Guidelines Revamp

Finger on keyboard key representing a LifeRing Call To ActionCall To Action

In a recent survey regarding Board of Directors (BOD) engagement, I shared my thoughts on LifeRing's commendable efforts within the constraints of a limited diversity pool for a non-profit. I emphasized the need for urgent steps to enhance our communications and policies, fostering inclusivity and equity.

Let's delve into my perspective:

Fifteen years ago, when I joined LifeRing, demographic surveys indicated a majority of older, white, and highly educated individuals. I didn't fit this profile at all initially but have since joined the first group (Go Team!). Despite feeling somewhat uncomfortable in similar spaces initially, the welcoming and transparent nature of both my local meeting culture and the organization motivated my increasing participation.

LifeRing, whether intentionally or not, was created with a systemic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) framework embedded in its bones, most notably reflected in the bylaws and the guidelines outlined in the How Was Your Week convenors handbook. This text highlights the role of the Convenor in curating meetings, empowering members to self-govern, and amplifying traditionally less-heard voices.

Operating as a self-directed organization, LifeRing is strongly influenced by individual members, fostering an inclusive environment. However, governing an organization composed of individuals dealing with adversity and trauma, some with negative experiences from similar organizations, poses challenges. Residual animosity and mistrust may lead to fear, suspicion, and anger, manifesting in rebellious and disruptive behaviors.

In the pre-virtual era, in-person interactions were the norm. Nevertheless we were prompted to create our Terms of Use policy for virtual interactions due to susceptibility to anti-social behaviors. Fast forward to today, and our interactions are primarily virtual, with a new set of challenges requiring adaptation and refinement of policies to protect members and the organization. To best address these, we are currently revising our related policies and guidelines.

What's In It For Me (WIIFM):

For Members: Contemporary behavioral guidelines for enhanced meeting integrity and individual safety.

For Convenors: Clearer guidance and resources for dealing with incidents in a meeting-specific context.

For the BOD: Frameworks and workflows for consistent issue resolution, promoting equity in response and reducing reaction time.

For All: Transparent and easily navigable guidelines empowering everyone to understand expectations across various scenarios.

In conclusion, we're actively enhancing our policies and practices to meet the evolving needs of the organization. This isn't a solo journey—we encourage all members to contribute. There's no special requirement; your input and support are invaluable. Consider engaging through the suggested ways listed below; we eagerly await your contributions to these important changes.

Njon Sanders plays a crucial role on the Board of Directors, contributing significantly to the enhancement of LifeRing's behavioral guidelines to better support the expanding and diverse LifeRing community. These efforts are aligned with the objectives outlined in the  LifeRing 2023-2024 Strategic Plan.

More about Njon:

Njon Sanders joined LifeRing in January of 2009 and started convening after just a few months. This led him to start several in-person meetings in San Francisco in his first years, and he was asked to run for the BOD at his 2-year anniversary. He went on to host a number of annual meetings and chair the board for 2 terms. Njon was again elected to the board in 2023 and now serves to help LifeRing find its new post-pandemic “normal” in the current volatile environment. His term ends in 2026. Njon on LinkedIn.