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A Municipal Liaison (abbreviated ML, which may also be used as a verb) is a volunteer coordinator of a regional NaNoWriMo chapter. MLs can be identified on the NaNoWriMo forums by looking for the "Municipal Liaison" title below their usernames. A region's MLs are posted at the top of their regional lounge.
Functions of the ML
Duties of an ML include moderating their regional lounge, answering any questions participant may have, sending regional emails and pep talks to their Wrimos, and coordinating at least one write-in a week, along with other get-togethers such as a kickoff party and a TGIO party. Of course, they are also expected to participate in Nanowrimo during the years that they are an ML and try their hardest to reach 50k. They are also delivered stickers from NaNoWriMo HQ to distribute to participants.
Some MLs may also volunteer for additional responsibilities for their regions, such as running a website, distributing small goody bags or prizes to participants, selling items to raise funds for NaNoWriMo's non-profit, or even running a local version of the Night of Writing Dangerously. However, going above and beyond is not necessary in order to be a good ML, especially for first-time MLs.
MLs may also volunteer to be Moderators of individual NaNoWriMo forums. MLs come with tools on the NaNoWriMo site that make upgrading to forum moderator much easier. Occasionally an ML may also continue to moderate a forum after stepping down from the ML position, but this does not always happen. Since 2011 a team of hand-picked MLs around the world helped the staff run the NaNoWordSprints Twitter account with sprints around the clock.
ML Appreciation Day is a day for Wrimos and staff to thank the MLs in their lives for all they do. The date varies by year. In 2014 it was observed on November 11. In past years it was celebrated on 16 November in 2013 and 2012, 22 November 2011, 19 November in 2010 and on 8 November in years before 2010.
The history of the ML and Community Liaison
The Municipal Liaison role was created in 2002. Since then, the number of MLs has increased greatly, with over 450 in 2010, over 600 in 2011, and 926 MLs leading 633 regions in 2015.
In 2003 Lauren Ayer joined the NaNoWriMo staff as a contact person for the MLs. Erin Allday joined Lauren in 2004 as a co-ML headmistress, staying on for several years. Lindsey Grant's hiring as community liaison in 2008 gave the NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy communities a main contact point for ML-related queries. Emily Bristow joined the NaNoWriMo staff as ML Captain of Capital Ideas in 2008, making her an additional contact point for the many NaNoWriMo MLs. Nancy Smith headed the MLs from 2009 to 2010, and Sarah Mackey took over the role when Nancy left NaNoWriMo to pursue a writing fellowship. Past intern and ML Paige Knorr is the current Community Liaison and contact person for MLs.
How to become an ML
A Wrimo can become an ML if they have won NaNoWriMo before and are at least 18 years old. Aside from the age restriction, MLs come from all walks of life. Some are college students, some are teachers, some are professional writers, some work outside of writing entirely, and the list goes on. While the age limit means it's theoretically possible for an upper level high school student to become an ML, this is very unlikely thanks to the bit on the ML page about not wanting to be the reason the student doesn't get into college.
Before 2012 applications for returning MLs opened first in late August, and returning MLs confirm that they are returning to be an ML. In early September, applications for new MLs opened, and users who have never been an ML before or are returning after a break can apply. In 2012 the timeline moved up, with returning ML applications going out in June and new ML applications going out in July. This was to allow international MLs time for their ML kits to arrive before the kickoff party and November's events, as well as to give NaNoWriMo more time to select MLs and prepare them for the event on top of everything else the staff does to prepare for NaNo.
Participants who want to establish a new region and become an ML must apply when new ML applications go out. Wrimos can also apply to be a co-ML if they feel the need exists or if a returning ML is seeking a co-ML. Many regions, especially larger or spread-out regions, have multiple MLs. Most regions have one to three MLs; larger cities (both geographically and population-wise) such as Los Angeles and New York City may have four or five.
As long as the ML continues to fulfill the ML duties, they may usually hold their position as long as they wish.
Unofficial MLing and Minionhood
Some regions may have no ML, or the existing ML(s) may seek extra help from other volunteers in the region. While only Wrimos who have officially applied and been accepted may wear the title of Municipal Liaison for that year, these volunteers (or minions as they are known in some regions) are still valuable to ensuring a region's programs run smoothly.
This may happen for several reasons: missing the deadline to apply for the ML position, noticing that their region is ML-less but still wanting activities, or even recently moving to an ML-less region. In fact, helping out an ML or creating activity in an ML-less region looks really good on applications for those Wrimos who wish to become an ML in the future.
ML Forums and Community
Municipal Liaisons can access the ML forums, a private area of the NaNoWriMo forums where Municipal Liaisons can ask questions, get advice on MLing topics, and chat about anything on their minds.