Does the FGNA have free and fair elections?

Several weeks ago a friend told me that there was a discussion happening at the Guild over what to do about a group of Anat Baniel’s students who were petitioning to join the FGNA. Intrigued by what might be happening, I spent some time trying to track down someone who could tell me more.

I contacted several people via email. The first person* (see note at end of post) that I talked to told me that it was not Anat’s students who wanted to join the Guild but Mia Segal students. I then contacted someone who said that, no, it was not about Mia or Anat’s students joining the guild, but a discussion of what would happen if some of Mia’s “new” students did want to join.

Apparently, Mia Segal is planning a training in the U.S. and the FGNA Board of Directors instigated a discussion over what would happen if these new U.S. students wanted to join the guild. (I have been unable to confirm if she is indeed planning a U.S. practitioner training.) For those of you who do not know, Mia Segal was part of the original group of Israelis that Moshe Feldenkrais used to try and systematically train people with his ideas. For many years, Mia has been conducting her own trainings, independent of any of the Feldenkrais Guilds.

Who Does the American Guild Represent?

As I considered the various bits of information that I had gathered, I began to wonder a bit about the Feldenkrais Guild of North America. Who does it represent? From what I can discern, the conversations above were being conducted amongst the FGNA board of directors and a group of Feldenkrais trainers, many of whom live overseas. I found this to be odd.

Why were the trainers being consulted? What role do they have in formulating guild policy? I was under the impression that the FGNA is a member-financed organization. By all accounts, the guild derives 80% or more of its revenue from membership dues, yes? If you are a member, you have been paying $375 or more per year in membership dues. If this is the case, why are members not directly consulted in matters related to who can join the Guild? Why does the FGNA board of directors reach out first to the trainers? Are they the ones paying the bills or are you?

Who Elects the FGNA Board?

I began to wonder what mechanisms have been set-up at the Guild to represent members. You may believe that FGNA has a board of directors directly elected by its membership.

It doesn’t.

If you have been paying attention to InTouch and other Guild publications you may have noticed that each year, the board positions are never contested. That is, each “election year” you get a ballot that only has one name per slot. You can confirm the name, but you don’t have the option of choosing between two or more people. Why is that? Perhaps, you have heard the story that “not enough people want to serve”?

I’m not sure that’s accurate. I’m not aware of any outreach campaigns that the guild has done to encourage participation. Are you? When was the last time that anyone asked you to serve? Do you know how to be “elected” to the Board of Directors?

How to (Not) Serve on the FGNA Board.

Let me tell you my own story of trying to serve. In 2007, the President-Elect was Michael Purcell. After having a conversation with him about the board, board business and current make-up, he told me that to serve, I would need to contact the “nominating committee.” I called the chair of that committee (I believe it was the current chair, Nancy Schumaker, though I do not quite remember) and told her of my desire to run. After several days and apparently after consulting with the rest of the committee, she told me “no”. That is, she told me that I could not run for a position on the board.

Why? Two reasons. The person I would be running against was supposedly in the midst of some big fundraising or other outreach project. I have no idea what the project was. And secondly – this really blows my mind – I was told that my running for that position might be seen as a referendum on the person I would be running against. Meaning that if I ran, the current person serving might take it personally. Interesting, isn’t? We certainly wouldn’t want to take a chance that an election might hurt someone’s feelings!

Who is in Charge at FGNA?

My purpose in writing isn’t to criticize the nominating committee, the FGNA board of directors nor anyone else in the community. It would be pointless to do so. As a community, we have been down that road far too many times. It doesn’t help.

The current board, the nominating committee, and others in paid and volunteer positions do a great deal of hard work in often thankless positions. They want to help and they are trying to help. And let’s not forget that board work can be drudgery and that it takes up a great deal of time. Though the current board members and volunteers do have to take responsibility for any actions that they take, the current system predates any individual member. They didn’t design it. They didn’t create it.

