We had our first all-hands, membership meeting of the HackerDojo at the HackerDojo. Really, to go from idea to momentum to incorporation to lease to opening in less than six months is impressive if looked at from an outside viewpoint. From here in Silicon Valley, wow, what took us so long?
I arrived a little early, mostly to straighten up a little bit, but also to think about what I was going to say in front of the group that was expected in an hour. Fortunately, Zonker had arrived and had his broom with him. I was able to zone out and think with the mechanical rhythm of pushing the room to clean up sawdust and leaves.
My two areas of talk were donations (what we need) and thanks (oh boy!). Donations were straight forward, as we have a list of things the HackerDojo is looking for. What may not have been clear to people is that they don't need to actually OWN the stuff themselves to be helpful in finding furnishing and equipment for the HackerDojo. Aside from Craiglist, Freecycle lists are also a great way to find items people are giving away. Our biggest problem is getting crap (or as Kris says, "Free shit is still shit.") as people people clean out their garages thinking, "oh someone could use this." Yeah, free crap is still crap.
Figuring out who to thank as my second topic was far harder than I thought it would be. My first instinct was to just thank everyone, because really, wow, didn't everyone help? But, well, as I pushed that broom and people began to filter in, I realized that, no, not everyone here had contributed equally. There were some people that were head and shoulders above the rest, a fact which really shouldn't surprise me.
In every volunteer organization I've been in, EVERY single one, from ultimate leagues to Master Gardeners to the HackerDojo, the majority of the work is done by a small number of very passionate individuals. The trick of a good volunteer organization is to have someone in a high enough position, with a strong enough personality, who goes out and individually picks people to lead tasks that need to be done. When there is one person in charge of a project, the project gets done. When there's a group, the diffusion of responsibility leads to a diffusion of blame, and nothing gets done.
To that end, I had Sam Odio to thank, for both taking on projects that I just handed him, no questions asked, and getting our new railing in. I had Dean Mao to thank, for both his staffing of the Dojo and the networking setup. Dean was one of the strong candidates for the Founding Director position, and a great contributor to the Dojo. I had Zonker to thank for testing, labelling and fixing all of the outlets, lights and switches of the Dojo. I asked for a volunteer to take on this project, and don't think I could have found a better person for the job. I had Tom Harrison to thank, for both his SHDH contributions, but he behind the scenes support is getting things going. The Tom/David/Jeff combination is really hard to stop when they get going.
So, I had my donation list. I had my list of people to thank, because i was going to forget the names of everyone I've met, who have been helping out. After Brian did an introduction, Melissa gave a budget status report, David wowed the crowd in his energetic, dynamic style, and Jeff talked about projects, I stepped up before 60+ people, took a picture, and commented, "Boy am I glad I didn't have to follow David!" I did receive a number of laughs.
What I found surprising about standing there, and I noticed as I was standing up there, was that my heart wasn't racing. I had none of the usual public speaking fears. My hands didn't sweat, my voice didn't crack, my heart didn't thump-thump-thump as I improvised my thanks and call for donations of fans, furniture and vacuums. A strange type of talking, and I definitely had moments of oops, but for the most part, my chat went well.
I stayed around to meet a number of people, before I just had to leave, the project I'm working on calling insistently loudly in the back of my head. I'm very excited for this project. I hope the space isn't too big and that the culture that develops is amazing.
With the group there, we should be good.