SaveMe Oh: Breaking news: DanCoyote Antonelli fired from LEA
SaveMe Oh: Is Sasun Steinbeck and Solo Mornington next?
mcarp Mavendorf: breaking news: group chats dont work!
PatriciaAnne Daviau: ask Ginette .. .she seems to know all about it
SaveMe Oh: there is even a Linden in group chat ( A Linden appeared in groupchat and disappeared quickly again)
mcarp Mavendorf: details?
SaveMe Oh: must be crisis
mcarp Mavendorf: you should have already gotten a note that sasun has left
Geo Meek: is she still working for LEA?
SaveMe Oh: two down, one to go
Geo Meek: can you pass me one please
Geo Meek: and no i did not get the note?
SaveMe Oh: freedom is near
mcarp Mavendorf: freedom of/for what?
mcarp Mavendorf: maybe it was a notice, i forget
Tyrehl Byk: Does this chat ever get used for…well….you know….NEWS, and not gossip?
SaveMe Oh: freedom from the LEA policeforce
mcarp Mavendorf: actually its a notice by solo to the LEA Endowment group
Geo Meek: please read it to me
fiore Samiam: Ok, I am lost.
SaveMe Oh: no, you are free
And then from the blogs of Ginette Pinazzo (nobody reads the poor girls stuff)
GINETTE PINAZZO DECLARATION ABOUT HER FIGHT WITH THE LEA BASTARDS:
Ginette Pinazzo: To LEA: you fired me: deal with it
As of May 30th, 2012, The Linden Endowment For The Arts (an agency that is LL-sponsored) has terminated my status as an LEA Board Member. My response appears below, to LL, to the Board itself, and particularly those within the LEA committee who are directly responsible for this action. I believe in transparency, not secret meetings and closed-door politics. Let the evidence present itself.
CC of my response to LL:
I wont resign so Ill need to be fired, and since its a matter of discrimination Ive been subjected to, I will need to uphold my principles which come first regarding ethics (this isnt personal) and view the current LEA as a corrupted entity.
As such my firing must be public, in one way or another.
Ive worked hard to be on this board and have only asked to be treated as equal, which has not occurred.
In fact, this board was happy to ask me to help out in every area and I have done so only to be disenfranchised, which is an equality issue I take very seriously.
The board you support has violated its own rules a number of times, and engaged in behavior that proves it is not sustainable, whether I am there or not.
‘Firing me’ does nothing to address the LEA sustainability problem, which was there when i arrived and apparently is condoned by the Lab.
If you really did place any value on contributions from board members such as I, you would not condone the discrimination and disenfranchisement I have been subjected to, and you would have found a more mutually beneficial solution. As it seems, you simply condone the unprofessional and discriminatory practices of a currently corrupt agency, display obvious favouritism towards certain residents, and are doing nothing but vindicating the public perception of LEA as being a elitist, prejudicial and collusive organisation.
– Gina (the ‘key’ member of LEA who apparently isnt key)
Please do not wish me continued success in SL endeavors when you have clearly taken steps to undermine that effort.
And now to you, Board:
I will be disengaging myself from this farce of an agency over the coming days and sadly, telling lots of people aside from myself how their time and efforts have been wasted too.
I will not be associated with an agency that sets ethical business practices back 100 years.
Dream Promenade will be removed and adult SL will be notified of those implications.
Media Arts Center will have all of my work removed.
Land Grant Artists communication will be truncated and all work I have done in that department will be undone.
Thanks for wasting people’s time. Obviously you do not value some people’s time at all.
Why did I want to be fired rather than resign?
So you would have some investment in the process of what you were doing….so its not so neat and tidy and covered up by PC statements.
So you would feel it.
The art community of SL will certainly have far better choices than the LEA going forward, based on the current events unfolding.
