For the last time, I got to the end of the agenda, past approving the minutes from last meeting and the reports, and dispensed with new business, tabled some ongoing old stuff, and for the last time, I looked up at a meeting for the little paper that could and I said:
"I'll entertain a motion for adjournment".
And someone motioned, and there was no seconder, because my board knows that you don't need a seconder for an adjournment motion, but you do need a 75% majority, and I called the question, and I put my binder back in my bag, and gathered my belongings, and I walked out of the room.
I am, on paper, by the bylaws, according to the Societies Act, the chairwoman of the little paper that could, for another 10 days. 10 days measured against 5 years doesn't seem to much.
And I could talk about the stuff we've done, almost doubling our distribution, colour art work. Distribution through Canada Post, not volunteers. Regular columns. Letters to the editor. We are the only community newspaper in the city. And we are a real newspaper - we have journalists and copy editors and we talk in column inches. A group of mostly women, we started out 5 years ago, and I tell you, what did we know from column inches and ad rates?
But we did it. We payed for issues, even when we robbed Peter to pay Paul, and I showed up to a meeting or two with my cheque book, just in case. The little paper that could. We learned what a rim pig was, and when we hired a journalism student, we didn't let on that she knew a hell of a lot more about journalism than we did! Someone threatened to sue us, and I sat in a lawyer's office and learned about slander and libel. I can tell you what constitutes fact checking.
We did other things, we made friendships. I planned a board meeting from my hospital bed, and after Gabe's death, our managing editor gently put the interview questions in front of me, even bringing me a pen. Propping me up, so that I could interview the new ad rep. These women brought me food when my mother had her stroke, and I have bought wedding presents, house warming gifts, knitted baby hats. We've gone out for dinner, for drinks, helped each other weed. I have held hands, we have drank coffee and schemed.
And I have learned. I have learned to be more quiet, to look at faces, teasing out board members who are more silent. I've learned when to speak up, to make a decision, to move on. I have learned that you can have a board meeting that runs with Robert's Rules of Order, or runs around a kitchen table, and both of them get stuff done, but people are just people, and most of us know from kitchen tables.
I have learned to hire and fire, to exercise patience, to get to the bottom of the problem, and to listen for the problem that is not spoken. I learned crises management the hard way. I've learned to lead on the fly, while running and reading the map. I've learned to be decisive, even when your mind is only 45% made up, and when to say "I don't know. Let's ask an expert." I've learned that everyone makes the wrong decision sometimes. I have learned 3 different communication styles, 4 different forms of conflict resolution, and 5 different ways to split the difference. I still only know one way to announce that we have gotten off topic.
Last meeting tonight. I'm not sure I've learned enough. But the little paper that could? It still can.
All in favour? Motion Carried.