Week before last, a dozen or so Illahee board members and supporters (including chickens) met at Pomarius Nursery to take stock of where we are and what we should do as an organization. A few six packs and a couple of bottles of wine later, followed by a round of emails, gave a sense of priorities.
First on the list was not so much the topics we pursue, but how we pursue them. We should be asking Illahee presenters to propose three things that Illahee members can do, and scale those things from individual actions, to community, to “real big.” And if we’re really open critical thinkers, we should ask speakers to present the most persuasive, compelling counter-argument to their main points. And then the counter counter-argument.
Most progressive organizations – OK, most organizations – spend a lot of their time preaching to the choir. Is that good enough? Should we push hard to find more choir members? Do we reach out to non-choir members? What if there is no choir in the sense that we’re not really walking our talk? More back and forth, and genuine discussion, might draw a more diverse group. We don’t always have to agree, but it is helpful when we can demonstrate cooperation among political or philosophical adversaries.
Illahee and many other progressive non profits (with the exception of organizations like Acorn and The Bus Project) draw few younger people into their orbit. Our ideas are in line with the majority of people under thirty, but our events and ways of communicating are not compelling for this group. Some non profits have tried to bolster their hip-ness quotient. This usually comes off as in-authentic, or worse – pathetic. More thinking needed here.
We didn’t get around to content for the Illahee Lectures, but the bottom line for at least one supporter was exploring how we change our individualistic and narcissistic culture into one that becomes more community-oriented, so that we can see that protecting the “commons” is a top priority. And with that, we’re off to watch “The Bachelor Pad” or whatever it’s called.