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the story of jerry (not his real name): a permaculture exercise  RSS feed

 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I used to put young slackers with Olga, a hard working woman in her mid fifties who looked 70. She had a cigarette stained face and a trucker mouth. If a young man produced less than her, she'd loudly announce that fact. "What a weakling, I'm older than his mom, what a sissy, somebody get the baby his bottle." Her voice was like Patty and Selma from the Simpsons.

Some picked up the pace, and many quit.



I understand shaming is a useful tool to get things done, but too often, I think it is abused and leaves questionable side effects on those being targeted.

Thick or thin skin or what not. People are people, and as much as I dislike freeloaders, I have not yet found out how to handle them properly. Irregardless of whether the community is intended to be permaculture-esque or not, long-lasting communities do not survive when its members do not feel included. Shaming in any manner is not the solution, and I think it is degrading and out of place. Like my brother and I are such good examples of how shaming can effect people: two extreme outcomes. I was outraged when my parents tried shaming me when growing up, and I developed into an independent go-getter, trickster, and ambivert- doing whatever I have to or feel is necessary to get the desired outcomes. On the other hand, my brother became very introverted, still is a go-getter, but he is more respectful of authority than I am. I respect authority and customs when it helps me get whatever I am after. At the moment, most of my issues with management are about making them more efficient because I dislike inefficiency, and bureaucracy pisses me off.

Shaming is just an all-around shitstorm. It creates hatred and hostility, and I think if we want to promote the permaculture cause, which by definition is permanent culture and permanent agriculture, then we need a way to properly work with and integrate everyone.

Personally, I think Paul's idea of doing potato, mushroom, and ant villages is the best solution to this problem. It appears, to me, to be a very wise way: let everyone develop at their own pace and as things develop, some will be invited to move up a tier and others will be left in potato village and might not return.

I might be taking one step too far, but as I mentioned earlier, I tend to push envelopes. So, considering permies is the most visited permaculture forum, as we claim, then, I think it may be considered unwise to be promoting shaming on our website.
 
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Dave Burton wrote:

Dale Hodgins wrote:I used to put young slackers with Olga, a hard working woman in her mid fifties who looked 70. She had a cigarette stained face and a trucker mouth. If a young man produced less than her, she'd loudly announce that fact. "What a weakling, I'm older than his mom, what a sissy, somebody get the baby his bottle." Her voice was like Patty and Selma from the Simpsons.

Some picked up the pace, and many quit.



I might be taking one step too far, but as I mentioned earlier, I tend to push envelopes. So, considering permies is the most visited permaculture forum, as we claim, then, I think it may be considered unwise to be promoting shaming on our website.



Bear in mind that Dale was working with the system he had. Olga and 'Jerry' would have inevitably ended up working side by side sooner or later, they were both elements in Dale's system. By connecting those two elements right away, he was able to give Jerry his choice on the matter immediately rather than later on when things become more complicated. In the above scenario Jerry has three choices.

A: Pick up the pace
B: Flee the circumstance
C: Endure the shaming without giving a shit [admittedly this likely would have been me back in my 'Jerry' days as a youth. Didn't care what people said one way or the other.]

If Dale were to proactively move to prevent 'shaming' then he now has two problem elements rather than one, Jerry being 'Jerry' and Olga being herself.
 
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Wow... 40 posts about Jerry. The time spent just on this forum topic is more than jerry deserves.

There will always be Jerry's in any organization. Organizations that survive and thrive are the ones that identify their jerrys quickly and get rid of them. Wheaton Labs is not responsible for fixing jerry or motivating jerry or delving into his psyche to "help" him heal the hurts of the past etc. Wheaton Labs has offered jerry an opportunity to learn and grow and have meaningful work to do. Jerry's response is to blow off his minimal obligations and spend his energies finding ways to circumvent any responsibilty (and work).

I have had Jerrys work for me ( briefly) One got into drugs and stopped showing up for work (right at the startup phase of a new business BTW, and he was our only employee at the time) After an absence of a week, he called up on Friday and wanted to come get his check!... you know, for the week he hadn't been there! Another jerry sat in his cubicle and surfed the web for eight straight, while the lab samples he was supposed to be analyzing piled up. When I finally fired him, he was truly shocked and indignant; he expected that the letters after his name granted him license to do as he pleased. Worse than his inactivity and attitude was that he set an example for the rest of the employees whose performance deteriorated as well.


Jerry is a weed; so do some chop-and-drop. Show him the gate. Let Darwin take care of him.
 
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Michael Martin wrote:


Jerry is a weed; so do some chop-and-drop. Show him the gate. Let Darwin take care of him.



Weeds are indicators, nutrient minors, and often times misunderstood medicinals.

Paul's has expressed in the past that people would come to the lab and be healed of cancer. Why wouldn't other maladies be included in the desire to create a system that by its very nature will heal the individuals present? Mental or physical.

Chop and drop is great, but chop and drop will not always yield the ecosystem you desire. It creates mulch and biomass, but if you never plant the seeds you want to grow then how will your system develop into something that benefits you and includes happily growing plants?

In my opinion this topic is not about what jerry deserves, maybe he deserves a punch in the nose who cares? The thread is about discussing permaculture solutions, not blanket formulas for dealing with perceived problems.
 
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Zach Muller wrote:
Chop and drop is great, but chop and drop will not always yield the ecosystem you desire. It creates mulch and biomass, but if you never plant the seeds you want to grow then how will your system develop into something that benefits you and includes happily growing plants?



You have seeds already, the other working and learning gappers.


Jerry is a strangle vine wrapping it's pervasive tendrils around the tender young gappers there to work and learn, slowly tightening his habits of sloth and avoidance of responsibility and dragging them down into the darkness...

Chop him free and mulch him down to allow the others to grow and spread, and to form an object lesson.
 
Zach Muller
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I am not sure a "reboot" of sorts would be necessary if the situation were as you describe. Reductionist thinking solves some stuff but not a lot of human related stuff in my experience.
 
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Dave Burton wrote:Shaming is just an all-around shitstorm. It creates hatred and hostility, and I think if we want to promote the permaculture cause, which by definition is permanent culture and permanent agriculture, then we need a way to properly work with and integrate everyone.



While it is nice to imagine a system that would work for everyone, it's not difficult to come up with an extreme example that illustrates that it is not a question of if a line should be drawn to exclude people, but simply a matter of where to draw the line.

As this thread has shown, whether or not childish people should be booted is debatable. However, as we ramp up the problem-scale of the person that debate gets more and more one sided. If instead of just being childish, the person was an active thief, more people would say he needs to go. Have a situation where the person is physically abusive and fewer people will want to be in a system with that person. Going even further to the extreme, we make that person Jeffrey Dahmer.
 
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A lot of these responses remind me of one of my favorite passages from the Zhuangzi:

HuiZi said to ZhuangZi, "The Prince of Wei gave me a seed of a large-sized kind of gourd. I planted it, and it bore a fruit as big as a five bushel measure. Now had I used this for holding liquids, it would have been too heavy to lift; and had I cut it in half for ladles, the ladles would have been too flat for such purpose. Certainly it was a huge thing, but I had no use for it and so I broke it up."

