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rule of 15 - going beyond leave no trace - giving a leg up

 
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Let's start with this picture:



It took me forever to find a picture where someone is handing a mug (or cup) of tea to another person with the handle toward the person receiving the mug. Probably because people rarely actually do this. I rarely do this.

That mug is likely hot to hold for the person handing it over so that the other can grasp the handle! That's really thinking of the other person to hand it to them with the handle out.

This was, hands down, the best relationship advice I have ever received. Hand a mug of tea to the other person with the handle out toward that person.

In other words, put yourselves in their shoes. What would work better for them, and make their world just a little more comfortable, or feeling cared for?

Ahhhh.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Rule of 15

When you live with your partner, or a housemate, or your family, or when you live in community, there are shared spaces. When I live by myself, or in my own space, I can be a bit of a slob. Piles of things to go through. Dust. Debris. Dirty dishes. I'm definitely not perfect. Though if I'm going to share a space with another, it's different, and I do my best to level up quite a bit.

Here at wheaton labs, Paul and I live in what we call the Fisher Price House (FPH), it's a small, 3-bedroom doublewide (manufactured home). Over the years of bringing folks through to learn permaculture, we have shared this 1400-square feet of space with up to 15 people. All of whom need to use the kitchen, the bathroom, might want to hang out on the couch, etc. So we developed "the rule of 15."  Which basically means you can't leave things out (or behind) because someone else might want to use that space.

"Can I just leave my laptop on the dining room table?" No. If 15 laptops were left on the dining room table, there would not be space for having a meal.
"Can I just leave my mug here so I don't have to wash it?" No. If 15 people left their mugs out, you would lose track of which is yours, and again there would not be space for someone to use that table, shelf, etc.
"Can I just wash my dishes later because I'm tired?" No. If someone else needs to use that pan, or use that counter, or use the sink for washing their food, your stuff is in the way.

Or, "I'll just leave my empty water bottle (or this tool, protein bar wrapper, etc., etc.) in Ranger Doug (wheaton labs' pickup) and I'll get it later." No. It's too easy to forget and then it's in the way of someone else.

I have to say, most people are not used to this. This is weird. This is hard. This seems anal-retentive (or whatever you want to call it). It's hard for me, and I live here!

When you go to use something that is shared, whether it's a living space, a kitchen thing, a tool, a vehicle, a shared desk, a couch, whatever - if the person before you left it caked with debris, or didn't empty it when done, or it's now covered with their stuff, it's annoying, to say the least. And it can be an issue of safety, or damage, or unnecessary wear-and-tear, too, among many other things.

In a way, even in a regular household, this can be viewed as being about respect. Respect for your community members. Respect for those who will come after you. Additionally, here at wheaton labs, we're facilitating guests, even the press, and sooo many people, that it just makes things easier on all fronts to follow the "rule of 15" in the FPH and community spaces. (Note that there are other options, private space options for living at wheaton labs besides the FPH!)

Though what if, you go to use something and it's cleaner than when you last left it? Or someone oiled it well. Or they created an easier path where the going was rough before. What if someone labels and organizes one little area of the tools so they are easier to find? It's like a huge leg up, a lift, a support. They made things better just by thinking about what would work for others. I think that's a beautiful thing.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Going Beyond Leave No Trace


Loads of boy scouts and girl scouts learn about respecting the wilderness when out camping or hiking. Some, besides learning about "leave no trace," actively work to make things better by picking up trash left behind by others, or doing trail repair and the like.

In permaculture, we talk about nurturing eco-systems, or romancing nature; of improving and accelerating the natural succession of the world around us. Making things more fertile and lush. We have loads of methods and threads on how to do this in our gardens and food forests.

I think we can also nurture and improve our people and built systems, too. Rocket mass heaters help make a room feel luxuriously warm with less work and less inputs. Keeping things working well, maintained and organized, saves time, money and can even impart beauty and goodwill. Giving someone a leg up builds connections, respect, and a sense of caring. It can be very purple-y.

I think the least we can do is to "leave no trace." I like the idea of going beyond that and building a better world. Whether that world is in our own homes, or in our communities.


 
gardener
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We have always picked up "signs of wild life" when out in the woods or fishing one of our rivers or streams.
Your post reminds me of an advertisement that used to be on TV, an indigenous male on a pony looks out over a field of litter and the sad look on his face said it all.
If you are in town or out in the country, it doesn't take but a moment to pick up someone's thoughtless act of ignorance so the world becomes a more beautiful place.
 
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As with cups, always hand knives and scissors to another person handle/hilt first. I remember learning this about scissors in kindergarten, and I make sure every little kid I've taught learns it as well. It's not only a respect issue, it's a safety issue.

Now I just need to figure out how to teach my little one the Rule of 15, LOL!
 
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I pick up other inconsiderate peoples trash when I hike at my favorite park. It's Beaman Park just outside of Nashville. It's my favorite park because it's all woods, no open or grassy spaces, and it's hilly. It's 1500+ acres of undisturbed nature, and when I hike off into the woods there are no sounds of people or cars, just the wildlife. It saddens me to be way off in the woods and come across an empty water bottle or granola bar wrapper. I pick them up and take them with me and deposit them in the trash can back at the parking lot when I leave. It makes me sad and also boggles my mind that people have no regard for the park (or the planet really) and treat the world as their dumpster.

Leashed dogs are allowed in the park. One day I came across a bag of dog shit on the trail. Someone bagged their dogs poop, and left it, there in a petroleum based plastic bag. C'mon man, really? If you're going to leave it, at least don't bag it up so the bugs and rain and fungi can't break it down. Sheesh....people.... I picked that up too and carried it to the trash can in the parking lot. Savages....
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Bryant, I think I recall reading or watching a little documentary how that commercial with the indigenous man shedding a tear over litter, was big industry's (was it soda pop manufacturers?) way of shifting the blame for refusing to allow bottle deposits and finding ways to encourage recycling to blaming consumers for littering. It was an interesting commentary, really. I don't know a lot more about it than this vague recollection which probably has some of the details wrong. Though I was rather surprised because I was truly touched by that commercial myself.

Nicole, yes! Handles toward the other with scissors and knives! If only we could think of others in so many daily actions with those closest to us. Hey, if you learn how to teach your little one the "rule of 15" let me know! I'm still struggling with it here!!

I'm with you James, it is heartbreaking and even angering to see how disrespectful folks are to our beautiful open spaces.

