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Caring for the commons  RSS feed

 
                          
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Hi. I am new here, and was brought here by Ran Prieur mentioning the discussion about the 540 dinners. I think that it opens a bunch a good questions that can perhaps all be summed up as "caring for the commons."

The person who opened that thread may have done a lot better if he followed the advice of Elinor Ostrom who got the Nobel Prize for studying successful commons practices.

As also happens, I wrote about caring for the commons on my blog in response to John Michael Greer's blog where my point of view was snuffed out. Anyways, I would like to open the discussion by bringing up Ostrom's points (see next comment) and also, if anyone is interested, come to my blog to take part in the discussion there, where the angle is a little different than here, more whether even seeking to acquire the skills to care for the commons is a realistic thing, or a futile gesture because most in the culture don't give a hoot.

http://leavingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/conserving-the-commons/
 
                          
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Here is what Ostrom recommends:
# Clearly defined boundaries
# Rules adapted to local conditions
# Open participation in the decision-making process by all commons stakeholders
# Effective monitoring by accountable monitors
# Graduated sanctions for those who violate community rules
# Cheap and easy access to mechanisms of conflict resolution

Now the situation with the dinners was a looser one than a durable commons, but it was a commons nevertheless, and it seems to me if the people in question clearly agreed to certain rules (bring wildcrafted foods, clean up, reciprocate with meals), and if there were actual sanctions after that, even if mild, for not keeping the agreement, the results would have been rather different and more pleasing to the generous person who got the situation going in the first place.

What do you think?
 
                              
Posts: 25
Location: near Bellingham WA
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I think that a lot of this has to do with varying levels of expectations and tolerances.

Small example:
In my home there is me, my s.o. and my teenage daughter.
None of us like doing housework nor cooking.

On cooking:
My s.o. is willing to cook for me daily, and on weekends breakfast for all of us.  He resists the idea of cooking dinners for my daughter.  BUT, if I make the decisions on what to cook, then he'll cook dinner for us all.

My daughter will only cook if she's cooking for herself.  Even then her skills are at the frozen meal + microwave level, just starting to test out using the stovetop to warm up non-frozen foods.

Me, well, I dislike cooking.  If left to myself, I tend to eat some very basic foods, simple cooking, usually rather bland, and usually fairly repetitive.  For example, during the day I eat frozen veggies that were warmed up over the stove, with butter, and cheese on top.  Variety comes in the form of which bag of veggies, and/or which of two cheeses to use.  Dinner is either veggies with yams/potatoes or ground meat with packet seasoning.

This kind of eating doesn't provide enough calories for my s.o. nor my daughter.  He doesn't mind the blandness nor the repetitiveness, but my daughter does.

So right there, we have conflicts between different expectations of what a meal should be made up of, different skill levels, different energy levels, and different tolerances.

If we were lumped in with someone who had higher expectations regarding meals and flavors and variety, that person would hate living with us.

On cleaning:
I hate my home.  I hate how messy it is.  I'm not a spotless kind of person (I want to be in a place that feels lived in..like a home not a museum), but I do have expectations of what I consider clean enough.  My tolerance levels are higher than my neighbor who has a usually spotless home, but lower than the people I live with. 

My s.o. is cluttered, and will clean things like counters and stove tops once a week or so, bathrooms once or twice a year.  Higher tolerance than me, but lower than my daughter.

My daughter doesn't seem to notice clutter and dirt and filth.  It's a miracle when she clears a pathway on the floor from her door to her computer.  And I finally made her clean her bathroom last month...it had been at least a year and a half since I'd had my s.o. go in there and clean it up.  She doesn't understand that her friends might feel icky when visiting, and that's probably why they stopped visiting.

...

Now, I've tried coming up with rules and consequences.  But I detest having to enforce them.  It goes against almost every fiber of my being.  Plus, it caused so much strife and ill-will in the household.  So I stopped trying to get them to meet my cleaning expectations...and by doing so it improved our relationships.

Since I'm the one with the lowest tolerance for mess, I tend to do more in terms of getting the mess above that tolerance level.  It's not how I'd like it, but it's not driving me nuts either.  And when I'm unable to stand/walk, and the mess reaches a lower level, then my s.o.'s expectations/tolerance kicks in.  He'll clean up to the point where it's not driving him nuts.  And my daughter?  well, she's not allowed to invite anyone over, nor visit anyone unless she's got her floors picked up, clothes done, and bed made.  It's a minimum.

However, sometimes her area of the house drives me so nutso that I take some boxes and just pack a bunch of the stuff up into it.  Which drives her nuts cuz then she can't get to what she wants without a lot of searching...however this also encourages her to at least try to keep certain things picked up.

Soooo...
if we were to apply a couple of permaculture ideas,
my daughter would clean up the things that drove her nuts...
my s.o. would clean a little further, covering the areas that he doesn't like...
and I would cover the rest of it that's driving me crazy.

As my daughter gets used to a certain level of cleanliness in the kitchen, her tolerance level lowers, her expectations of what it should be like increases.  Not to my level, but it's still a raised level from before.  But she'd still need to get habituated to DOING something.  But the motivation that comes from within is a whole lot stronger than someone else's rules and sanctions.

I don't care how many rules and sanctions there are, if someone were to try to force me to be at the level of expectation and tolerance as my neighbor, I'd tell them where they could stick it.
 
                          
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Yikes! Sounds like you are pretty unhappy with the situation...

Maybe I should start with a misperception? The three of you are the stakeholders of your household commons, and no one else has jurisdiction. Why worry about other people's rules and expectations?

If I were in your shoes, I would want to talk, all three of us together,  see if we can come up with something better. It does not sound like any of you are particularly happy with the situation. Then, you know, there are carrot rules besides stick rules...

Oh, and using NVC to communicate your discomforts and upsets with how the others do things goes a long mile toward maintaining peace while challenging each other to do better.

Any of it make sense?
 
                              
Posts: 25
Location: near Bellingham WA
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I apologize if my post was misleading.
The point of it was to show that each person has their own expectations and levels of tolerance.  Even each of the individual "stakeholders".

The problem usually comes in when someone else (aka another stakeholder) expects that the other stakeholders will have the same expectations and levels of tolerance.

If we were to design something along permaculture values, we would take those into consideration.
 
                          
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Huh?

"each person has their own expectations and levels of tolerance"

Isn't that a given?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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vera wrote:
Huh?

"each person has their own expectations and levels of tolerance"

Isn't that a given?


I think so, but I also think people often expect everyone else to be a mind-reader and know what everyone's expectations are, without anyone having to explicitly state them.  This certainly happens in marriages - how much more of it probably happens in communities! 
 
                          
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That's very true. I think that was one of the weaknesses of the experiment Paul conducted. If I had been in it, it would not necessarily occur to me that reciprocation with meals was part of the deal. I might have assumed he was gifting us all.
 
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