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

 
paul wheaton
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This is a mental exercise. I will tell you about a visit from one gapper, and the exercise is to figure out the permaculture solution. How to have jerry come here, be productive, learn good things and everybody is happy.

Jerry (I think he was 20) was tasked with peeling logs up on the lab. Only at 10am when everybody was up on the lab peeling logs, Jerry was munching on my food in the kitchen. Apaprently, Jerry felt like taking a personal day. In time, Jerry didn't do what he agreed to do and found all sorts of "reasons" why I suck and why I need to stop being such a dick. After doing the CSI of figuring out where Jerry actually was since he wasn't with the group (he was sleeping in his tent and not responding when people went to his tent to ask for him) - Jerry said that he would work extra hours on saturday. So we actually had somebody take the task of checking on him on saturday only to find that he went into missoula for the whole day. More talking to him leads to him telling me more about how I am a terrible manager and he says he will make up for two days of work in the following week. He ended up having another short week.

- -

There was a point in time where we needed more flatware. We don't want plastic disposable stuff. So we bought flatware online. It turned out to be awful stuff.

Tim brought down two spoons that were bent into "art". We did not attempt to do any sort of weird CSI to find out who did that. But I think it was jerry.

- -

Tim brought down about 17 gloves that he found all over the place (I was supplying gloves for people that didn't bring any). Again, I don't know the real story, but I suspect that it was jerry.

- -

The first thought that nearly anybody has is: kick him off! And now I wish to evolve past that. I want a more permaculture solution. I want jerry to come to his own conclusions about where the problems are. Further, I don't want to have conversations about this stuff with Jerry and I don't want to do where-is-jerry-CSI.

I think a good permaculture system would be that Jerry does what Jerry thinks is good. If his gardens are weak, he might get hungry. If his shelter is weak, he might get cold. If he doesn't create anything that brings in an income, then he cannot buy alternative solutions. I think he tried telling me that I was a dick, because his experience is that telling an authority that sort of thing often leads to getting candy.

I want to pretend that the new system is that Jerry is an ant. Jerry has his own plot and is his own boss. The ants on the surround plots are building food systems and shelter. If Jerry has a lot of personal days and goes into missoula a lot, he might accomplish less than the other ants. In time, he might come to the conclusion that the problem is not "the system" nor is it me.

Plus, it is his gloves and his spoons to care for. And he can make whatever art he wants from his own material set.

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.
 
John Wolfram
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paul wheaton wrote:I think a good permaculture system would be that Jerry does what Jerry thinks is good. If his gardens are weak, he might get hungry. If his shelter is weak, he might get cold. If he doesn't create anything that brings in an income, then he cannot buy alternative solutions. I think he tried telling me that I was a dick, because his experience is that telling an authority that sort of thing often leads to getting candy.


In order for this work, everyone else has to be tough enough to say no to him when he is hungry and asks for food. When he asks for shelter, everyone has to say no to him moving into their shelters. I would foresee a kindhearted hard worker taking pity on him, giving him food, and giving him shelter. Unfortunately, after being leached on for a certain amount of time, there's a chance that the kindhearted hard worker will simply leave your area instead of continuing on with the intolerable situation. At that point, instead of accepting he is the cause of the problem Jerry then moves on to leaching off the next most kindhearted person that he will eventually cause to leave.
 
Penny Dumelie
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I don't believe there is a permaculture solution for Jerry. He might do okay in the right circumstances but I would bet he will always be a pain in the ass.

As an ant, he would be the pain in the ass to his neighbor ants. Showing up at meal time with a smiling face, hoping to be invited in. Maybe a grasshopper in an ant suit?

Eventually everyone would be sick of him and he would get mad when no one would invite him to supper. And then it would be everyone else to blame because they had always fed him. Or something else.

Jerry is like bindweed. There might be a permaculture solution for him, but is it worth the headache to find one?

I think for people like Jerry, falling on their ass and the wisdom that comes from age and experience are their only hope.

That doesn't mean we have to leave them out, but I think we have to look at them and realize they will be charity, and work, and a pile of teaching and mentoring. You don't get back any value from people with that attitude until they learn a different one. And that can take a lifetime for some people.

On the other hand, maybe I have Jerry all wrong. Maybe he's just young with no previous examples of a good work ethic. Could be he just needs some extended one on one, hand holding, attention-giving mentoring to get started and find some pride in himself, and the (potential) ant - gapper relationship could be the answer if he hooked up with the right person.
 
Stephanie Meyer
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Jerry sounds just like my kids and since I don't really have the option to kick them out I have been implementing something similar to your plan of "if you screw it up/break it/ don't plan well, YOU are the one who will suffering for it". I spend a lot of time reining my instinct to "rescue" in. And with my kids, because I love them so very much and hate to see them suffer, I am always right there to say "gee, I'm so sorry that ended poorly for you" and commiserate with them. I'm not the bad guy that way.

I think you have a good plan and that the only way to deal with a person like Jerry is to let everything fall on their head until the pain accumulates to the point that they change. Some people never reach that point. The person who jumps in to "make it all better" is much like a grandparent. I like to load the kids up on sugar and send them to grandmas after the grandparents have committed particularly egregrious offenses against my authority. I am not really sure how that would translate in your situation since you want to protect the people foolish kind enough to help Jerry continue to not suffer the consequences of his own actions but I think most people will quickly learn to grow a healthy backbone.
 
elle sagenev
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I think you and a lot of people who come to the lab should read this book:
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Apr 1, 1992 by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
 
Alan Lamborn
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I think consequences are the only teachers that Jerry will learn from. I've let my kids learn a lot from exploring, trying stuff, and most importantly dealing with the results. Keep in mind that I did work hard on their understanding of safety and what to do before turning them loose.

As for a permaculture solution to Jerry, Hugelkultur comes to mind....
 
Miles Flansburg
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Jerry is the way he is because of everything that has happened to him up to the point when you meet him.
He has either led a life where everyone takes care of his every whim or he has had a supervisor telling him what to do every minute.
He will travel the world searching for his new caretaker or his new boss.
Either way he will find it.
Just not sure how the problem is the solution.
 
Su Ba
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Sounds a lot like my youngest brother. All through his life someone always came to his rescue, including me....twice! Until I wised up. He's now in his 50s and still conning people into bailing he out. So Jerry may be following in my brother's foot steps.

