Guerilla Gardening Gone Off the Rails

Thomas von der Elbe ThomasvonderElbe at
Sun Aug 15 07:17:12 EDT 2010

Hey Alex,

I call you on skype when you come online!


Alex Rollin schrieb:
> Hello friends,
> I've been involved in a horrific (for me) "speaking truth to 
> power" exercise this month.
> You can see the archive in public!  
> The main participants in the thread are Michel Bauwens and myself, 
> Alex Rollin.
> Michel is a founding member of the P2P Foundation and sits on the 
> board.  He has taken issue with me, and sees my wishes to engage in 
> some sort of official conflict resolution procedure as a power grab 
> and a threat (paraphrasing).  I am under threat of being banned from 
> the community and could lose some access to 774 pages of work I've 
> done on the wiki.
> My requests: 
> 1.  that the board of the P2P Foundation put some policy in place that 
> outlines the rights of the users of the P2P Foundation website. 
>  (Users have no rights and can be banned/deleted ad hoc.)
> 2.  That one of these rights be access to a conflict resolution 
> procedure; a procedure which has Foundation policy as the backbone. 
>  (Currently there is no policy at all.)
> 3.  That the officials of the Foundation develop some "Pledge 
> of Commitment" that says, basically, that hey will use a process to 
> handle conflict and abstain from the exercise of official power when 
> they are involved in the conflict.  (Wikipedia has one like this 
> here )
> My concern:
> I am concerned that users who watch the use of power exercised as a 
> personal warfare by board officials of the foundation, power that can 
> ban and dismiss ad hoc, that individual users become less and less 
> willing to participate, and finally become silent.  I contend that 
> this type of behavior, of banning people for having ideas and wishes, 
> is deserving of some reigning in.  (Read about the Foundation here if 
> you like )
> My request to you:
> A member of the board does not see this process of "silencing" 
> happening, as such, and would appreciate some feedback on the subject. 
>  He has asked me to collect letters from people about their feelings 
> on this dynamic of the exercise of power, and has promised to respect 
> whatever confidentiality the authors request.  His names is James 
> Burke, lifesized at <mailto:lifesized at> .
> My disclosure:
> I realize that, if you look at the link above you will see an 
> incredible amount of information.  In fact, this is the ugliest, 
> nastiest discussion I have ever had the public pleasure of 
> participating in.  I have made mistakes, and I have done my best, and 
> I am currently silent under the threat of banishment.  I have 
> participated to this extent because I have worked on 774 pages of 
> "work product" on one of the P2P Foundation systems, the wiki, from 
> which I could be banned at any moment.  Larger than that, though, I 
> generally agree with the mission of the foundation, and I value the 
> multitude of perspectives that create the wiki 
> I would not fault you for criticizing my behavior.  I do not think I 
> did "all the right things" by any means.  However, how "right" 
> constructed, here, and how it is enforce are the actual issues.  As 
> you consider how you would proceed, you are free to consider my 
> behavior and provide feedback to me which I would value greatly as a 
> friend and fellow Guerilla Gardener.
> As this was my largest effort at Guerilla Gardening to date, and as I 
> have seen horrendous failure, I see this as relevant.   I do not 
> believe that you are bound to support me, or that you should, really.
> If you choose to participate, though, please know that I see our 
> mutual interest as that of Guerilla Gardeners, and that I believe that 
> this "silencing" dynamic, is an important feature of the space.  When 
> participatory democracy is online, it can be possible to simply remove 
> access to the systems.  This silences people.
> How should folks understand this as feature/benefit of "online 
> participatory governance" ?
> What should a group understand about these dynamics and how they might 
> interact with the policy requests I am making above?  What is an 
> appropriate board policy for engaging community stakeholders when the 
> conversation is in a public forum?
> What should James know, on that subject, based on what you see in the 
> archive?
> Thank you for considering my request.  I appreciate you are busy, and 
> value the opportunity to connect with you further on this subject.
> Sincerely,
> Alex Rollin

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