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Ructions in Freecycle - anybody know anything about it???

(3 Posts)
Ponders Sun 31-May-09 18:39:32

One of my local groups sent this message today & I am baffled. Can anyone help me?

<<Announcement

Greetings!

Effective immediately, we are no longer affiliated with the Freecycle Network, Inc.

This has come to pass for many reasons, some of which are below. Obviously, there is a great deal of sadness associated with this change due to lost opportunities. However, as one chapter closes another opens?and we believe there will be new opportunities that simply never were realised by Freecycle.org or the Freecycle Network Inc.

WHAT THE CHANGE WILL MEAN TO MEMBERS?

Essentially, nothing. The lists will continue as before, a place to offer or seek items that no longer need be consigned to our bulging landfills. Everything will continue to be free; no commercial announcements will be welcome.

WHAT THE CHANGE WILL MEAN TO PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS?

For a time, it may be harder to find us. We anticipate this will be a temporary phenomenon, since we will be embarking upon a rather aggressive public relations campaign?with the help of each of our members!

WHY WAS THIS CHANGE NECESSARY?

To understand how this came about, a little history is in order.

The original "Freecycle" list was originated in May, 2003 in Tucson, Arizona. A local non-profit organisation called Rise Inc. began to offer a service designed for businesses to get rid of surplus items by giving them to others rather than discarding them. Fairly quickly, this was opened up to individuals as well as businesses. Others heard about this in other places, and started "Freecycle" lists of their own.

The idea soon attracted hundreds and ultimately thousands of others around the world?but not without its problems. Such fast growth was very difficult to stay on top of, and it took many dedicated, experienced, and energetic volunteers to build.

However, the organisation in Tucson quickly reached the level of its managerial competence?but has resisted all attempts to make it more reflective of the members everywhere. For one thing, the original Rise Inc. staffer involved?Mr. Deron Beal?established a nonprofit Arizona corporation to serve as the parent organisation for the entire network. The Board of Directors consists of Deron, his wife, and a close family friend. List moderators and list owners elsewhere simply need not apply, nor have there been serious efforts to attract outside Directors.

Originally, the agreement was that volunteer leaders from all lists were to make major decisions through polls and votes. Very few were held, and most of these were imposed upon the group by Mr. Beal without entertaining discussion or additional input. Until recently, it had been about a year since the last such poll.

Meanwhile, a substantial cash grant was sought and secured from Waste Management, Inc., over the objections of many people involved in Freecycle around the world. That company may today be trying to reform, but a cursory examination of its history indicates it has a rather unfavorable ecological record at best. However, the desire to provide Mr. Beal an income overrode any serious discussion on the matter, and the grant was accepted without any examination of whether other alternatives existed. Thus, two-thirds of the Freecycle Board of Directors sets their own family income from a grant that was unwanted by a large group of Freecycle local leaders, with no review by disinterested Directors possible under the current status. Furthermore, the corporation has never posted its Articles of Incorporation or Bylaws, let alone meeting minutes?further complicating issues of transparency that should be so important for a volunteer organization. Keep in mind, please, that Mr. Beal remains the only salaried employee of The Freecycle Network Inc.

Several organisation groups or committees have been created, such as the "Group Outreach Adminsitrators" or GOAs. These individuals serve as "trouble shooters" where there are problems with local groups. Relatively quickly after this designation was created by Mr. Beal, that became the primary focus of interaction rather than the larger group of local list administrators. However, this group also became somewhat disenchanted with the status quo?and complaints of the lack of transparency and the lack of input from the local level has resulted in the imposition of yet another group, called by Mr. Beal "the Hub." This group consists of hand-picked "leaders" of the various activities within Freecycle. Meanwhile, many of the most experienced organisation leaders have either left Freecycle entirely, curtailed their activities beyond their local list, or have been shoved out because they have dared to suggest that change was in order.

Meanwhile, a number of groups have already left Freecycle, and still more are in the process of doing so. There has simply been a loss of credibility of sufficient magnitude regarding Mr. Beal that it now appears to be irreversible.

Thus, with sadness, we have concluded that this step is necessary if we are to continue to be responsive to local needs and, perhaps, to become a more meaningful voice in the communities we serve.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR MEMBERSHIP?

If you want to stay members of the existing lists, you may do that by doing nothing. The name will change, but that is all. If, however, you want to become members of affiliated Freecycle lists, we feel relatively sure that replacements will be created in our area in the near future. If they follow the pattern established over the past few months, there will be no local list owners for these new groups, although they will attempt to get local individuals involved to moderate them. However, if these lists are established, we wish them well and have no animosity toward them or to those who wish to join them.

CONCLUSION

The fundamental principles involved in the local lists we agree with. We believe, however, that a supremely important aspect of the movement lies with keeping its direction as close to the individual members as possible. We believe that no centrally-directed decision making that does not allow for ideas and needs to be expressed from the individual list and list member upward is in the ultimate interest of our communities.

We have waited and watched the tremendous ferment going on throughout the Freecycle network. With all the uproar, we had hoped that a new course would be taken. Unfortunately, no such thing has resulted. Our conclusion has been that the demands upon Mr. Beal have simply far exceeded his experience and his present state of knowledge, and that he appears unwilling to learn.

Therefore, we will stop being involved in the drama, but will take this step to disaffiliate and focus our energies and our attention where it belongs?upon the needs of our members and our communities.

Each list taking this move will publish the Internet address of an associated discussion list or board. This will allow any member to have a place to ask questions or make comments. The primary lists themselves will continue to be for their primary purposes?for "offer, taken, wanted, and received" posts only. For now, questions or comments to the list owners' addresses may not be answered directly due to an anticipated large volume of these messages. Instead, the relevant discussion vehicles will be available and your participation in them is invited.

NOTE: Discussion, comments, suggestions, or complaints should be directed to the new group moderators address, you will be advised later.>>

lljkk Sun 31-May-09 19:14:24

Intriguing.
Talk here about the word 'Freecycle' being TM'd but dispute whether that's reasonable, about the F'cycle network not being recognised as a charity, and the various salaried employees.

This article talks in more detail about allegations that Beal and Cohorts want to make Freecycle into a profit-making enterprise, after all.

I expect that's the reason for the split, feelings that someone at the origin of Freecycle actually doesn't adhere to the politically correct (old-fashioned, as in late 1980s, meaning of that phrase!!) ethos about how it should work.

Meglet Sat 12-Sep-09 13:42:52

The admin bods just sent our group an e-mail letting us all know that they are no longer part of the original freecycle network. But AFAIK it's still the same way of doing things and nothing will change for all the users.

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