherwise we could conceivable end up mirroring the recent travesty in congress where they had a meeting on birth control, had an all male panel, and no women testified.
 
Have you previously volunteered for PSI? If yes, in what capacity? If no, why not? If you are not elected to the EC, (how) will you continue to work for the ideas/ platform you are running on? Be specific. It would be more telling if you described actions you'd be willing to take as non-EC members than philosophies.
Yes, I have volunteered  for PSI in the past. I’ve  counted door  and CD money,  carried bout boxes, taken pictures for DVD covers, co-hosted a "How to" Head to Head Haiku session with Taz at WOW,  MC’ed & bout managed at IWPS, I have attempted to grow poetry locally by founding and hosting the Spitfire Poetry Slam in East Lansing, hosting the Spartan Spitfire Invitational Slam, and I organized and hosted the 2010 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam.If not elected, I still plan on putting int he work of poetry, locally as well as nationally. Poetry is an art form that not only use artistically but academically as well. That being said a few specifics, as they relate to my goals.

MY three goals are
1.   Stronger  internet presence- if not elected I plan on asking those who think this is an important goal what kind of help do thy need. We can increase our net visibility through a variety of social platforms, I would love to volunteer to be on a committee that explores these options. For example you could have various NPS twitter tags, one of which could be a haiku a day, you could have a NPS pinterest page, that tags found poems, videos, poets, images at slam, anything poetry related that helps to grow the art form.

2. An easily accessed database of ideas that have worked and ideas that have failed as well as the reasons for both (so we are not constantly trying to review and rehash ideas that have failed)- if not elected I would like to see if there is anyone on the board who would agree that this is an important goal. Because this goal is something that really only works if those in power find it to be useful. If they did, I believe it would be a good start to interview past EC members, Past Slammasters, and volunteers who have been integral to the formation of slam to start to collect this information.

3. Help prepare SLAM for a new generation of performers, poets, and audiences that is increasingly plugged in and viral- if not elected this is something that could still be worked on. I would like to start talking about a NPS smart phone app, viral marketing campaigns, a tumbler page, and other ways that start to tap into the plugged in, online nature of our society.



a link to my bid for more information -http://www.poetryslam.com/forum/index.php?topic=7568.msg77113#msg77113
And those who were seen dancing
were thought to be insane
by those who could not hear the music...
 ― Friedrich Nietzsch

karen_g

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2012, 01:44:05 PM »
Fantastic answers, Logic!  :-*  :D
nerak_g

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2012, 02:41:20 PM »
Thanks for posting this thread, Suzi!

1. "The mission of Poetry Slam Incorporated (PSI) is to promote the performance and creation of poetry while cultivating literary activities and spoken word events in order to build audience participation, stimulate creativity, awaken minds, foster education, inspire mentoring, encourage artistic statement and engage communities worldwide in the revelry of language."

How do you plan to help this organization grow and accomplish this mission?  Please be specific.

I believe that this mission must be worked toward from multiple angles, some internal (taking stock of various organizational redundancies, streamlining a year-round volunteer process), and some external. The most important, or certainly the most beneficial in the long term, is an increased focus on creating a professional, engaging internet presence: a quality set of online resources that we can actually direct new poets and audience members to. Along with many other candidates, I believe a quality youtube channel (with a selection of live and produced performances) is a huge part of this. I go into more detail about my specific ideas for this in my bid.

However, I believe that internet presence should not be solely focused on marketing ourselves/our art to new potential audience members, but also on accomplishing the other factors of the mission statement. For example, we could have a workshop forum/area for new/young poets on the redesigned PSI website. I’m sure there are a lot of experienced poets, myself included, who would be able to stop in and give constructive criticism. This would be a great way to help draw new poets into the community, and to foster their creative talents, especially for poets who don’t have access to a nationally associated local slam scene.

In terms of cultivating our regular events, I think we can find ways to increase the quality, profile, and attendance of those events beyond just raising our national profile. For example, if we could find a city in each region in the country that's interested in putting in a longer term bid, so that our major events could rotate between these cities (for example, City A could have NPS one year, IWPS two years later, WOWPS two years after that, then back to NPS...) Creating long-term relationships with those cities would cut down on a huge amount of the organizational work from year to year, and would be a great way to keep steady audiences at our major events while letting other cities focus on regional events, and potentially putting in larger bids after gaining success at the regional level.


2. What experience do you have with non-profit organizations - as an employee, as a volunteer, as a board member?  I am especially interested in hearing about experience working with non-profit ARTS organizations, but I do think that all of your professional experience is relevant.

