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Pandora’s Bandwidth

June 19, 2009

According to a well-placed, lil’ bitty birdy, “staff morale has tripled” recently at the Save Darfur Coalition. That’s not an insignificant increase in morale, in fact it’s a 300 percent increase! For those familiar with the organization’s constant struggles to create an even substandard organizational culture, this is a shocking but wholly welcomed step in the right direction.

I’m sure that you, intrepid reader, are pondering what could possibly be behind this drastic improvement. Is the causation an internal shift or change like more organizational consultations, more organizational culture surveys, more pep talks from leadership, more cake for employee birthday celebrations, more free booze at the staff holiday parties, more staff outings at ballparks, or maybe group electric shock aversion therapy? Tough to pinpoint.

Or, has the internal morale actually been improved by external factors like the return of humanitarian aid workers to Darfur, an end to the “coordinated” genocide in Darfur, early signs of the Obama administration’s diplomatic success in Sudan, or being mentioned by SDC’s favorite whipping boy Alex de Waal over at Making Sense of Darfur? (HINT: It’s probably definitely not the de Waal option.)

You’re not gonna believe this, but it was none of these! You, my dear reader, want the truth. You crave the truth. You need the truth. So here’s the truth. Drum roll, please. The trebling of Save Darfur Coalition staff morale was due to…more drum roll, dammit!…nothing short of…the unblocking of staff online access to Pandora Radio at the new SDC offices! Here’s the Gmail status of an ecstatic SDC employee:


Now that "morale has tripled," I'm sure we'll start to see much smarter, more effective advocacy from SDC...hahaha...I can't believe I just typed that with a straight face!

That’s right, the unblocking of an online music site is the cause celbre at the preeminent organization nominally committed to saving Darfur.

That’s the sign of a healthy genocide-fightin’ organization — shiny, happy staff be-bopping around to Tegan & Sara Radio or whatever those whacky anti-genocidaires listen to these days. Hell, you’ve got the makings of a real Darfur Dance Party…or a SDC-staged production of Footloose. Hey, fighting genocide should be fun, right? You gotta cut loose, footloose…to end a genocide. You know it! (Not really.)

Now, I’m sure that bandwidth issue that originally led to the blocking of unnecessary, personal live-streaming of audio and video has been resolved. And I’m sure that employees recognize that necessarily limited bandwidth used for personal purposes is paid with donations from activists, small donors, students, major donors, and institutional funders. (Not to mention generous staff salaries.) I mean, I’m sure the Dollars for Darfur kids are happy to ease the heavy burden placed on professional advocates in comfortable DC offices. You can’t end a genocide without a beat.

Well, since those funds don’t provide humanitarian assistance to Darfuris, I guess they might as well be spent increasing the creature comforts of those poor, poor Save Darfur employees who to their credit have been advocating for unblocking Pandora Radio for some time now. Do you think that’s what Jerry Fowler means when he says, “We are an advocacy organization, not a relief organization?”  Strong staff advocacy led to the relief of staff suffering. In this instance, Save Darfur appears to advocate as well as provide (self-)relief.

How’s this for irony? Pandora just chose (for yours truly ) the Stones’ Gimme Shelter…no kidding. That dark opening verse is absolutely apropos for this discussion: “Oh, a storm is threatening/My very life today/If I don’t get some shelter/Oh yeah, Im gonna fade away.” Rather than celebrating the return of Pandora, maybe professional advocates should focus on finding shelter for Darfuris so they aren’t simply gonna fade away. Oh wait, Save Darfur isn’t a relief organization.

Back to Tegan & Sara Radio, I suppose.


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