Five Things Claudia Rebaza Said

Every month or so the OTW will be doing a Q&A with one of its volunteers about their experiences in the organization. The posts express each volunteer’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. Today’s post is with Claudia Rebaza, who volunteers as a Communications chair.

How does what you do as a volunteer fit into what the OTW does?

I am currently one of the Communications Committee (Comms) chairs. The committee handles a lot of different tasks, some of which other committees also do and some of which are unique to us. We either respond to or redirect incoming queries made to the OTW website’s contact form. We maintain the OTW News posting schedule and send out most of the organization’s news posts on our own sites, as well as linking to them from our social media accounts. We also recruit mods for those social media accounts, and we hold events such as the International Fanworks Day celebrations (IFD) and mark various OTW milestones publicly.

We respond to media and academic interview requests, and we are responsible for creating 4 news series posts each month (including this one!). We are also responsible for creating and sending out the OTW’s Annual Report and for updating information on the OTW website.

Internally we also serve as the umbrella committee for the Fanhackers project, and we work on policies and reports such as the surveys the OTW ran this past year.

What is a typical week like for you as a volunteer?

One thing about Comms is that while there are a lot of recurring tasks, weeks can be atypical since much of what we do is in response to something that comes into our Inbox from the outside or is a request or discussion from another part of the OTW. But chairs are responsible for recruitment, and often training, for the new recruits. As Comms has had to reconstitute itself this past year, a lot of my time has been spent on that.

There may be meetings of some kind, so either a committee meeting, a meeting among the chairs, or check-ins with committee volunteers. There are also conversations with members of other committees regarding things Comms is involved in such as news posts, organizing information, or policy and documentation development. There may also be ongoing work on new projects, such as our recently launched OTW News by Email service.

What made you decide to volunteer?

I was not involved when the OTW was formed but I was aware of it from those early days. Early on I used the Open Doors project to get some physical fanworks donated to its partnering library and I provided some feedback about work on AO3. I thought it was a really valuable effort to launch the organization and I wanted it and its mission to succeed. So when I was able to give more of my time I volunteered.

The recruitment and training processes in 2011 were very different to what they are now. The OTW was going through growing pains as it transitioned from a fan project start up to a more formal organization. I felt that was a really good time to start with OTW because there was a general re-assessment of “Is this how we should do things?” that was going on. That led to the creation of more structure and procedures, which helped me develop the Communications committee. Then, as now, if anyone was willing to step into a leadership role and get things done it was usually an open path, because there’s always been a shortage of people with the time or interest in doing it.

What has been your biggest challenge doing work for the OTW?

I think that the previous question about what makes people decide to volunteer is not nearly as critical an issue as what keeps them volunteering. There are people in OTW who have been here as long as I have (or longer) but the bulk of volunteers have a very limited time here and that causes a lot of issues. It means the organization as a whole is constantly in a state of turnover. Even if my own committee kept a lot of volunteers for years at a time (which has rarely happened) it would still affect us because people we worked with in other committees (or the Board) would be turning over as well.

That turnover means projects may end before they ever get developed because the key people doing so are gone. It also means that chairs spend too much time getting and training new people, or having to take over tasks themselves because there’s no one else to do them. So any new undertaking can take a very long time to happen because even if key people have not left, they may have their time diverted because of someone else who has. It’s too much bailing water and not enough time or energy to row.

Lately it’s also been frustrating just getting tech to work without having to replace it, do workarounds, or having to have our heroic Volunteers & Recruitment committee members help troubleshoot. That’s not an OTW thing – I’m pretty sure anyone using tech for any kind of work or activity has one headache after another with things not working, not giving them access, or constantly changing with updates. But the OTW’s a workplace, so it has all the usual issues of one, and there’s no shortage of new problems appearing.

What fannish things do you like to do?

My fannish time has been pretty limited in recent years, as both OTW work and other things have been cutting into it. So some OTW activities have filled in for my time in other fannish spaces. As part of my Comms work I monitor references to OTW and its projects in the news, so I end up reading a good bit about fandom in news outlets. That sort of coverage has increased and become better over the years. I also enjoy reading the responses that people in our Guest Post series offer. There’s such a lot of great activity going on in so many different areas. It’s the age of fandom and there’s so much to learn about.

There’s also so much the OTW projects offer, whether it’s academic research in Transformative Works and Cultures or the way you can spiral into link after link on Fanlore. This is my last month in the OTW so I will eventually be getting involved in other places again. But I will remain a user of OTW projects and services and hope they’ll be with us for a long time.

Now that our volunteer’s said five things about what they do, it’s your turn to ask one more thing! Feel free to ask about their work in the comments. Or if you’d like, you can check out earlier Five Things posts.

Five Things
  1. H h h h commented: