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Pacifica mission to be worked on

by Robbie Osman, Coordinator

Pacifica is emerging from several years of intense internal struggle. In the course of the conflict the very purpose and direction of the foundation and the effectiveness and appropriateness of its decision-making structures and practices were central issues. While we were embattled we promised ourselves and each other that upon regaining control of the network we would set aside an interim period during which we would organize and encourage widespread discussion and debate about Pacifica's process, structure, direction, and purpose.

Now is the time for that discussion. Certainly much discussion and debate is already happening formally and informally among members of the Pacifica board, LAB members, station staff, listeners and other supporters. Much of it has been cogent and valuable but our analysis and evaluation may be enriched by an effort to broaden the discussion by inviting input from friends who have been largely apart from the struggle.

The national office will contribute to and support this ongoing discussion by creating a Mission Commission. The Commission will encourage and facilitate the participation of our discussions of people who are rooted in progressive social movements and people with long experience in community radio whose ideas may help encourage, focus, inform and strengthen the general debate on Pacifica's future and inform the decisions of the Board, the LABs, the Executive Director, the listener electorate, and the entire Pacifica community.

The Commission will not be empowered to make policy. Policy decisions will come from the national board, the LABs, the stations and the listeners. It will simply contribute to the network-wide discussion.

The Commission will establish panels of respected progressive organizers and activists to work with the LABs, the National Board, the station staff, and listeners and national office to identify and address the issues facing Pacifica. I've been asked by Acting Executive Director Dan Coughlin to coordinate this effort.

There will be a national committee and also one committee for each of the five stations. The committee will be asked to identify the issues before us (consulting whichever organizations and individuals the panelists think appropriate), identify who might best shed some light on these questions, and arrange (with the help of 'staff') some method/methods for making the discussion available/useful to the various decision making bodies within Pacifica (the national and local boards, the station staffs, the activist organizations, and the listener/sponsors). We can imagine position papers, radio forums, internet based discussion, large or small public meetings, or whatever seems effective and appropriate.

Here are some thoughts about which issues could be covered. The list is open to additions or deletions.

- CPB money or not/ other potentially compromising funding strategies
- local/national balance
- role of national in keeping stations on mission
- role of stations in keeping national on mission
- national role in hiring station managers
- must carry rule/gag rule
- money distribution between stations and national
- how do we choose national programming
- relationship with affiliates
- hiring
- job stability and continuity vs openness to change and accountability
- And last but not nearly least, what are the impediments to our being open to change in the demographic (class, race, age, gender) make-up of Pacifica? Nationally? Station by station? What might be the strategies for change?

We hope that out of this period of crisis and upheaval within Pacifica we will be able to salvage a unique opportunity to take a careful look at how our institutional culture and our decision-making structure affect how succussfully our process and programming serves the network's mission.

It won't be boring.
Robbie Osman

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