Friday, December 02, 2005

Things Fall Apart

This has been a very sad morning for me, and a very happy morning, too.

Let me explain.

I belong to a Yahoo list called Momwriters [tm]. Now, I am a bit of a listserv junkie, and this one, at 1500 members, beats even my Parents of Children with Diabetes e-mail list as far as subscription rolls go. MW was a place you could take almost any concern, be it writing, health, family, just having a bad day, or whatever. It was an amazing group of caring, intelligent, creative, thoughtful women.

I say "was." That's sad, but I think that recent events at MW have changed the comfort level of the group so much that I have to use that dreaded past tense. And that makes me very sad. Maybe I'm wrong~I hope I'm wrong~but I fear I am not.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
~WB Yeats, "Slouching Toward Bethlehem"

I got to know the esteemed Joshilyn Jackson through MW. MW Melody went to my reading in San Mateo... MW Ann Marie Garcia went to my reading in LA. When I was going through a really scary time with my family, MWs stepped up to the plate and emailed me and sent up prayers for me, and just sent positive thoughts my way.

Many of the people I met through MWs are published. Many are not. It didn't matter. If you were a mom and you were a writer, that was the great equalizer.

I didn't post a ton on MW. I read every day, though. And when I could help, I tried to.

Last night the group moderator announced a $60 per year membership fee. Now, that runs to approximately $90,000 if everyone on the list paid. The moderator then mentioned that no one would be turned away for lack of funds, and that those who volunteered for special projects would have their fee waived. It was suggested that there were some members ("lurkers") who weren't pulling their load and were getting more than they were giving.

As someone who didn't post all that much, and didn't volunteer for the special MW projects, mainly for lack of time (diabetes consumes a lot of my posting efforts, which are mostly directed to the fabulous CWD list--my lifeline; diabetes also consumes a lot of volunteer time), I couldn't help wondering if I was one of these "not-pulling-her-weight-ers." After all, I posted maybe once a week, tops.

As you can imagine, people wanted to talk about this new policy. For some people, $60 is a lot of money. Maybe some, like me, wondered if they had done something wrong. Others wondered where the fees would go (although the moderator wrote later to explain that she fully expected membership rolls to drop by 80%. That was fine by her.). And others were just--gobsmacked.

Now, having read a bit more on the subject (the comments section on Joshilyn's blog today has been opened for comments), I am reading that the list moderator has put a lot of her own money into the list, has created programs like "Adopt a Christmas Child" and so on, and has had to finance them herself.

I like the list owner very much. She is not some evil, horrible terrorist who hates people. The list owner is a very nice, very kind and warm person. I think she has created a lot of wonderful programs. And I don't mind being hit up for donations (God knows I do it to others all the time... *smile*) and if I can afford even a few dollars, I try to pony up.

The other big list to which I belong is the Parents of Children with Diabetes list. There is no fee requirement, even though I know the list owner puts a ton of his time and money into it, as do the moderators. Once in awhile someone will ask the list owner how to donate to the CWD Foundation and he'll post the link. The CWD Foundation funds research grants and sends supplies to families in need.

It's voluntary to donate. No one on the CWD support list is EVER, EVER, EVER asked for money.

Jeff Hitchcock runs CWD because it's his passion. Laura Billetdeaux and Brenda Hitchcock, too, as moderators. The board members of the CWD Foundation are volunteers. ALL the money goes to the charity.

When you do something for passion, you often end up paying money out of your own pocket for it or giving time for which you'd otherwise be paid, which is really the same thing.

Where it began to feel weird for me at MWs was being *required* to pay a fee to support the web hosting and charitable projects. Yes, it's been said no one will be turned away for lack of funds... but I can hardly claim a lack of funds. I have $60 in my purse right now. It's needed for other things. Christmas is one of them.

Earlier this year I put in a donation to the CWD Foundation. VOLUNTARILY. I wasn't pressured by Jeff, Laura, or Brenda, or anything other than the fact that I get so DAMNED much from them... I wanted to give back a little. VOLUNTARILY.

Back to the MW situation. A lot of people didn't like the fees idea, but unfortunately, MW policy isn't supposed to be discussed onlist. Everyone's head was left spinning and there was no where to discuss this issue.

So what's happened now is that people in the group are seeking each other out because they WOULD like to discuss this issue, and WOULD still like to stay in touch. I was invited to join (and have joined) the following group:

There are a lot of great people there, including Joshilyn, Shirley Jump, dej/Mary Tyler, Amanda Stephens, Carolyn & many other names that former MWs recognize. So if you're a MW who'd like someplace to discuss the membership fees, head on over.

One thing I will say~there has been so much spirited discussion just in a few hours' time, and for me... that was what made it also a HAPPY morning.

If you're a MW and blog about this, please link your post here. Then head over to Joshilyn's blog and link there, too. And read her comments section--there's a good, intelligent discussion going on there.