Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How not to save the Order

I am concerned that two of the most destructive phrases in our collective vocabularies right now are:

"We need to do whatever we can to increase membership,"


"We need to stop all these mergers."

Unfortunately, both of these phrases are popular and hardly anyone seems to understand why they are wrong.

I think they're wrong, and I think we'll hasten our demise if that's the best we can do.

But I don't know how to get that message out there, and I have no idea how to start a conversation about how we can change course when I can't convince most people that our course needs changing.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Too many buildings

It's been suggested in recent years that Freemasons don't have too few members, just too many buildings.

Subordinate OES Chapter numbers are sequential. Here in the Grand Chapter of Washington we have ~106 active Chapters, but our highest active number is #257. It boggles my mind that anyone in this jurisdiction ever thought we needed, or could possibly support, 257+ Chapters. Doesn't seem much different from Boston Market or Krispy Kreme, who over-expanded and then had to withdraw from markets, consolidate, and lay off.

And, it turns out, we are not the only struggling social organizations to be thinking in this direction. The Seattle Times op-ed page today describes a proposal for mainline Protestant churches in the University District to consolidate their properties and share a single facility. Too few churchgoers, too many buildings, too much maintenance, too much property value tied up in empty caverns. Don't know if it'll fly, yet, but it shows that other "Bowling Alone" groups are beginning to think outside the big brick box.

Welcome to the Empty Labyrinth

I'm kicking off this new blog for ruminations on the future of Eastern Star, Freemasonry, and related organizations.

Candidates for membership in OES walk a labyrinth as part of their initiation ceremony, but our pathways lie empty most of the time. Literally, in that our buildings are disused. Literally, in that we initiate so few new members. Literally, in that our new members so rarely become active. Literally, in that attendance and participation are declining. And figuratively, in that we've given up on so many of the ideals we purport to teach there.

I'll be writing occasionally on the things I think we get wrong, the things we do right, and new ideas I think we might try.

If you have a Blogger account and are interested in becoming a contributor to this blog, post a comment to let me know.