Fighting for freerecyling

Issue No 5: What is this to do with the roots of grass?

Many, many freecyclers think that TFN is a grassroots organisation. In fact I do not think hardly anyone disagrees. What, might you ask do we mean by grassroots – in this instance.

Well it certainly is managed from the ground up. New moderators and groups largely come out of the ether and set themselves up. The whole life cycle of a Freecycle styled group can be done by someone on their own with absolutely no recourse to TFN. Absolutely none, from creation to grave. They don’t need to ask, though they can do if they wish. Of course, if they don’t ask then they may not be “official”, but hey what does official actually mean? It means you get listed in the main TFN directory and that’s about it. As an official group you could ask for assistance from experienced moderators including people with roles such as IMOD and GOA. But in the end common sense (if you have it) prevails in all things.

And if you are not listed in the main TFN directory that is not much of a problem since you can still be easily found on Yahoo Groups, Google and many many more.

So grassroots is certainly how the whole movement operates and can continue to operate. And all because of technologies such as Yahoo Groups.

The only other sense of grassroots that I think is worthy of comment is the issue of democracy. Does the epicentre of TFN listen to its members and its moderators? Apparently originally there were a frequent number of polls asking members their opinions, and these were listened to. But then something changed. I no not what, but now there are no polls, and voices of differences of opinion seem not to be wanted.

Democracy seems very dead.


June 27, 2007 Posted by | democracy, freecycle, grassroots | Leave a comment

A change in the climate

One thing that catapulted me into the debate, rather than sitting on the sidelines was an initiative in the name of Freecycle. This was to issue a declaration on behalf of the wider (UK) Freecycle community to the UK government as a response on the Climate Change Bill. While an extremely laudable initiative, and one with which I have great empathy what I did not agree with was Freecycle, per se, taking a position and representing that as being something that the Freecycle community agreed with.

My dissent found very wide agreement and although the submission was modified it still went ahead. Not only that it is important to understand that this was sanctioned and supported from the very top of The Freecycle Network. This was an appalling situation that struck to the very heart of democracy and showed me in no uncertain terms that The Freecycle Network was not democratic. As a very clear example of the lack of democracy a poll was issued to garner opinions on The climate change bill. While again, very laudable, the poll was extremely flawed.

Not only were questions skewed to the answers the proponents wanted, a fundamental flaw was that if you answered NO to the first question then you were blocked from clicking “submit”. Hmmm. ok, this could be an honest mistake but at no time was the poll taken away. And in fact the results were published. And not surprising of the around 100 respondents a majority supported the proponents perspective.

Anyway the submission was made and my blood and the blood of others boiled.

I cannot reproduce any of the content (largely in UkModSquad) since it is under privacy terms of The Freecycle Network so this summary will have to suffice.

This then changed the climate of my approach to The Freecycle Network. Now I understood that it was a sham. People who were in “power” were speaking on behalf of others as if they had their authority, as the “Directors of Freecycle UK”.

Where does this blog now go? To me it is about rights and responsibilities, and that is a two-way street. Right now The Freecycle Network is claiming lots of rights but is demonstrating very little responsibility. That is very sad, and that’s why I call it a sham.

June 26, 2007 Posted by | climate change bill, democracy, freecycle, UK, uk government | Leave a comment