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paul wheaton
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In 2013 two people were sent home - on two different occasions. Both for exceptionally poor behavior while drunk.

In 2014 I wrote about how the consumption of beer is becoming annoying to me (in a nutshell, I don't drink beer, but somehow end up with garbage duty and taking a ride with a hundred stinky bottles to get them to the recycling).

Moments ago I heard a report of possible horrible behavior by a drunk person on saturday night.

I don't need this shit.

I suspect that for every person that has gotten drunk and caused problems, there have been 20 people that got drunk and there were no problems and 50 more people that had a drink and didn't get drunk.

So in the middle of all the things we are trying to get done, we now need to take some time to do "dunken guy CSI" - figure out what all happened and then figure out what, if anything, we are going to do about it.

I need to focus on forward velocity of my projects. Not spend time on drunken dumbfuckery.

I don't know how, but I feel like writing about this might somehow reduce the number of issues that come up in this space.
 
Mike Cantrell
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That sucks.

I can picture two routes you might go:

1. Say, "alcohol on premises is causing more trouble than benefits. No mas." And you ban it outright.

Your benefits:
You probably have much fewer people drinking on premises.
If somebody is drinking on premises, you've got a perfectly good reason to tell them to go away.
You almost definitely cure the problem of bottles and other detritus. Because if people have to sneak it, they'll clean it up.

Your costs:
You conceivably could have people who were on the fence deciding a trip to the Labs doesn't sound fun enough any more.
The after-hours bonding and heart-to-hearts- whether about feelings or about information- will likely be diminished. (I, for example, am very shy, and find it extremely difficult to have a good talk with a stranger sober. Alcohol is a powerful traditional medicine for this ailment, and it works very well for me.)

2. Say, "Problems are rare, and enforcing an unpopular rule will cause more problems than it solves."

Speaking of which, you might not be able to share much, but what happened? Inappropriate sex? Anger/fighting/insulting/bullying? Vandalism/stealing/property crime?



Regardless, that's a tough call.
 
August Hurtel
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Most cultures have some sort of local fermented drink, so an outright ban would take that away, not only as something that would strengthen ties in a burgeoning community, but a possible local product.

The big problem is importation. You could employ snobbery as a weapon. Ban the cheap beer. Perhaps even insist on organic alcoholic beverages. This is basically raising the price they have to pay, beforehand, which you could also do in other ways.


 
Kelly Smith
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make an example of the person who is causing the problem.
when you say things like this wont be tolerated, then they are tolerated, just like in the corporate world, people will find loopholes and push boundaries.


how/why arent the other community members not stepping up to stop this?



youre the nicest dictator ever


 
Jocelyn Campbell
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paul wheaton wrote:Moments ago I heard a report of possible horrible behavior by a drunk person on saturday night.

I don't need this shit.


Paul and I didn't see the reported behavior ourselves which makes the CSI part necessary, instead of a more straightforward response or reaction.

The real bummer is that Paul really, really doesn't need this right now.
 
Kelly Smith
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
The real bummer is that Paul really, really doesn't need this right now.


the good thing he is in total control up there so this should cease to be, what appears to this outsider as, an ongoing problem.

 
J Hampshire
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Very interesting topic. If I was in your position, if people we're signing up to come to my home to work and learn; that's what we're doing. Working. And learning. Tough to do that, on a real level, with booze. It's an unnecessary ingredient to what you're trying to build. One man's opinion.

I didn't even start drinking until I was 23. But from 23 to about 29, I made up for lost time in a big way. Even worked at a brewery, figuring it would be my life long career. Fast forward to 31, I'm out of that field and have quit any alcohol intake of any kind. Both my wife and I. It just got to the point where we questioned what the hell it was for, what it was doing. As much as it seems like campfires and cold beers are a match made in heaven, and as big of a proponent as I used to be -- it just stopped making sense. So I'm spending X dollars on sugar water that's going to add empty calories to my belly, disrupt my sleep pattern, inhibit my motor skills, steer me towards unhealthy food decisions, impair judgement, and give me a hangover? No thank you.

