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community food: I provided 540 meals and received 2

 
Posts: 283
Location: SW Michigan
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Phil Hawkins wrote:I just re-listed to Paul's two parter on intentional communities yesterday, and (twice) heard the 270:1 nobility ratio story. It made me think of a few things.

It reminded me of something my company's major client once said to me once. We were saying we could get the results we were getting because we only hired the best people, and our client said that was a flawed model because the only thing you can ultimately rely on is that people are, on average, only average. It's true if you assume your company is going to grow ever larger, and thus the pool of available "best" people will shrink. If you keep the company small, then you only need to find additional people when existing people move on, and part of what defines "best" for me is that those people will want to stick around and see things through. Sometimes, despite careful recruitment and pretty great conditions, it doesn't work out, and then people have to leave. My company is not a concensus based model.

Now the closest thing I have ever got to "living in community" was living in a couple of different share houses with, at most, three other people. The difference there was every one of those people (including myself) were doing this because financial circumstances meant we had to. Whilst we split rent and utility bills, that was it - we were really just living individual lives under a common roof. I don't remember how cleaning of common areas got done - I think people just cleaned when it seemed like it needed it.

Anyway, it seems like the vast majority of people all over the world tend to fall in love and pair up (even gay folks, who clearly don't feel constrained by religious traditions). I know that my wife and I have all sorts of differences of opinion, and I cope with that because I want to stay with this person for the rest of my life. I have two kids, for whom I also have to compromise, and that number of relationships makes the house a very tense place at times. But I have love to keep me on track, and it's a powerful balancing force. In my experience, the people that don't go down that path (or don't want to) usually have some sort of personality trait that prevents it. For example, I know people who have said they would never get married, because they wouldn't want to have to compromise on how they live their lives. Is that the sort of guy or gal you would want to share a house with?

Of course there are some folks (a lot of them on here, I suspect) that would be driven to this lifestyle possibly even against their natural instincts, due to their (very noble) belief in the importance of reducing their ecological footprint. The problem there (as Paul often demonstrates) is that the more conviction people have, the less it takes to drive a wedge between them. "Normal people" would probably assume that all these eco folks would get along just great, seeing as how they all want to save the world, etc. What the normal people don't realise is that eco guy 1 hates eco girl 2 because she put fucking cardboard in the compost, and eco guy 3 can't believe what an ignorant fuck eco guy 4 is because he thinks that the house should use grey water on the garden instead of huglekultur.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gb_qHP7VaZE

By the way, here's the Monty Python skit that Paul referred to in the podcast

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xd_zkMEgkI&feature=player_detailpage#t=39s

"You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!"

 
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anndelise McCoy wrote:So basically, YOU came up with a food system that established YOU as filling the food niche, and without the input, discussions, ideas of the others?  And then you complained because they left it to YOU to fill that food niche you had already claimed?



THEY didn't seem to have any problems eating the food. THEY participated in the system - just not the parts that had THEM contributing, only the parts where THEY took from the system.

"Never... ever suggest they don't have to pay you. What they pay for, they'll value. What they get for free, they'll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold

That quote is in-character, rather than being in her own person, but I don't think Ms. Bujold would suggest much differently herself.
 
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In our community,this is solved by our life procedure. There are people who are responsible for making food, and the others can't give suggestions and interfere with that. Any dissatisfaction or suggestion can only be talked on the weekly life meeting on every Friday. And through the meeting everybody can talk his ideas openly, and the final dicision is made by the branch director. Each branch is charged by one director. (The Director has no special rights or enjoyment in the daily life but need to do more for the community.) In Other time and occasions, nobody can complain or gossip on it. Actually we have a brand new life style and the procedure to insure the whole life quite smooth and work well. Now we already have 3 branches in Yunnan,China and has more than 180 people including kids and old people. Our community is 3 years old this year and we believe it's getting quite bright future. We have a quite profound value system too. If you're interested, welcome to visit our website: newoasislife.org or newoasislife.org/2ndhome
 
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A very interesting experiment. I'm surprised you kept it up for so long. But I have questions, if you don't mind?

paul wheaton wrote:
We were peers.  I did not own the property, nor was I anyone's boss (except the cook). 



Might I ask how you define what property is? You say the place wasn't yours but the food was?

What was the background context? Why were you all there in the first place? And why were YOU providing the food without recompense?

I did this after a huge amount of study of ICs, visiting ICs, living in ICs and visiting with people that were forming ICs.  My opinions in this space were often rejected almost universally.  So I felt the need to be prove my point.  This is a lot like my video about washing dishes: people universally insisted that they were right and I was wrong and would not even let me speak because their point was so obviously correct.



How things are can never be a sure sign of what is otherwise possible.

I agree that this behaviour is typical and hard to overcome, but as a tendency, not a 'nature'.

Have you considered the possibility that if you all went into a scenario with each person owning (by whatever definition you hold) an equal amount of food 'property' that no-one would even have the bad reason to steal that we both agree they normally have?
 