"It was rather you did not know how to use large things," replied ZhuangZi. "There was a man in the Song Dynasty who had a recipe for salve for chapped hands, his family having been silk-washers for generations. A stranger who had heard of it came and offered him a hundred ounces of silver for this recipe; whereupon he called together his clansmen and said, 'We have never made much money by silk-washing. Now, we can sell the recipe for a hundred ounces in a single day. Let the stranger have it.'

"The stranger got the recipe, and went and had an interview with the Prince of Wu. The Yueh State was in trouble, and the Prince of Wu sent a general to fight a naval battle with Yueh at the beginning of winter. The latter was totally defeated, and the stranger was rewarded with a piece of the King's territory. Thus, while the efficacy of the salve to cure chapped hands was in both cases the same, its applications were different. Here, it secured a title; there, the people remained silk-washers.

"Now as to your five-bushel gourd, why did you not make a float of it, and float about over river and lake? And you complain of its being too flat for holding things! I fear your mind is stuffy inside."



There is a difference between there being no use for something, and not being able to find a use for something .

As for shaming, all of us (I hope) one way or another has things that would shame us - that is what makes us morally upright people. Shaming however only works if it is something that would actually shame the person, and I am not sure if sleeping while other people work their butts off doesn't shame a Jerry that intentional shaming will actually have any real effect. It might if they are concerned about the others expecting them to be shamed, but it sounds like a Jerry already doesn't care what the others think. I still maintain that one of the best ways to utilize a Jerry is to work on minimalizing how much damage a Jerry can do and while at the same time giving Jerry an opportunity to possible create things of value and observing him. It may not be the best use of him, but it is a use.
 
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I have been following this because I am a people person and would like to see a healthy whole outcome to this sort of 'problem.'

paul wheaton wrote:

Jerry could turn out to be awesome in a good, permaculture environment. But last year, with things set up the way they were, jerry was a fucking pain in the ass.



As I turn all these comments around in my little head, I go back to the original challenge and find "...with things set up the way they were..." and I wonder about that. Jerry certainly sounds irresponsible, to say the least, but I also find myself wondering if agreements - and consequences - were clearly spelled out, and thoroughly understood, at the start. And I appreciate that this would take effort on someone's part, too. Not knowing how or why things were set up the way they were gives me very little to go on so I just thought I would wonder out loud.
 
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I find the suggestions of withholding food or something if the person doesn't do X amount of work somewhat unrealistic. I see a few problems with that approach. All of you are going to be busy with your own work and you won't have watched over the various gappers etc to see how much they are doing each day. And sometimes a perfectly good gapper will be sick or something, or writing her grad school applications this week but has been there for months so nobody in charge will begrudge her a few days' laxity, but Jerry will see that. He might even argue. And he'll argue that he did useful work and then who really wants to argue with that? Honestly I can't imagine the nice people of the Lab and environs blocking the door to a meal saying "Stay out, you didn't earn your meal today." Who is going to be willing to do that job? Yuck! And sometimes you're already sitting down enjoying dinner and in the middle of a conversation when Jerry slides in and fills up his plate on the side. You gonna have a Lunch Lady checking eligibility at the door? And work overseers? I'm not sure that's the kind of environment you want.

On a minor note, I think requiring people to bring their own dishes is a brilliant idea, and would also control the person who was hiding dirty dishes in the office desk drawers!
 
Thomas Partridge
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Rebecca Norman wrote:I find the suggestions of withholding food or something if the person doesn't do X amount of work somewhat unrealistic. I see a few problems with that approach. All of you are going to be busy with your own work and you won't have watched over the various gappers etc to see how much they are doing each day. And sometimes a perfectly good gapper will be sick or something, or writing her grad school applications this week but has been there for months so nobody in charge will begrudge her a few days' laxity, but Jerry will see that. He might even argue. And he'll argue that he did useful work and then who really wants to argue with that? Honestly I can't imagine the nice people of the Lab and environs blocking the door to a meal saying "Stay out, you didn't earn your meal today." Who is going to be willing to do that job? Yuck! And sometimes you're already sitting down enjoying dinner and in the middle of a conversation when Jerry slides in and fills up his plate on the side. You gonna have a Lunch Lady checking eligibility at the door? And work overseers? I'm not sure that's the kind of environment you want.

On a minor note, I think requiring people to bring their own dishes is a brilliant idea, and would also control the person who was hiding dirty dishes in the office desk drawers!



I agree that withholding food would be distasteful and would not be a fun job for someone to preform. Unfortunately (and this is a failing on my part) I cannot think of a better way to limit the harm that Jerry is doing without actually asking him to leave. Anything you do to reward good behavior will have the same result as withholding food will, cause argument and division. At the same time anything you do to punish bad behavior will have the same problems as rewarding good behavior will have and will have the additional issues as discussed in this thread regarding shaming. Every solution (even a solution that uses a problem to solve another problem) will have issues with it and will be imperfect.

As for the difficulties of it, I think that in the examples given it would not be difficult for the team leader to make the determination that Jerry had not pulled their share. There will arise some gray areas to be sure, but if you set the threshold at even half of the work the gapper agreed to preform and let the team leader make the determination, it shouldn't be too difficult for them to decide if Jerry had done even half of what he was suppose to. There will still be arguments, but as I said earlier my solution is not necessarily the ideal - just the only one that I can think of that fits within the parameters of the challenge.

Perhaps it is just because I have met so many Jerry's and had to manage quite a few of them in a situation where I could not just ask them to leave that I feel so stubborn on my point, since everything else I have tried has never worked with a Jerry.
 
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I feel like Jerry would be a "floating gapper". Here is what i mean:
Working some time in a pharmacy i learned that the stores each had a manager pharmacist and a second main pharmacist. Then when one of them isnt working a "floater" pharmacist will come and work a shift. Theres plenty of floaters and each seem to regularly put in open shifts at the stores close to them and maybe a few farther ones that they like working in.

So here was my thought..
Jerry seems to hate to have a "boss". He wants to contract his own work, on his terms, when he wants to do the work.
So Jerry could have a bunk or tent spot. He visits Paul and the Ant village, etc to see who needs what done. Jerry says to himself "Oh hey the Ant village person 'Bob' needs someone to help him put up a few more hugels. And Paul wants fence across this sunny area. And Ant person 'Betty' wants some wooded area thinned. It's kinda hot today so the woods will be cooler. 'Betty' is a good cook too. I will go offer to do that for her today in trade for a few meals today."

Here Jerry decides what he wants to do and gets fed. Also in this case Jerry could say to himself "You know what its too hot to work, screw that. I will nap and read and leisurely hike for some berries and edibles. Too hot to eat alot anyhow."

And now Jerry can decide what he wants to do and still get fed.

Alternatively in the same scenario Jerry could nap and read and hike in the fall. Not find much edible that day to harvest and eat and be hungry. In his own fault. And if Jerry starts stuff with some Gappers or Ants etc he gets sent to Paul. In this case I imagine Paul laughing at him and telling him he should have decided to help someone in trade for a meal(s). And if this happened repeatedly Jerry will either learn to figure out work trades or exchange goods to care for himself. Or he decides everyone must be total assholes etc and leave. Or Paul decides Jerry clearly thinks he will give in and feed jerry like a stray and let him hang around so Paul tells Jerry to leave.

This seems like what everyone keeps coming back to?
Except my added idea of Gappers floating to decide who they want to help with which projects. Although alot like stuff Paul has already said before.

