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Long Stewardship

Hilary of Serendip

©2004, Hilary Powers

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I wrote this for use as occasional filler for T.I. It ran only once, in #96; Fall ’90—and I gather from the number of awkwardly routed letters we continued to get that a lot of people DIDN’T clip it out and post it over their desks....


1. WRITE TO ONE PERSON AT A TIME. Find the corporate officer responsible for the area you’re concerned about, and address that officer personally. If there is a larger group who need to know what you’re saying, list them at the bottom of that letter, and send copies of it to them. If the officer doesn’t provide a satisfactory solution, write to the Board member listed as “ombudsman” for that office, sending a copy of this letter to the officer as well as to anyone you sent copies to before.

2. SEND THE CORPORATE SECRETARY A COPY OF ANYTHING YOU SEND A BOARD MEMBER. She will distribute the letter to the rest of the Board, so they can start thinking about the problem in case it becomes something they have to deal with. (Include her on the copy list at the bottom of the letter!)

3. DON’T MAKE ANYONE SIGN FOR YOUR MAIL! Self-addressed return postcards are a much better way to find out that a letter has arrived; they’re cheap, and they don’t irritate the recipient by forcing a special trip to the Post Office.

4. NEVER BLAME ANYTHING ON MALICE THAT COULD BE DUE TO BAD LUCK. The Board and Corporate Officers intend to answer every letter. Some letters get lost in the mail or around the house. Others don’t have return addresses. If you don’t get an answer within a month, write again. Try to take a cheerful and patient tone, but point out that you’ve written before. Make sure there’s a good return address on the letter itself, as well as on the envelope. If you don’t get an answer, write again, and double-check the outgoing address. Then try a different target. But don’t wait a year and then complain about the delay—lost is lost, and all those extra months are part of the same problem, not new problems in themselves.

5. TRY CLOSE TO HOME FIRST. Remember that the corporate staff can’t give you anything but advice and background information until you’ve made a serious attempt to clear up the situation on your own. If you’d like more advice on getting action on a problem, there’s an article called “Channels of Complaint and Appeal” in the Society’s Organizational Handbook that will help you get started. (AFTERTHOUGHT: This point can’t be over-emphasized. You must give your local, principality, and kingdom officers a chance to help you—and you must give their advice a fair hearing—even if you’re certain they won’t do anything. You really don’t know whether or not you’ll get help until you try. And the Society officers have got to bounce anything that hasn’t been been through this process, because it would be unwarranted interference in kingdom affairs to take it up prematurely.)

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