Beginning of a great adventure: Patrick Andrews joins the board of Edgeryders LBG

Rather to my surprise, I’ve been invited to join the operational board of directors of Edgeryders (the limited company) alongside Alberto, Noemi, Nadia and Matthias.  Equally to my surprise, I’ve accepted.

Up to now, my engagement with Edgeryders has been through attending LOTE 1 in Strasbourg and LOTE 4 in Matera. I really enjoyed the events and was very impressed by the diversity, talent, creativity and passion of the people who showed up to each event,  and by the diversity of projects that seem to be going on in and around the community.  I don’t spend a lot of time using social media and am fairly average with technology and I haven’t particularly engaged with the community in between those events. I’m now looking forward to learning more about Edgeryders and the extraordinary community.

A brief introduction to me. I followed a fairly traditional career path, spending over 10 years working as a lawyer for large companies in the UK, France, Canada and Russia.  I left that world in 2002, after I had a wake-up call. I was reminded that I had a deep love for the life in all its various forms and particularly things that are wild like oceans,  forests and human creativity.  Yet the one I was working in didn’t seem to value these things.  at the same time, I liked in respect of the people I work with. So I set off to see if there was a better system somewhere. Since then I have worked with cooperatives, fair trade companies, social enterprises and others  looking for better ways of organising the bring out the best in people and serve all.

One thing I am working on at the moment it is  a “festival of human organising” in London in spring 2016.  I’m hoping to catalyse a celebration of lots of different ways that people are found to live and work together in ways that don’t require top-down control. I feel this fits well within the range of projects that edgeryders gets involved with.

Being on the Board of Directors of edgeryders brings a particular challenge. It is the most formal part of the community, the part that anyone who wants to formally engage with the community will expect to work with.  Thus we form a bridge between more traditional institutions and the more unconventional, wilder edgeryders community.  Inevitably, in this role, at times we will appear remote and conventional (hence the image I attached to this post).  I hope that we can also be truthful, inclusive and act in a spirit of service to all.

I look forward to engaging with more of you on this great journey.


A warm welcome

I have been a staunch supporter of @Patrick_Andrews joining the Edgeryders effort, and am delighted that he (after some soul-searching) did accept. His experience is really, really different from that of the other directors, and this diversity is going to be extremely valuable to take the project forward and serve the community even better. Ad maiora.

For clarity, Patrick is not one of the non-executive directors mentioned here. He is executive: he joins to be involved in running the company. We are always on the lookout for smart, ethical people who want to do work and are not afraid of the backbreaking, usually unpaid work of bootstrapping a company!

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how interesting…

When were the members notified of a members meeting? Or circulated a motion or information regarding this proposal?

In the absence of records to this effect, I suggest that the amendment to the public records at Companies House is fraudulent.

Indeed, interesting :slight_smile:

The procedure was as follows.

  • I initiated the process, by emailing all directors on 13th of May, based on Companies House records of directors at that point in time (six people), and asking them to vote on this proposal.
  • Four "yes" votes (cc to all directors) and zero "no" votes came in. 

Suggestion dismissed.

hmm… problematic…

…since only ‘members’ can elect ‘directors’…

And I am still a member…so this was not done correctly…and my resignation notice clearly states that I resign only as a director …not as a company member…

Not really, but…

All directors are members too, and four votes is an absolute majority to seven members. I fail to see the problem.


on the part of yourself and the ‘legally qualified’ putative new appointee…and somewhat un-democratic…

Since you did not follow the correct procedure of having a members meeting of which all members should have been informed… and allowed to participate…

But it is congruent with the evolution of the ER LBG that the ‘community’ is what you decide it is to be …

Four would seem to be an absolute majority of both groups … but it is still divisive and incompetent…

Bad blood

Shame on you Arthur. Throwing out accusations like this. Is this how you think a professional behaves?

Article 34 of the articles of Edgeryders allows the directors to appoint a director. Did you not think of reading them before making wild accusations?

I thought you were better than this. I was told you have given good service to the community. Why spoil it?

Hi Patrick

I’m not going to get involved in the discussion itself, but a note about tone. I feel that your comment escalates the conflict rather than helping resolve it.

