Joburg’s Life Improvement Centre: A barren wasteland

licIf there is one thing the Ideal Org evolution has proved without a shadow of a doubt it is that spending other people’s money is easy. It is even easier when you are not required to account to those “other people”. The other lesson from this evolution, unfortunately, is the utter, tragic waste.

The Life Improvement Centre in Braamfontein opened with the usual pomp and fanfare in March 2010. According to media statements at the time R6 million was spent on renovations after R3 million was spent buying the building.

The hype leading up to and including the opening was impressive. The building sits across the road from the massive WITS University with thousands of students living in and around the area.

Within weeks of the opening Scientologists were hearing about hundreds of people a week moving through the place and starting on course. Some of those moved on to become staff at the org.

Within months it ran into trouble and it could not sustain itself.

Fast forward 3 years and we see a scene that is all but dead. After hearing rumours that the building is only open to the public two afternoons a week someone went out there to personally investigate. It was 11am on a Monday morning. The building was closed. There were weeds sprouting around the circumference and it is in the early stages of a graffiti epidemic both signs of a building being abandoned.

Some locals who work near the building were asked about the activity in the building and when they are open. This yielded the following answers:

“They open after 1pm or sometimes 3”

“There are no proper hours”

“They are sometimes just open for an hour”

Another solid investment of someone else’s R9 million. In all the regular emails that go out about Ideal Orgs and why Scientologists should continue flowing money toward it, this building is not mentioned anymore. It is the white elephant in the room.

39 thoughts on “Joburg’s Life Improvement Centre: A barren wasteland

  1. A while back one of the sups was atacked physically. Not long after she left staff for good. The building should be sold and the money given back to those who were duped into coughing up for yet another waste of space! How long before idle orgs goes the same way in africa? Barren, bereft of soul and morale.. If I was a rat still on sinking ship called C of $, floating debris and lifeboats would be looking mighty attractive about now!

    Spare a thought for those staff who had no money to donate. Instead they endured much, paid with their only recource -time! All for naught, tis worse than a shakesperian tragedy!

  2. its strange, but at the time, I thought that it would not last. I was in the church since 1984 and the one thing tht really worried me was that there was little expansion. For every new person who came onboard, it seemed like 2 dissapeared. It was a question I posed to CO Osa in 2001. at the time. In a conversationwe had whenIwas ED for CCHR, he said he was doing an investigation and it seems tht since 1984 there was a conserted effort to not expand. He pointed out to me that it was almost like there was an agreement in place somewhere, somehow that the state would leave Scientology alone as long as we did not expand. Sounds like a conpiracy theory doesnt it.? Anyway, since then I became more and more aware of reg cycles held in the name of “Fantastic News, dont miss this event – biggest thing to happen ever!” On many occassions I would ask the call in person, “Is this a reg cycle?” Mostly I was told “NO” and I would go only to find that the event was all about the hype needed and set up for the Reg Cycle. I stopped going to any event except the IAS events which, not to my surprise, ended up becomming another excuse to have a reg cycle! I stopped going to those too about 3 years ago. After Ideal Orgs purhased the Cape Town office, something I was personally involved in on the email campaign side, I waited for the grand opening. Instead, IdealOrgs started reging funds for Durban, Pretoria, PE and Zimbabwe. Thats when the penny dropped and I realised that even if we were successful in opening all these orgs, there were not enough staff and public to man the orgs to fsacilitate the expansion they were talking about. When I asked about this I was told tht there were hundreds of people on the TTC traings specifically to be send to the Ideal Orgs to man them as soon as they were ready for opening. Another lie as I was later told by Robert Bokkleman that all staff for Africa had to come from Africa. I looked at the field and thought to myself; “self, there just aint enough people for all the ideal orgs!” I was further concerned considering this dwindling stat by the quality of delivery. Here was JHB Org, a class V org unable to deliver the CCRD! You had to go to an AO for that. Well even then, the products coming back from the AO’s were not what LRH had stated was the EP in my opinion at least. I ran into many so called clears that were dabbling in some really strange stuff, hurting each other in the field with endless report writing, out-gradient and out reality KR’s and I watched in dispare as the field became fragmented, little groups formed within the group, and if you did not agree with it all, well then you must be PTS, out-ethics, committing Overts, have withholds, and the list goes on and on….
    Sad really, cause the idea behind the test centre in Braamfontein was a good one. Its just that when a person comes in and their ruin is “communication” and then they are regged for their whole bridge, or Ideal Orgs, or a non-existant Volunteer minister campaign or library book campaign etc, you get very ARC broken and go very out reality on the whole thing. Sorry folks,this is a long reply, but then again, this is a long standing problem right!

    • The real truth is that the purpose of getting people up the bridge has been abandoned in favour of “Give me the money”. The campaigns and apparent activities are defined by the state and non-utilization of the Life Improvement Center. Complexity and confusion. The evidence of ‘management, all too plain to see.

