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gulching

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I just found out about this. Before I spend the next twelve hours of my life obswessively researching it, I thought I'd post a mention here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulching


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Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
It just sounds like everyday trading and bartering, to me. 

You want to get rid of your leaves, I need leaves for my garden.

I'll trade my squash and bell peppers for some of your sweet corn and fall peas.

I'll groom your dog three times if you'll replace the alternator on my car.

How is it different?  Old game with a new name?

Sue


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
A lot of IC stuff says that everybody has equal say and everybody has equal responsibility.  Everybody makes an equal contribution.  Equal in every way. 

Since people are different, things tend to fall apart. 

Some people think that everybody should work more and put more in.  Some people think that everybody should work less and put less in.  Some people put 50 times more in than others.  Sometimes ....  for every person putting a lot into a community there are 20 people taking out of a community.  The community, therefore, is not sustainable.

I had high hopes for the "gulching" stuff.  After reading a bit I decided it was not for me.  I can't remember why.

I can say that my hopes were a proven system where you live in a community that costs twice as much, but you have zero responsibilities.  If you contribute to your community, you are compensated.  So, if you contribute a fair share, it would cost an amount that is the same for a community where everybody makes an equal contribution.  And if you are one of those rare folks that contributes 20 times more, well, maybe it's like a job where you get paid.  So, in the end, you embrace that all people are different, and "fair" naturally works out:  you either pay with cash or you pay with time/effort or some of each. 

I really like this idea.  I just wish I knew of examples of it.




Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Those were the ideas of the communes back in the 60s and 70s. Virtually all of them fell apart for the reasons you mentioned.  A few kept on doing all the work, and the others just sat back and smoked pot.

The problem with these places being sustainable is the basic natures of human beings. Some always want to be boss, competent or not. Some refuse to do manual labor. Some don't want to do repetitive tasks. Some don't have many/any of the necessary skills, and have no intention of learning any. Some won't work in the cold. Some won't work in the heat. Some always have something else to do.

"...a proven system where you live in a community that costs twice as much, but you have zero responsibilities."

That's called the Mommy System. Costs are always ongoing, they don't stop with setup. 

And how would you define 'zero responsibility' here? You don't have to contribute anything but your mere presence? What's the point of even being there?  If you have no responsibilities, that means you would have no say in how the place is run, right? What if you didn't like that? Wealthy people nearly always want the control.  Get involved with a non-profit organization, and you'll see that.  See what happened at Seed Savers Exchange?

And how much would you have to contribute to be waited on hand and foot, like a slug or Jabba the Hut? How would the working members feel about you? Wouldn't that cause irritation and unrest?

TANSTAAFL.

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
SueinWA wrote:

The problem with these places being sustainable is the basic natures of human beings. Some always want to be boss, competent or not. Some refuse to do manual labor. Some don't want to do repetitive tasks. Some don't have many/any of the necessary skills, and have no intention of learning any. Some won't work in the cold. Some won't work in the heat. Some always have something else to do.



Wow, that is so good, I want to print it out in a big font and put it up on my wall.

That's called the Mommy System. Costs are always ongoing, they don't stop with setup.


I don't understand.  Is there really some formal system called "The Mommy System"?

And how would you define 'zero responsibility' here? You don't have to contribute anything but your mere presence?


Well, lots of money.  Lots more money than others ... probably.

What's the point of even being there?


I think the point to the individual is to be in community.  To share meals.  To visit.  To be part of a family. 

And for a lot of communities, there are those that have trouble making ends meet while in community.  So they would offer more labor and less funds.

If you have no responsibilities,


I'm suggesting that such a person would have a grave responsibility of paying their rent (or whatever).

Wealthy people nearly always want the control.
 

I'll take it one step further:  I think there are a lot of broke people that want the control too.  And people in the middle.  I think there are folks from every financial angle that want control (sometimes all control, or they might settle for "control over most things".

And how much would you have to contribute to be waited on hand and foot, like a slug or Jabba the Hut?


I take it that you are not familiar with the root of the concept?  Where the word "Gulch" comes from?

