July 19th, 2004
|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: optimistic
Current Music: "A Sailor's Christmas", -JB
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.
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!"
"This isn't fun anymore! I'm going home!"
Yeah, that's pretty much how I'd sum it up. I've been really tempted to say, "Hey everybody. Play nice and share the toys." But that probably wouldn't go over well. ;-)
Let's just say that this phrase has been visited by several Mother Grove members recently. We decided to try to enforce the philosophy and some folks want to call it censorship. Oh well, it's honestly the first thing I want in a spiritual community - mutual respect. I left more than one Christian Church because people weren't playing nice. And I've seen far too many quiet exits from ADF for that very reason. We just don't see those people splashing their resignations on the lists.