For this month’s special thanks, I want to congratulate the volunteers and staff who organized the Latin American URTeC meeting in December. The Vaca Muerta Formation has terrific growth potential and it was exciting to see how a few years of development experience had boosted it up the learning curve. Other presentations reviewed the energy strategies, policies, opportunities and challenges of several South American countries. I noticed quite a few small shops on the exhibit floor and they seemed happy with the good conversations and business leads their presence generated. Immediately after the program ended, there was a free, three-hour student symposium, which was a clever way to make use of the facilities we were already occupying and utilize speakers who were already there. Well done!
A Mandate for Change
So here we are in January, which is of course named after the Roman god Janus. His superpower was the ability to look backward and forward at the same time and his blessings were considered essential before starting anything important. He presided over gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, frames, beginnings and endings.
I am struck at how the image of Janus, the god of transitions, is a good symbol for AAPG just now. We have a rich history of member accomplishments and core strengths that have propelled us forward for 106 years, providing energy for the world. We remember it all with justified pride. At the same time, we look ahead to a future with ever-accelerating change – from technology, societal expectations and more – as our membership’s careers and skillsets also evolve. There is no reason to doubt that our members will continue to be key players in providing energy for the world into the distant future; we look ahead with anticipation.
You might recall that a community poll in November 2022 had 74-percent agreement with the statement, “AAPG must broaden and adapt to a changing energy landscape to remain relevant.” Now, as of Q4 2023, 19 of our AAPG past presidents have signed a letter giving their own support to that same statement as well as some specific guidance on changes that must be made. Their letter accompanies this column; please do check it out.
With this very strong mandate for change in hand, we are tackling the energy addition (not “transition”) and related headwinds by re-examining our current models and proposing changes that will make our Association more fit for the future. I hope you have had a chance to watch the YouTube video presentation about work in progress at YouTube.com , and will follow future updates when they come out. In the first three weeks after the video was released in late November, it was watched in its entirety about 550 times(!) with about the same number of partial views. I am genuinely heartened that so many members are accessing firsthand information and can formulate their own independent views on the important decisions to be made.
Updating, Streamlining the Constitution and Bylaws
One very major project underway is a rewrite of our association Constitution and Bylaws, which have over the years grown to be longer and much more proscriptive than they should be, per best practices (not to mention convoluted and in places, contradictory). With the guidance of Sarah Merkle, our parliamentarian from the House of Delegates, a President’s Ad Hoc Committee composed of past chairs of the HoD is drafting a clean, combined document that sets up a much more logical organizational structure and simple governance as described in the video. The proposed changes provide members with a much more robust connection to elected Association officers for the technical, program and community elements they care about.
In the proposed new Bylaws, administrative/operational/procedural details will move to a Procedures document, which means that time-consuming amendments will no longer be required just to keep the ball rolling. Note that in the recent past, amendments of the Association’s foundational documents have literally taken years – yes, years –to discuss and implement. In a rapidly changing world, an internal process that makes continental drift look supersonic is quite a mismatch.
There is nothing new under the sun. Lo and behold, in our Association files there is a letter from one of our previous parliamentarians Mary Bahde, dated April 2010. In it, she wrote:
“I have some suggestions regarding the organization’s bylaws. Bylaws are rules adopted and maintained by an organization to define and direct its internal structure and management. Bylaws establish why and how the organization is formed and how it will be run …
Rules related to the details of administration, methods or procedures do not belong in the bylaws but in a secondary document which can be added to or changed as the need arises as any other ordinary act of the organization … A complete revision of the bylaws could be considered which means that an entire new document would be substituted for the current document … “
In the years since this advice was given, some subsections have indeed been rewritten and/or simplified, but much complexity remains. Our current parliamentarian has the same opinion as Ms. Bahde’s, namely that a rewrite will help us operate more flexibly and efficiently.
While most members will not be hugely excited about rewriting streamlined Bylaws, it really is an important part of reorganizing to ensure that AAPG can focus on what members want: energy geoscience advancement and technology sharing, networking, career advancement opportunities and community. Less time and manpower spent on internal administration frees up our loyal volunteers to contribute to more value-adding (and fun) activities, which benefits all members.
When a new draft set of Bylaws is ready it will proceed through the steps of review and approval as specified under our current governing documents. These steps include a review and recommendations by the HoD Constitution and Bylaws Committee, whose output is then sent to the chair of the HoD along with the proposed Bylaws, who then transmits them to all HoD members, who will vote on whether to allow all AAPG members to vote upon the new Bylaws themselves. FYI – you can find the names of your delegates at www.aapg.org/about/aapg/leadership/house-of-delegates-hod/delegates.
Finally, I invite you to send your thoughts, opinions and suggestions to the mailbox [email protected]. Every member’s input is valued as we co-create AAPG’s future.
Happy New Year,