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Tag Archive for 'Anu'

So long, and thanks for the fish

Also posted in: ambassador’s public

It’s finally time to let go of all my remaining ties to volunteering in CouchSurfing, a few words about the why, if you will…

It wasn’t a bad year (1) In fact, it was a very good year. How often do you get a chance to see the world, settle down a bit in places, work for the things you believe in and meet the people you’ve been craving to meet all your life?

I’m still coming to terms with my feelings of this year, and CS more specifically. There’s a strong component of unjust treatment, and many questions which are to date not answered. I could probably write a book about all this but this will have to wait until a later date (you might want to check here in the near future though ;) (2)

There’s definitely some anger: after all, I started doing CS work after already been burned once in a volunteering setting (3) and for this reason really did not want or need a second similar experience. However, I got one. What makes me angry is not the “wasted time” itself, it’s more the fact that had I known the fundamental attitudes (4, 5) of the leadership a year ago, I would probably not have started volunteering to such an extent – my anger is more directed towards concealing these attitudes (with lack of real communication there was no way of telling what the admins were thinking) rather than having them in the first place – for at least it would have offered an opportunity for me to choose if these were the kinds of people I’d like to work with (or as it seems, for). This by now almost feels like purposeful deception to lure in willing volunteers (6).

There’s also sadness: thinking of what might have been, the possibilities for creating real difference, all in vain. And not because people, the community didn’t want it, they were ready to take CS to the next level, to decentralize (7) along with the mission crafted up after the big crash of 2006 (7, 8 ) to create a better world, one couch at a time. No, it was the attitudes of the leaders, lack of any real communication by them, lack of meaningful, respectful dialogue with the community or even volunteers who are actively striving to make things better that stopped (sometimes even reversed) (9) the momentum of the community to decentralize itself. I also feel sad that this potential of the community was never recognized by those in power and that corporate structures, top-down management and weeding out all possibility to self-organize were seen as the only way to go forward – where’s the space for diversity, more bohemian attitudes towards life and independent thinking that are very present in the spirit of this community?

But there’s (always?) a silver lining: if it wasn’t through CS, it would have probably taken me years longer to find the people I connected and hope to continue working with (some, though by means not all ;) of them here: 10,11) to create a better world, one whatever (Line of code? Guest bed? Idea? Freedom?) at a time!

I’d like to thank all the great people I have worked with and met on my 21st century version of the”Grand Tour” (11). Regardless of my issues with the leaders at the moment, I believe the rest of you are still good people and deserve far more credit and appreciation than what you’re given now.

Finally, just a fair warning from someone who cares about all of you: please keep your eyes open before jumping in the deep end with CS or if you’re there already, and don’t stop asking the questions (13) in case there’s something worrying you…

Goodbye, and happy surfing,

9. (original) (backup)

My last post to CS

I agree. I’m also Anu’s #1 fan :)

And I thought I was! :)

Although I have moved on to support the hospitality movement through, where a true democracy exists and no one is making money off the generosity of others, where volunteers are respected and treated with honesty and fairness by other volunteers acting as leaders with the consent of the community, I sometimes check in at CouchSurfing to see what my friends are up to and to check on the community I love and gladly worked for as a full-time volunteer until it was led away from the CS 2.0 vision by the current management.

Not well, I would say.

I feel that trying to influence the power elite of CS is futile through any other than legal means, but I feel compelled to speak up on behalf of Anu.

I worked very closely with her for more than six months. During this time, she demonstrated excellent qualities of self-motivation, leadership, responsible communication, and technical competence. But more impressive was her tireless devotion to the community, always advocating for it, always nurturing it, always defending it (even with anger at times). And above all, most impressive was her direct honesty and integrity.
She was the obvious choice for Tech Team leader, in the minds of Kasper and I, and I believe she had the support of Joe by that time. We were the 4 core volunteer developers who together did the bulk of the technical work on this website during most of the year following the Montreal Collective, where CS 2.0 was launched.

Anu was blacklisted by the CS elite, and passed over as leader of the Tech Team. After many months of devoted work on behalf of the community, the wishes of the Tech Team on this matter were completely ignored, not even consulted.

Anu has been unappreciated and treated with disrespect. This is unconscionable. Myself and other volunteers of the Tech Team were mislead and treated with disrespect.

When I resigned as a volunteer, I had strong suspicions about the motives of the CS elite, but I gave them what benefit of the doubt I could and was willing to support CS as a corporation providing a service to the hospitality community. After what I have seen and what has come to light since, no longer can I support it under the current management.

Casting dispersions on Anu’s integrity is going too far. She deserves an apology.

Calling people who gave heart and soul to this community, but now feel mislead and betrayed by the CS elite, and are angry about it, “CS-haters”, is reprehensible.

This is in the style of the Bush administration, which brands all critics of its policies “unpatriotic“.

Let me out of here. I’m deleting my profile.


Appreciation of Culture

I can’t let Anu’s announcement pass by without an expression of appreciation of Anu and the culture she represented, much to my own personal enrichment.