What kind of shocks me at times is that there a people who would never ever litter in the woods, but somehow they think it's totally okay to leave their granola or candy wrappers on the floor in the bunk bedroom. Or leave their dirty mug in the library where someone else might want to use that desk. It's often really good, decent, well-intentioned people. And just maybe, some times, it's good, well-intentioned folks that are accidental litterbugs in the woods, too. Someone reaches in their pocket for their lip balm and doesn't realize the granola wrapper slips out. Or, someone leaves something out thinking they will take care of it, but someone calls them to look at the full moon, or to play a game...and they forget.

I'm much happier if I think of these transgressions as simple errors. Folks didn't mean to leave that out and in the way. They didn't see it slip out of their pocket. They got busy, etc., etc., etc. When I think of them as perfectly human, but folks who are generally kind and generally mean well, I can pick up that wrapper, or that mug, and not have it create such a chip on my shoulder.

Let me tell you though...think about James' sentiment of the "savages" who left behind atrocious things, and Bryant's "signs of wildlife" comment about the impact of some in the woods or near rivers or streams. Take that kind of sentiment, multiply it by dozens upon dozens of college-age young people flowing through wheaton labs, shake it up thoroughly, then (TMI warning here) stir it by moody menopause hormones, and I've been known to use much stronger name calling than "savages!" Ah well! The worst of the moodiness is over, and the worst of the offenders have left, and I'm (mostly) more calm about it all. It helps to think of folks as truly meaning well, and just simply being forgetful (even if that's a mild self-delusion in some cases).

Is it just me or is there a disconnect with how some people treat our open spaces compared to how they treat their own homes (or the homes where they are staying)?

 
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I remember that commercial.  

When my son was in Boy Scouts we stayed on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington. Rule 15 applied at meals and movie time. We picked up lots of popcorn off the ground when the movie ended. Lots of folks snuck out and didnt help.

The carrier is a museum at Galveston Island. It was cool cuz we slept in Navy bunks and when they got us up early morning, the view was ocean, even though it was at waters edge. It felt like we were 100 miles offshore.
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Bryant, I think I recall reading or watching a little documentary how that commercial with the indigenous man shedding a tear over litter, was big industry's (was it soda pop manufacturers?) way of shifting the blame for refusing to allow bottle deposits and finding ways to encourage recycling to blaming consumers for littering. It was an interesting commentary, really. I don't know a lot more about it than this vague recollection which probably has some of the details wrong. Though I was rather surprised because I was truly touched by that commercial myself.



You're thinking of Iron Eyes Cody, who was actually Espera Oscar de Corti, pretty much 100% native...Italian.  But the ad had a lot of "punch" and I remember it well. We used to have a program here in road-trash capital of the US, Oklahoma, called "Don't Lay That Trash On Oklahoma", you called a hotline and got a recording of Reba McIntyre saying "Tell me who's laying trash on Oklahoma!?!!"   You could report someone tossing/dumping an dthey got a form letter from the governor.  Along with a really comprehensive program of TV spots, school seminars and such, it really had a measurable effect on the amount of trash you saw.  Then, of course, they stopped it for whatever reason and it seems like it's as trashy as ever.  Funny, because Tulsa is probably one of the cleanest cities in the country, 10 minutes out of town.....not so much.

It's a shame all around.  All you can really do is your little part, in the FPH, the park or on the road.  
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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My mom has this expression:

kick the ladder down, I'm up!

Which she always used as an example of how we can be so narcissistic that we don't think about whether others might need a ladder, or if anyone (yourself included!) might wish to go back down.

What's a good expression that means the opposite?

I like the Chinese proverb (is it?):

The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow.

Which implies that the more the gardener is in the garden, the better it gets.

Is there a similar, positive expression for the home or homestead?

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I'm an odd mix of easy-going, accepting and picky.

Which means if you're trying to make things better, trying to be conscientious and pitch in, I'm going to be super happy with your efforts! And I will thank you and tell you how cool you are! And I roll with learning, and things being broken or messed up from the learning or creative process remarkably well.

But if you leave shit out without even trying to find where it goes, pile your garbage, recycling or burnables so high the bins are overflowing, leave the sink full of food bits, or all of your tea leaves clogging the drain every. damn. time. I will be irritated. I just can't seem to see it as anything but rude and disrespectful.

I've tried to be more accepting of overt sloppiness or forgetfulness than this, but I just can't seem to do it.

My sister pointed out that there are bodies of research that support a biological and evolutionary reason for this. Part of which might have to do with a parasite-stress theory.

Within ecological regions characterized by higher prevalence of infectious diseases, human cultures are characterized by greater collectivism. The size of this effect was substantial and remained significant even when controlling statistically for potential confounding variables.


(source)

Where "collectivism" is the opposite of being individualistic; being conscientious of others, instead of only looking out for one's self.

So maybe people today - especially younger adults - don't feel the need to worry about others or the the group since we are not as at risk in a lot of ways as we used to be.

This meager attempt to understand behavior doesn't change my knee-jerk "how rude" reaction, however much I wish it would.

I guess this all is my round about way to say that I'm far more happy and tolerant of even misguided efforts than not trying to tidy things for fear (or excuse) of not doing it right. Doing something is great!




 
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I had taken grandson down to the reservoir, and of course he wanted to slip in and cool off, which was forbidden.  Signs on swimming and littering were posted.  The ranger who came to check on us let him stay in the water because I had busied myself picking up everyone else's party and fishing trash.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Ruth Meyers wrote: ....because I had busied myself picking up everyone else's party and fishing trash.


How do people *not* see this? It's awesome that you picked up after everyone else, though I just don't get how it happens in the first place.

The goal of this thread was to explain and to inspire our visitors, helpers, and residents here at wheaton labs to be more conscientious. And, really, my efforts in this space have failed.

A LOT of people just don't notice that they leave messes behind. Or they get distracted, forget, think something else is more important, don't know where it goes, whatever. And I think some folks think they are being super, super tidy, cleaning "all" the time, and being respectful when they are still leaving their shitstuff in the way of others, on a daily basis.

It's a huge impact on our community and a huge stress for me. Paul's goal and repeated efforts have been to hire help to clean up after the well-intentioned albeit messy folks around here, but we are so rural we can't seem to retain said cleaning help. So...we keep getting stuck with an impact that makes me feel like Eeyore: "it'll never work!"

I'd love some commiseration on this at the very least, or more ideas on how to inspire more conscientious behavior if you have them. We have signs, we have this thread, and...I am at a loss.




 
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This...

A LOT of people just don't notice that they leave messes behind. Or they get distracted, forget, think something else is more important, don't know where it goes, whatever. And I think some folks think they are being super, super tidy, cleaning "all" the time, and being respectful when they are still leaving their shit stuff in the way of others, on a daily basis.  



...so true!

I know you have been through this before and I don't remember what was suggested then so might be repeating.

a few very random thoughts

...could there be a deposit required just for future cleanup?