My main volunteer work was with PSI for NPS in Saint Paul, which I will go into later. I don’t have a great deal of previous non-profit experience, though I have worked with numerous other local arts organizations, in leadership and volunteer roles. I founded and currently run the Macalester College Poetry Slam, I am co-president of my college’s sketch comedy troupe, I volunteer my time monthly to the Saint Paul and Minneapolis city slams, and I do internet and other organizational volunteer work for Button Poetry and Poetry Observed.  Whether or not I get elected to the EC, I am interested in continuing to volunteer a great deal of my time to PSI projects going forward.


3. How many hours a week do you have available to dedicate to PSI?  And what is your typical availability (days/evenings/weekends)?   

I am currently finishing up my final semester of undergrad education, so my specific times of availability will shift come summer. That said, I currently have 15-20 hours a week available to dedicate to PSI, largely on weekends though also most evenings and at scattered times throughout the day. After I graduate in early May, I will have even more time available. I already keep a close eye on the forums, and as I said above, I will continue to do so and to dedicate my time to these discussions whether I’m elected to the EC or not.

4. What would you most like to see changed about PSI?  What would you most like to see preserved?

Above everything else, I want the sense of community and the sense of communal respect to remain. We are a group of incredibly creative people, and while sometimes our ideas and visions may seem to clash (the unnecessary dichotomy of focusing on the competition vs. focusing on the art), we all ultimately have the same goals and interests in mind: the preservation and progress of this art form, on every level.

I believe the changes I would like to see are largely articulated in my response to the first question, but I’ll summarize here: I would like to help PSI gain a stronger control of its inner workings, both organizational and financial, so that the incredible variety of brilliant ideas proposed by its members can be fully implemented. I would like to see PSI become a model for other arts organizations in terms of internet presence, successful events, education, and community outreach, and for us to investigate other organizations that are already successful in these regards so we can learn from that success.
 

5. Do you believe that the concept of legacy is important to PSi? If not, why not? If so, how would you see that manifested?

Having just entered the scene four years ago, I believe the concept of legacy is very important to PSI. I personally want to help preserve a better record of all parts of that legacy. PSI, and through it slam poetry as an art form, has gone through so many changes over the last twenty five years, in terms of style, competition, careers, etc. I want that path to be documented, and in an engaging and publicly available way, hopefully as part of the website redesign (for example, we could have a timeline-like graphic, interviews with and information about previous national champions, both team and individual, a record of workshops from past national events, and links to the poets who ran/run them, etc.)

The knowledge of where you’re coming from and where you’re entering into an art form is important, and would be incredibly helpful for new poets. A deeper sense of what came before will help inspire new writers, and give them ideas for what they can do artistically and organizationally going forward.


In response to Nicole’s questions:


Luckily, I have not had to deal with that on a serious level at my local college slam, though after one slam I did personally talk with a first-time performer who made female members of the audience uncomfortable, and warned him that we wouldn’t tolerate that kind of content in the future. On the national level, I believe that we absolutely have to put the interests of safety first. There are predatory poets who are still extremely successful in our community, because they are well connected and many poets/shows put the interests of publicity and connection over concerns about the poets themselves. It’s a difficult issue, as we don’t want to start witch-hunts after specific people who haven’t been proven guilty of anything, but I think that it needs to be a much more public and prevalent discussion, so that incidents don’t get swept under the table.

As for PSI work, I volunteered as the Street Team Coordinator for NPS in Saint Paul in 2010. I go into more detail about that in my bid, but in summary, I sat in on all of the Host City committee meetings, gave input on marketing and organizational decisions, organized the street level publicity effort and spent a great deal of my own time interacting with local businesses about promoting the event.


If anyone has more specific questions in response to what I said here or in my bid, I’d love to address them. My bid can be found here: http://www.poetryslam.com/forum/index.php?topic=7447.0

suziqsmith

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2012, 11:17:43 PM »
I appreciate all of your thoughtful responses.  And Scott Woods - thanks for making the suggestion that candidates for EC make their intent to run clear well before the vote.  This is waaaaaaaaaaay better.

Sam Castello

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2012, 12:56:27 PM »
1. "The mission of Poetry Slam Incorporated (PSI) is to promote the performance and creation of poetry while cultivating literary activities and spoken word events in order to build audience participation, stimulate creativity, awaken minds, foster education, inspire mentoring, encourage artistic statement and engage communities worldwide in the revelry of language."

How do you plan to help this organization grow and accomplish this mission?  Please be specific.


The first thing we need to do is focus on where we are. What are PSI’s strengths and weaknesses. I would like to get the new EC to agree to participate in an Organizational Assessment Tool that we use at my work (we do organizational development and capacity building) that is very helpful in determining organizational gaps. The Assessment Tool is a series of questions where the Board (in our case EC) gives itself a score on a series of questions about Leadership Development, Organizational Development, Program Development and Community Development. The great thing is not only do you emerge with a picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, you also have specific areas to focus on and benchmarks you can return to in order to track progress.