    • Don’t worry about it being long, Joleen, that was a *most* fascinating account, and we really appreciate you sharing it. (I am SO loving this Blog – to get real news at long last on what is going on here in South Africa is just wonderful!)

    • Joleen you should write up a story as a main post for this site, it sounds like you have some experiences to share. I know I’m going to write mine.
      What you said about OSA is typical of the crap he talks and just a cover for the sabotage going on internally. The “State” doesn’t give a shit about Scientology expanding. I worked Div 6 with all my heart to get new people in and during my interface with the public arena most people from all walks of life had either never heard of us, or were very pleasant about it. The only enemy I began to realise was Scientology Management itself. CO OSA at that time was working very hard, with Bokkelman and Krieger to crush my hard work. THEY DO NOT WANT TO HELP THEIR FELLOW MAN AND GENERALLY HATE PEOPLE AT LARGE – Basically it is “Destroy in the name of help” ….and we know what that says about a person?
      (You can censor my wearing and shouting 🙂

  3. Remember the jhb org in commissioner street? Late 80s?

    Remember the ‘bookstore’ downstairs on the corner of the building, possibly early 90’s?

    Yes, yes, I do recall!!!! And I recall the hype too!! Because of THAT bookstore joburg was going to go old st hill within three months of it opening!
    Remember, it was as exciting as a wet cracker exploding! And about as successful.
    Sadly, it did not live up to any of its hype. It closed.

    So, history was not in the making when Braamfontein test centre opened, it was also not being rewritten either.

    Regretfully, it was being repeated.

      • I really hope that someone who is in possession of a large scn email address list send this to all. The heading should be “What your donations really pay for!”

        This is shameful. Anyone with half a functioning brain cell cannot look at the current scene anywhere in the world and still believe the hype. The elephant in the room has been joined by the whole herd. The regges and still active public are not only ignoring them – they are holding fund raisers and tea parties between the tusks and legs! Sooner or later some will be stomped on hard!!

  4. After having been out myself now for several years I would say that if you want Scientology then you had better create it for yourself outside the walls of the cult. That kind of waste isn’t the Scientology that I studied so therefor you know that the biggest squirrel around is the cob.
    How pompous this guy is acting like he is all high and mighty and is saving Scientology. He is the one who is destroying it. All of his true believers are supporting him because they don’t have the confront of evil necessary to speak the truth.

    • Right on Tony
      The growth in new buildings the past 15 years has been an attempt to cover up a shrinking organization caused by COB’s squirreling of LRH’s technology with GAT, etc…..but in the end, these empty buildings are testament to the lack of delivery of Scientology. I agree, there is no Scientology inside the wall of the cult. You have to get out of that suppresive environment if you intend to as-is anything.

  5. it just struck me that even with it being such a waste and all that.
    still why wouldn’t there have been more traffic to it anyway?
    the building was over priced, uncalled for, etc…….. but that wouldn’t keep new public from checking it out.
    why don’t new people go to the orgs anyway even if they are over done?

    • Being closed is a bad start. Many people did come in those first few months but it lost staff due to low pay so it began to shut down. Despite the claims of “hundreds of new people coming in” from an org perspective it was just a drain – all those new people were students who could barely afford the cheap courses. Not a source of continuing revenue so the centre got less and less attention until it arrived into it’s current sorry state.

      As for orgs – a combination of terrible PR and abysmal service would be our guess.

      • Tony: I happen to like Tom very much and think he’s one of the best actors out there, i loved him in born of the 4th of july… I think all of us at one point or another could have talked for houers about how amazing the tech is, as a matter if fact i was in one of the promotional vidios… Yes i was for a time a hard core follower untill things got too wired and just wrong… But you have to remember Tom is heald by the balls by the CoS… His kides are in the SO… I am srue he is disaffected by now… But must keep the act in order to continue his comm with his kids… He is in a much worser state then any of us free scientologists he cant communicate to anyone freely, he is truly trapped. I hope he tells the “church” to fuck off soon, we dont care if he is gay or god knows what he is PTS to, we and the public at large will embrace him, he will truly be a hero if he tells the curch to fuck off! Please do it Tom!

    • Good point WhiteStar

      The problem with marketing scn, this that the entire promotion, marketing and selling is based on “scripture”, LRH policy which was formulated 50 years back. Just find me a business which runs on strict policy which is 50 years old and is booming. They don’t exist. much like the Test Centre.

      Take it positions. Yes, lots of foot traffic,but the wrong type of person. Students have little disposable income and are influenced by trends and fashion. Is Scientology fashionable?

      Take its products. Life Improvement courses directed at students. Most students are studying to get secure future income and opportunity.

      Take its staff. Usually working for love but love don’t pay the bills. Staff cannot support themselves on “org pay”. Good companies pay good wages to attract good staff. Orgs pay shit! What staff do you get, unless they are “dedicated” or taking double shots of kool aid.