The issues at hand concern the systems and process themselves and whether they support the “rank and file” practitioners who pay the bills. We are discussing whether YOU as an FGNA member have a direct say in Guild affairs and whether you have a meaningful vote. You may disagree with what I am about to write. It may offend you. Feel free to disagree. But let me state emphatically:


“You as an FGNA Member Do Not Have a Vote.”

You only have the option of voting for someone who has been pre-chosen for you. Is that a meaningful vote? No. Having only one option isn’t a choice. FGNA board members are pre-selected and chosen for you. You are given the “option” of either voting for the chosen candidate or not voting at all. It’s that simple.

You disagree? Fine. Give me an example. How is the FGNA accountable to you? I’m not talking about some vague emotional idea you have that its work (or THE work) is important. I’m talking about a direct pathway that you have to effect change at FGNA and to have your voice count. Where is it? What is it?

Again, I’m NOT talking about someone saying, “We hear you.” or whether you agree or disagree with certain polices. I’m asking you to look for and show me how – how specifically – you can affect policy and have your needs represented. What is the mechanism? Where is the policy? How does it work?

Elections? Tell me the last time you heard an FGNA board member telling you what he or she believed in and why you should vote for him or her. When was the last contested election? What does any current member of the FGNA board of directors stand for? What is his or her vision for the Guild? If you do not know, ask yourself why.

“Why?”

I will tell you my view. It’s not just that the current leadership has not been elected. But rather, the system is not designed for free and fair elections. The nominating committee was created to limit choice. It was created as a mechanism to make sure that no one “dangerous” can serve on the board. That is, anyone perceived as being too radical or not fitting the mold, can simply be told, “No, you can’t run for election.” For what other purpose would the committee be created?

Some may think it’s a good thing to limit choice. That’s fine. Perhaps they don’t trust practitioners to run their own ship. Perhaps there are voices in the community that they don’t want represented. Perhaps there are ideas that they don’t want considered. Voices that they don’t want heard. Perhaps they think the system is fine the way it is. I don’t really know.

But what I do know is that without an awareness of, and engagement with, the process itself, nothing can change. As Moshe said and demonstrated many times:

“…as you become aware of what you are actually doing, you can correct it. Before you become aware of the mistake, someone else can tell you a hundred times and it doesn’t help.” (From the Esalen workshop, session #13, head turning)

Are you aware of what you are actually doing in your interactions with the guild? Are you an active agent? Are you being heard? Can you effect change?

Only you can answer.

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Note: *Because the community is so small, protecting the identity of people who do not want to be named is very difficult. For this reason, I am not going to name gender, institutional affiliation and the like. I realize that this may limit the credibility of my writing and the facts written. But ce la vie. I can say that everyone that I spoke to for this blog post was in a position to know about the topics at hand.

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22 thoughts on “Does the FGNA have free and fair elections?

  1. Holly Bonasera

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for another well-thought out and provoking opinion on the FGNA. Although I have not served on the Board (nor been asked lol), I have had the opportunity to serve on the regional council (elected volunteer representatives of each FGNA region who get together in person twice a year, and several times on conference calls, at least when I was involved).

    The Regional Council is kinda like the house of representatives in congress. They are elected and they really do serve their constituency. The Board acts as an executive branch as they can override the recommendations of the regional council. Why can’t we replace the Board with the Council? Simply too much work. The council is overwhelmed as it is.

    It takes more hands, more volunteers, to make an improvement in this situation. From my experience, getting people to take on my region’s work is very difficult. Perhaps if more people were active in the Guild, they could ratify the changes they want and see the value of their dues. Not acting leads to disenfranchisement.

    And who are we kidding? This profession like many others has always been about who you know. Specific to our profession is whether you got on the list of trainers that did not have to satisfy the requirements that currently exceed that of a medical doctor with a surgical specialty. I have known several wonderful practitioners who tried to become trainers or assistant trainers and were shot down for reasons unknown to me.

