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Summary

Credit: Kevin Murphy

Paul interviews Diane over a land line due to some technical difficulties. Paul has four items to go over and then a bunch of questions from Permies.com. Diane will be a speaker at PV2 this year. Paul thinks that PV2 is going to be a big hit again this year. Diane plans to talk about what works well when designing an intentional community or eco-village and how many of the principles of permaculture can be applied to good community design. Point for point intentional community design is similar to permaculture. Paul wants to expand zone 1 where plants require the most attention.

Diane talks about how community design with good will and harmony are important. Paul brings up his PV1 talk and how he lightly touched on community last year in PV1. Diane reviews some aspects of her workshops on community design and how ideals scale over time. Diane speaks about her timeline and how she graphs the ideal community versus the cynical outlook of community. Diane talks about the ideals that some people come to an intentional community with. Some people come with magical thinking and the hope that no one needs to keep track of community hours or screening of people entering the community. Always say yes is their ideal vision. The idealists are sometimes shocked at what Diane says needs to be done. Diane explains how over time and with experience, communities learn they need to track labor and other things. Paul explains how when he lived in a community they split up chores between twenty people. Diane explains how by luck of the draw all of Paul's people were willing to all pitch in but if some people did not contribute it would have been a different experience. Paul thinks that planning the systems helps people understand what is expected. Diane points out that the people who want structure ultimately help free the group up but will be vilified by those who do not want structure. With no structure, the community will not be successful for very long. Diane explains how some people claim that something is not community just to manipulate others in the community.

Diane discusses the shared group household. Twenty or so people under one roof similar to what Paul hopes to accomplish at Wheaton Labs. Paul discusses his variant for helping when people fall short of putting in their community time. Paul asks about Earth Haven where Diane lives in North Carolina. In a well designed systems people can pay money in place of their labor. Diane talks about the diversity within a community and how you want people to have similar goals and values and let the diversity lay in the how people accomplish the community goals. Paul goes off on a tangent about experiences with Disney and hiring people to write code. Paul brings it back around to how a community looks at people coming into a community. Paul feels that dysfunction is the norm when bringing people into a community. Paul brings up Sanghia in New York and how nice it is. Diane explains how federal fair housing laws prevent people from saying who can and can not join a community. Diane thinks that if you use what works well you can get good members. First you need criteria which includes the cost and the labor requirements are. Next you explain the test period and what the agreements are for that community including governance and decision making. Provisional membership is another good idea. Clarity up front makes life much easier. Paul discusses how he used to interview people with a dual score system. One set of questions tested their knowledge and another set tested their engineering ability. Paul discusses how sometimes at code ranch the people who wanted to make things better with good communication skills are better than people with great knowledge but who can not work well with others.

Diane explains how people who do not bullshit are better than people who are not as honest. Getting along with people and having good communication skills is critical to having a successful community. A community should not sacrifice if they need a skill. Paul explains how some people will never change and Diane explains how people change for many different reasons. Paul and Diane agree how people never change and people change a lot. Having a good community incorporates a good communication system. Building trust and camaraderie is important too. This forms a glue for the community. Paul returns to a discussion of Diane's chart to explain his feelings on certain ideas and how good it might be living in a simple dreamy world. Paul feels that there is value in simplicity. Paul discusses how BE NICE is applied at Permies.com and Code Ranch. Diane feels that simple works well with a one person leader but that when you have more people you need rules and guidelines on how to resolve conflict and build consensus. Paul feels that rules give bad guys traction and Diane feels that good design has rules and does not give bad guys traction. Diane explains that with a well designed community you have a dynamic system that has governance rules. Paul feels that too many rules make life to complex. Diane explains how in her community their rules are fluid and are used everyday. Paul's idea is that there is value in having less rules. Diane explains how a good community has checks and balances.