If you had simply stated that ‘Article 34 of the articles of Edgeryders allows the directors to appoint a director.’ and therefore that the move was in accordance with the articles, that would state your case clearly enough to Arthur, and to others in the Edgeryders community.

Instead, most of the comment is personal, scolding and outraged. It attempts to make Arthur look childish and unprofessional, but unfortunately it doesn’t reflect kindly on you. This conversation is going out to the inboxes of a huge number of community members and it’s hardly an introduction which will fill people with hope and confidence for the future.

As somebody who might be not be well-known to many in the ER community, and as an executive of ER LBG whose appointment may come as a surprise to the community, it seems particularly important that your conduct in conversations on the platform is respectful and constructive to maintain and build trust - trust in you, and the company you now represent.


Speaking of tones and misrepresentations

I share @SamMuirhead's dislike of extreme tones – thanks, Sam, for calling attention onto them. This thread derailed quite badly as soon as Arthur started levying accusations of fraud and incompetence (misplaced, as it turns out, but the harsh words were out). Fraud is a criminal offense; in the UK, it is punished with up to ten years imprisonment (source). It is quite a serious allegation to make; Sam, would you not agree a person facing such an allegation has the right, the duty indeed, to defend herself and her honor? Are you sure you are not defending the bully, rather than the bullied?

Me, I also have been accused of fraud by Arthur – for the record: falsely. I don’t feel angry, just sad. It saddens me to see a man of that age and experience resort to personal insult and misrepresentation. Regardless, Arthur, we have done good work together; I wish you well, and I hope you find some much-needed peace of mind.

As far as what Matt calls the procedural question: Arthur, you were not involved in any decision following your communication to us of April 16. This is by your own request: on that occasion, you stated, in writing and formally, that you are “unable and unwilling” to do anything, for the company, other than operating the bank account, and that only provisionally. In the same occasion you also outlined your plans for relinquishing your membership of Edgeryders LBG.

I know this, and other directors do: but most people do not, because you, Arthur, have not seen fit to make a public announcement (though you did promise one “in a day or so” on April 16th). Again, that is sad: it would have been a sign of transparency and respect to the community to let everybody know you were disengaging. But there you go.

Of all this we have a written record. Hopefully, that will be enough to close the incident and revert to a less conflictual pattern of interaction.

this isn’t helping.

“This thread derailed quite badly as soon as Arthur started levying accusations of fraud and incompetence” is a long-winded way of saying ‘he started it!’.

“Sam, would you not agree a person facing such an allegation has the right, the duty indeed, to defend herself and her honor?”

Sure, why not. But that’s not what happened. Patrick did not ‘defend himself and his honour’- he directed his anger at Arthur, in a way which did not invite serious constructive discussion.

“Are you sure you are not defending the bully, rather than the bullied?” I am not ‘defending’ Arthur, I am suggesting that the tone of Patrick’s comment was uncalled for, and he could have made his point in a more respectful way, regardless of ‘who started it.’ Yes, Arthur’s third comment was also not without negative tone and misrepresentation, but as someone introducing themselves to the community in this new role with great responsibility to the community, Patrick should have been able to respond effectively and constructively.

‘It saddens me to see a man of that age and experience resort to personal insult and misrepresentation.’ I find this very manipulative and troubling. @Alberto, you suggest that you are above anger and pettiness and then slip in underhanded comments like this, which simply don’t help. You know that a comment like this can only inflame the situation.

I like and respect you, Arthur and Patrick, and for the sake of Edgeryders I really hope that the situation can be resolved, but if it continues like this it’s hopeless, and only does further damage to the reputation of ER LBG.

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Fact checking

Thanks, @SamMuirhead, liking and respect are heartily reciprocated.

In my previous comment I claim Arthur has been misrepresenting the issue; made an argument for that claim; and backed it with evidence. So that’s misrepresentation. The personal insults are there at the time of writing this (“fraudulent”, “divisive”, “incompetent”. Hopefully Arthur himself will decide to remove them).  Please, go through my comment and find any incorrect fact – I will be happy to apologize for my mistakes and correct them. If you can’t, can we agree that my reconstruction stands until proven false?

