Action for Sustainable Living, the “award-winning” charity, has refused to answer basic questions about how it will take action for sustainable… democracy.
In July this year it took over the “secretariat” function for the “Steering Group,” the largely invisible and secretive group that is supposed to be, well, “steering” climate action in Manchester. The group meets behind closed doors, has never held the elections it promised to and hasn’t updated the “upcoming events” page on its website for over a year.
You might have hoped or expected that AfSL had both ambitions and plans to make the Group more democratic, less useless and less secretive. It’s early days, but the signs are not promising.
On July 25 we asked AfSL’s chair two simple questions –
a) what do you understand by the bullet point “Managing the 2013/14 Steering Group election process?” [This is a quote from the tender document put out by Manchester City Council] Could you unpack that for us please? When will elections be held? For what roles? How?
b) what do you think of Groundwork’s legacy with “maintaining and updating the MACF website” – given that as of July 25th 2013 the “events page” refers to upcoming events in August… 2012. Will you be doing better?
I look forward to AFSL’s reply
No reply was forthcoming. We sent it again six days later, ccing in someone who told us (rightly) that it wasn’t her department. Other than that, no reply.
Finally, on August 15 we sent the same questions a third time.
We got back
My response would be “no comment”.
The first line of AfSL’s very long “values” statement reads as follows –
“AfSL covers all sustainability issues because we believe that the journey towards a sustainable lifestyle involves attitudinal change in almost everything we do, as well as behavioural change in specialised areas.”
The key word in all of that is “almost.”
MCFly says: This is really disappointing and a little bit surprising. Action for Sustainable Living made a bid to take on the “secretariat” function for the Steering Group. Presumably not just for the money, but in order to Do It Better than Groundwork had done it. You’d think that would be easy, given just how atrocious Groundwork had been over the past years. But AfSL has, so far, not done nothing to reverse the rot.
- The Group’s minutes, which went up on the site after a great deal of asking, were removed at some point in the last few months, and have not gone back up.
- There is no sign of elections, which were agreed as essential in March 2012 and announced at the March 2012 conference.
- The “events” page of the website is now over a year out of date. And if you can’t organise something that simple, what hope is there for the Big Stuff?
None of this would matter that all that much if the Steering Group were actually GETTING STUFF DONE. Does anyone think that it is? Really? Or has MCFly just not seen the memo where everyone agreed that the group just be a talking shop and a schmoozing opportunity?
This is not action, it does not help anyone be sustainable and should scare the living daylights out of anyone who cares about the future of this city.
A note to any commenters;
Before you start telling me that my tone is wrong, read this
And before you start telling me that I am “harming the community,” read this