Dear Board of Directors and Members of TheLab.ms,
I regret to inform you that I am resigning from my position as a Floating Board Member at TheLab.ms, effective immediately.
Eight months ago, I was honored and surprised to be elected to my position on the board by a popular vote of the membership of TheLab.ms. I had planned to privately deliver this letter to the Board of Directors, but the board didn’t elect me. I believe the people that elected me to this position deserve an explanation as to why I am leaving my post. You deserve an explanation for why I am letting you down.
Shortly after the start of the term, our Treasurer informed us that the organization was losing money, and losing money fast—we were told that our monthly income was barely more than half of what we required to pay for TheLab.ms’s operating expenses. This came as a surprise, because the previous Board of Directors had been telling everyone that the organization was right around the break-even point.
The dire financial news rallied leadership and membership at TheLab.ms, but that mobilization petered out during the holiday season. That’s when members of leadership began tendering their resignations: first the Treasurer, then the Education Coordinator, and eventually even our President. Each of these resignations increased the workload of the remaining members of leadership—a group of people that were already stretched extremely thin. It doesn’t help that the organization has had an absent Chief Technology Officer for the past six or seven months.
It feels like it is time to move on. The volunteer pool at TheLab.ms is getting smaller, and the work required to save the organization is growing. The work I’ve been putting in doesn’t seem to be making a big enough difference to justify my continued efforts.
I’d like to continue to contribute to TheLab.ms, but I won’t be putting in the sort of time you’re all used to. I will no longer be attending “Weekly Video Game Night.” I’ve been hosting or co-hosting six or more public events every single month for the past five months, and I don’t have the time or energy to continue.
I may have been foolish, but I wanted to lead by example. Why should I expect anyone to do something that I’m not willing to do myself? We haven’t found a better way to recruit new members into our community than hosting public events. I’ve been asking members of leadership and members of TheLab.ms to host events for years. I hoped they would follow my lead, but not many have. Not nearly enough.
At this time, TheLab.ms isn’t the makerspace that I hoped it could be. I hoped that after two or three years of work, we’d finally be in a position to start acquiring tools and equipment that someone like myself wouldn’t be able to have at home. We’ve had the laser cutter for almost a year now, and I thought it would be the first of many such pieces of equipment.
Unfortunately, we are struggling to keep the lights on. It will be a long time before we would be able to afford any equipment that I’d be interested in using. Much longer than I’m willing to wait, and getting to that point will require an investment of much more time and effort than I’m willing to provide.
I sincerely hope that everything goes well for TheLab.ms in the future, and I wish the next leadership team the best of luck in saving this sinking ship!
Pat Regan, former Board Member at TheLab.ms