Group considers ways to make GA more inclusive, engaging

Group considers ways to make GA more inclusive, engaging

Workshop participants discussed ways to help the UUA Board reimagine governance.

Sonja L. Cohen


“How can we make sure that we are making decisions at GA about the things that matter the most?” That was one of three questions people considered Friday afternoon during a participatory workshop on Reimagining Governance.

The workshop was part of a continuing process by the UUA Board, which has been talking to UUs about how to improve General Assembly and the democratic process, making it more inclusive and engaging.

About 60 people, plus 11 off-site delegates, took part in the discussion. The other questions they considered were “What GA structures or traditions are you willing to release in order to talk about or do things that matter?” and “How can we let spirit lead us to talk about things that matter at GA?”

Board member Donna Harrison said that the board is especially interested in talking about what sort of structures we need to have in place in order to work effectively but still have open space for innovation.

Participants broke into small groups to discuss the questions and prepare short written reports.

Suggestions included: Setting goals and themes for GA (like the focused goal of the Justice GA in Phoenix), have fewer formalities and pro forma reports, do more GA business in regional groups, use technology to do some work ahead of GA, switch some annual reports to biennial, and make sure delegates aren’t simply self-selected individuals who could afford to attend GA.

Harrison said the next step is that the working group that has been focusing on this topic will review the workshop’s suggestions and synthesize them and other conversations into a proposal to be presented at the October Board of Trustees meeting.

She said the board would like to make the UUA bylaws more flexible in order to fully realize a vision of a General Assembly that is more exciting, inviting, and inclusive. The board doesn’t yet know what bylaw changes it will pursue, but it hopes to have proposals ready for consideration at GA 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.