An Open Letter to Enci (or) How to Make the Lemon Less Bitter

userpic=fountain-penOver on the closed #pro99 group on Facebook, in a discussion about Bitter Lemons, Enci Box (the publisher of Bitter Lemons) wrote: “I do want to make things right and I do want to raise awareness to this issue. Truly do! I’d love to meet with you all for coffee, tea, at a theatre space where we can discuss this and other issues.” Given that meeting for coffee/tea can be difficult for me given other commitments, and because this has been rambling around my head, I’d like to offer these specific suggestions on how to restore the reputation of Bitter Lemons via my blog instead:

  1. Address the relationship with Colin. Although Colin has been fired as editor-in-chief, he is still an owner of the site. That elephant needs to be addressed, clarifying whether that has been severed and the extent to which Colin has any editorial influence — or influence at all — on the site. The baby elephant should also be addressed: What to do with Jason.
  2. Righten the Editorial Ship. Appoint two editors-in-chief who are respected by the community, and require that all articles that are posted be approved by one of them. There are two editors so that if one writes an article, the other must approve it.
  3. Sensitivity Training. To ensure that the editors and writers truly understand why this issue created the firestorm that it did, there should be mandatory sensitivity / sexual harrassment awareness training for all staff and writers. We’ve had such training at my place of employ, and it does truly make one aware of how little things can be very significant.
  4. Suspend the Pay-For-Play Reviews. The notion of paid reviews hurts the integrity of the Bitter Lemons site, and is a continual thorn in its reputation. They should be ended as of the end of Fringe; no more should be accepted for review. Bitter Lemons may be able to do reviews in the future, but any approach should be accepted by the community and free of any taint of conflict of interest.
  5. Formal Apology. There should be a formal apology from Bitter Lemons, although there are some that will not believe it (there should also be apologies from Colin/Jason, but I do not believe people would accept them).
  6. Address the Issue Head On. There should be an effort by Bitter Lemons, as an organization, to address the issue the right way. My suggestion along those lines might be for Bitter Lemons to host a series of forums to discuss the prevalence of such abuse and harassment in Southern California’s theatre community, and to develop community driven ways to eliminate the abuse and provide awareness of the abusers. Additionally, I’d suggest providing a space on Bitter Lemons for people to report such incidents, potentially anonymously, for investigation. Lastly, I suggestion posting a clear statement of editorial principles that guide Bitter Lemons, to include 0% tolerance for harassment and abuse, a pledge to avoid all conflict of interest, and a clear statement that the mission of Bitter Lemons is to bring together and improve the Southern California theatre community and improve its visibility to the public.

Lastly, for those articles that have been published, both the original article and received comments should remain.