PUL | The Time for Change Pt 2
You can find Part 2 of The Time for Change here.
What was the biggest challenge to the drastic budget rework? How did the board approval process go?
We had already been drastically re-working the PUL’s (and PULF’s) budget in response to COVID, especially as we moved to first postpone and then cancel the season back in March. This involved all the big challenges most organizations like us were going through - loss of revenue and sponsorship money, reducing staff hours and pay, holding off on some of the bigger “operational'' expenses like event insurance, etc. In a way that laid the groundwork for and provided an opportunity to reassess our league’s spending and priorities in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the organizational transformation it fomented.
It’s been an emotionally challenging “season” for everyone involved in the PUL. Back in March we talked on a board call about the 26 PUL board members being an “apocalypse survival team” and committed to getting through whatever challenges lay ahead together. For the Board members who have been meeting every week (and more regularly in committees), these shifts haven’t been easy. . . but I think that the underneath-it-all trust and support these people have for each other has allowed the group to effectively navigate these changes together.
- BONESAW (PUL Commissioner, Austin Texas)
I would add that the budget approval process has involved a ton of work by our Treasurer, Angela Lin, in collaboration with the Finance Committee and PUL Development Manager Hannah Leathers, to develop a budget that reflects the PUL transition plan forwarded by Board President Maddy Frey.
I think it’s cool that you asked this question because the work of leading and now transforming organizations isn’t sexy or glamorous. It involves hours and hours spent in spreadsheets, planning docs, and Zoom calls, re-envisioning, seeking input, and revising, all while unlearning the white supremacist norms of urgency, perfetionism, defensiveness, and many more that we have been taught.
- Maddy Frey, (PUL Board President, Atlanta Georgia)
Do you have any advice for other organizations or groups that want to be, or are working towards being, an anti-racist organization? First steps perhaps?
Significant, transformational change must be supported at the top. As a board and/or leadership team, dig in and have conversations about racism. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed. It’s ok that you don’t have all the right words - you are going to misstep throughout this process and say the wrong thing or misphrase something. Learn from it, do your homework, and move forward. It’s good to feel uncomfortable sometimes - that’s where you can dive deep and uncover issues, shortcomings, and mistakes on an individual and organizational level.
It’s ok to feel overwhelmed. It’s ok that you don’t have all the right words - you are going to misstep throughout this process and say the wrong thing or misphrase something. Learn from it, do your homework, and move forward.
Make sure your employees and constituents are involved in the process and can provide feedback in a safe, supported environment. Research and learn from experts. Seek out anti-racism trainings and facilitator trainings. Do not lean on your BIPOC coworkers to do the work for you or teach you. Identify where you have fallen short as an organization, admit fault, and commit to real change. If you are not equipped to identify those missteps, bring in experts! Inform your organization about the goals you have regarding anti-racism, what steps you are taking to make long lasting change, and how your constituents can hold you accountable. Be transparent and flexible in your process as you continue to learn and move forward.
No one has all the answers. This kind of work demands a commitment for the long haul. It does not happen overnight or over a couple of months; it requires a concerted unrushed approach and dedication to a transformation by all members.
- Colleen Wright (PUL VP, Nashville, TN)
How can the community hold you accountable, as you asked us all to do in your update? What does that look like to the PUL?
We would be open to hearing any critiques or questions about any of the actions we take and statements/letters we release - this can drive meaningful learning and growth for us! We are open to (a) providing our thought processes behind anything and (b) adjusting if we find your critiques and ideas to be productive and interesting, assuming that you’ve done your own reflecting and are open to doing more processing based on our responses and any resulting discussion.
I think that’s how we all support each other in doing this work! You can send feedback here or email the league address. For example, we received an email just after we published the Letter and Actions. The individual clearly put in time and energy - it was well written, included supporting docs and videos, and it pulled in a lot of very pertinent topics that surround racism, anti-Blackness, police abolition, and how our organization and mission/values fit in.
I worked on a response for a while, working through a process of finding and reading and re-reading resources and editing to try and fully capture my thoughts as they evolved along the way. And I eventually sent my full response with kinda extensive references. If you’re interested in reading it and exploring the resources cited, it can be found here in a format where you can also engage with me/us by commenting.
- Angela Lin (PUL Treasurer, Eugene, OR)
Photo by Jason Holleran