Greetings fellow supporters,
We have two new board members, Bennett Hartz, who replaced Eric Silva-Brenneman, and Max Tusa, who replaced James Norungolo. Eric resigned his position because being on the board caused too much of a conflict with his other commitments, and James resigned because he moved for a new job. We greatly appreciate Bennett and Max stepping up to bring us back to a full board, and the work that James did during his tenure. Bennett’s term will be up in March 2021, and Max’s will be up March 2020.
The newest board members have done a great job this year coming up to speed quickly, and several are taking lead on important projects. Jon Pavlica is working on crafting the Wonderwall harassment policy, and Shuo Wang is taking the lead on adding structure to the Wonderwall partnership process. Jenn Uitto was point person for the board in the middle of September when the Iron Front situation was its most tense and she did a fantastic job communicating with the MNUFC front office and the Supporter Group leadership.
Speaking of the MNUFC front office, they have informed us that the supporters section for the match against the LA Galaxy should be at or very near capacity. That means people will need to make sure they are only taking up one spot so that everyone with a ticket in the Wonderwall can fit and make the section rock. Members of the MNUFC front office will be in the section working with the security staff to make sure we’re filling it in. Please be kind to MNUFC staff if they ask you to move to accommodate others in the space.
Planning for next year is well underway, with SGs already working on their budgets for next year as you read this. Next year’s member scarves are also being designed, and they will be a significant departure from what you got this year. Tifo has been a bit of a challenge this year from both a space and time commitment perspective. Next year I expect we will have tifo more often than this year, though they will in general be much smaller than what was attempted for the Allianz opener. Large tifo like the opener require too much volunteer hours, which are already in short supply, and a lot more space than we’ve normally had to execute. Thankfully, the tifo team has formed a relationship that should add some long-term stability to the space needs, which is very positive news.
Finally, I wish to thank the many volunteers who have spent countless hours this season making our community what it is. We literally are nowhere without you, and while you might not get much glory for what you do, know that everyone appreciates your efforts. That goes for the team, too, who hears us on matchday and feeds off of our energy. Here’s to us all being in full throat en route to the Loons beating the team that Beckham guy played for!
Come on you Loons!
Greetings MNUFC Supporters,
Allianz Field is finally open. The conference calls about ADA seating in the supporters section, matchday planning, smoke training, drum purchases, and more, culminated in one glorious display of our MN soccer community. Hats off to each and every one of you who played a part in making that day happen; it was one for the ages. Thank you for your continued efforts in making this the special place it is.
For those of you who are new to our section, welcome. Some time ago we did a strategic planning session and one of the many things that emerged from it was that the Corporation (MN Wonderwall) that is above the now four named Supporters Groups (SGs) needs to communicate more often about what it is doing. The Letters from the President that you receive are a part of reaching that goal of more open communication. Now that the Wonderwall app is live (available on iOS and Android), people can easily scroll through the app for news whenever they wish.
As the umbrella organization above Dark Clouds, Red Loons, True North Elite, and Dark Glitterati, MN Wonderwall provides governance and operational oversight of these SGs. Volunteers from those SGs and others are the people who do the work of making supporter culture happen. From philanthropic and volunteerism efforts, to matchday culture, to merch: our supporters do a lot. The WWMN board largely stays out of that day-to-day, as it is the job of the SGs and their various committees to determine what the MNUFC supporters community should be. I, along with the board, make sure that our mission is followed and furthered. We make sure membership scarves happen for the SGs, tifo is funded, that taxes get paid on things run through the store, that we maintain our General Benefit Corporation (B-corp) status, among many other things. The SGs make the section rock, tifo happen, and SG merchandise that proudly represents the rich tapestry of MN supporter culture. We also work with the MNUFC front office at times when a unified voice is required, and I am happy to report that we maintain a great working relationship with the MNUFC front office even in times of disagreement.
The rapid growth we’ve experienced of late has led to some growing pains; one of them is we ran out of scarves already. We'll be reordering soon, but to help make sure it doesn't happen again please note your affiliation in your SeatGeek profile if you're a supporters section season ticket holder. For how-to instructions, and more information click here.
One last bit of housekeeping: the election this year meant new faces on the board, and there were some changes in the officers of the Corporation. I, Abraham Opoti, will continue to serve as the organization's President. I became President on an interim basis in 2017, and was elected President in 2018. John Louis remains the organization's Vice President. John is also in his third year on the Wonderwall, formerly Dark Clouds GBC, Board of Directors. James Norungolo replaces Andy Wattenhofer as the Treasurer of Wonderwall. James is in his second year on the board, his first year as an officer. Jenn Uitto replaces Samantha Solberg as the secretary of Wonderwall. Jenn was recently elected to the Board of Directors, and is in her first year as an officer as well. Over the coming days and weeks the about page will be updated to include up-to-date photos and bios.
