Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Friends Who Have Lost Their Way

The Friends had a meeting on Orcas Island this afternoon.  There will be a lot to say about that meeting in posts to come, but for now, I just want to convey one poignant thought voiced by several attendees.  The Friends have lost their way.

I used to be a member of the Friends, but I began to vigorously oppose them when I learned they were bullies.  At the meeting, many questioned why the Friends have been involved with enforcement actions.  Many wondered how the Friends could call for the enforcement of the law when they themselves admit to breaking the law (trespass). Some wondered why the Friends would pursue Charles Dalton, of all people, given apparently greater enforcement needs elsewhere in the community.

The meeting participants raised a lot of good questions, but it did not really seem to sink in with the Friends staff or Board members who were in attendance. The Friends firmly believe they have a role to play in enforcement, and during the meeting, they even made renewed pledges to help some attendees with fresh complaints.  None of the Friends really seemed to connect with the message that most of the audience was sending them.

I think it is important to point out that the urgently arranged Friends meeting today wasn't held because of an oil spill, corporate polluters, or a burning toxic waste dump. No. The County's premiere environmental organization called an emergency meeting not to discuss a dire Erin Brockovich-style eco-crisis, but to discuss a YouTube video that they dislike. My fundamental reaction is, "They're supposed to be an environmental organization for Pete's sake, what are they doing?" The Friends don't seem to be concerned about the environment. They seem more concerned about YouTube, "social media" as they invidiously referred to it during the meeting, self-image, grants, and generally-speaking, money. They care about community only when they want support from it, but it's a one-way street. The rest of the time, they seem to be trying to hurt the community.

The Friends have lost their way.

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