Having my brother as an on-hands learning experience, I learned to never tolerate "Jerrys" as employees. I set myself up as a "social worker - therapist" with my first Jerry-like employee and it was an utter failure. I discovered that keeping an employee like that around was dragging down everyone else around them. Like a cancer that spread among the other good people. The good people were going downhill instead of uphill. So I learned to get rid of Jerry-like employees as quickly as possible. Not a pleasant thing to do, but my other employees appreciated it.

If someone wants to become Jerry's therapist, go ahead. But what's the cost when it comes to the really good people on the team that are eager to pull their weight?

Just my two cents.
 
Zach Muller
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I think Elle might be onto something. While I am unaware of that book mentioned, I was actually thinking about personal boundaries as I read this post. I have never been to the lab so the dynamics there are only observed through posts and descriptions. I do find that in most groups there are family type relationships that form, although often they are very subtle and unconscious.


Paul is the big kahuna, the power, the father especially for Jerry.
Paul has gone through great lengths and expenses to care for and supply stuff to the people who come to his lab, it is obvious that he sees potential in young permaculture grasshoppers and wants to give them the tools to succeed, in this case both literally and figuratively.

There is a concept called enmeshment which I think could a subtle force that will lead the Good ones to becoming jerry social workers or therapists or not being able to say no when he shows up for a mooched meal. It could also be responsible for Jerrie's disrespectful behavior in the first place.

Maintaining boundaries is an art, and sometimes a feat of self awareness.

One example that comes to mind is some animal owners I know. They keep chickens, but don't let them breed so each member of the flock is like a member of the family. No amount of energy is spared when one member is in need. In some people's eyes they are great animal keepers.
To me it is like they are enmeshed with their chickens, seems icky and repulsive. When I told them about my chicken keeping their face looked a little sour. I do not treat my chickens like family, I cull, I eat, for the health of the whole. My mo was just as sickening to them as theirs was to me.

With managing chickens it is easier to see, since you were not raised by chickens. When you are managing people it can be hard to see since you are one, you were raised by people, and the depth of interaction is so much more complex.

I think the ant village is headed toward a solution. By not feeding, gloving, spooning, housing, Jerry will be out in the cold if he puts in no effort. It's less like "we're all in this together" and more like "we are separate but nearby" if jerry disappears from his work then that's jerrys business. If he leaves his camp unattended and animals steal all his food then no one else goes hungry because no one was counting on him. It's his lesson at that point.
If someone wants to "help" jerry by compromising their boundaries then when he dips out and their systems are undeveloped, it is their lesson about where to devote their time and energy. it would be hard to leave another human being hungry and cold out in the wind, but in the end jerry would either move on, or learn the right lessons, without any csi Missoula.

On the other end of the spectrum if someone else, say Brutis, struggled and struggled day after day to get his living quarters built, and food systems in place but he just sucked and did not know what he was doing. it would be plain to see his devotion to work. Then if he was left out in the cold with no food Others might step up and say, " Gina is a great builder and she is building a house right now, I bet if you go help her you will learn a lot which will in turn help you build", "Sam has a huge crop of fruit to harvest, maybe if you go help you can learn how to plant and get to keep a few fruits too"
So instead of his labor being wasted and misguided, he helps Gina and Sam and learns how to work right. All three got help, Paul did not have to do anything except be nearby.
 
Rufus Laggren
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A rewording of the concept seen above in the brother, in the employee:

AFAIK nobody here is or thinks they are God. That being the case it follows that there _are_ things that we just cannot do, fix, handle, foresee, solve, arrange... Whatever your word for winning, some games we lose. Some challenges are beyond us, in this life, at this place at this time. And speaking of God, Christians amoung us may recall Jesus never insisted or forced or bribed people to learn or do right. He said to "render unto Caesar..." - no short cutting your responsibilities. So it appears even a Son of God stops at this line. <g>

So. There are things we are good at, that we understand somewhat, that we have learned. Using those abilities we do the best we can and sometimes that means choosing the "better" path because the perfect one isn't w/in responsible reach. At times this means letting go that which threatens to destroy us, not promising that which is not ours to promise, not bringing our greater beliefs and values and commitments into harm's way _for no good reason_ by indulging sentiment in a pretence of "fixing" a bad part we cannot in fact fix. That very very few, if any of us ever, have either the moral right or the purview to presume to "fix" .

As above, "Jerry" will find what he's looking for quite well on his own. That looks to me like one of the defining elements of adulthood - the buck stops at your door. And nothing can stop it.

Bad apples and the necessary solution have been told of for a long, long time. So often that maybe it is one of those dilemmas inherent in us humans. One of the core learning experiences. One of the original koans.

Rufus
 
Rebecca Norman
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Speaking from personal experience: When you offer a groovy and appealing place to volunteer for free, you will attract freeloaders like Jerry. When we started charging for room and board, the quality of our volunteers went up noticeably. I know that probably wouldn't work at your Lab, but that was our experience in a very different setting.

Penny Dumelie wrote:
Jerry is like bindweed. There might be a permaculture solution for him, but is it worth the headache to find one?

 
Rhys Firth
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Go read your own post, Obligation is Poison...


Jerry wants the good stuff, without the bad stuff like being obligated to work for it.

If he were a sheep on my farm, he's be in the freezer PDQ.




Just because he's a Sheeple, not a Sheep doesn't mean he's exempt from culling from the herd to keep the quality up.


YOU have an obligation as Head Honcho and Magister Panjandrum of the Lab to cull the worst so the best do not have any excuse to learn bad habits.





Take him to your hollowed out volcano by Submarine while strapped to the outside of the hull and cast him into a lava pit.
 
elle sagenev
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Zach Muller wrote:I think Elle might be onto something. While I am unaware of that book mentioned, I was actually thinking about personal boundaries as I read this post. I have never been to the lab so the dynamics there are only observed through posts and descriptions. I do find that in most groups there are family type relationships that form, although often they are very subtle and unconscious.


Paul is the big kahuna, the power, the father especially for Jerry.
Paul has gone through great lengths and expenses to care for and supply stuff to the people who come to his lab, it is obvious that he sees potential in young permaculture grasshoppers and wants to give them the tools to succeed, in this case both literally and figuratively.