And finally, to those who really stuck the knife in:
You’ve done this yourselves. Through close-mindedness, arrogance and stubbornness, this organization will collapse. You cannot grow or even sustain with the elitist and discriminatory behaviors, and the corruption and unethical practices allowed to fester within this board will become transparent to all. The truth will not stay hidden. The bad reputation this org has now will only intensify and will become validated. As this organization falls, it will be a sad disservice to the countless artists of Sl, and the entire community, to all of those who gave their time, energy and passion. You have cost this virtual world dearly with your miscalculations…the possibilities of attraction and retention…the lucrative chance to build upon SL’s artistic strength……. Because you wanted to draw a hard line, you chased away your chance to survive. One day soon, more innovative and progressive organizations will emerge, and if you come crawling to them for favors, you will get exactly what you have asked for….what you worked towards….which will be nothing. We are all connected, whether you like it or not. Because you didn’t listen, and didn’t try to work with the team…
Those who cooperate will make it to the future.
Don’t even think for one second I am responsible for this.
You have done it yourselves.
This will never be forgotten.
Need Facts? (here are a few to start with…more available)
While all other community organisations have been shut down in Second l.ife LEA survives. Why?
My 6 months or so within the committee has answered that question tor me:
LEA is not a community organisation at all.
LEA does not, and does not pretend to, represent the arts community, despite their published mission statement. (see below)
The ‘Mission Statement’ from LEA’s own literature:
■Provide a starting point for artists in Second Life, and for those interested in art to make connections and display their work.
■Encourage and cultivate art and artists within Second Life.
■Foster community, creativity, and innovation among artists and all residents interested in art.
■Provide a way for artists to promote their art.
■Collaborate with existing art regions, galleries, exhibits, and performance spaces to help nurture their valuable participation in SL arts.
LEA is a very small body of hand-selected individuals who manage an incredibly large amount of land (greatly underused, by the way) I can demonstrably prove that LEA does not fulfill its mission statement and, in fact, counters it
1. Every attempt I had made within the committee to introduce concepts of greater inclusiveness, transparency or public connection were shut down. The actual arts community would be better served by almost any other agency.
2. Despite being unanimously voted in to the committee as Board Members, certain ‘older members’ later refused to acknowledge us as Board Members, denying our status, and incredibly, denying our votes! Check your history. This is Disenfrachisement. And its alive and well within LEA. It’s a serious ethical violation, at the very least. Matters of suffrage shouldnt be in the boardroom in this day and age, in a modernized society anyway.
3. One such discriminated member was subject to insults, humiliation and intense pressure to resign, and she did.
I refused to resign and said ‘fire me’ because I worked hard to be at that table and if they were going to discriminate, I expected them to be invested in the process, to demonstrate their responsibility in the act.
4. The LEA did not have much of its ‘procedures’ for voting in writing, yet ‘key’ members would arbitrarily decide what voting process was legitimate or not, based on their preferences at time. If they didnt like you, your vote didnt count. That simple. If they wanted to rewrite history and claim a certain vote was invalid, they’d do that. It was all a game, because they could make up any process they wanted on the spot, and had zero accountability. This is what happens when you populate a ‘deciding body’ with artists only and scare away anyone who also has organisational, business or human relations experience. I am an artist too, but I am pleased I have learned to use both sides of my brain.
5. Even the voting procedures they did claim to have, they violated on several occasions. They would run ineptly organised votes, so confusing people didnt even know what they were voting for or against. They would talk about respecting the process, but in fact, had no process.
6. Since their processes were undocumented and unverifiable, they would fail repeatedly, but it didnt matter to them, because the ‘rules’ would go ‘out the window’ if certain key members threw a tantrum and called in LL to straighten things out for them. This is not a community organisation. It is a very small circle that colludes to maintain imagined power, and doesnt even have the skillset to do so kindly.
7. One trick of the LEA key staff: if you write a proposal, they will claim its not a proposal, yet anything they write (no matter how half-formed) they will claim is the ONLY actual proposal on table. This is one way they control the conversation. They literally have no comprehension or willingness to listen to team members and could benefit from months of training in this area.
8. While purporting to want new talent, new voices, new energy to grow the organisation, LEA inducted myself and others but amazingly managed to lose us all.
Can LEA be fixed? Maybe…anything is possible.
At present, the majority of the organisation (good, talented people) are being misrepresented by a corrupt and manipulative minority. If eyes open wide enough, things may change.
