Instructions for Starting a Work Group

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As of 12/19/2011

1. Think about the topic/issue you want to work on, research, act upon. Look at the big list of Working Groups and see if there are any that are already thinking about or acting upon the topic. Make sure to look close, because existing WGs may be covering "part" of the issue, and you could ask the members of that WG to extend their "scope" to include the issue you're concerned about. Or you could work as a "subgroup" to the working group, and maybe take advantage of the existing skills that are coordinated in one spot. It's often worth asking! At the very least, if you contact the group, you will raise awareness of the issue, and perhaps find people that are also concerned.

Also, it may help to talk to a few people working in similar Working Groups to make sure people are supportive of your planned "Statement of Work". The "Ideas" Working Group is helpful for that.

2. Assuming that no other working groups are already covering a topic, find a few people that are interested in working on it. Email the big lists with an announcement that you're interested to find others to work with. You may find that someone's already formed a group that just isn't listed yet on the big list of Working Groups. Then voila! You've found a home for your work!

3. If you don't find an existing group, but find one or more people to want to work on the topic, coordinate with the people interested and come up with a "mission" statement for the group. Make sure to email the mission statement to the big lists, to make sure everyone knows specifically what you have in mind, and to make sure, one last time, that there's no overlap with what other people are doing. No sense in spending time doing the same thing twice. You may find that people contact you to ask you to modify the mission statement to avoid overlap with existing groups.

4. Create a wiki page for the new WG, making sure to include your contact info and the mission statement, even if it's just in draft format. The wiki is a great place to "develop" documents such as a mission statement, because it tracks changes, allows you to "revert" to old versions, and provides a link for you to send around in emails while you recruit and coordinate.

5. Once you have a wiki page posted, you are sort of considered an "informal working group". Of course, you can be informal without a wiki page. But once you have a wiki page, you're sort of on the books as existing. But not quite as formal as having gone through GA. To make your Working Group "formal", as opposed to "informal" (we haven't worked out the specific titles yet, but there's a general sense that we dont' like the word "official"...or "established"... but nonetheless, there are two types of working groups...those that are approved by GA, and those that aren't.)

6. To propose to the GA that the working group becomes "formally recognized", attend a General Assembly and announce the formation of the WG and what the focus of your task will be.

This is a good opportunity to recruit like minded individuals to work with the WG.

Also, it helps to bring a bunch of copies of a written description of your proposed Work Group, so that people at the GA can read it.

3. Establish WG meeting dates and times: this could be once a week or up to 7 times a week, e.g., the acilitation working group meets five days per week, alternately the Nonviolence WG meets once a week. Other working groups are "virtual" and meet online via discussion lists and/or conference calls. However you decide to meet, it's important that the public have access to the lists and to the meetings. So if they are timed events, they must be posted on the calendar.

4. Establish a wiki site with a contact email address, if you haven't already. The Internal IT WG can help you with this.

That's pretty much it for the establishment of a WG. It's basically considered an autonomous action. Working groups are comprised of anywhere from one to dozens of people.

For additional questions, please send an email