Our SGs are always looking for passionate, capable volunteers, because nothing of what you see happening inside or outside of Allianz happens without someone stepping up and saying they will contribute. Please, from Silver Lining and Keepers of the North, to merchandise, tifo, or matchday, if you have any time to spare, spend it making our community richer through your presence. We have set up email@example.com to go to all of the SGs listed above, so please feel free to start there if you don’t know where you might fit in.
Thank you, and GO LOONS!
The mission of the Wonderwall is to support professional soccer, serve and build communities, and create a welcoming, inclusive culture around the sport in Minnesota.
The MN Wonderwall Board exists to carry out this mission statement. This is on what the state grades us on each year, through our B Impact Assessment score and annual report. This annual report is nearly completed, and will be published to the website once done. Much of the work of assembling that report has fallen on the Wonderwall Secretary with the rest of the board contributing and reviewing the content. The Wonderwall President adds a summary of where the organization will go in the coming year, and it is filed with the State of Minnesota once the board signs off on it. The newly elected board members, Shuo Wang, Eric Silva Brenneman, Jenn Uitto, and Jonathon Pavlica, will have their hand in crafting next year’s report.
The function of the Wonderwall Board is running the corporation, which is a General Benefit Corporation, also known as a B Corporation. This means the corporation exists as a for-profit institution that also has a mission to fulfill. We don’t necessarily make every decision worrying about our B Impact score, but we absolutely need to consider whether we feel a course of action adheres to our guiding principles.
Adding a new supporters group like Dark Glitterati, a group declaring women central to its existence in a sports environment that is heavily male-centric, builds upon our mission to create an inclusive culture. While we are still working on what it means to be a Wonderwall-affiliated supporters group, we know this; it means working with the other supporters groups to fulfill the mission the set out when this corporation was formed.
The Wonderwall Board will continue to do the behind-the-scenes work of tracking the priorities of various committees to provide the necessary funding for our work. We will continue to amplify the voices of our membership when concerns arise with the MNUFC front office. We will continue support community involvement efforts to show that we are more than people who watch soccer.
We are here because the Dark Clouds charted this path years ago by creating this corporation and welcoming people to the party. We will move forward only through the collective efforts of everyone, affiliated or otherwise, who make this soccer community a wonderful place.
The MN United FC off-season is slower than the rest of the year, but it is still quite busy for the Board and the many people who are key to our thriving supporter community. There are Keepers of the North and Silver Lining events, and monthly board meetings; there are meetings with the MNUFC front office about next season and the hard work of the financial planning that goes into funding tifo and other supporter efforts. One of those meetings happened on December 14th, with the primary focus on facilitating even better communication between the supporters and the front office. We also met to cover matchday items like where the capo stands will be in Allianz and how the matchday presentation people (the ones who do the hype videos) can best do what they need to while also limiting the impact on things we were already doing, like when not to play a song over the PA and let supporters/fans sing. It was a very positive conversation and it looks like match days in Allianz will truly be special events, that will likely even have some designated (trained and credentialed) supporters in charge of smoke.
Speaking of special events, the 2019 Supporters Summit is coming, and following that the 2019 Wonderwall Board of Directors election. We have yet to set a date, though we are targeting mid-to-late February, and there will be four Board of Director seats up for election. The current board members whose terms are expiring are Daniel Hills, Jim Oliver, Samantha Solberg, and Andy Wattenhofer. We are currently accepting nominations for those interested in running. You can nominate yourself by filling out this form.
We will provide a post explaining the needs of the organization well in advance of the election, along with the targeted dates for elections and the schedule of nominations ending. This explanatory post will be live prior to the end of the year. This will help inform both those voting, and those wishing to be voted in, know what the corporation sees as its priorities. These are the things which the elected Directors can help address. One of the most vital items to be addressed is further documentation of how various supporter functions operate so that we aren't constantly reinventing the wheel each time we try to do something to support the Loons.
Another work-in-progress is the budgetary process, which was started a few years back trying to stay on top of how to manage our resources as best as possible. This process would normally see each committee submit its first draft at the beginning of November, in order to allow all of November and December to make any necessary changes. That didn't happen this year, so our budget process has been pushed to likely being complete by the end of January. Regardless of this minor setback, we will ultimately put together a budget that allows for great tifo, supports volunteer efforts, and among other things, keeps an eye to the future.
