An Organization for the Future?
By Michael Albert at Apr 27, 2011
Our organization poll began positively not long ago bur slowed over the weekend, and so we examined emails indicating people's reactions and decided a big part of the reason more people weren't taking the poll was that people felt "If I spend time taking the poll, nothing will happen, so why bother?"
So we thought about that reaction and we decided okay, let's see if we can't give the process a more explicit trajectory to clarify people's motivations.
We wrote various writers, friends, and contacts and very quickly assembled what is now called an Interim Consultative Committee who signed a public letter urging folks who hadn't already done so to take the poll, and also agreed to function as a consulting body for a process that would ensue if enough folks are positively inclined toward the poll.
You can see a list of members of the Consultative Committee here. The Committee will likely grow somewhat over the next week.
The process that would follow upon many more people taking the poll would be that Z would raise funds to pay for a complex web system to house a future organization and its branches, chapters, etc. This web system would display organization content, news, and events, but also facilitate membership discussions, debates, and even decision making and dues paying within and across branches and chapters.
Simultaneous efforts while building the web system would recruit new members and help those ready to do so to build chapters as well as later conceive and prepare for conventions to found an actual working organization in accord with the description the poll offers.
Once the organization was finally established and running on its own power, assuming this all proceeds as hoped, the Interim Consultative Committee and Z's work would be finished, and those who had been involved in the interim work would relate to the new organization's structures the same as all other members. The Organizational web system would be passed on to the new organization and its branches and chapters, as would any left over funds, and the organization would thereafter go forward as it decides with none of the prior work limiting its options.
Can this succeed? And will it be worthy, if it does?
Success certainly isn't a sure thing, but yes, I think this can succeed and I think if it does succeed the potential benefits could be enormous. And that belief explains my willingness, and that of the Interim Committee, to try to make this happen, including sending the public letter, etc. But why do I think success is possible?
If enough folks take the poll and react positively, then raising funds and building the site will take time, but shouldn't be unduly difficult. So suppose membership climbs to 5,000 over a period of six months or so. Then suppose there are flexible dues pegged to income, and that dues reach an average, say, of $6 per person per month, with many members paying a lot more than that, and others paying less or nothing, reflecting different income levels.
Okay, that would mean the organization as a whole would already at that point have a cash flow of roughly $30,000 a month. That is considerable even in Europe and the U.S., and it would be a huge resource in many other parts of the world.
Now imagine that next Winter there are founding conventions in various countries in Asia, Europe, North and South America, Africa, etc. Imagine as well that there is a final international convention, founding the international organization, composed in turn of the regions, in turn composed of various countries, in Spring or Summer 2012.
Suppose the international organization as a whole starts out with 5,000 or plausibly perhaps 10,000 or more members. Suppose the members have a clear and coherent vision emerging from the founding conventions and consistent with the organization description that birthed it all. Finally, suppose the members also have shared broad strategic commitments, and they are therefore able to arrive at international, regional, and national programs and to support one another's efforts, share lessons, and share resources.
Will this be hard to achieve, even supposing there is enough support to start the process? Yes. Of course. The hardest thing might well be believing in it enough to give some time and energy to it. But is it impossible? No. Not at all.
One person wrote me about the poll they would like to see folks from different areas having a conference to share and learn. Me too, but wouldn't it be much better to have the infrastructure for constant sharing, constant learning, and even more important, constant mutual aid?
Another person wrote me about the poll, "I hope this works, maybe later." I can only think, in response, when later? Are there really upcoming "material conditions" that are going to create a more propitious time? That seems doubtful. But if there are more favorable conditions coming, well, then to have already built something will make it easier and more likely we will benefit from those more favorable conditions even more than if we didn't do that work now.
Another person wrote me about the poll, "I don't know. It might fail." Yes, of course it might fail. But if we try, it may succeed. And if we don't try, in that case we really do fail, and we also learn nothing along the way. Taking the poll is not a lot to invest to see if we can go another step.
So we want to try. And we hope you will want to try, as well. And trying means, right now, just two main things.
(1) Take the poll.
(2) Once you have taken it, get others to take it too.
The Consultative Committee was put together in just three days. That the folks on the Committee signed on so quickly should be a sign to everyone - this is very much worth trying. Let's see what we can accomplish.