    About why did the FGNA contact trainers, including some not in the FGNA: I think there is this potential for special treatment and cronyism among those who personally experienced the “touch of Feldenkrais.”

    I did not learn first hand from Moshe. Actually, I consider him a wise and surly grandfather who I probably would not have liked, but from whom I continue to learn. In essence, Moshe has touched all of us who have trained in the Method. I agree, we should have a voice.

    1. info@utahfeldenkrais.org

      Hi Holly – Great to see your comment, as always. I’ve often found myself grateful that I did not meet nor know Moshe personally. I love his teaching and his writing, but I like that he was distant from me. Gives me more space to develop.

      I do think my post did not give enough attention to how difficult it can be to find people to serve….and to serve long-term. I was quite burnt out after just a couple of years. But again – more outreach from FGNA would be helpful. If people believe they can truly make a difference then more would serve.

      You wrote:
      “specific to our profession is whether you got on the list of trainers that did not have to satisfy the requirements that currently exceed that of a medical doctor with a surgical specialty. ”

      Well said. We have many creative and skilled practitioners out there, who by all rights should be trainers. And need to be given the chance to train. If not through the Guild, then somewhere else. The conflict of interest on the trainer side is overwhelming. Could you imagine if you wanted to open a business, but had to get permission from the other businesses in your city before you could open?

      More that I could say, but will let this simmer for a while. If you know any pract or assistant trainers who want to talk about their experiences attempting to become a trainer, please send them my way. Would love to hear, and potentially share, their stories.

      - Ryan

  2. Violet van Hees

    Hi Ryan – Like you often do, you are stirring things up a bit. You raise some important questions, and jab at some things that warrant attention.

    In looking at what trainings/practitioners to recognize and accept as members of the Guild, I think we as a profession HAVE to get on with the challenging but I think necessary task of clarifying:

    · WHAT the essential qualities and characteristics of the Feldenkrais work are,

    · WHAT distinguishes Feldenkrais work from everything else out there, and

    · HOW we recognize and assess basic competency to do those essential things.

    These three pieces would provide a defensible framework through which to examine and make decisions about whether a particular training can reasonably be expected to provide the knowledge, skills and experience to graduate students with an appropriate basic entry level of compentency in these essential aspects of the work.

    These three pieces would also assist us in more clearly defining our profession, and to distinguish it from all the other stuff out there.

    In terms of member participation: I agree – participation matters. Yes, let’s put our focus and efforts into creating what we want and need for ourselves and our profession. Let’s each find a way to participate to create the organization we want that is lively and makes sense to us.

    I have little energy to put towards fighting and whining and getting stuck in the past; I have a lot of energy to put towards creating and doing things that inspire me and make sense to me as I move forward.

    thanks -
    Violet van Hees
    Whitehorse, Yukon

    1. nagster

      Hi Violet – Thanks for your comments. My goal in having more members would be to help make the FGNA stronger financially and in terms of diversity of opinion. And given that we seem temporarily stuck with high-priced IFF materials, we could have more people buying and sharing the burden of producing materials.

      In terms of the training and competency issue, the current “certified” trainings essentially graduate anyone who enrolls. The process is a legal one, not one of competency. If you pay your money for 4 years and “graduate” you have a legal right to use the service marks. I do not think that the current trainings guarantee a minimum level of competency. And historically, they never had to do so. The Guild simply owned the service marks and could require payment for their use. And, of course, they still do.

      My personal view, which is not likely to be popular, is that “professionalizing” the work degrades it. Organic learning does not adhere to a time frame, no matter how well meaning nor intended. Moshe spoke to this idea over and over again in his writings. The current system is like an academic one. It require and rewards those who conform to the dictates of those who can certify them.

      That’s my two cents. Sorry if my reply is short or vague. I am preparing some more writing on the subject for later.

