“MOMSAH” An Ad-Hoc Committee For Rebuilding The Meetinghouse

8/8/08, lightly revised 8/13
As Friends who heard the Trustees report at the July 25 MWB know, investigation following the sprinkler break now reveals that the “new” part of the TCFM Meetinghouse is “sick.” This is a semi-technical term, meaning that inside the building’s walls there exist conditions that make using parts of the building hazardous or potentially-hazardous. In TCFM’s case the main problem is mold, and the damp conditions that have allowed it to develop.

Attenders at MWB also heard that efforts to remedy this situation are well underway. A group of people, mostly from Trustees and Meetinghouse Committees have accomplished a remarkable amount, so far, mostly in assessing the size and scope of the problem. This all happened on an “Oh my gosh, what’s happening, let’s-get-going” basis, which has left some people concerned that they might be left out of the decision-making process as it goes forward.

Now, as we begin to let contracts and oversee the corrective work, we are looking to create an ad hoc committee that will oversee the process for the next six to twelve months. Hopefully this committee will be able to hear, and take into account, all community members with opinions. As Clerk of Meeting, I was asked to form this ad hoc committee.
I am starting the process of inviting community input by sharing what has developed this last week. This is my second draft of what I imagine the committee will look like and how it will function. I am sharing it here so
1) almost everyone has a chance to know my current thinking and can talk to me about other things they think should be included.
2) I plan to use this as I make my calls to recruit committee members, so that they know what I am asking them to get themselves into.
I may call you or I may not. I will be looking for people with particular skills and expert knowledge and also for people who can represent the interests of particular groups who will be affected, like First Day School. I hope to have perhaps a dozen committee members chosen by August 17. I hope many of them will be folks who are already up to speed with the rebuilding process. If you want to be considered and I have not talked to you by Friday, August 15, let me know.

At the Trustees/Meetinghouse Joint Committee meeting on August 4, we named this to-be-formed committee MOMSAH.

In my view MOMSAH, at its most expanded, is a community-wide shared awareness among people who know what is going on with the Meetinghouse rebuilding process.

Friends who accept my invitations to join the MOMSAH committee are leaping on an already-moving carriage, which is currently named the “Trustees/Meetinghouse Joint Committee.” As MOMSAH jells, some current members of the Trustees and Meetinghouse Committees will drop their focus on rebuilding and step off the carriage (but not necessarily their original committees) as the new MOMSAH picks up the reins of the rebuilding responsibility.

The work of the next several months has two major parts we can already see clearly.

    1) Working from the outside, ripping off the parts of the exterior which have been letting water get into the building for years, and repairing the damage.
    2) Working from the inside, in the Friends in Residence apartment (mostly), to remove moldy areas, install better ventilation and create a healthful space.

Another potentially-major project, for which we should have a diagnosis by mid-August, is the area above the meeting room ceiling. Are there unacceptable levels of mold between the ceiling and the roof? Large ones? If there are, that will also be a priority for MOMSAH’s attention.

Things are moving very quickly, and there could be more expensive surprises as we begin to tear out the leaky and moldy parts of the building. Decisions will need to be made quickly. MOMSAH will have an email list (technically known as a list serve) which will inform MOMSAH members of new developments, and will be a way for members to share concerns with one another.

The Trustees/Meetinghouse Joint Committee has been meeting approximately every three weeks on Monday evenings and new MOMSAH members should plan to come to the next meeting, September 8. (These meetings are open to ALL persons.)
Many of the issues will be faced and decisions made during the early fall , and the number of meetings will be dictated by the issues. During September, meeting at two-week intervals should not be surprising.
The pace should slow dramatically by late fall, and there may be little to do after February. MOMSAH members working at the most responsible levels should feel free fully released from the committee’s work by next August, but might be needed until then. It is my goal that by next summer all ongoing responsibilities will be moved back to standing committees like Meetinghouse and Trustees.

Members will participate in MOMSAH in different ways with different levels of responsibility.

Technical Consultant Level:
This is mostly Mike Cregan and Jeremy McAdams. They have been consulting intensely with the Trustees/Meetinghouse Joint Committee for many weeks.
Perhaps some others with special technical knowledge like Lane McKiernen will be part of this group.
They are the ones dealing with the technical and professional people, for the most part.
They will make the technical decisions that don’t need to be brought to MOMSAH, or which cannot be brought to MOMSAH because of time pressures.

