On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 10:46 AM, Nathan <nawrich(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Suppose the Hong Kong chapter had initially declared
itself the Chinese
chapter - would that forever preclude the creation of other, separate
chapters within the geographical territory of China? That presents a
first-past-the-post incentive, and might encourage prospective chapters to
describe themselves in as broad a way as possible.
This is a good question, but maybe the better one is "is there any
incentive for a chapter to be defined over a larger geographical area
as opposed to a smaller one?" Would WMNYC have any kinds of benefits
if it had declared itself to be WMUS instead? I think the answer is
"no". In this case, WMNYC is a community-oriented chapter that defines
itself primarily through it's outreach activites. Even if it accepted
members from California, those members wouldn't be able to participate
in any of WMNYCs activities.
Distance can create a huge barrier to entry. Being larger may mean you
can accept more applications, but not all of those members will be
able to fully-participate. I'm in Philadelphia, and even though I'm
not too far away I still find that I can't participate in many
activities because of the distance. This may mean, in the future, that
I need to pursue a different venue for participation, either through
the creation of a local section of the larger chapter, or splitting
away and forming a new chapter entirely (and the mechanisms for that
course of action are as yet unclear, if they are even possible).
I would say that there is no benefit in defining an area larger then
the chapter can reasonably support. If you cannot accept, manage, and
involve members from your entire geographical area in a reasonable
way, then your stated area is not an accurate depiction of your region
of influence. Chapters that claim to support a larger area then they
can reasonably handle create a detrimental situation: Potential
members in outlying areas are disenfranchised and have no recourse to
form their own separate chapter if they need to. Chapters should only
form on the national-level if they have nation-wide volunteer
interest, activity, and support.
We should be hesitant to accept national chapters who cannot support
membership from their entire area, or national chapters composed
entirely of volunteers from a small population center. In many cases,
subnational chapters should be the preferred way of organizing because
it's a more realistic use of volunteer capabilities.