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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

February 28th, 2013

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02:20 pm - 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.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: "Time To Go Home", -JB
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(53 comments Leave a comment)


(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2013 09:02 pm (UTC)
Clergy have an administrative role as well as a spiritual one. I just don't think that spirituality makes one an effective administrator. . . especially since we don't train administrators at all any more in the CTP (those courses were generally cast out of the original revisions).

Note I didn't indicate that people on the MG don't have talent, or to suggest that their credentials keep them from being adequate or even great administrators. I argue the opposite: that administration seems to be crushing religious production.
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
This, so hard. Having a husband who is former ELCA Lutheran minister (the moderate/liberal Lutherans), I've said for several eternities that electing someone, say, bishop just because s/he is a good pastor misses the point altogether. In an administrative position, being a good administrator IS being a good pastor, in many respects. Thank you for this post.

And yes, I was the Worst Pastor's Wife Ever in the History of Religion. Why do you ask? :-)
[User Picture]
Date:February 28th, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC)
Haha. Being a pastor's wife is hard as hell. I don't know how my wife manages it, honestly.

Of course, she mostly manages it by not interacting with other people in ADF, which I suppose is a pretty valid way of doing it :)
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2013 12:44 am (UTC)
Obviously we should be having your wife apply for sainthood. (Probably mine too while we are at it.)
[User Picture]
Date:March 1st, 2013 01:11 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Date:March 5th, 2013 06:43 pm (UTC)
There is also a significant (potential?) conflict of interest problem when the 2nd in command is in charge of moderating lists. Talk about a recipe for squashing dissent.
Date:March 1st, 2013 11:31 pm (UTC)
I don't mind Clergy on the MG, since often clergy do take administrative roles in other churches. It does seem though, that when they do, then their more DIRECT clergy related duties are constrained and they pay more attention to the administrative matters (although not exclusively).

Kind of like when faculty move into administrative positions. Right now I get a course reduction for my program directorship, but if I move farther up the chain, I don't teach anymore (although I perhaps COULD do one course a semester).

What the larger issue is, IMO is that the degree of overlap between clergy council officers and MG. I would love to see a by law change where people on the mother grove could hold no other offices. I understand we're still a small organization, but 1. we aren't that small, and 2. if we limit it JUST to MG officers, it wouldn't be too big a dent into the double dipping. although I wouldn't mind NO ONE holding more than one office, as that may actually encourage other people to get involved, get a great diversity of voices, etc.

I also oppose anyone on the MG being also the list moderator, as that seems to be a PROFOUND potential conflict of interest, but that's neither here nor there.

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