Mon 22 Mar 2021 9:50PM

Mission Vision Values

D Danny Public Seen by 23

First Draft

A group of BwoB community members (Tina, Ibrahim, Vik and myself) drafted a Mission Vision Values document as part of our efforts to formalize the structure of Biotech Without Borders in anticipation of our reopening. I am opening this thread to complete the process of finalizing this document.

What Sorts of Questions/Comments Am I Soliciting?

This document is an extension of our mission outlined in our articles of incorporation. I am interested learning what people take away from the document and places where the language might not be clear. Please open a comment and leave your thoughts! Ideally this document will be a philosophical stepping stone to developing the other documents that govern our organization.

v0.1 to v0.2: Continuing to Collect Comments and Looking for Outside Opinions

We have had a month in Questions and Comments on the v0.1 Google doc which was very helpful in stimulating an open discussion. Thank-you to all who participated (Chirag, Frank, Yuriy and Julia). However, the intention was to follow the Consent Process and I realized that the round format is important to maximize the diversity of Comments and Questions received. Hopefully Loomio will help with facilitating that. So I am opening it up to comments and questions first to those who have not previously commented.

v0.2 can be found here

The Mission Vision and Values were approved in the outcome from the singular proposal in this thread.

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Neha Sun 28 Mar 2021 11:12PM

In general, awesome job getting these ideas down! I'm writing my own vision/mission/values and it is a tough process :) Here are some comments you can take or leave as you see fit!

  • Vision: I'm unclear if "Do-It-Together" is a specifically defined process? Or is it something that BwoB is defining? I hesitate on including a potentially jargony term into a vision statement. If I'm mistaken, and its not jargon - you may want to consider not capitalizing the phrase. Also, consider saying "are organized to do it together using the safe hands-on practice of science" as opposed to "educated in" - in the outreach/community engagement literature, the phrase "educating people" can have a top-down hierarchical connotation.

  • Mission: Consider using minoritized as opposed to underrepresented? Ultimately, depends on your audience but I know minoritized is a bit more evocative, and descriptive of the process of making the. world majorities a minority in the U.S. Consider replacing citizen scientist with community scientist? Again, depends on your audience :) (https://debspark.audubon.org/news/why-were-changing-citizen-science-community-science).

  • Values: When you can, consider phrasing the values as "we commit to" to communicate that these are actively being agreed upon in every interaction in the organization (re: accountability), as opposed to something that exists already. Its a small semantics comment, but I've felt it to be meaningful in some spaces.


Danny Mon 29 Mar 2021 1:06AM

Thanks for your input Neha. These insights are very helpful!


Sarah Mon 29 Mar 2021 4:38PM

This is very strong start! The biggest issue that I see here is that the Vision and Mission statements are too similar. Your Vision should be about the future of the organization and its ultimate goals, while the Mission is a concise statement of who you are and what you're doing. These will need more work, but my initial suggestions of how to revise these statements follow.

  • Vision: "All those seeking to improve society through biotechnology are organized to Do-It-Together as a means to develop and improve their skills, and empowered to apply their understanding of the safe hands-on practice of science at the lab bench and at home."

  • Mission: I always think that your mission should restate your organization's name, because this should be a stand-alone statement of who you are. From there, while I think it still needs work, this is closer to your actual mission: "Biotech Without Borders is a self-sustaining community of citizen-scientists committed to increasing the accessibility of scientific resources and knowledge, especially among those historically underrepresented within the scientific community."

As for the Values, there are some very minor grammar and syntax changes that I'd make, but overall, I think that these are all very well articulated.


Vikram Krishnamoorthy Sat 3 Apr 2021 2:17PM

Comments: I think Do-It-together might be a bit jargon-y, and we do often have people working as individuals in the lab on their own projects, I don't think saying DIT precludes individuals, but it might feel like we're making lots of exceptions, and if that's something we have to keep explaining/making "exceptions" for it might weaken things overall.

I like the values section, but the description on each value seems long. I think it works though. One point is that Diversity and Inclusivity is the only one of the values that doesn't have an action associated with it. The others say we create, evaluate, ask, offer, discuss. Maybe we should say instead of the more perspectives we engage - say we engage perspectives?

