Pumping Station: One is run by its members for its members. Although the self-managed, decentralized nature is a strength of the organization, it does come with some costs: institutional memory can be hard to establish, and we sometimes lose sight of issues that play out over years rather than months. The purpose of the planning working group is to consider PS:1’s goals and direction over a time span of five to ten years.

The broad mission of the working group is to establish institutional memory and facilitate long-range decision-making for the volunteers who participate in PS:1’s day-to-day operations. To this end, the team will deliver written reports organized around three types of information:

  1. Findings of fact. Much of the work of the group will focus on deep learning about a particular issue and then summarizing and disseminating the findings.
  2. Surveys of member opinion. Particularly on questions of long-term direction that aren’t necessarily the subject of a direct vote, it will be useful to get a structured read of member sentiment.
  3. Recommendations. The expectation is generally that the group will present the most plausible or appealing options and provide a concise list of pros and cons, rather than advocate for a single course of action, although in some cases such a recommendation may be warranted.

The planning working group has an obvious focus this year due to the recently announced sale of the building. PS:1 has up to eight years left on its lease, but all of the paths forward require action sooner than that, some much sooner. For example, we could buy our current building, which will require immediate engagement with the building owners, financial institutions, and donors. We could buy a different building. Or we could seek a new lease elsewhere. To guide this decision, we need some basic findings of fact (how much will a building cost, what financing options are available, etc.), questions of member opinion (are people satisfied with our current location, what improvements would members most like to see in a new location, etc.), and also more fundamental questions about PS:1’s mission in its second decade of existence (is continued growth desirable, what about the current organization do we want to preserve, what might we want or expect to change, etc.).

The proposed team structure is 4 - 6 volunteers drawn from the general membership (volunteers can also be board members, area hosts, authorizers, etc.). Anyone can nominate themselves or another person, and team members will be selected by the board.

Because the mandate for the team is deliberately broad, the team’s first task will be to choose a set of issues and a set of focusing questions to define their agenda. Pieces of this agenda will then be delegated to individual battalion members, with one designated leader to maintain an overall schedule and facilitate meetings. Individual members are welcome and encouraged to enlist additional volunteers to help with their portion of the agenda.

The team will meet regularly to discuss progress, share findings, and address any obstacles. If necessary, the team may adjust the scope of its inquiry to accommodate new information, although an effort will be made to avoid agenda creep.

Individual members will then draft portions of a consolidated report, with one member of the team chosen to “own” the document for purposes of editing. The team will collectively determine the set of recommendations to include (although complete consensus is not required or expected).

After completing and delivering the report to the membership, the planning working group will disband. Future councils can be assembled on an as-needed basis, with the expectation that at least one will take place per year.