I imagine most gappers will find a certian Ant or Shallow roots/ Deep roots person to stay with. I can also imagine a gapper come and be like "You know what, I am seriousky bonkers about Cob and i will help whoever is working on Cob stuff". Or "I am bonkers about RMHs and i want to go help wherever there is RMH building or experimenting."
 
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As this thread goes on and on, I can't help (and I tried not to) wonder what story Jerry told himself during the stay and is telling now about his experiences. His actions are so foreign to me, I can't begin to wrap my overly empathetic brain into his thinking and perceptions. Would he even recognize himself in this thread?
 
Dave Burton
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Here's a compilation of ideas that I think might work well and the ways they could interact:
1. Ask for an application (suggested by Pia Jensen)
2. Screen the applicants (suggested by Pia jensen)
-This process may help to identify trouble early on and sort people into their niches in the system.

3. Use the tiered village system (i.e. potato, mushroom, ant) (thought of by Paul Wheaton
-This would be effective because it would set goals for each village; it would have fairly decentralized power so problems can be sorted out locally without wasting other people's time; then, as each season passes, people are either invited to grow and develop further in another village, stay for another season, or not invited again. This gives ample opportunity for evaluation and integration, and when people do not fit, they will not have an excuse. They were given a chance to prove themselves.

4. Job Lists (suggested by Kadence Blevins)
-A listing of jobs may be useful because it allows for self-assembly and self-determination to occur. People are no longer able to blame what is happening to themselves on anyone but themselves.

5. Bounty/Booty, Prioritization, and Secretarial Duties (suggested by me)
-The idea of a Job Lists could edited to add specific bounty/booty attached to tasks of varying priority. This is a take on Game Theory and gamification. Tasks could be sorted out into varying levels of difficulty, time, and ick. As these factors increase, the bounty is increased proportionally. This will definitely require a good secretary/manager of sorts, and as seen in many good organizations and ecosystems, these pillars/mother-trees are absolutely necessary for long-term survival and development.This can be adapted in various ways, certain tasks could be set to require a certain number of people work together which encourages community development. Different task sets could be written up for each village, and a Master Task Set could be written up for high priority tasks. Tasks could be set as recurring at certain intervals.

6. Tracking of Work (suggested by D. Logan and Kyrt Ryder)
-a currency could be created for the basecamp to keep track of the work people do
-these can be given a specific value of time and a material relative equivalent
-another good thing about D. Logan's suggestion is that people will be responsible for keeping track of their own "Wheaton hours" (or whatever you want to name them), and if they lose them, oh well.
*taking a spin on this idea, the secretary would instead just be the "Inspector and Rewards Person." When a person wishes to claim bounty, they will go to the Inspector and ask for their work to be inspected. If the task is complete, bounty is rewarded. If not, no bounty. Plain and simple. The Inspector takes the heat instead of Paul for being a dick, but eventually somebody/something has to apply feedback to the system. Either, a singular person, the leader of each village, the villagers, or Paul. Feedback ALWAYS happens. A proper outlet(s) and system(s) must be in place to institute change.

7. Prestige (suggested by me)
-This could be an alternative or supplement to a currency system. Certain tasks could also earn people prestige/honor in the community. This would be a written representation of the appreciation members of the community and management have for the people on site. Certain areas and tools could be off-limits until certain levels of prestige/honor are earned. The prestige could be lost or spent on varying things. This is another way of tracking the communities. The prestige could be dispensed in various ways, by an Inspector, by village leaders, by Paul. by appointed community members (like the apple system), or by group consensus, etc.

7. Maintenance (suggested by me)
-These are tasks that happen too frequently to be worth posting on the Task Lists. Daily completion of maintenance would most likely be related to the roles on basecamp. Each "role" that somebody has taken up would be required to carry out its relevant duties.

8. Roleplaying and Frameworks and Drafting a Plan (suggested by me and Jack Edmondson)
-Lay out your ecosystem Paul. You have a great system right now; however, I think it may be helpful, as many permaculture designers do, to spell out all the niches and roles that need to be filled on your site. These niches could be called "roles." Each role has specific expectations, as with usual jobs.
-I think this may be a large part of the problem. The system has not yet be completely designed. It may be useful to take a deep breath and draft a full plan for your site, from the plants, earthworks, and other stuff to the people systems, too. A well-written plan is definitely helpful.
-I do not know how much of a plan has been written.Though, I am just kinda sensing that a more complete plan might need to be written.

*Ultimately, I think #8 is the biggest issue. A full plan from start to finish, detailing how everything will work, get done, and the systems get put into place be written. I think it may be helpful to return to that permaculture designer mode of yours, and expand from there. Look at the circles. Begin with what you can do by yourself in managing the system, and expand the circle from there. Like irrigating trees with tiny ponds around each tree tiny ditches connecting them, all people have their own little spheres that gradually overflow into each others' spheres. Analyzing parts and people at the small level and putting the jigsaw back together.

*More about plans: I think the Land Manager Position at basecamp may be a good way of solving #8. Possibly a personal permaculture designer to aid Paul and help work out all the nitty gritty stuff?? I don't know. Just an idea, something to toss around and pontificate about.
 
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your list is really thoughtful and detailed. structure is needed...one suggestion, re: "-another good thing about D. Logan's suggestion is that people will be responsible for keeping track of their own "Wheaton hours" (or whatever you want to name them), and if they lose them, oh well. "

my thinking is, create a space that supports rather than stands aside from your crew... allowing cracks to exist (when it is not necessary) opens the door for more potential conflict - make it easy - give them their "payment" but make it a credit in a ledger. Don't give them the opportunity to lose it. And, you don't have to put energy & material into "currency."
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Pia Jensen wrote:your list is really thoughtful and detailed. structure is needed...one suggestion, re: "-another good thing about D. Logan's suggestion is that people will be responsible for keeping track of their own "Wheaton hours" (or whatever you want to name them), and if they lose them, oh well. "

my thinking is, create a space that supports rather than stands aside from your crew... allowing cracks to exist (when it is not necessary) opens the door for more potential conflict - make it easy - give them their "payment" but make it a credit in a ledger. Don't give them the opportunity to lose it. And, you don't have to put energy & material into "currency."



The problem with putting the 'payment' into a ledger [unless it's a digital ledger IE a cryptocurrency] is that somebody independent of the transaction has to reference that ledger every time someone wants to make a payment to someone else.

If Wheatoncoins were pressed out of wood [particularly Black Locust for its durability, although it would take one hell of a press to accomplish it in that wood] and handed out by the lab in return for Services or USD rendered, then all that responsibility is passed on to the Lab Economy and its participants.

Disclaimer: I'm assuming the Jerries of the world are too lazy to counterfeit a solid material coin, that's a different sort of problem element.

EDIT: in fact, rather than handing out 'candy units' to the early Ants, it would probably be simpler for Paul to hand out bonus Wheatoncoins and let the Ants spend them as they see fit within the Lab Economy.
 
Pia Jensen
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:
The problem with putting the 'payment' into a ledger [unless it's a digital ledger IE a cryptocurrency] is that somebody independent of the transaction has to reference that ledger every time someone wants to make a payment to someone else.

If Wheatoncoins were pressed out of wood [particularly Black Locust for its durability, although it would take one hell of a press to accomplish it in that wood] and handed out by the lab in return for Services or USD rendered, then all that responsibility is passed on to the Lab Economy and its participants.

