Once again, Citizens for Global Solutions is renewing its mission and reaffirming its values. In the last few years, the world has become smaller. Americans are much more aware of events abroad, especially those that news media and anyone with a cell phone reports in real time.
This is both an opportunity and a challenge. It is an opportunity for Americans to engage constructively with the world on both a social network level and on governmental levels. It is a challenge because Americans typically like the quick fix, whether it be quarterly profits or overseas military interventions.
At the same time, the daily news feed makes it increasingly clear that no quick fix that will enable the establishment of democratic processes in large and increasingly important areas of the world. Although the World War II victory of the democratic western countries led people at the time to perceive their institutions as universally applicable and desirable, the increasingly developed and assertive societies in Asia, Africa, and the middle east are espousing other solutions.
This process is repulsive in many ways to Americans. Countries around the world, including our own, contravene customary international law and treaties when it is convenient. It is apparent to most people that the historic commitment of Citizens for Global Solutions to establish conditions under which democratic world federation can take place will not be a quick process It is not even clear how political processes to work toward international institutions will be established in the US, let alone in other countries.
Yet institutional funders more than ever are committed to outcome measures and demonstrated results. Not only must programs be conducted, they have to be assessed and outcome metrics developed; that itself takes substantial design and financial resources. We will have to focus our future efforts on manageable projects with achievable and demonstrable results, though not necessarily legislative or elective ones. There are educational goals and policy research projects that CGS programs can realistically achieve in ways that the public and policymakers can accept and embrace, and that donors will support.
So how does Citizens for Global Solutions work toward its historic long-term commitment to world federation while delivering relevant intermediate and empirically demonstrable accomplishments? That is one of the challenges that we will be addressing in our planning process.
We have started the planning process by getting to know each other as CGS members. We have individuals with extraordinary accomplishments and knowledge on our Board of Directors and in our active membership. In order for CGS to benefit from their presence, we are learning to appreciate and listen to their perspectives.
For the past four months, the Women’s Caucus at CGS has sponsored a comprehensive series of interviews and meetings of board members and a few others. On November 21st , they delivered a report identifying the themes underlying the concerns and perceptions of the interviewees. This will be an integral part of the subsequent planning process, not to mention the cooperative relationships that have developed as a result of their work.
The next stage in the planning process is visioning, both what CGS members aspire for the world to look like as a result of CGS activities and alternate visions for our own organization, but also the values that we want to represent and showcase in the process. This began a month ago and hopefully will be completed in December at a two-day meeting of the Strategy Committee to be held in Chicago, to which all members of the Board and senior staff are invited. We will carry this forward in January with an in-person retreat of the Board of Directors in Washington to formulate a renewed mission for CGS given our history, competing and complementary organizations, and the current fundraising and political environment.
Subsequently, we will design and target strategies with achievable goals and designated responsibilities to flesh out the plan. We will also design the structure and processes of the Board of Directors that will enable sound decisions to be made and continuously adjusted in the light of experience.
We look forward to the participation of CGS’s membership and active supporters in this process. In a sense, we must keep alive the hope of finding a better way to do things in the world.