A Plan Or A Dream?

Earlier this week I received an email from Geoff Bawden, the president of Radio Amateurs of Canada, inviting me to come to RAC’s AGM in Hamilton on the weekend to participate in a debate.

While I sincerely appreciate Geoff’s reaching out like this I emailed him to decline his invitation.

This is the text of that email. I think it speaks for itself:

Hi Geoff,

Thanks for sending this email.
 
I won’t be attending the AGM for several reasons as I don’t think participating in a debate would be productive or helpful.
 
I’m not sure quite how to put this and I’ve been waiting for some clarity, which hasn’t come to me, but I’d like to offer you some thoughts:
 
I understand how organizations work. I’m not overly stupid nor am I overly committed to being a nitpicker or a quibbler.
 
This might prove helpful. Some time ago I ran the Ontario Electrical League for some months in the absence of the ailing president.
 
I’ve worked with a very difficult board composed of very wealthy men who thought they knew everything and occasionally behaved abysmally. I learned how to provide a level of leadership while herding cats.
 
What I helped this board and executive to do was be much more open and transparent when it came to communicating with the membership (again made up of very wealthy men who thought they knew everything). I suggested to them that we keep our friends close and our critics closer (a concept RAC has totally failed to grasp).
 
By creating a more open and transparent association, it seemed to me our members and our board and executive group and, yes even our critics, worked so much more closely together. Problems weren’t swept under rug and there was no fear of speaking about issues that were affecting our industry or our association. Yes personnel matters were handle in private but they were never handled in secret and issues that arose were well know publicly. 
 
Overall, it was as if we were all rowing together for the first time toward an agreed upon destination.
 
Radio Amateurs of Canada however has not been run in an open and transparent manner for many years, if ever. The men and the occasional woman who volunteer aren’t evil people. I’m sure they believe that what they are doing is for the best of the association. Their behaviour is no different than the behaviour of previous boards and executives. That doesn’t make their behaviour right or acceptable but it does make it consistent and avoids having to actually provide real leadership.
 
And that’s been the great challenge facing RAC and our great failure. We have yet to find or develop leaders capable of actually leading.
 
What we have attracted over the years are some people who can manage and people who can bully and people of dubious mental stability but we have yet to develop leadership at the most minimal level. We’ve also attracted a lot of very willing and good people over the years but their efforts are lost in the chaos caused by the others we’ve allowed to run amuck.
 
You know our arguments. We have called upon the RAC leadership to create a vision for what Amateur Radio could be in Canada and instead we get more bureaucratic development of operational plans (I’m thinking here of ARES and how much we have failed to grow this aspect of our association) which has driven people away instead of uniting them in a national vision.
 
We have called for absolute transparency when it comes to membership numbers and financial disclosure and the awarding of contracts. 
 
But none of that has happened. And why is that? It is because we have elected and appointed people who misunderstand that governing is not leading. They do not understand how to enlist the support of the members. They do not understand how to celebrate the fun aspects of our hobby and to increase our pleasure through the development of a national organization that represents every Amateur Radio operator in Canada and not just the very few who pay dues.
 
Martin Luther King did not say “I have a plan!” He said “I have a dream” and people around the world took his dream into their own hearts and minds and the world was forever changed for the better.
 
So what is the dream for Radio Amateurs of Canada?
 
It seems we have no dreams. It seems we’re good at making plans. It appears we like to get rid of people who disagree with us. 
 
Where is the joy in that? Where is the vision for the members? Where is leadership?
 
Hope the annual general meeting goes well and that some who are more articulate and passionate than I do come to Hamilton and enter into a debate with you. 
Best regards,
 
Peter – VE3HG
 
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About Peter West

I am retired. I'm invested into bike riding, guitar playing, yoga and Ham Radio. I am a former photojournalist, newspaper and magazine editor and public relations practitioner with national, regional and local experience. A long-time member of Toastmasters International and an active Amateur Radio (Ham) operator here in Canada I am taking on new challenges.

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