Overall, I like how these are coming out. I noticed a thread on donors in the doc - my two cents are that if we pursue donors, they need to know what they are donating for, and a M/V/V document lays out what the vision they're buying into is, before looking into specific accomplishments and action items as reasons to donate.


Danny Sun 4 Apr 2021 11:38PM

@Ibrahim Dulijan this is Neha's comment for context for Vik's discussion on DIT.

Vision: I'm unclear if "Do-It-Together" is a specifically defined process? Or is it something that BwoB is defining? I hesitate on including a potentially jargony term into a vision statement. If I'm mistaken, and its not jargon - you may want to consider not capitalizing the phrase.

What sort of difference in meaning might come from making Do-It-Together a lowercase term? I think if it distances us from a jargon-y term then we should do it. Any other thoughts you might have would be helpful to.


Ibrahim Dulijan Sat 10 Apr 2021 3:53AM

The maker movement using Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tools to develop low-cost products became a Do-It-Together (DIT) movement creating an inclusive community science approach where multiple stakeholders were collaborating to address a local problem. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2020.102628


[deactivated account] Sun 18 Apr 2021 9:05PM


Great points. New to the DIT lingo but love it. Do it biological = DIT. Cell to tissue to organ; the dance of genesis.


Poll Created Thu 15 Apr 2021 5:08AM

Approve the Mission Vision Values Closed Sat 24 Apr 2021 11:04PM

by Danny Wed 28 Apr 2021 8:49PM

We got a bunch of consents which is great. It's clear that some are also confused about what a valid Objection is (Vik explicitly stated this in his response, thank-you for raising this concern). I don't expect people to grasp this concept right away (I do not claim to have perfect knowledge of these principles and the effects they have on a group either) and I appreciate any constructive comments that people leave, but outside of the process they can be difficult to take action on.

All things said and done. This is our first Consent Process action completed! Now we have a version 1 of the Mission Vision Values statement and I look forward to using it as an important document from which we can make future explicit objections. (Please find it linked in the Loomio group description)

The board of directors will accept this document as one of it's first actions once we finalize some other organizational documents. However for the purposes of interacting with the community this should help direct the types of initiatives BwoB is positioned to pursue.

I will leave this thread open because if in the future we want to revisit this document, discussion around those revisions can be had here. If someone wants to propose the new version we can follow the Consent Process once again, however it will likely not be a priority until we have more of the organization running. A key part of allowing community/members to impact the organization's documents will be formalized in an amendment to the bylaws.

I amended the document using the input I gathered from the comments and questions (Thank you for all your participation in all it's forms). The new version is attached. This part of the process is the part where you can object to the document and drive specific revisions. Please see this graphic as to what constitutes a valid objection. In short it should be: explicit, impersonal, evidenced and not "safe to fail". More details on the help page describing the Integration/Objections phase of the Consent Process.

I recognize there is some tautology at play here because this is the document for which future proposals will be asked to be explicit about. This time am leaning on everybody's ideas of what BwB could be as a source to initially anchor this high level articulation of purpose to a snapshot of who we are today.

The other criteria for a valid objection are also useful.

If you have more explicit suggestions for changes you can put them here in the google doc version.


Results Option % of points Voters
Consent 100.0% 5 D VK ID E DU
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Objection 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 7 YF TL N HI J EJ BM

5 of 12 people have voted (41%)


Thu 15 Apr 2021 5:08AM

I'm proposing it I believe in it.


Vikram Krishnamoorthy
Thu 15 Apr 2021 5:09AM

looks ok. on a side note - still no clue what a valid objection is supposed to be - safe to fail as a buzzword is not clear.

I think it the mission/vision/values could be made more concise and cleaned up a bit. The last sentence of the mission statement is more a list of services offered than a mission. For diversity/inclusivity, should we say community we serve, or communities?

Overall, I think it's good enough to approve and move on to objectives/strategies/actions/etc.


[deactivated account] Sat 17 Apr 2021 12:48AM

My comments are not enough to hold back consent.

  1. Scientists could be replaced with science driven humans or even humans who think to be more inclusive and less inspired by colonialism

  2. If you can cut each of the value descriptions from 3 sentences average to 1-2 sentences it may improve clarity with brevity.