...maybe a 'buddy' system where a pair might cover for each other, work together?

...there has to be some way where you aren't having to keep watch and especially do extra clean up after others.

...I know when we hike in the deep woods there is rarely anything left behind...sometimes a stray candy wrapper that looks as though it was dropped accidentally.
The closer we are to a road though, the more likely there will be deliberate trash and cigarette butts....the respect for things changes for some reason?

...My cynical view is that it will have to cost money and that would need to be paid up front in order to work? and maybe I remember that you've tried this?

...I do remember living in a tent, a dirt floored cabin, an old old 'shack'...my standards of clean were quite different when we moved to something more 'civilized' and I noticed that some practices and habits did not carry over well at all.

...and really what it comes down to is respecting someone else's home and their standards no matter how one lives in their own home.
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
A LOT of people just don't notice that they leave messes behind. Or they get distracted, forget, think something else is more important, don't know where it goes, whatever. And I think some folks think they are being super, super tidy, cleaning "all" the time, and being respectful when they are still leaving their shitstuff in the way of others, on a daily basis.



There's enormous variance in notions of what's clean and what's a mess.  We all know the joy of walking into a sparkling kitchen to start a meal prep -- it's awesome.  And yet, in my daily routine, a few tea leaves in the sink drain don't motivate me to clean that damn thing.  It's not "messy" to me.  It's sub-optimal on the joy-maximization front because it's not lemon-scented sparkling stainless, but it's so minor -- along with the hundred other minor messes I'd rather live with than clean up -- that it doesn't motivate me.  

That's me, in my space, that I share with one other person.

I think a common malfunction is that people don't comprehend, or internalize, when they've shifted from personal space to communal space.  Sure, you can tell 'em and post signs until you're blue in the face and your fingers are sore from pushing thumbtacks, but when the task is "make tea and check email, maybe watch a YouTube video on fence building" people are in personal-space mode with personal-space habits.  It's not really about "forgetting" or not noticing -- it's about their inability to keep something like the Rule of 15 front of mind because they aren't, at root, shifting from the personal calculation "will the pain of cleaning this up be outweighed by my personal satisfaction at having it clean" to the communal calculation "will the pain of cleaning this up be outweighed by sum of all benefits, psychological and practical, to all fifteen of us?"

I haven't forgotten the magic boobies thread, which spends some time on the question of whether the ability to keep things "Jocelyn clean" or "B&B clean" is a gendered ability.  We could expand that question to the broader one of whether empathy for the other people sharing one's communal situation is a gendered trait -- but I am not going there.  I did however encounter a discussion not long ago about how the social punishments for clutter are definitely gendered.  Bringing this back to my own house, there are things I never clean because my spouse cleans them long before I consider them dirty enough to be a problem.  I spent most of my life to date thinking this was purely a personal preference on her part.  And -- in living situations where this kind of mismatch has been a problem -- I was perfectly willing to say "I clean it when it's a problem, if you want it cleaner that's fine, but you don't get to make me jump to your preferences when you think it's a problem and I don't."  Finally someone online explained in a way I was able to understand -- or maybe I got old enough and calm enough to hear arguments I'd dismissed in the past, not sure -- that there's a gender component to whether dirt and clutter are problematic.   The dudes who live in it aren't judged the same way as the women who share the space.  It's not that it takes magic boobies to see the dust bunnies under the dinner table that I don't care about because they don't bite.  It's because they do bite the woman who lives here with me ... they make her unhappy because there are social consequences to having them there that fall on her disproportionately.  People may think worse of her than they do of me, and for social reasons not easy for her to ignore, she may care -- she may have to care -- a lot more about what people think.  Which means I easily "win" every contest of "wait until the other person can't take it any more and cleans it up."  Totally not fair.  Also totally not an irrational "neat freak" preference on her part.  

How much this insight translates into better behavior is still a work in progress.
 
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:And, really, my efforts in this space have failed


When people don't shake off conditioning that impacts others' lives, how is this your failure?  

I think the only control we really have is whether or not we go into someone else's space or allow someone in our space.  In a very temporary situation as with a workshop(?), there may not be much that can be done and reasonable acceptance may help until a few days have passed and the offender has gone their way.

However, if this is within a living arrangement in which guidelines have been clarified, perhaps the best solution for everyone is to uninvite a persistently offending individual?  Accepting individuals as they are does not equivocate to accepting unacceptable behaviors or manners that impact others.

Your home is your sanctuary.  Same as anyone's home is their sanctuary.  Same as we don't allow just anyone to take up residence in our heart, why should we in our home?  Perhaps some individuals have not learned to value their heart and home, and are therefore oblivious to the value others place on theirs?  

May be something in an individual's life is associated with exercising control over little things due to being less in control of bigger aspects.  Acting out, if you will.  "I'm unhappy because I can't do this big thing, so fuck that teabag I just left in the sink and let someone else deal with it."  Or similar with a more casual, possibly oblivious, less angry attitude because that individual has resigned their self to having developed a habit that produces friction among others and become accustomed to that friction.  Being accustomed to an unhealthy environment can lead to being comfortable and seeking out or creating an unhealthy environment.

Because I've read so many comments in these forums describing the effect of negative habits on others, I want to say something that will probably sound overly strident and let the chips fall where they may.

To whomever has been asked not to do a particular thing, or been asked to do a particular thing a certain way, you can change it up.  If you are spending time in Paul and Jocelyn's home and eating on their dime, and being that you are obviously capable of doing work that makes your efforts valuable to the group, why not step up and add a little more value to your stay and learning experience by learning to adapt with learning new habits that will most likely help you throughout the remainder of your life?  

You are being provided priceless opportunities to learn about building permaculture as Bryant Redhawk describes here https://permies.com/t/59524/Prime-Goal-Permaculture#506052 AND permaculture community building as Paul and Jocelyn have many times described throughout these forums.  There is nothing to lose and much to gain by learning habits and behaviors that simplify and make close knit community living less stressful through consciously choosing to ease tensions when such opportunities arise.

This is not about trying to please everyone.  It's about respecting self and others in mutually beneficial ways.  First do no harm.  Mutual benefit.  Important for so many reasons, and nature leads the way with biological purpose to thrive well; absent maliciousness.  

I think most individuals are not inherently malicious.  I think most individuals want to thrive peacefully and I think we are each in our own place with learning how to do that.  Same as anger and discomfort seek anger and discomfort, peace seeks peace.

I think also, however, that when an individual chooses to be part of a community that needs to grow in a certain way to thrive well and be productive, then extra effort is naturally called for by what then becomes self-imposed extenuating circumstances.