      - Ryan

  3. Andrea Wiener, FGNA member

    Each year a call for nominations is published and sent to FGNA members. Any member can nominate themselves or another member. Here’s the 2009 version:
    http://www.feldenkrais.com/intouch/article/call_nominations_sp_it_2009/

    Here’s a quote:
    The Nominating Committee identifies qualified nominees for open positions, and will present them at this year’s Annual Meeting on August 4, 2009. If you are interested in serving, or know of potential candidates for these positions, please contact FGNA or a member of the Nominating Committee: Nancy Schumacher (Chair), Karen Boyd, Pamela May Rosa Murgnhan, and Cathy Paine.

    Nominations may also be made by any voting member at the Annual Meeting, or through the FGNA office. Nominations close 10 days after the Annual Meeting, August 14, 2009, at 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time. In order to have their names appear on the ballot, nominees must consent to serve and submit a completed Nomination Form.

    Sincerely,
    Andrea Wiener
    FGNA member

    1. nagster

      Thanks for the link Andrea. I don’t specifically remember getting emails soliciting nominations, but it’s possible that I have gotten them and forgotten.

      The passage that you quote doesn’t specify the role of the nominating committee and why it exists. Based on my own experience, it seems that it is the nominating committee who ultimately decides who can run. Any member may nominate someone, but the nominating committee will decide if that person can actually run.

      The question becomes how do they make that decision and upon what rules. Are they published? And secondarily why have a committee to begin with. What mechanism would it serve other than to limit who can run?

      FGNA practitioners should have the right to nominate and vote for whomever they choose. It is a simple, basic right and would go a long way towards creating a system of accountability.

      Thanks again. – Ryan

  4. Andrea Wiener, FGNA member

    Hi Ryan,

    The call for nominations is published annually in In Touch. Practitioners do have the right to nominate, and these nominations are not subject to approval of nominating committee. The nominating committee does not have the power to ultimately decide who can run. Bylaws approved by the membership define the role of the nominating committee. I know bylaws have been distributed to members in the past. I don’t know the current process. Perhaps someone else can answer. Good question.
    BYLAWS ARTICLE 11. NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS
    11.1 Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee shall consist of 5 members: 3 elected by the membership for a three-year term, one rotating each year; and 2 appointed by the Nominating Committee for a two-year term, one rotating each year. Anyone intending to run for office cannot serve on the nominating committee, except that nominating committee members may seek reelection to that committee. Vacancies in an elected position will be filled by special election. Vacancies in the appointed position will be filled by the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee shall choose its own chair and shall operate in accordance with the Nominations and Elections Protocol.
    11.2 Nomination Procedure. Nominations for elected positions will be presented at the annual meeting or at any special meeting held in lieu of the annual meeting, by the nominating committee. Nominations may also be made from the floor. Those nominated must be informed of the requirements of the position and must consent to serve. Nominations will remain open for ten (10) days after the Annual Meeting.
    11.3 Elections. The election shall be held by, internet or mail ballot for members with an email addresson file or by mail ballot for members without an email address on file,, under the direction of the Election Committee, sent within 30 days of the annual meeting, and in accordance with the Nominations and Elections Protocol.

    Glad you’re raising questions.
    Best regards
    Andrea

  5. Violet van Hees

    Hi Ryan -
    Re: “professionalizing” the work: I figure we have two main choices (with of course a bunch of variations in between):

    1) we can decide that we intend “The Feldenkrais Method” and “being a Feldenkrais Practitioner” to mean something coherent and consistent with some way for the public to know what to expect when that term is used. This describes what I mean by it being a “profession”.

    For this option to work well, we as a group have to be able to identify the essential elements of what this work is, and how it is distinct and different from everything else out there, and we need a fair and reasonable process to assess whether someone who wants to use the title of “Feldenkrais Practitioner” has basic competence in The Things That Matter.

    I agree that simply putting in the time to complete a training is not the same a competence – so I support distinguishing between finishing a training program, and a certification process through which a person demonstrates at least entry-level competence in The Things That Matter.