Until then, there are far better organisations out there….and more to come.
And then from the blogs of Rowan Derryth(nobody reads the poor girls stuff)
ROWAN DERRYTH’S DECLARATION ABOUT HER FIGHT WITH THE LEA BASTARDS:
Three months (or so) with the LEA
June 1, 2012 by Rowan Derryth
Disclaimer: this post is long, slightly rambly, sans pretty pictures, and with only a small amount of shameless self-promotion thrown in.
Well, I’ve been stewing on this one a few weeks, and I think it’s probably time, in light of recent events (and the rumours flying about them). Like many contentious events, this is a LONG story. And honestly? I have no desire to rehash it in great detail. So, in what will be a travesty of journalism, I will now mostly regale you with this saga in bullet points.
- I was asked to join the LEA as an Advisor back in February.
- I accepted because I was honoured, and also because outside of the land grants, I had no idea what they did, and I was curious.
- I began attending meetings, and learned that they were an incredibly active group. But as I was given access to their online site of documents, although I saw many good ideas, I was having a hard time finding any sort of governing documents outside of their mission statement.
- I was offered the opportunity to guest curate an exhibit at LEA 1, which I was pleased to accept.
- I slowly began trying to offer my advice (as an advisor does), mostly trying to make them understand that the general public was unaware what they were up to, and for some, particularly those invested in the arts community, this lack of communication and transparency was developing into a situation of wariness and distrust. My goal was to try and write a bit about the committee and the various good things they were doing as a step towards a solution. I was just getting to this when three things happened at once.
The Middle, Part 1:
- I was informed via group email that I had been elected to full committee member, alongside another advisor, Ginette Pinazzo, who had been around longer than I had.
- I was flattered, but I had not been asked if I wished to take on the responsibility, and I wasn’t sure I had the time or inclination, so I decided to think it over.
- I ended up accepting about a week and a half later, in the midst of what follows…
The Middle, Part 2:
- There was an ongoing protest in the LEA Sandbox regarding the banning of SaveMe Oh, and the general view that the LEA sucked (‘police state’ was a term thrown around a bit).
- I popped round to try and see what I might do, as a NEW person, to diffuse what had already been a protracted and ugly dramafest between all sides.
- I was actually treated just fine by this group and was able to talk and ask what they wished to see done or improved (besides the ban being lifted, which I had already shown favour for to the committee simply because I thought it had gone on long enough – I think this displeased some of the committee, and may be part of why things got so bad later on).
- The main question that came up was ‘Who is even on the LEA, and what do they do?’ I had recently discovered that finding an up-to-date committee list was rather difficult, and it hadn’t even been put on the web site or blog. I had already been pressing for this so I thought this was a very valid question.
- I emailed the group reporting this, and that I thought providing this information would be an easy and wonderful step forward into healing the breach that had developed. AND that I would be happy to be part of this solution by writing a post about us myself (Sasun Steinbeck and myself also talked about this privately and she really liked the idea).
- In response, DanCoyote Antonelli sent an email with the following subject line: ‘Please do not make public information about the roles and composition of LEA without board consideration and approval.’ I found this rather outrageous, considering that this really was public info; and I was also affronted as I felt it called my professional judgement into question. In hindsight, I am sure my reaction to this was more outraged than it warranted (basically I was all WTF?!). I also want to make an important note that pretty much everyone else on the committee agreed that he spoke out of turn, and that what he was saying was wrong. He even admitted this later on. However this was the first major red flag for me, and really underscored this transparency issue in relation to how some of the committee viewed their role.
The Middle, part 3:
- In the aftermath of announcing that LL would not organise SL9B, the committee began talking about whether or not we might participate in the community sponsored events. While it was suggested by bloggers that we have all these sims that could be used, this was not the case – all sims were already committed to land grant artists and special projects throughout the birthday period.
- I personally suggested that we might take ONE of the core 9 sims and parcel it out for a small art festival as part of the wider celebrations. This idea was buried in the ensuing discussion, in which some claimed that the LEA ‘wasn’t about parties’, others claimed we should do it but only if LL gave us more sims, etc. etc.