I think learning new ways to practice and expand emotional intelligence touches all aspects of a permaculture community.  I think it is rare that an individual is incapable of doing so, therefore that most of us are.

When we feel that something someone has said is unimportant though they have stated it is important, ask the self why is that?  Does adhering to a purposeful living arrangement harm me or anyone else to accommodate this thing that is important to the other individual?  Does it dent my integrity?  Does it cause real grief?  Am I in their space?  Is the other individual in my space?  In what way does it really matter?  I ask myself, does an adaptation improve self and community, to decide if I should make that change and grow that much more.

Having made these comments, I haven't learned all there is to learn.  I have numerous faults and shortcomings.  I'm learning, too.  I am not above being pissy about small things at times, though usually I check myself before shit flies from my mouth that can't be undone.  Sometimes I slip. Maybe I slipped here and overspoke.  I'm sure someone will let me know and I'm ok with that.

I spoke up because I really don't understand why persistent inconveniences and chronic disrespect persist.  I hope discussion will ensue that leads to resolution, or finding ways to achieve timely resolution as new things surface, and generally improved community.  Also because I have a personal interest in the big picture since I will soon live here, too.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Several interesting view points on clean vrs. clutter and the consequences there of.

Wolf and I share the duties, except when I am moving to slow for her liking, at which point I am ushered out of the way as she takes over.
Interestingly enough her idea of "clean" is not as fastidious as mine seems to be, probably because of my Laboratory back ground where one atom of contamination will ruin an entire experiment.
She likes to "make the bed" I tend to "spread the bed", now the difference between these two is lost to me but obviously there is one since I've been told all about it.
In the end we have split the cleaning duties as far as she is comfortable in doing so, the caveat is that if I clean something and she comes along behind me to do it again, I keep my mouth shut about "I already cleaned that" since it should be obvious to me that I failed to meet her requirements.

Overall I would have to agree that there is some gender connected cleaning gene that males lack and I am ok with that idea. Just stay out of my Laboratory honey and we'll always be good.

Redhawk
 
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People generally do a decent job of cleaning up after themselves at work for which I am very grateful. There are two exceptions though.

One is the supply room where for years people have dumped anything they don't want anymore. This is fine in some cases but when I volunteered to be the person in charge of tidying up, I found double digit numbers of used rolodexes, notepads with a only a few sheets of paper left, dried up pens, etc. Omg, the piles...  I'm hopeful that the new standard I'm setting will be mostly supported but it remains to be seen. I do have executive management support with this.

The other area is donated items. Employees will bring in all kinds of items from home that they don't want anymore and place them in the common area and then others help themselves: food, stationary, clothes, decorations, etc. It's a mini freecycle economy, which is great. The bad part is that the original donator rarely owns the process so items can sit there for weeks and weeks. (Usually until I get sick of them and throw stuff out) The culture here is very small town warm and fuzzy so I think any signage or communication about picking up these items would be taken negatively and as an attack. And no one wants to be the meanie or own it.

So I feel for you, Jocelyn (and the others dealing with this). At least I don't have to deal with it in my personal space and haven at home like you do. :(
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
I'd love some commiseration on this at the very least, or more ideas on how to inspire more conscientious behavior if you have them. We have signs, we have this thread, and...I am at a loss.



How about teaching them that cleaning up their mess is their responsibility and reflects upon how they don't take care of the earth mother by leaving such messes for others to have to deal with?
Not that I have any clue about how to do this with set in their ways adults.  (something like the cone hat of shame? a sign that states "I am just a wanna be"? or maybe some other way to shame them into action?)

In the nations we teach that stewardship of the land starts with your self and that not picking up your own mess reflects poorly on your parents, the tribe and the nation.
It is also taught that if you don't put things back where they belong, then no one will know where that thing is when next it is needed.

Cleaning up after yourself is taught in science classes and it is stressed that failure to do so not only can endanger others that come behind you but that it could even create a deadly situation.
I've seen students failed because they didn't clean up after themselves. I've also seen two people die because they failed to read the signage on the door of the extraction room. (they blew themselves up)

 
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I commiserate with you Jocelyn, that kind of stuff is one of the reasons I don't do well in a community setting, I go evil bitch way too fast. You are a better person than me if you can keep your attitude good through that stuff. I can't.

I don't have any wisdom for you, the others have said what I would say, except I'd probably paint "This is community space, as well as our home, CLEAN UP your mess, ALWAYS!" on the front door :)

I hike with trash bags. And say a lot of bad words. I do NOT understand people. The property I own has a road frontage that is always beer bottle, mini's bottles, and fast food cups infested. WTF people? Why do you find it appropriate to toss it out your window? I don't want to clean up your mess! I don't understand....
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Oh gosh, what an outpouring of support, thank you!

Here's the backstory.

A. I had a really terrible year.
  • My mother was dying. I made 5 cross-state trips (Montana to Washington State) on her behalf in 2019, and she passed in mid November. I need to make another cross-state trip this next month.
  • My daughter was pregnant with her first child, my first grandbaby, also in Washington State. Not close by, and wasn't sure how the timing would work with my mom's illness. The baby was born early December. While this is wonderful thing, there was a lot of stress on trying to figure out how, when, or where I would be allowed to or could help.
  • We hired a helper for wheaton labs, who, being new, understandably needed loads of direction on additional things that I didn't have the bandwidth to take on. Paul thought I should manage her, and I did what I could (half-assed it, which was also more stress) and trained her for six months until she was almost up to speed on parts of things. Then she quit.
  • Plus other stresses (both physical and emotional) that are private, but suffice it to say that it sucked and added to my rather shitty year.

  • B. We have too much churn here - well, except for Paul, myself and Fred. I think Paul wrote about the "pig-bucket problem" on here somewhere. Which is to say that when everybody is new all the time, no one knows what to do with the pig bucket. It's the same with the "rule of 15" or tidying, or where to put the recycling, it takes loads and loads of training. And you can't tell a new person ALL the things on day one. They won't / can't retain it. It takes six months or more. And lots of patience.

    C. Hiring house cleaners, as I mentioned, has been a major challenge. We've (mostly me) hired and trained 2 to 3 house cleaners per year for the 6 years we've been here. Most house cleaners, even permies, don't know how to clean in a non-toxic, edible cleaners kind of way, and don't know where things go. Again, it takes months.

    D. Our home is constantly hosting all manner of people - guests, vloggers, neighbors, boots, residents, workshop participants, renters, other media, etc. In my and Paul's mind, it needs to be "tour ready" at all times. And it's a drain on an introvert (me).