    2) At the far other end of our two main choices, we can decide to sign up into the Guild everyone who wants to be called a Feldenkrais Practitioner. Which would mean that the title carries no public meaning, because it can mean whatever each individual wants. If we go this route, there is no Feldenkrais Method, no profession, simply a collection of individuals who are doing their own thing. If we choose this route, let’s remove our pretenses, drop the name “Guild” (which implies a professional body) and stop using the term “Feldenkrais Practitioner” as if it means something, and set up some other kind of association instead.

    I prefer the first option, because I think there is incredible power and value in this Feldenkrais work and I support continuing to build a coherent way to have it grow – as a profession.

    thanks -
    Violet

    1. nagster

      Hi Violet – You seem to be taking a call to be more inclusive to mean that “we can decide to sign up into the Guild everyone who wants to be called a Feldenkrais Practitioner.” No one is saying that we do that. Not me nor anyone else that I have heard. I’m not sure why you would take such an extreme position, but it certainly has nothing to do with the current situation nor what I wrote.

      cheers – Ryan

  6. Nancy Schumacher

    I think Andrea has outlined the nominating and election process which has been in use for many, many years. Ryan seems from what he writes and his responses to not be totally clear about the process. No one has ever been turned away by the nominating committee unless they themselves decided not to run. We are excited to get people who want to run, and we spend countless hours phoning potential candidates. Last year we called well over 150 practitioners, none of whom could see at that point in their life or careers to run for office. Those calls were after solicitations for potential nominees in In Touch, to the Board, to the Regional Council, and to over 40 trainers and assistant trainers. Anyone who has called myself or another member of the Nominating Committee or a Board member or a regional council member or simply another member either goes up for election or is always put on a list of potential nominees to recall in future years until that individual requests not to be called again. The current list we are using dates back to 2003. None of us on the committee seem to be able to find Ryan’s name on any list of interested persons. Ryan indicates he may not have seen the several avenues of solicitations for nominations and I encourage Ryan or anyone else to suggest a better and/or additional methods to entice membership to run for office. This is a membership driven organization. Those who want to take an active, participatory role in the direction the Guild charts are encouraged to participate in its functioning by volunteering to run for the open Board positions, Grievance Board positions, and Nominating positions. Time commitment for these volunteer positions varies; for the Board, I would estimate a minimum of 5-10 hours per month, plus three-five day retreats twice a year with no or partial funding for travel and accommodations.

    1. nagster

      Hi Nancy – Thanks for your post. I had several conversations with the chair of the nominating committee in 2007, whomever it may have been. I did put my name up for consideration and was told no. If I am not on any of your lists, it is a clerical error on your end. Had I been fully committed to the idea, I would have gone to the conference and put my name up again publicly, but I had a great deal on my plate and decided not to do so.

      Thanks again for responding online – Ryan

  7. Kim

    Joseph Campbell says that when you find the Grail, you have 3 choices (my words here).
    1. You can renounce it and say it doesn’t fit your life, so you leave it and go on as you were.
    2. You can water it down for the masses so that everyone can understand it and will be drawn to it. This means that it gets changed and therefore is not what you found and is no longer special.
    3. You can guard it and savor it and only talk about it with those who are interested.

    There will be those of you who think that the guarding and savoring is not a good idea because we already have a scarcity of clients. I suggest it’s just the opposite. I was delighted the other day to find the website of Laughing Squid. They are unabashedly honest in their mission statement when they say, they aren’t very clear about what they do and they are JUST FINE with the ambiguity. But, they are clear about what is ambiguous. I found that interesting. What if we treat the ambiguity of our work as it’s strength, rather than it’s weakness. . . .

    And, with regards to the FGNA, whew . . . where do you even begin. I think what you’ve tapped into, Ryan, is that communication is difficult and has been an issue in this organization. It’s everyone’s responsibility and we’ve weathered some difficult times as a membership and as practitioners. There is always potential, however, and your questions will add to the stew that is there for the simmering.

