NCI and Preventing Propaganda

Recently there has been a change of management at New Citizens Inc. Carl Metropolitan has stepped down and resigned the group. NCI is Second Life’s largest newcomer helping organisation. It’s also my home and my “second life family”.

Carl made the decision that he thought was right. While I’m personally deeply saddened, I accept that he’s no longer with us. Even though he is no longer here, NCI is, and there’s still work to be done, bills to be paid, a membership to be served.

The following is my own voice. I’m speaking for myself, not NCI. This is my personal blog, my personal thoughts, anyone caught trying to impute any of this as “NCI’s official position”, or imply that I have an agenda other than what I’m about to express, should be summarily dismissed as ignorant of the facts and a yammerhead. Honestly, I’m posting this to vent because I’m irritated that some people feeding off of this like drama leeches rather that simply acknowledging that people simply saw things in a different light.

So who the heck am I in relation to NCI? Here’s where I fit in:

I’ve been with NCI since at the very latest, my first week of coming to SL. It’s a creative, energetic place with kind, clever, decent, skilled and interesting people. It was not long after I joined and started getting some “SL chops” that I was helping other newcomers along. Why? I don’t know. It’s just a natural thing to do. Who doesn’t like to help?

A few months after, I was invited to be a helper. I was so pleased! I felt like I had been invited into a family of people who were good and decent and kind. That cemented it for me. I’ve been helping there pretty much on a near-daily basis, for at least an hour a day since, not counting short breaks. I’m currently about 900 days old.

Perhaps about a year ago, I was asking if I could have permission to return items, just to keep the yard clean, and I was made (to my surprise) Land Officer. I expected to be able to occasionally remove a piece of litter that was in the way of a display, to keep the yard clean and ended up being in a position to help not only clean up, but keep griefers away. That small jump in levels taught me that NCI is a lot deeper than I had previously considered.

Life continued and I watched NCI grow, met new people and took pride with what I saw.

As this happened, I was busy doing my own projects, such as the multi-lingual helper center note card, my own little art projects and just generally helping out. I’ve already been aware of a number of things, and as usual, simply stored it in my mind, then when on about my happy-go-lucky insouciant business.

Then some members announced that they were leaving.

Now understand: I consider Carl, and all the members who left, to be my friends equally. I took no sides. I simply listened, watched and thought. Above all, I knew I was not leaving NCI.

What I was hearing in the chat groups started off as an emotional reaction. Fear and panic and grief.

Then came the accusations. Uninformed, ignorant, self-righteous commentary that is, to be blunt, often times outrageously stupid. Some current threads still match those descriptions.

Following that was the rumours, innuendo the uninformed opinion that the snide self-satisfied purveyors called “analysis”. I was blown away by the sheer lack of knowledge that anyone living in NCI would be fully aware of.

And all of this was happening in the newbie channel! People were putting their grief and egotistical nonsense above helping and answering questions!

Wyn started shovelling people to NCI spam group, and I chose to deal with them there.

Then Carl quit.

And that’s when the BS *really* kicked in.

My first thought was “Who’s going to run NCI?!”. In my mind’s eye, I imagined NCI falling apart, everyone dispersing, myself having no “home” to hang out it, and tonnes of newbies suddenly finding themselves without support or a welcoming community. I decided at that point that under no circumstance would I allow this community and family that had been started with Brace, then taken over by Carl and Tat to fail.

And that’s where I fit in. I’m here for no reason other than the simple fact that I decided to do something about it.

So why PR?

Because it needed to be done.

I can’t find the word to express just how baffled and appalled I was at the raw BS flying around. I was truly stunned in the same way one might be at someone who claims, with full and sincere belief that the earth is flat.

I had actual facts, and the ability to think critically to boot. So I started talking. I wanted to spread the facts of the situation and for people to reflect before they spoke. I wanted the chatter to be fact and evidence based, and done with honestly, goodwill, kindness and fairness to all parties.

