Guest Post: Stay In Inquiry

08/26/2022 1:43 PM | Kristen Gehrke (Administrator)

The following is a guest post from Sam Prince, 107IST, TA, and Riveters volunteer. 

I moved to Portland not for the soccer, but for my dream job. Opal School, a then flourishing charter attached to the Portland Children’s Museum was, at that point, one of the most progressive schools in the country. The teachers at Opal were brave, entering the school year without a set curriculum in mind, following the children where they wanted to go.

I was less three years into my career as a teacher, still a baby by the standards of that particular field. There were a lot of moments when I was incredibly frustrated. A child acted in a way I did not expect. A lesson bombed. A colleague gave hard feedback. In those moments what I wanted to do was to lash out or tune out. I wanted to react, to end the interaction or get space, I wanted to be heard and then for the moment to be over.

During a meeting with a mentor, she revealed a concept that, though incredibly simple, changed my whole outlook. She asked to ask questions when I was feeling dissonance.

“What makes you say that?”

“What does this bring up for you?”

“Can you explain to me how you got to that point?”

Very often the act of reflection in the moment, of staying in the moment, allows there to be more nuance than we thought there could be. Asking questions takes this tiny, loud instant and allows us to examine its nooks and crannies. Very often the extremes of feeling made so much more sense.

The last day, and really the whole season, have been spaces of massive emotional shifts. We’ve interrogated the players, the club, each other. We’ve tackled massive issues that transcend sport and go into organizational policies and personal values. Both clubs have had massive wins and devastating losses, but if I’m honest it seems inconsequential to what is taking place off the pitch.

I’m begging you to stay in inquiry here.

When there’s big news and someone or something is not what you expect it to be, please ask questions before jumping to conclusions. If something seems out of character for an org you’ve known, or even been a part of, wonder why. Silence is sometimes people trying to figure out what to say, and making sure they say the right thing. It isn’t complicity or an admission of guilt.

We have to have each other’s back; we have to believe the best in each other as supporters.

There are folks out there who would love to subdivide us now. The more scattered we are, the more segmented, the easier it is to ignore us. The more unified we are the more powerful we become.

Today is a game day and the Cascadia Cup may come home. I cannot wait to be in the stadium with you. Let’s be loud, let’s be heard.


Comments

  • 08/26/2022 3:14 PM | Paul Navarre
    I'm staying in inquiry. My main inquiry is what the hell is going on?

    From where I sit, the front office has a strategy: deny, minimize and outlast. Just weather the storm and eventually memories will fade. If some of the loudest critics go away in disgust, that's a bonus!

    It's been years now, and the hits keep coming. The only communication I'm hearing at this point from 107IST is that this isn't the right moment for combined action with the folks up north. The only two explanations that make any sense is that substantial progress is being made with the front office and it truly is a moment for patience, or... that current 107IST leadership is a partner in deny, minimize and outlast. If it is the former, great, throw us a bone. Give us confidence that this really isn't the right time. Otherwise all we can do is suspect the latter.
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  • 08/29/2022 7:38 PM | Jason Roberts
    I have sat on a reply for this for a few days, rather that immediately set down my reactions to a post that initially came off as dismissive, condescending, and gaslighting. Sadly, I am even more amazed that this is the message we got.

    What makes me say that? The clumsy comparison of people asking questions about the issue at hand to someone in the early stages of a career working with children is off-putting. Most of the audience aren’t a couple years into a career we would eventually leave, we are die-hard, all-in Timbers supporters. Furthermore, the insinuation that the real problem here is the people asking questions leaves a bad taste in my mouth (too reminiscent of abusive relationships where bad/unexplained behavior is turned around on the person who did no wrong). I won’t call this outright victim blaming, but in my view it is certainly toeing the line.

    What does this bring up for me? Most importantly, I wonder why the 107ist board is delegating the messaging here to a non-elected volunteer. When people are simply asking for greater transparency, surely the responsible answer is not to distract with more noise.

    Can I explain how I got to this point? There is something alarming going on year-over-year inside the 107ist. Membership is down, and even worse the % of members who take the simple step of voting for the board is unconscionably low (in 2022 there were an all-time low 2095 members and only 305 of us bothered to vote). This does not seem to panic anyone within the 107ist leadership, even as 107ist becomes more and more marginalized by the FO (I have heard Gavin openly call for alternative supporters groups to step up in a supporters town hall, and that any other supporters group that comes along will get the same treatment 107ist does). Frankly, the board does not seem to understand that in the eyes of outsiders they represent at most 305 voices (and I believe most of the folks who won last year garnered around 250-275 votes). Board members tend to be against term limits, so we see the same faces and the same approaches year after year. The board is not transparent; meeting notes are sparse and intermittent, what exact votes are taken is not publicized, and there seems to be lack of good planning with input from multiple, qualified stakeholders in the planning process. Asking about what the board is doing (holding those we elect to account) is usually met with something condescending, derogatory and dismissive, just like this blog entry did.

    So here is me asking questions before jumping to conclusions:

    When exactly was the decision made to not have a joint demonstration with Seattle, who made that decision, and why? It was very effective in the Iron Front confrontation, and I would have expected that if anything, 107ist would be reaching out to them months ago. Did we just drop the ball in planning something that was both joint and appropriate in tone and scale?

    The Tifo display at the Seattle Match was beautifully designed, and flawlessly executed. In those regards it was the best in MLS this year, and perhaps ever. That said, what evaluation process took place regarding the subject of the Tifo…a reference to a movie that at its core is about a guy who decides to kill his wife and child. The Tifo put front and center the chilling scene where Jack Lawrence is inches away from murdering his wife who is screaming, terrified, cowering in a corner. The connection to the greater Portland area was clever but tangential. Who specifically had the final approval of that TIFO at this time?

    What specifically is the board doing to rebuild the relationship with the FO while still representing the interests of the 107ist membership?

    What specifically is the board doing to increase participation in the 107ist election process?

    I believe that a lot of 107ist activities are coordinated, and decisions made, via 107ist Slack. Why not open that up to the membership at large so that there is greater transparency? Or consider opening it up to the smaller percentage of members who vote as an incentive for members to vote?
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    • 08/30/2022 1:38 PM | Adam Highton
      Thank you Jason. I have also asked for some sort of update from 107ist.
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