    E. We usually have the house to ourselves over the winter. Not many boots want to be here in winter, and Fred leaves to work the pecan harvest down south. This winter, however, we are sharing the house with three others. Which might mean less churn (see B. above) next year, though it means no break in having my space impinged upon. (See the introvert living in community thread for more about this kind of stress.)

    I was gone for six weeks when my mom died in November and the baby was born in December, and when I returned, I realized that anything I do in the kitchen takes me 4 to 10 times longer because of how the community leaves the kitchen after every meal. Three times a day. It was a huge light bulb moment.

    The churn and lack of consistent household members, combined with my stressful year, and not enough introvert time, broke me. I'm broken. I am no longer able to train or instruct or help guide residents here in a thoughtful, supportive way. I want to use expletives. Lots and lots of expletives. Like a truck driver or a biker. And I want to throw things. (Though I'm not doing that to folks here, thank goodness. Well, except that Paul has heard a few choice words....)

    As Dan explained so well above, I do feel that a messy house reflects poorly on me, as the matriarch of wheaton labs. Somehow, despite it being 2020, women are still expected to take charge of homes and kitchens; and usually, I'm okay with that. I also like harmonious, organized spaces with beauty and not so much clutter (ha!). But for me, it is more than that. I can't stop from feeling like a shithole of a house messy house and kitchen is just hugely disrespectful to anyone else who wants to use it. Plus, we are always "on" in that we have the potential of visitors all the time. Which means that if I use the kitchen after the boots have used it, I can't *not* wipe up or clean up after them. (Double negative intended there.) It's more than just tea leaves in the sink drain filter. It's a gazillion other grievances like food getting cooked onto to the glass cooktop because it wasn't wiped up, garbage not emptied, counters not wiped...on and on...that I can't let go. These little things all take time. Lots of time. Hours each day.

    Which means that since my return from Washington, and the busiest time of the year for my business, let alone family issues still needing attention, I have decided I just cannot use the kitchen. My kitchen. Our kitchen. A kitchen that I have helped to make rather amazing in some ways. I can't use it. It's too stressful, too time consuming for me. And I certainly don't have the bandwidth or emotional energy to gradually, kindly work with the good, really cool folks here to get them to leave the kitchen in a way that works for me.

    I've set up some things to cook with in our bedroom, and am keeping supplies in here so that I don't have to see how the other food and cooking supplies are being haphazardly managed. That was something else I used to do:  all the food shopping and ordering for 5 to 9 adults. It was hours each week, let alone keeping pantries, fridges, cupboard, bins, jars, etc. organized, filled, rotated and the like. I'm not doing those things these days either.

    I try to put blinders on when I walk through the areas that are gradually getting more and more cluttered, and less organized (so much so that cupboard doors no longer close all the way), but it's still stressful for me to be here. That's not healthy for me. It's like putting someone in a room with constant fingernails on the chalkboard sounds, or a crying baby, or some other kind of continual stress that grates on the nerves. I'm just wired to be sensitive to these kinds of details, and despite trying for six years to be more chill about the detritus left behind by well-meaning helpers, I can't. It still bugs me.

    So...I'm dreaming of my own space. A tiny house on the hill here at base camp (I need wifi for my client work otherwise I'd want something at the lab)...or something. Because the stress is really affecting me.

    Paul is well aware of all of this and thinks that there will be / could be three solutions to my pain:
    1. having more long-term residents or helpers who not only know where things go and how things work, and who could also help guide the newbies or transitory folks
    2. hiring house cleaners again (I'm done/broken with this, too, so Paul is taking this on with help from Jennifer - and, we've already had the latest hire be a no-show FIVE times)
    3. having the boot camp move (mostly?) up to the lab and do their cooking, meals, most things in the Abbey and/or Cooper Cabin.

    Without a well on the lab, #3 is a bit of a challenge.

    Maybe all this additional detail will inspire additional creative thinking. Right now, for me to heal and recover, and have what I need, I'm thinking a tiny house is my best solution.

    Commiserating here has helped alleviate a bit of my stress over this. I do thank you all for that.

    <3 <3 <3






     
    gardener
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    That would be a hard way to live.
    Two or three full time jobs is what you were doing,so it's little wonder it broke you.

    Your retreat to your room makes sense to me.
    In my own home,  I will abandon spaces that my family won't maintain.
    The kitchen,bath and laundry are  exceptions, because those are working spaces,so they simply MUST work.
    I have fantasy of cleaning up the basement and creating an apartment down there, but hiding  it from my family behind a wall of debris.

    The only successful shared kitchens that I have experienced are divorced from living quarters.
    One is a church kitchen, the other a rental commercial kitchen.
    In both cases,  no one lived there,  and any mess left behind resulted in financial and/or social consequences.
    Responsibility for the kitchen is something you sign up for when you get permission to use it,  so there is no dodging it.

    Maybe a mess hall could be the answer?
    Build it separate from the living quarters,  hire a kitchen manager,  and assign the boots rotating kitchen duties.
    Solid roof,  fabric/screen walls,  rockets stoves and ovens, minimal electricity, and simple plumbing.
    Then, rather than you retreating to a makeshift arrangement in your quarters, you could reclaim the kitchen you designed and built.

    Sometimes stacking functions are add odds with each other.
    Running a home and a rooming house in the same space is hard enough.
    Traditionally, it's been considered a full time job to run a boarding house.
    Keeping home,  also a full time job.
    You mentioned needing internet for clients, so yet another job?
    Trying to build  actual  communal  life out of a transient population seems even harder, or even impossible.
    Boarders are customers,  no matter how tight knit a group they might become.
    They expect to be served and serviced.
    Communal life requires service from parcipants
    When they are only there for the short term,  can we expect real investment?
    Can a temporary community act communally, efficiently, and effectively?
    Even something simple like moving a couch goes so much better for people with experience working together.



     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    William Bronson wrote:
    Maybe a mess hall could be the answer?
    Build it separate from the living quarters,  hire a kitchen manager,  and assign the boots rotating kitchen duties.
    Solid roof,  fabric/screen walls,  rockets stoves and ovens, minimal electricity, and simple plumbing.
    Then, rather than you retreating to a makeshift arrangement in your quarters, you could reclaim the kitchen you designed and built.


    This has been suggested many times over the six years. We have built the framework of an outdoor kitchen, though it's not a complete kitchen yet, and it's really only usable in summer months.

    Building an entire second kitchen would be tens of thousands of dollars. We just don't have that in the budget right now.

    Maybe some day...

