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Apparently, we have some very wealthy [and generous] folks!
How to build a community: Lesson 3 (2) (1)

June 9, 2007

Nice and easy. It always amazes me how when you relax a bit, deconstruct a problem, and give it enough time, the answers always seem to come. To recap if you're just joining in now;

1) Apparently Iranians suffer from CDD or community deficiency disorder. Or in laymen's terms, we don't have a cohesive community tendency.

2) We need to hold a meeting of some sort, something like a "Town Hall Meeting".

3) If we ask nicely, we can get some of our own Iranian-American elected officials to run one for us. People like Ahsha Safai, Ross Karimi, and Bahador Hariri, who are experienced in this sort of thing and do it a lot. Only, they normally do it for non-Iranian communities.

Our only problem now is a time and a place or places to have a meeting, how to pay for advertising it over the next 90 days, in order to make sure everyone who can come, has time to make arrangements to come.

Which brings us to the subject of funding.

Finding sufficient funds to do this kind of community stuff is always tough. Just ask anyone who has tried it. Where the Benevolent Tyrants (see Lesson 1) seem to go wrong is in the assumption that unpaid volunteers and every other cog in the wheel of putting together an event, is to be had for free. But let's face it, anything done the right way, costs! And especially, people's time, is not free. Even after work, even on the weekends.

Something reasonable, like what an average American would be paid to do the same thing, needs to be included in the budget. This is not the time to cut costs and sacrifice quality. The "usual way" only results in low-end delivery and execution, typical of the many poorly planned events we have all witnessed. The "usual way" only guarantees low turn out, bad locations, not enough time to let everyone know about it, angry exhausted volunteers, who treat the visitors badly, with the obvious final result of poor to none.

The "usual way" is well-intentioned people hitting up the wealthy Iranians (usually at a party they've gotten themselves invited to somehow) with their best poor, sad, and pious expressions, and then they will do every taarofi thing but outright ask for the money to put on the event, they've got cooking in their heads. Precisely because it's at a party, they are almost always denied, occasionally they are given paltry amounts that are never enough, yet are promptly misspent, and sometimes even "misplaced".

I have spoken to several wealthy Iranians (by the way, with huge sums ready and waiting for us to spend wisely), and bluntly asked them the apparently un-askable question. "What do you need to see in order to fund something that would benefit the community?" Their response is so logical, that I'm not even going to mention it just now. Instead I'll pause here, and ask you, that if you can't imagine what the obvious simple answer was, then you don't deserve to read the rest of this, better you should simply go onto the next article, something about what the US foreign policy should do about the Iranian foreign policy, or just wring your hands and dwell some more on the prospect of "the next coming war between US and Iran", or worse another diatribe about how demeaning "The 300" was. Yawn!

What? Still here? Wow! Looks like you are actually interested in this! Well I can't say I'm surprised. Because it turns out, that what the wealthy Iranians want, is simply to be sure that the community really wants the thing they are being asked to fund for them. And frankly, they don't trust the usual suspects who always hit them up fro ill-conceived, poorly planned, and worse executed ideas. And they want to see a well thought out, rational and realistic (not unrealistically optimistic) business plan. And it doesn't necessarily have to even be all that optimistic!

So we have another problem (Gosh! So many problems! I thought this was going to be the simple part!), a dilemma really, I'll even give it name. Let's call it the "Daleer's Dilemma", for lack of any term at all. The "Daleer's Dilemma" on the positive side of the Benevolent Tyrant, is when you've got this great idea you think would be really great to do for the community (if there was one), that needs money to deliver. The other side of the dilemma is that you won't be able to get the money, because you're not actually qualified to execute the idea. Even though it was yours, even though it's a good idea. It's called the cruelty of life. Sometimes you don't get to have your way just because you really want to.

From the perspective of the wealthy, it certainly now appears that their "Daleer's Dilemma" is that they are sitting in their gold plated palaces, just dying to give away large amounts of their wealth, but the problem is they just can't seem to find a project, or a team that is worthy enough, or properly run, that has a good plan, that ever meets their high expectations of excellence. Call it an unreasonable expectation, given who's usually at the helm of these Benevolent Tyrant-driven projects, but Hey! It's what they want! And the super-rich are used to getting what they want. Or in our case, not getting what they want.

So being Semej, I'll continue to deconstruct this problem, and I'll argue onward.

My BIG question is, how can we ever show the wealthy, a project that the community wants, unless the wealthy fund the initial meeting to ask the community what they actually want? More dilemma.

It is obvious and apparent therefore, that the wealthy must fund this "Town Hall Meeting". I'm talking all of it. There is no room to test how much of it they should pay for and how much the community as some have proposed in the past. That test of loyalty is far too premature at this stage of growth. The advertising, the locations, flyer printing, volunteers, and especially the tea and shirini! All need to be bought by the rich. They are after all, the only ones who don't need the money, or the fame, and therefore could provide the precise motive-less modus operandi for enabling such a meeting. OK, I guess you can always use more fame. But other than that, it makes sense right?

The risk to the rich? Not one thing. The potential for everyone? Immense. That the Town hall meeting will finally begin an organized process that will provide them and everyone else with the answers they have been dying to learn. Namely,

What does the community want to do? How do they want to fund it? How do they intend to run it?

It is obvious that once this meeting happens, it could very well lead to the kinds of answers all of us have needed, and more importantly the kinds of community bonding that all of us crave, and know in our hearts is there. The opposite of the stereotypical Iranian individual play and selfish individualism, that has, and I'll say it right now, yes, plagued us. Sure we've won a lot compared to most, but we're also missing out on something very important along this path, that I'm not even sure, we've chosen.

I say we go for it. I know that I for one, would not miss that first meeting for the world. Comment
PARTS (2) (1)

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