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Seems like a long shot but i d like to hear from the others about why they didnt reciprocate. This situation made me think of the annual rainbow gathering where in theory everyone pitches in in their own way, but in terms of food, many "rely" on a few and for me personally i expect to be hungry and to practice a little self deprivation. I think it takes a lot of personal security in order to feel like you can afford to take care of a group. Some people never feel that secure even with millions in the bank. Others are able to serve their fellows freely on a shoestring and a prayer...
I still think most people are decent, in that they wont knowingly cause another harm. Perhaps going the extra step to providing for others is not as prevalent as we hope.
Very interesting thread
 
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I get a lot out of contributing to my church. I bake, cook, do plumbing and set up/take down. My kids attend the excellent religious education program, my wife goes to services. I do plumbing for the congration whenever I can.
I am not a member. None of this is long term or formal. My most beloved contribution was bread baked fresh in the church kitchen during service, and sold to the congregation.
I really miss doing that but my work has displaced that practice.

Thing is I give freely of my labor, time, food and care, but I am stingy with my money.
I am too concerned about my families finances to be free with my cash.
To formally join the church would incure additional cost to the church, one reason I don't make it official.

The church has helped us have Christmas, pay bills, and go on mission trips. We have never asked for help, but there is a committee that makes it their mission to help.
Some people at my church contribute little, I am sure.
My son is the only one I notice. After being raised in the church, supported , shown examples,uplifted and gifted, he has finally decided to to give of himself in return-to another church.
They are shiny and large and they tell you what to think, instead of asking you.
Ah well. If he is actually doing some good there so be it.
Deed over creed is my creed anyway.

I say give it away. Give what you feel comfortable with giving. Stop giving when it hurts. If they really love your contribution they will make sure to reward your giving, to give back to you. If they don't then move on or otherwise withdraw your contribution.
Maybe your contribution isn't as valuable as you think. Or maybe these folks are just ignorant. Either way, give until it hurts, then stop giving.
 
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Location: Boreal Alaska
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Humans don't really seem to have problems sharing. Humans indoctrinated by a culture of consumerist capitalism and economic abstractions certainly do not represent all Homo sapiens sapiens, and will almost always require a fair bit of de-indoctrination before functioning stably in a sharing economy. Fortunately, it seems like play and humor tend to be the leveling mechanisms used in sharing societies, rather than the overt violence (cops, prisons, armies, etc.) required to sustain the paradigm we're accustomed to.





Source: "Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence" by Peter Gray, Ph.D.
 
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I always come late to things but here I am.

I blame the parents. My parents taught my siblings and I from a very young age to be gracious and generous. We have a cousin who was not taught that. This year was the first year I did not buy him a Christmas present and he made it known to all that he was very upset that none of us got him a present (we did this as a collective). The thing is, he's never gotten us anything. He's never even said thanks. But, he wasn't taught it. His mom just gave him everything without teaching him any morals or ethics. It's a shame.

As a family we function very well. My parents still provide most of the meals I'd say, but we all reciprocate. Last week my mom was happily telling everyone that her kids had provided 3 meals for her. When we go out to eat we always rotate who pays. Often when all of us girls go out everyone pays, but for a different thing. I may pay for dinner but my movie will be paid for by my sister and my mother will pay for snacks, or something like that. Again, we were taught.

I think it is a shame these kids were never taught and they've grown into adults that would be unable to teach their kids such a quality. A real shame.
 
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Interesting post but this is a feature of many social animals not just people.
For example, Dogs have a scense of social justice!

Dogs refuse to play ball if they have been treated unfairly.
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2008/dec/08/dogs-envy-fairness-social-behaviour

Dogs Understand Fairness, Get Jealous, Study Finds
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97944783

I have a male cat and a male dog that must both be given a treat at the same time.
If one is give a treat and the other is not. The one without the treat will not let the other eat their treat.

So much of this discussion is really a discussion about social animal behavior.
 
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These problems are some of the main reasons I have a problem with communities. I think about it off and on from time to time.
I think I have just decided to just live on the land by myself.
Too many people take things for granted. Some use and abuse their privileges.
It all starts out as a good idea. Good intentions. But it rarely seems to work out for the good.
I was brought up to be honest, kind, helping people as I could. Not many are that way these days. They are hard to find.
In the world that we live in now, you would think they would appreciate the opportunity they have.
Communities are a much needed thing. And we were designed to be social. But when people take, sometimes it's just not worth it. And the same if they have a hard time getting along with others.
 