    Kim Cottrell
    Portland, Oregon

    1. nagster

      Thanks Kim. I didn’t realize you were a fan of Joseph Campbell. I read a great deal of his stuff when I was younger. I completely ruined my life (just kidding). I think you are correct. Internet technology has changed the nature, manner and scope of communication. And in fact, has changed WHO can communicate and how. The genie is not going to go back into the bottle and hiding from it certainly won’t help, so – for better or worse – organizing organizations is tricky.

      – Ryan

  8. Violet van Hees

    Hi again – one more comment from me :-) Kim, I like your post. And what you wrote caused me to think about your comment Ryan that you think “professionalizing” degrades the work. I think that depends on how it is done.

    As I understand it (and someone please correct me if I have this wrong), it was Moshe who directed that the Guild be set up, in order to protect the integrity of what was done using his name and as a representation of his work. He supported establishing the service marks as one tool needed for that. He intended that if people say they are doing Feldenkrais work, they have enough understanding and competence to do it in a way that would appropriately represent the essential qualities and characteristics of his work.

    So, it is my understanding that Moshe himself did not see having some kind of standards and controls for those who say they are doing Feldenkrais work as the antithesis of his work or degrading his work – he saw it as necessary to support the integrity and growth of his work.

    The challenge is how to do this well, and in a practical way.

    My sense is that if we – as a collective of practitioners – become clear about the essential qualities and characteristics of what this work is that we do (with allowance for being clear about ambiguity where that is needed, following on Kim’s post above) – and how we recognize an appropriate level of competency in someone who wants to say they are a practitioner of the work, then we would be in a good position to loosen the reins more around many of the “how to do it” things, e.g. trainings, continuing education, process for becoming a trainer, etc.

    All of this, in my mind, is very much in keeping with Moshe’s teachings: If we know what we are doing, we can do what we want. There is more than one way to do things. Good organization and good action/practice has recognizable qualities and characteristics. I suggest this applies to our Guild and our profession as a whole, as much as to individuals.

    thanks -
    Violet

    1. nagster

      Hi all – Apparently, my own comments are being marked as spam, so some comments that I made yesterday or even earlier have only recently shown up. My apologies.

      Violet – To me, the origin of the Guild has less to do with what Moshe wanted and much more to deal with what his early students felt they needed to do to protect their own financial interests. The service marks were an attempt by a small few who wanted to control the work and the service marks for their own financial gain. If you or anyone else can point me to specific, verifiable information that suggests that Moshe wanted and was planning for a strong guild, I would be happy to re-consider and to re-publish it for others to view.

      I am not aware of Moshe taking specific steps to transfer the service marks to the guild. He certainly had plenty of opportunity to do so in the years prior to his death. Presumably, he had a death bed conversion in the presence of David Bersin and decided to transfer the service marks. Who am I to argue otherwise? I wasn’t there and I do not know.

      Thanks again for posting – Ryan

      By the way – Here is something to consider. In the 1970′s Moshe was teaching the Esalen workshop, yes? He was in his 70′s – 73 years old I believe. He had been working and developing his work for decades. Even so, he had not registered or trademarked his terms. To me that doesn’t sound like a man who was trying to protect his work.

  9. Violet van Hees

    My apologies if that is how what I am saying is being understood. I do not read “being more inclusive”, nor what you are saying, nor what most folks in the Feldy world are saying, to be at what I identified as “the far other end”. Which is why I called it “the far other end”. (However, I have been part of and heard of discussions that wander into the territory of “let’s stop pretending that there is a Feldenkrais Method – we’re a bunch of individuals doing our individual things with some cool stuff we’ve learned”, and that’s why I identified it as being there.)

    I agree with what I think you are advocating – it makes sense to revisit our rules and practices and see whether they need to be as tight as they are, and examine where and how we could loosen the reins – while in some way working to support the integrity and quality of the work.