Decision Group:
(I imagine 3-5 people working at this level, available for quick consultations with the “Technical Consultants.”)
These people will have an overview of all the MOMSAH projects, as they develop.
And a responsibility to notice issues that are not getting enough attention.
They have a major say in the larger decisions.
They determine which decisions are so large that they need to go to MWB.
Specified Decision Group members will be the ones to authorize the Treasurer to write MOMSAH-related checks over a specified dollar amount.
Some major decisions will not be made at scheduled meetings, because of the pace of developments, but Decision Group members have the responsibility for alerting all MOMSAH members to events on the horizon, and receiving relevant inputs, so that decisions can be made as intelligently as possible.
The Decision Group would function something like an executive committee, for the larger MOMSAH.

(Co) Clerks
Could be a single person, or shared one or two ways.
They probably are Decision Group members, but perhaps not.
They clerk MOMSAH meetings.
They are attuned to TCFM processes and deadlines.
They will likely have primary responsibility for keeping the larger TCFM community informed, including seeing that meeting minutes are published.
They will also seek other ways to ensure a good flow of information to and from the Meeting community.

Representative Level:
Includes people representing:
First Day School Committee
Development Committee
“Experts” in allergies, chemical sensitivities,
Friends sensitive to other disability issues
Other subgroups of TCFM, like Fellowship
During times of peak activity, these people need to check their email on a daily basis, alert for issues that may affect the group they represent.
They need to be thinking about issues mentioned in the list serve, and issues that should be mentioned but have not been.
They will talk with others in the group they represent, to know the range of opinions on relevant topics.
They will attend many or most of the regular MOMSAH meetings
A “representative” might also be in the Decision Group.

Basic Level: Being part of the informed community
Being on the list serve.
Monitoring when their input is needed and attending the relevant meetings, or getting in touch with the appropriate people.

Process of Forming the Committee
(Revised 8/13)
MOMSAH will take over from the Joint Trustees-Meetinghouse Committee, which is already functioning strongly.
The transition needs to be seamless, so that balls are not dropped. This should be possible, since several Trustees-Meetinghouse Committee members will likely be serving on MOMSAH.
As I talk to people about serving on MOMSAH, I am trying to get them to say “yes, definitely,” to service, but to remain flexible about at exactly what level of participation they will contribute. That’s because I want to give MOMSAH committee members as much flexibility as possible to determine their own working arrangements. After people say “yes” to being on the committee, I sometimes explore with them whether they are willing to be “nominated” to a particular role, like Co-clerk. Once MOMSAH is functioning as a committee, MOMSAH will consider my nominations to particular roles. As a group MOMSAH decides who will be Co-clerks and who will be in the Decision Group. They will take my nominations into account, but may decide on different people, and perhaps even on different arrangements altogether.

Similarly, I don’t want to be too directive about the size of the committee. My particular vision is that everyone who wanted to could participate at the “Basic Level,” outlined above, and that, in fact, any meeting member who wanted to criticize how things are being done would be expected to be active at the Basic Level for at least two weeks before they were entitled to make a suggestion that would significantly change how things are done. That may be unrealistic and I want to leave up to MOMSAH itself many aspects of how the committee functions.

What is not in this MOMSAH draft
MOMSAH will not be focused on the old-house part of our Meetinghouse. It is not sick. While there is work that needs to be done on the house, it has lower priority than the sick-building work and is not part of MOMSAH’s job.
There is no talk here of financial matters or of fund-raising.
Obviously, some of the choices the meeting community will be called upon to make will depend on how much money we think we can raise. At our 7/25 MWB we glanced at this issue and took a big gulp.
This all still has to be addressed and worked out and, so far, the Development Committee is the committee most on the spot. We are not in a short-term cash crunch, AND we clearly are going to need more than we have in the bank. As we make decisions in the months ahead, there will be an interplay between how much money we think we can raise and how long-lasting and how “green” our construction aspirations become. How the information is gathered and how the decisions are made is still to be worked out. Surely this will be a big topic at the September 12 MWB. Surely ALL of the big decisions will be brought to future MWBs. Beyond that, we are just working things out.
Will we need a MOM$$AH committee too? Stay tuned.

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