Relevant Threads

2015: Gappers, Tours, and Pebbles
“Check and Balance” Decision-Making Methods
Dynamic Governance


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COMMENTS:
 
Posts: 17
Location: Kentucky Proud
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As I listened to this pod cast, it sounded like you, Paul, and Diana Leafe Christian were disagreeing but it seems to me as an outsider listening that you two were talking about the same goal. You were intent on establishing a simple vision (less is more, simple is dependable, etc) and Diana discussed complete structures to support that. So Paul has an established vision in which to gather like minded people and can effectively govern that structure because he is the one that has established Wheaten Labs in collaboration with those folks that share his vision. What's also happening is that the system allows for a flexible use of reflection to modify the structure as your group sees fit. So, you're not using an agreement to align your actions to, you're using the vision to guide your reflection and need for structure change. Being "dreamy" is the vision that should govern your group's direction, Paul, and will work as long as you are there to lead the structure. It's all good! You want organic, holistic, messy, growth and that is completely supported through your reflective practice.
 
garden master
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I'm loving the podcast series.  For those who might listen in, it may seem a little slow at first, but I think there is a LOT of value to pick up in this series for people interested in figuring out how to build healthy communities, and even relationships in general.

At one point Diana Leaf Christian talks about her previous views on consensus, and how that has changed.  That reminded me of this article series in the Communities magazine, I believe this is the start of it - Diana is the author of this article:
Busting the Myth that Consensus-with-Unaminity is Good for Communities

I learned so much about the issues surrounding consensus as a decision making process in that article series.  Many sides end up being presented; a very good read.

I also really like how Diana likens a decision-making process to permaculture design, that you can have well designed systems or poorly designed systems.  I totally relate to Paul's desire for less rules, for sure, as having to enforce rules is really frustrating.  I certainly like seeing designs where the rules are made more foolproof; it's neat to realize that it is possible, or at least that there are groups that are learning ways to improve rule design.
 
pollinator
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My main thought here and then context for it.

Main thought:

***
On the website for the community, there's not just a link to some resources for finding other communities, but an actual vision statement for universal community for everyone.  "We envision a world where…and you, who are reading this, are a part of that world, happy in the community and connectedness and relationships that fulfill you, draw out your soul's purpose, appreciate your unique gifts, etc."  A single element (the website) can serve multiple functions—1) filtering or selecting for people who are a good fit for your community, and 2) helping the passerby learn how to be a better community member and find their way to the right community for them.  No, a job hiring process is generally not like that, but in the communities movement we can do better, and it costs relatively little.
***


The dialogue seems to bog down a bit in the rules vs. simplicity debate, but the real issue in my mind is that rules are a transitional tool and we need transitional tools.  A membership process is a transitional tool too.  In the distant future we'll have our s—t together enough to need no rules and only have agreements, and we'll be able to welcome everyone, every kind of personality or perspective, into the world community.  There are places in the world today where that works, but not often in living-together communities.  Someday that can extend everywhere.  We can get there, and we can feel a sense of satisfaction in getting as close to it as we can, one step at a time, but no faster.

Trying to get by without transitional tools will cause the heartache described.

Trying to get by with only transitional tools and no vision of where you want to get to in the future—and a by-when date for it, even if it's "seven generations from now, in 2200"—is deadening spiritually and also leads to heartache, and is also unsustainable in the long run.

The permaculture system comparison-- a community to a garden—is apt.  The rules don't just change—some things fundamentally stop existing in the system anymore after a while (most of the annuals) as the food forest ages.  The trees and relationships among them change, as does the animal life of a food forest.  The design itself can be changed after a time—what if in the year 2200 everyone in the region now has a food forest, and you want to grow something exotic and different? 100 years ago it would have undermined your food forest and the community around you, but today it's completely fine.

Also, I sort of think formal consensus decision-making is still a better choice to start with for most situations than sociocracy or N-street consensus--if everyone understands formal consensus and knows what it isn't.  I think this because it's possible to get what it is and the other two things are not very transparent or widely distributed.  They may be better intrinsically, but practically speaking you have to use a system that people already know or can come to understand somehow.  I can ask people in my community to educate themselves about consensus till I'm blue in the face, they won't do it.  Everyone sort of understands Robert's Rules; fewer people understand Formal Consensus, but most can usually grasp the idea of "consent doesn't mean I like it, just that I stand aside."   If I don't work for consensus with my community, people can just walk away from our business meeting and then we don't have a quorum anymore anyway, so it's not only more idealistic, it's not only more practical, it's necessary.  One person can walk away and we're legally sub-quorum, so it HAS to be consensus by legal requirement—and only by acknowledging it is there any way for me to facilitate the discussion.  I think the N-street idea sounds great, but I don't know enough about it directly to comment here, and again it's not common knowledge nor do I know if people can learn it on line.  The name bothers me, because it doesn't tell me anything about what it is, only about where it came from.  I would prefer it to be called something like "consensus where if you block you have to offer an alternative solution" or "alternative-solution consensus." 

