First if I could ask a favor. I am not a member of nekites, so if you could post my reply, it would be appreciated.
Hi Barbara, It's Tim this time. Thanks for the email reply. First I want to state that I normally would not complain about a volunteer's efforts but in this case I tried to help but was rebuffed (several times). It seems from the most recent e-mails it was a good thing I was rebuffed.
Barbara: I don’t understand this comment. But, if your efforts were rebuffed or not welcome, it was wrong. Everyone is a volunteer, there is just not enough time to get it all done. The email gremlins slurp up messages, life intrudes.
I would like to first make additional comments/questions and then address a few of your comments.
First, Communication within the AKA is poor at best and that starts at the Executive Committee and trickles down through the organization. For example, if AKA had made the Region One clubs aware of the disruptive effects of the RD we would have addressed it in-house and if that didn't work I expect that you would have had our support. But that's not the way this went down.
Barbara: You have my complete agreement, that communication has not been handled well. The AKA has relied on self reporting by the RD back to the region and from the RD back to the bod. Several of us have started discussing what changes can be put in place. Should the bod mail continue to be confidential? If it wasn’t we wouldn’t be in this situation. Would the members understand that sometimes the bod is just throwing around ideas on the road to a decision and feeling our way. Can we use the AKA forum more?
No one ever thought of contacting the local clubs. Region 1 is more compact and with more active clubs than most of the other regions.
BTW If you wanted additional workshops you could have asked the local clubs and I don't mean the RDs. Notices in Kiting are no substitute for direct contact with the membership. I realize that's more work but either you want this to succeed or not. In 12 years AKA has only contacted KONE for club renewal, event sanctioning and trophy sponsorship.
Barbara: This is a great idea, with your permission, I’ll pass it on to Deb Lenzen the workshop coordinator for Ocean Shores.
I also heard that Board members have been hostile toward Mel. He's been great to contact on several occasions for a variety of reasons. I also belong to several other organizations like AKA and Mel is right at the top
Barbara: No one has been hostile toward Mel. This is verging on confidential matters of contract, and it is not fair to discuss Mel’s performance review in public. Every contractor is evaluated each year by every bod member. Why? Each of us have different experiences interacting with each contractor. No one is perfect all the time at everything. The rankings are a range. For example, it is hard for me to rank how quick membership applications are processed. Typically the RD is the one worrying about that.
You asked us for five things AKA could do for me.
First I would like the membership to vote on the Convention location, in lieu of this the Board should consider more than "the bottom line" of a proposal. In addition, a Convention location should be excluded for a period of five years from hosting the Convention a second time. (You mentioned flying into Baltimore, point agreed to fully but its only 1.5 hrs from BWI) Inclusive with this the Clubs located within the convention host regions should be sent notice of the specifications for the convention. We tried to put a proposal together a few years ago but cheap hotels are few and far between in NE. Wouldn't Convention be a gas on fields that border a highway with 100,000 people on it? We fly on such a field regularly. The only catch is that rooms are pricey, however, public transportation is an option. Plus Boston is a 20 minute subway journey away. Do you want to raise kiting's visibility?(in a good way) Ocean Shores is not the way nor is Ocean City.
Barbara: Convention policy is not my area of expertise. I say this not to put you off, but not to put foot in mouth. Again, with your permission I’m going to pass your comments on to Mike Shaw the new convention chair and ask that he contact you. Realize, he has just started and is feeling his way. His committee is hard at work brainstorming ideas to welcome first timers and improve the opening reception among other things. Taking a look at how convention sites are evaluated will be a long term project for his committee. And, yes, I’d love to come to Boston. The convention requirements are supposed to be on the AKA website, if they are totally buried, drop Maggie Vohs a note and ask for an updated copy.
Second, AKA can develop lists of members (sport kite competitor/judge, single line flyer, ground display, etc.) who are willing to represent AKA at events, both in the USA and out-of-country. The lists should be a random drawing at Convention every two or three years. You want to talk about giving people value and excitement, a chance to go abroard would be a nice benefit. You can use performance bonds (cash deposits) to guarentee that AKA has acceptable representation at the event.
Barbara: Very few trips come thru the AKA. A foreign festival is looking for a specific type of flyer and often contacts them directly. For the world sport kite championships, it is the top winner. There are pros and cons to the current system and pros and cons to all alternates. I think the only invite that has come thru since October was one to India where you paid your own way over and that invite went to loads of people, not just the AKA.
Third, AKA can communicate with the Affiliated Clubs better, how are the members make intelligent choices without information? eg. possible Convention locations.