Consider a retirement home.  Folks pay something like $1500 per month.  They have their own room, three squares a day, events planned for them and they all live together.  It certainly has its issues - it's less than perfect.  But, start with that, then add in that 90% of the food is grown on-site, all food is organic, and a lot of the people that live there participate in the farming.  In fact, those that do participate pay only $500 per month - or some pay zero and a few actually come out dollars ahead each month. 

Granted, this form of living is not a perfect match for everybody.  I am saying that I would like to see this form of living exist and ask the people living there if they like it.  I think I might like living in a community like that.

You bring up resentment issues.  I think such a system would reduce resentment.  After all, in the everybody is equal system, if I clean the bathroom and feel pretty good about it, then two weeks pass and it is Bob's turn and Bob doesn't do it at all, I feel resentment.  I did my share and Bob didn't do his.  Now, in order to get what is fair, I have to raise a concern.  I don't wanna raise a concern.  I want things to be smooth without me having to do expose Bob and make things awkward between me and Bob.  I could clean the bathroom again, but that isn't right either.  I could just put up with a dirty bathroom, but that still isn't right. 

On the other hand, if a house manager takes care of it, I never have to worry about it.  The bathroom is just always clean.  I have my task of tending to the pigs - nobody else has to worry about tending to the pigs.  And Bob is a community member who contributes to the community only financially.    Bob pays much more than I do, so all is good.

TANSTAAFL


I had to look this up.  "There is no such thing as a free lunch."

Exactly.

My time is worth a certain number of dollars per hour.  Bob's time is worth a certain number of dollars per hour.  We can collect those dollars at the farm we live on, or we can collect them outside of the farm. 




Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
"The Mommy System" is a term a friend of mine came up with many years ago.  She said there are people who carry their weight and others who just try to float, waiting for someone else to provide food, shelter, TV, music, beer, entertainment, gasoline, etc. IOW, they want a mommy to take care of them.  My brother is one of these people.

A halfway decent retirement home is a money-making business operation.  A decent one is closer to $6,000 a month, and even for that money, which I think is astronomical, many of the inmates aren't all that well cared for, and they have no power at all.

I understand the concept of gulching. It's based on a fictional account, and is just a more modern word for a very old concept.  It probably evolved into being, rather than as the result of any plan, and I suspect that most of the people involved are strong-minded, self-educated, and participate on as much (or as little) as they like.  I cannot see a community like this being set up as an intentional situation. One that works is going to welcome those to go along with their ideas, and the ones who don't are invited to leave.  Any kind of group investment would invite disaster.

A rich/poor collection of people in a commune (that's what it is, and it's shorter to type) is never equal.  You can try, but it will fall apart.  I wouldn't even attempt to get involved with it, to tell the truth.  Because the bottom line is that some people end up doing all the work and others are just slackers, money or not.

And I've never met a wealthy person yet that didn't want control of the whole deal. They always seem to think that money means you're better. First, they want favors, then they demand them as their right.

But you're right that all kinds of people want control, they want to make the rules.  This is the 'too many chiefs and not enough Indians' problem.

A wealthy person doesn't need this kind of setup and wouldn't stay long.  They can have their own big house with servants to cater to them, and no one to fuss.

I think the resentment issues are what has destroyed all the communes that existed.  The one that might have come closest was the (Scott & Helen) Nearing's place in Maine.  But the main difference here was that the Nearings owned the property, and the workers seemed to mostly come and go.  If they didn't like it, they could leave, as they had no financial investment.

I've never heard of a commune that lasted for a long period of time. Have you? Even one?

What you're actually offering is communism, a theory that promotes equality on the surface, but results in control by one person with a circle of supporters, and a bunch of serfs who do the work.  The theory has never worked, historically, and the end has always been the same.

It's just the way it is.  Nice people think it's a good idea, but there are always the not-so-nice people who take control.  The problem is that most people think they're more equal than others, and some of them have the ability to manipulate others into thinking it's a good idea.

