If Only These Problems Were Myths Of A Past Age

If you have read Ve Le’s Non-Profit AF blog, you know that he often frames serious topics with a bit of humor, often extolling vegan cuisine and his obsession with the Oxford comma. Frequently though, he will go into full entertainment mode riffing on a theme and applying it to the non-profit world.

A couple weeks ago, he wrote a post recasting Greek myths as if they occurred in world run as a non-profit. With a hurricane recently piling on to the problems which have faced Puerto Rico over the last few years and another heading toward Florida, non-profits are going to be mobilizing to help affected communities recover. It seemed like a good time to point to humorous content before groups had to seriously dive in.

Le addresses a number of stories, but here are some of my favorites. In his retelling of the Trojan horse, the horse doesn’t contain soldiers who spread out to slay the city’s defenders:

The following days, they joined the boards of directors of several organizations in the city. They never read board packets, always stopped much more knowledgeable staff from taking bold actions, caused missed quorum, insisted on golf tournaments, and gradually ruined morale. And that was how the city of Troy fell.

In Le’s retelling of the story of Echo who had been cursed by Hera to repeat only what other people say:

One day, Echo met Narcissus and fell in love with him. “I should start a nonprofit,” he said to her. She repeated, “start a nonprofit.” He ran off and founded a nonprofit that gave used togas to poor people abroad, and Echo was heartbroken. But joke’s on Hera, because eventually, Echo became a nonprofit consultant who mainly repeated what the staff says, and boards thought she was so smart and she got paid a ton of money.

My favorite story was Le’s version of Hercules’ 12 Labors:

Those were: Plan a silent auction, diversify a board, give someone feedback, get everyone to track their expense receipts, conduct a 360 assessment without someone getting hurt, endure an icebreaker that involves making random mouth sounds, fire someone who is really nice but sucks at their job, call out a major donor for being a jerk, translate a budget into a funder’s own budget format, get more than ten likes on a social media post about an upcoming event, get a several people’s schedules to align for a meeting, and save enough for retirement.

There are about six-seven stories in all and Le has promised a part two which hasn’t surfaced yet. What I appreciate about Vu Le’s writing style is that the problems he addresses are obviously sources of frustration and anxiety for folks in the non-profit sector, but he skewers them so satirically you can feel a slight sense of relief at having an ally by your side that understands.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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