As I’ve discussed on episode #306 of TGA, my ideas of forming a group include a number of core principles. Each of these, by the way, is open to debate and discussion, though I think you’ll agree they form a good set of guidelines for the organization:
Transparency: Creepy organizations have hidden dogmas, closely guarded secrets, and everything is done behind closed doors. This is because of their sinister nature. The way to avoid this is by making the organization transparent. As the organization grows financially as well, openness will avoid corruption and the misappropriation of funds, while creating a positive environment of trust and openness.
Humor: I’ve yet to encounter a serious cult that doesn’t take itself way too seriously. Humor is a litmus test of sanity, which explains why satire and ridicule seem so dangerous to large and powerful cults, like the Catholic Church. Humor is an inoculation against the sacred or the holy.
Limited size: When organisations are small, you benefit from the creativity and energy of people. But as these things grow, they become increasingly difficult to manage, and combined with increased power and money, is an easy breeding ground for corruption. The size is roughly “2 Dunbars”, the cognitive limit of people you can manage at any given time.
Encourages People to leave: unlike weird cults who pressure you to stay, The 300 would actively encourage people to leave if they felt others would better fill that role. The purpose of limiting the number is to ensure everyone who is there wants to be there, is enthusiastic, and has found a good place among the group.
Values open dialog: TGA has never censored anyone on the site. Ever. There may come a time when that is needed (if someone becomes too aggressive or threatening), but within the membership, I cannot imagine a worse situation than people resorting to censorship. The 300 cannot be composed of only similarly minded people, lest it suffer from group polarization. I fear people who agree with me too much! There must always be a part of them who disagree and help balance our own opinions.
It has to be fun: I felt this was the biggest gap in the atheism scene, especially after watching Blues Brothers (essentially a “Catholic” movie). In the old days, church had to be a spectacle to wow the masses and entertain them. Why else would they bother to learn parlor tricks? The point is, I want The 300 to feel like paying 1.25 a week to be well worth it. And my hope is that they value it enough to increase it if they feel I deserve it. I will leave it up to them to determine my salary, since the projects I produce will go to the organization they will be a part of.
People Choose their Own Roles: keeping in mind that we need a minimum of 80% of members to be funders, it still leaves plenty of room for individuals to try and find a role in the organization. 15% need to work on building the organization: structure, organization, fundraising, event planning. 5% need to be collaborators, working on projects in order to fund new projects. For instance, to start the comic project, we would need to sell roughly 5 books a day.
Members, be sure to leave your thoughts!