In addition, I would continue the work we’ve already begun in the development and operation of a Finance Committee. EC members need to be well trained in understanding the financial operations of PSI and that they are exercising their fiduciary duties as Trustees to provide sound financial oversight. This includes reading Financial Statements, monitoring budgets and setting up appropriate processes for host cities and PSI staff to get their daily work done.

I would also like to have the EC go through formal training in non-profit board governance. There is no single “right way” to be a board, but there are some great models out there and it would be helpful for us to look at how we operate and compare ourselves to others.  At a minimum, basic board training can be a reminder to veteran board members and a great introduction to new members. 
Volunteer development is something that is mentioned by many members on the Forum and is also something I would like to see improved. My basic approach is that every position in the organization (including EC members) needs a Job Description. Volunteer is just a rate of pay. We need to define all of the jobs that need to be done, identify the ones we have financial resources to fund and then make a call for volunteers for the others. We should treat volunteers just like staff, with high expectations and clear jobs to accomplish. 

I would like PSi to further refine its Policies & Procedures and Operations Manuals. We do have some of these things in place, but they need improvement and they are not comprehensive. The current EC has done a great deal of work in drafting these. I would like to see the next step taken in having the EC really review and contribute constructive revisions. This is a continual process.

I would like to see our National Events “grounded” in one city (not all the same city, of course. I would also like to see PSI revisit and develop events and activities dedicated to the craft of performance poetry. Both of these ideas have been raised in the past and the current EC has been discussing them (just discussion). I think one of the first ways to accomplish this is to revise the bidding format to include and encourage multi-year submissions.

2. What experience do you have with non-profit organizations - as an employee, as a volunteer, as a board member?  I am especially interested in hearing about experience working with non-profit ARTS organizations, but I do think that all of your professional experience is relevant.

I have worked for non-profits for almost ten years. I have served on several non-profit and co-op boards. Most recently, I have served as the Executive Director of The Wellness Coalition (www.wellnesscoalition.org) where we engage in Youth Development and Capacity Building. Capacity Building is a critical field in non-profit work. The Capacity Building that The Wellness Coalition (TWC) performs across the state of New Mexico is focused on helping non-profits survive in an era of decreased funding and increased need. We engage in trainings and technical assistance with organizations to help them address their ability (or lack thereof) to deliver services. This can be the development of fundraising plans, it can be strategic planning sessions, it can be board training in governance, it all depends on the need identified by the assessment we apply. Non-Profits are the fabric of our democratic society and provide economic impact while supporting and enriching our lives. For my own part, in addition to my duties as an ED, I also lead trainings and develop new programming for not only our Non-Profit Resource Center but also our Youth Development programs.

3. How many hours a week do you have available to dedicate to PSI?  And what is your typical availability (days/evenings/weekends)?

I have been serving 5 to 10 hours a week as an EC member with extra time being put in lately as the Interim FM. I am typically available in the evenings on weekdays, although I have been known to take a little break from my day job to hop on the forums and read up on new posts. Weekends have been my extra time to finish any FM duties. They are available, but the EC has a standing policy of “being closed” on weekends. Still I usually do some PSI work on weekends and would continue to do so.

4.  What would you most like to see changed about PSI?  What would you most like to see preserved?

I would like see our Events grounded. There are many benefits to placing an event in the same city year after year. We do ourselves, the Host City and the audiences a disservice by picking up stakes and moving each year.

I would like to preserve the excitement and electricity of the side events. There is so much incredible art and poetry that occurs outside of the competition, I think we need to make sure we take good care to ensure it is always there.

5. Do you believe that the concept of legacy is important to PSi? If not, why not? If so, how would you see that manifested?

Absolutely. And you manifest it by asking. You ask the folks who have been doing this thing for many years what it would take to get them interested in being a bigger part of PSi (again). Is it the ability to teach a workshop? To lead a showcase or night event? There is a natural component in the life cycle of a non-profit to have its founders fade into the background or even leave the fold entirely. But we lose great leaders and great passion and context of the original mission. We need to be innovative and strike out into new waters, but we also need to listen to people who have navigated them before. So ask. And listen.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about the safety of the female members of our community while attending (and traveling to/from) events. What actions have you taken (or policies have you enacted) at your home venue to address these issues? What actions do you plan to take/ suggest on the national level to address this growing concern?

One of the things I love about our small town is how much we all look out for each other here. We have a safe stage and while everyone sometimes knows each others’ business a little too much, we also all look after each other. Thankfully, we haven’t had to institute any formal policies. The folks who run Poetry Bread as a “Slam Council” are all people who I know have a high degree of understanding of why every member of our community needs to be treated with respect and safety.

