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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

July 19th, 2004

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12:41 pm - What's eating at ADF?
There has been some worry in ADF recently. Fears that the organization is going down the tubes, accusations of interesting things, and the shifting of blame like manure from one stall to the next.

What has prompted this? Three people have resigned. In a 750 member organization, that isn't very many at all.

Some have pointed to ADF's retention rate of first year members. It sits at about 50%. It has been at that rate for about 20 years, as far as I know. What's really interesting is that we still make up that 50% every year in new members, and we still grow.

Three people have left the organization, though, in the past month. Usually, no one would care. No one would look twice. But these are big people, right? They're people who we respect and find interesting. They're people who have traded joking emails with us, people who have approved our Dedicant Programs, and people who have reminded us of ADF's vision when we temporarily forgot about it. These people have held leadership positions almost since joining. Let us not forget: these people also posted to public forums nice vocal reasons, and that is really why we notice.

Has a leadership vacuum been created? No. ADF has more leaders than followers; it always has. ADF will fill those positions with people just as competent as those who have left. To say that ADF lacks people of such competence is to insult the membership of ADF, which I believe is full of huge potential and many untapped skills.

Can we still get publications out on time? Yes. In fact, this year's second issue of Oak Leaves is nearly done. With 30 submissions in the last week, it seems like we're ready and able to go to press with not one but even as many as three issues and put ourselves back on track. The Grove Organizer's Handbook is nearly done after a long delay, as well.

Do these resignations point to real problems in the leadership of ADF? I'm not sure, but I'm inclined to say "no". What they reflect is an inability of ADF's leaders to always solve everyone's problems, something we've always been up front about. Another thing they reflect is a serious issue with interpersonal relationships that has sprung up very recently. Not everyone will get along with everyone in a given organization, and occasionally the relationships blow up. In this case, we've had several do this. What it comes down to here is not whether ADF has met a person's spiritual needs, but rather whether a person has been able to fulfill their spiritual needs when their personal relationships started getting in their way.

How do we respond?

Now that's a tough one. I, however, am eternally optimistic, and I see an opportunity in everything. ADF had sometimes been called an "old boys' club," where new members might not be able to get their point across, or where new members have felt that their influence was negligible because there were big names that everyone listened to far more than they. Perhaps the organization is stuck in a rut caused by our reliance on these people. We should see this as an opportunity for new members to step in, to take responsibility and to mold the vision of ADF to their own and take it in a new, yet similar direction. Several key positions in ADF have been vacated after being held for a very long time by the members who have recently resigned, and so perhaps this is a sign that we should move in a new direction.

Change is not always bad, and if you deal with it correctly, it can certainly be a very good thing.
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
Current Music: "A Sailor's Christmas", -JB

(30 comments Leave a comment)


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2004 12:20 pm (UTC)
Woo-hoo!!! Feel free to post this to any list you like!! I agree 100%!!!
[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC)
Moreover, the worst thing is for a group to be reliant on personalities instead of positions. I don't think this is necessarily ADF's problem, but it's just something to consider when you bring up that we've lost some people in prominent positions--there will always be folks to fill those positions at some point.

I think ultimately you're right not to be worried about this. A little bit of panic is understandable, but as you said, it's probably only newsworthy because of who resigned.
Date:July 19th, 2004 09:53 am (UTC)
Yeah for change! Yeah for fresh blood! Yeah for Oak Leaves having three issues from scratch come out in 1.5 months time! Yeah for vacant positions for new members to fill!

I've been involved with ADF for a long time now (wow, almost half it's existence). The way I see it, sure some vocal people left but is what they're saying really that important? Let us concentrate on cleaning up some messes and helping people. Hell, that's why I'm there-- to help!! :)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2004 10:00 am (UTC)

New members in power?

Hate the idea! Why it indicates that the there is no depth of membership. If a new person wants to be in power they should show competence and dedication, of course those types of people tend not to clamor about wanting power and the type who do usually aren't competent or dedicated.
[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2004 10:06 am (UTC)

Re: New members in power?

You're right. We should entrench the old guard in their ruts, and let them lead us right behind. After all, if enough bodies fall into those ruts, eventually we'll be able to keep moving forward, over our own dead. . . :)
Date:July 19th, 2004 10:41 am (UTC)
thanks for posting this mike :)

i see the individuals' resignations as personal decisions, and really not open to public debate or speculation.

