Diana Leafe Christian wrote:
It seems to me that just as the abundance and yield of a garden depends on the fertility of its soil, so the daily life functioning of a community depends on the emotional well-being and maturity of the people who live there.
AND . . . individual community members (like anyone anywhere) have wide ranges over any given set of days or weeks of how they function. And how communities function changes over time, too.
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
So, let me try to paint a hypothetical example. Suppose there is a massage therapist who cleans more than anyone else, brings in supplies, practically sacrifices herself to be part of an alternative healthcare clinic, but then rails, withdraws, or throws a fit if you use a word that seems chauvinistic to her. Not enough boundaries with helping or being part of the group, then too sharp a boundary with how others talk. Does that paint a picture?
In my limited experience, I came up with a theory. It seems to me that some folks who have had really difficult, perhaps even horrible issues or experiences, then turn to alternative lifestyles to heal. Whether those lifestyles involve alternative health care, alternative education, permaculture, living in community, or whatever doesn't really matter. And it's truly healthy and fabulous that these folks are looking for a healthier path.
The reason I came up with this theory, is because it seems to me there are higher percentages of folks with these kind of boundary or emotional issues in the alternative circles. I'm curious if others think this is true, too, or if it's just me.
I mentioned this to a friend and she had an interesting reply. She said she lived in a community in her twenties, and it seemed to her that the residents in that community all brought their unresolved family of origin issues to the group. In her view, the community was basically rife with folks processing stuff and she was relieved to eventually separate herself from it.
In my partnerships, I do look forward to the growth that comes from having buttons pushed (believe it or not) and how a mature, loving kind of intimacy can help each partner move beyond old patterns. That's a partnership, though. I would find it exhausting and draining if community members tended to be reactive and needy in these areas like the massage therapist example, or as my friend experienced when she lived in community.
I'm not at all opposed to processing stuff and being intimate and real in my relationships with people. It's just that I'd like to think I'm able to reign in my "stuff" to stay reasonable in my working, neighborly and even community relations. And I guess you could say I'm hugely doubtful that many of those drawn to community can do similarly. Diana has provided thorough examples of screening processes, which I'm sure is a huge chunk of preventing too much craziness in a community, but I'm still doubtful. And, I'm wondering if the odds are stacked a bit in favor of emotional drama.
It's just that sometimes, the horrible, awful past that led this person to buck the mainstream is still affecting them, and isn't quite healed yet. Might never be totally healed.
I'm coming to a different realization, that "intentional" community is not such a good idea.
I feel the same way about community at times. I love community when it happens, but I'm increasingly cynical about those who seek to force it to happen.
I like so many I think desire community, but fear lack of control.
Now wait a second, Paul -- are you saying all those who "lead an interesting life" are also "icky people?" Because that's the parallel you just implied.
I'm sorry, but I get irritated when you post a provocative statement (about "icky people") and then morph it into a general indictment of community. I think you've done this before.
But it's all about attitude, and if your complaint is (as it seems to me) that people who are antagonistic about community are unlikely to be successful in community, then I whole-heartedly agree with you!
I've never seen a concise definition of "founder's syndrome". In fact, many of the definitions I have seen disagree with yours. And yet, you write of it as though it were "term of art," or well-defined and well-understood by all. I think you did make it up -- at least the definition part that is in your head.
Paul, perhaps you should add your working definition of "founder's syndrome" to this discussion so we can better understand what you mean by it, because I am unable to ascertain a consistent vernacular definition for it.
I like your illustrations of Founder's Syndrome. I think that any vision has to be able to change as the organization grows and develops. Any good leader has to listen and be open to suggestions.
Begin with good juice and end up with a fine wine.
paul wheaton wrote:
In 2005 I attended an intentional community weekend workshop where the presenter taught us about "founder's syndrome" in intentional community.
The idea is that a founder works long and hard to get the land and get things started. Lots of hard work and having to find a path despite a lot of negativity. A founder needs to have a pretty thick skin. And then the founder reaches out and brings lovely people in. As things begin, there is lots of conflict and the founder attempts to find a smoother path.
Eventually, you have a group of lovely people and the founder. And the lovely people, being human, wish to improve their situation. And their lovely vision is different from the rigidly practical vision of the founder. It becomes clear that the obstacle to lovliness, is the founder. So the founder is ejected.
I have met many people that have told me many stories to confirm that founder's syndrome is very common in intentional community.
paul wheaton wrote:
When I think of founder's syndrome, my mind leads me to a space where the founder has done the math for budgets, taxes and possibly made agreements with neighbors so that the community can exist. And then there could be new folks that want something .... different ... and don't give a damn about all of that. Conflict arises.
And then there is a common community conflict: the people that work hard and make lots of community contributions, and then people that think they should stop working so hard and take it easy. I suspect the founder is a hard worker and might have expectations that others carry an equal share. In the meantime, many of the others feel they could have an even better community if everybody was not forced to work so much.
And just how big does a group have to be to be called a community?
I guess there could be a community of one
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