Saturday, October 09, 2004

Cleaning up after the kids

Everyday, I make some improvements in my own organization as well as that of the office. Today I attacked the copy/supply room, which is usually a blizzard of papers that people print and then never collect. Kerry better win, because our office alone will have caused the death of so many trees that another four years of Bush may well mean the end of the world. It drives me nuts how wasteful certain people in the office are, and how better organization and communication could prevent such needless consumption of paper; but I suppose if trees have to be felled, we can console ourselves with the thought that we are fighting for a better world, not only for trees, but for people, too!

I’m quickly gaining a reputation for being a bit anal; I think I about drove a few people batty today with my insistence that they copy originals (that is, laser printouts) of flyers, instead of copying copies and copies of copies, the rationale being that the quality quickly degrades. I’ve said before that the young people running this operation have a “cram-for-the-exam” attitude, where they don’t plan much in advance, don’t anticipate their needs, and thus don’t have much time or concern with such matters as the quality of the copies they are sending out. If I wasn’t so confident that I was making a big difference, I might feel kind of stupid for insisting on such things. But actually I think my concern for such matters is critical, and my attitude has changed as a result. As I take on more and more organizational challenges, I find myself more willing to fight battles that a week or two ago I didn’t concern myself with at all. I had to turn a blind eye because I couldn’t handle the chaos. Now however I know that if someone doesn’t step in, the crises will be grow to such a proportion as to be completely unmanageable. So I’m stepping in and insisting on a certain level of organization for the materials that we use to distribute information and run the phone banks. Making and organizing materials isn’t rocket science, and neither is cleaning up a messy room, but these humble tasks are part of the victory, a big part.

This evening I found out purely by accident that a volunteer had made us a website, and I jumped at the chance to use it. I have thought several times how useful it would be to be able to publicize over the web. Granted, we live in a county full of elderly who don’t use the internet, but it can’t hurt. I phoned up this guy Joe, and we’re going to met to update the site so that when we publicize it, it will give accurate information. Done well, it will save us time answering easy questions and will hopefully make it easier to get volunteers where we need them without having to initiate by making phone calls. Right now, our only ways of getting information out is by phone and by email, but email is pretty cumbersome, due to a) the fact that we have no server of our own, and use Gmail; and b) the fact that anti-spammer rules limit us to emailing 50 people at a time, so you have to break your list of 1000s of people in to groups of 50. You can imagine how time consuming that is.

While I am thus engaged on these somewhat micro issues, Robert has been doing some major macro stuff, making a plan to build or supply workspaces not only in our office and the adjoining space to it (now empty), but also the offices in Delray Beach and Lake Worth, both cities further south in the county. Between the two of us, I must say, we are a powerful force. We make things happen by doing them, things big and small. We’re in this thing all the way, until the end. We even have a hundred or so plastic bottles in the back seat of the car as we look for a place to recycle them—the igloo by the condo was full today (it’s the last priority I think after two hurricanes). Today, as my final task of the evening, I rounded up all the garbage (a job Robert usually does). I make a damn pretty janitor, if I do say so myself!

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