[The following Op-Ed letter is from Bob Wentworth, who has had a close-up view of CNVC’s organisational change efforts since 2012, having served as a CNVC Board member and co-architect of Process for a New Future, a facilitator of much of the process, and a volunteer supporting the Implementation Phase. This post reflects his personal views in relation to events in CNVC.]
My intention in this message is to share my perceptions of the state of the New Future Process.
I understand why some people have concluded that the New Future Process and Plan are dead. Yet, I don’t see things that way.
In my view, the Board delivered an all-but-fatal blow to NFP. *
Yet, regarding the current state of NFP, I personally believe that more revealing metaphors for the situation would be to say that “NFP has been in a Board-induced coma,” or “NFP has been locked inside a Board-controlled dungeon.”
In the narrative the Board has offered, failure of NF Plan implementation had become inevitable, and the Board was simply acknowledging that sad reality. However, to me, that position (which I assess as poorly informed) reflects an extreme breakdown in shared reality.
At the point when the Board announced its disengagement from the NF Process, my assessment (as a close observer and participant) was that NF Plan implementation was on the brink of success. The Implementation Council, and legions of volunteers, had been very hard at work, quietly laying down a great deal of ground-work for subsequent implementation steps which would soon have become increasingly visible.
All the ground-work that WAS completed REMAINS completed.
I am convinced that, if the Board-induced barriers to NF Plan implementation were completely removed today, then the implementation process could resume tomorrow, and dramatic changes would become visible within a few months.
(There would be some delay in order to re-build the teams of people doing the work. Some of those who were doing the work before are unlikely to be willing to return, since the actions of the Board had a devastating impact on them. Yet, I feel certain that the work could be carried forward.)
* * *
Since the Board took action, as announced in its April 25, 2018 letter, Board members have seemingly maintained a position that “there is no possibility of changing what has happened, and all that is left is to mourn and move on.” (This is a summary of my understanding of the communications that took place between the Board and the Implementation Council.) I have been unable to interpret this position as anything other than an example of what Marshall called Amtssprache, life-alienating language used by those with structural power in order to deny responsibility.
The narrative of “it’s done and in the past” seems to me to have functioned as an excuse to block any possibility of dialog about how to address the needs that have been extraordinarily unmet by the Board’s choices in relation to NFP.
It is simply not true that there is no possibility of changing the situation.
Board members could choose to resurrect the New Future Process instantly, if they were willing to do so. The Board could today (1) allow itself to be replaced by a new Board selected in the manner agreed in the New Future Plan, and/or (2) vote to adopt the bylaw changes specified in the New Future Plan —both actions that CNVC had guaranteed the community and those who invested in the NF Process that the Board would take — and the single most important and difficult piece of NF Plan implementation would have been completed. The New Future Process would again be fully alive.
The New Future Process is in its current state only because CNVC Board members continue to choose to enforce that state.
(And, because the NVC community continues to collectively tolerate the Board making the choices it does — or can’t imagine a way of acting collectively to create a change.)
* * *
I experience the New Future Process as being suspended, rather than dead.
I don’t endorse the narrative that NFP is dead, because such a narrative artificially closes off possible choices. Closing off options that are still possible in principle is a choice.
I have a dream that we as a community will come together to find a way to care for ALL the needs that are alive in this situation.
When and if that day comes, I want all potential strategies for caring for needs to still be “on the table.” I believe we owe ourselves no less.
* * *
If this message has contributed to you in some way, I would appreciate hearing about it.
Eugene, Oregon, USA
*I have seen indications which suggest to me that the Board did not actually intend to entirely kill NFP. Rather, I have the impression that the Board members’ understanding of NFP has been so extremely poor that they apparently did not “get” why the enforcement of their demand that NFP implementation be “separate from CNVC” would inevitably constitute an almost certainly fatal blow. I saw evidence of this in Board member Ronnie Hausheer’s January 14, 2019, message to the trainers list, in which she shocked many of us by asking “what is happenning with NFP?” If the Board did not intend to kill off NFP, the consequences of the Board taking the action it did (and then apparently being unwilling to dialog about the situation except from a stance of “no change is possible”) seems to me all the more tragic.