February 28th, 2013


ADF Elections are Coming: Some Thoughts on Voting That Won't Make Me Popular

Over the last few years, I've been watching as ADF waxes and wanes in membership numbers, but never really gets anywhere new. We're mired in a lot of things, and in many ways we seem to be spinning our tires. Brave new ideas like Teo Bishop's SDF can't really get off the ground, and even though it's been successful for the first few months, no one seems interested in helping to support it by providing a structure within ADF to allow it to thrive: it's not even mentioned on our website, except on the Members' side.

As a result, I've been thinking about the upcoming elections and what they mean to ADF. It really comes down to two issues, to me, born from years of watching the MG from both the inside and the outside, and from being a Clergy Council Officer.

1) Crossover in the MG and the CC Officers

We have nine voting members on the Mother Grove (AD, VAD, Secretary, CoCoSD, CoCoRD, and 4 NOD's). The MG is the only body that can over-rule the Clergy Council, which is by nature a rather conservative body (it has to be, and should be). It can get stodgy as a result. But if the CC Officers hold over half the votes on the MG, ADF ends up with that same deep conservative streak, and gives up its ability to be nimble in the face of new challenges. Right now, Priests hold 7 of the 9 votes on the MG, and 5 of those votes are held by CC Officers.

Check out the list of CC Officers and the list of MG officers (remember not all MG Officers can vote, such as the MA or the Treasurer).

Every so often, someone will suggest that the number of clergy members on the Mother Grove be limited. The suggestion came in again recently, and while I'm behind it entirely, it appears no one else is. The request was put to the CC Officers (not the Clergy Council in general), and then promptly ignored. . . or so it seems from my perspective, as a CC Officer myself. And this seems to happen reasonably often, where good ideas are overruled or questions ignored because action isn't required on them: no one can force action from the Clergy Council, after all, due to the number of votes they hold on the MG.

The crossover seems to ensure that the MG remains in line with the CC, which is an unelected body within our organization. I'd really like to see the MG hold the CC responsible for certain things, and for there to be more transparency into what the CC is doing, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards until the makeup of the MG changes.

The folk have the power to bring new ideas to the MG, but the concentration of power in so few hands is a bit mind-boggling to me. The only two groups that make decisions about how we practice Our Druidry and what its basic structure is have their majority held by the same five people.

So, how do we, as members, fix it? The first step is to simply vote. Because any member of the CC can become a Clergy Council Officer, the simplest way to resolve this is to vote for people who don't have "Rev." in front of their names. We have a lot of extremely qualified folks running who don't have that prefix, and it would be really, really nice to see some new faces meeting the challenges of running ADF for a while.

The real issue worth addressing, though, is this one:

2) Administrative positions place constraints on the production of stuff that helps our members

I worry a lot about how little our Priests seem to produce, and the lack of emphasis put on production that benefits others. Over and over we emphasize coursework (something that benefits the individual, a single person, unless that person chooses to share those benefits. . . and nothing requires that they do) over the production of other things like rituals or articles or podcasts or books (which benefit large swaths of our membership).

Electing people to the MG puts them into a position where all they have time to do is administrative work. Check out the list of ADF authors or pick up a copy of Oak Leaves to see who has published recently. Additionally, projects waste along for years due to inadequate management, because people are pulled between spiritual pursuits and administrative duties, and when the people who have projects that should be managed by the MG are effectively managing themselves, it just gets worse.

In other words, rather than electing our Priests to do administrative tasks, let's give them the freedom to deepen their religious work. Putting Priests in charge of the administrative aspects of a church might seem logical, but in reality, few churches do this. They find people who are competent outside of their priestly ranks to run their administrative arms, and they only really leave theological choices to their clergy-folk.

So maybe this year, give someone new a chance in this election. I'm interested in seeing new blood flow into the heart of ADF, and in seeing us take a fresh look at challenges rather than doing the same thing over and over. This is a small election: only a couple of seats are really open for the membership to vote on, so the MG will retain a continuity of experience even if every currently-sitting MG member loses. Help re-balance ADF's leadership, and let's see if we can't finally start to grow again as an organization, toward the Vision we all share.