- Linden Labs, who have community reps on our email group but who do not actively participate in the LEA, offered to the LEA what Saffia Widdershins astutely called (in a private conversation with me later) a ‘poisoned chalice’ – in the form of 12 sims for the birthday, and possibly events beyond, complete with strings attached.
- The strings were that we would use manage the sims in an ongoing manner, and that they were to be used for community wide events, and not be limited to art.
- Understandably, many members were hesitant as they ‘signed on’ to be an arts council, not manage community events for LL. Others (and I count myself amongst this group) also agreed with this, but did not want to see 12 free sims be easily denied the wider community, and sought another way forward. (Poisoned chalice: we accept them and we are suddenly responsible for things outwith our mission; we say no and we are elite art snobs that don’t care about the community, see?).
- I’m going to leave out a LOT here, including an email thread I started questioning what our overarching goals were, in which I was specifically told by some that the LEA was NOT a transparent community organisation, in their view – which I found alarming, and I then questioned whether I wanted to be involved. Not everyone sees it this way, though.
- After MUCH heated debate – a downward spiral of it really – we offered a counter-proposal to LL, to help form a NEW group that would operate like the LEA, but would serve to manage these sims for community events and festivals (yes, beyond SL9B, like Burn, etc.).
- LL declined the counter offer, saying they would only turn the sims over to the LEA and didn’t want another new group.
- It was during the course of this that I learned that while the core 9 sims were still owned by the lab, the ownership of the land grant sims had been split between DanCoyote Antonelli and Solo Mornington – both of whom were against taking more sims at all. To their credit, they went along with the majority vote on this new committee idea; however Antonelli at least did not wish to take on more liability in terms of the sims, which was fair. Other members were willing to do so (it was agreed LaPiscean Liberty would, for example), but this also seemed to be a problem for LL, or was reported to be.
- It was also of concern that LL was contacting these two directly, as sim owners, and they were taking the meetings with the Lab alongside only one of the other ‘older’ members of their choosing, without extending an invitation to the group as a whole. It is reasonable that only 3 should meet, but the way this was handled, and seemed to exclude those with different views to them, was worrying.
- After LL’s refusal, more debate ensued as members still tried to find a way forward, and things got truly ugly. In the midst, LL saved us the trouble of a decision by rescinding their offer, as it seemed unworkable.
The Beginning of the End:
- I’m not going to rehash the arguments here, but suffice it to say that while all parties were trying to do what they thought best, pretty much everyone communicated VERY poorly at one point or another, myself included. In the end, there was a very deep schism in the group.
- I simply don’t know how to write this next part without pointing the finger, it cannot be done. So I will state this as diplomatically as I can, but with awareness that I am sure my bias will come through. In the midst of this debate, DanCoyote Antonelli, from who myself and the other newly-elected member of the board, Ginette Pinazzo, held a different viewpoint, decided to call into question the validity of our election.
- He first did this by saying that the LEA had never agreed that votes could be done by email – which was how the election was conducted. This complaint was fairly quickly shut down, though there was still contention about this from him and the other committee member who supported him. He continued to toss out terms like ‘due dilligence’ and ‘fast-track illegal vote’ via email, which many argued against (I kicked back and rolled my eyes – I wasn’t going to bother fighting that one as the burden of proof was on him).
- Then, at the following LEA meeting whereby a final decision regarding the 12 sims was supposed to be discussed (post refusal of our counter offer), he took the reigns as Chair (there is no LEA chair but they share meeting chair duties), and brought up an agenda item (which he had placed at the top) in which he stated that by LEA rules (of which there are none in writing anywhere) all Board members had to be elected unanimously. Solo Mornington and Werner Kurasowa had not voted in this election (which in legal terms is an abstention, incidentally, although they debated this too). Therefore, we had never been elected. Antonelli was very calculatingly trying to manoeuvre a revote. And to his credit, he very neatly sidetracked everyone from further discussion of the 12 sims. It was smoothly played.
- I walked out of the meeting, fed up, done, and not willing to stand for that kind of behaviour. Apparently no resolution was met.
