As part of an ongoing effort to infuse a little humanity, warmth and ethics into the business and community world within SL (not to mention support and promotion for art, creativity and imagination throughout the virtual world), Ive been working hard the past 6 months within the Board of The LEA (Linden Endowment For The Arts)....
I'd include a link here to the organisation's website, but it's about as stagnant as the deep void of cold space, so no need. You'd do better scouring the blogosphere....
Why is this important? The Sisterhood believes that the health and welfare of virtual worlds is an important part of humanity's future and Second Life happens to be a current leader in this area. It is a main reason I have been very active in 'Adult SL' as well as the Arts of SL, because these aspects of SL are key to the attraction and retention of residents. A healthy SL = healthy virtual earth = a happier future (number one priority for the Sisterhood). The mission (as written) of the LEA fits nicely with the 'agenda' of a positive, loving and inspirational future.
The LEA is the closest thing left alive within SL that is an officially-endorsed community organisation, though it really is not so much a community organisation as it is a rather opaque group of (hopefully) professional residents handpicked by the Lab to manage land, intended for artists and various art-related programs. I do love the concept behind LEA, and admire and respect most of the people behind the scenes there, not to mention the fantastic work that often passes through the LEA lands during exhibits. The LEA concept looks great on paper. If only they actually followed the mission statement!
Sadly, within my tenure I discovered that age-old practices of top-down heavy-handed dictatorial business was deep at the heart of the Board. While the majority were fabulously well-meaning and adaptive team members, a scant few of the 'old guard' had apparently missed a few group dynamics and leadership training sessions and seemed to thrive on a 'deal with it' attitude. No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes, sometimes really big ones. However, how a team responds and copes with those issues tells the story. Active listening, consensus-building and positive leadership skills were topics actually mocked by the top-down 'leaders' when I mentioned them, as if hardline voting and condescension towards newer members were the only accepted standard.
The leadership issues were bad enough, but it actually was revealed to be much worse. I discovered that certain 'key' members could discriminate, disenfranchise and outwardly smear without fear of repercussion.
- LEA had virtually no voting rules in writing anywhere, yet they conducted often-confusing voting and would claim certain voting sessions were legitimate or not based on their own desires at the time
- Some key members would claim their proposals were the only real proposals (denying others' proposals) and only allow their own proposals to be voted on
- Some key members tried to rewrite history by claiming voting sessions (on record) had different outcomes than they actually did,
- Some key members refused to acknowledge the votes of other Board members and refused to acknowledge them as Board members in general. This refusal to acknowledge and the ensuing disenfranchisement was even conducted live during meetings.
- One Board member (myself) was asked to leave an ongoing meeting, so they could discuss things w/o my presence. Though I did leave, I was not provided any type of Chat Log afterwards
- One key member deemed it appropriate to erase some of my own material from the committee website and replace it with their own smear/insult material
Hopefully, the culture and policies will reverse and the SL Arts community can have an organisation to be proud of, rather than one tainted by elitism and collusion. If not, other organisations will arise to replace it.