    I'm glad you understand my desire to retreat! Maybe you'll get your own basement retreat someday, too.
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Dan Boone wrote:The dudes who live in it aren't judged the same way as the women who share the space.  It's not that it takes magic boobies to see the dust bunnies under the dinner table that I don't care about because they don't bite.  It's because they do bite the woman who lives here with me ... they make her unhappy because there are social consequences to having them there that fall on her disproportionately.  People may think worse of her than they do of me, and for social reasons not easy for her to ignore, she may care -- she may have to care -- a lot more about what people think.  



    This is very, very true. There's a lot of gender stuff to cleanliness. A dude can have a messy house and his friends come over and people think he's cool for not caring. It's seen as almostly manly to have some mess. A bit of a rebel against society. Or something. And, people rather expect boys to be messy. "Boys will be boys." Our society is full of images of messy teenager guys, and its accepted that his house/room/apartment will be messy. He's no expected to care too much about it. AND, if he's too clean, he might be viewed as a woos.

    But, if a woman is messy, she is seen as a failure. She's unable to be organized, she not a good manager of life. This is especially true if she has kids. People look at a messy house with kids, and they don't think, "Wow, that guy needs to clean more and teach the children how to pick up after themselves"--they think that of the mother. She's seen as less of a person and more of a failure if her house is messy. And, if it is clean, she's viewed as a success. If someone comes into a clean house, they generally don't think, "Wow, the husband is really good at cleaning up"--they think, "The wife is an impressive manager of her household. I wish I was more like her!"

    These sorts of gender assumptions also come into play with parenting. My husband will take my kids to the store. He ALWAYS gets compliments on how he parents them. People are so impressed with how he answers their questions and interacts with them. He's going "above and beyond." He doesn't get the compliments when I'm around. I don't get them either. We parent the same! But, it's expected that a woman parents her children...but not so for the father. The expectations are different for women and men.

    Catherine Windrose wrote:Your home is your sanctuary.  Same as anyone's home is their sanctuary.  Same as we don't allow just anyone to take up residence in our heart, why should we in our home?  Perhaps some individuals have not learned to value their heart and home, and are therefore oblivious to the value others place on theirs?  



    This is a HUGE point. I think a lot of people don't really realize that Wheaton Labs is YOUR HOME, Jocelyn. They view it as a event place. A school. Not a home. It took me a few years and actually meeting you to finally have a lightbulb go off in my head that it was your HOME. I could never have so many people living in my home all the time. It has got to be so difficult! I don't know how to help people come to the realization that your house is YOUR house. It's not just a place people paid to rent or to intern in, it's a home.

    I try to put blinders on when I walk through the areas that are gradually getting more and more cluttered, and less organized (so much so that cupboard doors no longer close all the way), but it's still stressful for me to be here. That's not healthy for me. It's like putting someone in a room with constant fingernails on the chalkboard sounds, or a crying baby, or some other kind of continual stress that grates on the nerves. I'm just wired to be sensitive to these kinds of details, and despite trying for six years to be more chill about the detritus left behind by well-meaning helpers, I can't. It still bugs me.



    Oh Jocelyn, I'm crying over here for you. I cannot imagine how hard. Well, I kind of, because I have kids. I could spend hours a day--literally hours--cleaning. And, it would be a mess again. A few days back, we perfectly tidied our computer/hobby room. We thought we should take progress pictures, because it wasn't less than 10 minutes before some toy or bit of cloth or piece of paper was put on the floor. Now, I look down, and it's full of toys and tiny bits of paper that my daughter practiced cutting with. And, yes, I could spend all day following my kids around teaching them to put their toys away when they're done....but then I wouldn't get anything else done! When we had people coming over, I literally cleaned every day all day for over a week to get our house reasonably acceptable. Because, on a good day, I can get one room clean...while my kids get another messy. So, the next day I start on another room, and they re-messy the living room, and so I have to retidy that one while trying to clean the kitchen. Now I've got two rooms done...and the next day I start on the bathroom. But, then the kids get toys and crafts and papers out in the living room and kitchen and playdough on the table, and I have to reclean that. And, well, it's never ending. And it's stressful. I have all these eggs and almond and coconut flour to bake with, but I'd need to clean the kitchen first...and that takes two hours of work because I'm watching kids at the same time and they always need something. And it's horribly frustrating--and brain breaking--to be interrupted 15 times in the course of 5 minutes and you still haven't finished cleaning the thing because you spent most of the 5 minutes putting out fires.

    Well, now I've had my own bit of venting! Long story short, I can very much understand your stress and frustration AND the amount of time it takes to clean to finally be able to do the thing you set out to do an hour before.

    I think a tiny house for you--or a nice big community building on Basecamp for lodging. Or maybe more little loveshaks and a communal kitchen. That way boots have their own tiny personal space. And, because it's tiny, they can't make a huge mess. And they'd have their own kitchen. And you'd have your own large kitchen back.

    There's lots of good that can be said of having lots of people in a small house (I cannot imagine that Fisher Price house, being a manufactured home, is some 3,000sqft mansion). It's more ecologically friendly, it's lovely in many way to have so many in a small space. But, it's also a pain in the rear to clean. My brother has a house that's twice the size of mine. They have more toys for their two kids...and their house is always looking clean because it's easy to have a place for those things, and a little mess isn't too bad because there's still lots of clean spaces. But, when there's so many people with so many things in a small space, well, it's going to take a long time to clean and be useable, because there's so little space and everything has to be well organized. In a mansion, everyone can leave their cups out, and it's not a hindrance. But, not so in a small house!
     
    Judith Browning
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    I think the bottom line for me would be that everyone else needs to go and let you and Paul have your home back.

    I don't know how to accomplish that and I suppose there are agreements and obligations to the folks staying with you, BUT! I don't think it should be you having to plan a retreat from your home.

    Going through this stress. even intermittently, for six years is way too long in my view...cooking in your bedroom? oh, Jocelyn, that is over the top


     
    pollinator
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    Is there some page we can see what the priorities are for the current volunteers?  Because I can't think of one that should be higher for you right now than "regain your personal space."  Which would mean finishing the mess hall.  

    It doesn't need to be pretty, or efficient, or even well-insulated.  It needs to be a place to keep the cold and wet out, with a safe cooking/cleanup area, space to store food away from vermin, and a place to eat.  

    I have a fallback position for this, but it's suboptimal, so please try to do the mess hall if at least possible.  That would be to talk to the current crop of residents and get one person to agree to be kitchen manager.  This may not be the part of Permaculture they want to be learning, but I think someone would be willing to set up kitchen rules and cleanup rotas, and to enforce them.  Having you do it is too much.
     
    William Bronson
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    I agree Morfydd, the facilities need only be minimal.
    Workshops, tents and living spaces with little or no insulation are reportedly heated to the point if comfort from winter ambient temptature with low mass highly radiant ticket stoves.
    A hall used every day,with RMH benches used as seating,  counters or even dinning surfaces, probably won't  down to ambient temperature before the next firing.

