Who we are‎ > ‎


The recent campaign to ban disposable plastic bags by Lonnie and Wade raises the question of how we decide what the South Eastman Transition Initiative actually is. How do we decide who we are and how do we make representative decisions. To put this in perspective, let's review:
  • We have a consitution which can be seen on this web site by going one page back. This is essentially the product of the thinking of the steering committee with some input from others
  • The plastic bag campaign has not been a SETI campaign. For a number of reasons which may or may not be relevant to this discussion, both Lonnie and Wade decided to act on their own.
  • Almost all of our energy so far has gone into education -- movies, workshops, etc. The steering committee trys to be sensitive to the priorities of all of you, but we have made the decisions.
  • We have tried, and are trying to speak to government. In each of these cases Eric has initiated.
    • Steinbach Zoning Bylaw Review -- modest effort/energy
    • Hanover School Division -- New Middle School and new Regional -- small amount of effort/energy
    • Walking School Bus  -- small amount of effort/energy
With respect to speaking to government, our vision for SETI has always been that by working as a group we would be able to share wisdom, experience and expertise. By working together, we could develop a strategy that would have a better chance at changing government policy than each of us working alone. The three of us on the steering committee have no wish to "own" SETI. 

The steering committee had had some low key dialogue with Wade before he sent his letter. We were supportive of the campaign, but suggested we spend some more time thinking and strategizing. Wade decided to move forward on his own. That may be totally appropriate, and is in some sense really no different than my actions with respect to the Steinbach Zoning Bylaw Review. 

I guess the fundamental question is whether SETI is to have any role in effecting policy in the southeast, and if it is, how could we go about that more effectively.
Thots by Eric Rempel 28/5/10

Wade Wiebe says
I felt it would be presumptuous to represent that my ideas were indicative of the group's position - especially before discussing them in further detail. I thought reaction time was important as well. I also sense that each member of SETI has his own particular interest. Keeping that in mind, I had no desire to pull SETI into a new field of interest, the many topics already on the table. For that reason I acted as an individual, primarily to "keep the pump primed" for a focused, concerted effort later, if the group so desired. What it lacked in association, I hope the letter compensated for in fodder. That is, I think the discussion now underway will ferret out opposition so that SETI can answer it strategically, if it chooses. That's what Lonnie's letter did for me. In the end, I hope SETI's argument stands to be the strongest for having heard both sides before engaging. 
As to whether SETI is to have any role in effecting policy in the southeast:
Of course! How about this: 
Say, now, that I'm a big plastic bag expert. (Well, I Googled it all, but whatever.) In order to act quickly, I need to be able to say whatever I want without worrying about misrepresentation or consequences to the group. If I shoot my mouth off, I don't want it to reflect on SETI at all. Where I require the support of a larger group, I appeal to SETI (just by talking to a member of the Steering Committee) for support of specific initiatives. The group decides collectively how/whether to proceed, assembles the resources, and acts. This takes time. I think it would inflict undue pressure on the Steering Committee to expect it to react rapidly to emergent issues on all fronts. Emergent issues could be better left to the passions of its individual members. In the case of plastic bags, I keep the fire stoked while SETI gathers more information, calls a meeting, and communicates with the membership. In the end, the group moves together in a direction of its choosing - if it chooses.

Who chooses? At this stage, the Steering Committee does, and we understand that this is not the way you want things to remain. However SETI hasn't achieved full unity & participation of membership yet. Most members (myself included) currently consume SETI. If it simply provided education, that would be great! We could all contribute what we're passionate about, and chip in a bit for expenses. But for political action, group initiatives and impact on policy, there needs to be a group of people who will consistently:
Print and put up posters
Write columns
Maintain the website
Produce and distribute pamphlets/petitions, etc.
Communicate with the media
Etc, etc...
Until one person commits to doing each of these things, or being responsible to find someone who will, they won't get done. Once they commit, they can receive direction from the Steering Committee who can get it from the membership during "non-consumption", or shall we say "contribution" meetings? If a specific ititiative doesn't have the support of the membership in the form of action, it should be left to the individual whose passion it is to develop. 

I'm a consumer of SETI. I continue to be excited about it, and I look forward to the meetings. That being said, I recognize that the Steering Committee is bearing the whole responsibility of running it, by default. That is not fair. 

As it stands, SETI seems very effective at presenting education and bringing people together for discussion. It fulfills a critical function of gathering people together who otherwise think that they are alone in their (sane) views. If that were its primary objective until those people begin to feel like a cohesive group, it would be a great success. After longer association, members would perhaps be quicker to volunteer, and to act as a group.

In summary:
1. SETI is excellent - and important.
2. The Steering Committee have a lot on their plate, and not enough reliable help.
3. I would attend a "contribution" meeting.

Thots by Wade Wiebe