Monday, September 17, 2012
This post does not focus on any breaking news about the Tea Party. It is only that I had been content to ignore that particular group until recently but now I find that they are affecting my work.
For several years I have been observing and chronicling the rise of the 4th Sector in the U.S., including the spread of certain hybrid entities such as B Corporations. Two weeks ago, I ran into a colleague who had been involved in efforts to pass B Corporation legislation in our home state of North Carolina When I asked for an update, he grimaced and said that the proposed law was moving through the North Carolina legislature until Tea Party activists intervened and claimed that B Corporations and the whole notion of social enterprise were part of a United Nations plot to achieve world domination. The objections were taken seriously and the legislation stalled.
Then, last week, I heard something similar when I was leading a workshop for nonprofit leaders in South Carolina. At lunch, one of the workshop participants who works for a council of governments (often referred to as COGs) told me that her efforts to coordinate transportation planning among several local governments in rural South Carolina had been blocked by protesters claiming that such planning was also part of the grand U.N. conspiracy.
A quick google search revealed that this assault has been going on for a while and that it arose in reaction to an innocuous U.N. report called "Agenda 21" that urged governments, among other things, to focus on encouraging dense development near transportation corridors as a way of reducing energy consumption. I had heard vague rumblings about fringe groups that focused on Agenda 21, but I had no idea that the wacky conspiracy theory was actually affecting public policy.
What is the world coming to?