Thursday, June 2, 2011

Share dialog about the EWC

Oh my. I am exhausted from the article that appeared in the Post yesterday about the beautiful wolf pups. Such an outpouring of love for the center and concern. I anticipated a couple negative outbursts too, but had now idea where the jugular would be. I am compelled to answer some of the concerns and would like to use this forum as a question and anwer place. Why not?

Just what am I talking about?

The Endangered Wolf Center has basically been near collapse for the past couple years. Barely squeaking by, living hand to mouth through the thicks, but mostly thins, of cash flow. I got involved through an in-kind donation for the Gala event in 2008. We basically did the event for free. I wanted to meet Betty White and get a picture taken with her, which I was successful. In fact, I sat right next to her table and got to talk with her a couple times. She is one cool lady. Same with Jack Hanna.

Things began to slide from there. A year and a half later, after joining the board and becoming involved because I liked the people and the wolves, I find myself as the board chair and leading an effort to either close or re-invent the 40 year institution.

I have found this to be an extremely hard task because of a small group of folks destined to keep the center (and the people working hard to save it) from correcting itself. Some of these people are close to me, others sit off to the side and wait for opportunities to point out faults. This is kind of irritating, especially because I am simply a volunteer and try and stay within my abilities to help oversee things. I have spent a lot, a lot of time on the center as of late.

I ask these people (in this here public and transparent forum), what is the deal? There seems to be issues with what occurred in the past, with people who have moved on or gone away. Why have a bone of contention aimed at the EWC now with every single inch of the place being evaluated and secured, scrutinzed and fixed for change; the individuals you hold responsible are no longer around.

The center is the Wolves, folks! Why take aim at them?

It is low road stuff. The same stuff that centers on bad energy and negative broadcast. It is the devil. I really don't want to shut the center down. But I don't really have the patience to deal with the politics of armchair opinion either. I am hopeful somebody will come in and help me, because this is an enormous task. I am trying (like Billy Jack) not to lose my temper on matters.

I think I can lead the center out of trouble, with some additional board members and some cash combined with impecable detication to ethics. But man, without the hate mongers at least tossing a small bone into the confidence den, they will likely get their wish, it will close. Bottom line, it appears that the folks who show a lot of anger towards the center do not have the resources or the connections to save it, otherwise they would approach me now and try and help. Instead they hide behind the past and whatever assumptions they conger up.

Folks, crisis does not forever tarnish an institutions ability to get its act together--to manage through crisis and then sustainability is our mission, get on board. This is your amnesty period. Please forgive and help out. How long are you going to hold on to that which is at the center of things--the fact that the low road is a more comfortable place--that the real essense of this project lies in community.

Hey, no prob. This is a tough time, I kind of understand this stuff, when people get pissed, when people need a forum.

Please, get off your keyboards and phones, quit writing nasties on forums, and emails, quit calling our donors, our constituents, our members.

Regardless, lets sort this out here, on my forum. I invite anyone to share dialog over the EWC. Lets get the Moose out of the room.


A note from the pontificator... said...

(In response to Share dialog about the EWC)

This post sounds almost verbatim of what I hear from someone I know of who was involved at WCSRC when it was founded and left due to the politics..

I will keep this as short as possible, as I could easily write a wall of text here..

I’m not quite sure how EWC can survive without re-inventing itself in a major way. I would probably start by looking back to its roots, and also looking at some other organizations which are thriving and have incredible public support.

I’ve been to several facilities and been an animal handler at others (yes.. hands on) and the EWC has always turned me off. Granted EWC focuses on “Populations” and disconnects from individuals which comprise it, but these individuals that make up the populations are individuals with personalities and lives. Disconnecting from the ones you’re caring for like this turns your facility into nothing more than a zoo, where people will come to see the animals, and then leave.

Trying to get support based on “saving the species” is going to have limited success from the general public. At the end of the day people go home and “saving the species” is quickly forgotten when the bills fall out of the mailbox. Having a personal connection to an animal is an entirely different matter. I can speak to this, having footed thousands of dollars to veterinary bills in the past for animals that I’ve helped care for. I don’t think the public would pause for very long if another endangered species disappeared off of the planet. “There goes another one... Oh, I’m late for work...”

Politics have to be dealt with, I expect that evaluating the organizational structure and taking a good hard look at how you operate will lead to a lot of insight there.

A plan to turn EWC around would be fairly simple I think, garner huge amounts of public participation, and keep the reintroduction animals completely isolated from public contact.


p.s I had coffee at your shop this morning, it is a very nice place.

p.p.s. It’s almost impossible to post a reply on your blog to where you intend for it to go.

A note from the pontificator... said...


found the above post on another topic. I moved it and here we can now converse.

Disconnect is right. The volunteers and the staff ARE the heartbeat of the place. This will be at the center of...the center. Saving the species is a tough "grab". What we will need to do is develop multiple revenue streams in order to keep the cash coming in when we move. Education and visitor center will have to take on more meaning, camps, multi use space with the scientific research going on in the back 40. I see no benifit to the current system, locked away from those wanting to explore what the center is about, appt. only. It is not user friendly to get involved, in its current state.

Organizational structure, down to the bare bones for a reason currently. First, because it is prudent in this crisis time. We need to convince donars that we are performing optimally and without that which our donars cannot relate. If we say we are broke, then we better be watching our pennies. This is the case now at the center, and we can back it up.