Then a number of LO’s just naturally convened in an impromptu meeting. There was never a question of “Can we save NCI”, the questions were immediately “What is our next step?”, “What do we need to know?”, “Who can do what?” It was decided that Gramma Fiddlesticks is, at the moment, the most qualified to handle the transtion would be interim director. 35 years of management experience at this point is definately a potent asset. At some point, I piped up and said “I’m going to do what it takes to keep NCI strong”. I’m am now more resolved than ever and grow so more each day. After some thinking, it turns out that PR was one thing we needed at the time, and I could do it.

Since, in an effort to keep abreast of the various points of views I’ve been speaking with people more than I ever have before. And I’ve been reading the forums.

So now to address some points:

1) It was brought to my attention that my approach appears to be very “Corporate PR”. OK. Fair enough. This was my first time doing something like this, and Corporate PR is the only example I’ve seen in my life to serve as a guide. People want me to be more straightforward in my choice of words. OK. Done. DO have the fairness of spirit to give me the time to figure out how to be diplomatic and accurate without coming off as a belligerent forum yammerhead.

2) I was accused of appearing to stumble. That accusation is spot on. I did. And the reason is very simple: in the short 48 hours that all that this had happened, we had not the time to clarify everything. We were still trying to figure out where the heck everything stood. Think of your own first day on the job did YOU have all the facts of a complicated system? The fact is, we were still working out the answer, because we didn’t have the all the facts we would have liked to have. And our collective lack of clear response showed. In an ideal world I would have simply have said “We really don’t know yet. We’re still working on that too.” Put that one on Quite.

It was pointed out that I had made some factual errors. Equally true. I have corrected them and updated them as soon as they were brought to my attention. See the meeting notes.

3) It is said that the NCI website is self-serving. Is the correct answer not “Duh?”

The website serves the NCI membership, which is comprised of about 10k (currently) active members in the NCI group alone, some 200 helpers, 65 officers, and 30 instructors. What purpose would it have, other than to serve the membership? I make no bones about it: I serve NCI. Period. Not ideological positions, politics or personalities. I will do whatever it takes for NCI to continue being tall and strong and proud. Can we be any clearer?

4) I have, by complete strangers, been dismissed as a “propagandist” or it has been said that the facts that we put out were “pure propaganda”.

The short response: this is implies I’m lying without either the accuser having courage to state the comment out right and the ability to provide any fact-based evidence. It is little more than sniping.

How do you answer such an implied accusation, especially by those who don’t know you, well or at all? One can’t disprove a negative, so I won’t try. All I can say is come get to know me and observe my behaviour. Then make up your own mind.

For those of you who expect “the real story” to be airing all the infinitesimally small personal and emotive details in the most vulgar of lights, I answer the following: NCI is my second life family. They are my friends. They are people who have helped me in real life. They are people that I admire for their talent, skill, dedication, knowledge and kindness. These are the people I “live” with, in SL. No decent, self-respecting person starts slogging their family to strangers in order to satisfy a craving for gossip and ego-juice. I won’t do it. Not because it’s nobody’s business other than those involved, but because I understand each one’s point of view, and respect that they are good-willed, decent people even if they don’t agree with each other, or have diverging goals.

Does this mean that I’ll lie about NCI? No. I won’t do that either, but before I ever go announcing that there’s a problem, I’ll do my best to help resolve it and ensure that it never occurs again. Does this mean that I’ll protect someone to the point of dishonesty? Negative. The well-being of NCI takes precedence over the individual, and it is NCI who will make that decision.

5) I have heard people discussing how certain points were phrased in a given manner that promotes a certain sense. The fact is that release was issued quickly–perhaps too quickly, in order to answer questions and kill the drama. I accept credit for being both new in this role and perhaps not a particularly good writer. Accepted. I’ll learn. But please pick the bone with the correct source. That’s me. Don’t read into, invent or presume implication.

I can conclude this post in only one manner: NCI has just experienced a big change, and we are still in great shape. A lot of drama has unfolded that was never was necessary. Speculations do not serve NCI, SL or the myriad of newbies whose life can be improved by a kind word and a bit of skills. Take the time that you use to flare the drama to go help a newbie and treat them with kindness. It may remind you that we’re all just people.

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