Thursday, September 8, 2005

When you go viral and call in the calvalry, sometimes it pays to take a deep breath.

I have issued a call for full time project management in a number of areas to help out with the Katrina PeopleFinder Project. Our all volunteer leadership is pretty worn out, as you might imagine. Lots of new leadership is emerging in the community, so we might yet self-organize our way into an even bigger sucess (email list volumes are pretty staggering, so it may already be happening).

I would prefer a single organization came in to marshal resources, improve communications, help the community set goals and assemble volunteer teams to meet those goals from within the community. Pre-existing relationships go a long way-- you don't have to learn a new person's name every five minutes. It will be chaotic.

The team that will manage the official "selection" (which up to this point has been the first competant person to show up) gave me a great analogy. The first stage of the booster rocket has burnt itself out. We are in that momentary lull between the first booster rocket shutting down and the second booster rocket ignighting. The second stage is all about nourishing and supporting the community of both highly technical and regular people volunteers to self organize. From there, we break free of gravity.

The project management people are human routers, they don't develop project plans and just implement them. They over-communicate and create opportunities for the community to come together over certain goals.

  • Priority 1. We need to get very specific offers from organizations. Include resumes.
  • Priority 2. The selection team will look at your stuff. Hopefully you have already oriented yourself to what is happening in the community, or better yet, have been part of the community since the weekend.
  • Priority 3. The selection team will train and orient the full-time volunteers. This process should take at least six hours, you'll talk to a lot of people, each with a different vision and view on what is going on. It is pretty much that complex.
  • Priority 4. The project management team needs to enter the community and just start being human routers, being patient as volunteers check in and out, most not able to keep up with traffice on the email list, or even figure out what changed over the last 5 minutes.
How to help:
  1. Contact me. I will forward offers to the selection team.
  2. Be patient. Lots of people, lots of activity.
  3. Up till now, we have been entriely self-organizing. You are welcome to just wade in. Like our data entry, the process of organization can be viral and massively parallel.

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