There is a much, MUCH larger philosophical/socio-economic discussion to be had here. Drinking = America... unfortunately. There is this unwritten doctrine that one should drink. Somehow, you're a weirdo or an uptight Biblethumper if you don't drink alcohol. Telling people you don't drink automatically gives way to wide-eyed assumptions of some level of previous dependency or inability to control intake. One cannot just "not drink because I don't want to" and have that simply be the end of it. It goes really, really deep into many of my long-standing theories of people's inability to cope, or find fulfillment. Booze is a cheap, frighteningly accessible, socially accepted distraction/and or high. All people do for fun is drink; But when I want to stay at home and read a book on how to can foods or practice sewing, I'm the weirdo. I'm weird for trying to seek fulfillment via means of experimentation and self-growth. But the "normal" people want to deaden their senses and give away their hard-earned money on something with 0.0% return on their investment. In just over 3 decades I've gone from one standpoint, tried the other side for a long time, and finally realized I truly stand by my original opinion. To each there own.

I say ban it. If they don't like it they will know that they chose the consumption of alcohol over trying to make a change in their world, and the world, via hard work and creating relationships with like-minded people.
 
kadence blevins
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Maybe instead of a ban on all alcohol you say new people must be here x amount of time before they earn the right to intoxicate (is that a word?? lol) themselves on your land for such and such reasons as you have had. If people partake of drinks before that time, I imagine you would kick them out soon as you hear about it. that way you only find out WHO and no drunkard idiot CSI needed.
I say that because it seems like this happens when theres an influx of people. so newbs to the lab or people who have been there a while and decide to push boundaries, like someone said above.
 
John Wolfram
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My experience has been that those who are assholes/jerks when drunk are usually assholes when sober, albeit to a lesser degree when sober. In many ways, alcohol simply magnifies what is already there, and used properly that can be a good thing. Drunkenness can be a great way of finding out the subtle simmering problems before they infect the rest of the company/group. For example, if it were legal and if I were suddenly made CEO of a fortune 500 company I would institute a 5 shot rule for interviews. Basically, everyone would be required to drink enough to have a 0.16% blood alcohol content (twice the limit for driving) during some part of the interview. People who maintain their nice disposition would be given preference, while those who turn into ragging assholes would be thanked for their interest in the company and sent on their merry way.
 
Dave Burton
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J Hampshire wrote:
There is a much, MUCH larger philosophical/socio-economic discussion to be had here. Drinking = America... unfortunately. There is this unwritten doctrine that one should drink. Somehow, you're a weirdo or an uptight Biblethumper if you don't drink alcohol. Telling people you don't drink automatically gives way to wide-eyed assumptions of some level of previous dependency or inability to control intake. One cannot just "not drink because I don't want to" and have that simply be the end of it. It goes really, really deep into many of my long-standing theories of people's inability to cope, or find fulfillment. Booze is a cheap, frighteningly accessible, socially accepted distraction/and or high. All people do for fun is drink; But when I want to stay at home and read a book on how to can foods or practice sewing, I'm the weirdo. I'm weird for trying to seek fulfillment via means of experimentation and self-growth. But the "normal" people want to deaden their senses and give away their hard-earned money on something with 0.0% return on their investment. In just over 3 decades I've gone from one standpoint, tried the other side for a long time, and finally realized I truly stand by my original opinion. To each there own.


*claps hands* I hear you sista! I'm 18 at the moment. I have never drinked before, and I never plan to. Also, just from the outset, beer, wine, and alcohol smell icky to me; it hurts my nose. That's one of the things I don't like about it. My parents don't drink much, just one glass of wine with our home dinner every now and then. Alcohol has a higher vapor pressure than water, so its scent overpowers almost everything within a ten foot radius.

About being weird, , there are so many prejudices that people have that annoy me! And I resonate with the same idea. I'd rather do stuff that is actually fulfilling, things that means something which is part of the mental crisis that I just concluded. Because for at least the past ten years, it has been paining me greatly that there are so many things out there in the world that need fixing and that I can't do much about it right now, as a minor or (now) as a young adult. <--- That's the reason why I have had mental breakdowns for a long time, annually.

I know, it is kind of weird. Not everybody thinks or cares as much as I do. But I came to all the conclusions I have, for the most part, from a logical methodical thought process. Like no kidding, for real, I am so far from the norm, and I like it because I am very aware of the things going on in the world. But, the first question I really asked, which was a long while back (from my perspective), was "What is the meaning of life?". Pretty deep stuff for a child or teen to be asking, and that question has been bugging me ever since. And I started to form in my mind the same conclusion that many other people have come to: that life is about caring for others and the planet. Once I came to that conclusion, it just scared me that I couldn't do anything about ALL OF THIS STUFF (i.e. the world's problems). It made me feel pretty helpless, and I was able to mitigate this by distracting myself with things like theatre, arts &crafts, reading tons of novels, fulfilling obligations (i.e. bring honor to them all).

*sidenote* I can't say enough about how I relate to Mulan.*and yes, I'm one of the outliers that still believe in honor and politeness, for the most part. I won't say fully because there are exceptions to everything that must take into the dynamics of day to day life and the adaptations that come with it. * OK! Back to the story!

Over the past two to three years, I have been learning about permaculture, the tiny living movement, planet shifting, and other grass-roots groups and organizations, and I am starting to see that maybe, just maybe, there is a very real possibility that I can start changing things in the world. And now, I am feeling even more empowered knowing that there are people out there that share similar views. *eeeh, I might just be able to find my tribe!* *permies.com, at least is my view, makes for a good online tribe!*
 
August Hurtel
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John Wolfram,

I can pass your test, which means it is probably illegal, like IQ tests are.

Plus it would be a fun interview, as long as you promise not to ask those vapid questions the HR ladies come up with.
 
elle sagenev
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It is my opinion that if people are unable to police themselves on appropriate alcohol consumption you do not want them around the lab. There are many, many people who know their limits and are quite capable of drinking without passing them. Anyone who doesn't have that kind of control would be suspect to me.

I really enjoy alcohol with food. I cook with a ton of different wines, beers and ciders, even vodka on occasion. My husband and I also love to drink stuff that goes with our food. Anyway, so that said I'd be sad not to be able to drink. However, this is a problem at the lab, a continued one, so I think a general ban would be necessary.
 
elle sagenev
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J Hampshire wrote:Very interesting topic. If I was in your position, if people we're signing up to come to my home to work and learn; that's what we're doing. Working. And learning. Tough to do that, on a real level, with booze. It's an unnecessary ingredient to what you're trying to build. One man's opinion.

I didn't even start drinking until I was 23. But from 23 to about 29, I made up for lost time in a big way. Even worked at a brewery, figuring it would be my life long career. Fast forward to 31, I'm out of that field and have quit any alcohol intake of any kind. Both my wife and I. It just got to the point where we questioned what the hell it was for, what it was doing. As much as it seems like campfires and cold beers are a match made in heaven, and as big of a proponent as I used to be -- it just stopped making sense. So I'm spending X dollars on sugar water that's going to add empty calories to my belly, disrupt my sleep pattern, inhibit my motor skills, steer me towards unhealthy food decisions, impair judgement, and give me a hangover? No thank you.

There is a much, MUCH larger philosophical/socio-economic discussion to be had here. Drinking = America... unfortunately. There is this unwritten doctrine that one should drink. Somehow, you're a weirdo or an uptight Biblethumper if you don't drink alcohol. Telling people you don't drink automatically gives way to wide-eyed assumptions of some level of previous dependency or inability to control intake. One cannot just "not drink because I don't want to" and have that simply be the end of it. It goes really, really deep into many of my long-standing theories of people's inability to cope, or find fulfillment. Booze is a cheap, frighteningly accessible, socially accepted distraction/and or high. All people do for fun is drink; But when I want to stay at home and read a book on how to can foods or practice sewing, I'm the weirdo. I'm weird for trying to seek fulfillment via means of experimentation and self-growth. But the "normal" people want to deaden their senses and give away their hard-earned money on something with 0.0% return on their investment. In just over 3 decades I've gone from one standpoint, tried the other side for a long time, and finally realized I truly stand by my original opinion. To each there own.

I say ban it. If they don't like it they will know that they chose the consumption of alcohol over trying to make a change in their world, and the world, via hard work and creating relationships with like-minded people.


Drinking = America? Have you never been to Europe? Japan? I've been to Japan and I can gaurantee you those people drink. Sake, plum wine, lots of other drinks which I was unaware of what they were made of.
 
J Hampshire
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elle sagenev wrote:Drinking = America? Have you never been to Europe? Japan? I've been to Japan and I can gaurantee you those people drink. Sake, plum wine, lots of other drinks which I was unaware of what they were made of.


I've never been to any of the countries you mentioned, nor intend on going. That's why I didn't include them in my post.
 
elle sagenev
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Then what does drinking = America mean?

Allow me to assure you drinking has no nationality.
 
Gregory Silling
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I pray that no one was hurt.
 
Nick Ritar
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I feel for you guys... we used to deal with all the time at Milkwood Farm... we tried lots of different policies and none of them really worked... just like in the US of A drinking happens alot in Australia.

To put us into context we our farm had an average population of about 12, but with regualr coruses hosting up to 40 extras for up to 2 weeks at a time. Courses were generally alcohol free, but we didn't "CSI" empty bottles if we found them.

We tried banning it, but the cost was just too high.... a few people sharing a drink in the evening can be a great social experience. We also had a weeknights ban (to try and reduce instances of alcoholism) but I felt like a school teache enforcing that..

Eventually we just let it be known to the crew that intoxication was unacceptable and dealt with it on a case by case basis... that worked best... but was still hard work.
 
Alan Loy
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It seems to me that the issue is the behaviour not the booze. Being drunk is no excuse, so any behaviour that is unacceptable is unacceptable whether drunk or sober.

A fundamental decision is how many rules do you want. Seems to me that it is easy to make rules but difficult to make a pleasant place to live. The second is a worthwhile endeavour.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Whether around the campfire or the kitchen table, I don't think alcohol has a positive influence. Some drunks are nasty and want to fight. Others puke or piss themselves. Some cry. Most tell pointless stories, about some other time when they were drunk.

Corporal punishment used to be the military way. Drunken fools got their asses whipped.
 
J Hampshire
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Whether around the campfire or the kitchen table, I don't think alcohol has a positive influence.


Well put. I've never (nor anyone I know) had an overwhelmingly positive experience and said to myself "Man oh man... good thing I was drunk." If something was positive, it would have been, regardless of alcohol. The alcohol didn't make it a good time on any tangible level. And Christmas with in-laws is not applicable here! Curtailing your dislike of a person with alcohol, does not make it positive. Exercising your tolerance level and allowing change in your heart to be able to mesh with people, that's truly positive.

And let me make it crystal clear that I am not calling for prohibition or demanding people stop drinking because it will improve their lives.

I'm just saying, if you stop and look around because you fervently wish to improve your life; You will inherently stop drinking. If you spend most of your time asking yourself "What do I not need?" because you're feeling more and more content and fulfilled with each passing day of reflection; Alcohol skyrockets to the top of the list.
 
Dan Boone
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Whether around the campfire or the kitchen table, I don't think alcohol has a positive influence. Some drunks are nasty and want to fight. Others puke or piss themselves. Some cry. Most tell pointless stories, about some other time when they were drunk.


I would not agree with the instant leap to a discussion of drunkenness. My own experience of moderate social drinking is that it can make good times better. Moderate solitary drinking has its place as well, especially if you have, say, an anxiety problem and don't have economic access to proper medical treatment of it.

Thus do our experiences of alcohol (used by ourselves or others) colors our perceptions of it. Paul opened this thread with the acknowledgement that there have been many drinkers on his place (and even some number of drunks) that haven't caused him any problems. But Paul is concerned about building forward velocity on his enterprises. He's had negative shit happen that was booze-related. Even one alcohol-related negative incident could put a serious brake on his velocity, if he has to deal with it. He'd rather not deal with it. I don't blame him a bit.

Back to my own experiences, the only way to find out who is a responsible drinker is to drink with them, usually several times. And then weed out the problem drunks from your booze-related social activities. Paul doesn't drink very much, and he invites a lot of people onto his project properties. It's completely impossible for Paul to learn who is safe around booze, even if he wanted to, and he's got no reason to want to.

 
R Scott
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Alcohol has its place on a permaculture homestead. It is an effective way to concentrate and preserve medicinal qualities of many plants. It is a low energy way to preserve calories from fruit that would normally be lost long long before spring. It can be an effective muscle relaxer and sleep agent.

Drunkenness does not. It shows a lack of self awareness and control. A basic immaturity at best, a physio/biological flaw at worst.

 
Bill Crim
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I don't think Paul has banned alcohol(though he might like to) because he recognizes that asking 20-30 people to spend 2+ weeks camping in the Montana wilderness WITHOUT alcohol is a surefire way to get 2 participants. While dealing with alcohol-related bad behavior might be a struggle, an all-out assault on human nature is harder. There are lots of rules one can make for their own home; they work because the residents are usually all family. Creating rules for public and semi-public spaces is much harder. Especially when you WANT people to come.

I'd like to hear people's opinions when the problem is stated like this...
"On a Permaculture Demonstration site, trying to reach the broadest audience possible, how can we minimize alcohol related drama?"

My ideas...
  • Try to start the drinking earlier. At or near mealtime. Let the alcohol be buffered, and have time to filter into the system. There is a decent subset of people for whom alcohol+food = sleepy.
  • Ensure that whenever there is alcohol, there are bulky, carb-loaded snacks. There have been many times when I have stopped drinking because I LITERALLY had no room. NOTE: this is horrible health advice. However, we are trying to solve a social issue, not a personal one.
  • Officially "Call it a night". When you call it a night, you put out the campfire. You pick up the trash. You start taking chairs away. Few things can break up a party as fast as a cleanup crew looking for volunteers.


  • Don't try to solve a problem that has plagued human civilizations for literally thousands of years. Think of it as a systems design question, not a moral or ethical one. How can we design a system with 20% less drama?
     
    Joe Braxton
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    It's real simple, IF you drink, don't be an ass. Some (most?) seem to lose track of this...
     
    R Scott
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    Paul needs some cute but serious sign and slogan about he is the only one allowed to be an a hole around here...
     
    Genevieve Higgs
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    I'd second the observation that nasty behaviour is nasty with or without the intoxicants. How about "respectful, positive behaviour with effective 2-way communication at all times is necessary for participation"
     
    Ron Helwig
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    Bill Crim wrote:Few things can break up a party as fast as a cleanup crew looking for volunteers.


    LOL, this reminds me of the parties I used to throw when I was starting college. I was flush with Army College Fund cash and bought kegs every other weekend. Like all good things, this attracted a few of the wrong sort. But a couple of my friends had an interesting solution. When one of them was already at the party and the other showed up, these two big guys would rush into each others arms, kiss passionately, drop to the floor, and roll around dry humping (fully clothed). These two guys were very straight and it was just playing around pretend, for show, but the bad element didn't know that or them. They would get uncomfortable and slip out. Worked every time!

    But at the core of much of the problem drinkers is a lack of purpose. If a person doesn't have a purpose, a mission in life, they are just sort of treading water. The aimlessness of their life means they need ways to relieve the boredom, and alcohol or other drugs are a symptom of that. For a person with a mission, drugs are mostly just something that slows them down or interrupts their progress. Yeah, an occasional drink as a way to take a needed rest break is OK every now and then, but when you have purpose in your life you don't let that become a bad habit.

    I'd guess that at a place like the labs, you'd be getting almost only people who already see their purpose (or are at least seriously considering one). Some of them might be new to having a mission, so they might not have learned yet that getting hammered hinders the plan. So my thinking is that first you address each transgressor as an individual - there can be different reasons why people haven't matured enough yet, so you need to understand why they aren't "there" yet. Once you understand the individual's issues you can then apply a solution that is more likely to work than just a blanket solution. Observe first, then tweak.

    See also: Measure of a Man and
    - for me this episode made me realize that the ability to determine your own purpose, rising above what nature intends, is an important criteria for determination of sentience and also relevant to determining what rights a thing ought to have.
     
    Dale Hodgins
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    It was mentioned that this is a design challenge. I think it can be made into a simple geographic issue. If someone gets drunk and obnoxious, make them sleep outside or in some cheap, difficult to burn structure, where they can't be seen or heard. If they arrive back from town in a drunken state, take their keys and let them stay in the vehicle.

    I once worked at a dry mining camp. Drunken fools were segregated and punished financially. They had to agree to this upon hiring.

    I also worked at a dry native reservation in Ontario. It was an idyllic community that lacked the squalid conditions that plague those communities where alcohol consumption becomes the main social activity. The boys of this town were champion lacrosse players. Much of the group's social energy was directed toward cheering on their team, practice sessions etc.
     
    R Scott
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    When my dad thought I might have been drinking or stayed out too late as a teenager, he made sure my chores the next day included something loud and percussive. Driving T posts, forgework, using a nailgun or impact wrench, etc.
     
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