There is a concept called enmeshment which I think could a subtle force that will lead the Good ones to becoming jerry social workers or therapists or not being able to say no when he shows up for a mooched meal. It could also be responsible for Jerrie's disrespectful behavior in the first place.

Maintaining boundaries is an art, and sometimes a feat of self awareness.

One example that comes to mind is some animal owners I know. They keep chickens, but don't let them breed so each member of the flock is like a member of the family. No amount of energy is spared when one member is in need. In some people's eyes they are great animal keepers.
To me it is like they are enmeshed with their chickens, seems icky and repulsive. When I told them about my chicken keeping their face looked a little sour. I do not treat my chickens like family, I cull, I eat, for the health of the whole. My mo was just as sickening to them as theirs was to me.

With managing chickens it is easier to see, since you were not raised by chickens. When you are managing people it can be hard to see since you are one, you were raised by people, and the depth of interaction is so much more complex.

I think the ant village is headed toward a solution. By not feeding, gloving, spooning, housing, Jerry will be out in the cold if he puts in no effort. It's less like "we're all in this together" and more like "we are separate but nearby" if jerry disappears from his work then that's jerrys business. If he leaves his camp unattended and animals steal all his food then no one else goes hungry because no one was counting on him. It's his lesson at that point.
If someone wants to "help" jerry by compromising their boundaries then when he dips out and their systems are undeveloped, it is their lesson about where to devote their time and energy. it would be hard to leave another human being hungry and cold out in the wind, but in the end jerry would either move on, or learn the right lessons, without any csi Missoula.

On the other end of the spectrum if someone else, say Brutis, struggled and struggled day after day to get his living quarters built, and food systems in place but he just sucked and did not know what he was doing. it would be plain to see his devotion to work. Then if he was left out in the cold with no food Others might step up and say, " Gina is a great builder and she is building a house right now, I bet if you go help her you will learn a lot which will in turn help you build", "Sam has a huge crop of fruit to harvest, maybe if you go help you can learn how to plant and get to keep a few fruits too"
So instead of his labor being wasted and misguided, he helps Gina and Sam and learns how to work right. All three got help, Paul did not have to do anything except be nearby.


I've read several versions of their books. They have one that is for parents and I've read that.

I think as people we get this misconception that we can "fix" other people. That is not true. Jerry cannot be fixed by any changes the Lab makes. Jerry is who Jerry is through a lot of various factors. The only thing that will change Jerry is Jerry. So keeping Jerry around hoping that things you do and changes you make will make him better, well that's like beating your head on a wall. Jerry may change if Jerry gets rejected from enough places, or he may not, that's on Jerry.

With the children's boundary book it was obviously about teaching kids what proper boundaries are. That is a parents job. Many parents fail at that. As an adult your boundaries are more about you. At this point other people are who they are. You set boundaries so that your life is not greatly impacted by the failings of others. That may assist others in realizing boundaries, but might not. You don't put up your boundaries hoping to change them, just to assist yourself.

I think you're a very compassionate guy Paul. I respect that. It's not really doing anyone at the lab any favors though. You must have healthy, appropriate boundaries set. I don't know that I like the idea of foisting the boundary responsibility off on the ants. I mean, everyone should have their appropriate boundaries but some people really don't have the heart for it.
 
D. Logan
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I've been following this thread among others. Natural vs Trained is explored in one thread, looking at the innate talent and experience of the person vs someone who has no background or natural skill at it. It also explores the will and desire to be involved in those things. Concepts of ownership are explored in a thread on Human Nature vs Renting. From that, a very good term was brought up as an alternative to rent. Paul seems, in several posts, to be trying to move away from an economy of money at the lab, so I will bend my thoughts in that direction. The Ant Village idea is also one that has shown a lot of potential, so I am going to be drawing from it as well.

The core question of this post is how to make things work without booting the Jerrys of the world. Much like the Direct Seed Tomato contest, Paul isn't looking for how to bake hard tack (booting Jerry types), but instead on a new unknown method to bake a delicious cake (make the human nature of people like Jerry fit into the lab). So again, I have to bend my thoughts in that direction. That isn't easy, since I know how hard it can be to curb decades of bad behavior that have become part of a person's personality.

So now we have two thoughts. Jerry and Permaculture. Permaculture teaches us that the problem is the solution, so I am going to re-read Jerry's issues and then try to outline them here. These are things we can either know or assume from Jerry's behavior:

  • Jerry came to the lab with assumptions of how it would be that weren't the reality.
  • Jerry blames others when he himself fails to do something.
  • Jerry makes promises, but believes it is someone else's duty to see that he follows through with them.
  • Jerry values only property that he himself has invested in.


  • Okay, Jerry sounds pretty clearly like a Grasshopper variety who likes the idea of being permaculture. He embraces the lazy side of the bell curve on human nature, expecting someone else to either do the work for him or to stand over him micromanaging. He fails to see his own flaws, likely because of the life he lived prior to the lab. (We all miss many of our own flaws or don't see them as flaws at all.) How do we motivate Jerry without money and without hovering over him? This is our problem.

    Many have forwarded that we need to let the school of hard knocks get to him, which is true enough, but I think if we are trying to keep him on the lab, we'll have to manufacture those knocks. Listening to the podcasts gives you some idea of what you can expect, but that's very different from being in it. Interviews and written plans can give some expectation of what you will get, but given years of reading amazing written works only to find a crazy idiot who can't follow the rules behind it tells me that it can't be the only aspect.

    Ants come in paying a reasonably small fee, provide mostly their own materials and are expected only to survive and improve the land in whatever way suits them. Gappers are expected to do a good bit of work, but are provided with things like meals and shelter, use of equipment, etc. I am going to call our transitional state a Caterpillar. They may not have a natural talent at things and have to move slowly. They may not be motivated to do more than defoliate (in this case use things up that aren't their own without regard for how it affects the whole). When all is said and done though, in the right system they will thrive without doing harm and eventually turn into a butterfly, pollinating the system and improving it as a whole.

    I think the podcast listening should stay. I think anyone who wants to be there, should probably do a phone interview or write something up explaining what they really feel it is all about, what the podcasts tell them about Paul's vision, and where they believe they will struggle the most. This isn't to say that what is said/written is what you will get, but it does at least give a heads-up of warning signs for potential problems. Next, there is the matter of value. Paying people not in money, but in sustenance and tools.

