Archive for August, 2010

The Future of RAC and Amateur Radio

August 27, 2010

During tonight’s national RAC teleconference board/executive meeting President Geoff, VE4BAW, asked the document he presented to the DX Forum in Halifax on Aug. 7th be posted here and on the RAC website.

After some challenges between MAC’s and PC’s here it is in PDF format: The Future of Amateur Radio and the Future.

I’m really pleased to report that the board and the executive (with only two maybes) reported that they are going to attend a special visioning transformational meeting in Ottawa and the end of October. BTW every member is paying their own way! As far as I know so far, John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ will be facilitating the discussions.

I’ve been pretty outspoken in my comments about the board and executive and it’s time to say I’m very impressed with tonight’s meeting. I don’t agree with everything and everybody but everything will be on the table in Ottawa so keep those comments coming in.

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QRP Campout

August 26, 2010

Wish I’d have heard about Maplecon 2010. According to VA3STL’s Weblog about 30 QRPers setup camp at Emily Provincial Park (which was around the corner from my family cottage near Peterborough, Ontario) last weekend.

Best DX was a two-way QRP QSO on 20 meters with Mirek, SP9ONC.

Here’s a link to a bunch of photos from the event.

RAC Assistant Director Comments

August 26, 2010

This post comes from K. Scott Wood, VE1QD, RAC Assistant Director, Halifax Region who is the chair of the Maritime DX Forum:

On August 6 and 7, the Halifax Amateur Radio Club was very pleased to host this year’s RAC AGM and Forum.  It was part of our annual Maritime DX Forum and attracted a large part of our audience of almost 70 people.

All of us who have many years in amateur radio, and have followed the ups and downs of our national organization, were delighted with the presentation of President Geoff Bawden and several other members of the Executive.  There was an openness and candour about the precarious status of RAC and a willingness to recognize past errors and shortcomings.  However, what most grabbed my attention was a clear commitment to not wallow in the past, but rather shift our gaze to the future.

Beginning with an acknowledgement of the vital importance of our national organization to securing and advancing our interests, RAC revealed that a process of transformation was indeed underway.  John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ and former RAC VP, has been asked to facilitate the process.  If you haven’t yet seen them, John has written 12 short pieces that provide a framework for thinking about and approaching the task. You should look at his excellent material.  You can find them on either the RAC website  (see RAC Blog) or HARC’s website www.halifax-arc.org. The objective is to obtain the changes necessary for RAC to become a truly respected and effective force for advancing amateur radio in Canada.

The core of John’s approach is simple.  One, acknowledge failures of the past and the factual status of the organization, BUT do not dwell on the past.  We won’t be able to get to the future by just fixing this and that!  Two, engage the membership as broadly as possible, since a “top down approach” is definitely not what is needed.  In fact, many would argue, this is a part of the past needing reform. Moreover, RAC belongs to every amateur so change needs to be defined by us. Three, we need to dream creatively about what we want RAC to be. Four, given some commonly agreed upon dream or future, what steps will we need to take in order to get there?  Five, since everything needed to create a new future cannot be done all at once, the steps will need to be sorted out or given priorities, and including figuring out what steps will depend upon something happening first. Finally, an Action Plan can emerge that will focus RAC’s efforts in a strategic way, i.e. that will maximize the chances of us realizing the desired future.

I commend Geoff Bawden and his team for opening up RAC, shaking things up and launching a process of change.   I also applaud John Bartlett’s courage in laying out a path that we can follow.  However, without the commitment of current RAC members and the recruitment of many more, the process of transformation will not happen.  Moreover, for those who think that RAC needs to die before being reborn, I would caution against a faith that a new organization would emerge from the rubble.  Moreover, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water!  RAC has many positive elements on which we can build a better future.

I am one of a very large number of Assistant RAC Directors and represent the Halifax region.  I think that our role is to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the Regional Directors.  RAC Section Managers are another key group.   In any case, collectively we are two layers of the RAC organization that are closest to the grassroots. How can we help move this vital process along?