Also, there is nothing to solve. The relationship between Arthur and ER LBG was completely resolved by Arthur himself. He decided to leave the company over a month ago. The rest of us cannot but respect his decision and move on. As we do so, we go public with our main moves (new projects, new people etc.), as we always did, for transparency. That’s all. He seems to imply we excluded him, but that, as I wrote, is a misrepresentation. So, what constructive discussion do you think we should have? A possibility would be to ignore the bad blood and ask Patrick about his interests and skills, and maybe help him direct his work to the greater good. Arthur? He removed himself from the picture, not much construction to be done there.

That leaves the “manipulative” part. Yes, I am trying to be above anger and pettiness. Is that bad? What should I do, put up a fist fight? Not to put too fine a point on it, I too have been accused on fraud and incompetence. You did not like Patrick’s tough response; you do not like my softer one. What would you suggest as an appropriate reaction to allegations you have committed a criminal offense? It’s not a sarcastic question, I really fail to understand. And: do you not think your own gut reaction should have been to ask everyone to stand down and go back to civil interaction?

pasted from the continuation thread

Yes, I am trying to be above anger and pettiness. Is that bad? What should I do, put up a fist fight?

No, it is not bad. I wholehearted agree with it. Of course you should not put up a fist fight, I never suggested anything of the sort, and it seems a strange conclusion to draw from my statements.

This situation is not that I ‘find Patrick’s approach too tough, and yours too soft’, but rather that your approach is not as soft as you make it out to be.

You advocate even-handedness and adopt a conciliatory tone, i.e. “Arthur, we have done good work together; I wish you well” but the positive statements are barbed with passive aggressive suggestions about @ArthurD needing to “find piece of mind” and that “It saddens me to see a man of that age and experience resort to personal insult and misrepresentation.” This is what I feel is manipulative. It paints Arthur as unhinged and immature, it cheapens any conciliatory or constructive statements you make, and whether you feel that way about Arthur or not, it is simply not helpful to mention it. It’s not helpful for the discussion, it’s not helpful for Arthur, and it’s not helpful for the community perception of you or Edgeryders LBG.

What would you suggest as an appropriate reaction to allegations you have committed a criminal offense?

  1. A statement of your innocence, and the evidence for that innocence.

  2. nothing more.

Both you and @Patrick_Andrews have, in my eyes, adequately provided 1), but failed miserably at 2).

do you not think your own gut reaction should have been to ask everyone to stand down and go back to civil interaction?

I think that everyone should avoid escalating conflict and making personal attacks’. If disagreements and discussions can be held in a constructive way, then people shouldn’t stand down, those discussions should absolutely take place. I never supported or condoned Arthur’s position. But it seemed to me from the comments that Arthur is not going to have much to do with ER LBG from here on, whereas Patrick will be taking a leading role. His first interaction with a community member since taking on the role was being challenged and accused of wrongdoing. This is tough, but it’s particularly important to be able to rise above personal remarks and lead by example, especially at a time when the relationship between ER LBG and the ER community is so sensitive.

My intention (and I think this was clear to most observers) was not to pick sides, or to suggest that only one person’s language was inappropriate, and everything else was fine. I don’t have a horse in this race. But it’s going to take some time for Patrick to grow into his role, and I wanted to remind him of the importance of his position and his relationship with the ER community, and urge more care in online interactions, even when the conduct of those he is interacting with may leave a lot to be desired.

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Also from the continuation thread

Sam, I understand your point better now. Thanks for taking the time to point it out.

However, I still disagree, for two reasons. One is less important, the other is more important.

The less important one concerns only my own sense of fairness. Since I am The Site Admin, I cannot rely on The Site Admin to protect me from trolling and abuse. If anyone had accused you (or any ordinary user) of fraud, I would have invoked admin powers and banned the person into a smoking hole. But of course, if I do that to protect myself, it looks lame. So: I don’t go ballistic, but I do speak my heart. I am careful to (1) only refer to episodes and not people (so, not “X is a liar” but “Y has resorted to misrepresentation here”) (2) describe what happened, and only what happened, and people can check for themselves (insult, check, misrepresentation, check) and (3) yes, I allow myself some personal feelings. These are my own, you can not share them but not really tell me how I should feel.

