I’ve kept fairly quiet (in writing) about my recent resignation from my role as workshop chairman/coordinator. But I’m sure folks, who only heard rumors, are wondering what happened. Let me explain:
Thursday went by without incident.
Early Friday I was informed by two ODPC officers (the president and the treasurer) that I had violated ODPC golf cart rules Thursday.
I should explain that last year this was also an issue, but I was told by both Don and Herb in 2007 to “do things my way” because it made sense.
Here’s the problem. The rules for golf cart usage state that I can’t give rides to anyone except when it’s for official ODPC business. I contend that if the ODPC is renting these vehicles, they should be used however and whenever we can best utilize them. And using them to promote good feelings of welcome is part of our role.
(Everyone should realize there are rules for golf cart usage in the by-laws that are being ignored and other arbitrary rules have been created by the Board.)
I loved giving Kathy Cook a ride the first year she came to the festival. I’d keep a list of the newcomers who contacted me about the festival. I’d find them and offer the “tour.” I loved that welcoming gesture.
I also found myself frequently giving rides for folks who had handicaps. I’d sometimes seek out old folks who couldn’t walk far and show them what they were missing in the corners of the fairgrounds. I loved it. So did they!
Despite a rule that stated “no under 18 passengers,” I also used the cart when Tommy (my 11 year old assistant) would help me pick up the supplies from the workshop areas at the end of the day. Tommy had been helping for TWO previous years so this was his THIRD year helping me with job that was mainly legwork. He loved it. So did I because I could see he felt “valued.”
I was told to find someone else over 18. I couldn’t do that to Tommy.
I was told those things I was doing had to stop. I was in violation.
I could have understand if there was a risk, so I asked, “Do we have insurance?” I found that we are amply covered.
But the response was, “Yes, but we don’t want to use it.”
I was shocked. I wasn’t risking Tommy. I wasn’t doing anything that would put either of us in a bad position. Same holds for handicapped transportation (and in fact I could see a greater risk if we DIDN’T give them a ride).
I had been told by three of our handicapped members that they had asked for rides on Thursday (when it was hot) and they’d been turned down. I couldn’t go along with that.
So when I was told I was wrong about my use of the carts, I said, “I guess you better find someone else to do workshops.”
It wasn’t for me, but folks need to wake up! Folks need to realize that every person is important if they’re 11 or handicapped and 62 or 82. It doesn’t matter. They are all valued and need to be given anything we can give them. I don’t deserve to ride more than they do.
So I quit. I figured if the ODPC had lost it’s heart, it was time to remind them or step aside because I don’t want to be in a position to support such an organization.
But an even bigger issue had bugged me. I was upset because, over the past three years, I have brought to the attention of the Board that there are many performers who are ticked off!! I spend dozens of hours each year listening to them. They feel the ODPC treats them shabby. I had begged the Board to review their policy of advising folks at 4:30 p.m. on the day of their stage appearance if/when they will be on stage. Nothing had happened despite stage folks coming to the board meeting and speaking up saying “There’s a problem here.”
It’s totally absurd to have folks with talent that they bring to Evart not being treated with proper respect. They need to know BEFORE the festival if they’ll have a spot and WHEN/IF they’ll be on stage. 4:30 on the day they’re on stage doesn’t do it. There isn’t time to find back-up and make a band. There isn’t time to be prepared. Ladies want to look nice, do their hair, get their costume ready. It’s just too short notice. Folks want to tell their friends and the students in their workshops. But the line-up isn’t ready until 4:30. (In fact I looked high and low for a list of acts on Saturday night about 7:30 and ended up going back stage to find out when folks would be on.)
I have been told that the fairgrounds is questioned by publications/newspapers/media who want to know who is coming. We could use this information in advance to promote the event. Afterall, attendance isn’t growing. We could stand a boost.
If SOME (not all) of the acts were pre-scheduled, we could still save some slots for those we discovered on the grounds who want to go on-stage last minute.
Paul Van Arsdale came to Evart this year. He loved it. But it is embarrassing to say to someone like him (a major talent) who is coming and wants to be part of the festival that they won’t know if they can go on stage until the last minute. He asked, but I had to explain that he’d have to “sign up” at 4:00 and then return at 4:30 to get his time on Saturday afternoon, if he wanted to be on-stage on Saturday night.
Because of this policy, fewer people are volunteering to go on stage. Therefore at the festival they’ve put all comers on stage, but many of the “big” talents we have previously don’t attend any more. They aren’t going to drive across the country on some vague “maybe”.
So my stand with the two board members was also because of that issue. In fact, the lack of “listening” by the Board to those performers/workshop leaders/vendors was definitely more crucial than the golf cart issue, but both showed the same weakness. People/volunteers weren’t being “valued.” They were being mistreated.
I finally said, “NO!!!!”
Please understand I’m now working with Don to see if there’s a way. If my departure hurts the festival, that’s the last thing I want. I want to have folks “LISTEN.” I don’t want a thing more for me. I just want the performers I encourage to come to be valued and treated appropriately.
After my resignation, the golf cart issue was finally straightened out. (When I pointed it out, they checked and found they were violating the law.) NOW I CAN GIVE YOU A RIDE IF YOU ARE HANDICAPPED. I can also offer my 11 year old assistant a ride when we’re WORKING!!! I was even told that giving “rides” to guests who are suffering from age or health problems can be viewed as part of my role as a Board member (which was my position all along).
Now if I can get the practice of waiting until 4:30 to invite stage show folks to be on stage changed so they’ll know before they come to the festival, I’ll be happy. Or maybe I’m wrong and the solution isn’t to pre-plan the stage show. But if that’s the case and if the other side of the position is freely discussed and folks “LISTEN” I’ll still feel satisfied. Folks just have to start opening the lines of communication. That hasn’t been happening. Folks complain and no one responds.
I know it seems like I’m a spoiled kid who stomped her foot and wanted her way, but look at who I was fighting for? Those I am in awe of because they’ve inspired so many with their talent, Those who are young, or handicapped. I wasn’t asking for me.
So that’s the story.
If they can fix things at the September Board Meeting I would love to continue to serve you all. If they don’t, I am sure someone else can do my job. I’m not the only one who loves this event.