I will make a presentation and lead a discussion at HARC’s September 15th meeting.   My expectation is not that this will do it, but rather that this will start a dialogue in Halifax.  In fact, I think that I will recommend that the large number of hams in the Halifax Regional Municipality who head off to Timmy’s most mornings for coffee do some of the dreaming at this other national institution!  I expect it will be necessary to have a few meetings before this corner of our vast country might have something to share.  I hope that others will do the same and that we can collectively make change happen.  One day I would like to look back and be able to say:  “I’ll be damned.  We did it!”

Scott

K. Scott Wood, VE1QD -RAC Assistant Director, Halifax Region

and Chair, Maritime DX Forum

Halifax Amateur Radio Club

Bob replies…

August 26, 2010

Replying to President Geoff’s comments (posted below), Bob VA3QV asks an interesting question (which I comment on at my blog VE3HG).

Hi Geoff…

Thanks for the reply and for reading my blog…

My issues or concerns lie with the fact that the “Magnificent 7″ have not made a statement to the general membership even acknowledging that there is a problem…

We have 7 directors who have control of the corporation… I can blog till the cows come home and so can just about everyone else but until the Directors announce that they have decided to revamp the system its still the same old… same old…

The first step is to admit that we have a problem… The 2nd step is to do something about the problem…

Thanks for the information that the Directors and the Board will be meeting in Ottawa at the end of October… I would love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting…

WHAT THE HECK… IN THE SPIRIT OF BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT CAN I ATTEND THE MEETING ???

I think I know the answer but I had to ask…

Failing that how about a Q & A session after the meeting…??? With you and/or the Board if they choose to attend…

We can work out the details closer to the event…

We all have the same agenda on this one… We all want the same things…

Thanks for your efforts…

73bob

Post to Bob

August 26, 2010

Following Bob, VA3QV’s blog comments about RAC and its board of directors, RAC President Geoff Bawden sent this reply to Bob which was posted on his blog.

Hello Bob

There are a number of blogs from me on our blog site. As Peter posts them a quick read will look like they are all from Peter West .. [although being our VPPR he does generate the most “ink’ [possibly John Bartlett excepted]. Any spelling errors are mine by the way… some of the Hailfax blogs were early in the morning!

You quote my blog on finances and note for that reason alone we should look at changes .. quite right but not the only reason and change must not just address financial issues, finances are only one of many issues…  I believe that you did link your readers to my blogs from Halifax [there were three]… thanks for that.

In late 2009 I collected all the strategic and planning documents for RAC over the last ten years and two documents stood out .. a 2006 Omega report and the 2008 Bartlett presentation. I had been looking for a strategic planning methodology for the board and executive and when John more recently emailed me from Colombia offering to help I invited John to the next board teleconference and we [the board and executive] determined to proceed with that specific exercise.

The board and executive will meet in Ottawa at the end of October to forge a strategic vision/proposal and plan for RAC. By the way everyone of the board and executive will be paying their own way .. digging into their own pockets. John will be coming up from Colombia at his own expense. The blog is intended to generate member and ham comments before the planning session and frankly to stir comment and debate.

This is a controversial approach .. not every ham supports this approach, however we have revieved more recommendations and comments in the last week as compared to any previous period. I doubt whether this public communication/publication is perfect [not everyone reads blogs] but I know that there are a number of clubs which have added the topic to their September agenda [the more clubs the merrier]. Club as well as individual ham input will prove very valuable.

I recommend that members email their Directors with their comments. I know that Directors are responding to many queries and not all queries or responses end up on the blog.

Take care .. thanks for your comments and putting this on your blog

Geoff Bawden  VE4BAW – President and Chair of the Board

What is RAC’s Real Value?

August 25, 2010

Think about it for a moment:

What is the real value of Radio Amateurs of Canada?

Is not the potential to create a better experience for all licensed Amateur Radio operators in Canada?

Isn’t that it?

If you agree, then what do you think we need to do to realize this goal?

The Magnificent Seven

August 25, 2010

Bob, VA3QV, has got to be one of the best friends Radio Amateurs of Canada has in the blogosphere. His VA3QV Blog is must reading around here and today’s posting is no exception. Bob has got a pretty good grip on what’s being ailing RAC and has the courage to speak out about it. I highly recommend  you read Bob’s post. And watch the video 🙂

Bob makes some good points and I’d like to add my comments to them here.