The more important one concerns the general tone of the Edgeryders online space. People should not be allowed to go berserk in it. I can’t ban, because of the above; so I administer some verbal punishment. But if I fail to react, I am sending the message that it is OK to abuse people. And, I am afraid, so do you (again, not you as Sam, but you as some user): because a casual bystander will not know who is Sam, and who is Alberto, who is admin and who is not, and will just wonder “what, the community manager is taking holidays or what?”. This poisons the well. You can help unpoison it by reacting immediately against violent speech; exactly because you have no horse in the race, I am surprised that was not the case.


Hi Patrick,

you may want to familiarise yourself with the ongoing discussion about the relationship between the company and the community before you throw out accusations at Arthur. Also see the admin board for more details.


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procedural question

The “accusations” by Patrick, as you call them, revolve around the procedural question of how directors are appointed in Edgeryders LbG. That’s the only thing Patrick is referring to when he writes “Article 34 of the articles of Edgeryders allows the directors to appoint a director.” Arthur’s comment had a notion of the company / community relation, but Patrick did not pick that part up.

Please do not misread something you do not agree with. Doesn’t help anyone, creates confusion. About the company / community relation, I still like the idea of having one community and lots of companies, embedded into it but separate entities from it, with clear rules that allow them all to equally “capitalize” (bad word, I know, just used b/c it’s a commercial context here) on the open dataset of the community and to interact with its members. By being separate entities, and not governing the community website, the internal affairs of these companies incl. appointment of directors would be their own business, as it should be: decisions made by those who bear the liabilities. This would avoid a current source of conflict. I’ll make and pursue a more detailed proposal re. that, but it’s not the topic here now. I propose we let Arthur, Alberto and Patrick sort out the procedural and personal issues at hand here on their own, no need to interfere.


The point

I referred to Patrick’s angry accusation that Arthur is not serving the community. I think it is important for the new executive director of ER LbG understand that the company does not equal the community and a criticism of the company may not be the betrayal of the community. This is a very important point.

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non-procedural question

Independent of how the (admittedly rather embarrassing) discussion of how to appoint a director correctly will be solved, here’s what I have to say about Patrick as part of Edgeryders LbG.

Before agreeing with Patrick to become a new director, I wanted an “interview” with him to see if he fits in. Patrick agreed and we had a longer-than-expected video call, which even included the short versions of our respective live stories (following an idea of Patrick which I liked).

So I did not take the issue lightly. Result? I’m confident I can work well with Patrick, and that he can add a lot to the company’s progress and sustainability, coming from a lot of life experience from a lot of different activities. I think he also will have valuable input for solving the company/community relation issue, due to his “human organizing” interests. But we grant him quite some time to understand the problem in detail first.

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Like Matthias I very much support the decision to welcome Patrick to join the executive board of Edgeryders LBG. One of the insights that came out of LOTE4 (documentation here) is that Edgeryders is going through a phase of transition, as @Caroline_Paulick-Thiel puts it, from a project to a structure. The manner in which Edgeryders LBG handled the appointment and definition of the role of non-executive directors last year is but one example that the needed competence (and additional pair of hands) to manage this transition well has so far been lacking in the executive board. Building anything new involving a lot of people is hard. Building an economically sustainable not-for-profit company that both generates revenue to reliably maintain and develop our shared community infrastructures and provides members with opportunities for paid meaningful work requires hands on, pragmatic experience from having been involved in many different kinds of organisations. It also requires an interest to be part of the day to day work, as well as the longer term strategic development. I think Patrick brings a rare mix of both as a new addition to the executive directors, and I am very happy that he has chosen to accept the invitation.

As is clearly on display (one of the less fun aspects of openness) we are going through a difficult and at times painful process. As someone who is both aware of Edgeryders history, and has maintained dispassionate distance, I very much welcome Patrick on board and encourage us all to accept Caroline’s generous offer to facilitate a process to help us get through a difficult phase I think we will still make mistakes, but hopefully we will get better at failing forward into the future.

Moving to Anti Spam

This thread has been closed for comments in order to spare the inboxes of everyone who has ever interacted with a blogpost on Edgeryders (Sam pointed out this bug in the dev group). In the absence of a good technical solution we refer those who wish to continue the discussion in this thread in the Anti Spam group. The direct link is here: