The Friendly Society of the Filk Community

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pocketnaomi wrote in filk_friendly
This is the organizational list for the Filkers' Friendly Society, which is my arbitrary name for what can be renamed at the members' discretion when we've got a definite group of members. For now, what we have are a lot of people who are interested in organizing a mutual benevolent association of some sort, within the filk community, to help each other through these difficult economic times in some kind of organized way which ensures that those who give support when they can, will also receive support in their turn when they need it. As a community, we have done wonders for some of our members who had horrible emergencies that would have been financially devastating without the outpouring of support from the group. We're good at that. What we have not done so far, because it wasn't necessary, was to organize that to make sure that nobody fell through the cracks. That's what I want to do now.

The overall structure, as I've envisioned it, is pretty simple: a group of households (can be individuals, families, multi-family clusters, what-have-you) commit, in writing, to help support each other in times of economic catastrophe for a minimum period of X years. It needs to be longitudinal because that way each household has opportunity both to be able to help others and maybe in need of help themselves. Otherwise it becomes a charity, and that isn't the purpose; the purpose is to address the worries of people who, however momentarily secure they may be, are aware that in the current climate of economic and health-care uncertainty, there's no telling whether or when they may need to be on the receiving end.

There are a lot of questions attached to this. Do we want to have regular dues and fund members' emergencies out of that, or a system of levies when an emergency arises or just a system of publicizing and accepting voluntary contributions? How do we decide what constitutes an emergency which qualifies for assistance? Who can join? Who holds onto the money? What happens if someone wants to leave? Do we want to do anything else in the spectrum of the work that such societies have sometimes done (which include charitable activities as a group, fundraising through members' donated talents or services for supplementing emergency funds, buying medical or life insurance on a collective basis and passing the savings on to members or even fully self-insuring, barter-coupons for services or goods among members, direct service/aid offered among members, such as taking sick members to doctor appointments, and a half a hundred other things I haven't studied up on yet)?? And how do we legally organize ourselves to make all of the decisions we make about the previous questions hold up when challenged... because no matter how well we like each other going in, they sometime will be?

This forum is, for now, where I invite people to raise, discuss, and get creative about those and other questions. Welcome!

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Well, I'm interested.

I see that a lot more people have signed up to <LJ-jargon="watch"> this community than to <LJ-jargon="join"> it. I just applied to join it, but as I understand it, at this point that means joining the discussion rather than committing to joining the inchoate society.

Correct. Joining the LJ community does not commit you to joining the group when we form it, it only indicates that you're interested in helping to talk out what we'd like it to be.

What you saw was probably partly a lag between people signing up and getting their requests to join approved.

A lot of requests came in overnight. I approved them as soon as I got back to my computer and saw them.

I joined and am willing to help, do whathaveyou...

As things unfold/come together we shall sort it all out...never fear, there's a Virgo here! *winkz*

I have been occupied with many other things, but I am here to listen and to help as I can.

Note that you have people here from at least three non-US countries. This could make anything legal ... interesting. It might be that we could end up with separate groups on a country basis at least for administration (or perhaps "political unit" in the case of Europe if we have sufficient harmonisation of laws there).

This is not a criticism, it's just something of which to be aware if we get some differences of opinion and law, and in particular to note that we don't always use the same terminology (having seen several arguments between people saying the same thing but using different words). I hope that we do get more people from other countries involved (from a risk point of view, it dilutes the risk, and from what I've seen most of us don't differentiate based on country, we're all 'family'). On an informal basis I see no problem, there's PayPal and the like to transfer money as many do already, it's making it a legal organisation which might get sticky (international tax law? Just Say No!).

Yeah, I'm aware of that. Like you, I really hope for people from many different countries, because it means less likelihood that everyone will be in trouble at the same time. But it may have to be a legal organization in one country with "auxiliary membership" or something from other countries -- which grants all the same rights and responsibilities as regular membership but is fiddled to manage the legalities. I don't know. This is what we need a lawyer for, to set things up.

The scarcest resources are usually time and money. Therefore, look for opportunities to save time (such as by doing things that could benefit many people at once) or money (such as barter, favors, non-cash donations, etc.). Those will boost effectiveness and participation.

In particular, I'd suggest that people take advantage of the filk aspect. Benefit concerts are a traditional way of raising money. An "online benefit concert" could involve people donating some of their albums for sale, with proceeds going to the Friendly Society's help fund. Get people involved in writing and singing filk songs whose subject matter is relevant to relief efforts -- think of things like "The Day It Fell Apart" and "Paper Sea" by Leslie Fish. (If anyone wants to filk some of my lyric poetry, please get in touch with me. "The Cuckoo's Song" and "Come Midwinter at Carter Hall" are humorous songs about romantic mishaps and babies, for starters.) A list of "what to filk at a benefit concert" might be helpful.

Heck, you could probably do a lot of good just by asking members to mention the Friendly Society in their regular concerts; if they do even one song it would raise awareness a lot.

(Deleted comment)
Thank you for reminding me I even posted this. My life turned on its head six months later, and I entirely forgot about this group. I'm going to start working on it for real now; we can do this.

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