Discoveries include: the field of voluntarism is fragmented (volunteerism [often now called "voluntarism" perhaps to contain it], philanthropy, and nonprofit organization); and academic publications being generated and professional work conducted by academic and practitioner professionals tend to perpetuate this condition. Unifying theories are weak and easily disregarded. Overall guidelines are lacking. Fortunate are nonprofit, tax exempt enterprises that receive sufficient financial support to survive. Attempts to seize control of the field seem to come from concentrations of money – large foundations. Professionals tend to be subservient although not without resistance. The third sector is an integral part of the total economy, but this seems to be ignored. Enough resourcefulness exists for professionals to strive for careers for themselves as a band of people who operate their own status system to support claims of superiority. They have a chance to do fairly well under the circumstances.
Until now SVSP has tried to work within this framework, participating in conferences, reading and reviewing what academics and practitioners are writing, speaking to them in return, and searching for exceptional cases and events to report. In its new role much of this will end. There will be no need to subscribe to Current Contents, as its literature tends to perpetuate the fragmentation.
A clarified goal is to discover grassroots for the field of voluntarism and to search among those at the grassroots for unified fronts: participants serving, giving, and organizing. It is not enough to expose contradictions and even gross violations to acceptable practice (for example, excessive controls spilling out of corporate life everywhere), alternatives that take the form of strategies for empowering marginalized people are to be weighed more highly. Voluntarism needs revitalization most likely to come only from the grassroots at present.
Voluntarism Review and Reporter, which is now suspended from publication, will have a new publication schedule eventually: one issue a year published in August. In the meantime, the publication will also operate on the internet, sending out information and exploring grassroots sources rather than depending heavily upon academic/practitioner resources.
The attempt to be an independent voice will continue. Hopefully participants at the grassroots will be more receptive than the powers that seek ever more control and the professionals with their own agendas and career interests have been in the past. Difficult times are ahead for academic professionals, for they are linked in organizational networks that in many parts of the world are no longer trusted by the majority of the people at the citizen level.
The review section of Voluntarism Review and Reporter will consider issues such as unified and restored enterprises and industries as well as their deconstruction and fragmentation, marginalization of people as well as empowerment processes, limitations of organization as source of intervention in contrast to social movements, decline of cooperatives as empowerment groups, challenge of creating franchises that reflect empowerment missions, opposition to a highly creative volunteer segment in a unified field of voluntarism, and generation of unexploitable enthusiasm and commitment. Selections will be solicited from authors who explore these issues.
The reporter section will report cases and events that address such topics as unified voluntarism, identifying achievements, and exposing processes of fragmentation. An objective is to connect with both light and dark sides of contemporary projects to cope with marginalization on the dark side and empowerment of people on the light side.
Advisors and participants will be assembled for particular projects. For example, one proposed project is a study of agricultural animals and charities. For this, one prospect is William (Bill) Hedrick, a retired missionary whose work in Pakistan and Guatemala covers a period of thirty years. Another is Hans Bederski, a former colleague originally from Peru. His recent assignments have been in community development work in West Africa.
Working closely with me as colleagues and collaborators in the West Texas area will be: Dr. Paul Wright, social scientist at Sul Ross State University who has been working to gain collaboration among U.S.A. and Mexican goat researchers in the Chihuahuan desert region; and Leo N. Uher, an almost daily contact with a business background and many years of experience in local community development programs.
A third frequent consultant nowadays is Charles D. Floro, producer and managing editor of the Sota Iya Ye Yapi, official newspaper of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe/Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation. He has survived seemingly endless crises, has been set up supposedly for embarrassment in public meetings by Indian journalists aligned with different factions among the tribes, knows legal procedures very well from past news coverage, is familiar with government expenditures to discredit Indian leaders through court action (threat of a felony can take a leader out of contention for political office, even before a case is prosecuted), and has assessed many grant funded projects and programs. He has learned that the most "successful" may not be the most promising. He says that some strive to become perpetual motion machines that make little contribution to the tribe and are disconnected from meaningful service or long-lasting impact in society. Now in his fifties he is completing his university degrees.
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