- I finished curating A Rusted Development at LEA 1 and IT ROCKS. Just sayin’. It opened the following weekend.
- After emailing the group about the opening success and the wonderful catalogue PJ Trenton and I produced, Antonelli replied a congratulations, but that also he was sorry to again bring up bad news, but the inclusion of Bryn Oh’s work in the exhibit was in direct violation of LEA rules against Board members using the LEA to show their own work (reminder: the board has no written policies governing them), and that she should remove her work and apologise to the whole board. Thus extending his witch hunt to Bryn (who had also been very supportive of me and shared my opinion on most things).
- Most committee members were outraged at this, and I wrote informing them I would be stepping away for a week to cool down as I was astounded at this behaviour. I stopped reading emails.
- The following day, just before the regular Tuesday meeting, Sasun Steinbeck dropped a note of resignation on all LEA members. She was likewise fed up, although I was sad to see in her note she felt that I had spoken rudely to her. This was due to a comment that was actually not aimed at her at all, and which I should not have ever said (it was along the lines of telling people who didn’t want to be part of the solution to shut the fuck up, said in anger and stress). I have incidentally cleared that up with her, for which I am glad.
- However, her leaving was for me the final straw, and I wrote my own resignation within the hour. It wasn’t worth it anymore for me.
- After this, Viale Linden (who I guess is the Community Manager or something) asked to attend the next LEA meeting with other team members Lexie and Xiola Linden, to see if they could help sort out the problem (I’ll leave it to readers to be amused or not.)
- No longer being a Board member, I didn’t attend. However, I did send an email before the meeting making it clear that for me, the biggest problem with the LEA is that they have no written policy for election, term limits, or any other important governing procedures outside of a mission statement and the policies for land grant sims, etc. Antonelli would never have been able to attempt what he did if these had been in place (or alternately, he would have had a leg to stand on if he could prove those policies existed).
- After this meeting, I received another email from the Community Team, which they sent to all current and now former Board, asking what we thought went wrong, and if we were willing to stay or thought of leaving. I responded basically reiterating my concerns about policy, but also saying that I had already left, but were I to return under the right circumstances, the first thing I would do is insist on policy and more transparency. This was LAST week.
- At this week’s meeting, the Community team attended and said something about a Board reshuffle, and that they would be emailing two members privately.
- Dancoyote Antonelli and Ginette Pinazzo were emailed, and met with Linden Lab.
So, why do I bother writing all this NOW? Why not just leave it? Well, some things have transpired this week, and rumours are flying. And misinformation is starting to spread, and I don’t see the LEA rushing to write a press release to try and do any damage control in the form of saying what has actually transpired (which I would do if I were still involved). They are currently letting the rumour-mill write their history, which I think is a mistake, but to be fair, they’ve been so deep in sorting out this mess, and they really are a group of volunteers. Not like they have a PR department.
I believe in accuracy in information, and also that there is no one better to tell my own story than me. So now that I see my name being discussed elsewhere, I suppose I better take control of the information and let people have this tale straight from me. The above is my attempt to set the record straight, but apologies dear reader, I have just a bit more to say…
Two days ago, Antonelli chose to resign from the board. And yes, he DID choose that, and he DID resign. He wasn’t fired, as many are repeating everywhere, and here is why I say this: that same day, Ginette Pinazzo informed me that Antonelli had resigned, and copied his calm and professional resignation letter to me; shortly thereafter, she made the choice to inform SaveMe Oh that he had been fired (and SaveMe subsequently copy-pasted her IM into the LEA Sandbox group chat). I know that Ginette has felt incredibly angry about what has transpired, as I have. However, this was not taking the high road, and I wish she had. While speculation might tell us that Antonelli was asked to resign (as I imagine Ginette was also asked), it was rather unprofessional, I feel, of her to stir the pot in such a manner with misinformation.
Further, if he was in fact asked to step down, I’d like to at least note publicly that he did so quietly and with grace, for the greater good of the LEA. And for all the good work he has done for the LEA (and yes, he has done a lot), that should have been honoured. Perhaps it is splitting hairs, but being asked to resign, and choosing to do so gracefully, is different than being fired.