Disclaimer: I'm assuming the Jerries of the world are too lazy to counterfeit a solid material coin, that's a different sort of problem element.

EDIT: in fact, rather than handing out 'candy units' to the early Ants, it would probably be simpler for Paul to hand out bonus Wheatoncoins and let the Ants spend them as they see fit within the Lab Economy.



I see the value... but, still...there are several ways to deal with this -one I think of right off the top: pegboard with everybody's credit hanging there. Accessible to staff only. So, for example, "J" has 30 credits, hanging on a peg under his name where staff can readily deduct the credit he wants to use...like a hotel keeping your room key behind the desk.

The ledger does not have to be fancy, computerized, or complicated.
Seeds work...
 
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Pia Jensen wrote:I see the value... but, still...there are several ways to deal with this -one I think of right off the top: pegboard with everybody's credit hanging there. Accessible to staff only. So, for example, "J" has 30 credits, hanging on a peg under his name where staff can readily deduct the credit he wants to use...like a hotel keeping your room key behind the desk.

The ledger does not have to be fancy, computerized, or complicated.


As simple as that system is, it still requires the time of the staff every time someone wants to do any inter-party commerce on the Lab. I'm pretty sure Paul doesn't want himself or any of his staff to have to police transactions between people in that community.

Even if such transactions only happen once per day, and only take 20 minutes of a staff member's time go to the ledger and make the adjustment and come back to what they were doing before [all points I find a bit optimistic] that's around 120 person-hours per year spent managing the ledger. You very well may be looking at 2-3 times that much.
 
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well, definitely sounds like the process needs working out...
 
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sounds like jerry has "daddy" issues that he's projecting onto you, he's acting like a teenager isn't he? I don't think there is much you can do about that, it's an internal problem of jerry's. I bet you'll find out he has terrible relationship with his dad.
 
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First, I don't think that punishing Jerry would be practical or useful because the idea here is to develop a system that reduces managerial stress and increases productivity. The exercise is not really about Jerry at all but about ways Paul can feel better. Kicking Jerry off the island, while satisfying short-term, would not develop management strategies for the inevitable next Jerry. My guess is that some Jerrys are salvageable while others are not worth the effort. The question is what technique will lead to sorting the two with little effort and high repeatability?

People do what is rewarding for them. It is as close to a law of human behavior as I can imagine. So Jerry's obnoxious, passive-aggressive behavior he perceives as rewarding. I took a behavioral psych class that basically said we do things to get rewards, get attention, or self stimulate. Conversely, we also do things to get away from punishment, to avoid attention, or to remove self stimulation. A behavioral approach might ask: what is the socially communicative function of Jerry's behavior? What does Jerry's behavior tell us? I would inquire: what does being disrespectful, slothful, and passive-aggressive do for Jerry? The interchange between Paul and Jerry might have been:

PAUL:
"Jerry, when you came to the ant village you agreed to pull your weight and that's not happening. You've been sleeping in all day, avoiding chores, and eating all my food. I noticed these bent spoons. I spent $20.00 on the flatware so everyone could avoid eating with their hands. What do you think is going on here?"

JERRY:
"You're a F*****G D**K! You always micromanage but never tell us what you want us to do. A$$*0*e!" (Is Jerry trying to avoid attention from Paul that makes Jerry feel uncomfortable? Is Jerry trying to get Paul to change Paul's behavior? Maybe the sense of control Jerry feels is self-stimulating).

PAUL:
"Well, Jerry, I have work to do. You're going to have to leave my property or I'm going to throw you out."

JERRY:
"F**K YOU!"

We are all motivated to behave, 100% of the time except when we're unconscious or dead. So if the leader plays detective to figure out what message Jerry is sending, then a person-centered strategy could be tailored to Jerry to maximize the good and minimize the bad behavior. This is a lot of hard thinking and sleuthing...so only worthwhile if you have the time, energy and desire to salvage Jerry.

Here are some question I have:

Does Jerry have a mental or physical illness that could promote maladaptive behavior? (Examples could include depression, untreated bipolar disorder, Asberger's syndrome, hypothyroidism, uncontrolled diabetes, poor med compliance, ADHD, etc.)
Did Jerry receive an introduction to the Ant village with expectations clearly explained orally and in writing before he arrived?
When did Jerry first show the problem behavior?
What did that problem behavior look like?
What was the severity of the problem behavior?
Were there any times when Jerry acting like other good ants?
If so, can you find out what was rewarding for Jerry in that environment and replicate the rewards? Better yet, can you teach Jerry how to communicate reasonable wants and needs? Can you have the community rules set limits on problem behavior and enforce natural consequences for problem behavior? Is Jerry able to access rewards that promote positive, pro-social behavior?
What happened immediately before Jerry starting acting out and immediately after Jerry acted out? Is there a pattern?

When Jerry called Paul a "d**k" and a micromanager, how did Paul respond? What was the behavior chain following that interaction?

My opinion is that Jerry probably has a lifelong pattern of avoiding effort and responsibility. He has been allowed to live comfortably by avoiding unpleasant situations by well-meaning but misguided family members. The ant village sounded fun but when he got there it wasn't fun but hard work, so the old habits kicked in to avoid feeling uncomfortable. The likelihood of corrective leadership action is probably very low, but worth a shot just in case. Who are some good role models he could pair with to learn the social skills he needs?

Here's another way the conversation could go:

PAUL:
"Jerry, when you came to the ant village you agreed to pull your weight and that's not happening. You've been sleeping in all day, avoiding chores, and eating all my food. I noticed these bent spoons. I spent $20.00 on the flatware so everyone could avoid eating with their hands. What do you think is going on here?"

JERRY:
"You're an F*****G D**K! You always micromanage but never tell us what you want us to do. A$$*0*E!"

PAUL:
"What is it you want here Jerry?"

JERRY:
"I want to sleep in and have a good time, maybe down a couple of brews and do a couple of Permie things but basically hang out and have a few laughs".

PAUL:
"Sure, that sounds great, we all like to have a good time, but we have a mission here and there's work to be done. We need someone to pick up where you left off when you went to Missoula all day today. Everyone here is pitching in but you are not and we're getting pretty fed up with that. We want you to be successful. Tell me what would make that happen".

JERRY:
"I'M F*****G TIRED, OKAY? THIS PLACE SUCKS! YOU ARE ALWAYS MICROMANAGING BUT YOU NEVER TELL ME WHAT TO DO! YOU'RE AN F*****G P***K!"

PAUL:
"So you want less hands on management from me, but more precise instructions. Got it. Jerry, why don't you tell me exactly what you need to succeed here and maybe we can figure it out together, okay?"

Jerry can either be extreme or be reasonable.

If Jerry is reasonable:

JERRY:
"Okay, sorry man. Sorry I went off like that. I've never been out of Ma's basement before. The chicks don't dig me, the dudes thinK I'm a lazy slug. I'm tired because the food sucks and I never work out. Maybe if I could help without sweating my b***s off, if I could pace myself, you know, that would work better?"

PAUL:
"I see. Apology accepted. I think we can work this out. If you agree to pitch in and do your work as agreed, I'll let you choose which projects to work on and at the same time make sure you understand what I want from you in the form of well-explained objectives. I must tell you that calling me names will not be tolerated again and if you do, I'll have to ask you to leave my property immediately, ok?"

