[volunteers] [svlug] Define Policies and By-Laws

Mark Weisler mark at weisler-saratoga-ca.us
Sat Dec 1 09:33:31 PST 2007

On Friday 30 November 2007 15:12:03 Bill Teeple wrote:
> All,
> Love the soap-opera that unfolds on this Linux Users Group.
> Very interesting threads - I particularly enjoy the eloquence found
> within most of the replies and communiques.
> I think it is time that SVLUG adopt new by-laws or create them in the
> first place to help govern the organization - someone recommended
> looking at the Davis User's Group for a foundation - and I read theirs
> and it is a great starting point.
> Let's cut out the ambiguity of the rights and responsibilities of our
> elected officials and document it.  There should be policies for the
> election of officials, the replacement of officials, the recall of
> officials (did I say that?), etc. etc. etc.
> If we already do have by-laws (and such), then maybe we need to post and
> revise them?  I haven't seen them.
> Pushing Forward,
> Bill

I think a discussion of SVLUG governance is in order and would be healthy.
Let me suggest that the governance of SVLUG (or any LUG for that matter) 
should match the activities of the LUG.
What does our LUG do? 
The primary activities are:
* a monthly general meeting to discuss Linux
* monthly Installfests where we help people with system issues on their own 
* running mail and Web servers to disseminate information

Taking a tip from Frank Lloyd Wright with the notion that "form follows 
function..."  these simple activities can be accommodated with simple 
governance and structure such as
* a couple of officers and volunteers
* a periodic meeting of volunteers who want to be involved to discuss 
direction, strategy, and tactics.

Note that this takes very  little money to run: about $10/year for a domain 
and the server(s) can run at someone's home or business and need not consume 
significant resources.

Individuals or businesses may want to contribute snacks or equipment or 
services to SVLUG and can easily do so for altruistic or promotional reasons.

This structure allows a wide range of LUG activities that are mostly 
educational and social in nature. 

Note also that the individuals, members, officers and volunteers are not doing 
anything that incurs much of a legal liability. We don't do anything risky or 
dangerous to ourselves or to others. (Installfest activities might be a topic 
of discussion but are pretty low risk especially if an experienced volunteer 
coaches people and keeps an eye out for potentially dangerous activities like 
working inside a CRT enclosure-a rare possibility.)

So, I would like to see a self-selecting group of people get together to 
discuss SVLUG governance. This would be one or more business working 
meetings. It might, or might not, be good to have a facilitator for such 
meetings, maybe even someone from another nearby LUG such as PenLUG, EBLUG, 
the Davis group, of BALUG from San Francisco.

I also want to point out that SVLUG has had two "volunteers meetings" in the 
last couple of years. One, IIRC, in the spring of 2007 and another in May of 
2007 at which technical direction with regard to servers and services was 
discussed, publically document, and agreed upon. So, these self-selecting 
business meetings of volunteers are a part of SVLUG tradition and should, in 
my opinion, continue and be encouraged. We could easily have one with regard 
to governance. (The 2006 meeting was publically called by the Reed 
administration and the May 2007 meeting was called by Lisa Corsetti to 
discuss our services architecture.)

Some  suggest that having a 501(c)(3) corporation is an obvious thing to do 
for a LUG. I don't necessarily think so. Not with the activities we pursue 
now. The advantages and disadvantages of a corporation should be discussed by 
the volunteer group working on governance.

I enjoy SVLUG and find it a worthwhile organization. I've enjoyed serving as 
vice president and look forward to continued involvement with SVLUG.

Mark Weisler 
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our 
people need it sorely on these accounts." ---Mark Twain---
PGP: 0x68E462B6  http://pgp.mit.edu:11371/
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