[permaculture] Insights into the SSE debate by knowledgeable insiders.

LINDARAY at att.net LINDARAY at att.net
Tue Jan 22 09:17:55 EST 2008

Hello Michael,

you wrote:

Whatever the case may be with this incident, it shows very clearly that 
everyone should be participating in saving our seed heritage and that there 
should be many seed networks, global, national, regional and local.  Don’t put 
too many eggs in one basket such as SSE. The world’s seed heritage is a very 
important bunch of eggs. 

I hope all those who are growing out seed for the SSE feel the same way you do about this statement..
What that means is, I hope those growers will place some of the fruits of their labors out with other seed banks.

I am waiting to see the signed and published letter which guarantees that the takeover team will refuse to sell out the SSE.
If their intentions were benign, IMO that would have been their first priority. Instead, they are stonewalling.

It is my hope that folks will participate in the Seedsaver List , forum and etc being revitalized by Larry L here. I certainly will.



PS: To all concerned- Please understand that I have absolutely no desire to promote contention here. I am simply stating what I strongly feel is the right thing to do. I hold nothing against anyone whose opinion differs, and I bless us all, folks who care. 
OTOH, it is always easier to do nothing. IMO, 'nothing' is the wrong thing to do.
-------------- Original message from Michael Pilarski <friendsofthetrees at yahoo.com>: -------------- 

