Friday, August 5, 2011

Reinventing the Wheel of the Year

I've posted on this concept from the learning side of the Pagan spectrum. Tonight I'm going to talk about our political side. I might just get ranty. I know, shock.

About 5 years ago, I was part of a gathering of Pagan groups. I was there on behalf of NYC Pagan Pride. This event was open to the public, but it wound up mostly being a networking session between the groups in the area (which is completely necessary in my opinion). I approached someone I had met before at PPP events and asked him about his group. He started to rattle off his groups mission statement... which I could finish. How did I know it? It was the exact same mission as NYC PPP, with barely a word changed. I was surprised so my first thought was actually spoken aloud: "Why did you start a new group instead of work with us at Pagan Pride?" I wasn't accusatory, I really wanted to know. We've always been in serious need of volunteers to help plan throughout the year and have never been shy in asking. So why the need to start a whole new group when equal say (input? power?) was being offered by an already existing group with the same mission? He stammered and said it was different, that they did different things, but couldn't name a single difference. Um, uh huh. Not so much. I thanked him for his answer and moved on.

Do people automatically think that an organization which is already established must be a large one? That there is an entrenched hierarchy? That they won't have a proverbial seat at the table? Do people just want to be in charge? I don't know. Maybe all of the above.

But that was more than 5 years ago. Something else is happening now and I blame facebook for it. 5 years ago, when an incident came up which required a response, some folks would put up a web page and/or start a mailing list. Then you had to somehow get traffic to the page or people on your list. Now? Takes 5 seconds to throw up a facebook page for a cause.

It takes a whole lot more than "liking" a page to make something happen. Yes, FB is one of the best publicity vehicles on the net, but there's a huge difference between clicking a button on a screen and actually doing something. The Hail Columbia page is interesting, and I see that they are trying to create an organization with state coordinators. Why create a whole new thing? There are organizations already out there working towards the same goals, so why not approach these groups to get together to work on it instead of reinventing the Wheel of the Year?

Covenant of the Goddess first officer, Peter Dybing, called on all Pagans to donate to Doctors without Borders, not just CoG members, and the community exceeded the goal. Why not put out a call to national groups to do something specific. I did, with my Gods Bless America event, but this was before the praying against us began. Without a noticeable threat present, only a handful of groups took up the charge.

Please don't get me wrong, I think the Hail Columbia idea is a really good one (especially since I thought of it 6 months ago, but focused on The Statue of Liberty instead. ;) What can I say, I'm a New Yorker!) What I don't like is the myriad of facebook pages out there that pop up like zits. They get a bunch of "likes" but then the momentum quickly fades when people are expected to do something. I read an article last night about a man who started a Facebook page to bring marriage equality to NY. He updated the page constantly. He would point people towards candidates to call and write and email. They backed up their clicks with real world action. Now that marriage equality has come to NY, the list is gone. He has created a new page for marriage equality across America. I wonder if the rest of the country is as tenacious.

I see many Pagans out there who are willing to take up a cause and who actually get things done burning out from taking on too much of the burden. What do you do when the cause is great but there is no backup? When will people step up? Has this generation become so comfortable in their civil rights that they need them to be stripped away in order to stand up? Is this a different kind of wheel? Do we have to reinvent the wheel of our civil rights? Do they have to first erode before we're willing to stand up for them? At this rate I'm going to sign on to be a Hail Columbia coordinator. ::headdesk::

One last note on facebook groups: Unless publicity is part of your mission, make the group a CLOSED group. Power shared is power halved. If someone knows what you're doing, they can work against you. This might just be a Strega thing, but it frosts my cupcakes to see planning information and action information accessible to someone who isn't part of the group. Take it behind virtual closed doors! Have someone make the commitment to step through your virtual threshold before they have access to who you are and what you do.

1 comment:

  1. The Pagan Mom Blog posted the link to this on Facebook (thanks!). She mentioned that she didn't know of any other groups who are trying to do what Hail Columbia is doing. I wanted to post my reply here because things scroll by so quickly on FB and because I didn't bring it up in the original post:

    While Americans United ( and their fb page with 50k friends:​ericansunited) isn't a Pagan specific group, this is the exact kind of work they do: education, research, file amicus briefs, and go to court to keep church and state separate. They've just organized The Family Faith and Freedom Rally in Texas, celebrating diversity and religious liberty for all, in response to the Governor's Christian-only rally. They came and spoke at NYC Pagan Pride 10 years go and I've been a member since. And let's not forget the ACLU. The structures are in place. We just need to find them and work together. I want to point out that I wasn't dissing the Hail Columbia movement, just that it needs to be backed up with action. Getting people to like a page isn't getting people to change the world. Unless you're Betty White ;)