Hubs/Implementation/Regional Hubs Draft Plan/Interview 3
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This page is part of the Implementation Report for Regional Hubs. It regards specifically Interview 3.
- Date: June 30, 2021
- Duration: 1 hour
- Profile: Wikipedia Editor - User Group Leader (active online and offline)
- Region: Western Asia
- Gender: Woman
- Interview language: Arabic
Questions and answers
1. How do you see a hub in your region by 2030? What do you expect from it?
- For me I define the region as the Arabic-speaking region, and the community as both online and offline. I am not comfortable using the terminology MENA, because it includes many regions and communities that might not be in our scope. I prefer to limit the hub to the Arabic-speaking community, and that the hub is centered on the Arabic language. This way, the hub can include anyone speaking Arabic, no matter where they are in the world.
- I do not think that by 2030 there will be a hub with offices and headquarters in our region. However, I am confident that there will be more employees in our region, that can collaborate with volunteers and build the hub. These employees shall be based in the region (not necessarily in the same city), and can work remotely to serve the region. I do not think the WMF should be involved in creating the hub, but it should support with recommendations and any resources (financial, legal, skills) needed, especially in the beginning. It is better that the community does the work.
2. What is the path to be taken so that we can reach the hub you dream about?
- First we should define the roles and responsibilities. Our region is complex, we have many countries, experienced groups as well as new ones, and the very big online community. This can be source of conflicts, and this is why it is important to be very clear about all roles and responsibilities. This work needs volunteers. We need to decide how these volunteers will be chosen to have legitimacy. For example, by having each user group appoint/elect one member and create a team/committee. In the same way, the online community chooses a number of people to form the team and commit to work for a number of hours per week (for example 5). Once the team is created, roles and responsibilities can be defined (communication, partnerships, management, etc.). Before choosing any person, it is important to have the list of roles and responsibilities, as well as the scope and limitations. Therefore, the start of a hub is not by having a list of projects and goals, but rather a list of roles and responsibilities.
- This team (similar to the interim global council on a local level) will be responsible for creating bylaws and setting up the grounds for the hub. This includes planning projects, timelines, and making sure that this work does not overlap with the local groups. One of the mistakes made by the Arabic committee was that there were so many ideas. These ideas were good, but they were many, and instead on implementing one idea well, there were so many discussions on the side that resulted on the problems we all know, and on this committee ending up dismantled. For this, I think that building this core team is the top priority. It shall be a team with legitimacy, with members supporting each other, and working on one goal and one idea, not many in parallel.
- Once this team creates the hub, it can be dismantled, to allow the final hub to take place
3. Who will work in this hub? Is it employees from the hub itself or the WMF?
- The employees would be hired and funded by the WMF. Ideally, either the WMF hires a number of people distributed over the region, each living in a country, who will work remotely for the hub. Or, this hub is created by the community, who later would apply for a yearly grant, estimating the different costs to hire the employees it needs. This second approach, although it gives much flexibility to the hub is very problematic in our region, for these reasons: (1) The structure of a hub is still not clear. Do we in the community now need to create a user group or a chapter? (2) Legal barriers, and (3) funding restrictions in our region. If we suppose that the fiscal sponsor in country A received the grant, maybe they could not pay the employee living in country B.
4. What you are describing is very close to a chapter. Can you motivate why you would need a hub, and what is its difference with a chapter?
- If we re-read the original idea of a regional hub (according to the strategy recommendations), we can see that it was suggested and endorsed by people who were part of chapters. What is the purpose of a hub? If we step back a little, we can see that a hub is much bigger than a chapter. It can even coordinate between chapters. Moreover, chapters can have different ways of funding (sometimes they rely on fundraising or donations). A hub is more axed on collaboration and operational work, rather than being an independent entity seeking its own funds. A hub should have clear sources of funding so that most of the energy is directed towards the work being done.
5. How do you envision the relationship between the hub and the WMF?
- I think that the hub can be seen as a single point of contact between the Arabic-speaking community and the WMF. In particular, it can be seen as an opportunity to improve the relationship between both. The WMF is supporting the idea of hubs, gives it priority, and wants to implement it. Therefore, I do not think that there will be conflicts between both. As someone involved within the international movement, I see that many communities have a bad or inexistent relationship with the WMF. One of the main duties of a hub will be to act as a link between the communities and the WMF.
- People working at the hub need to have an excellent relationship both with the communities and with the WMF. Most specifically, there should be a smooth communication and information exchange between the hub and the different departments of the WMF. These departments should also be made aware of the existence of the hub. On the other end, the hub team must collaborate as well with the local affiliates. It should be a communication in both direction, where both are at the same level and can help each other with any information needed.
6. Do you think that the hub then should report to the WMF?
- If the hub will receive funding from the WMF, then it should definitely report to it. However, I would like to see the hub managing independently its local matters. I do not think that there should be instructions or control on how the hub should work. The hub should be independent, in a sense that it can be presented by a list of deliverables, and that it sorts out how to do it, then delivers it.
7. Why do we need a hub in our region? Do all regions need a hub?
- Maybe not all regions should create hubs at exactly the same moment. First of all, studies such as the one you are doing are needed. The main challenge for me is to ensure that the hub is not conflicting with the local groups and affiliates. Also, how will the hub extend the work to areas without affiliates. This can be an important task for the hub.
- Maybe it is not relevant to have a hub now, but it is important that studies such as this one are made for all regions. An important step is to know what will happen after that your report will be sent. Who will act on the recommendations emerging from it? Where will these reports be gathered and how will they be used?
8. How can creating a hub from the community happen without problems such as what happened in the Arabic committee case? How can we ensure that?
- The solution is to have a hub emerging from the community. In the case of the Arabic Committee, it was something emerging from the user groups, who are somehow disconnected from the online community. In the future, what I suggest is that every single step that is taken shall have legitimacy from the community at-large. Community should be consulted since the beginning, especially when the core team I mentioned earlier is created. It should also be consulted about the different roles and responsibilities. The hub team should create a framework of community consultation that will give it more legitimacy, and allow it to better tackle the critics. The legitimacy of the hub comes from the community.
- The regional hub should be serving the Arabic-speaking community, and have Arabic as its core (same as linguistic hub).
- There is a needed support from WMF to enable building a hub in the region. This support should be financial, legal and in terms of skills.
- The regional hub should not overlap with the local affiliates, and the boundaries should be clearly defined. The question is: by whom?
- The regional hub should be initiated by the community. The Arabic-speaking community should come together and create a core team that will initiate this work.
- The structure of the hub needs to be investigated and clarified. Question: Who has the mandate to do this work? Is it the Affcom?
- One of the main responsibilities of a hub will be to act as a link between the communities and the WMF.
- One of the important tasks that a regional needs to do is to cover the areas without current affiliates, and foster opportunities there.
- The legitimacy of the hub comes from the community. The latter should be consulted in all steps and decisions before they are made.