28 August, 2021
As most of you know, the Civilian Defense Force celebrated our first anniversary at the end of July, 2021. This was occasion for joy, but also for deep reflection upon our successes and failures. There were many of both.
The most obvious failure was that we grew too much in the wrong directions, and failed to grow at all in the directions we intended. Our membership list expanded, but our working Unit list did not. In effect, we were adding names to our member roles, but not adding any way for those folks to contribute, save for a few postings on our forum. What Units were started did not, for the most part, meet expectations. Most languished and folded before they were even fully off the ground. Those that managed to hold on–and there are only two–have undergone multiple iterations and/or succeeded on their own terms, without direct oversight by the national organization. These Units boast only a handful of the hundreds of “members” we accepted over the course of the last twelve or so months.
These realities pointed out the need for our existing approach to be examined and ultimately abandoned in favor of an entirely new model. More accurately, the approach isn’t new at all; it’s the one I specifically selected in the beginning and intended to build, but mistakes in thinking and execution–for which I take responsibility–left us with the unworkable organization we’ve somehow morphed into. We lost focus, lost our purpose, and failed to build anything worthwhile that would serve the mission I had intended and most of us signed up for.
I’ve spent the last month correcting some of these mistakes and mapping out a strategy to re-direct the CDF onto the proper path. Our focus has now been shifted away from simply adding names to our roster, and toward adding working Units to our neighborhoods. In fact, the only legitimate path to CDF membership at this point is via joining or forming a local Unit. Apart from what I’ve already stated, the point of this change is to eliminate the “dead weight” we had accumulated and unwittingly called our “member list”. The folks who signed up were not expecting to sit and do nothing. The fault is mine that so many joined with nothing to ultimately do; virtually all signed up intent upon helping their communities–we simply provided no meaningful way for them to do so. As part of the No Dead Weight Initiative, that error has been corrected with the roll-out of our new application/membership model.
To make this change possible, effective, and congruent with our new, “old” philosophy, I’ve also had to closely examine other areas that were developed as part of or alongside the improper method we’ve been following. Among these, the HQ system–while not itself a bad thing–became more of a distraction or “way point” than the useful tool it was supposed to be. This had the effect of enabling our unfocused footing. The HQ Forum became the focus, and we all became “keyboard warriors” as a result.
This is untenable, counter-productive, and unacceptable. We need boots on the ground, not fingers on the keyboard. Typing attracts more typers, and we simply don’t need anymore of those.
For this reason, I’ve eliminated the HQ site altogether. In particular, I’ve disabled the forum system and it won’t be returning anytime soon. There are plenty of sites where people can gather to read news and leave opinions. They serve their purpose, and for most that is their purpose. For the Civilian Defense Force, it is not and never should have been.
HQ will be revised and re-enabled piece by piece over the next several weeks and months. However, it will be updated to serve only those people and purposes it was intended to serve in the first place; members of actual CDF Units who are actively engaging within their communities. A forum will eventually be offered, but it will be purposeful and directed, and available only to actual “boots on the ground” members.
It should be noted that I’ve made these changes arbitrarily, and without input from others (except where I’ve specifically sought it out). I have been unsatisfied with the direction of the organization, and as founder and leader it is my responsibility to correct it. I can only do this by taking hold of the steering wheel and wrestling the vehicle back onto the proper roadway. I’ve disbanded the “Brain Trust” council I invited to participate in some leadership functions when I started the organization. I wish to recognize the contribution they made in the beginning, and express my appreciation for it. Many of the things we worked together on, including our Mission Statement and Guiding Principles, will remain in effect and will serve the organization for eternity. For the foreseeable future, however, I will seek counsel when I require it from those from whom I desire it. This, again, is arbitrary but necessary; there is only one steering wheel, and only my hands belong on it at this point in time.
The changes I’ve noted left me in a position where I had to decide what to do with those who have already joined the organization. What to do with the existing members?
Here is where reality must be acknowledged and facts faced, two in particular. First, very few of our existing members participate in the organization at all; and second, those who do–usually through no fault of their own–have been derailed by the previously noted mistakes and are simply headed in the wrong direction. I have determined that the only way to correct either of these situations is to begin again entirely…to in essence purge the membership roles and force everyone to start from scratch.
That is literally what we’re going to do.
This is less painful and difficult than it sounds, because the membership process is much more simplified at this point than it was when we started. Becoming a member is now accomplished in one of only two ways; either by joining an existing Unit (following the procedures those individual Units have set for their group), or by forming a new Unit in your locale. There is no other method by which someone can be called a CDF Member. Those who wish to support the CDF Mission but are unable to join or form a Unit can donate funds (always appreciated) and may, of course, refer others to us (this is where “keyboard warriors” can still help out), but these are not “membership paths”. As of September 1, 2021, only members of verified, chartered Units are members of the Civilian Defense Force.
This was a difficult but necessary decision to make. A year’s worth of experience proved that the path we were traveling was leading nowhere. In fact it was actually leading to ruin, because it gave the false sense that something useful was being accomplished when, in truth, nothing was. In a world that increasingly demands putting up or shutting up, we were simply yapping. This is no time for Chihuahuas; it’s time for us to step up and be the Mastiffs we purport to be. We can’t do that sitting behind keyboards rehashing what’s said in on a thousand other online outlets; we have to get out and actually do the job we claim to be here to do.
To those who have participated in the past but are unable or unwilling to venture further, allow me to thank you for your support over these last 12 months. You’ve shown that the idea of a Civilian Defense Force is a viable one. What has not been viable up to this point has been the execution of that idea. This major change in approach is expected to correct that mistake.
For those who intend to stay with us and truly get your boots on the ground, please head over to the new “Join” page, where the application process will be opened up again beginning on September 3, 2021.
American needs us now more than ever, and will need us tomorrow far more than it does today. Every American community faces unparalleled peril, whether or not it seems that way at present. Let us rise to the challenge now, while we still have time to strengthen ourselves and our neighborhoods. Let us truly become a Force to be Reckoned With.
Thank you, and Best Regards,
Commander Jeff Cole