From all of the anecdotal reports that I have heard, the Strategy Retreat in Sonoma could be considered a success. It even provided a place where Cynthia McKinney could continue her direction of introducing herself to the Green Party. That was timely as we have another Georgia political figure, Elaine Brown, declaring her intent to gain the Green Party nomination for President in 2008.
Maybe that is only the natural way of things as we are inundated by MSM announcements, prognostications, analysis and candidate hype over the entire range of presidential politics. It is not completely a good thing to have this level of media saturation this long before the real events. One of the things that the focus on presidential politics does is to distract us from the energy required just to keep us going.
What I do not understand is the fact that all of this strategy discussion too place without any communication to the grassroots of the Green Party afterward. Yes, everyone was invited to Sonoma. Anyone could have gone. Some did, most did not. I wonder what would have happened had 300 decided to show up rather than the approximately 50 (not confirmed, only what one attendee estimated when I asked.) that actually did. Would Warner and the Campaign and Candidates Working Group have accomplished as much?
I also wonder what might have happened if all of the previous statewide candidates had shown up. I note that at least one candidate who did not show up is questioning the basis for some of the decisions that were made, especially the question as to whether or not input had been solicited from candidates. The irony of that question does not escape me.
One of the elements of effective leadership is the ability to create a sense of shared purpose in an organization. I understand that one of the objectives in choosing the site was to get everyone into an environment where they able to develop a sense of shared purpose with the group. I do not understand how that sense of shared purpose will affect the grassroots of the GPCA if no one is communicating to the rest of the party what happened, what decisions were made, what new actions are going to be required, what we should be doing to implement any new strategic decisions.
There are some who intimate that the GPCA lacks a vision, or at least fails to communicate that vision to the public at large. Maybe the vision is described by the 10 KV, but it would be better to have a single phrase that encapsulates what the values mean. One of the things that Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada have accomplished is to establish such a vision at a very simple level. Go to almost any part of the Green Party of Canada web site and you get the message "Welcome to the Future." Just 4 words, but they accomplish a lot. They make you feel like you can be part of building that future. They are inclusive. They invite you in.
The success of organizations like moveon.org is that they invite you to participate, to take action and they communicate that your action will "make a difference." That is surely satisfying to the soul.
So, who is going to tell the rest of us what really happened in Sonoma, or will will allow the good things that (as I have been told) happened there dissipate as we continue our turf fights? I have suggested that the role of the media committee be expanded to include internal communications from events such as plenaries and retreats like this one. One result has been an improved GPCA web site. But there is still a lot of work to do as the lack of input from anyone at Sonoma illustrates.