    Want to stay in a shelter provided for you? Do X amount of work on Pauls projects per day you want to stay. Want a meal? Do an hour of work well prior to the meal being cooked. Need a set of gloves to borrow? Do X time helping Paul, or XX time if you just want to own the pair outright. It becomes a Gapper ala Carte situation. They aren't quite Ants, but can transition over to one over time. Since work is done in advance of rewards, there is a clear motive offered to do that work, but at the same time, nothing is required. If they aren't inclined to eat breakfast tomorrow, they won't have to do that extra hour of work. If they don't like doing all of that work for someone else, they can do the work for themselves just like the Ants. No one hovers, no one forces, but the Caterpillar has to decide for themselves which way they want to go and what matters. The big downside I can see to this is that it does mean keeping a tight reign on where your gear is at and locking doors when no one is using an area, since hunger is especially good at motivating people to steal. It might also be wise to set something up where you speak personally to each Ant that if a gapper wants to stay there, eat food, etc, that they be sure to have clear guidelines for what work they expect in exchange BEFORE the service is rendered. Human nature is the driver to keep the Caterpillar productive and guide them towards a point where they can do for themselves.

    These are just my initial thoughts as the idea steeps in my brain. Inputs from others on this one? Paul, does this sit anywhere near what might be of value to you or should I scrap this idea and try focusing on something entirely different?
     
    Troy Rhodes
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    Permaculture is, among other things, a design science. You have a theory, you try an experiment. It works or it doesn't. If it doesn't, you stop doing that and you try something else.

    Jerry was an experiment. He didn't work. You tried several variants to optimize his/your success rate. None of those worked either.


    You moved on. Textbook permaculture.

     
    Ann Torrence
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    Thanking my lucky stars for the day when someone got it through my thick skull that if I didn't want to be treated like a doormat, I had to roll up the welcome mat. Or that I didn't have to diagnose the Jerrys of the world to know to leave them on the stoop.

    No time for any of that any more, not if we are going to do epic shit.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    There needs to be an allotted amount of management time for each person. Once they surpass that, That time needs to be charged to them in either cash or labor. Five to one seems about right. For every hour that a foreman or group leader has to spend on him, make him put in 5 more hours. I've done this and it works.

    It needs to be really clear that he is of low rank and that everyone's time is valued much more than his. I always refer to it as "man time" vs "boy time". Jerry hasn't demonstrated that he is a man.
     
    chad Christopher
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    I believe, something you seem to take a liking to, that a point demerits system could work. Since, simply 'making up' for work, doesn't restore the interruption of the 'colonies'...a demerit code would be more than acceptable. Schedules, planning, and patterns are all crucial to a functional permaculture system. Planting seeds later, opposed to now, for example. The job is irrelevant and detrimental to growing food, if not done at the proper time. A co-op I worked with had the following structure. 6 goofs in one designated time period resulted in termination of employment/membership. One full demerit would be a 'no call, no show' if you showed up late...say by half a day. 1/2 a point. Now, there is a chance for amnesty, work done for forgiveness, to clear some negative points. And also merited points, for those who go beyond their duties. If someone can be arranged to do your task, ok. This system can be abused and disrupt the efficiency of the group. Ie, screw off for 3 days, and then do extra amnesty work. The solution is; certain offenses have a delayed amnesty period. According to the group. If you are habitually slacking in work, and trying to make up for it in amnesty....no. small offenses have unlimited amnesty. Big ones, you can knock your points down, but don't get more than x, in x amount of time. Little ones and big ones combined, even with amnesty, no more than x, is this allowed time. So, let's say 6 full points in 6 months. A disappearing act would be one point, if you do extra work, you can erase that point but only after a month of the offesnse. If you have 4 half points racked up, and worked off, ok. But there's that time you got drunk and disappeared. You still have 30 days until that clears. Another mechanism to stop abuse... if 6 points is the terminal number, but some can be expunged with amnesty, you can't have more than say...12 points total in one period, expunged or not. With all in factions expired one month after the offesnse, if corected. ....woah that's a lot to read. But it worked for the past 16 years in a co-op near me.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    Jerry sounds like an advanced slacker. Problems like this should be nipped in the bud. I have withheld many perks from helpers who aren't working out as well as hoped. Sometimes rides, food, and access to salvaged stuff are available to better workers. Jerry needs to be the last one squeezed into a car, the last one fed etc. Give him the worst room and the most unsavory work.

    My helper Claude has been the recipient of several bicycles, furniture items and bags of clothing found at demolition projects. Lesser workers get only what he turns down.

    When I have someone who is really not working out, I generally give him a garbage can and show him an area that must be clean within two hours for his job to continue. They sometimes quit, sometimes fail and sometimes pick up the pace. A problem like this never enters it's second day.
     
    chad Christopher
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    So January to june. You disappeared 3 times in febuary. 3 points. They won't clear until end of march. Late 2 times, in march. Your at 4 points. Amnesty for all 4 points, but missed a day in march. 5 total points. Only one currently standing until april. You do amnesty work, and are back to zero, but you disappeared once in april. No amnesty until may, so only 1 point active but it's now 6 total points. You don't get the boot, even though you have 6 total points, you only have one active. Amnesty, clears all in may, but you still have a record. Keep repeating this pattern. If you make it until June and have repeated offenses but they are expunged. It doesn't matter if you made up for those points or not, if you have 12 offenses. You're gone. So let's say jerry, never did any amnesty work, and had no nominations for a merit, you're out at 6 full points. So in my example, with no amnesty work done, they would be out in april. For stealing and other things of the sort, if the colonists decide to vote on multiple points, or extraction. So be it. It's a very fair system with plenty of chances to prove yourself.

    P.s. I agree with dale, the amnesty work was always the least than desirable work, shoveling muck, labor, cleaning, etc.

    One more edit, I don't think there is a natural solution to this problem, you in fact said ' I wish to evolve past that'. Implying human needs surpassing 'natural' or 'instinctual'. Communication is essential in an intentional community.
     
    Kyrt Ryder
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    D. Logan wrote:Paying people not in money, but in sustenance and tools.