Barbara: Again, complete agreement here. I’ll pass your comments on to Todd Little and Mike Dallmer.
I thought for 2 days trying to come up with 4 & 5 and came up empty. So, I'll settle for three wishes.
Barbara: These 3 plus the comments above could give the bod things to discuss for the next 5 years. Changes don’t happen quickly. As someone else has said, trying to get the bod to come to a decision is like herding cats. Each region has different needs, each director puts their own spin on the idea; each of us has strongly held core beliefs. We have to find a way to respect those beliefs while working towards consensus, find something we can agree on. No one will be totally happy, but no one mad.
Now I'll address the Board's and your remarks. Yes, I know that Woody hasn't been removed yet but the action wouldn't have been started without a reasonable likelyhood he would be removed. Now with Region 12 quitting 75% against Woody will be easier to achieve.
Barbara: Region 12 has a new director, Ben Danatonio of Revolution kites, and no he wasn’t asked how he would vote before the appointment was made. I have been talking to other directors. Most have not made a final decision. Many of us are trying to figure out a middle ground. Right now we have a lose-lose choice. Woody stays, does the bod become a free for all? Woody goes, does the AKA lose region 1? (Don’t answer those) Where is the middle ground? There has to be something.
I know of the rotation policy but as usual AKA hasn't in the last 10 years published background information on the Convention. Reading between the lines, Convention sites are selected on the basis of cost. If that's the case we will keep going to the same old places and see fewer attendees each year as a result for a lot of us this is our one big vacation for the year. BTW We will never see another Convention in Region One if cost is the bottom line. I always let the RD know where we want to go for Convention. Sue M. and Steve S. are close friends.
Barbara: Again, I’ll defer to the convention experts. I don’t know how the evaluation is made.
I'm glad you had a good time in Des Moines, but I understand from multiple attendees that at least the Sport Kite fields were horrible. One person injured a leg in a gopher hole and several routines had to be reflown after competitors fell down. Plus my allergies would have loved the newly mowed "field". By what measure was it a "success"? financial? In the past the objective was to give the flyer the best experience. What is it now? I was told that it was one of the smallest conventions, even Sue called it cozy in her President's Message. It certainly didn't serve the interests of most of the membership. I wonder who spent all the money at the Auction, could a number of them be on the Board or close friends?(not my idea but a valid question)
Barbara: We depend on local groups to submit proposals. Some years are better than others. For example, the choice for 2008 is coming up in April. As of December, we had nothing. Panic was about to set in. Now we have at least 2 very good proposals. You are right, attendance was down. For many people in the Midwest, it was their first and maybe only chance to attend convention. The best fields I’ve ever been on? No, but then it wasn’t soft sand either. Milwaukee would also have been a mowed field. The only non-mown fields in the Midwest are now out on the ice! If the AKA looked only to the majority of the membership, all conventions would be in Washington. Money at the auction? The big difference was that 12 Midwest kite builders took the donated fabric, constructed and donated large pieces. This group alone raised over $3500. In Ocean City the kitemakers project had 3 donations.
I did note that you didn't say anything about the closing of three major retailers. Is the membership situation the reason Woody is going to be dismissed or is it his colorful language/disruptive behavior? Steve S. says there was a rumor that Region One was boycotting the Convention due to Woody and that it was put forth by Sue Skinner. What, we can't independently look at the situation and say Hell No? I'd rather drive 10 hours to Niagara and get my kite on the Buffalo Friday night newscast. The fields on Saturday and Sunday at Reservoir Park rivaled Dayton but that's not what you want to hear.
Barbara: Again, the vote has not been taken, and many of us are searching for that elusive middle ground. The AKA has struggled to figure out why people renew or not. Many things influence membership not all due to the RD, just the general economy has an impact. There are lots of reasons this came to a head now. And, yes the colorful language does play a part. Region 1 is not happy, OK, but please give us a clue on where to start addressing it. I don’t like every decision the board makes, heck I don’t like every decision my committee makes, but as part of the process I agree to live with those decisions and then to move on.
A rumor was heard, Sue did call Steve and ask if he had heard it. She didn’t put if out, she was calling to ask and not depend on rumor. Going to Buffalo was your choice. My regret was that the festivals had to overlap and force all of us to choose. Let’s hope we are never forced to make that choice again.
One final question. If you do impeach Woody who will represent me for the Convention location vote?
Barbara: If Woody is recalled, someone else will be appointed to represent region 1. Again, where is that middle ground? If you have a suggestion, please email me privately, or give me a call 763-424-2571