When Anu visited me some weeks ago, we went to a bakery named “Sweet Finnish” in Boston, and met the Finnish owner. I got to hear a short conversation in Finnish for the first time. The owner had set up a posterboard with pictures and factoids about Finland. Very well done, and very interesting to me, considering its emphasis. Here are some quotes:

In 1906, Finland became the first country in the world to adopt universal suffrage that not only gave women the right to vote, but also run for office

Finland is one of 10 countries in the world that has a women president chosen by direct popular vote.

Independent since 1917, Finland is the only country in Europe that has never had a king or an aristocracy.

Finnish teenager’s skill in math, science and reading were rated the best among the 40 countries assesed in 2004. Education is free from Kindergarted to higher education including Medical and Law School.

Finland was ranked the most competitive economy in the world.

Finland was, for the 3rd year in succession, rated the least corrupt country in the world by Transparency International.

The openeness and transparency of Finland’s companies were ranked the highest in the world.

Linus Torvalds developed the Linux operating system while studying at the University of Helsinki.

Linux was the only serious competitor to Microsoft Windows.

Unlike Microsoft, Torvalds made his operating system open source and available free of charge.

Many consider Linux more secure and reliable than windows.

(All this — in a Finnish bakery! Makes me want to live there, except for the cold winters.)

This was so interesting because it suggests how Anu may have acquired some of her enlightened qualities and principles (though surely she’s much more than merely a product of her culture), and why ultimately, volunteering for CS (under the current management) turned out to no longer be right for her. They are against democracy, have strongly favored secrecy over transparency, and have taken a stand against open-source.

Perhaps the CS management should send a delegation to Finland and tell them democracy can’t work, since it’s known to crush minorities. That it is impractical and dangerous to let citizens vote for their leaders — only chaos can result. They might also want to inform Linus Torvalds that open-source is a dangerously insecure way to develop software. American corporate culture, Bill Gates-style, is the way to go. (Although, word is, even Microsoft is starting to explore open-source possibilities).

People that think like this couldn’t possibly fully appreciate the tremendous gift Anu was to the CS community and the hospitality movement in general. But some of us know better, and we hope she doesn’t let their lack of understanding and appreciation for her, personally, and the excellent Finnish cultural qualities she brought with her, to weigh on her.


Usual suspects

Being off the grid has its benefits ;) however I couldn’t help but responding to the thread below – where “negativity” is once again being shut down and anyone who is even remotely associated with “heretic” views is actively being marginalized.

“as apparently one of “them”… all I have to say I have said elsewhere (see below).

For a quick read (online time is scarce these days) I can’t help but agreeing with Pickwick – this call for positivity is starting to sound a bit too cult-like to me. Also, how can you claim you know “those guys” hate CS? Have you actually talked with them about why they volunteered for CS in the first place? What aspects of CS they do enjoy, and why? Have you asked why they stuck by while being treated like shit? Would you have done the same, if received the same treatment, repeatedly?

For me personally, I would have left long ago IF I didn’t care about what this community still stands for for me. The fact that I’m still somewhat involved (the thread is getting thinner, just in case you haven’t noticed) is because I still have all the faith in the community, if not the leadership.

PS. yes it IS starting to feel like a waste of my time to keep kicking this particular dead horse, so perhaps you can all “be positive” soon enough :P (thankfully there are other projects where some critical thinking is actually welcome, and responded to with due respect, and where *gasp* even Kasper’s input is more than appropriate!)
Current opinion of CS:
It’s an adventure machine, and a world full of friends I haven’t met yet! I cherish the CS community, which is full of amazing people and hope to meet many more of them on the remaining paths of my trip.

BUT after a year of volunteering I can say I’m not happy of the current events: seeing CS disregarding its culturally diverse member base (with a non-American majority) and entertaining values of the American corporate culture. Although my belief in the community itself is strong, I don’t share this view on the way CS is currently lead. Feel free to disagree, or take the red pill……
Anu Aug 15th, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Along the same lines here – for me it was never about open source (though by seeing the most recent standpoints of CS, I do tend to agree more and more with OCS views), but about overall fairness and openness in policies and decision-making. So I would not just blindly jump onto HC or any other organization that does not actively address these issues.”

Announcing The CouchSurfing Leadership Team

Great! Finally! Some tangible (public) information about the Leadership Circle! Mattthew started articles on the CS wiki about the Leadership Team and the Leadership Qualities. I will refrain myself from any comments, since I won’t do any better than Anu:

How about these?

  • Ability for respectful conflict resolution through confrontation rather than avoidance
  • Ability for open, direct and sincere dialog with the community
  • Ability to take in and reflect upon constructive criticism and act on it accordingly
  • Ability to operate in a multi-cultural environment, actively realizing the mission of inter-cultural understanding in accepting varying communication styles and other differences stemming from diverse cultural backgrounds
  • Ability to operate in a largely virtual organization

… then I went to sleep for a couple of hours.
When waking up I was surprised to see that:

To create a bit of balance I then started the Dissident Team.