Barista Camp 2015 may be finished—certificates have been received, goodbyes have been said, and small wares have been packed!—but our working group is still working hard on our end-of-year goals. Before Barista Camp, we announced that we created a structure through which BGE will become a sustainable and democratic organisation; during our four fabulous days of camaraderie and learning at Camp, we asked all of you to get involved, either by becoming a voting member or by nominating yourself to become a member of the working group.
In conversations afterwards, we realised that there were still a lot of questions left unanswered: What's the real time-commitment? What do the job titles mean? How does the group work together? What’s the meaning of life? (Hint: 42) With this in mind, we’ve put together a Q&A about all things working group, found below. If we’ve missed anything, reach out to email@example.com, and we’ll update the Q&A with an answer to your question!
How does the current working group function?
Our current working group didn’t have the defined roles for which we’re asking people to self-nominate—those came after we’d had a chance to dig into some of the work that we’ve done this year. We self-organised into several smaller groups focused on specific goals, and kept in touch via skype calls (monthly), emails, one-on-one chats with our fantastic coordinator, a project management tool (Asana), and our day-long quarterly meetings. We originally started with the following groups:
- Finance & Partnerships: Andrew Tolley, James Hoffmann
- Communications: Jenn Rugolo
- Education (Online): Kalle Freese, Jenn Rugolo
- Structure: Tibor Várady, Dale Harris
- Events: Nicolas Clerc, Dale Harris, Tibor Várady, Jenn Rugolo
After we realised that having an online educational presence outside of filmed talks from CoLab & Camp was going to be difficult with our current team and available finances, we then began to shift into slightly different groups, based around meeting our goals for the end of this year:
- CoLab: Jenn Rugolo, Nicolas Clerc, Tibor Várady, Dale Harris, Isa Verschraegen
- Camp: Kalle Freese, Isa Verschraegen, lead volunteers
- Finance/Partnership: Andrew Tolley, Isa Verschraegen
- Structure: Tibor Várady, Dale Harris, Isa Verschraegen
- Communications: Jenn Rugolo, Isa Verschraegen
The current working group will work with the newly-elected working group at the strategic meeting (scheduled right after CoLab in Paris) to pass along the learnings we have had from our year of working together and to ensure that there is an amount of continuity from one year to the next, but the group is flexible, and we’re sure the new group will find better and more efficient ways to work together!
What’s the average time commitment?
Working Group members should expect to do a minimum of 2 hours of BGE-related work a week, mostly through email and our project management tool (Asana). Now that there’s a structure in place, the new WG members will be primarily doing strategic thinking, setting goals and providing advise to Isa as projects get under way. WG members will also be asked to participate on skype calls relevant to their role as needed, which are often held monthly.
And then, of course, the WG meets for one day every quarter to make high-level decisions and share progress on projects: these meetings are fun, but intense, as we always have a packed agenda and need to make lots of decisions as a group. Pro tip: if you read all the pre-reading beforehand, the meeting moves more quickly, and there’s more time for fun after!
What is expected of each role?
After our year of working together, we’ve realised two important things: (1) without someone owning overall responsibility for one area, important jobs get lost and (2) there’s a lot more overlap between roles than you think. With this in mind, we set out six different roles with explicit responsibilities that will be supported by all of the others. Please note these are presented alphabetically, and not by order of importance or commitment involved!
- Communications: The BGE Communications Co-ordinator is responsible for the overall communications plan, which includes communications internally (meeting agendas) and externally. There is now a basic structure in place, which the next communications officer can either build on or completely re-tool—it’s up to them! Generally, this person will work closely with Isa, either by providing feedback on drafts of communications or providing briefs on content and tone. If you’re passionate about punctuation, getting the message out, and planning in advance, this role is for you!
- Community: The BGE Community Co-ordinator is responsible for providing strategic direction in all things community-building, from social events at Camp & CoLab to online community building and everything in between—this will hopefully also include some new initiatives that can be run independent of events! We have a basic plan for community events within Camp and CoLab, but there’s a whole wide world of possibility when it comes to local and online community building—not to mention the idea of barista exchanges. If you’re passionate about bringing people together and having a good time, this one is for you!
- Education: The BGE Education Co-ordinator is responsible for providing strategic direction for BGE’s educational activities, both at events and online. This includes helping to determine the educational tracks available at Camp, working with the educational partner to build content for CoLab, and organising any online educational initiatives outside of Camp & CoLab videos that the WG would like to pursue. This role might be best held by an AST (for their intimate knowledge of the CDS system, around which Camp is based), but it’s not required—anyone who is passionate about education, learning, and inspiring baristas is welcome!
- Events: The BGE Events Co-ordinator is responsible for providing strategic direction for all of BGE’s events (currently Camp and CoLab), including reviewing proposals for event locations and bouncing ideas around with Isa about logistics, supplies, and volunteers. Again, we have a basic structure in place for BGE’s events next year, but the Events Officer can help to drive new initiatives of agendas, activities, event structure and locations, and host partners, as well as new events. This role is for anyone passionate about brainstorming, logistics, and lists!
- Finance & Partnerships: Look, we know this is probably the least-sexy role available on this list, but it’s hugely important to BGE being a sustainable organisation. The Finance & Partnership Co-ordinator is less of a number-cruncher and more of a financial conscience for the organisation—Is this budget feasible? Can we build stronger relationships with our partners? This role is best suited to an outgoing person who enjoys building relationships with other companies that believe in the work BGE does. If this sounds like you, get in!
- Membership: The BGE Membership Co-ordinator is responsible for providing strategic direction in serving and maintaining membership, as well as reviewing any structural changes (hello, by-laws!) that need to be made to the organisation. Our next Membership Co-ordinator is the kind of person who likes to think about what it means for BGE to deliver value, how we can best serve our members, who always has their ear to the ground, takes feedback well, and likes to be amongst the people.
Cool! I'm interested in nominating myself. What do I need to do?
Awesome! Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject 'Join the working group' and providing the following:
- a head-shot picture
- a small 'manifesto' presenting the direction you'd would like BGE to move (max. 300 words)
- your preferred role, and why (elections will take place per role)
We advise you to read through our by-laws, as well as encourage you to also send a short CV or bio along. Please note that to accept your nomination you need to be a BGE member. The deadline for nominations and/or candidacies is 4 October 2015.
Oops. I'm not a member yet. How do I become one?
We've got a handy-dandy page on how to become a member and this magic link will take you straight to it.
I’m interested in more than one role. Can I nominate myself for more than one?
Yes! We love that you’re so enthusiastic about getting involved. When you send your nomination, please indicate your first and second preference of roles.
I really want to get involved, but I’m not sure I have enough time. What can I do?
Becoming a WG member is just one of the many ways you can be involved with BGE—we work with an incredible team of volunteers both before and during all of our events, in creating online content, and promoting activities at a national level. If you’d like to volunteer some of your time, please drop a mail to email@example.com and let us know how’d you like to help!
Why should I be involved in the working group?
We bet you’re expecting some clichéd answer about how it’s rewarding to bring people together, it’s good for your career, because you’ll be making a difference, yadda, yadda, yadda, and yes, that is definitely a part of why we got involved. The best thing we found, though, is the experience of working with a really tightly-knit team driving towards a common goal and the rush of serotonin it brings when you realise you’ve made something happen.
If you want your job to be sustainable, a better wage, better equipment, better information, better education—if you believe baristas can actually help to make the coffee industry more sustainable, both economically and ecologically—if you have crazy ideas for social events, educational programs, large-scale experiments—if you think there’s something valuable BGE can do for the barista profession and community—now’s your chance to get stuck in and make some of these things a reality.