Every year at the Goetheanum Annual General Meeting, members are invited to vote on motions, the catch is that it is only possible to vote when you attend the AGM. For most members living in countries, geographically distanced to the Goetheanum this is not possible, as travel and accommodation are prohibitive. The motions are presented in AWW and while not all are relevant to the world Society, some are of great importance, yet it has not been possible for you to have a voice in Society matters. As general secretary I attend the meeting and occasionally a couple of members from New Zealand are present, but it cannot be said that we vote as representatives of all New Zealand members. This under-representation of members from around the world led to an initiative from the circle of general secretaries. Discussion focused on how we can provide the opportunity to participate and vote. Can we find another voting system that would invite the world community to have a greater presence? It seems the time is right to review the present practice.
A number of countries are already discussing this topic, the ones that I’m aware of are Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Great Britain, USA and Australia. It would be good to hear reflections from NZ members. There is a sense that members interest in activities at, and connected with, the Goetheanum would increase if there was a possibility for greater involvement.
It seems appropriate when considering the AGM at the Goetheanum that we also think about our own AGM. We have the same situation (you can vote if you attend the meeting). We are required to have at least 5% of members present to have a quorum for the AGM, in essence we always need members in attendance. This doesn’t prevent us considering how we could offer members the opportunity to vote on any motion and again it would be good to hear from members what your thoughts are regarding changes to the present process.
Thinking back over the years, the things we’ve voted on have been the election of council members, changes to by-laws, finances and an occasional motion. So why would you come to an AGM unless it’s embedded into a day for the Society? Two years ago, we separated the AGM from the annual conference, giving a day to engage with topics and that are of interest to members and the life of the Society. Last year Bodo von Plato, member of the executive at the Goetheanum joined us as a guest speaker. This year we will move the AGM from Auckland to another centre, gradually moving it around the country and offering members in different regions to participate.
If you would like to share any thoughts to the above please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Simpson – General Secretary