JERRY:
"Yeah, no problem. I just get so worked up when I think somebody is picking on me and being unreasonable. It won't happen again".

If Jerry is unreasonable, then it is time for him to go home, but at least the conversation brought the issue to a head. I would recommend a more thorough and meticulous screening of potential ants. Early detection and prevention are key to finding compatible ants. Think of how NASA screens astronauts. Having a passive-aggressive astronaut on Mars means the mission is in jeopardy. Remember HAL 2000? Multi-million dollar projects can go up in smoke and people die. I bet you would prefer your heavy machinery operated by people who don't bend spoons and act out. Screening is far from perfect but every a$$801e screened out is so much less work for Paul. Who knows, maybe the next super ant will be saved from themselves?
 
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How about this:

Jerry: passive-agressive oppressor.
Kind hearted soul: enabler.

What seems to be proposed is a catch-22, if you keep Jerry you have to deal long-term with disruptive and oppressive behavior. If you kick him out, you can't "move past" the problem and find a truly permaculture solution.

Personally, I disapprove of catch-22's on principle. It's an artificial and toxic thing that dis-allows you do do what you really want to do (as Jerry's victim). The real question is "who does this benefit?"
Finding a long-term solution to an oppressive person benefits them, so why do it? Especially when it drains you of resources, energy, time, etc, etc.

I also agree that the permaculture solution is to stop any Jerry at the source and reduce to nothing their impact on your site. You just design them out of your system and guess what, the non-jerrys of the world wind up finding you anyway. Permaculture is about slowing down or at least attempting to stop negative impacts, and Jerry is one of those.

William
 
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Speaking from a psychology background, I may be able to offer some suggestions.

1. Jerry has been described in some posts as acting like a teenager, however I understand he's only 20 years old. During puberty, our neurones go into a massive re-organisation, and this is largely what's responsible for 'teenage behaviour'. This only finishes in our mid-20s, and is responsible for a need for more sleep and difficulty with empathising with/ understanding others' motivations, amongst other things. Obviously, we go through this at different rates.
2. Younger generations have been largely brought up in a society where you can get everything you want very easily. Food and clothing can be bought from the shop, restaurant, or delivered. You get to drive everywhere. Excellent entertainment is available, free, and at no effort through the internet/TV/gaming. People brought up in this environment probably need a slow introduction to the value and sense of achievement you can get through hard work, especially physical labour.
3. We react to threats by fighting, fleeing or freezing.

Being of this age group and cohort, Jerry probably has a poor attention span and struggles to plan things through properly (which is why I imagine he bent the spoons without thinking through the consequences). I imagine he is not very emotionally literate, which could be why he reacted by criticising Paul (fight mechanism) and avoiding (fleeing mechanism) rather than taking responsibility and apologising. Before arriving, he may have thought about all the benefits of the gap stay (being in the outdoors, feeling healthy, learning, making good friendships), but not adequately comprehended the workload involved.

We humans are motivated by two things. The first is one advocated by many posters so far: avoiding punishment (being told off, kicked out, shamed). This manifests itself in different ways. Some DO work harder to avoid the punishment. Many others will lie, cover things up, or avoid the punisher. Imagine kids stealing cookies when their parents are out of the house, then blaming their brother or sister.

A much more effective way of motivating people is the second way: getting a reward (e.g. a sense of achievement, enjoyment, being thanked, status, praise, or a 'token' for getting rewarding things - usually money). This needs to be done carefully however, because we find different things rewarding. For example, some people love being publicly recognised for their work, whereas others find this embarrassing. Some find money rewarding, some less so.

We also have to be careful not to turn the reward into a punishment. For example, if a reward is expected and we don't receive it, we get resentful (e.g. someone not receiving their annual pay bonus).

External rewards are difficult to manage. If other people are publicly rewarded, this can create jealousy. Some will pretend to have done more than they actually did in order to get the reward. Praise, thanks and status do have their place, though. What's easier to work with are internal (intrinsic) rewards. These include the endorphins we experience when doing exercise, the sense of achievement when we look back at a job well done, learning and mastering things.

Also, the power of advertising can be used, telling people how pleased you are about what you'd achieved during the day, saying how much fun you had, despite the fact that you were shovelling manure! Tom Sawyer got it right!

Paul, I agree with many posters that it's not your responsibility to get Jerry through this phase. I think one solution to this would have been to give him a 1-2 week trial, so that he could have an escape clause and leave without his pride being hurt. But also identifying some tasks which have the highest sense of enjoyment/achievement, and lowest hard-work element (for example, picking mushrooms with someone else so you get to chat to them), and gradually easing the Jerrys of this world in to the harder stuff could help. This would mean that the more experienced would probably have to take on the burden of the more difficult, less rewarding tasks for a short time. But those people could also be the ones working alongside the Jerrys, giving them support and advice.

For situations where people do need to tell people off, a 'sh*t sandwich' can be a good approach - layering the criticism between praise for two things. E.g. "You did a really good job cutting that log yesterday. However, we are concerned about you not contributing as much as we'd agreed when you arrived. You're a really valuable member of the team here, we all like you, so I hope we can find a way to work this out".

It's an art! For further reading, I would suggest "Don't Shoot the Dog!" by Karen Pryor.
 
master steward
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I like the idea of dividing the lab into four sections.

Somebody like Jerry comes to Basecamp but never gets invited to the first section. And since food is never openly offered like it once was eventually Jerry gets hungry and leaves.

The people that are amazing at base camp will be invited to come to the first section at the lab. The people that are amazing in the first section get invited to the second section. Etc.

I think the root of the problem... Well, have described this in a great deal more detail in other places. Is that we needed to strong leadership for the people that were here that were low on skills and wanted to build experiences. I also think it would be good to have something that follows the format of a more formal school. You pay the price and if you choose to not show up to class that's your own business.
 
paul wheaton
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I think this is a good time to mention: we have had younger people here that have been fantastic.

I think one of the most important components that we have changed is the food. When Jerry was here we fed everybody very well. So, everybody got fed the same whether they were lovely people or terrible people. For the terrible people figured out that they don't have to do anything at all and they still get fed just as well as the lovely people. And then the lovely people would resent the terrible people. And in a bizarre way, the terrible people would... For reasons beyond my comprehension... Resent the lovely people. It was a recipe for disaster.

I like the new bounty system. If a terrible person sleeps in until noon, feed themselves, works for an hour, does a terrible job, goofs off the rest of the day, goofs off through the evening and into the night... Repeat this over and over everyday... At the end of the month they may have earned a total of $150. Not enough to buy more food. And if they're too lazy to harvest the food that they see on the ground here and cook it, then they are quickly going to hate this place and leave. Seems like a permaculture recipe. We didn't have to have a talk. It just all worked out.
 
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I read this thread, got over my shock, went and thought about it, and have some thoughts I hope are constructive.

Okay, one of the basic principles of Permaculture is that we want polycultures, not monocultures. That doesn't just refer to what we plant, but to how our communities function. For all my frustrations with Bill Mollison, read the last chapter of PADM.

The world is full of people who don't fit in. Some of them are different (a long list of neurological atypicalities), some are damaged (an even longer list of "mental illnesses") and a tiny minority are plain lazy. Most of those are entitled scroungers from rich backgrounds who think the world revolves around them.

It is possible that Jerry falls into one of the first two categories and either didn't tell you, or didn't (maybe still doesn't) know: diagnostic opportunities, especially where you have to pay for it, are sorely lacking just about everywhere. The assumption of most people is that he's in the last category - that he's a lazy ****, who should be dumped and forgotten about or turned into Soylent Green.

This is not permaculture. This is the same mentality that I turned to Permaculture to get away from (among other things).

Does he have a depression problem? Does he have some sort of anxiety problem that means he's worried about talking to the boss (this would also explain a form of defensiveness that sees the best form of defence being attack)? Does he have issues with executive functioning that make it hard for him to plan, start and implement a task (linked to several neurological atypicalities I know of offhand)? All of these would explain the observed behaviour without classing him as a slacker (sorry Paul, but I'm not convicting him over spoons and gloves without evidence: it's too much like blaming the old biddy at the edge of the village who uses all those strange herbs when the milk goes sour). An executive functioning issue might explain the gloves ("out of spoons" at the end of the day: http://permies.com/t/48536/md/spoon-theory), but not the spoons, as far as I can see.

I know people like this.

There are probably other possibilities I haven't thought of.

So, you want a Permaculture solution. Diversity is good: I think we're agreed on that or we wouldn't be here. Now, if he's just a mummy's boy, there isn't much you or anyone can do about it apart from wait for him to grow up. Whether you want to make that your responsibility would be up to you, but that assumes - unfairly - that he's a mummy's boy.

If not, the answer is not to get annoyed at what he can't do. You're not going to get oranges off an apple tree. You need to work out what he can do, which will be different from what everyone else is doing, and turn that into an asset for everyone. Neurodiversity is as much an asset as biodiversity - you just have to make an effort to understand how it fits into a complex ecosystem, in this case a social one. I don't know how to do that in this case: I'm not there, and I don't know the guy, but he's likely to be good at something: you just haven't identified it yet. Maybe he hasn't either. If you can work together (a good Permie skill) that might change. Now, maybe your place is not where that thing he is good at is the right place to implement it, but it might be and, if so, everybody wins.
 
paul wheaton
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I think that's a very good point. I do like the idea that someday somebody like Jerry can come here and find his calling.

At the same time, I think back to the time that I was 18 and desperate for food. That's a powerful, motivating force.

So, perhaps what Jerry needed was both of these things. An environment riddled with opportunities, Plus taking away 3 excellent meals a day and a place to pitch your tent. After a few weeks of just a little bit of super cheap food, Jerry might become a fair bit more industrious and start to Explore the opportunities.
 
William James
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How to deal with Jerry. It's really amazing how this topic really divides people. The reason that there's 40+ posts about Jerry is that people seem to fall into a few camps:

1. Jerry is a nasty weed that needs to be eradicated.
2. Jerry is a beneficial weed that needs to be chopped and dropped.
3. Jerry needs to be screened out to limit his bad behaviour.
4. Jerry needs to be nurtured and brought to his full potential as a beneficial organism inside a system.

It may just be my own limitation, but I would go with (3). It seems the most practical and the quickest way to dealing with the problem.

I don't have much sympathy for Jerry. He has shown on repeated occasions that he disrespects other people (authority or otherwise, this is unacceptable and needs to be dealt with swiftly),
The fact that he has a history that can account for his behavior doesn't really sway me. People need to be accountable for their actions, period.

The last two phrases might lead people to believe me to be cool-hearted, but I have learned that dealing with other people is VERY difficult, and when you find yourself involved with
another person who is not kind-hearted as you. In the end, YOU are the one to suffer, not them. This has lead me to the conclusion that these people deserve direction, not pity or support.

That guided direction can only come, in my opinion, through blocking bad behavior and absolutely not accepting it, in any form.

If I am active in guaranteeing you food and a place to sleep, I deserve a minimum level of respect.
If you call me names and curse at me, you no longer deserve that food and that place to sleep. The end.

Perhaps the terms of engagement need to be clear from the outset.
When you can point to a rule the person did not follow, it's easier to oust a person or limit their access to material benefits they might enjoy by (in their mind) following some vague rule that has no accountability attached to it.

William

 
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I personally like the idea of sitting down with the person, and in as blameless a way as possible, telling them in no uncertain terms that the situation isn't working out and you want them to leave. Paul's is not the only show in town and jerry will likely move on to find something that fits him better. The slow, laborious method of just giving him shitty food and a lousy place to sleep, in spite of the fact that he may deserve exactly that, doesn't do him or the community any good. He probably isn't going to change rapidly enough to fit in and will just feel persecuted until he leaves. Better to man up and have the hard conversation with him and send him packing in my mind. To do it another way smacks too much of the weak-kneed person's plan of treat-them-like-shit-until-they-dump-you-so-you-don't-have-to-break-up-with-them. It may make you feel better to be able to tell yourself you gave him every chance and it just didn't work out, but I think the quick and painless death is preferred to the long agonizing one for all parties involved.
 
William James
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Todd: ditto.
 
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In some situations I can be somewhat of a Jerry myself.

I am deaf, and have poor short and mid term memory. I have evolved ways around that but it involves lists of tasks, like the earlier little role play where:

PAUL:
"Sure, that sounds great, we all like to have a good time, but we have a mission here and there's work to be done. We need someone to pick up where you left off when you went to Missoula all day today. Everyone here is pitching in but you are not and we're getting pretty fed up with that. We want you to be successful. Tell me what would make that happen".

JERRY:
"I'M F*****G TIRED, OKAY? THIS PLACE SUCKS! YOU ARE ALWAYS MICROMANAGING BUT YOU NEVER TELL ME WHAT TO DO! YOU'RE AN F*****G P***K!"

PAUL:
"So you want less hands on management from me, but more precise instructions. Got it. Jerry, why don't you tell me exactly what you need to succeed here and maybe we can figure it out together, okay?"

Jerry can either be extreme or be reasonable.



For me, if in a group situation where some leader is verbally assigning tasks: Jocelyn you're in the kitchen doing this, that and the other, Evan, you're in Ant Village doing this that and the other, Josh, Basecamp, fix this, do that, then go fetch Todd Parr from the airport, Rhys, you do this that ad this other thing...

Say that I get 5 tasks... I'm deaf enough I may only hear three tasks, so if I don't pipe up and confirm exactly what I have to do, then come the end of the day and debrief, I may think I have finished my three tasks and am having a well earned break, while others my think I am slacking off and only done three of my five tasks.
An Expectation/Perception gap exists.

Plus with my memory gapping out on me, By the time I'm into task two, I may have forgotten that task four exists... I think at the end of the day, yep, all done. Head Honcho checking up on everyones completion has a different idea of whether everything is finished! It's pretty common to look in the pantry before a trip to the supermarket, figure I need this product, go shopping, come back and start unpacking, and there is this reproachful hole staring at me which should have a new box of whatever filling it, I just forgot it, Again.




I for one am much more comfortable with a list of tasks, say a whiteboard somewhere with what jobs are due to be done so I can A) know what I have to do, B) Can check when I have finished what I remember having to do to make sure I haven't overlooked a task. and C) see that someone I know is not good at some task that I am comfortable with, has that task assigned to them, so I may if I have time wander over and lend a hand.



It is all a case of knowing your limitations, and engineering ways to sidestep obstacles.
 
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This is the process we have developed over the last 5 years to prevent the Jerry problem. Our solution is to keep the Jerrys out. Our on-line application, background investigation and our 9 Ways of Working understanding has been very useful in stopping Jerrys. Most Jerrys do not even complete our application. If they do, the interview process requires the Jerrys to work 4-hours with the full time Community members. After the 4-hour work session the community member votes whether to extends an invitation for Jerry to join the Center. If Jerry joins, 30 days later there is review again by the community, to see if he stays or goes, see below.

To see the On-Line application & 9 Ways of Working Understanding

Sustainable - Permaculture - Off the Grid Research Center is a Living and Learning Laboratory

We offer people 4 options to Live Free - Learn - Work at the Center, and receive Free Workshops and Training in exchange for Barter-Hours Labor.

This opportunity is for someone that is for the serious who want to learn about,,,,,,,,Sustainable - Permaculture - Off the Grid Living.
The Center is a Sustainable Grower Community with everybody having their own lodging, food, heat and sanitation facilities. We are NOT a communal, political, environmental, religious, or militia community.

There is an on-line application process, background check and an on-site interview. A person attitude and desire to learn about…….Sustainable - Permaculture - Off the Grid Living is more important than their skill set.

Successful applicant may stay for any length of time.


Four options with Barter-Hour Labor. The number of Barter-Hours depends on which option is selected:

1. Live at Center Free with Barter Labor-- If you provide your own housing in the form of self-contained (Rig) RV, Travel Trailer, or 5th Wheel, free full electric, water, sewer hookup, plus two 4 hour weekly mentoring workshops will be provided, in exchange for Barter-Hours of labor. The Center is on Hwy 101 (Pacific Coast Hwy) near Lincoln City, Oregon 97367.

2. If you do not have a self-contained Rig. A private bedroom and private bath at $350.00/month in a two-bedroom house at the Center two 4 hour weekly mentoring workshops will be provided, in exchange for Barter-Hours of Labor.

3. Live on 80-acre Ranch Free with Barter Labor- This option is only available after you completed living 120 days living at the Center. If you provide your own housing in the form of self-contained (Rig) RV, Travel Trailer, or 5th Wheel, you will recievd free full electric, water, sewer hookup, plus two 4-hour weekly mentoring workshops, in exchange for Barter-Hours of labor.
The 80-acre Ranch is 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Oregon and 7 miles from the nearest town of 1300 people with: riverside park; bank; gift shop, Grange Hall, bakery; restaurant; video store; (5) churches; grocery store; library; post office; roadhouse\sport bar; fuel station and mini market. The ranch is surrounded by 20,000+ acres of logging land. It is a land locked island of 80 level acres surrounded on two sides by a wild salmon, trout, and steelhead river

4. Attend a Sustainable - Permaculture - Off the Grid 4-hour Mentoring Session. The cost is $25/session.

To see the Activites at the Center


Life at the Center:

First Review: at the end of 30 days you will be review in the following areas:

1. Written proof you have the finances to provide your food, medical, cell phone, internet, etc.
2. Demonstrate a willing to work and have the proper work ethic.
3. Establish either a cell phone or internet access.

Second Review: at the end of another 90 days you will be reviewed in the same area as the first review, but also on your:
1. Desire and wiliness to become a Sustainable Grower.
2. Wiliness to understand how people work differently -- there are nine different ways.

Third Review: at the end of another 180 days you will be reviewed in the same areas as the first and second reviews but also on your:
1. Desire to develop Sustainable Grower processes on your own

Result of a Review: The following could be the results of any review:

1. Continue Living at the Center
2. Placed in Jeopardy with repeat of review process
3. Asked to Leave


Email nextday@vol.com if you have any questions
 
Neil Layton
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Yet again I seem to disagree with most posters.

I have any number of issues with permaculture, or at least some things called permaculture, but one of the points where I do agree with Mollison is the strong implication that our societies need to include everyone, even those who don't fit in (or have massive financial resources to join the party).

That means finding a way to include Jerry. Now, if Jerry doesn't want to be included, fine, but in showing up he indicated otherwise. In the present climate we won't be able to include everyone (not enough placements or available land), but we do need to be thinking about how to include everyone who is in Jerry's situation. Doing so, I think, should be considered an exercise in making the principles work, which is how I interpret Paul's OP. Otherwise, you just end up with a different type of social monoculture which, correct me if I'm wrong, is what I thought we were trying to get away from.
 
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I think that Paul would like to include everybody, including people like Jerry, but Paul is at his wits end of how to deal with people like Jerry. So, he's looking for a permaculture solution. One solution is to hold his hand, but that only gives the impression that his behavior is being accomodated. Monitoring Jerry is another solution, but at what expense to the group's energy? Doing everything for Jerry is another solution, but what is the point of having a demanding baby when you expect a willing teen? What solution is being offered by simply saying that we must find ways to include Jerry?

That means finding a way to include Jerry. Now, if Jerry doesn't want to be included, fine, but in showing up he indicated otherwise. In the present climate we won't be able to include everyone (not enough placements or available land), but we do need to be thinking about how to include everyone who is in Jerry's situation.

The way I see it, Jerry is likely a parasite, or a social vampire. I don't buy the fact that since Jerry showed up that this automatically means he wants to be included. My Spidey sense is tingling, and it's telling me that Jerry is the sort of character who might show up at a potluck with nothing to share, and at every job he is the least productive worker. Jerry doesn't want to be included, he wants a free lunch. If he wanted to be included, he would really show up-not just be present on the site- but On The Job with something to share (he doesn't have to be amazing, but he should at least show some reason for being present on the site). I suspect that to top all the crap that everybody has to put up with in order to accommodate Jerry, he's a whiner who turns every situation into a 'poor me' zone. He turns Paul into the bad guy to try to deflect his own potential to self observe.

There is probably a few aspects of Paul's personality/way-of-leading which lend themselves to being taken advantage of by characters like Jerry, but I think that the Jerrys of the world in general have sociopathic tendencies that lend them to be completely disfunctional in social settings, because they have not put any energy into figuring themselves out, and maturing out of their egocentric crap. If I'm reading this character right, the whole world is the narcissistic playground, and the world sucks.

Jerry needs help, yes, but unless he is committed to joining a self help group, or to engaging in some sort of serious self reflection, and to trying to figure out why he keeps getting involved in situations where people seem to be dick's to him and why he feels the way he does when he doesn't show up on the job with stuff to share, (and thus have some potential of getting over his crappy attitude/behavior), he will go from one scene to the next projecting his 'drainbow' over the rainbows he claims to want to be a part of.

So Here's me including Jerry in two scenarios:

1.) People who are putting up with Jerry have to try to figure out ways to show Jerry what Jerry appears to be like to the group, so that he has an opportunity to reflect constructively, but it will take action from Jerry as well. Jerry can be his own solution, but he has to be directed to get off his ass. But if he can't see it, figure it out, and change to be a productive member of the group in some way, any way, then why should the group include him, and have their energy brought down by him? He has to step up to the plate. He doesn't have to hit a home run; he might bunt, he might walk, he might even strike out, but right now he's not even at the plate; he's not trying. He wants to sit on the bench and claim to be a part of the team, for some strange twisted little boost to his low self esteem. Give him the opportunity to come to bat, and to potentially fail, and to try to learn something from success and failure. But he needs to see what it is that he is-A non contributer-and to have to deal with it.