    My sense is that many of our current structures and policies were set up with the expectation that the structure would generate the intended result. The numbers of practitioners were small, and the qualities and characteristics of the intended result were difficult or ambiguous to identify, so the focus was on the structure instead with the hope that those structures would Do The Job adequately.

    My proposition is that if we can now become more clear about the essential qualities and characteristics, and how we recognize it (e.g. general practitioner competency, trainer level competency, etc.), then it is easier to have more variety/freedom/inclusiveness in how to get there (training programs, trainer requirements, etc.).

    thanks -
    Violet

  10. Rob Black

    Dear Ryan,

    Your posting has come to the attention of the Board of the Feldenkrais Guild, and we thought we would like to add some information that may be helpful to you. As the Chair of the Board I would like to encourage you to contact me, or any member of the Board, or our Executive Director, Jan LaRue if you have any questions. We can give you the most accurate information.

    In your post you express a significant degree of confusion and frustration about not being aware of the directions that the Guild is going, and how it is getting there. A significant reason underlying this frustration is that you have chosen to not be a member of the Guild, and thus have not been a part of discussions with the Guild’s newsletter, InTouch, and the bi-weekly communications, FGNA News.

    As you seem to have had some difficulty finding who can give you accurate information about the Feldenkrais Guild, I thought I would give you some guidance on how to get information. If you were to reply that it is hard to find this information — I agree wholeheartedly. In fact there is a team of representatives from the Council of Regional Representatives that has been working on redesigning and reorganizing the Guild website. And one of the top priorities of the Guild this year is to actualize all this preliminary work.

    The priorities for the Feldenkrais Guild this year are as follows:

    2010 FGNA Board Priorities
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Develop an attractive and technically capable web site

    Continue to improve financial stability of FGNA

    Improve Member Service

    Improve the culture and contact of FGNA

    Support an effective process for changing training policy
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    For more information, go to: http://www.feldenkrais.com/resources/board_priorities_2010. This was sent to all members of the Guild.

    Getting information about the Feldenkrais Guild is not too difficult at present (it will be better in the future). What is valuable about these links is that you find e-mail addresses of many of the volunteers in the organization. All of us are happy to help to clarify any questions you may have.

    How to get information:
    Go to http://www.feldenkrais.com
    Click on the link, “the Profession”
    A drop-down menu appears with 5 options
    Select “About the Feldenkrais Guild of North America”

    On the left side are a number of links about the profession.
    On the right are several links about the people who participate in formal activities — the Board, the Council of Regional representatives, and Other Volunteer Positions.

    http://www.feldenkrais.com/profession/fgna/2010_fgna_board_of_directors
    All of the members of the Board of Directors, with e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.

    http://www.feldenkrais.com/profession/fgna/2010_council_of_regional_representatives
    All the representatives elected in each region, again with their telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

    http://www.feldenkrais.com/profession/fgna/2009_fgna_volunteer_positions
    Other Volunteer Positions
    This includes the Nominating Committee, the Editors of the Feldenkrais Journal, The Ethics Committee, Member Advocates, Chair of the North American Training Accreditation Board, and the National Regulation Coordinator.

    On these pages you can also access policies of the Guild:

    Professional Policies:
    http://www.feldenkrais.com/profession/professional_policies/
    Ethics Policies and Procedures
    * Code of Professional Conduct
    * The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education
    Standards of Practice
    * Ethics and Grievance Protocol

    Training Standards

    * Protocol For Changing Internationally-Approved Training Accreditation Policies And Guidelines (Including Trainer And Assistant Certification)
    * Guidelines for Becoming an Assistant Trainer
    * Overview of Process to Become a Trainer
    * International Training Accreditation Guidelines

    Regulation

    * FGNA Position on Regulation

    Service Marks

    * Canadian Service Mark Guidelines
    * U.S. Service Mark Guidelines

    For recent information, if you are a member, check your mail box for “FGNA News”, which is sent bi-weekly. Also check InTouch, the quarterly newsletter of the FELDENKRAIS GUILD® of North America. InTouch serves the Guild’s membership. In Touch reports news about the international Feldenkrais® community and serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of issues related to the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education. Go to: http://www.feldenkrais.com/intouch/ Often a scan through recent communications such as FGNA News and InTouch will help you, and, failing that, you can always contact me, or a member of the Board, the Executive Director, or members of CORR.

