Sunday, 10 March 2013

We've Got To Stop Meeting Like This

Followers of McFly may have noticed that I've pinched the title of this post from February's Manchester Climate Monthly, and I've done so for good reason.

The item starts off:
Recently the MCFly co-editors held a meeting in silence. If you know them, you'd find that hard to believe. But it's true and there was a point to it. We'd invited various people from several environmental groups to be guinea pigs for a new skill-sharing project called “Activist Skills and Knowledge” (www.askfortheworld.net). We committed everyone to silence, and then mimed them through a series of tasks – such as mingling with everyone else and looking at their name badges, and writing down things they were very good at and things they were not good at.

Within a couple of minutes several people were getting quite disorientated and/or confused. Why did we do this (other than native sadism)? Because we wanted experienced activists to get a taste of what it is like to be speechless and not really sure what the hell is going on in the room. That's how “new” people in meetings often feel. And you know, we rarely see them again. That has to change.

Ironically the first item in February's diary was
Mon 11, 7pm AGM of Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign at Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, M2 5NS, close to Manchester
Town Hall.

The GMCC AGM was exactly the kind of meeting Marc Hudson rails against. Nobody seemed to be chairing it and it just rattled on making very little progress. One member continually talked over everyone else, butting in all over the place. At one point he seemed to be having an argument with himself about who should be membership secretary. As a result the meeting over-ran badly, and broke up in chaos. It was so bad that several of us decided to go off to a different pub.

It was a real embarrassment for me as I had promoted the meeting and persuaded several people to come along and they were clearly not happy. I doubt that any of the new people in that room will ever come back.

Campaign meetings should be all about getting things done. January's GMCC meeting, by contrast, had been a good example of that. There were good discussions about how to approach the campaign for better cycling provision on Oxford Road, several decisions made and stuff got done. One result from that meeting is that GMCC has now been invited to take part in the Manchester Day Parade on June 2nd.

Let's hope things improve...

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