A destroyed network and a failed coalition. All at once.

(Access here the Portuguese version)

“It disturbed me to learn from your e-mail “The sad truth is …” that the merge announcement was a piece of false marketing. … Obviously, forcing NEI to leave is also part of the untold story of the real merge.”

Part 2 of 3, on the “resignation” of Bob Massie.

Today’s post contains the transcription of e-mails that explain quite well part of the crisis the coalition attempt caused. They can be synthesized by the formula: NEI (Institute) + NEN (Network) = NEC (Coalition) = nothing.

On Tuesday, March 11, 2014 I wrote to the New Economy Network (NEN) board members Sarah Stranahan, Gus Speth and Keith Harrington:

“Dear former NEN board members, Sarah, Gus and Keith,
This is just to inform that my NEN individual membership has been canceled. The reason is absurd and is expressed in the e-mail transcribed at the end.
I take the occasion to ask what kind of coalition is this that uses merges to destroy and get rid of organizations instead of promoting and prioritizing, above its own, their work?
And also, NEC pretends to be the leader of a movement or a point where different initiatives and results are informed, encouraged and fortified?
Finally, are you sure this “students” strategy (?) will be positive and is ethical and legal? It looks like a silly attempt inspired by the struggle during the Vietnam war era, that I, by the way, witnessed at Stanford.”

On the same day I received an answer from Sarah that has been the managing director of NEN an became a member of the board of the New Economy Coalition:

“As the founding coordinator of NEN, I can understand your anger and disappointment in being denied membership to NEC. The sad truth is that NEN was not a viable organization- we did not have the staff or financial resources to continue our work. The merger with NEI was a pragmatic way to continue and expand the critical networking function.
As a board member of NEC, I know that the question of individual memberships has been carefully considered. There are two reasons that the model changed- one the new economy movement and the number of organizations in the space are growing rapidly, so connecting organizations is a priority. Second, the process of reviewing and maintaining individual member relations is time consuming and expensive.
Rather than rail against the time and cost constraints of managing a network, is there a creative way for you to get involved? Perhaps starting or joining an organization, or organizing other individuals into a “new economy freelancers union” that could join the network?
Thank you for all your energy and input.”

On the following day I sent my comments to Sarah asking her to share them with the other NEC board members:

“Thank you for you reply.
You may find it interesting that my second post, more than 3 years ago, was about Gus Speth paper: “A New American Environmentalism and the New Economy”, and the importance of overcoming differences and working together. This should be a guide for the coalition. Then, you all would (and will, I must say) understand that it’s an impossibility to try to find common grounds between organizations and at the same time do part of the work (not to say, be their leader). And, what is worst, try to implement a wrong and naive “students” strategy.
It disturbed me to learn from your e-mail “The sad truth is …” that the merge announcement was a piece of false marketing. Believing on its terms I wrote a special post about it. And now, I will have to, in some way, inform what really happened. Obviously, forcing NEI to leave is also part of the untold story of the real merge.
I understand you also have your doubts. Your e-mail confirms, as I see it, the answer that is implied in the 1st question I made, and have no answers to the other 2 questions.
I appreciated you suggestion, although I could see some irony on it implying that I’m loosing my time against an organization that manages a network. Who knows there isn’t still a chance to wake up and make a 180° turn really prioritizing networking instead of a mass movement? The blog I maintain since October 2010 has been a wonderful experience. People want to know more and be informed about the New Economy. This, I guess, is the reason for the good audience. It requires a lot of work and all my initiatives need to be related to it. Right know I’m publishing a Portuguese version of an US New Economy newsletter and testing AWTW Network as a replacement for NEN.
The idea of formalizing some kind of democratic union of Brazilian initiatives comes frequently to my mind, but right now I just keep in touch with some of them and also exchange ideas through discussion lists.
Well, at this point I understand that there is no point in keep arguing. so let us see how things evolve.
If you believe that this e-mail may be useful, please share it with the other NEC directors.”

The e-mail I received from Mike Sandmel, manager of Coalition Organizing, NEC, in response to my e-mail to Bob Massie, Eli Feghali and Filippo Ravalico asking them to honor my NEN membership, was:

“NEC does not currently have a category for individual membership. However, there are plenty of ways for individuals to be involved. Some of the easiest are through our soon to be launched sustainers program and through attending our upcoming conference CommonBound: Moving Together For A New Economy, June 6-9 in Boston.”

Note: I released the content of the above e-mails because they are official responses and as such, public.

(Continues next Wednesday)

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