... of the WREN Board Meeting, 1st October 2013*.

WREN has monthly board meetings, which are open to any of the 1001 WREN members to attend. I proved this last Tuesday when I went along, but I was the only one of what you might term the general membership to do so. Even that is being a bit disingenuous, since I went mainly because I’ve taken up doing this blog. I’m sure, though, that more members would be welcome.

‘Apologies’ and ‘previous minutes’ took little time to get through. Election of officers, though, took surprisingly long. A discussion began about the role of chairman and became in effect about the core values and culture of WREN. All board members, including the chairman, strongly see it as a co-operative of equals (as opposed to a traditional hierarchical organisation) but it nevertheless has a chairman who, for practical and historic reasons, is seen by the world at large as the face of WREN. How to address this is something the board, and members too, will have to think about, over time.

A report on the recent Wadebridge Energy Futures exhibition held in Wadebridge Town Hall said that something over 450 people attended. Just over half the attendees were WREN members, who presumably have a predisposition in favour of WREN and its aims. But that also means that nearly half were not, so it was reaching people who hadn’t made the small commitment of paying £1 for life membership. Member or not, it didn’t seem to matter for the voting on issues: support for the ideas proposed ran at over 90%. The board took this as approval to go on (it would be hard to argue otherwise) so the next steps are to turn ideas into action, building on that support. [See the previous blog posting and the news item on this website. If you missed it, a slightly abbreviated version of the exhibition is now on show in the Energy Shop in Wadebridge. And if that is too far to travel, watch out for it on the website – coming real soon now.]

The next discussion was about volunteers. WREN is too reliant on too few people and needs to bring in more of the community. Contrariwise, (some) volunteers who mainly mind the shop don’t find it very interesting. The risk of having some volunteers whose skills are not being utilised to the full whilst other volunteers are overstretched and could use some help is clear. If current volunteers become disenchanted and leave, you lose the basic cover needed to keep the shop running and you lose a constituency of people who will talk well of you and pull in other people. Further, as WREN picks up on the things that Wadebridge wants to see done (following the Energy Futures event) there will be more work to do overall and the contribution of volunteers will be vital. It would be tragic if the limit to WREN’s plans proved not to be ideas, not to be finance, but rather the availability of people. That means engaging with the current volunteers to enhance what they can contribute, and finding new volunteers.

WREN has seen the problem and will be taking action. If you are a volunteer, look out for an event coming up. And if you’re not, why not try it? I did, after Energy Futures, and look where it got me.

*Full minutes of the board meetings are published on the website here after consideration and approval at the following board meeting.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of WREN.