Bob is correct in saying that John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ, created a document called RAC’s Strategic Future which was presented to the Radio Amateurs of Canada’s board meeting held in Cornwall back in 2008. Why was it not brought forward to the membership and acted upon is something that happened in 2008 and don’t have an answer.

What I can say is if you’ve read John’s work in bringing us back to this visioning process, you’ve not only seen everything that was in the 2008 document but a whole lot more.

What concerns me is in some of the communications dating back to the 2008 meeting there are some references to what might happen if RAC didn’t change. The conclusions back then were, among other things: that RAC would face declining membership; loss of revenue from sale of ads and  products; which would result in a  financial deficit.

Guess what?

Flash forward to 2010 and as Bob points out in his blog that’s where RAC finds itself.

Now Bob moves forward in his commentary to point the fickle finger of fate at what he calls the Magnificent 7 (which was really a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic The Seven Samurai) which is composed of the seven regional directors of RAC. (Well at least he didn’t lump President Geoff, VE4BAW into this as we might have had Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but that’s another movie.)

Under RAC’s current governance structure the seven directors are the only folks with an actual vote when it comes down to making decisions. And, as much as I’d like to see this change, it’s not the real problem! In a year and half I have yet to hear the directors make a decision that hasn’t been for the overall good of Amateur Radio and Radio Amateurs of Canada.

What the larger problem has been is getting board and executive members to enlist the help of all members of Radio Amateurs of Canada to act upon the things that need doing. This board/executive group (and I’m including myself here) and the boards that preceded it have been pretty good at doing some things right but, the question remains, have we been doing the right things?

That’s why several of us are pushing very hard to implement this visioning process in 2010. If we members leave it in the hands of seven guys who got voted in and a dozen or so folks who got appointed (like me) to do the work then we’re in a lot more trouble than we might have thought. There’s too much work to go around and it’s all important work.

Let’s face reality here. Over the years some of the guys on the “team” haven’t been pulling their weight and some are working way too hard in their volunteer position but this is the nature of any group and should come as no surprise.

The problem is this fact has been pretty much ignored. There are no job descriptions and no work reviews. No one is held to account. This is a serious flaw in our management structure and needs to be addressed.

And I disagree with critics who say you can’t hold volunteers to account. Tell that to the volunteers who work fearlessly for organizations like the Canadian Red Cross Society or the men and women who put their lives on the line working for volunteer fire departments across Canada. Nonsense. We should expect more and demand more from our volunteers and those who aren’t willing to work hard during their tenure should make way for new blood. I believe strongly in rotation of leadership and I will rotate my way out of the VP of PR position to allow somebody else to get involved and make a contribution.

Take the national membership campaign for an example. I got all kinds of heat around not offering some incentives to encourage people to join. I don’t believe in offering incentives to join an organization where the benefits are so obvious. What I asked for was that everyone in the leadership group take personal responsibillity to ask at least 20 other hams to join our national organization.

So far, I’ve had two reports of minimal success. When Ontario South Assistant Director Doug, VE3JDF and I worked the Ontario Hamfest in Milton, which is a medium-size fleamarket, we got 25 people to join or renew in three hours. How? We asked everybody who walked passed the booth whether or not they were a RAC member. Those who said yes, we thanked for their support. Those who said no, we asked them to join us in supporting their national organization.

Poor President Geoff who has been with us for a year or so, I am certain sits up in bed and asks himself “what did I get myself into?” I, on the other hand, wake up in the middle of the night and go back to a restful sleep knowing we have a president with huge amounts of group experience and government work behind him. (Geoff’s a big mucky muck in the Manitoba government in case you didn’t know.) The few calls for his departure are both premature and uncalled for.

I’m not saying that President Geoff is going to save the day but I am saying he’s the best shot we’ve got right now and I for one do not intend to let him down by keeping my comments to myself or by not doing what I say I will do.