    If the resources are not there,  they are not there, but Jocelyn has already earned a peaceful home,  many times over.
    I'm sure that makes fixing the situation a priority.
     
    Sonja Draven
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

    William Bronson wrote:
    Maybe a mess hall could be the answer?
    Build it separate from the living quarters,  hire a kitchen manager,  and assign the boots rotating kitchen duties.
    Solid roof,  fabric/screen walls,  rockets stoves and ovens, minimal electricity, and simple plumbing.
    Then, rather than you retreating to a makeshift arrangement in your quarters, you could reclaim the kitchen you designed and built.


    This has been suggested many times over the six years. We have built the framework of an outdoor kitchen, though it's not a complete kitchen yet, and it's really only usable in summer months.

    Building an entire second kitchen would be tens of thousands of dollars. We just don't have that in the budget right now.

    Maybe some day...

    I'm glad you understand my desire to retreat! Maybe you'll get your own basement retreat someday, too.


    I wondered when I read this whether it's not in your budget because the money isn't there? Or is it because other things are being prioritized? Not my business either way but I raise the question for you and Paul to consider because sometimes in my life, I realize the master plan isn't working anymore and priorities have to change.

    What you describe in the details of what you're dealing with would literally make me a crazy mean bitch. I can deal with that short term, in my house or others, because I know there's light at the end of the tunnel.  

    Confining myself to my bedroom, especially for cooking (which is a way I care for myself AND a way to be creative for me and I have gotten the impression that this is similar for you) would inspire poor food choices and stress eating and inevitably make me fat and miserable).

    None of this could be true of you, bit if it is, and you two living separately doesn't sound fun either, maybe next year's building plan could be rearranged.
     
    pollinator
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    Whew! This stressed me out just reading it, and imagining the scene. A couple random ideas-

    Definitely prioritize a mess hall. Meanwhile, why not charge a hefty deposit to anyone who sets foot in FPH for more than a partial day? That $ pays a cleaning person, whether a boot or an outside hire. Hired help who ‘no shows’ or quits, typically is a case of too little pay or simply not cut out for the job. Work ethic has deteriorated drastically over the past 2 decades, which may also be a factor. When I was in construction we had daily safety meetings in the morning, and a part of safety is housekeeping (literally. OSHA can fine you if a messy jobsite creates hazards). It may be necessary to do something similar there? A brief morning ‘chat’ about the need for better housekeeping? Enforcement, as others mentioned, being ‘you are no longer welcome here’. I can’t imagine a long term arrangement where that many people (originally strangers at that!) were in my home.

    The points about differing ideas on what constitutes ‘clean’ are key. My mother, in her later years, said she regretted spending so much of her life worrying about a spotless house. I took that to heart. Spending quality time with the kids seemed more valuable to me, and ‘good enough’ became the standard for housecleaning. But I realize for some that’s hard to deal with. As to getting kids to understand the ‘rule of 15’, my solution was to bring MY stuff into their room and pile it on their bed. That was what it took for them to grasp that it was equally egregious for their projects to be piled on the table, couch, floor, counter, etc. Each one had the freedom, within reason, to have a messy bedroom, but the rest of the house was common area to the family and we all had to work to keep things picked up and cleaned up. Our house has always been project oriented, big on gardening, keen on experiments; meaning sawdust, dirt, parts and pieces, and random tools and materials needing to be dealt with on an ongoing basis. Add dogs and cats to the mix, and housekeeping often takes a back seat to other priorities. Sometimes the kitchen table is a diorama in progress for a couple days and eating takes place on lap trays. In late winter, seedlings take over table and counter space.
    I have an acquaintance who is quite OCD about housekeeping. Her place is like a showroom for a magazine. It makes me uncomfortable to be there for long, for fear I will mess something up. I suspect she has a reverse feeling when visiting my place. But we tolerate each other’s differences in this area.
    Maybe if Wheaton had a mess hall, then FPH could be it’s owner’s home again in some ways, since it sounds like the kitchen issue is the biggest stressor.
     
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    So I read a lot of magic wand posts here with lovely sentiment but you have a reality to deal with that I see as follows:

    1. Having students is your livelihood
    2. Haven't yet found an affordable solution to moving students out of your house
    3. Students disrespectful of your space, act like little selfish kids

    How to teach boundaries:

    1. Have them and enforce them mercilessly

    Facts:

    1. People can be selfish slobs
    2. For some reason, this is prevalent in your situation
    3. Having a "good heart" can be a way to avoid responsibility, ie claim "but I'm a nice person" and somehow that means you couldn't be acting like a jerk. Or something like "but I'm here to save the Earth," same fantasy.
    4. People don't agree on what clean looks like, possibly influenced by gender programming but please look at #3 above for reality check on that BS

    Solutions:

    1. At each place where cleanliness is an issue, prominently post laminated color photos of what you expect that space to look like.
    2. If someone doesn't leave it that way, ask them to leave immediately. Goodbye.

    This should clean up the entire problem in one season or less, as you will quickly get a reputation for being strict. That's a healthy, positive thing to teach people. Of course it will engender some negative PR...from people who are angry that you held them accountable. Crocodile tears.

     
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    Jocelyn, your "Going beyond leave no trace" could be adopted as a definition of the difference between "sustainable" and "regenerative".  

    Thank you for your post that started this thread. I am now going to aspire to regenerative housekeeping.

     
    master steward
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    I think saying "rule of 15" is a good thing to say and give an idea of how to keep things nicer.

    At the same time, it is tempered with "dirty cup CSI" where the lesson is to not have community cleanliness police, but instead to have somebody that cleans.  Somebody that picks up the dirty cups and washes them.  And they pick the laptops up off of the table and dump them in the lost and found box.  

    Nobody wants to be the police.   Nobody wants to be policed.   But if somebody is paid to clean up and possibly nurture good folks into a tidier path, then that is healthy.   And then if somebody says "hey, i left that on the dining room table for a reason, i don't give you permission to touch my stuff!" then the person receiving the message can say "paul said to - talk to him."  And I can say "rule of 15".  And I can explain that if they wanna shell out a few thousand dollars a month, they can rent that table and the cleaning person will facilitate their special needs - or, perhaps, community space is simply not a fit for their laptop.

    "Rule of 15" is an excellent rule.  And it takes a back seat to the lessons learned in "dirty cup CSI."
     
