[ALAC] Some thoughts on ALS Criteria & Expectations Taskforce

Alan Greenberg alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca
Fri Aug 7 22:58:49 UTC 2015

Carlton, I think that there are three distinct categories of people 
here, and we are merging them together.

1. There are the dedicated hard workers for whom the travel may or 
may not be a "perk" at some level. I put you and me in that category. 
I have logged close to 2 million flying miles (that is, actual flown 
miles, not frequent flyer miles), and to quote an old song I am fond 
of "The thrill is a long time gone". I find it hard to consider a 
trip half-way across the world, where I may get 6 hours sleep, put in 
a grueling 7-10 days, and fly out again without seeing anything other 
than a hotel, perhaps 1 or 2 restaurants and the airport a perk or reward.

On the other hand, on rare occasions, I do tag some vacation onto an 
ICANN trip and from that perspective, it does add a bit of a personal 
benefit - generally giving me an opportunity to see a place that I 
might not have done on my own.

2. There are volunteers who are not among among our heavy lifters 
(really dedicated workers), but want to get involved. They are the 
ones that our GAs and summits should be targeted at. They are at the 
meetings to learn, and try to stay involved after.

3. The latter ones come to meetings, perhaps attend some meetings, 
enjoy the local offerings, and go home and forget about us until the 
next trip. THOSE are the ones that I have a real problem with.

Of course, there are also some who straddle several categories. BUt 
when they go into option 3, I have a problem.


At 07/08/2015 01:55 PM, Carlton Samuels wrote:
>I participated in this morning's call and wanted to level the 
>playing field by enunciating some principles and a framework for our 
>Let's start with some principles.
>1) The At-Large is a volunteer-led and fueled organisation and 
>whatever we do MUST be informed by unassailable facts we know of 
>voluntary organisations plus the psychology of voluntarism.
>2) Individuals make the worthwhile contributions, not organisations.
>3) There is a wide range of motivations for voluntarily contributing 
>and these must be fed for sustaining worthwhile contributions
>4) Results matter but volunteer contributions across the board shall 
>always be uneven
>So now, the framework for discussions. There are structural issues 
>as well as political issues that must be embraced for any viable 
>solution to emerge.  The ICANN/RALO MOU is the source of the first 
>structurally-generated challenge.
>While it recognizes individuals as the providers of policy advice, 
>it locates individual actions in organisations called ALS. And by so 
>doing suggests that value be given to the organisation.  Some RALOs, 
>like NARALO, have developed rules that recognize individual 
>contributions but have shoehorned valuation for contribution into an 
>ALS structure.  I'm not now sure what the answer should be but I 
>know what we now have is not fit to purpose and objective.
>Another structural issue.  An individual coming to the ICANN policy 
>development ecosystem is going to become a worthwhile contributor by 
>virtue of mental acumen, penchant for hard work and time in place. 
>Time in place is the common criteria for success.  So current 
>arrangements give extra value to experienced volunteers.
>At the same time, new blood is required to sustain the flow of 
>worthwhile contributors. Here's the thing. Face-to-Face (f2f) ICANN 
>meetings are the best platforms to learn and to become familiarized 
>with this complex beast called the ICANN ecosystem.
>The effectiveness of a volunteer in policy development is directly 
>related to serial opportunity to participate in ICANN f2f 
>meetings.  It is no accident that the most impactful groups in ICANN 
>are a) those that get to f2f meetings as 'volunteers' engaged in 
>compensated work b) Those who have the wherewithal to self-fund 
>attendance at ICANN f2f meetings.
>The task is to develop a framework that strikes a balance which 
>takes into account the need for experienced volunteers with capacity 
>to deliver worthwhile contributions even as we build capacity in 
>newer less-experienced volunteers to sustain the At-Large participation agenda.
>The current funding model for attendance of At-Large volunteers to 
>ICANN f2f meetings assist ALAC representatives, liaisons from ALAC 
>to qualified SOs/ACs plus named RALO leadership. This construct 
>seemingly presumes a direct line of inheritance from RALO leadership 
>thru ALAC representation. We know it is a presumption without merit, 
>especially if worthwhile contributions to policy discussions is the 
>objective for the At-Large in ICANN.
>It is always wrong to think of travel funding to ICANN f2f meeting 
>as a benefit to a volunteer!  It is not and cannot be!
>ALAC representation compels attending three (3) f2f meetings per 
>annum. They are coincident with the ICANN meetings.  In this 
>context, travel funding is purely part of the infrastructural cost 
>to fulfill an obligation. Otherwise it is like working for a company 
>that has business far removed from my place of domicile and expect 
>performance without provisioning the tools that enable that performance.
>It rankles me personally when my contributions in both time and 
>treasure to the ICANN enterprise is neither accounted or 
>valorized.  Then insult is added to my injury when some goof equates 
>a trip sitting in steerage for upwards of 17+ hours [the flight time 
>from Chicago to New Delhi] as a benefit!
>I travel by air a lot for work; the miles are now counted in 
>millions. In the years I sat as an ALAC member + the incumbent 
>Secretariat for LACRALO and as a senior staffer at The University of 
>the West Indies, I contributed my vacation time of 3 weeks to ICANN 
>for attending f2f meetings. This does not count the average 20+ 
>hours per week I normally dedicate to ICANN matters. Nor my personal 
>spend of a minimum of US$500 to attend said meetings!  These all 
>contribute to ICANN having a real opportunity to record it is indeed 
>multi-stakeholder, is fulfilling its AoC obligations and has 
>contributions from end user representatives to its policy development.
>Back in time, I was roundly criticised by some of my At-Large 
>colleagues for my position in dealing with so-called ALAC 
>'tourists'.  This matter came to the top in India; LACRALO 
>representatives to ALAC were accused of abandoning ALAC business for 
>a tour of Indian tourist sites.  This still haunts the At-Large in 
>ICANN circles. My firm stand against any sanctions or additional 
>criteria applied for travel support funding was interpreted as 
>'protecting' the members accused from sanctions for inattention to 
>duty.  That was never my objective and it still is not the case 
>today. I just cannot accept the notion that travel funding is a 
>benefit to the volunteer. I shall, on principle, oppose any such 
>notion, howsoever derived or configured.
>Finally, in the chat we heard talk of a 'reviewer' being appointed. 
>While the roles and responsibilities of such a person/actor is not 
>yet outlined, let us be clear to ring fence and give specific 
>instructions as to what we are trying to achieve here.  We must 
>recognize from principles that volunteers give as much as they can 
>to the cause.  The contributions in time and treasure of a Olivier 
>Crepin-Leblond or Cheryl Langdon Orr cannot be used as a benchmark 
>for either engagement or indeed, worthwhile contributions.
>Carlton A Samuels
>Mobile: 876-818-1799
>Strategy, Planning, Governance, Assessment & Turnaround
>ALAC mailing list
>ALAC at atlarge-lists.icann.org
>At-Large Online: http://www.atlarge.icann.org
>ALAC Working Wiki: 
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