Armenian blog Community Diaspora Philanthropy Stepan Piligian Youth

Saturation? Our Future Lies In Collaboration.

AYF Olympics 2017 (Photograph: Tamar Kanarian)

Nice information—our American Armenian group is lively and interesting with a full calendar of events. Key phrase is full. All you must do is browse the group calendars obtainable online, corresponding to Menk in New England, and you’ll discover a tremendous show of numerous public events that gasoline the engine of what we call “the community.” On any given week, on each coasts and the mid-west, you’ll be able to satisfy your “craving” for political, instructional, philanthropic, cultural and mental content, obtainable in quite a lot of venues and codecs. In case you stay on the periphery of the group, it’s a veritable “open buffet.” All good, proper? Properly…perhaps not utterly. Definitely, the alternative of inactivity and stagnation isn’t desirable, however when you contemplate your self “active” and even much less, it can be challenging and at occasions overwhelming. Let’s look a bit nearer at those challenges and supply some potential solutions. However first, it’s all the time useful to offer some context.

The early years of the American Armenian diaspora have been numerous, however not divided. Throughout that first third of final century, most of the communities have been led by the three traditional political events, but most intersected at their place of worship or different “common” actions corresponding to cultural events. By the late 1930s, the group divide, initially brought on by the church administrative schism, had now consumed all elements of the group. The surroundings that I and others of my (born within the 1950s) era, was splintered and segregated. Somebody attending a Prelacy affiliated church might be very “active” in organizations historically affiliated with the ARF, but not cross paths with their equally “active” counterparts attending church buildings affiliated with Etchmiadzin and other traditional organizations.

There are numerous opinions concerning the influence of that interval. For example, many adhere to the assumption that a segregated, but highly motivated Prelacy group made the overall group stronger. Others abhorred the sub-optimal interaction of the “community.” I was very lively within the AYF for many years, however knew very few peers within the ACYOA. Our paths, by design, simply did not cross. An actual tragedy. Years later, as my family began attending a Diocesan parish, we met a whole lot of lively people who grew up on this “parallel path,” yet we by no means met half of the group. There have been exceptions, in fact, but should you have been in the AYF, Homenetmen, Hamazkayin or ARS, the idea was that you simply have been from the “Dashnag” aspect. In case you have been in Tekeyan, AGBU or ACYOA, you have been conveniently labeled a “Ramgavar.” These are strange labels, for my part, since only a few of the individuals have been truly members of the ARF or ADL, however labels are all the time more handy.

There was one sensible organizational consequence during this era made up of walls and separation. Organizational help and participation was more manageable from a person perspective. There were few overlaps and redundancy inside the “sub-communities.” Until the 1990s, only a few youngsters within the ACYOA would be a part of AYF and vice versa. Most within the Prelacy drew their philanthropic and cultural wants from the ARS and Hamazkayin respectively, not from the AGBU and Tekeyan. The end result was that probably the most “active” members outlined their id inside the context of the “sub-community” and not the larger entire. For most individuals, it was manageable, not overwhelming and stored them targeted.

Being Armenian is “in” once more; the labels are prior to now.

In the late 1980s, some constructive dynamics began to take maintain locally that have had vital ramifications. Although the church division persists, the walls of division have been crumbling. The excellent news? Thank God that regressive era of closed walls has ended. Being Armenian is “in” once more; the labels are prior to now. Many parishes have members who grew up in churches from each “sides.” The organizational base has changed dramatically. The Armenian Meeting was shaped as an alternative choice to partisan traditions. The ANCA grew as a grassroots organization that attracted variety. Some organizations, such as the Knights of Vartan, which had traditionally drawn its membership outdoors of the Prelacy, has actively recruited from the whole group. They should be thought-about trailblazers in that regard. Others adopted, together with NAASR and the Armenian Museum. It turned widespread to have organizations that really have been mainstream within the broader Armenian group. This natural state was further superior when newer organizations got here on the scene to serve the altering needs of the group. AIWA, Armenian Heritage Basis and AGBU YP are really non-partisan organizations serving these wants.

The influence of the “open” group, the continuance of legacy organizations, the emergence of latest teams and the wants of an unbiased Armenia have created new challenges for outlining what it means to be “active” in our communities. Many people have struggled with the following points. “How many organizations can I support?” “What do I do if I have friends in that group that I don’t want to offend?” “Once I become active, the “pull” on my time and finances is critical and beyond my capabilities.”

We have now “circles” in our communities and organizations. The inside circle is often the place energy and influence reside. The subsequent few tiers are where the workers, activists and doers stay. The periphery is where less lively group members take part. Many think about this latter area a “safer” residence—freed from the overwhelming decisions, strain and obligations. That is unlucky and ought to be studied by group leaders. Two caveats earlier than we proceed: this dynamic is most relevant to medium and enormous communities. For probably the most part the small communities don’t include the breadth of organizations and thus the saturation of time and assets. The opposite issue is that dwelling on the periphery is a selection influenced partially by group organizational density, but in addition by personal selections on time allocation. That being stated, I’ve spoken to many over the previous few years who find the sheer quantity of organizations to be a deterrent to higher participation. There are two speedy effects. The primary being that shifting individuals from the periphery to the subsequent inside tier turns into tougher with our “free for all” group activities. Increasingly there are conflicts and a critical lack of communication that sub-optimizes the web impression. There’s additionally this unbiased quantity that tends to speed up the “burnout” issue or no less than the fatigue parts which could be disruptive to the group engine.

So what may be finished to increase our effectiveness as a group as it relates to inter-organizational relations? One suggestion, which is pretty straightforward to implement, is to communicate and share expectations. It isn’t enough to “stake your claim” in group calendars similar to “Menk” (which offers an superior service). We need to speak to one another to properly area events that draw on a extra united group, and use this as a mechanism of defining ways of help. There are monetary and participatory saturation points in our higher group. This requires a change in strategy. We now have to be more concerned about everyone’s success—not simply our personal. In any case, the sum of the elements does equal the whole of the Armenian nation.

Collaboration is another tougher strategy that carries with it the potential for higher impression. Armenian organizations with widespread missions ought to by no means compete. In fact, they by no means overtly compete, but a number of the legacy groups with widespread missions in schooling, philanthropy, humanitarian or tradition should try and plan collectively sponsored events where the work content material and funds are shared. There’s loads of overlap from our splintered past to determine numerous areas where this sort of breakthrough considering can be supported. What an unimaginable message to the group that we might decrease the group schedule conflicts, improve the target market and most likely improve the outcomes. The emerging era lives without these boundaries. It’s going to make all of these legacy organizations more engaging to our younger era because the groups begin to attach with their lives.

Once we operate as mainstream group teams, we are at our best. Once we turn out to be unintentionally parochial, we grow to be extra isolated from the longer term.

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with several cross organizational collaborative ventures within the final several years. I have discovered some necessary lessons. Once we operate as mainstream group groups, we’re at our greatest. Once we turn out to be unintentionally parochial, we grow to be more isolated from the longer term. Co-sponsorship and collaborative actions would supply each group the opportunity to study more about themselves, their market and the way greatest to service their mission. With the emotional dedication that many of us possess in our organization relationships, this may even function a sensible reminder that the MISSION of the organization is an important issue. The organization or organizations, on this case, have all the time been the means.

Collaboration will deliver us nearer to the pure state of the diaspora group in America. A more organized and integrated portfolio will encourage those on the sting or outdoors to participate. Many in our communities as we speak are primarily within the mission of our organizations. There’s much less of an emotional connection to specific groups. Working collectively in the direction of a standard mission will increase the mission itself and appeal to those who are primarily mission-focused. Let’s challenge ourselves to creatively maximize participation and results. This shall be troublesome, and there shall be those who will say it is unnecessary. Our group has been constructed with a passion for missions and organizations. At occasions, the priority has been confused. As the variety of organizations grows and the group eliminates past obstacles, we will reside with the hope that our infrastructure also can evolve right into a finely tuned machine.

Stepan Piligian

Stepan was raised in the Armenian group of Indian Orchard, MA on the St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the AYF Central Government and the Japanese Prelacy Government Council, he also served a few years as a delegate to the Japanese Diocesan Assembly. At present , he serves as a member of the board and government committee of the National Affiliation for Armenian Research and Analysis (NAASR). He additionally serves on the board of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Stepan is a retired government in the pc storage business and resides in the Boston area together with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer instructor of Armenian historical past and modern points to the younger era and adults at faculties, camps and church buildings. His interests embrace the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, sports and reading.

Stepan Piligian