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    Interesting and challenging thread!  Here's my two cents.  As a former science teacher and coach of messy high schoolers, I've found that time is an important factor in keeping things organized and clean.  For instance, if I let the kids do labs right up until the bell, the chem. lab would be a disaster.  However, if I stopped the class early and said, 'OK folks, time for clean-up, and no one leaves until the lab is clean', I got great results.  If I was with the team on an away game, to make sure we didn't leave a mess as a guest on some other team's pitch I always said, 'time for clean-up TEAM', before we had the final game review chat. At a small boarding school where I used to teach, the kids were responsible for clean up after dinner, washing the dishes, pots and pans, tables, etc. We made clean-up a fun TEAM time for the kids, playing their favorite dance tunes (at that time Brown-eyed Girl) while they happily cleaned up while doing their little dances (both boys and girls). As with all camping trips with young people, the final walk through in a line across the campsite picking up trash or left-behinds is almost a tradition that most kids know will occur.  Jocelyn, I'm suggesting that you give the 'kids' time, for instance after an evening talk, or after a communal meal, or before bedtime, to have a special communal time for clean-up where everyone, by encouraging a team spirit, pitches in.  Especially teens and twinks are peer driven, and want to be like and with their peers, so giving them time to clean-up as a group experience can be a fun and learning experience. Another trick is to appoint young adults that you know have high emotional intelligence to be peer leaders of those clean-up teams.  The other young folks also learn from watching those leaders. And it still needs to be reinforced with adults.  After our annual pot-luck dinner  of a mostly senior group of wooden boat sailors, I know that I will have to call out after the meal that it's clean-up time to wipe off the tables and pack-up the chairs.  Else there will be a few helpers and many 'slinkers' out of the hall. Fortunately, with most adults they easily respond to knowing that it's time for everyone to pitch in.  Well, hope this helps a little.
     
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    I usually skim through the comments on most of these threads, but this one caught my attention and I read every comment.  Only a few work for me.

    [color=darkred]Denis Wang:  
    . . . peer driven, and want to be like and with their peers, so giving them time to clean-up as a group experience can be a fun and learning experience.
    . . . .
    I will have to call out after the meal that it's clean-up time to wipe off the tables and pack-up the chairs.  Else there will be a few helpers and many 'slinkers' out of the hall. Fortunately, with most adults, they easily respond to knowing that it's time for everyone to pitch in.


    Paul needs to make clear to his students and visitors that part of permaculture is "sustainable" living.  Cleaning up after other people is not sustainable when one person takes on the task.  Resentment builds up until it boils over, as Jocelyn has attested.  Not healthy.  I don't know how she managed to put up with it for six long years as she did.  

    People have to clean up after themselves.  Or the group has to clean up group areas.  Everything from coffee mugs to garden tools to livestock needs to be cleaned and returned to its allotted space so it is where it should be for its next use.  Those who make work for others don't belong in a group environment and don't deserve to live in a communal space.  Hand the miscreant a hiking tent, mess kit, a few plastic bags of oatmeal, flour, sugar, salt and the like and designate a tent site.  They can participate in the workshop or whatever they paid for, but they are no longer welcome in FPH and will have to fend for themselves.

    Personally, I'd require each participant to bring a tent, sleeping bag, mess kit and camping rations with them or be prepared to rent those items on arrival.  And have them use them for a few days before being invited to stay in FPH, subject to FPH rules.  If they see FPH as a privilege and not part of their tuition, they'll treat it with more respect, knowing that the alternative is back to the tent.

    I've been an Army NCO and officer, a Scoutmaster, a Big Brother, youth rifle team coach, and junior high teacher, and I learned (the hard way) that people, young or old, have to be told what is expected of them, what they can expect from me, and be reminded frequently what the rules and the limits are.  Those who can't or won't abide by the rules need to be disciplined.  In the Army it was KP scrubbing pots and pans, peeling potatoes or onions, or "policing the grounds" aka picking up cigarette butts, scrubbing the latrine with a toothbrush, or recycling to start basic over; Scouts and shooting, it was suspension or expulsion from the team; with jr high it was detention, conference with parent(s), suspension, or expulsion.

    Don't expect people to follow multiple verbal instructions, they will only remember the last and maybe the first.  Write it down.  Then there are no questions as to what you said.  Post rules, SOP, or task list prominently, and hold each person responsible for reading and following the rules.

    I would assign a mug, plate, and bowl to each person on arrival and hand them masking tape and a Sharpie to put their names on the bottom or side of each, and to put their names on anything they bring into the community area.  Anything found unattended where it shouldn't be will be tossed into a "trash box".  If they have to retrieve their stuff from the trash, they'll get the message that they need to be responsible for their stuff and not leave it lying around in the community area.

    Good luck with whatever solution you come up with.[/color]

     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Thanks for all the replies and support. I am still broken. Kind of like this:



    Paul has tried to pick up the house cleaner search and it's like a black hole of what Paul would call comedy, but it's so old to me that it's no longer funny.

     
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    I am with the others who offer empathy and support to all you have gone through in the past 6 years and in 2019. So sorry about your mom and congratulations.

    Perhaps these are silly suggestions, you have probably tried this already and it wasn't mentioned or I missed it.

    List the areas and the expectations for these areas with pictures. Put it on a clipboard.
    Create a schedule of responsibility - everybody takes turns signing up and being "The Buck Stops Here" person. For instance, after each meal, the Buck Stops Here Person inspects the area, signs off, and releases everyone to begin their next activity. If they cannot sign off because it doesn't meet the Rule of 15 standards, they assign people what needs to be done, take out the trash, clean out the sink, look around and gather up stray cups left about. No compliance, ask the group what they think are suitable consequences. Also during the meeting setting all this up ask them what would be a good reward for going above and beyond X number of times in what period of time, and what constitutes "Above and Beyond"? A ride into town, an hour on the backhoe, I don't know what boot rewards might be, but they do, and you know what is a reasonable request, who might be gifted the accumulation of goodies that the Permies Community offers like the $1600 and whatever else was included. Is there a contract in place for these folks, what the expectations are and the consequences?

    Just some thoughts.

    Hope these suggestions are helpful and create some ease and peace.
     
    gardener
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    We once had a friend visit us for a couple of weeks. He was invisible.   I don't think he ever occupied any space. I have long  marveled at his ability to fit in.  
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Thanks again to all the ideas, suggestions and support. FWIW, we've tried most of these ideas and suggestions. There are compounding factors to all of it that are just too much to stay out in front of for me right now.

    So, I'm currently in a small apartment in downtown Missoula...for a time. I'm still on permies.com as time allows, and still helping at wheaton labs.

     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Life's been super crazy for you this past year, Jocelyn. So many things, all at once. I send you big HUGS and I'm so glad that we'll still get to see you here on permies.

    Take care of yourself and find healing and peace. More hugs!!!
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