Tuesday, March 22, 2011

EQCA Must Hold Town Hall Meetings

(Sara Beth Brooks of Sacramento. Courtesy photo.)

Over at Karen Ocamb's blog LGBT POV, assistant editor Syd Peterson has been running lots of essays from too many Gay Inc types and an abundance of boring lawyers about the future of Equality California. Radical ideas have not been part of the series.

I've been surprised at the high number of folks who've called for what I label the "Kumbaya plan of action" regarding what the next executive director ought to with this organization that is supposed to represent the full diversity of California's full gay diversity, and more than just wealthy donors, Democratic Party hacks, Gay Inc folks and attorneys.

To my delight, an essay from Sara Beth Brooks, whom I've never heard of before and who I want to keep an out for, broaches the thus-unspoken challenge at LGBT POV to have EQCA hold public meetings, a subject long discussed here. She wrote:

In local cities across the state, regularly scheduled LGBT community leadership meetings provide a place for local community to share information, network, and get training. This concept can be translated statewide if someone built that conversation. ...

As a movement we have a communication problem: we are not doing enough communicating. Statewide conversation stopped when tensions ran too high.

There has not been an all-inclusive forum for conversation among leaders since the San Bernardino meeting almost two years ago. It’s time to start talking again. EQCA could begin that conversation by holding regular open meetings and publishing information about them widely (both before and after). ...

Brava! Cheers! Hooray! Those words from Sara Beth, especially the last sentence, could have been written by me, and I'm so happy to see a younger activist understands the crucial need for ongoing public forums.

By the way, the last time the current executive director of EQCA appeared at a community meeting in San Francisco open to all was in February 2009. Two years without regular meetings like this is unhealthy and dysfunctional. Also, EQCA has no forums listed on their events calender.

It's becoming quite disgusting that EQCA can put on endless and continuous galas, hand out award, throw cocktail receptions, arrange invitation-only strategic meetings with rich donors, make decisions without grassroots input and then claim to representing all of us. They aren't and getting EQCA to open the doors, let fresh voices be heard and decide our statewide gay agenda is going to be a monumental struggle.

The absence of this basic component of democratic engagement, in-person town halls, in the organizing toolbox of EQCA is a serious flaw that is not even acknowledged by the group's boosters or the traditional gay print media, and forget about thinking that EQCA leaders want to seriously deal with this missing component.

Why does EQCA fear democratic discussions open to everyone?

Memo to Sara Beth: Thanks much, for endorsing regular open forums with EQCA. Keep calling for them until the organizations get with the democratic engagement concept.

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