    Want to stay in a shelter provided for you? Do X amount of work on Pauls projects per day you want to stay. Want a meal? Do an hour of work well prior to the meal being cooked. Need a set of gloves to borrow? Do X time helping Paul, or XX time if you just want to own the pair outright. It becomes a Gapper ala Carte situation. They aren't quite Ants, but can transition over to one over time. Since work is done in advance of rewards, there is a clear motive offered to do that work, but at the same time, nothing is required.

    This is reminiscent of an independent 'Lab Currency' I proposed in another thread, wherein the Lab has a currency which is traded among residents for its value, and all of these 'Wheatonbucks' [better name pending] initially come from the Lab's staff for services [or USD] rendered. Trying to track those X hours of labor at Y value level is going to be a nightmare if it isn't boiled down into its own currency. [Hell cryptocurrency technology may even work for this, although I would hate to see the economy on the Lab require electronic devices.]
     
    D. Logan
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    Kyrt Ryder wrote:
    D. Logan wrote:Paying people not in money, but in sustenance and tools.

    Want to stay in a shelter provided for you? Do X amount of work on Pauls projects per day you want to stay. Want a meal? Do an hour of work well prior to the meal being cooked. Need a set of gloves to borrow? Do X time helping Paul, or XX time if you just want to own the pair outright. It becomes a Gapper ala Carte situation. They aren't quite Ants, but can transition over to one over time. Since work is done in advance of rewards, there is a clear motive offered to do that work, but at the same time, nothing is required.

    This is reminiscent of an independent 'Lab Currency' I proposed in another thread, wherein the Lab has a currency which is traded among residents for its value, and all of these 'Wheatonbucks' [better name pending] initially come from the Lab's staff for services [or USD] rendered. Trying to track those X hours of labor at Y value level is going to be a nightmare if it isn't boiled down into its own currency. [Hell cryptocurrency technology may even work for this, although I would hate to see the economy on the Lab require electronic devices.]


    Yeah, I was sort of thinking of Ithaca Hours as a sort of model. Standard period of time is equal to X value. They use 10 dollars there in Ithaca, but just about anything could be used as long as it seems reasonable as the value of a period of time worked on an average project.
     
    Zach Muller
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    All this talk about a sub currency makes me tired, sounds like a lot of work for someone. Is there a printing press? Spreadsheets? Sounds like a nightmare of work to me even if it is boiled down into a currency. Along with wheatonbucks comes Wheaton bank, Wheaton banker, Wheaton bookkeeper, conversion rates, labor rates, Paydays and a lot of stuff you won't even think of until the process is begun. Maybe it would work, but just sounds so unappealing. So you create the new currency, jerry was still a little shit in the US economy and it runs on currency, how would a new currency change things exactly, aside from complicating things?

    Dales approach is direct and simple, sounds good, but requires direct monitoring and oversight which is a lot of work when scaled up to a bunch of people.

    I think changing rent vs. own to temporary vs. permanent was a good way to go in that thread. If the entire lab was divided that way temps would have no rights, they would be working and scrambling to become perms. If they did not scramble enough and either do a lot or learn a lot then do a lot they would remain temps and be gone soon enough. They would not be given the chance to fuck up a bunch of stuff. They would have no right to much of anything until they proved they were able and willing to be perms. Once you became a perm it's like your in the vision, helping build the reality everyone wants at the lab because that's one of your passions. A perm would be held to different standards because they have proven their devotion to creating the vision. Everyone is still human and surely would still do some screw ups and have a bad year now and again, but with a certain amount of personal investment it's pretty much guaranteed that they are devoted enough to be trusted.
     
    Jack Edmondson
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    For some reason, Mark Shepard's words keep repeating in my head as I read your post. "Know your biome. What are the natural plant communities where you live. We could do micro climate enhancements and grow bananas and saguaro cactus (in Minnesota.) But at what cost?" (paraphrased)

    Jerry is the banana plant in the snow. If you invest enough time, energy, and effort, you may someday see fruit. But why? What is the pay off? To say you can grow bananas in Montana? Permiculture to me is the art of enhancing natural systems in community with nature. Jerry has a natural place in the world, just as cancer has a natural place in the biological world. But I don't propagate cancer cells to make my body healthier. I don't let my desire to grow bananas in the snow drain all my time energy and resources at the expense of the rest of the farm. Jerrys are the same drain to the system you have designed. He is a cancer. The best thing to do is not encourage cancer cells in healthy cell communities.

     
    paul wheaton
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    We had some people break some tools and then lie about it. Those people were asked to leave immediately.

    If I knew, for sure, who bent the spoons, I would have asked them to leave immediately.

    I think that small forms of disrespect will grow into larger forms of disrespect which will then end up as poison for the community. Some people seem to work hard to make things better, and sometimes you meet people that seem to work hard to poison the community.

    And again, I come back to the mental/philosophical/permaculture exercise: design the system so that jerry naturally grows into permaculture awesomeness or decides to move on, on his own. In Jerry's own words, I am a terrible manager because I manage too much and, at the same time, too little. So, jerry admits that he needs management. Maybe even a particular kind of management. And I think the need for management is an indicator of a poorly designed system.

    Ant village is one idea. A gapper that ends up being undesired by ants is another. Strong leadership/management is another.

    I think that the concept of potato village and mushroom village is a partial solution - something that could work well with strong leadership/management. Jerry would start off in potato village and would learn that the folks in mushroom village get more candy, but only "the best" from potato village are invited to mushroom village. So, maybe each person in potato village provides 10 units of accomplishment per week, and each person in mushroom village provides 40 units of accomplishment.

     
    Cheri Ryan
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    For what it is worth (maybe nothing --grin), some folks take a very long time to begin to mature. Asking a Jerry to come up to speed in half a year, or even five years, often is like trying to get a batch of wine to mature overnight. Can't happen.

    The more opportunities the Jerry's in this world have blown off in the past, the further behind the 8 ball they are and the more entrenched in their non-productive habits.

    It is understandable that you'd want to find a permaculture way to handle such folks, hopefully swimming WITH the flow, and not against it. However, some of these people change very, very slowly (think: like watching grass grow) and in the meantime, they can bring your organization very nearly to its knees (one bad apple...). Jerry's cause a lot of stress on others around them. It's stressful to watch someone else suffer. Yet if you jump in, you end up enabling their refusal to learn and grow.

    Your operation there is like a big net, and when you haul it in, you have a little of everything in it: some stuff has to be thrown back and other stuff is "a keeper." So someone has to be the "Chief Sorter and Tosser." They have to be able to handle the unfair/untrue accusations hurled at them by taking control of the situation and not firing back.

    Example: When I worked at an inner city high school, there were many parents and students who would expend considerable time arguing, but very little time doing much of anything productive. These folks had learned to argue until they found an edge, then work that edge for all it was worth. And us staff knew not to give them an edge to 'sharpen their sword on.' So when we said something which was a decision or a statement, and the other person gave us a long full-blown argument, we did not address their arguments. That would be pointless (as I suspect you've discovered with your "Jerry's")---one must simply digs in one's toes and repeats your statement...You stand your ground and repeat the simple statement you started with and frequently, that's all you say. It sends a statement that this is the way it is and you are NOT going to be change. It's sort of similar to dogs and horses. The one who steps aside is the lesser in the pecking order. You do not step aside but you do not attack either

    Often, explaining, elaborating, embroidering, illustrating...all are utterly pointless because this is NOT an intelligent discussion--it's simply arguments for the sake of the Jerry getting to continue his poor choices.

    It's generally worked for him often enough to endear him to that method, but chances are, not often enough to secure him as cozy a niche as he feels he deserves. Chances are that he has bombed out of jobs, worn out his parents and friends or girlfriend, and to their relief, he's flapped off to your place.

    Paul, you simply cannot be everything to everybody! I'm sure your dear companion has made that observation a time or two as well. As an inventor, innovator, facilitator, procurer, teacher....you need the monkey taken off of your back with regard to such social management issues. You have, I assume, already formulated some sort of expectations regarding the assistance people are to render in exchange for being there and learning. Fair enough. Perhaps now it's time to search out someone with experience in dealing with a variety of people (perhaps a retired teacher). And then, it's time to practice the fine art of delegation and trust. No one always makes the perfect decision, 100% of the time, but a seasoned veteran of people and issues will come doggone close.
    Best wishes, Cheri, Reedsport, OR
     
    Rhys Firth
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    Cheri Ryan wrote: Perhaps now it's time to search out someone with experience in dealing with a variety of people (perhaps a retired teacher). And then, it's time to practice the fine art of delegation and trust. No one always makes the perfect decision, 100% of the time, but a seasoned veteran of people and issues will come doggone close.



    This sounds like GOOD advice.

    But being who I am, I think a retired army/marine Sgt or navy Gunny would be the best fit, someone used to coaxing and nurturing potential, but willing and more than able to plant a high velocity size 13 boot up a slacking arse. Teachers tend to be somewhat more non-confrontational, the Akido or Jujitsu of the management world, I prefer the Karate or Kendo approach.



    Taking Jerry as an anology, if you had hens in your design as bug munchers and litter scratchers and egg producers, and one hen named Jerrietta flopped in dust bath and snoozed there waiting for a human feeder to deliver grains, and didn't scratch or eat bugs nor deliver eggs...

    Would you keep her or would you eat her?



    Now you can't eat Jerry without horrible horror movies being made of your exploits, but that doesn't mean you have to keep him around... there's a road out side your gates (or a volcano hideout with lava pits).





    If I was a slacker I would expect to be hitting the road... quite likely forcibly and at high speed face first.
     
    Kyrt Ryder
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    Rhys Firth wrote:Taking Jerry as an anology, if you had hens in your design as bug munchers and litter scratchers and egg producers, and one hen named Jerrietta flopped in dust bath and snoozed there waiting for a human feeder to deliver grains, and didn't scratch or eat bugs nor deliver eggs...

    Would you keep her or would you eat her?

    Now you can't eat Jerry without horrible horror movies being made of your exploits

    Compost

    First the microbes eat him, then the plants eat their waste, then you eat the plants.
     
    Cheri Ryan
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    I was thinking about "the story of Jerry" that Paul posted and realized that giving "Jerry's" a space for their tent probably feeds right into their lifestyle. There was a reason why the old cattle outfits built a bunkhouse for their help. You cannot walk through a tent and dump a fellow out of bed or even really disrupt his sleep much. But if all the temporary "visitors" start out in a bunkhouse, say 6 bunks, which gives you 12 beds, with a screen in a corner which hides a composting toilet, and some sort of wash stand with a basin, pitcher of water and "slop bucket" underneath, they have their basic needs met.

    Now they are on YOUR terms, more or less. It is less like a homeless village set-up. A radio set to go off at "wake up time" or a bugle or a big triangle being beat on the porch of the log bunk house...whatever you want as the "wake up" sound. The sounds of the others getting up and getting going is sufficient to wake up most sleepers. If one has a hard time waking up, the others can assist him. If he simply doesn't want to get up, third strike can be the "out."

    Only the mature can function without structure and give you more than you asked for. The rest need basic expectations laid out in advance. Get up and eat in this window of time. Work in this window of time. Knock off at this time.

    Calling names, derision, or other negative behavior to get out of pulling their share of the load needs to be dealt with immediately. (Unless, of course, you want to turn it into a residential treatment facility for troubled youth or adults.)

     
    paul wheaton
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    I think that if we take the time to design a system that will work for jerry, then we have designed a system that will work for damn near anybody.

    And let's not forget, there are some very excellent people that show up and they decide to move on also. I wonder if we design a system for jerry, will have more of the naturally awesome people sticking around too.


    When I worked at an inner city high school, there were many parents and students who would expend considerable time arguing, but very little time doing much of anything productive.


    Yes! Perfect! So the key would be to come up with a system where there is nothing to argue about. A person can "work less" if they want - and the result is that they might choose to move home before winter. Or, suppose they have not listened to the podcasts and they are NOT an ant. They are a gapper. And winter is coming and there is a limited number of bunks for gappers. And they don't make the cut. Or maybe they are in potato village, but they want the pie and candy that comes with mushroom village ....


    Paul, you simply cannot be everything to everybody!


    This is a very huge thing for me right now. The last 20 months have very seriously drained me. Having an empty house has been excellent at my getting back to "normal". I wish this system design to be something that is fulfilling for the people that come, while at the same time, reduces my stress about projects here about 95%.


    I think a retired army/marine Sgt or navy Gunny would be the best fit


    I think that would be good for some people. Including jerry.

    And, at the same time, that isn't the path I want to see happening here. I like the idea of "it takes a village". If we have a dozen people building their own nest, and two dozen gappers and jerry is one of the gappers ... I guess there will be a dozen different leadership personalities and one of those might be a fit for jerry. I suspect that all 12 will be more nurturing and patient than what you propose, but I could be wrong!



     
    Rufus Laggren
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    > bunkhouse...

    Seems good for all the reasons mentioned. Best idea yet. It's a structural part of the system, not somebody making a decision or executing judgement - just a building used according to your customs and rules as the host. AND right after breakfast there are classes and seminars held in the bunkhouse(s). Can't let good indoor space go unused - the bunks ARE empty after all... <g>

    IAC. A little structure can help a lot.


    Rufus
     
    Dillon Nichols
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    paul wheaton wrote:I want to pretend that the new system is that Jerry is an ant. Jerry has his own plot and is his own boss. The ants on the surround plots are building food systems and shelter. If Jerry has a lot of personal days and goes into missoula a lot, he might accomplish less than the other ants. In time, he might come to the conclusion that the problem is not "the system" nor is it me.


    Jerry's almost always going to leave before he decides that. The trick IMO is to create a structure that causes him to do so in a timely manner without a bunch of wasted management time. The bunk house might help... but if there's no workshop right after breakfast maybe it's just a more comfortable place for Jerry to sleep late?

    paul wheaton wrote:I think that if we take the time to design a system that will work for Jerry, then we have designed a system that will work for damn near anybody.

    And let's not forget, there are some very excellent people that show up and they decide to move on also. I wonder if we design a system for jerry, will have more of the naturally awesome people sticking around too.


    I think a system that keeps Jerry around on terms that Jerry likes, would be offputting to the people you would like to keep... But a system that sends Jerry on his merry way with a minimum of fuss unless he transforms himself would hopefully improve retention of those folks by minimizing the Jerry annoyance factor...

    Have any of the very excellent people seen fit to share their reasons for moving on? My guess is the reasons are not overlapping. But this is only a guess.

    Cheri Ryan wrote:If he simply doesn't want to get up, third strike can be the "out."

    Exactly, nice and simple. Only catch is it still requires someone to be paying attention and managing these people...
     
    Ann Torrence
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    paul wheaton wrote:
    I wonder if we design a system for jerry, will have more of the naturally awesome people sticking around too.

    The Canadians designed a system to manage the Jerrys during the Klondike Gold Rush: you weren't allowed entry without a year's worth of survival food and equipment. That meant packing nearly a ton of goods up the Chilkoot Trail. The Canadians knew they couldn't take care of all the ill-conditioned dreamers that might venture out into the wilderness, so they made a reasonable although difficult entry barrier. Wikipedia says 100,000 started out for the Klondike, only 30,000 arrived, 4,000 found gold. But you can bet a lot of those 26,000 that didn't find gold went on to do other epic deeds in the Yukon and Alaska. No one ever says where the other 70,000 drifted off to, looking for a softer, easier path.

    I once had a friend say to me, "Ann I want what you have but I don't want to work that hard." Rarely are we granted so much clarity in an instant. I was under no obligation to help her go where I was going.

    Jerry reminds me not necessarily of the banana plant mentioned above, but of a permaculture element that takes a lot of support species advance work to thrive. Like a mushroom spore that needs a downed tree and the lab is just starting succession with annuals, not a tree in sight, much less one ready to fall of its own accord and provide Jerry with the resources he needs.
    -----------
    Then there is Jerry's sister, Jane. Jane is a natural doer. She doesn't need much support, like a Russian olive or a clover seed, her very existence on the land builds the system. This tale is as ancient as human relations, think the Prodigal Son and Aesops' Fables. She comes to the lab to learn, contribute, to work on a team, do epic stuff with like-minded folk. And then Jerry shows up at the lab. She comes preloaded, already kind of sick of having to carry Jerry's load in the past. If Jane succumbs to comparison and resentment, she can create as much havoc and ill-will as Jerry, but in a self-righteous martyrdom that is even harder to deal with because she feels so justified in wallowing in it. Jane's trap can be as hard for her to escape as Jerry's is for him.

    Managing Janes is a lot easier than Jerrys. Give them loads of praise and appreciation, interesting work and learning, and as few Jerrys as possible. At some point, hopefully Jane matures to where she doesn't cultivate resentments, and Jerry matures beyond his issues. But I wouldn't try to create a social system to fix them. Like the great philosopher Sting said, "people go crazy in congregations but they only get better one by one."
     
    Thomas Partridge
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    It is an interesting dilemma, what to do with something or someone that seems to cause only problems. Let's flip this around and try to figure out what Jerry is a solution to instead of trying to figure out how to fix Jerry. What does Jerry want to do? If it is just eat and sleep then I can't really think of anything that solves, but I would imagine such a life is too boring to occur naturally.

    Perhaps a Jerry likes to only do things that are fun (and of course eat and sleep), then in that instance perhaps a Jerry could be observed to see if he or she can figure out the simplest ways to acquire food and shelter. Perhaps I am grasping at straws, but isn't observation a big part of permaculture? Perhaps a Jerry will discover a system not currently in use that is more effort efficient than current systems. Of course the Jerry needs only the most bare of supplies for such a task and the amount of calories a Jerry is fed should be kept low to prevent unhealthy weight gain. You could change the system to make the current amount of assistance in terms of supply and food something people have to earn instead of the default and that way everyone starts out being a Jerry.

    One of the problems is that trying to incorporate a human into a permaculture system deals with the gray area of whether to consider them part of the system or above the system. In this case to make use of Jerry you will likely have to choose between treating him as part of the system or as a person needing management. I suspect there are quite a few books on the latter, but as for the former . . .
     
    kadence blevins
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    I quite like the idea of making Jerry an observer or other minimalist jobs. Minimal expected, minimal tools for possible burn, minimal to lose if Jerry doesnt do it or doesnt do it as quick/soon as hoped he would,...
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    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.
     
    Sean McDade
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    I think a really good model for gappers may go as follows.

