Dave, VE3JX, has sent us a lengthy, thoughtful and welcomed reply to my last post: Whiners, complainers and do-nothingers and I’ve taken some time to reflect on it before replying to his points.

Dave suggests (read the reply yourself as I’m paraphrasing and leaving a lot out for brevity’s sake) I tone down my complaints about Radio Amateurs of Canada.

He’s right of course. What I should do is quit writing and walk away. It would be better for all concerned expect of course the future of Amateur Radio in Canada. Besides what RAC doesn’t get is they should treasure and embrace their critics as we are still engaged. Hundreds, no thousands of other Canadian Hams have just given up in frustration and have gone silent.

Dave suggests it might be better if I and people like me did something positive to help correct the problems that plague RAC and “start or continue a positive discussion.” It’s a nice idea but Dave, like many others, may not understand what’s wrong. So let’s begin another journey into the heart of darkness as I see it.

Dave makes some very nice comments about my time as the VP of PR for RAC and I do thank Dave for adding these words as I didn’t hear much praise when I was there. If fact, one guy continually went out of his way to protect anything that was in place regardless of how broken and actively resisted and sabotaged anything that was offered that was new. Social media efforts and John, HK3C’s CQ Canada initiative come to mind. Frustrating to say the least but the ability to work together obviously wasn’t one of the requirements of being on the RAC leadership team.

And that’s at the heart of the issue as far as I’m concerned. RAC is a dysfunctional organization because of the lack of a functional empowering leadership team that knows the difference between serving the members as opposed to governing them.

ARES is falling apart across Canada for exactly the same reason. And essentially it comes down to a lack of talent at the top which causes great frustration among all those other talented and dedicated volunteers who find their efforts are frustrated – even sabotaged at every turn and eventually just leave never to be heard of again.

Dave suggests a club of clubs concept might be the answer. I would caution that RAC is already being run as club where all none members just aren’t represented. If RAC is to be truly a national organization it has to represent all Canadian Amateur Radio operators whether they are members or not. This is essential.

Here’s what I’d suggest:

  1. RAC proclaim itself the national organization that represents ALL Canadian amateurs (and not as some board members have declared only paid-up members which is an organizational model which just isn’t working)
  2. Develop a vision and mission statement and post it and put deadline dates on it
  3. Develop a list of the top 10 actions to be taken in 2015 and form committees empowered to proceed
  4. Reestablish our relationship with Industry Canada
  5. Give away the excellent digital The Canadian Amateur online and drop the print edition. In this way we’ll attract many, many more new members as nobody bought a RAC membership just to get TCA
  6. Fix the damn website. It’s a disgrace and has been for a decade
  7. Put more energy into social media (Facebook and Twitter) to attract younger people
  8. Open a video channel and allow upload by Hams videos of meetings, workshops, product reviews, contest activity and special events
  9. Fix ARES by empowering the bottom-down approach (clubs lead the way)
  10. Start with a clean slate of board and executives

Now number 10 is the major impediment to implementing points one to nine. With the numbers of volunteers who are quitting RAC continuing unabated it may not be long before the organization just fails.

Then we can go back to the drawing board and starting with a new group of folks, have a look at what needs to be done to create a truly national organization that represents the interests of all Canadian Radio Amateurs and my work here will be done.

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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.

6 thoughts on “

  1. Peter, I would like to see you as President of RAC. Seriously. You have a wide audience, are well-known, a DXer, a Contester, and have some good ideas. Your “Top Ten” list is excellent.

    Does anybody else agree–or disagree– that Peter should be on the “inside” in some capacity?My preference would be as President.

    Let’s get something done.

    Any comments?

    Paul.
    ve3zt

  2. Hi Peter,

    There are a couple of errors in your reply to me that I need to clarify.

    The idea of a “club of clubs” was NOT my idea, nor do I, at this point, endorse it as the model we should follow. The idea came from John’s website, and was originally contributed by a Quebec member, Guy Richard VE3XTD, whom I think was previously in RAC management. It needs a whole lot more discussion for it to be even considered as feasible or desirable. There are 2 reasons I brought it up: (1) It is the only option suggested so far, as listed on John’s website; and (2) the reported (by you) possible reviving of RSO might suggest its desirability in the eyes of RSO’s resurrectors. However, it is also only one of many possibilities or ideas out there that need our consideration. I endorse none of them, yet.

    Second, it’s not a matter of “toning down” complaints so much as discussing them with those who care. If you feel that RAC does not care at this point, perhaps they will as they see rational, logical discussion going on here, or on John’s website.

    I think we need to view RAC differently than as “the enemy”. You may feel that it is dysfunctional at present, in everything, but RAC is just an organization and is only as good as the people in it. RAC is NOT the people running it; it is the membership that recognize their need for representation and thus pay their dues. You don’t scrap a perfectly good car because you feel that it’s being driven by an incompetently; you replace the driver.

    RAC may have its faults, but it is also has a reasonably democratic structure. And, as you say, there are plenty of “top jobs” open to anyone who cares and wants to turn the organization around, or change it into the responsive heartbeat of Canadian amateur radio. If you feel (and “you” is being used in the plural, expansive sense) that “you” can do better, then by all means volunteer and run for office.

    It’s true that many good people are leaving RAC management. Some of those are leaving because they have maxxed out their time in office, as dictated by the RAC constitution. But, I give you your point that there is a dearth of volunteers to replace them. Could the throwing of stones at RAC in general be a factor in this?

    Notwithstanding, I would like to see someone like yourself do as the posting above suggests with regard to you volunteering for a responsible, representative position, such as Ontario South Director.

    Thanks for replying to me, and for listening to my thoughts.

    Cheers,

    Dave Hayes VE3JX

    • Addendum:

      One reason that I suggested you as a Director is that it is the BoD that decide on policy and how to implement such. The President is appointed by the BoD to run the day-to-day organization and to do the actual implementation of the BoD’s decisions.

      Since you are desirous of changing policy, and its implementation, then the Director post would be up your alley. The BoD is technically in the driver’s seat as far as change to the organization is concerned. As Director, you would have the opportunity to present your itemized list and persuade the Board to accept the changes needed.

      Cheers, Dave.

  3. Good morning Peter,

    I want to thank you for the list you provided. That is helpful, and certainly a place to start a discussion. If you don’t mind, I’ll comment on the various points, and, hopefully, others will too.

    Please remember that I’m just a “John Q. Ham”, not some sort of guru who should know better than what I may say. True, I hold a RAC ARES position, that of ONN SEC. However, I may not be in that job very much longer, as I have pressing extended family concerns to take care of. However, I would like to say that I enjoy working with Allan Boyd VE3AJB, our SM up here. In my estimation, he is the best. That being said, my attitude towards my position as SEC has always been: “Surely, there’s someone more qualified, and that has more time, than I!” I stated at the outset of my term, in an email to all our ONN ARES people, that if they felt better qualified and wanted my job, I would do my best to make that happen. There are plenty of other things I can do in RAC and our Section that I don’t have to cling onto a title if someone else wants to do this job badly enough. I sent that email out over two years ago, at the formation of the new Ontario Sections; still no takers. However, my attitude is we can work together, and it is always wise to let a skilled person do the job he likes and wants to do. I don’t have your management skills or training, so you can take what I say with a grain of salt.

    1. RAC proclaim itself the national organization that represents ALL Canadian amateurs (and not as some board members have declared only paid-up members which is an organizational model which just isn’t working)

    This is a bit of a conundrum. I don’t think I agree with you entirely on this one. What organization can afford to offer all services to everyone, regardless of whether they are members or not? However, you said that “some board members” feel that they represent “only paid-up members”. Surely that is not so! I can’t imagine any board member saying that! With RAC being the national and international representative of amateur radio in Canada, everyone recognizes RAC represents ALL radio amateurs in the country. What I think those board members may have meant is that they cannot afford to provide all services to all free-loaders as well as their members.

    Notwithstanding, I was against the elimination of non-members from using the email alias system. Historically, RAC’s email alias system was open to all licenced amateurs. To eliminate non-members from the system was a bad PR move, at a time when RAC’s popularity was none too great. It would only anger some, and give ammunition to our detractors. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    We have had a membership problem. Is that because of an image problem? If so, the above action did not help. More on membership later. . .

    2. Develop a vision and mission statement and post it and put deadline dates on it.
    3. Develop a list of the top 10 actions to be taken in 2015 and form committees empowered to proceed.

    I like these two points. They go hand-in-hand. The first one (2) provides the overall goal of RAC, whereas the second one (3) would detail how we get there.

    4. Reestablish our relationship with Industry Canada.

    Forgive me for being ignorant, but we don’t have a relationship with IC? This perhaps needs further explanation.

    5. Give away the excellent digital The Canadian Amateur online and drop the print edition. In this way we’ll attract many, many more new members as nobody bought a RAC membership just to get TCA.

    Hmmm. I don’t know how we would attract more paying members by giving away its benefits. Do you think it would be like a “lost leader” to get people into the “store”? The paper edition, as I foresee it, is on its way out anyways. What I don’t understand is the miniscule differential between a membership w/paper and one without. I think it is in the range of $9. Does $9 cover the cost of printing, handline and postage of TCA to my door? That’s only $1.50 a copy! (There must be some sort of subsidies involved.) When we offered a paperless membership, I think it should have been at lower cost than what it is currently.
    Back to giving away paperless TCA: I’m still reticent at doing that, but I’m open to persuasion. What I would readily agree to is more freebies, that is sample copies given away, more frequently than recently. I remember that I rejoined at one time when that occurred in paper. It sort of whet my appetite to get back into ham radio, and that spurred me to membership in RAC. I think that might work again, if it is done occasionally.
    That’s where I was upset that we culled the alias system. Here we had access to many more amateurs than just members. We could have used that database (send freebies to the aliases I mean, not their resultant addresses) to promote RAC membership by giving away eTCA periodically. Ahh, but such is now lost.

    6. Fix the damn website. It’s a disgrace and has been for a decade.

    This obviously bothers you more than me. I just want it to be one or the other.

    7. Put more energy into social media (Facebook and Twitter) to attract younger people.

    I agree. Personally, I’m not a social media kind of guy . . . yet. But, I know the younger generation are. And, if there’s anything amateur radio needs, its more young blood. This point is a no-brainer.

    8. Open a video channel and allow upload by Hams videos of meetings, workshops, product reviews, contest activity and special events.

    I like this! Projects like this could really energize RAC, especially with the younger, computer/internet- savvy ones among us helping make this happen.

    9. Fix ARES by empowering the bottom-down approach (clubs lead the way).

    ARES is a whole subject by itself. The way we run our ARES program in ONN is by encouraging certain things like digital modes, IMS training, etc. But the key is, and always has been, the local vision. I, as SEC, will not force any practice on any group. As far as I’m concerned, my job is to service or facilitate; help the local groups do their job. How extensive they want their training to be, or what they feel is best as far as our emergency communications involvement is going to be, are matters for the local group to decide. We may provide encouragement – and I’m all for as much training as groups want – but we don’t dictate what the local groups do.
    That being said, we have among us those who would like to see all ARES people across the province fully trained in all aspects of emcomm in order that they will be of use anywhere they are needed. I think some would like to see this training enforced throughout the province. However, we are talking about volunteers here. On the other hand, some communities are enforcing certain training aspects, such as a knowledge of the IMS/ICS structure as used by emergency responders. In some communities, due to their size and their own robust communications systems, we are not needed by the police and fire departments, but we help out secondary organizations such as those who would maintain shelters or provide other needed services. In other places, we do provide assistance directly to the first responders. So, a one-size-fits-all solution is not a solution at all. Nonetheless, the more training an ARES person has, the more valuable they are overall.
    I guess this is a long-winded version of just saying that the most important people in ARES are the local groups who know what their communities want.

    10. Start with a clean slate of board and executives.

    What is a clean slate? Clear out whom? The RAC management that was extant in your days as VP? After all, most of those people are gone now. The current slate? What have these new ones done except take on a thankless job that needs doing, but that nobody wants? Or just some?

    It’s easy to say: “Fire everybody!”, but is that what is really needed? I don’t think so. I think the best option is to encourage the right people to run for office. RAC is a democratic institution that allows the membership to decide whom they want to represent them. Trouble is, nobody wants to run and this is the golden opportunity time right now, with the incumbents running into the maxxed out wall. Take advantage of this and nominate those who will promote the future growth of RAC.

    If you decide to run for Director, you know that it won’t be easy. You will have to hone your persuasion skills more than your confrontation skills. However, with your background and experience, you’d make an excellent choice.

    Just some thoughts here. They may not be worth much, but take them for what they’re worth.

    Cheers,

    Dave VE3JX

  4. Peter would be an excellent choice for president of RAC. I second that suggestion.

    The idea of ‘club of clubs’ would be a return to the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation days. Not a bad idea.

  5. Pingback: My “Last” Comment | VE3HG

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