It amazes me that Allianz Field opens so soon, after having seemed like a thing that would never happen. What great fun we will have.
My fellow Loons,
On October 29th, some members of the Wonderwall were fortunate enough to tour Allianz Field with a group from the MNUFC front office (FO). We were there to ensure various aspects of matchday would be given consideration from the supporters’ perspective. The team, once again, displayed a deep commitment to hearing from the supporters and putting things into action, as evidenced by the beautiful view from the ADA seating (among others).
We weren’t allowed to take pictures or else I’d probably have let them do the talking, but suffice to say, Allianz Field already looks gorgeous and it’s not even finished. I honestly don’t have the space right now to cover what we saw, but I will relay that I have heard the concerns about tailgating and brought them to Chris Wright. I have also heard many concerns about both the price and variety of food and beverage options in Allianz and relayed that a certain way to get more people inside the stadium earlier would be $5 domestic beers and affordable concessions. It’s up to the FO to execute, but they are aware that it’s not enough to build a shiny new home for professional soccer in MN if many of us can’t afford to eat or drink there.
One aspect of my role as President of Wonderwall is working with the FO on fun things like the tour I mentioned above. Another is helping the front office understand the perspective of the supporters. Many of you seem disappointed in how Chris Wright appears not to grasp just how badly we need to see growth on the pitch and not just behind the scenes. This base of support is patient in some regards but not if we are taken for granted or spoken to as though our own eyes do not work. The on-field product the last two seasons has pin-wheeled about from entertaining to aggravating and has definitely tested said patience. That said, our relationship with the FO and their openness to our honest and frank discussion of their faults is wonderful to observe, and they really do know they need to do better, regardless of how it is stated in the press.
Last spring, supporters from across the Wonderwall took part in two strategic planning sessions to map out our next few years. One issue highlighted during those sessions was the formation of a leadership structure for the Dark Clouds (supporters group) independent of Wonderwall (the corporation), which I am happy to see is taking shape. The Matchday Code of Conduct, supporters conduct review board, creation of a plan for shared space within the section, and establishment of a matchday capo strategy, are all things that came from those strategic planning sessions. These strategies are all essential to easing any tensions that may arise from the rapid growth of the supporter section and are a part of the continued collaboration with the MNUFC FO to make sure the section is safe and welcoming.
Speaking of safe and welcoming, I’m incredibly proud of The Keepers of the North and the Silver Lining for earning L’Etoile du Nord from MNUFC for their continued excellence in community involvement. They have done a wonderful job representing our supporter community in the larger MN community through volunteer efforts and it's great to see MNUFC recognize that with an award. If you haven’t yet found time to volunteer with either group, please find it. It’s not only fun, but very rewarding to work to make a positive impact in our community.
Finally, the affiliate process is better read about here, but it starts with a vote on the merits of the application that the prospective affiliate SG submits, and continues with affiliates continuously contributing to the effort of the Wonderwall. I am happy to announce that the vote on the Dark Glitterati application was unanimous in approving their application to provisional affiliate status. We are doing a separate post soon covering their background, as their introduction deserves its own post.
We still haven't found the people responsible for throwing beers onto the pitch. It is my hope that if you are one of the two people who did it, you know it was an unacceptable thing to do. As a group, we hold ourselves to a standard of behavior above that which you displayed, and it is our sincere hope that it’s a thing that does not repeat.
On the issue of cultural norms, our volunteer organizations are doing fantastic work in our communities, both Keepers of the North (KOTN) and Dark Clouds Silver Lining (DCSL) are upholding our long-established tradition of making a difference in our surrounding communities. KOTN recently raised $411 for Special Olympics of Minnesota, and are currently raising funds for My Very Own Bed. DCSL did an event with Cookie Cart since my last update, which you can read about here, and I was honored to have been a part of that day because it was incredibly rewarding to be able to talk to such inspiring young people while they were learning valuable job skills that will help them in their professional lives. Finally, the Second Black & Blue Supporters social is happening on the 21st, with proceeds going to support The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and open to all (even Portland Timbers fans).
The next several months are going to be a very busy time for the board as we have several high priority projects to address. The move to Allianz Field comes with doing all we can to communicate the needs of our membership to the MNUFC front office. This is a wide-ranging effort encompassing everything from tifo and capo stands to concessions. We also need to prepare for the 2019 Wonderwall Board of Directors Election; it is our goal to have the candidates known much earlier this year in order for members have time to find out who they are and what they stand for. Also, it will give the Wonderwall Board more time to inform the candidates of the needs of our organization to better craft their campaign platforms and better serve our members. Finally, budgetary planning for next year starts in earnest in November and we need to gather some guidance to help them through our admittedly “work in progress” budget process.