    I hope this will help you when you have questions about “what’s happening” and I hope you consider returning as a member in the near future.

    Best,

    Robert Black
    Chair, Board of Directors

    1. nagster

      Rob – If you would like to rephrase your post without engaging in mind reading and telling my that I am confused and frustrated, I might be willing to respond in detail. This is not the FeldyForum, please keep your comments fact-based and specifically regarding the matter at hand.

      You are the President of the FGNA. Conduct yourself accordingly.

      Thanks – Ryan

  11. Violet van Hees

    Hi Ryan. Here is a transcription from your podcast “A conversation with Bonnie Humiston”, posted May 1, 2009 (from minutes 10:55 to 11:40):

    ” … Moshe organized the Guild at the end of the San Francisco training [1977]. And he selected the original Board of Directors, and he gave his ideas about what the Guild should be doing. And he was actually the President of the Guild for those first few years. And then it was a working board that did all the work, but he was the original president. So the Guild was very much at his beck and call, so to speak, in those early years. It as officially incorporated in January 1978. But the Board began meeting in August 1977 at the end of the training program there. …”

    I would be interested to see the stated purpose of the Guild in its charter document(s) when it incorporated. And I would REALLY like to know more from those who were on the Guild Board in those years between when the Guild was established in 1977 and Moshe’s death, about (using Bonnie’s words) Moshe’s “ideas about what the Guild should be doing”.

    By the way Ryan, thanks very much for producing and making freely available all your podcasts. These are valuable. I found this particular podcast with Bonnie to be a very useful “short history” of the FGNA, the Feldenkrais Foundation (which predated the Guild and was set up by Moshe), and the IFF – with a lot of information I have never heard or seen so clearly described anywhere else.

  12. nagster

    Violet – Thanks so much for posting that! I have been thinking about listening to that podcast again. Part of my hope in provoking conversations about all this is to get more people “on record” and to do so in a way that allows others to follow along and contribute.

    The problem with the FeldyForum is that it is private and conversations tend to get lost. And the Guild website – as of yet – does not have interactivity and the ability to make comments. Plus, in my view, an organization should not be the sole repository of its own history and documents – to easy for groupthink to set in.

    Look forward to adding more later – Ryan

  13. nagster

    Violet – There is a long history here, and teasing out fact-based statements based on historical documents and not hubris and self-interest can be difficult.

    I’m slowly working my way through sources, but do not have a full understanding as of yet. I can say that there was a “Guild” and a separate “Foundation” with different origination dates and bylaws and such- and god knows what else. Moshe was angry at one organization at one time or another and, quite frankly, didn’t have the slightest idea what he was doing or what he wanted (In my opinion).

    The service marks are actually a separate issue from the guild and foundation. That is, Moshe owned the terms outright, they were in his name. The question is what his intentions were regarding them, whether he wanted to turn them over to an organization such as the guild or not.

    Anat Baniel started a lawsuit against the guild saying in part:

    “The complaint seeks cancellation based upon the Guild’s fraudulent
    registrations of the marks Feldenkrais and the Feldenkrais Method,”

    Whatever one might say for or against Anat, for or against her motivations, she is a very astute business person. I’m skeptical that she would have started a lawsuit without some evidence or way of proving her assertions. And the fact remains that the FGNA blinked and settled out of court, choosing not to affirm via court action that they did in fact own the service marks outright. Interesting choice.

    Much of this info can be found on the FeldyForum archives maintained by Ralph Strauch. Though it takes some digging

    cheers – Ryan

    (also a secondary part of Anat’s lawsuit was that the service marks had become generic.)

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