Here's what it looked like originally. After discussing it with Cynthia French some this summer, the alternative to redrawing the regions each year might be to have fixed regions, and apportion slots based on how big each region is. We also have to decide how big we want regions to be. If we leave 3x5, I think it probably has to be 60. If we go 4x4 again, I'd lean toward 64, but you need to be able to run eight venues, and not every city has the infrastructure for that.
Anyway, here it is as initially proposed:
For your reference, the hybrid system proposal as offered in April 2004:
AN OVERVIEW OF THE HYBRID SYSTEM
proposed by Phil West, Slammaster, San Antonio
(Believe me, I’m trying to make this as streamlined as possible.)
Goal: To create as fair and equitable a way as possible to winnow the number of slams wanting to participate in NPS to a 64-team field.
POSSIBLE METHODS OF WINNOWING TEAMS INCLUDE:
Regionals competition: The teams within a certain region (regions to be drawn up by PSI) will compete in one or more slams, with the highest-scoring teams representing that region at NPS.
Point system: PSI will record points earned by slams for meeting certain criteria, which can (but is not limited to) include soliciting memberships, conducting workshops, featuring touring poets, and serving on PSI committees. The highest-scoring teams in a region will represent that region at NPS.
Consolidation: Two (or more) teams within a region will decide to be represented by a single slam team, composed of poets from each of the teams.
Lottery: By using whichever system allows for an equal, random chance for each team to be selected.
STEP ONE: CERTIFICATION
Those teams wishing to participate in NPS must be certified by January 1 of that year. (By January 1, 2005 for the 2005 NPS, for example.) Certification will include a letter of intention for that slam series to send a team to NPS, and will declare that slam’s preferred method of winnowing teams from its region for that year (regionals competition, points system, consolidation, or lottery).
If the number of certified slams is less than 64 as of Jan. 1, the window will remain open for until PSI receives completed applications for 64 teams wishing to go to NPS. If the number is greater than 64, PSI will conduct a reverse-slot lottery to help determine the boundaries for that year’s regions.
Note: a five-person Map Committee should already be at work drawing up a draft of the 16 regions, based on natural geographic divisions (assuming a driving distance of no greater than eight hours between any two cities in a region) and past years’ regional maps, with the goal of getting four teams from each of the 16 regions.
STEP TWO: CONSTRUCTING REGIONS
On February 1, PSI will conduct the reverse-slot lottery, drawing names of certified slams wishing to attend that year’s Nationals, picking one name for each slam above the 64th. (For example, if 67 slams want to send teams, pick three names; if 72 are interested, pick eight names.) This is to determine (for a list of 65-79) which regions will have four teams and stay intact, versus which ones will start with five teams and will lose a team via one of the four winnowing methods noted above. If between 81-95 teams are on the list, regions will be composed of five and six teams, but will still be winnowed down to 16 four-person teams.
If a name is drawn, and a second name is drawn from what would undoubtedly be the same region, that second name will not be counted unless two teams need to be cut from a region. (Example: 72 slams are on the list, so eight regions need to start with five teams. Chicago-Green Mill is selected, and later in the draw, Chicago-Wicker Park is selected. Wicker Park’s region has already been tapped, since both Chicago teams would logically be in the same region, so the Wicker Park selection would not count as one of the eight names picked.)
By February 15, the committee will present that year’s map of regions to the Slammasters, and EC will approve the map (or a revised version, working with the Committee) by March 1. Appeals can be made at this time to the chair of the Map Committee. Though the Map Committee will be charged with hearing the appeals, final say resides with the EC.
(Note: the final release of the map will include noting what preferred winnowing method each slam claimed in its letter of intention.)
STEP THREE: REGIONS SELECT WINNOWING METHOD
Slammasters in each region will meet (physically and/or electronically) between March 1 and April 1 to determine what winnowing method will be used in each region. If a particular region is hopelessly deadlocked, that region will default to a lottery method, to be conducted publicly at the Slammasters meeting in April.
STEP FOUR: THE WINNOWING
The field must be winnowed to 64 teams (16, 4-team regions) by June 30.
Regionals option: Multiple regional competitions can be held in a region to determine which teams will be winnowed, and pre-existing events involving multiple regions (Big Sur, Southern Fried) can be part of this equation – though teams in a region must determine the system in writing by April 1. Regional events can be scheduled no later than June 20, to allow for possible appeals, though appeals should only be reserved for extreme cases in which multiple teams note some discrepancy.
Point system option: Those regions opting for the point system will submit documentation to the PSI secretary (or another person designated to evaluate entries) by June 1.
Consolidation option: The slams consolidating into one team must submit a letter to EC, signed by the Slammasters, which includes how the team was consolidated (e.g. two slams combine into one team, taking the top two poets from each slam’s finals to create the team).
STEP FIVE: NATIONALS
The NPS will feature 64 teams in the official competition, though naturally, poets from all PSI-affiliated slams will be encouraged to attend and participate.
WHAT THIS PLAN OFFERS
It acknowledges the need to be flexible and the strong polarization on this issue in the community. For some slams, staging a regionals event is prohibitively expensive and otherwise taxing. Some slams, on the other hand, have embraced regionals. There might be certain instances in which two neighboring slams might want to join forces and share the expense of sending one team to Nationals. With the hybrid system, all these factors can be accommodated.
WHAT THIS PLAN REQUIRES
First and foremost, we have to come to the hard realization that not every slam can send a team to NPS every year. This is a big reason we’ve had such difficulty with this issue in the past. The key step in the hybrid system process, of course, is Step Three. Decisions will have to be made based on what’s good for the region as well as what’s good for each individual slam. If slammasters who think they have enough points to get in votes for the point system automatically, if those slammasters who haven’t done any work all year immediately default to a vote for regionals, and if slams aren’t willing to consider consolidation, this is going to be a disaster.
Also, each slammaster will have to prepare for multiple contingencies, but this could be a positive. By having each slammaster tally points, in the case that his or her region votes to use a point system, we’ll have a better sense of how slams are contributing to PSI and our individual communities. By setting up regional events, we’re creating high energy shows that provide multiple audiences glimpses of the caliber of work featured at an NPS. Considering consolidation allows slammasters and neighboring slams to forge collaborations with one another.
This will also require a stepped-up volunteer effort to help with administrative details. While arguably more fair and accommodating than any other regionals solution we’ve drawn up, this also requires more organization. PSI will need its membership to step up should we adopt this system.
WHAT THE REGIONS MIGHT LOOK LIKE
1. NON-CONTINENTAL: Alaska/Hawaii/Canada/Europe/Asia
2. PACIFIC NORTHWEST: Washington/Oregon/Idaho (could also include Vancouver)
3. NORTHERN CAL: Bay Area/Sacramento
4. SOUTHERN CAL: L.A./Orange County/San Diego
5. SOUTHWEST: Arizona/New Mexico
6. ROCKIES: Colorado/Utah/Nevada
8. SOUTH CENTRAL: Arkansas/Oklahoma/Louisiana/Kansas (might include Metroplex some years)
10. GULF COAST: Alabama/Mississippi/Carolinas (could also include Florida panhandle)
11. MID-ATLANTIC: D.C./Maryland/Virginia/Pennsylvania (could also include North Carolina teams)
12. TRI-STATE: New Jersey/New York/Connecticut
13. NEW ENGLAND (could also include Quebec)
14. RUST BELT: Ohio/Indiana/Michigan (could also include Ontario)
15. LAND OF LINCOLN: Illinois/Wisconsin/Missouri
16. NORTH CENTRAL: Minnesota/Dakotas/Nebraska/Iowa (could also include Winnipeg)