> * Posted by fusion_power 7b (My Page) on 
> Sat, Jan 19, 08 at 18:39 
> First, let me be very specific about my position. I am NOT a member of SSE nor 
> have I ever been. I don't have a horse in this race so to speak. I am however 
> concerned over the huge amount of negative publicity Kent Whealy's letter has 
> generated. I have a few contacts here and there who know bits and pieces of what 
> is going on. When those pieces are put together, a very ugly picture emerges. I 
> will post what I found and you can do your own due diligence to determine 
> whether this is accurate or not. Please understand that I can't be 100% sure of 
> this. 
> About 3 years ago, Kent had an affair with a woman and it became public 
> knowledge. Diane divorced him over it. To the best of my knowledge, Diane is 
> very much an innocent party in this, but she was the target of a lot of Kent's 
> subsequent actions. 
> After the divorce, Kent was still running SSE and he started running it 
> roughshod over the directors guidance. He deliberately pushed issues to 
> emphasize his control of the organization. The board called Kent on some of his 
> more egregious misuses of authority. He agreed to back off on some of the 
> things. Then he went back to 'running the show' as he chose. Long story short, 
> it came to a head 4 months ago. 
> The board was in a position that they had to rein him in because some of the 
> things he was doing were affecting employees and could have caused SSE to lose 
> not for profit status. He made some veiled threats and they responded by 
> dismissing him. I would point out that a not for profit is a corporation. 
> (emphasize that some parts of this paragraph are questionable) The directors are 
> responsible for the long term well being of the business. Kent was an employee 
> of the corporation. Long and short of it, when the directory was published, Kent 
> pulled the names and addresses and sent out his letter. 
> He did raise some legitimate complaints. Those complaints need to be addressed. 
> I don't have all the answers. What I have is gleaned from quite a bit of digging 
> around. Just so we are clear, I don't think either side in this is completely 
> right. Just don't get the idea that Kent is the only 'wronged' party. 
> You have a very well known and publicly accepted leader of an organization who 
> has just been dismissed for serious problems in the way he was doing things. 
> What can he do about that? Well, in SSE, he can go to the members and have them 
> elect HIS CHOSEN board of directors. So what does the current board of directors 
> do? They change the rules of the game. They take away voting status of the 
> members and make the board of directors the final authority. That removes the 
> possibility of a palace coup taking place. This leaves Kent Whealy with only one 
> recourse. He appeals to the sse membership. Do you start to see the maneuvering 
> that is taking place? He can sue for wrongful discharge. But in this case, the 
> board has enough dirt on him to keep him fired. 
> As stated, take this with a grain of salt. It may or may not be entirely 
> accurate. 
> Fusion 
> * Posted by bcday z5 NY (My Page) on 
> Sat, Jan 19, 08 at 23:45 
> One of Kent's requests in his letter was that SSE's members demand that SSE's 
> Board of Directors resign and the Board of Advisors replace them. But fully half 
> of the Board of Advisors has now come out in support of the Board of Directors. 
> This statement was just released: 
> *************************************************** 
> Seed Savers Exchange Advisors Support Board Actions 
> Seed Savers Exchange is a world class institution which has led the way for 
> planetary preservation of the genetic diversity of plants. Its growth has been 
> directed by an overarching vision first formulated by its co-founders, Kent 
> Whealy and Diane Ott Whealy, and for more than twenty years refined and realized 
> through the guidance and stewardship of a distinguished Board of Directors. 
> Like any great institution, it is greater than the sum of its parts and any one 
> individual. In recent years it has become increasingly clear that Kent Whealy 
> has perceived the Exchange as his personal possession to be directed to serve 
> his own interests. The Advisors have had their own issues with Kent. The Board 
> has prudently determined that his thoughts and actions had become antagonistic 
> to the vision and responsibilities of the Exchange. After a long period of 
> counseling Kent, and his failure to follow direction, the Board circumspectly 
> with competent legal advice decided unanimously to terminate his employment as 
> Executive Director. The duty of the Board to direct the affairs of the Exchange 
> in a prudent manner required it to take this action. 
> It is with great regret that we, the undersigned Advisors of Seed Savers 
> Exchange, have learned that Kent has begun a campaign to reverse this course of 
> prudent action by the Board. He has sent to every Listed Member of the Exchange 
> an intemperately worded letter full of misrepresentations of fact. He has 
> impugned the motivations of the Directors and has harmed the reputation of each 
> of them. He has attempted to enlist the participation of each of us Advisors in 
> his campaign of destruction and defamation in a personal attempt to take control 
> of this institution. 
> We Advisors refuse to allow him to do so, and we agree with and support the 
> prudent decisions of the Board of Directors of Seed Savers Exchange. We commend 
> each Director for acting responsibly in the best interests of the Exchange and 
> in the faithful implementation of its vision and mission. 
> Suzanne Ashworth 
> Will Bonsall 
> Dan Bussey 
> Keith Crotz 
> Glenn Drowns 
> Craig LeHoullier 
> Laura Merrick 
> John Swenson 
> [Pilarski’s comment. Having read SSE publications from 1975 till 2007 I can 
> vouch that this list of advisors includes people who have instrumental in SSE 
> for many decades.] 
> Hello permaculture friends and associates, 
> I just got back from a 3-day trip and see from my email that there is a huge 
> debate going on right now about the Seed Savers Exchange. 
> So I just did some online research and above were the two best information 
> letters I have seen yet on the topic. 
> After reading dozens of emails on the topic from many people involved here is 
> my current personal opinion. People should not jump to conclusions without 
> having looking into this deeply. There seem to be lots of people girding 
> themselves for war on this issue and I don’t think this is good for SSE. Let’s 
> take a few deep breaths. 
> There is no doubt that Kent Whealy and Diane Whealy, his wife, did a tremendous 
> job and service for humanity by starting SSE and guiding it into a great 
> network. Kent got most of the glory and publicity, but perhaps he did more of 
> the actual thinking and work? It now appears that Kent may have gone off the 
> deep end a bit over the past number of years and has not been performing to his 
> old standards. Perhaps he did deserve to get fired. I don’t really know, but 
> looking at some of the reports makes me think this is possible. I am suspicious 
> of the accusations that a bunch of money-grubbing monsters have taken over and 
> SSE is in danger and we should fight to get Kent back and fire the nasty board 
> of directors that did this. There may be some truth on both sides. But right 
> now, I think a lot of people are making premature conclusions without enough 
> knowledge. 
> Whatever the case may be with this incident, it shows very clearly that 
> everyone should be participating in saving our seed heritage and that there 
> should be many seed networks, global, national, regional and local. Don’t put 
> too many eggs in one basket such as SSE. The world’s seed heritage is a very 
> important bunch of eggs. 
> I certainly hope that SSE will continue its great work. I have only met Kent a 
> few times in person but our paths have crossed in many ways since he and Diane 
> started SSE in 1975. I consider Kent Whealy a friend and wish him the best, 
> whatever the truth is in this matter. 
> My two-cents worth 
> Michael Pilarski, Friends of the Trees Society 
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