I don't think I'm too far off the mark when I say that the Pirate Party here, and Pirates around the world are looking forward to seeing changes in the PPI. After years of division and problems I think many of us are unsure as to whether that change is even possible. We've been concerned about the direction of the PPI, its role, even its ability to manage itself, I've been worried about the people leading the organisation and those involved in shaping its direction. Well, it may be early days, but it feels like something may have changed.
How people work together is important, taking a look at that was part of the reason I attended today's board meeting. I won't claim it was perfect, or even that there might not be a few problems on the board, but at the same time it seems like PPI board has some solid new members who are keen and able.
The meeting kicked off with all of the new board present, the two chairs, Maša Čorak and Koen De Voegt, and the rest of the board Thomas Gaul, Stathis Leivaditis, Bastian Krone, Gregory Engels and Anders Kleppe. In addition to the board, Nuno Cardoso from Portugal and Tony Motakis from Greece and I turned up to listen in.
The meeting kicked off with Koen chairing and the everyone giving a quick overview of what they had already done. Gregory talked about the transition work he had begun, IT and that he had updated the PPI site with the new information from the GA, including the statutes changes. Thomas also explained that he had been dealing with administration. Both Maša and Koen seemed to have spent the last few days finding their feet, taking a look at what was going on and checking their new accounts and access. All in, a good start.
I'm actually really pleased that the group took care of communications next, after all being able to get in touch is pretty vital.
The next item on the agenda was a retrospective on the GA: First there was the positive, we learned that some of the material from the working groups then on the Saturday would be published soon. Then it was time for some constructive criticism and a run down of the issues.
Bastian was pretty unequivocal, he made it clear that he wasn't satisfied with the organisation. Whilst Gregory pointed out that this GA had the smallest production team of any he had been involved with he also concluded that it close to being a complete organisational failure. Both Koen and Maša did a good job in teasing out the issues and extracting lessons to take forward.
It was also interesting to hear that delegates had jumped in at last moment to help set up, it seems that without some of the German Pirates present there could have been even larger issues.
The consensus was that though the GA had worked, there had been serious communications and timings issues. Happily it seemed everyone wanted to make sure that the PPI learned from them. I think it was Thomas who pointed out that prioritising the remote delegates and making sure they weren't left out of the GA had been an important move. I can agree - whilst the UK had someone in the room for most of the GA, Thomas jumped in when he was needed and we were never out of touch, although that communication was mostly by phone... Well, if it works it works.
All in all, and with a couple of exceptions, it felt like the board was working well together. It was good to see problems being identified and dealt with, not ignored.
Next up was the election of a treasurer. Given that PPI finances have been a huge issue for the UK, I was pleased (although not surprised) when Bastian put himself forward and was elected. He's easily the most qualified candidate and someone that I had had some pretty constructive conversations with.
Thomas was then elected as the chief administrative officer. Given the work the UK has carried out with hi, I'll also take this as good news. I hope that we can continue to work closely on the structural issues and I'm sure Thomas will be keen to deal with them.
Next the board discussed finances. Again a huge issue for the UK and it was good to see it dealt with in some detail. Whilst the proof will be in how much progress is actually made, the fact that many of the issues the UK has raised were addressed was pretty positive.
It was also good to see Koen and Maša again ask the questions that needed to be asked, from what had happened to the previous treasurer, existing accounts right through to the structure of PPI.
I was also relieved to hear Maša asking for an independent view of what had gone on, pointing out that Gregory and others all seem to have had their own version of what had happened to PPI finances.
Now whilst what was laid out has been covered in our own reporting on the PPI and finances, it was good to hear it all being aired in a board meeting and that there were less objections to the current state of affairs. I won't go into massive detail here, but I think, based on what was said that we might start to see the financial and administrative problems being fixed.
Whilst the board were going over finances, I reiterated the UKs offer of support. I was also asked some questions by Koen and Bastian and explained our position a little. The end result is that there are practical things to do and we can help.
Koen also wanted an overview of the issues with PPI HQ, which he got. Again some of the UK's work with PPI came up and was covered and again solutions were found. With any luck the PPI will be on a firmer legal footing fairly soon.
Most positively Koen and Maša both seemed determined that the confusion that reigned about the PPI and PPI HQ within members, would be dealt with. PPI members would be getting the information they needed to understand how PPI and PPI HQ link together, and how any changes would effect that link.
As the board meeting continued I was aware that the dynamic between those who wanted to get things done seemed better than the last few meetings I'd attended. Maša and Koen especially seemed to be in it to get things done.
It's also great to hear the the PPI board intend to run a physical meeting soon, a chance to get together, work and get to know each other better. I know that's a real benefit to us in the UK (and I've probably spent way too much time explaining how valuable that is to anyone who will listen) and Thomas Gaul pushed fairly hard to get the ball rolling on that.
So, all in all I think we can be cautiously optimistic. Granted, we have to wait and see, but it really does seem like we may have turned a corner, or at least started to. Having Bastian on the team should be invaluable and its good that both Maša and Koen seem unwilling to continue the status quo, but instead want to forge ahead and get stuff done.
We'll no more in a few weeks, so watch this space!