Life as I know it: Positive community action one-hour meeting at a time | News

Rob Ford

Every school district, ward, village, town, church, nonprofit, or other worthwhile cause has some sort of “board” configuration.

For many years I was on various committees, mainly because of an accessible phone number, but also because I just wanted to lend a hand and help my small town to be successful. I mention an available phone number because this is how most of my board meetings went; I answered a call from someone recruiting new board members and I just didn’t say no.

I’ve sat on a church board of trustees, a board of directors for the Chamber of Commerce, a TART Trail-related board, a school education committee, a college scholarship committee, a community theater committee, and a few others. Not to “brag modestly” or “signal virtuously”, but like I said, people called and before I knew it, my wife’s chagrin was always overflowing our calendar.

I actually ran for the school board seat, but only once. As part of my appointment to fill a vacancy, I agreed to apply in the next election, and five years of school interview was long enough for me.

From the moment I joined the Elk Rapids Rotary Club to the day I quit 13 years later, I was on the “board of directors.” Not out of an urge to control something over a short period of time, but because no one else wanted my special job. After going through the presidential-elect, presidential, and ex officio years, the job of treasurer was more or less dropped on my plate, and I’m sure club treasurers everywhere understand the dilemma of getting out of that chair.

My tenure on the board of trustees of the local church ended simply because the rest of the board liked to meet in the middle of the afternoon, and while I tried to adjust my schedule around this, business issues overcame spiritual ones.

Elected positions like congressional committees, district and town councilors of commissioners, and school boards get all the media attention, but it is these local not-for-profit bodies, the boards of directors of the Chamber of Commerce, the boards of service clubs, and a million other anonymous but organized small-group meetings that are of social importance have heavy lifting – hourly meeting after hour. (That’s right – an hour. Rob’s Rules of Procedure strictly state that meetings that last longer than an hour waste everyone’s time, and any meeting that lasted less could probably have waited in advance.)

It’s been growing in the news lately that board meetings have become forums for bad behavior. Officials who misbehave and members of the public audience trying their best to outdo them keep coverage incisive and generate social media activity. Unfortunately, however, they slaughter the perception of what actually happens at most board meetings. That is, small groups of low paid or volunteer citizens who talk about everything and make decisions, whatever it is that keeps their organization going.

Have you ever served on a board? If so, thank you. Chances are you have not been thanked often for your time and efforts. Hopefully your exposure to the exuberant anger that has been all over the news lately has been minimal. If you have not served on a body before, I encourage you to get involved. It’s a great way to meet people and learn the details of who you are already casually part of. And with my consent, you can enforce the one-hour rule of order.

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