San Pedro Sula We had weathered another difficult annual general meeting of Honduras ACORN midway between Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. It was a difficult three-hour session as the leadership tried to navigate the legal requirements and the election of officers.
The biggest issue was the classic one: power sharing to allow the organization to grow. Even if one organization on the local level is larger than others, how do they have the vision to allow the voting strength to be equal in order to give everyone a voice in the organization and a way to incorporate expansion.
This was an issue at the early days of ACORN’s growth in the US, where ACORN’s first president Steve McDonald played the critical role. Arkansas with 5000 members dwarfed the fledgling organizations in South Dakota, Texas and elsewhere. Had they insisted on representation based on membership, they would have blocked off the prospects of national organization as these organizations and other affiliates grew stronger. Under his leadership we weathered the storm in Arkansas as the national organization grew and the headquarters shifted to New Orleans. Harold Medlock from Hanger Hill and the leaders of the John Barrow group towards the west, finally realizing that all the shots could not be controlled by Arkansas leaders attempted a rearguard coup of sorts that was resisted by the majority though we lost some good long-time leaders in the process.
Something of the same dynamic was at work with the large Choloma group trying to take the largest share of board and officer positions and only begrudgingly accepting two leaders from Tegucigalpa. The debate focused on what the system would be. Would there be one leader from each district or would it be by validated membership numbers? There was progress in the debate with some partial compromises, but much of the real argument was pushed off for another year.
I came back exhausted from the drive and the meeting. Chills made me think it was a touch of flu. I took a nap. I ate dinner early. I didn’t feel well at all. No matter how careful I am on foreign travel, don’t tell me I had messed up again! Foolishly, I held off on taking Imodium. At dawn there was no doubt I was in the grips of something bad, unable to eat, and hold anything down in my stomach or anywhere else, as both the north and south side erupted. It was bad. I looked at my printed reservation. It had double printed. In my haze I felt lucky to find the plane was not until 2:35 pm, so if I could get stronger and stay out of bed for a minute, I could pack and shower and leave the hotel by 11:30. Trust me on this, I barely made it to the airport. While turning in my car to Hertz and enduring their delays, I heard my name on the airport loudspeaker calling me immediately to the gate. I ran for the credit card receipt, and then the plane, but didn’t make it. The gate was closed. Last flight of the day on United. More waiting, and sick as a dog, I drug myself to an American flight through Dallas with a connection to New Orleans landing after 11PM.
The exotic attraction of travel and global organizing is sometimes not all we might pretend it to be.