I’ll admit I’m a little ignorant of the concerns you mention other than I know the release of poets’ names has been a concern and that safety was one of the main reasons cited for why PSi would not release a “NPS scouting report”. I support the position that I have seen the EC take thusfar of not releasing team  member names for NPS. For iWPS and WoWps, I understand the need to release competitor lists by PSi since they are individual competitions. I am open to hearing suggestions for what policy or practices need to be changed. Clear, easy to follow guidelines for poets and PSi always have my support, especially if safety is involved.

Have you previously volunteered for PSI? If yes, in what capacity? If no, why not? If you are not elected to the EC, (how) will you continue to work for the ideas/ platform you are running on? Be specific. It would be more telling if you described actions you'd be willing to take as non-EC members than philosophies.

I have not volunteered at any National PSI events. If you count the four years of volunteering as a local slammaster, then there is that to consider. I also have volunteered most recently as an EC member, of course. And I have tried to be active on the Forums, even prior to serving on the EC.

Since most of my ideas have to do with working to develop internal process and oversight on the EC itself, I would need to hear from the new EC if they wanted to allow me to engage on any of the projects I proposed above. I will certainly volunteer even if not elected to the EC, to help refine the Policies and Procedures documents and Operations Manuals. I would like to see the concept of Event grounding explored regardless of if I am elected to the EC or not and will certainly advocate for it on the Forums.

karen_g

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2012, 01:17:55 PM »
Above everything else, I want the sense of community and the sense of communal respect to remain. We are a group of incredibly creative people, and while sometimes our ideas and visions may seem to clash (the unnecessary dichotomy of focusing on the competition vs. focusing on the art), we all ultimately have the same goals and interests in mind: the preservation and progress of this art form, on every level.

Word, thank you for this, Dgarity! ;)
nerak_g

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #25 on: February 24, 2012, 01:24:31 PM »
1. "The mission of Poetry Slam Incorporated (PSI) is to promote the performance and creation of poetry while cultivating literary activities and spoken word events in order to build audience participation, stimulate creativity, awaken minds, foster education, inspire mentoring, encourage artistic statement and engage communities worldwide in the revelry of language."

How do you plan to help this organization grow and accomplish this mission?  Please be specific.


The first thing we need to do is focus on where we are. What are PSI’s strengths and weaknesses. I would like to get the new EC to agree to participate in an Organizational Assessment Tool that we use at my work (we do organizational development and capacity building) that is very helpful in determining organizational gaps. The Assessment Tool is a series of questions where the Board (in our case EC) gives itself a score on a series of questions about Leadership Development, Organizational Development, Program Development and Community Development. The great thing is not only do you emerge with a picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, you also have specific areas to focus on and benchmarks you can return to in order to track progress.

In addition, I would continue the work we’ve already begun in the development and operation of a Finance Committee. EC members need to be well trained in understanding the financial operations of PSI and that they are exercising their fiduciary duties as Trustees to provide sound financial oversight. This includes reading Financial Statements, monitoring budgets and setting up appropriate processes for host cities and PSI staff to get their daily work done.

I would also like to have the EC go through formal training in non-profit board governance. There is no single “right way” to be a board, but there are some great models out there and it would be helpful for us to look at how we operate and compare ourselves to others.  At a minimum, basic board training can be a reminder to veteran board members and a great introduction to new members. 
Volunteer development is something that is mentioned by many members on the Forum and is also something I would like to see improved. My basic approach is that every position in the organization (including EC members) needs a Job Description. Volunteer is just a rate of pay. We need to define all of the jobs that need to be done, identify the ones we have financial resources to fund and then make a call for volunteers for the others. We should treat volunteers just like staff, with high expectations and clear jobs to accomplish. 

I would like PSi to further refine its Policies & Procedures and Operations Manuals. We do have some of these things in place, but they need improvement and they are not comprehensive. The current EC has done a great deal of work in drafting these. I would like to see the next step taken in having the EC really review and contribute constructive revisions. This is a continual process.

I would like to see our National Events “grounded” in one city (not all the same city, of course. I would also like to see PSI revisit and develop events and activities dedicated to the craft of performance poetry. Both of these ideas have been raised in the past and the current EC has been discussing them (just discussion). I think one of the first ways to accomplish this is to revise the bidding format to include and encourage multi-year submissions.





Thank you, Sam~these are exciting suggestions & I appreciate the focus on the operational aspects of the board.
nerak_g

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2012, 03:21:07 PM »
also just wanna give a nod to swoods for this posting process. infinitely infinitely better way of handling this.
lo the goddamn leaves.

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Re: Questions for all EC Candidates
« Reply #27 on: March 02, 2012, 01:04:37 AM »
I know PSI will be going dark soon for WOW, and I wanted to see if there were any other questions out there for those of us running for EC. Now is the chance to get to know us and our ideas a bit better. You can find me here, or on facebook under "Joseph Harris". I look forward to answering any other questions from candidates or from the greater slam family.
And those who were seen dancing
were thought to be insane
by those who could not hear the music...
 ― Friedrich Nietzsch