Personally, I don't know of anyone whose dream in life is to clean bathrooms or shovel pig manure or wash dishes.  And I doubt that any of them want to rotate between those jobs, while others are sleeping late, making snippy little comments about the meal they've been served, or a hair they found in the bathroom, or the faint odor of manure as someone passes.

It's been tried before, and it simply doesn't work. Fighting human nature is an exercise in futility.  The last big organization of the type began in 1922 and it crashed and burned in 1991.  Even at the end, there were proponents that thought it would work. The ones that didn't had a tendency to die unexpectedly or disappear.

Sorry.

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The stuff that is currently called "gulching" doesn't seem like a fit for me either.

As to the thing about catering to those with money, well, isn't that what almost any regular job is?  Or even if you work for yourself?  You do something and trade it for money. 

I think your point about the Nearings is a damn good one.  I have seen a lot of that sort of thing work out.

Commune's lasting:  Well, there are some IC's that have been around 30+ years.  I suspect that there are some communes that are still around.  How long has Dancing Rabbit been in existance?

I agree that the idea of communism is difficult - generally too difficult.

So now I want to talk about me.  I wish to start with the "me song": "Me me me me me me me me ME me me me me me me ... " 

So I like the idea of shared meals ... I like the idea of a sort of extended family ...

When I was 18 I worked on  a farm where I slept in a bunkhouse with about a dozen other fellas and ate three squares a day around a huge couple of tables.  The food was soooooo good.  My responsibility was to get paid minimum wage for working freaky long hours.  I did no cooking or kitchen cleanup.  I didn't even clean the bunkhouse - somebody else did that.  My existence was working the harvest, eating, sleeping and relaxing.  It was nice.

Some folks have jobs that pay good.  Some folks don't have jobs.  Some folks (like me) wanna live in the sticks, where there isn't much in the way of work. 

I like the idea of living in the sticks with lots of folks.  Some might be keen on free food and board in exchange for some cleaning and cooking and a stipend.  Maybe I can do some farming stuff in exchange for room, board and a stipend.  Maybe some people in this bunch of folks earn some money off farm and pay for their room and board. 

I think it could work out.  In my imagination, it is Sepp Holzer's farm.  Sepp says whos stays and who goes. 

I'm not saying that you have to come along.  I'm not saying that most folks will be keen on the idea.  I am saying that maybe one person in 10,000 might be keen on something like this.  And I know I'm one of those.

I like the idea that the slackers that you spoke of either have to pay money or get to work.  Either way, the work gets done and they have done their fair share. 

I like the idea that the people that work hard and accomplish great things get great rewards.  It's fair. 



Kelda Miller


Joined: Jun 30, 2007
Posts: 763
Wow! Permaculture meets Ayn Rand! Finally.

I think I may be the only permie I know who, in my younger years, devoured every Ayn Rand book I could find, (until a biography about her clued me into how judgemental and miserable she was).

I think I was in college, later, when an environmentalist friend starting railing against Rand, that I realized that many environmentalists hate her, because she's all pro-business and pro-capitalism. Quite a shock for me, because I had seen something else entirely in Galt's Gulch especially.

The gulch had a very 'clean' capitalism (so to speak, maybe the word capitalism isn't quite right), in which people made their living in a way that the market (ie, the community connections, because it was a tight-knit community) forced good behavior. Noone wants to support a business that doesn't pay workers fairly, or that destroys the environment. And if someone comes up with a more efficient way of doing something, then their competition didn't kick and scream about being out of work. (hello: like the auto industry this week).

It was very Rand, and very ideal. For all the solutions that she dreams up, I don't remember her confronting that BIG problem in capitalism: the capitalist heart, does it dream of money or just dream of a good living for all beings?

Anyway: on to gulching. We have So Much work to do to figure out how to live in communities with all our diverse styles. As a babystep I suggest an economics wherein cleaning the bathroom is not an issue. Look up lifedollars and http://www.fourthcornerexchange.com/
(I'm a member! Trade with me!)

Clean enough capitalism, check out the 'reviews' bit, for even John Galt and Dagny Taggart to be proud.