From my experience and understanding of it the Morehouse has two rules—"no drinks on the floor" and "don't do anything you don't want to do"—and then a lot of agreements ("everyone is perfect," "the community is happiest when it focuses on finding out what the women want and giving it to them") and 3 clear definitions you have to meet to be called a Morehouse ("one no-vote blocks a decision forever and it can't be brought up again by anyone else," always having a charity person, shared ownership of the real property and business.)  That's it.  Pretty simple.  The community can make more rules if they choose, or not.

One of the things I love best about Christian's first book (I have read only that one)  is that it acknowledges the value of the idealism and of even acknowledging out loud how our hopes that community will finally meet our unmet childhood needs.  This affirms and shows respect for the visionary, idealistic, heart-led element in us; then puts the pragmatic--well-designed, like a good permaculturist's--structure in place to get us as close to that as possible (the satisfaction is in getting as much progress as you can, not about trying to jump somewhere 200 years in the future from now).  Too often, and it happened in this conversation too, there's an unnecessary argument of "realists vs. idealists," when in fact there's the third option, strategic idealism.

The membership process sounds awful in this podcast, and in the book it really doesn't.  There are no unwanted people, and our heart-led instinct to want to welcome everyone, regardless of race, creed, socioeconomic background, emotional background, whatever wounds they've had in the past, "give us your huddled masses yearning to be free," this is a universal and valid instinct.  And we're not there yet—no community can singly take on all that ballast.  Both Christian and those with the "opposing" viewpoint are correct.

What I would like to see is this:

***
On the website for the community, there's not just a link to some resources for finding other communities, but an actual vision statement for universal community for everyone.  "We envision a world where…and you, who are reading this, are a part of that world, happy in the community and connectedness and relationships that fulfill you, draw out your soul's purpose, appreciate your unique gifts, etc."  A single element (the website) can serve multiple functions—1) filtering or selecting for people who are a good fit for your community, and 2) helping the passerby learn how to be a better community member and find their way to the right community for them.  No, a job hiring process is generally not like that, but in the communities movement we can do better, and it costs relatively little.

I wish there could be more discussion of the content of what are good designs for governance structures in this podcast…I look forward to seeing if that happens in part 2.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Clarifying my thoughts here--interviewers may give lip service to the idea of "we wish you luck in your job search," but this phrase is quite generic. 

What could be some more specific, helpful things to share?

A story is a great way to convey a message about what works and what doesn't work in one's community.  The skit Christian created could be one example.  Or the stories of "we let this person in despite some doubts, and it worked out badly in these ways for us," and "we let this person in despite some doubts, and they rose to the occasion." 

What other things could be offered at that juncture?

Just putting a link to ic.org is nice, but what could make things one step better?

"If you liked X community, you'll like community Y and Z too"

"Based on your choices--Y community: 99% match; Z community 93%..."

Dating profiles for communities with match-making algorithms?  (ic.org does let you search by certain criteria such as meat, [stated] decision-making process, ages...are there other factors?

Paxus has a spectrum of what you want your community meetings for--on one end, getting business done/making decisions, on the other end, connection, support, community.   Maybe meetings can serve both functions in an additive way too, but this might be a selection criterion for community seekers.

other ideas?  I'd love to see some creative thinking about this!
 
pollinator
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All the time I listened this podcast, I felt like 'are they really disagreeing, or is it just a way to make us -the 'pod people'- listen very well and try to find our own thoughts on this subject?'
Anyway, it made me listen well and do my best to (get to) know what are my own thoughts. Who of you I agree with ... 'it all depends'. If there's one 'giant doofus' who's the boss and the only 'rule' is: 'be nice' ... maybe I can live there, depending on the behaviour of that boss and the behaviour of the others living there. Because everyone can have their own view on what is 'nice'.
And if there's an 'agreement' of many pages, which took shape because of the first few members of the community, who agreed on it, who wanted to live according to it ... maybe I can live there, depending on the way they view their role, my role, the agreement's role in the community.

All and all, I think I better go on living on my own, but being part of (several) communities of people not living together 'under the same roof', or 'on the same land'.
 
We should throw him a surprise party. It will cheer him up. We can use this tiny ad:
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