General Meetings; to what end?
A satirical piece on Storm’s most boring event
If you ask me, a general meeting should present NEW results, to be transparent to the members and finally, give the members a podium to ask critical questions to the board. Before I go any further, I want to thank the entire board for their hard work effort which they are doing for every one of us. As can be seen on the left however, the general meeting is often deader than the USA’s environmental agency at the moment. This blog focusses on why this is and how different stormer’s visions on how to improve the general meeting can add some direly needed “panache1”.
Asking an older year’s opinion should give us some insight, therefore I contacted Mr. Aron Klapwijk. Although often no more than a grumpy master student grabbing some hummus at the Storm room, he proposed a few ideas I think we can work with. His vision on a general meeting is to present the state of Storm to the members and to ask the members for input on large (policy)decisions. This alone does not give much to work with, it seems even more boring than what we have now. However, he did surprise me with a useful suggestion. A more dynamic presentation of the state of Storm, standing up, maybe using different forms of media. I will take this into account in the conclusion.
Of course we need input of the board, in this case by the always flattering Sare Guerts. Unsurprisingly, their vision of a general meeting is as uninspiring as that of Aron. I almost succumbed to boredom as I read Sare’s explanation; “To keep members up to date of the previous (half) year and to ask for approval for changes or purchases”. Where is the “fun” they so often talk about in their semi-annual report? (I checked, they use it 13 times!!) When asked for suggestions on how to make the meeting more interesting, Sare did come with an, as the Storm chasers love to say, “fun” proposal. Why not do it in a bar, with a few beers and a little more ambiance than the funeral hall (booth zaal) we normally sit in? As with Aron’s suggestion, we’ll take this with us in the conclusion.
Finally let’s ask the sjaarzen. Utterly inexperienced, young and generally “incapable”, they seem to be our last resort to get an answer to the question of the general meetings purpose that doesn’t put an entire audience to sleep. Yet again, we are slightly disappointed. Rebecca, a true new stormer explained “To discuss and announce changes in and around Storm, so that every stormer has the opportunity to be involved and is up to date with everything”. Not very innovative Becky. Simon, another new stormer, finally put in a bit more excitement, explaining the general meeting as a way for everyone to voice their concerns, and as a way to add to the association with ideas that increase the continuity. This gives a bit more room for critical questions and space for new ideas. A step in the right direction. Although Rebecca couldn’t quite add to a more useful purpose of the general meeting, she did have an innovative tip; Focus more on voting for or against an interesting current issue. People will come if they can speak their voice! What if instead of listening to Helge moan on and on about making Storm more sustainable, we do some voting on where to focus our sustainability. What sustainable firms do we invest our reserves in? Should we go for more sponsorships from “slightly” unsustainable firms, such as shell and Engie and use this to finance sustainable activities? And of course the all-important question, should storm organize a ski-trip, as Daniel so nicely put it, with a “suskicie”?
To conclude, let’s put all these ideas together, and see how far we get. Though defining a more useful purpose has not been achieved, under the current goal of the general meeting we can still add some elements to make it more interesting for everyone to create some “panache”, or as storm calls it “fun”. Taking all the interviewees ideas into account, we come to the following scenario:
The Board invites all members to the General meeting, this time held in the Vrienden. Joost is standing behind the bar giving everyone free beer. The board all stands up on stage, Helge is sporting his guitar to add some tunes when the talking gets boring. The show they perform is so popular all the tickets are sold out within minutes. It is really very “fun”. After the show, all members are given the opportunity to Roast the board members, after they roast each other. Also “fun”. Finally, the board puts forward a few critical issues to vote on so that they actually have something to do for the next half year. This turns out to be a bad idea as most stormers are drunk and the board can no longer tell the difference between voting people and people dancing to “put your hands up for Detroit”. As we are already at the Vrienden, everyone can party, we all look forward to the next general meeting and it is completely, entirely and truly “FUN”.