In 2005 I started studying community. I read Diana's book. I then took a workshop from Diana and tortured her with questions. I visited a dozen communities and interviewed people that were exiting community. I attended more workshops, visited with more experts, interviewed people having success, and more people that were exiting communities, I lived in communities, I helped to start several communities, I served on a board for an intentional community incubator, I conducted experiments with community ....
And the key point to examine was "founders syndrome". A common thing is that somebody will have the massive force to start a community, and then once the community is rolling, the community members that put very little into the community will vote out that "type A" person that is always bitching about taxes, roads, paperwork, and stuff. Often times, the founder was the person that paid for the land. I interviewed several people that were the victims of founders syndrome.
A different angle: when in community, one icky person can destroy the whole community. I have mentioned several occasions of this in podcasts. So it seems important to be able to eject the bad apple.
At the same time, due to founder's syndrome, that could be me.
And, even more, just my personality offends a lot of people - so it could be me again.
So now the deal is that I am superglued to the site. I am not leaving. So if there is a mismatch, the other party goes. Who remains are all the people that I get along with. And hopefully they will get along with each other. And if they don't get along with each other, then I suppose I need to find a way to solve that too.
So I put out the podcasts and people can get an idea of what I'm like and they get an idea of whether they can tolerate my tyranny. And then there is a two week period where they can hang out with me in person and REALLY figure out if they can tolerate my tyranny. At the same time I try to figure out if they will be a long term fit for me and the rest of the community.
Further, weeks, months or years could pass and it could become clear that somebody needs to move on.
The point of saying all this: there is a possibility that this is not a fit and I will be staying, therefore ....
I think some people will choose to leave and say "I'm leaving in three days". Other people will, I suppose, just walk away without saying goodbye. It's not unheard of. It's their right, and nobody would be surprised if it happens.
I have been in charge of projects in business where a relationship seemed fine and then one day somebody says or does something unacceptable. So that person left within minutes.
I have been in community where everything seems great and then a person does something absolutely unacceptable and it took several weeks to get that person out - and the community festered for that time.
Here on permies there have been several times where a person had written hundreds of posts and everything seemed great and then one bad post goes up, there is an argument and *poof* they are gone (by their own power or by mine).
I have fired a lot of people in my career. I have had far more people quit with the reason being that I'm an asshole. I suppose over so many years of so much of this, I have become a bit calloused in this space.
Somehow, I feel that by stating this, everybody (including me) will put in a bit more effort for things to work out. At the same time, keep in mind that things can go wonky, and if they go wonky enough, what is "plan B"?
I know that Jocelyn and I have had gobs of conversation in this space. And when interviewing folks that are coming out, one of the things she is checking for is (what we have been calling) a parachute. If things go wonky, where do you go? Will you be able to get there? Will you need a ride to the airport or the bus? Are you settling in so that you might need a u-haul to unsettle?
I like to think that everybody that comes to the land will have a parachute and then things will be so awesome that they will stay forever - thus never using their parachute. But my track record says that that thought is too optimistic.
At this point in time, we have zero experience with this strategy, so there is no official policy or plan or anything. Everything will be figured out as we go. Maybe a year or two from now we will have a better idea.
Plus, I very much need people to be there every day because they want to. I don't want anybody to end up being there because they have no way to leave - so this project becomes their own personal hell. A parachute makes it really easy to leave - so folks hang out as long as everybody is grooving on it.
Adrien Lapointe wrote:What about a minimum money in the bank type of requirement? So that if they need to leave they can rent a uhaul or take a taxi ride to the airport, etc.
Adrien, great minds think alike!
We talked about something along those lines: after the first month(s) are out of the way, and any trial periods are completed, there might be a deposit required. Not a damage deposit per se, but a 'parachute deposit' to pay for a bus ticket at the very least, and, yes, perhaps a uhaul or whatever for those who move in with more stuff or need more funds to exit.
Notice the "might be required." Still working it out. A deposit just sounds better in some ways than looking at or monitoring anyone's bank balance.
The parachute needs to be uncomfortable. But it needs to work.
If the out is too easy, people will use it without even trying to work through the issues. But if it isn't trusted to work when needed, people will get desperate and lash out or go passive aggressive and the whole community will get icky.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Paul, I have wondered for a long time if you are familiar with, or have ever used, Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typological approach to personality testing? When I first started working, the company I worked for was experimenting with team based management and we took all sorts of tests like these. It really seemed to help us understand our group dynamics.
Because I am a supportive personality, an INFP, (introvert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving), I was more aware of how I react to my "opposite"personalities, and how they react to me. It also helped them understand why I sometimes need to be alone!
I thought it might be one tool for selecting folks for your farm.
My personal view on this is that a community needs a constitution. When formed, you need to make a podcast / video going over the constitution point by point and explaining the spirit and intent of each item.
The constitution sets the rules and the video is a countermeasure so that it isn't altered / twisted over time due to alternative interpretations (sound familiar?)
I've experienced communal type politics in a few environments, and there is a tendency to not respect a constitution and just change it to fit the committee's agenda. Not good.
Quite frankly, I seriously doubt that a small community can be run via a committee anyway. There needs to be one person with executive powers. It can either be a king (for life), or an elected person (for a season).
In the case of an elected, the rules of a pure democracy then come into play. The elected person can only serve one term in their entire life and the term has to be short. The executive position is a duty, not a privilege, and as such, every person is expected to fill this position at some point (hence the short duration in case they suck at it) and can not decline.
In a small community where the number of people is too small, a roster can be formed, where each person who is of age, sound mind etc, takes turns filling this position for a period of 12 months.
Some people don't like the idea of "king for a season" but think about it. It's only a year. If that person is a tyrant, the next king is likely to banish them, or at the very least they will have to live with the consequences / pay back once they return to citizen status.
I know we all love the ideal of an altruistic society where everyone loves each other etc, but human nature just isn't like that, and we as humans act very differently to how we would like to act. There needs to be a clearly defined leadership structure with real power.
The community will still need bureaucrats (or bureaucratic roles) but don't confuse them with politics. They carry out essential functions (like keeping the books) and no more. They keep their position indefinitely as long as they are willing and able to perform the service they're there for. Paul this is like the difference between a conceptual and functional architecture. The people and executive determine the strategy, while the bureaucrats determine implementation.
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit