It’s January 7th and I feel like I should have something profound to say. If not profound, then at least kind of funny or relatively offensive. But I’ve been having trouble coming up with something. For a week now I’ve been having trouble coming up with the right words to describe the change that I made January 1st and the transition that I’m currently making my way through. I have already found the words to talk about it with my family and friends and I sent that email out weeks ago. I found the words to inform all of the donors and volunteers for Living Media International and I sent that letter out around Christmas time. But I still haven’t received the epiphany that I’ve been waiting for as to how to write about it here on the Green Mango. The Green Mango requires other words. Those other letters about it were all diplomatic and professional, although still completely true, not the complete truth. They were written for very specific audiences for very specific reasons. But here on the blog, I have very different reasons for writing and a larger audience, although there’s some overlap.
Yet I feel like I still need to address it here because ever since I started this blog, part of what has given me even a little credibility in addition to my past experience, on the issues that I write about, was the fact that I was the executive director of a fairly successful nonprofit organization that had figured out some creative ways to serve the people in our communities here in Haiti without being jerks. Every day working in that position I was learning things that I transmitted into many of the writings on this blog. A week ago, however, I stepped down from that position after having led the organization that I had founded for four years. I stepped down for a lot of reasons, some of which are very positive, those reasons that I shared in the previous letters to donors and family and friends. And then there are the other reasons, the ones which my roommates are probably tired of hearing me complain about and are looking forward to me being able to move on from. But I know that I don’t need to make a “List of 10 Reasons I Stepped Down” post because all those reasons will probably show up in one form or another in my upcoming blog posts. I’ve learned a lot from the experience and there’s plenty that I want to say about it, but those things will continue to come out as I write on other topics.
So, for now, I guess I just wanted to let my readers know that I have stepped down, in case that changes the way you interpret what you read on here in any way. I say “step down” because I didn’t really quit. It was part of a collaborative decision with the staff and board of a new direction that we want to take the organization in. I’ll still be serving on the Board of Directors for Living Media International and supporting their work in various ways. I just won’t be the head hauncho anymore. And I’m really excited about that. Sure, I can’t deny that it was nice being the one in charge sometimes, but it came with a lot of pressure which I’m not going to miss. Also for work that was never supposed to be about me in the first place, sometimes its necessary to mix things up a bit to make sure that everyone understands what its truly about.
Moving forward, I’m not quite sure what my next steps will be but I’m taking some time for myself to figure that out. I know I have a problem, a sick addiction to this nonprofit stuff and the first step to recovery is always admitting your problem. The other night I was out at the club having a drink with my oldest roommate, Nicodem, when two of his friends came up to our table and talked for a while. They’re all three young, intelligent, men who are involved in their community and easy to get along with. As I sat there and chatted with them about different activities they had going on, in my head I was thinking “Man, these three guys would make great staff members for…” and then I had to stop myself before I even finished the thought. “No, Lee. Settle down. You don’t need to go dreaming about what other organizations you could start here and who could be involved. Just enjoy your beer and stop trying to create new social movements!” It’s actually a conversation I’ve had to have with myself in my head a hundred times in the last couple of months. Like I said, I have a sickness.
So like I said, I’m forcing myself, to take some time. During that time I will continue to write and work on my own art. It’s the first time since I moved to Haiti seven years ago that I will be officially unaffiliated with any group but will be able to focus more on my own work and just continue to be a positive presence in this community as I do. I’m sure that that lack of affiliation will affect the things I write and the art I create a little more. I have a few drafts, in fact, that I’ve been holding on to for this blog that I never wanted to publish for the sole reason that I didn’t want them to negatively impact the organization that I worked for. But they are still things that I think are important to discuss and now I may be freer to open up those discussions with people that are involved and interested in this type of work. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to read Jillian Kittrell’s posts this week about “Being a Crutch” over on her blog, Jillian’s Missionary Confessions. You know its a good blog post when the writer has to start off with a disclaimer saying, “Don’t hate my organization for the things that I’m about to say.” Although I can’t say its exactly what I’m feeling now, I certainly agree with much of what she says and some of the same reasons that she has for writing those entries contributed to my decisions to step down and move on, while still helping to find ways for the organization to stand on its own.
And also, if you get a chance, please head over to Living Media’s website and make a donation to them as well. Now that I’m not working for them, I can say that because I really believe it and not just because it’s my job. They’re still doing really good work in this community and need the support. Hell, without me they’ll probably even do better work. I’m excited to see what they’ll do and you should be too. But until then, I’ll still be here, writing, ripening, being. Thanks.