Now as to Bob’s comments about the directors’ comments. If Bob is speaking about the 2010 Transformational Process, I agree with him. There has been little comment or public support of the process and that concerns me.

However, if Bob is speaking about the directors’ willingness (even eagerness) to communicate directly with members and non-members who have raised issues, then I can clarify the situation. Every comment or blog posting that affects the board or RAC or has been a complaint aimed at an individual has been forwarded by me to the board/executive group email. In every case where there has been an accusation of neglect, the affected board member or members have communicated directly back to the person.

So far in 99.99% of the cases where we’ve been accused of ignoring someone it has been my experience that there was a simple breakdown in the communications. (When it comes to emails, we have the ability to search our database for the original email and often it just isn’t there. Some people put way too much faith in sending a single email and then not taking responsibility to follow it up or to make a personal telephone call. All of our phone numbers are on page 4 of TCA so really folks there’s no excuse to claim you were ignored if you didn’t take the time to call.)

Finally as to Bob’s comment about RAC being a secret society, I agree. Member-driven public organization should not have any closed meetings with the sole exceptions of issues dealing with competitive bidding for services or matters involving paid staff (where professional reputations are involved). Again in almost two years I have never heard a single decision discussed and voted upon that could not have taken place in public.

I hold a minority point of view here and have been told as much but that’s why we have annual general meetings which are run under Robert’s Rules of Order and are open to all (not just members) and subject to motions from members….like me and you 🙂

So Bob (and the rest of you) remember the power to change RAC for the better rests in the hands of the ultimate authority – the members – you OMs and YLs who care about Amateur Radio. This might come as a shock to a few folks.

Solar Cycle 24 underway but slowly

August 25, 2010

The Huntsville Alabama Hamfest last weekend heard from NASA’s Marshall Space Center solar scientist Dr. David Hathaway who presented a talk entitled “The Solar Dynamo Saga: Chapter 11“. (This link is to a PowerPoint presentation from NASA.

Dr. Hathaway’s conclusions: The good news is Solar Cycle 24 is definitely underway and should peak in July-August 2013. The bad news is Cycle 24 he predicts will be the weakest in the last 100 years.

Part 12 – The Man In The Mirror

August 24, 2010

John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ, has sent us Transforming RAC – Part 12 where he encourages us all to step in to the transformational process.

Over the last few weeks John and I have spoken almost daily and somedays several times a day about the process RAC has embarked upon. Initially I indicated that I was fearful of where this process could take Radio Amateurs of Canada. Based on my reading of the attempt back in 2008 to offer RAC the same process, which was not implemented, I asked John why he thought this time would be different. I said I didn’t think the leaders in RAC or the greater Amateur Radio community would step up and get involved.

We talked for days about my fears of the process and the participation of others and then my training as a group coach kicked in and I realized it wasn’t the process that I was afraid of it was my ability to participate in it!

So when I hear that some leaders in the Canadian Amateur Radio community question the public process we’ve started I can sympathize. Change is always challenging but the challenge isn’t about the process, it’s always about ourselves.

It’s about how we stay true to our word. How we retain our own integrity and trust ourselves to remain open and engaged especially in the face of anger or ridicule (which is always shame-based and is one of the great weapons that men in men’s groups try to use to defend themselves and their point of view).

Once I realized that my fears were all about me, I was immediately ready to engage because I know my agenda (and we all have agendas – I got that from President Geoff who laughed me off the telephone when I said I didn’t have an agenda when it came to this process) and it’s to do my very best to make RAC a better organization for all – members and non-members alike.

So don’t be afraid of the process. Here’s some gold from the men’s groups I coached:

Go look at the person in mirror and ask yourself what can he or she do to make RAC better for everybody who loves Amateur Radio in Canada.

Pakistani Hams Relief Work for Flood Victims

August 23, 2010

This from the ARRL: According to the Pakistan Amateur Radio Society (PARS) radio amateurs in Pakistan are working with the Islamabad Jeep Club and Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians to provide relief activities in those areas of Pakistan devastated by floods.

For more information including operating frequencies being used by PARS operators visit the ARRL link here.