I've been to several really good meetings this week, and several frustrating ones. When the group is large, and new people join all the time, the structure of the meeting matters a lot more than it does at housemeetings I've been at. Structures that I never found that useful suddenly seem necessary:
- Having a neutral facilitator. Not all the time, but certainly when the debate gets heated.
- Having an agenda. Meetings go so well when we agree which problems we're trying to solve, and don't bring up other issues. Someday maybe we'll announce agendas ahead of time so that people can decide how important it is to attend---but I suspect that's an advanced skill.
- Separating brainstorming from debate. This is the flip side of the last point. I always found this kind of brainstorming a bit annoying, because I think it's the discussion of ideas that inspires new ideas. But if we're going to have time that's closed to new ideas, it probably makes sense to have time that is open for anyone to bring ideas and not be shot down.
Working on winterization, the tension between inclusivity and sharing my expertise is really interesting. Preliminary evidence suggests I'm not doing a good job at resolving these. Debating everything in big groups and never delegating obviously agravates the problem, as does the tight deadline of cold weather.