Jerry might be depressed and need some one-on-one friendship and mentorship to gain some self esteem and some pride, which will create some initiative, but how long do you let him sit on the bench... he has to take some initiative.

2.) The only other possible solution is to sit down with Jerry and ask him what it is that he hopes to get out of the experience of being there. What does he want to do? If it turns out that Jerry wants to do something that is in the interest of the group/farm/project, then give him the tools/chance/mentorship to show who he can be and what he can accomplish. If he does not produce anything doing what he claims to want to do, then there is no solution but to ask him to leave. Chances are, he will either want something that is clearly not attainable on your budget or yearly project projections, or he will claim a lack of imagination.

The thing is, if Jerry is there and he can't figure out why he wants to be there, and he is not willing to accept any other work that is handed to him, what do you do with him except let him go, as gently, but also as firmly and constructively, as possible. You can nurture a weak plant for a while, but after a while it will either cull itself or it will need to be culled, sad but true.
 
Neil Layton
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I can see that this is an interesting conundrum.

I mean, I have put endless effort into understanding not so much me (I have a pretty solid sense of identity) but interaction with humans, and I know I don't fit in in most social situations.

I did not know that in my mid-twenties, and ended up in several situations that I have since learned to stay out of. Would I, today, even think of spending a season on Paul's habitat? Not a chance. Might I then? Quite possibly. It would probably have been a Godsawful ****up, but I might have tried.

All that said, with just a little bit of extra insight I might have been an asset, and that might be Jerry's situation. When I was in my mid-twenties I did a lot of voluntary work. It took a while, and effort on my part and those of some of the staff, but I did find a unique niche and was able to contribute in a way different from most of the rest of the volunteers. It can be done. You see, at the time, while I wanted to contribute, and make a difference, and was a long way from scared of hard work (to the point of my then girlfriend complaining I loved the voluntary work more than her) I didn't mesh well with most of the rest of the team (although I did get on well with some of the other real oddballs!). I did manage to become an asset.

I still would not last ten seconds in a community, not out of a lack of desire to do so (ideologically I like the idea) but because my mode of communication differs from that of most others. There's a lot I don't know about Jerry, but I do know not to generalise too far, so I won't say more about me, but writing him off strikes me as a failure of imagination, one that does not bode well for including everyone in a future permaculture world.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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The slow, laborious method of just giving him shitty food and a lousy place to sleep, in spite of the fact that he may deserve exactly that, doesn't do him or the community any good.

I'm not even sure a Jerry type person deserves this. What he deserves is a chance to be a part of something, and to tell you what he wants to get out of the situation, and what he is willing to put in... and given just such chances, and failing to make anything of them amount to any substance, he deserves the dignity to be released quickly, as Todd Parr mentioned, rather than in a long drawn out painful process. The shitting thing about shunning someone or depraving them of decent things is that it becomes a group morale issue. Demeaning someone, to 'put them in their place' so to speak, is like bullying, and nobody really gains. In the end, nobody feels good about it. In the end the person who is being shunned or shamed is actually likely to defame the character of those in the community or the community as a whole and thus be a vortex of negativity heading away from it. That should be avoided as much as possible.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I mean, I have put endless effort into understanding not so much me (I have a pretty solid sense of identity) but interaction with humans, and I know I don't fit in in most social situations.

From Paul's descriptions, I would not think that this is a case of Jerry not fitting in to the social situation of being on a farm, but of Jerry not actually contributing anything of value to the farm situation. I don't think Jerry wants to contribute. He should be given a chance to do something, or to be a part of something on the farm, for sure, but unless someone is a mind-reader or an amazing social worker, then Jerry has to articulate something, or be articulated to, that this is not working out, and try to figure it out. It can't be the responsibility of the farm owner to be able to manage the myriad social/psychological problems inherent in the modern world-that's way too much to ask; the Jerry person has to come to the table something to offer the situation, or to explain what is going on for him. What Paul was saying, I think, is that Jerry gave nothing of himself.

I think that you would find a way to communicate with Paul, Neil, or at least find your niche. You said you are a hard worker, and you may not find that you can be a team player, but you would find a way to contribute. Jerry: I don't think he ever does that, Anywhere. I might be wrong; he might have a legitimate undiagnosed thing going on where he can't make his needs known, and only expresses himself in terms of anger and selfish behavior, but I have a suspicion that that is not the case. He's the kind of guy that is lost, and needs to find himself, but he's too lazy to get on with it... yet. In Jerry there is always hope, but some people who get away with this, without being called on it, end up going from situation to situation with the same denial of responsibility, taking advantage of people and communities, and NEVER learning the simple lesson (and this is partly the fault of all those people that allowed or enabled the behavior to continue for too long in too many situations all along.) I've met more than a few of these characters, AND I have worked in mental health. I can tell the difference between someone who is a little (or a lot) different than the 'norm', and a guy who wants a free ride, and he finds it because he knows what situations are easily exploitable. The latter are in need of a gentle confrontation (to be given a mirror, so to speak), and be given the same opportunity as anybody. This isn't about shaming the person, but they need to understand that they have to step up, to show up, to be something, or to leave with their honor intact and maybe a lesson partly learned.


 
William James
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Neil Layton wrote:Yet again I seem to disagree with most posters.

I have any number of issues with permaculture, or at least some things called permaculture, but one of the points where I do agree with Mollison is the strong implication that our societies need to include everyone, even those who don't fit in (or have massive financial resources to join the party).

That means finding a way to include Jerry. Now, if Jerry doesn't want to be included, fine, but in showing up he indicated otherwise. In the present climate we won't be able to include everyone (not enough placements or available land), but we do need to be thinking about how to include everyone who is in Jerry's situation. Doing so, I think, should be considered an exercise in making the principles work, which is how I interpret Paul's OP. Otherwise, you just end up with a different type of social monoculture which, correct me if I'm wrong, is what I thought we were trying to get away from.



Neil,
Surprisingly, I agree with you. But maybe not in the way you think.

I also believe Mollison believes that "our societies need to include everyone, even those who don't fit in". However, I think he would deem it impractical that *every* permaculture project have in place anything more than a series of strategies to limit negative impacts from people like Jerry. That being said, what I think we're dealing with is an inability to "hand over" Jerry to a nearby permacultre-based project who has as it's goal the rehabilitation of people like Jerry who don't "fit in". People like that need a lot of hand-holding to get them to interact cooperatively with others and it can't be the responsibility of a single site.

Hope this is clear. Yes, he needs to be included. But not in this way.
William
 
William James
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Good book on this subject --

"Why does he do that? -- Inside the minds of angry and controlling men
by Lundy Bancroft
https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/217475-why-does-he-do-that-inside-the-minds-of-angry-and-controlling-men

Spoiler alert: the only way to deal with abusive and oppressive people (or systems for that matter) is to stop them in their tracks and disallow any further abuse. Western culture tries to get around that because it identifies with the oppressor and rarely sides with the victim.
This discussion is a case in point: most of the discussion is focusing on Jerry's needs. Even my own comment that he needs rehab, it's beside the point (and most times an exercise in futility -- as the book highlights).

A healthy focus of the discussion would be everybody else in the community who is directly affected (victimized) by Jerry's behavior.

William
 
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