Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Retreat Ruminations

Having just returned from the SSDP Strategic Planning Retreat, I feel especially honored to be leading such an amazing group of activists. Throughout the weekend I was constantly impressed by the thoughtfulness, intelligence, and dedication shown by everyone involved in this organization. All of the board, staff, and chapter members in attendance had strong opinions on the direction they would like to see the organization take and projects we should work on. Yet while passions sometimes flared, everyone maintained respect for their fellow activists and their opinions.

One of the issues that everyone agreed on was the need for better communications systems between the SSDP chapters and the SSDP national office, and between the SSDP chapters themselves. Our current Talk List is clearly outdated, and we will be working to utilize new technologies and new approaches to communication. Everyone involved in an SSDP chapter shares similar goals and aspirations. We need to find a better way to keep everyone connected and feeling like they are part of a nationwide movement with like-minded students working on similar issues around the country.

While we did not leave the retreat with a complete strategic plan for the organization, we did identify a number of issues that are important to the organization’s stakeholders. In the coming year, SSDP will be designing new projects for chapters to work on. These will include projects focusing on student drug testing, schools not prisons, the ONDCP media campaign, Latin America, and expanding the Campus Change Campaign. We will also be encouraging SSDP chapters to get involved in the upcoming Congressional elections, in particular attempting to get our values and issues injected into Congressional races.

The next few months are going to be a period of intense work and restructuring for SSDP. We will be working at the national office to develop these new projects and communications systems. Meanwhile, I will be working directly with the chairman of the board of directors to develop a strategic plan for SSDP to help chart our course for the coming years.

I was especially happy that some of our chapter leaders were able to make it to the retreat this past weekend. Input from our chapters is critical for us at the national office. I strongly encourage our chapters leaders to call or e-mail me any time you have a comment, question, or suggestion about SSDP. In particular, if you have suggestions for ways that we can all better communicate with one another, or ideas about projects you are working on, please e-mail me at kris@ssdp.org.

This organization is going to be at the heart of major reforms in the war on drugs over the next few years. I hope you will join us in our coming successes.

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