[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2004 11:43 am (UTC)

I'm not so queasy now

Thanks for this. Strangely enough, it popped up right around the time I was pondering whether or not to be bothered by the recent dropouts. On the one hand I wonder what's going on in the back rooms to cause such dissension, on the other hand none of the dropouts has answered me, so to hell with it.

[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2004 11:48 am (UTC)

Hey now.

I'm not an alarmist, but I a seer and the daughter of an historian. I'm sure there are at least three sides to every story.

Our survival as an organization does not rely upon amputation of ideas or people just because one or both may be/have been flawed.

I've been a member since 1998, though I'm only just recently surfacing in leadership circles. This shit happens. All I wanted to do was figure out if there's a pattern to be learned from in order to become more excellent. You know, history repeating itself and all.

I think the next few months of finding new people to step forward and serve will be crucial. Not just because we have an opportunity to share power with a wider circle, but also because we have a chance to really steward excellent people -- without asking too much of too few. That's one of the nastiest ruts of all to be in.
[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2004 11:58 am (UTC)

Re: Hey now.

You're very right. a) not everyone is paniced. b) getting rid of leaders is not all skittles and beer; in fact, it is often neither.

However, it has happened. Honestly, I see that we have two choices, flip or fly, and I don't want to do either one. So let's make the best of it instead.

I think the next few months of finding new people to step forward and serve will be crucial.

You are absolutely right here.
[User Picture]
Date:July 19th, 2004 09:03 pm (UTC)

Eating at ADF

Wow. Our group isn't the only one going through troubles these days....
[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2004 06:19 am (UTC)

Re: Eating at ADF

I really don't think they're actual troubles. They might be perceived that way, but three people do not an organization make, and never will.
[User Picture]
Date:July 20th, 2004 03:54 pm (UTC)
I have been on vacation for the past 6 days, and came back to this news. Thanks, Michael, for posting this here, and also on Discuss. I think what you say is very true, and I, too, am an optimist, and have high hopes for the future of ADF.
More later, when I am more settled....
[User Picture]
Date:July 20th, 2004 06:52 pm (UTC)
Is there something in Ohio water? This is the third Pagan group to which something like this has happened this summer.

I know nothing about ADF's problems beyond what I've read here, but from my own recent traumatic experiences, this is what I'd like to see:

1) A concept of service to a group rather than authority or leadership. If holding an office were seen as a temporary favor one is doing for a group rather than a position of power, there might be less politics surrounding it.

2) Open meetings, open discussions, and an open decision-making process based on consensus, so no one feels left out.

3) A concept that we are all children of the Gods, and should act accordingly. We are all family, even if we walk different paths. Or to be more blunt, basic human compassion.

As I said, this is not about ADF. I'm just wondering what's going on in the greater Pagan community that conflicts keep popping up in so many diverse groups this summer.
[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2004 06:16 am (UTC)
Like I said, it's just three people who have resigned from a 700+ member organization. Honestly, I don't think it's a big deal at all, but since people have been treating it like a big deal, I saw a need for someone to address it, and so I did.

Besides, ADF has recently taken a beating in some LJ's, and I felt that an optomistic view of it would be a nice change.

Personally, I think the Greater Pagan Community is funny. It's always funny to watch people who are still mentally 12 years old not want to share. It's kinda like watching kids play a game of Cowboys and Indians, except it's more politically incorrect.

"bang bang! I shot you!"

"No you didn't! You missed!"

"Did not!"

"Did so!"

"This isn't fun anymore! I'm going home!"
[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2004 04:45 am (UTC)
Okay, at first I read "accusations of interesting things" quite seriously and too literally and had to stop and think it over. Resulting in an Izzardesque internal dialog ala "How dare you do something interesting in ADF!" before your real meaning clicked. Ah...too much detail on the inner workings of my brain. =P

Aside from that silliness, thanks for your post, Mike. This pretty much sums up how I feel. (I bet you are not surprised.) I see in the comments it is also on ADF-Discuss so I'll check it out there too. I've tried signing up again a few times but it never seems to take, so I will quit being lazy and track down October to add me to the list.
[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2004 06:05 am (UTC)
Yes, I posted it to Discuss, mainly because Rob posted his resignation to Discuss (to which I replied, in my smart-ass fashion, "ADF-Discuss is an interesting place to post this. Are we expected to discuss this resignation?"

And people wanted to discuss why the resignations were occuring. So I said I'd play. :) The responses were interesting, to say the least. But it appears that, after I posted on Monday, I responded to some posts on Tuesday, and today, Wednesday, people seem to have been satisfied. All in all, it was one of the quickest discussions ADF-Discuss has ever had, I think.

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