As always, nothing happens in this section without the tireless work of the many volunteers who are literally the lifeblood of the supporter’s section and our organizations. Thank you for all that you do, and will do, as we’d be nowhere without you.
COME ON YOU LOONS!
Editor's Note: this post was originally published at Dark-Clouds.com.
Greetings fellow MNUFC Supporters,
It has been a busy few months since you last heard from me, the Loons managed to start hot only to cool off, induce some #PANIC before The Scientist arrived and the Loons staring XI has gotten younger. The board has also been busy, here’s what we’ve been up to:
Earlier this year we gathered a group of highly involved individuals for two strategic planning sessions to help chart out the next three to five years of the operation of the General Benefit Corporation (GBC). One thing that stood out from those sessions is that there is confusion over where the Dark Clouds Supporters Group (SG) and the GBC end so we are hard at work putting together a framework to preserve the identity of the individual SGs while also providing a structure under which they are clearly organized.
Another item of note from the strategic planning was creating a safe environment for people in the Supporters Section as no one wants to feel unsafe in a place that should feel like home. The outcome of our work is the new Supporters Code of Conduct, worked on by multiple SGs, and backed by MNUFC. You’ll see mention of the Supporters Conduct Review Board, and the quick summary is that it is an anonymous group of individuals called upon to determine the severity of the violation of the code of conduct should one arise, and pass along its judgement to MNUFC for enforcement. It is presided over by the VP of the GBC, and called as needed from a pool of supporters who have stepped up and said they can make a fair ruling on the conduct of their fellow supporters.
I am thrilled to see that the coordination of chants and songs is improving across the supporters groups. The energy level and sound produced have been a joy to be a part of, and that is the outcome of the All-SG matchday meetings and the work of the matchday leaders for each SG working on keeping channels of communication clear and active while they work to make MNUFC matchday the best it can be.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention all of the great work that the Keepers of the North (TNE) and Dark Clouds Silver Lining have been doing with the community around us, and I encourage you to reach out to either or both groups to be a part of some volunteer efforts. We are not who we are without the community around us and it falls to us to show MN how great that is. The annual report includes many interesting details around what we have done in the community, and I recommend you check it out. Part of it includes a B Impact score, that is a reflection, in part, of the amount of community service hours completed by the group, and I definitely want to see us surpass last year and someday soon exceed 10,000 total hours as a group, something that I know we can do.
As is always the case, we are interested in adding more people to the committees that make things happen around here, everyone you see now doing something was once someone wondering where they could possibly fit in. It may seem daunting at first, but it is absolutely worth it and your presence is what makes this community much more than just about soccer. Contact Dark Clouds or True North Elite today to get involved.
Editor's note: this post was originally published at Dark-Clouds.com, email addresses have been changed.
One of the GBC Board’s main goals this year is to improve communication with our members. Moving forward, you can expect quarterly messages from us that will provide a general summary of what is going on with the GBC and our community. If you have a specific question please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Board of Directors at email@example.com
As you know, there was an election recently for new board members, and the result of that election was the reelection of John Louis and myself, Abraham Opoti (second term for both), along with James Norungolo joining the board for his first term. I would like to thank everyone that provided feedback about the election process; it means a lot to us that you took the time to share your thoughts. We have already begun refining the election process based on your input, and while we are still working on the finished product, we have changes to next year’s election ready to share, which will include:
We elected our officers for the current year at the first meeting of the GBC board immediately following the election.
The officers are of the GBC this year are as follows:
I consider us very lucky that we have convinced the wonderful and capable, Kate Thersleff, to continue to help us with the annual report and continue her general badassery at keeping us on track.
In February, the Board, Committee Leads, and members of Affiliate SGs will be taking part in two days of strategic planning. The sessions will focus on the GBC vision, strategic directions, and implementation. As we grow as a GBC it’s important that we have a strong foundation to support our mission to “support professional soccer, serve and build communities, and create a welcoming, inclusive culture around the sport in Minnesota.”
We are also lucky that Andy has not decided to run away from the giant mess of finance work we pile upon him so please be kind to both of them if you see them as they are vital parts of this organization and they make our lives immeasurably easier.
That is about all the rambling I have for now, thank you for your efforts, and patience. I hope to see you in the section soon and GO LOONS!!