    1st Breakfast - enjoy.. it is free.. Did you like it? Good, now follow the others up to the wheaton labs work camp.
    4 hours of work until lunch (five times a week) and five hours of work after lunch 3 days a week totals 35 hours a week.
    This keeps you at Wheaton Labs. Your work will be assessed each day by the project managers in charge of these time slots.
    If you don't do the work or do it poorly you will get breakfast the next day and we will escort you from the property. Each gapper needs to sign this when they arrive. You are giving them two
    afternoons a week and all weekend long to work on projects that are of interest. The rest of the time they work for Wheaton Labs and are expected to produce to earn room, board, and the
    amazing experience.

    Jerry has an addiction. He takes ITeasy. ITeasy is not an opiate but in many ways it is close. Jerry has so many reasons why it is your fault he takes ITeasy. Jerry wants you to be tough on him. The other gappers want you to be tough on Jerry. Jerry needs to leave or grow up right now. Don't let him fester. He hurts himself and he hurts everyone in the group more.

    Set up an outdoor kitchen. The house should be off limits to all but a few. You are running a world wide operation of global dominance and permaculture there and it should be locked up like the death star. I would advise cameras, dogs, electric fences, killer chickens, and of course flying rabits that go right for the neck (Monty Python type bunnies).

    I had one other idea about making money fast using resources you have on hand already. Why not build small sheds ( tiny houses) to sell using the network you already have. You can buy or build the trailers they go on. Then branch out to Yurts, Teepees, Tents , etc. You have tools, wood, and labor there ready to go.

    Ok just thinking out loud here.. I'm signing out now... hello.. Anyone.... Is this thing on?

     
    Thomas Partridge
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    I like the idea of using a food schedule to inspire a Jerry to be more than a Jerry. Perhaps as the above poster suggested have a free breakfast. To earn a lunch however, you have to work hard enough or work for so many hours. Instead of saying "Jerry you cannot have lunch" just call the names of those who are invited to have lunch with you (or whoever is in charge of the group). Do the same for dinner. If they are not working very hard, they are not burning as many calories and they do not need to eat as much. If they want to do things their own way, they can forage any additional food they need beyond breakfast or sleep until the next breakfast. To reduce tool and ummm spoon burn, perhaps only let people use eating utensils and tools away from supervision if they are the person's own eating utensils. I am actually kind of surprised that is even an issue, requiring a person to provide their own bowl and spoon seems like a pretty minor requirement. People have to pay to come there right? Make the cost with however many free breakfasts in mind and so on so that worst case scenario a Jerry causes you to break even.

    You are not going to be able to fix a Jerry, but you can design a system in which a Jerry does more good than harm.
     
    Matu Collins
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    My permaculture solution is to keep Jerry out on the front end. My wwoof application has been the A#1 way of sorting out useful helpers. Jerrys rarely even fill out the application and if they do I can spot then a mile away.

    The "20 people under one roof" discussion was thought provoking for me and I think it's pertinent here. The sink-or-swim method is at odds with community building in some ways.
     
    Pia Jensen
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    paul wheaton wrote:I think that if we take the time to design a system that will work for jerry, then we have designed a system that will work for damn near anybody


    This grabs my attention because I have experience with "Jerry" (others) and previous experience working with troubled/abused youth in several settings, including a community farm, and I have to ask some questions.

    Is the intention to make a community-infused permaculture lifestyle work for all types of people?
    Is it possible that there are perhaps some underlying clinical issues which Jerry has not disclosed?

    Some square pegs won't fit or melt like compost into the round holes. Does the application process allow for understanding who the applicant's are and are references checked? Do you ask for portfolios? In another time we would leave our doors open at night, but as time went on and society became more unpredictable, and more violent, people began shutting their doors for protection from possible chaos in their sanctuary. Most combinations of people will include disruptors. Is it kosher to bring disruptors in without some formal procedures in place to mitigate the chaos they bring with them?

    Like Pig-Pen's constant swirl of earth around him - some people come with practices and habits that may take energy and focus away from the intention.



    For about nine months I lived on 69 acres of mixed woods; farm with deep, deep, rich planting beds; many different mushrooms, year round creek offering different profiles and resources, wildlife, cabins, ponds... during that time a young man was presented as a candidate for an apprenticeship. He came with ADD, OCD, and a few other acronyms he described as himself. And he was 17.

    The first couple days were rough and only got rougher. He broke the back steps by loudly bounding down them. He washed dishes with dirty hands. Wet dirt dripped onto the floor one day when I came into ask a question as he stood there holding a bowl from the sink with his dirty hand. He had experience as a welder, so on one of his weekends offsite he endeavored to make an iron thing to stand up on a post near the sandy meditation bed for a bell to hang off of. He returned with what looked like a dead worm laying down and hanging off an edge. Seriously. I decided to have him try something that would combine meditation with work. Burning slash. Over several days I showed him how to create and manage a safe burn pile. He didn't know at this time I was going to let him be in charge of a burn. Every day was a lessons day. So, after three days I said, okay. You can do a burn pile today. I need you to find a place that has water and is clear with an open canopy. Set it up and go ahead and start. And I let him go. After about half an hour I went looking for him and his burn pile. I found the burn pile in a small circular area with young trees ringing the edges, tall flames dancing up into the tree branches, and him standing a few feet away leaning on his walking stick. The caretaker's house was nearby. A hose lay on the ground, but was not hooked up to the faucet.

    After surveying the scene, I said, Ho! He turned around, smiling and a little nervous... I said in a calm but somewhat raised voice where's your water?! He ran off! He came running back with a 5 gallon bucket of water he got from the creek farther away.

    A second young man, in his mid 20's was living there before I arrived. He did quirky things like dumpster dive, bring the produce home and drop it on the floor or shelf in the pantry and walk away. I wasn't paying attention to the pantry at the time because I was surrounded by so many new things to learn and experience as a newbie on the farm... and one day I opened the pantry door. There was rotting food slime in various places. There were other things he did that demonstrated he wasn't altogether together and one day his mother left a telling message for him on the answering machine. I heard of this person later from eco village folks in Costa Rica, the same stories emerged.

    My final questions are: Do you think the lab has sufficient "policy" (loose or otherwise) in place to create a more cohesive and productive environment? Is it possible that it is no longer possible to leave the door open to all people if a structure does not exist to handle them?
     
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