Are There Politics in Districts?

Barb Wright
1st Colwood Sparks, Membership Coordinator
Southern Vancouver Island Area
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Yes, and it happens everywhere.
Yes, and it sucks, to use a Pathfinder expression.
Yes, and it drives Guiders out of the movement.
Yes, and it CAN BE CHANGED!!!!

It takes an open heart, an open mind and open arms. It takes patience and "picking your fights." It takes new Guiders who can take a step back and look at the 'people', not their actions, and not take it personally.

For some women, Guiding is the best or only way for them to feel good about themselves. Perhaps it's the only place they have any control, or yes, power. Or even friends.

Their nattering, and backstabbing and power games and, especially, EXCLUSION of others is mean, hurtful and very very un-Guiding -- it breaks the Spark Promise let alone the Guiding Promise.

BUT................................. (and this is not meant specifically to BABS, who was the brave Guider who first looked under this rock)

For the sake of Guiding, for the sake of the girls who we hopefully can teach another way to be as women, please do not give up.

And don't take the politicking personally (even if it is meant to hurt *you*). They're wrong, and just because they something about you doesn't make it true.

BUT when we come across this, we have to decide: Do I want to "win", or do I want to be happy? If the former, head-to-head confrontations may do it. You might drive out the poisonous ones, and be victorious. But you'll be just like them when it's all over.

But if the latter, if you want peace and happiness and a council where everyone feels safe, see what you need to do to *encourage* change. Make those who are hoarding power feel safe too is probably a big one -- and doing it without becoming a doormat.

Smile, and make suggestions, and let the little things slide. Decide on one or two things that are really really important to you that your council accomplish next year. Live with the rest (which is much easier to do if you keep not taking it personally!).

Set objectives that are concrete: If your goal is: "get them to stop making decisions in secret" your objective could be: "have all issues on the agenda at meetings, even if I have to raise it at the beginning of the meeting and ask that it be put on" (and don't be one of the many many Guiders who never call the Commish in advance to ask that an item be put on the agenda, don't raise it at meetings, then complain that such and such wasn't covered -- as if Commishes can read minds!!)

No agendas at meetings? No meetings? Raise it directly with the Commish. Suggest to your Area Training Coordinator that she arrange a "how to run an effective meeting" evening for the whole Area (IMHO, we can all use that!!)

Still no action? You do have the right to talk to the Commissioner of the level higher than yours -- an all-powerful roadblock who strikes such fear in the heart of Guiders needs to be brought to Guiding's attention.

******But ONLY go over someone's head to make a positive change that will help the girls, NEVER to "show so and so" or to force your views pigheadedly.*********

[and we all have to make sure that they really are "wrong" -- perhaps our great idea isn't appropriate at this time or with these people. Gotta pick our spots! Don't fight every fight just so we can win -- graciously backing off is a victory at times too!]

Is your goal: "get the longer-serving Guiders to try new things and stop telling us, 'the way we've always done it is just fine'?" Just tell them you want to see if it will work this way and that you'll organize it and evaluate it (ISPPE).

Then do it -- in our district the winter party was "always" a singalong and Santa Claus. A young Guider wanted to do stations, etc., and simply organized it -- the two who'd always been in charge before were outvoted (she called around beforehand to explain her idea -- NOT to go behind backs) *and* made a written and oral presentation at district council, complete with craft samples.

She also made a point of continuously stressing how successful the event always been in the past and how much the girls had enjoyed it but that she felt it wouldn't hurt to try this.

It was great! and yes, it was traumatic... but now the council has made two other seemingly major changes much more easily. And the two who'd been concerned (I won't say threatened) by the change, were constantly reassured that their ideas were still valid, and very very much appreciated...... So their needs were met too.

It also, you will notice, showed the council how to make change -- it "modeled the appropriate behaviour". In other words, the young Guider treated others as she wished to be treated herself.

Perhaps they're excluding you, or others? Recruit a friend or two who will attend meetings and work with you outside of meetings. Moral support is a great thing!

Especially and always -- Praise the positive, no matter how long and hard you have to search for it. Everyone's contributing something. Have outside interests that fulfill you, not just Guiding (after all, that's what we teach the girls!). Volunteer to do a small job -- and if they won't "let" you, do it anyway -- smiling all the way!

And boy is it worth it to see a Council change! And to see happy Guiders -- and happy Guiders mean growth.


Barb Wright, Southern Vancouver Island Area
Victoria, B.C. Canada