Name Games

ACORN Community Organizations International

P1010004Rome I should have suspected that being without internet and simply depending on my Blackberry while in Sicily was still a dangerous thing to do, and sure enough as I was being driven to the Catania airport I got a message from a reporter for the Washington Times named Amanda Carpenter asking about ACORN International’s new name:  Community Organizations International.  Her specific question seemed to be that someone had reported that ACORN in the USA was changing its name, so what did I know.

My response was simple:  “Acorn International is a totally separate corporation from Acorn.  We are changing our name especially in the U.S. NOT to be confused with Acorn!!  I know of no plans whatsoever for acorn to change its name but you would have to ask them.  I’m in Sicily training organizers and working with groups here.  I have no clue what may have been reported but I would bet it is as off base as most of what I read.  Thanks for asking directly!” Short and simple, I thought.

In Rome today waiting for my plane to Vancouver, I was able to catch up on email, news, and the Google alerts for “acorn international.” Whoa, baby!  What a wild ride that was!

This guy, Glenn Beck (who is he?), seems to have been on this like “white on rice,” arguing that he had predicted something, though he seems to have been 100% off base.  There was some bunch from Fox News that had a whole panel discussion on our little name adjustment.  They seemed to conclude that ACORN should not be allowed to change its name, so it’s a good thing that this was never in the works to my knowledge.  A spokesperson for ACORN muddled the issue even more by not saying simply that they had no plans to change their name period, and just made up some stuff to whitewash the story.  Of course that statement seems to have been after this brouhaha had already passed, so it didn’t matter really how off the mark it might have been.  In short people had taken a something from a notice about Acorn International’s global action on just remittances, and perverted it to their own stories on both sides.  Oh, and some guy accused me of fomenting revolution or socialism or something around the world now.  One guy on a blog asked how I could change the name of ACORN when I had resigned more than a year ago, but he was drowned out in the din of hooey calls.

Here are the brass tacks.  Acorn International is a federation organized with a board from each of its member countries.  ACORN is one non-profit corporation in the USA.  In the USA we are going to do business as Community Organizations International.  Why?  Because it reduces confusion on one hand – why should we want to deal with these whacks and weirdo’s out there, I wonder?  And, on the other hand it allows us to more easily amalgamate other organizations that are already established and have different names.  So in the existing seven countries where we have members and are already chartered, they will clearly keep on keeping on with their name.  In some countries (Sicily for example) where existing organizations have begun talking about affiliating to Acorn International, it is even easier to do so with the name of Community Organizations International, because then no one has to argue about autonomy.  At the point we expand to new areas we will make the decision with local people from place to place.

How hard is any of this to understand?  Seems straightforward to me, but I’m just an organizer of lower income families around and not someone on either side of the fence with an axe to grind.