Lynne Smith
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Another thought I had was about having a community garden. Each would grow different vegetables. A good idea would be to have a list of foods they like generally.
People would pick them as they were ready or can them.
As far as cooks go, rotating cooks would be a great idea. It helps prevent burnout. Or have several cooks cooking up at meals.
Or some communities have it to where each family has their own garden. And also eat in their private homes there. Some people do prefer privacy. Especially if they might have children.
I feel that in a community, a individual needs to feel as if they have something as their own. But also there needs to be something there that all can come together in. Participate in.
In olden times, some did one thing better than others. Some sewed, some worked with wood, some hunted, etc.
Bartering was nice. This still could be called a community right?
 
alex Keenan
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I think people forget that communities in the past tended to self govern.
In many villages the punishment for failure to follow rules and pull your own weight was banishment from the community.
This is as old as mankind. Communities did not embrace everyone. They could not allow everyone to only serve their own needs.
Communities have to balance the rights of the community agains the rights of the induvidual within the community.
However, to have rights you had to also accept responsibility to serve the needs of the community.
 
Mother Tree
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alex Keenan wrote:In many villages the punishment for failure to follow rules and pull your own weight was banishment from the community.



 
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I have lived in dorms, with roomies, with spouse and dealt with feeding people and providing other things.

I have handled sixty odd, not 20.

I made it clear, what the expectations were. If you pull up a fork at my table you will do this in return. In that I set what the 'price' was, it was considered fair if you paid the price. If there was more needed it was VOLUNTARY. But. You would help with gather, prep, cook, bus dishes, clean, etc. It was just part of the price. In return, pull up your fork, take all you want but eat all you take (in a few cases something would be rationed but you had the choice of full share, part share, or skipping (talking things like BACON). It made for no hard feelings. If someone didn't contribute, they might find they got a plate of mashed potatoes and buttered bread. You got calories, but if you wanted the rest, you did your part. Stealing food wasn't allowed. (aka during the meal you could eat your fill and there was some 'tummy fillers' offered). If you did, one warning then you were no longer with us.

So yes, I could be the one providing the meals, hiring the main cook, etc, but. The meals were nutritionally balanced. If it was your turn to go source the salad from the selection outside you better do so. Or peel those spuds. Or go bury the gifts in the compost.

For some chores we would negotiate what you really hated versus what you hated less. In marriage I usually would rather do laundry than haul the trash, and also do the snow shoveling for other things. Out of the chores spouse was willing to do things like empty the dish rack and haul the trash when needed or asked in return. He will also unball his socks and gift his hamper fairly religiously in return for the laundry lass to stun it and return it clean and the socks matched up.  

On the large group we had some rotation of duties but you COULD if you really hated that chore swap out. As long as the chore was done. If it wasn't done and it was YOURS that pass you had to do it too. Self policing got rid of most of the slackards.  

At times I ran the kitchen and if I called for sous chefs (aka preppers) or scullery (do the dishes) I expected volunteers. It was how it was done.

We did hoof a few from the 60 but they had earned it. Sigh.

Paul, the big thing was too voluntary. I set more rules on what was considered fair. That cut the slackards and improved the contributions. I know, I know, but it worked.
 
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Deb, you clearly have what it takes to make it work.  

What would it have been like if you were not there to make it work?

The "premise" I started with was that all people are noble:  that all people would naturally contribute.  That, due to the humanity of each person, it would end up that I provided 540 plates of food and I would receive back about 540.  People were so certain of the truth of this, that they would design their food systems around this.  
 
Deb Rebel
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paul wheaton wrote:Deb, you clearly have what it takes to make it work.  

What would it have been like if you were not there to make it work?

The "premise" I started with was that all people are noble:  that all people would naturally contribute.  That, due to the humanity of each person, it would end up that I provided 540 plates of food and I would receive back about 540.  People were so certain of the truth of this, that they would design their food systems around this.  



I grew up with old fashioned farmwives who were used to running a large household and making sure things happened.

Most people ARE noble, but unless they've been taught and brought up with the entire notion that you need to be thankful for what you receive and you also need to step up and 'pay' for it by doing your fair share; a lot seem to have it slide away. They have the best intentions, but it happens. My difference is that I set clearly defined ways the others were to be part of the group, what was expected of them. We had a few that had to learn the concept, stuff did not appear magically for them with no consequences.

It was a good experiment, Paul. Too bad it didn't work as expected. If you ever have to set up something like that again, you'll have to be the mama hen that sets the rules. Quite a few will gladly pitch in as long as it's been set as that's what they have to do... sigh.

I needed to edit, Paul, you expected food back. Surely some paid you with labor instead?  My version of how you get to pull up a fork and eat my food, is I would accept work as a trade. Weed, peel spuds, pick beans, wash the dishes... You might have had to SAY that you preferred food back as the payback. Did you tell anyone what you expected in return, or just let them decide what it might be?

I can say, if I was pulling a fork up at your table and I am not a guest (say a Sepper) I'm going to expect I will have to haul dishes around, wash a plate, or go out and pick the salad and prep it. Or lug the peelings to the chickens or the hogs. Even if I do stop by as a Sepper, I'm still going to be doing something (I've washed many a dish and will wash many more in my time).

As farmer raised I've also done the 'field chores' so those going out to work, I knew what they were supposed to be doing and contributing, in my turn I cooked and washed dishes. The large groups I was dealing with though, wasn't a farm setting so there were other things that were set as the expected return.  
 
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