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Nicole Possin '94 attended a reception last March 31 where we were discussing some of the ideas of what YAAMNY should be and she stood up and described YAAMNY as a potential "Do-ocracy." An institution, I gathered, dedicated to enabling other people to "DO" and organize around whatever came to mind.
Her example was Burning Man New York, an offshoot of the famous Burning Man new day hippie style creative arts party desert love fest that comes together every year.
The Do-ocracy theme made sense to me. I'm a fan of desert love festing generally, I am by nature a doer and most importantly I've seen this very website filled to brimming with the amazing doings of Yalies for several years.
Which admiration for "Doing" makes me instinctively skeptical of the Politicians and Bureaucrats that often come together to run institutions and end up defending old and tired structures to the exclusion of the very doers who want to participate and could refresh those institutions.
I certainly do not want to be a calcified old president atop a guilt old club catering to tired old members reminiscing of long gone old spring days. But the truth is no one ever sets out to be calcified and irrelevant.
I've found time and again, that individuals make great parties and events. And can even do so for extended periods. But it is Politicians and Bureaucrats that make organizations that outlast individuals.
The beauty of great political savvy in my mind is the politics of inclusion. If we start with the premise that our community is smart and worthy then the goal of managing the group is always improved by the participation of the group and by inclusion of ideas that are new to the management of the group.
The problems start when change goes to cross purposes with perceived or actual core principles or values. Then politics and management become arts of exclusion to some extent and this to me risks the path of calcification.
But what I see clearly is to not organize, to not build management and to not find ways of organizing around the many voices in YAAMNY in a unified institution, rather than in a cocophony of individual voices risks irrelevance. My particular bias is to help create an institutional structure of inclusion rather than exclusion. The irony that Yale is particularly built on a structure of extreme exclusion does not escape me and it could be that fact is part of what makes a commitment to inclusion among alums possible.
The great weakness of do-ocracy is full service to a mission. For example, the main work of our retreat discussion was coming up with a list of opportunities for YAAMNY. This covered the walls with dozens and dozens of programs that could benefit all of us and all of our communities. Programs we would all be delighted to see and with which many would like to participate.
But programs do no execute themselves and do-ocracies do not automatically assign efforts strategically. Institutions are required to organize ideas into plans and to assign responsibilities and accountability that can be relied upon by others and in so doing achieve more than their parts individually. Essentially institutions give edeas and efforts the ability to last.
We're really pursuing one project with two intertwined end goals. The project is simply to engage our constituents in as wide and deep a way as possible in order to:
I think we have something here like a Yale Tribe and part of what we're up to is to strengthen the bonds of this tribe and with that strength do something or things that as a group we can believe are meaningful.