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13 October 2014 – minutes

Welcome Group call – 13 October 2014
7.15 – 20.45 via Why Pay conference call
Present: Aderonke, Susan, Sami and Sophie

Around 50 people applied to become members in August and we still haven’t worked out the way forward as there has been a difference of opinion within the membership. Some members feel we should be very inclusive and allow most people to join, others feel we should only let people allow who strongly share our values and help us to build a more representative and balanced membership. We have asked the applicants to answer some more questions but it’s unclear whether this is going to help, the Facilitating Group discussed whether the Welcome Group could call the applicants instead as that might be a better way of getting information about their values etc.

We initially came up with a proposal that we chase up applicants to answer the second set of questions and/ or do the scoring exercise, then call them to discuss their answers, get more info if needed and to make very clear what Edge is and our core values. The final stage would be to recommend to the Facilitating Group whether the applicant can join or not, or if they can join on a trial basis, first completing a probationary period of around 6 months.

We then decided on a better/ simpler approach:

  1. We allow all the 50 applicants to join for a probationary period;
  2. The probationary period will last as long as needed for them to a) score applications in a funding round and b) attend a meeting;
  3. During the probationary period they will be asked to score two applications from each Advisory Group category (18 applications), with one representing an application we’d be very likely to fund and the other meeting criteria but unlikely to be funded;
  4. The scores during the probationary period don’t count, which we would make very clear to the applicants;
  5. We would then compare their scores with the scores of the membership to see how inline they are with the rest of the members;
  6. Once they have scored a round and been to a meeting we’d have a conversation with the applicant in person or on the phone to see if they still want to join etc;
  7. The Welcome Group would then make a recommendation to the Facilitating Group about whether they should become a permanent member or not.

We agreed that we wouldn’t expect every new member to be equally ‘radical’ on every area. People tend to be more radical where they have relevant life experience and may have more conservative views on something they don’t know much about. However, we would expect people to be open to learn, develop themselves (eg come to power and privilege workshop) and be led by people with relevant life experience.

We now need to:

  1. Write a proposal to run past the Welcome Group first, and then the Facilitating Group (since this is a new process);
  2. The proposal would include that we suggest that this process is adopted for all new member applicants (perhaps including people who join from funded groups, who at the moment can automatically join if they attend the final funding day), although we will of course review it regularly;
  3. The proposal will also include a recommended change to the 3 current membership application questions that are on the website, perhaps a combination of the current questions and the second set of questions (see below);
  4. Write a draft email to the applicants explaining the process, including that we had asked people to answer more questions but few people responded so we’re trying something new;
  5. Put a message on the website to say we’re not accepting applications but we can notify them when they we are if they email us (Sophie to keep list).

The current questions are:

  1. Who you are, where you live and a little about your background
  2. What projects and issues you’re involved in or interested in and why
  3. Why you would like to join Edge Fund

The second set of questions (which were sent with the scoring exercise) are:

  1. What is the most radical activity that you have either been involved in or would most like to do if you had the resources you needed? Or, if you prefer, what sort of radical activity would you like to help Edge to support?
  2. Could you tell us what you would bring to Edge Fund’s current radical work? (For example, can you speak as a member of a community facing injustice, do you feel you have a useful new perspective, do you hold particular skills that you could offer and/ or a commitment to support others in their work?)
  3. Edge aims to work supportively and without hierarchy (where some people have more power than others). We want to listen to communities facing injustice, and to those who have lived experience of the issues that we are addressing and want to address. We are determined that hidden hierarchies and the voice of the privileged (those who have had more advantages in life) do not dominate. How do you feel we can ensure that all voices are heard fairly?

When people join as probationary members we will need to support them as much as possible and should ideal pair them up with a buddy from the existing membership.

For the agenda for the next meeting, we would like to make it a priority that we contact members who have been inactive for a long time.

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