According to her own account, Pinazzo refused to step down when she was asked. She insisted on being fired. That was what she wanted, and so it is.
Also in her own account, she has insinuated that my resignation was because I was humiliated and forced to resign. Let me be clear: I left because I was fed up, because I knew I could not have a positive working relationship with Antonelli after what had happened, and because, as I said in my resignation, my ego is NOT bigger than the mission of the LEA. No one forced me… I took control and made my choice not to stay and stand for it. I decided I was better serving virtual art through writing and curating, because really, life is too freakin short.
But here is another important fact: THE LEA ROCKS. To all you naysayers? You are wrong. Well, maybe not completely wrong – they obviously have problems with communication and management. But hello, have you been over? See this post, and this… and yes, MINE… there is amazing freakin art at the LEA. And THAT is what it is all about.
And I’ll go ahead and start solving the transparency problem NOW with something I’ve long wanted to report: the selection process for the land grants is completely democratic, and wonderfully done. People have moaned about it being insider and cliqueish, and that is completely wrong. I wasn’t a voting member in the last round, but I was privy to the whole process, so I can report this without bias. Here is what they do:
- All applications are made available for everyone to read.
- Each member compiles a list of their top 20, privately, without discussion.
- Now, on this I CAN say that while they didn’t discuss applications, they did chat a bit about criteria, and what I liked is that there was no one set criteria. Some voted for people whose work they knew, while some went solely on the application (and yes, some apps by very good artists were crap). Some only wanted new people who hadn’t had a grant before, while others thought those who had worked hard should be renewed. And everyone had a different view of what ‘virtual art’ should be: real or not, immersive or not, etc. So in the end, there was a wonderful check and balance happening with a variety of opinions represented.
- The top 20 are tabulated.
- This usually resulted in a few ties for the last few sims. In this last round I believe there was a tie of about 5 or 6 people who got 2 votes each, for 2 sims (in other words, 18 applicants had 3 votes or more). THESE tied artists get voted upon, and this is the only time where any public discussion is had, mostly along the lines of ‘does anyone feel particularly strongly’ or ‘where can we see their work’.
- The top 20 are notified. This is kept private until all accept, in case someone has changed their mind, in which case an alternate is selected.
And that is how it works. Incredibly fair. And incidentally, there aren’t nearly as many applications as people think. To my memory, more than half of applicants actually got sims.
Also, the LEA rocks for a whole bunch of projects I bet you didn’t even know about. Yes, Bryn organised the ever-entertaining Avatar Games, and there are events in the unique theatre built by architect Werner Kurasowa. But did you know that L1aura Loire has spearheaded a virtual education project called the School of Virtual Art? It has amazing potential, and really, more should know about this awesome endeavour.
Yes, the LEA is awesome, I am still a fan. It’s why I was happy – excited even – to be involved, and why I was incredibly disappointed things went as they did. They have not asked me to return, I don’t know if they will, and I don’t know if I would. I am happy to keep working with them as a curator, and as a writer, which is probably where I best fit.
So, there you have it. Call this what you like, an attempt at transparency, though I’m sure some will think it a form of retribution. But if I had wanted that, I would have fired something off weeks ago when I was mad. I feel very calm about the whole thing, and I think in the end the outcomes were good. I had planned to write a really clear think piece on Prim Perfect about the policy thing, the LEA’s good deeds, etc., but I realise I can’t. I can’t be an unbiased journalist on this. So here is the information – from my view – and I’ll let others who might wish to talk about it do so. Both Quan Lavender and Dividni Shostakovich have written eloquently on issues of the LEA, and were closer to the mark than I think they ever knew.
What I hope more than anything is that positive things come from all this. Policies that are clear. The understanding that the community is invested, and that the LEA should not strictly be an elite group of curators (I was told this by one of them), but rather by virtue of being given this responsibility, they ARE in fact beholden to the art community (I know several current members agree with this view). I hope they set term limits for service and make clear paths for new members to become involved, not those few of us who are lucky to be picked.
And I hope they continue being a positive force for virtual art. It is sorely needed.