Western North Carolina Alliance membership approves merger with ECO, J-MCA

Members of the Western North Carolina Alliance showed overwhelming support for a proposed merger with the Environmental and Conservation Organization and the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance on Monday, May 12.

In an overwhelming 177-to-2-vote, WNCA finalized the eight-month-long discussion, based on strengthening all three groups by increasing the reach, message and membership of each organization.

“We’re excited about working to form a stronger, more visible organization that will also more easily attract new members and help build a larger community of advocates for the protection of Western North Carolina’s natural resources and quality of life,” writes WNCA in an email signed by Co-Directors Julie Mayfield and Bob Wagner.

From WNCA.org:

Here’s why we think a merger makes sense:

1. Through increased local presence, we want to have a stronger influence on policy at all levels of government.
2. We want to build a stronger organization and increase our geographic reach.
3. We need to strengthen our grassroots engagement and involve a broader spectrum of the population to be most successful.

What’s in it for the Alliance? For starters, the opportunity to work on issues in parts of our region where we have not worked much because these sister organizations were working there.

By merging, we will gain members, a new office, and staff in Hendersonville, which will enable us to engage citizens in Henderson, Polk, Rutherford, and Transylvania counties in ways we have not before.

We will also gain new members in Highlands and Cashiers and begin work on issues there, hopefully so much so that we will be able to re-staff our Franklin office with a full-time person. That will allow us to better serve not just Highlands and Cashiers, but all of the far western counties. In short, a larger organization will have more resources and expertise to tackle local and regional issues better than each organization has been able to on its own.

A stronger, more visible organization will also more easily attract new members and help build a larger community of advocates for the protection of Western North Carolina’s natural resources and quality of life. We firmly believe that the whole will be more than the sum of its parts.

A merger does mean some changes for the Alliance.

First, while the new organization will be a membership organization, new bylaws will change the Alliance’s historical chapter/task force and board structure.

There will still be a way for people to come together around local issues, but those local groups will not necessarily be represented on the board. Instead, the new bylaws will require geographic diversity on the board so that all regions, especially those covered by ECO and J-MCA, are well represented.

Finally, while the merged organization will likely inhabit the Alliance’s corporate form, we will take this opportunity to explore a name change to reflect the merger and to better convey the mission of the new organization.

Click here for more on the merging of WNCA, ECO and J-MCA.


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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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