Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Beyond Political Correctness (RID 2009)

August 5th, 2009

Philadelphia, PA
Biennial Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Business Meeting, Redux
The process of the RID Business Meeting has a similar feel to many of the sessions held by Members of the European Parliament – this is TRUE BUSINESS, serious slogwork the ramifications of which are potentially huge. We have had no problem reaching and maintaining quorum, although retaining those members who do come to experience it for the first time is a challenge. Ken local stagehand.jpgKen, one of the stagehands hired from a local company to run the cameras, was entertained by the hour we took to amend the standing rules on the presence of breastfeeding mothers during the Business Meeting. I know – it may seem ludicrous, yet this attention to detail reveals something essential about how we approach our work as interpreters. Inclusivity and acceptance of difference are core values. Diversity, agency, and empowerment permeate the heart of this organization – even when we fail, we recognize the failure on the basis of ideals we are striving to achieve.
Increasing the participation of RID members who do not seem to pay attention to the organization’s business is a major challenge. Ken, as an outsider to our organization, was simply comparing our group theatre to the performances he usually films (and, let me tell you, he indicated we are far from the extremes he has witnessed! Apologies if anyone is disappointed, grin. Ken elaborates: “This can be compared to our union meetings, we have peaks and valleys too!”) An RID member who has attended several conferences but never been to a business meeting before yesterday told me, “I was there for the breastfeeding session; that was enough for me.” She got the impression (it seemed to me) that that particular “session” is “all” that we do. Nothing could be further from the truth.
One needs some endurance to ride this ship, because the destination is distant and the path arduous. But we do make progress; the growth is measurable and substantive. The Certification Maintenance Program was instituted as a policy goal in 1993 and achieved full implementation (including the degree requirement for all new certifications) in 2009. For a service organization experiencing exponential growth in membership, fifteen years is a respectable time frame to grow an integrated infrastructure that can sustain our profession through the coming century. We live in an era of unprecedented contact with peoples who used to occupy only the remotest fringes of awareness. The totality of the earth’s interconnected human systems of commerce and well-being become more apparent every year: events like the financial crisis, evidence of climate change, and ongoing threats of war as a “solution” to local and global challenges of competition and limited resources serve to emphasize the real extent of interdependence.
As a democratic organization, RID represents U.S. style democracy. The major issue during the second half of the business meeting involved ways to increase participation of members in voting (a right often considered as an optional privilege instead of as an obligatory responsibility). motions in motion.jpgThe debate was long and involved, with the original motion evolving, through amendments, from the narrow tactic of granting proxies to a broader strategy of investigating the potentials of technology for increasing both accessibility and voting.
Part of what we need is a sexy internal marketing program that inspires interest in the nuts and bolts work of the organization. If members are curious, entertained, or otherwise realize personal/professional benefits of involvement, then they will come. I can imagine, for instance, a short video-commercial featuring Vice-President Robert Balaam’s flirtatious proclamation,

Ah, we’re back to the main motion!

Or, a series of clips showing Dave Calvert, patiently explaining (yet again), “There are no Points of Clarification, only Points of Order,” followed by the member who later introducing her turn with, “I have a point of something.” Or yet again, a series of the numerous instructions about introducing oneself, and apologies for forgetting, including the member who introduced herself as Oprah Winfrey.

Looking Back
I missed the conference in San Francisco (although I was gratified that Dan, Mr Politeness himself, insisted that he personally missed me, haha), but I did blog from San Antonio (July 2005, listed in chronological order):

There have been a few other reminders from the past: presenting at Alaska’s State Conference (where the group relations concept of “self-authorization” was in full swing, and you can tell that I was really excited about it, smile, from the number of preliminary/anticipatory blogposts, in chronological order, 2004, listed here mainly for my benefit, lots of anecdotes about events/experiences during my own interpreting, and for anyone who wants proof that blogging improves with practice):


In the meantime, I met one of the interpreters involved in a situation I wrote up (for the Views – oh if I could but remember!) about an impressive instance of interpreter decision-making, and someone who reminded me blogging about a job (which I do, periodically, obscuring identificatory details): it might have been one of those I’ve written about the interpreter moving instead of sitting still, such as time, sightlines and the concept of visibility.

References/Resources:
Conventions for English glosses of ASL (a note to work by Evelyn McClave)
To Amend, Robert’s Rules of Order (thanks to Carla for the link!)
Certification Maintenance Program, RID
Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT)

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