      Takes it viability. Clearly nobody crunched the numbers. What are its running costs and what is its break-even point? Important data.

      The model adopted was a simple one “make it go right!” How about that lovely contradicting term “tone 40 postulate”. Basically, there was zero business acumen employed. Result? FAIL!

      Lets look at the None Existence Formula. One of the points is “Find out what is needed and wanted” Now, with this “scripture” in mind, did anybody ACTUALLY go and ask the foot traffic what they need and want? Or did someone do a survey with biased and loaded questions?

      This point is the one point upon which we all fall short. We are selling scientology, right? So why bother finding out what is needed and wanted?.
      We assume people need and want scientology. We assume people ridge against it because of “their banks”. We assume that we need to hard sell to overcome their bank.

      In summary, orgs are closing because they are not financially viable, staff cannot support themselves on their “wages” and people just don’t want it!

      • WOW! Brilliantly said! So true.

        I remember when they announced where the Test Centre was opening and I thought… whaaaat? Why are we going back into town? and WHY do we want student body traffic? No suprise to see it all closed up.

        But SUCH bad PR to have Dianetics and Scientology signs ALL OVER A CLOSED UNKEMPT BUILDING!!

        And yet… I look at my kids and family and and everything! Jeepers the Tech works, instantly! Really really works!
        The world desperately needs and deserves this… so sad that the focus is so F*%@ed up now.
        Looking foward to a new dawn… 🙂

    • Really good question WS. When I was on staff in a smallish org I had the feeling that cant haves were being run on staff and public re getting up the bridge, and having money/mest, especially staff. New public were pushed to get on the staff treadmill instead of coaudits to clear which would have made much more sense.
      Not much FSMing going on because frankly not much Scientology was really happening, it was a stagnant scene.
      All this when LRH was still alive. For me the answer is in KSW 1, public will stay away from orgs not applying the tech, simple as that. The Ideal Orgs are just a sad joke of what they should be and they are worse than 30 yrs ago. Running cant haves/must haves, has become the stock in trade of orgs now. No one has their own dynamics anymore, your dynamics become the church period.
      When I hear of old time Orgs and Missions that actually delivered in big numbers, it almost astounds me that that was going on, but it obviously was. So it can happen and it has happened and I really hope it happens again

      • Spot on, cotch. KSW1 is the key. It’s become a lost tech. Lipserving only is given to KSW1. If stats are being held down, it’s this non-application.

        Trained EDs and execs have simply ‘forgotten’ that this is the deal. If they applied it, the cob should have been quickly exposed. Surely?

  6. What a waste. I donated a LOT of money towards that building. I was disgusted when I heard about how they had lied to us that they were under-budget and needed more money – which we duly gave. Only to discover that they actually used OUR money to buy the Durban building – later parking lot. I heard recently that the CFD Elmien is telling people the Durban property was sold by the Church for double what they bought it for – R32 Million for an empty lot??? Balderdash.

  7. Thank you once again, Scnafrica, for bringing us real news, we so appreciate it. I recall this Centre was the deflector of attention away from the fact that the AO in Kyalami had not taken off, and was hyped up in an attempt to erase the AO fail.

    But looking at this building, I cannot but help feel sad – I don’t only see DMs’ unvaluable final product here – what I also see is a failed hope and dream, and I think of how many good people put their money and hearts into this in order to bring about real positive change in our country.

    The bottom line is that the Church of Scientology is not a viable organization to put one’s money (or anything else) into, and the hope lies outside this self-eating, shrinking organization.

    if all those good people had directed their money and energy into other viable projects, we would have seen real impact by now.

    But, it is not too late. the good news is that DM has deprived the Church of the most competent, able and resourceful people, who will all now put their resources into new projects that will actually work.

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  9. Gaye snd Ernest are not the only idiots that funded CT Morgue. Other assholes also put their souls on the line. I wonder how Elmien and her co-pirates sleep at night when they see the abortions their dedicated labour has produced. Sheeple will be sheeple.

  10. Now I have heard it all. Looks like everything in the CO$ is going Ideal. The latest email I got reads:

    AOSH EU is becoming the 1st Ideal AO on the planet!
    YOU can be part of it!

    Here we go again! IAS is going to spend your money well in, revamping, sorry I mean making thier buildings IDEAL!

  11. Wow what a story, very moving!
    All i can say concerning the ideal orgs is to use the old saying:

    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

    Ron laid out the conditions of excistance for progressing into affluance… DM ether has a big MU or just has other intentions with thease buildings… Lets get the naive public to fund my empire of real estat (laundering the money that way with “donations”)where i will sell these buildings off after the orgs go bankrupt… $$$$$

    Talk about the blind being led… I hope people start to confront the realty and stop living in La la land the man is an SP if you dont belive me just look at the real stats = empty orgs!!! LRH himself would have sp declerd him

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