At our Founding Conference on Saturday, our Constitution and organisational plan* were ratified, almost unanimously. 65 supporters attended, and our overall numbers of supporters hit the 200 mark.
We also agreed to continue with an interim committee, open to new volunteers, for the year leading up to our AGM, when elections will be held.
Issues raised in morning discussions included hopes for what we might achieve together, and the directions our union might take. Phrases which jumped out for me in this discussion were:
"reclaiming the word radical"
"valuing what we offer as therapists"
"having a presence"
In the afternoon, we identified areas to focus on and divided into working parties around some of these issues. They were:
Ethics and Diversity
Recruitment and Retention
The devaluing (commodification) of therapy (and its opposite)
The majority of these embryonic working parties are now using the Group pages of the Ning to organise and continue discussions. Summaries of the discussions and action plans which took place on Saturday are available, or are in the process of being made available, on the relevant Group pages. All are open to all supporters.
It's hoped that the Ning will prove invaluable as a deeply democratic resource, allowing open discussion, evolving action, and supporting cross-fertilisation of ideas and campaigns.
It also makes space for disagreement and tussle. It is noted that there were a small number of "againsts" and "abstentions" in the process of adopting the constitution and organisational model, and these voices are valued and important. Our working documents were adopted on a "good enough" basis, with provision for improvement, clarification and amendment over time. There will be a group for ongoing discussion/suggestions for amendments around this, so that we can have a transparent process to call on when we come to the AGM in a years time, to review and amend where necessary.
Important conversations were begun around models of democratic process, and are also being continued on the Ning. Part of that may involve a discussion of how the committee relates to the membership, how we can together embody the kind of non-hierarchical structure we want to see, how we can avoid repeating the oppressive structures we want to challenge. For more about this, see the Diversity and the Democracy and Transparency groups.
It was an exciting and challenging day. We have a Union! And an opportunity to shape that in ways which reflect both the needs and practice of our unique membership.
Huge thanks to all supporters for making this happen.
A welcome in advance for anyone wishing to join us.
*These documents can be read in full on The Articles page of The Ning.