  3. I mentioned this before but an image to map the major principal would be nice to get people really clear on what BwB looks|feels|smells|tastes like....


Yuriy Fazylov Mon 19 Apr 2021 7:07PM

Accepted. @chirag raval Don't answer any of that.

Just answer the two I began with. Why "Humans?" and What "Colonialism?" Your definitions and explanations are appreciated.


Danny Mon 5 Jul 2021 2:01PM

Hi @Susan Harrington thanks for your comment here on the general discussion thread (spun off from this thread to vent some disagreements over what I believe could be characterized as the "jargon of sociology or political philosophy"). I agree with the sentiments you expressed there.

Since you may have been unable to review the Missions Vision Values document, I was wondering if you would be able to review it now and comment if it aligns with the thoughts you expressed in the other thread. Any comments or criticisms are appreciated.


Susan Harrington Mon 5 Jul 2021 3:05PM

Hi Danny,

I think it looks fine, and I don't think that it seems divisive, although there are a few words I'd replace because they've become pretty cliched. I would slightly change the emphasis. As it stands, the communal aspects of the lab are really highlighted, but I think you should also mention the community support and facilities for independent research and vision. This will appeal to a different kind of person and a different kind of funder (many people really dislike committee-based approval and think that it distorts science and limits innovation). In my experience, it's easier to work alone or with one or two people. I think this is a matter of background, taste, and type of project you want to work on. It's not as though you want to force all projects to be large community projects I assume. A cool aspect of local community labs is the independence that they encourage (in my opinion).


Danny Mon 5 Jul 2021 4:53PM

OK I'm glad it doesn't seem divisive in your opinion. I felt confident on that matter and it is nice to have another perspective to weigh in.

Yes, I agree that that communal aspects are highlighted in this document. When I first came to Genspace I was attracted by the idea of doing an independent project (in many ways I still am motivated by the idea of a space to do an independent project) but I later came to be excited about the possibility that I could find a common research goal (and now I imagine developing a common goal) to pursue. I also believe that for a successful community project (in the way I aspire to develop) it necessarily requires that participants are nurtured as strong individual scientists. Around that time, Genspace's language and membership fees shifted to use the community projects as a sort of beginners membership/program to encourage volunteer teaching.

In terms of attracting (and retaining) members who want to pursue individual projects, I think how we communicate our fees, facilities, and classes on the website are the strongest outward facing tools to differentiate BwoB from Genspace. I believe there are opportunties to emphasize the support for individual projects in the way we advertise to potential members as well as in the last line of the Mission (there was concern that the line seemed to much like a list of services and not enough a Mission.)

We provide education, lab facilities, and a forum for critical discussions to support responsible innovation in biotechnology.

I'll think about this line and the emphasis on individual projects more as a potential revision. If you would like to point out the cliche terms I will also consider them for revisions. It's also very helpful to hear your articulation of an aspect community labs. This articulation is also useful to think about as we begin to craft out RFP story. Thank-you.


Susan Harrington Tue 6 Jul 2021 3:22PM

Thanks for your response Danny.

I appreciate the effort involved in trying to organize this kind of community biolab, and I think that it's very generous of you and others to devote your time and energy to it.

I'll be happy to make some specific remarks about some of the wording of the mission statement. But I have a more general question. Is there a summary of the plans for BwoB? I know there have been meetings and various threads, so I probably missed the overall picture. But I would be interested in when lab space will be rented, and how BwoB will be funded. So kind of a brief outline and timeline. At Genspace, I believe there is a more traditional board and fixed backers, although they always seemed to have funding difficulties too.

I realize that BwoB is intended to be a community biolab, but I think that having a scientist leader as a public face of the lab is good for PR and fundraising. People like Ellen and Mike Flanagan were good lab directors (at least superficially, since I don't know more than the little I saw) since they had strong science backgrounds and did seem to be ambitious and to relish a public role. I think in Genspace they seem to be wandering more in an art/education direction, and they don't have a scientist at the helm now as far as I know, but I hope they will find one. In my opinion, it would make sense for you or someone else with the right kind of science background and personality to step into this kind of role. I just don't think the cats will herd themselves. :)