Divine Earth Gardening Project
Steve Nicolini


Joined: Nov 15, 2008
Posts: 224
Fairness in an unfair world.  I get fed and I do dishes.  He gets fed and he does nothing.  The next night the same thing happens.  To me, this is rather rude and ignorant of him, but I don't really mind doing dishes.  The guy feeding us sees this, too.  Should we really keep track of what he's done and what I've done and base whether or not we get fed off of that information?
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
"As to the thing about catering to those with money, well, isn't that what almost any regular job is?  Or even if you work for yourself?  You do something and trade it for money."

I don't think it's quite the same thing.  A regular job is a trade-off: the boss starts the business and deals with the headaches, the employee gets paid for doing certain things, but he walks away at the end of his shift and doesn't have to worry about the things the boss is worrying about.

And if you work for yourself, you are making decisions, right or wrong.  You can hardly have a tiny office, no employees, and NOT clean the bathroom. No passerby is going to step in the door and volunteer. You make the decisions (good or bad) and reap the benefits or the results of bad decisions.  You have no one else to blame.

I suspect that the theory is on a higher plane than the reality.

There is nothing wrong with capitalism, as long as it isn't carried to extremes.  ANYTHING carried to extremes, even good things,  seems to turn out bad: food, drink, animal rescue, religion, driving too fast.

But people DO keep track, and people DO think money makes them better, and people who work at menial jobs and watch others not having to do anything DO become resentful.

If there are some Intentional Communities (ICs) still in existence after a long period of time, it would be a good thing to discover why.  They are obviously doing something right, and have probably worked out a lot of wrinkles over the years.  If you could find out, you wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel.

I suspect that if the range of people is more similar than different (background, income level, etc), the inclination to work together may be more likely to form a cohesive unit.  I would suspect that widely varying groups could have a higher "Friction Factor".

And if you could have everyone agree to a kind of Hippocratic  Oath, it would lay it right on the table that you need to do everything you have agreed to do, and not to encroach on other people or their property (the two basic tenants of Natural Law).  And if some people reneged on that oath, they could suffer the previously agreed-upon consequences of the community.

I just looked up the Dancing Rabbit site and they have been operating since 1997, eleven years.  And they DO have an agreement that everyone has to sign :  http://www.dancingrabbit.org/vision/membagree.php

It could work, but considerable care would have to be involved.

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Kelda, it is such a relief to find somebody that understands what I'm talking about. 

I suppose Ayn rand might be a real wacko in real life.  My understanding is that most of the geniuses in the world are pretty wacky.  The important thing to me is that her two big book are, in my opinion, utter genius.  Artistic genius. 

I think there is a lot of goofy crap in the books, but there is a lot of gold in there too.  I pick out the gold and embrace it dearly and ignore the rest. 

It does seem that most permies don't care for this sort of thing.  It's clear that permies come in many flavors.  I'm comfortable being a permie in a minority.


Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I can think of no one that I would trust to live with in an organized community.  The idea is nice. sort of like a large family unit.  but the reality is I wouldn't even live in that situation with my family!!! lots of compromise just in a small family/marriage I can't imagine a whole community of people trying to work together and bound by some contract. It works much better to just say "I don't mess with you, you don't mess with me" work out trades where it seems to fit with people but not be tied to them. if it stops working it stops working and you form new relationships.


[img]http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n52/havlik1/permie%20pics2/permiepotrait3pdd.jpg[/img]

"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The benefits, I think, are really obvious. 

Food bill drops in half.

Cooking time drops by 80%

Dishes drops by 40%

Buy a new tractor and get 90% off!

Any time you wanna play scrabble or poker, you can usually get a game going on a whim.  The converse, folks seem interested in getting a game going with you.

Meals are shared with lots of nice folks. 

Any farm job you set out to do has three or four other people there elbow to elbow with you.  Some farm jobs mysteriously get done and you never even knew about it. 

Cool, artistic stuff sometimes just shows up. 

If you need to take a week off, you don't have to find somebody to watch the place/animals.

Want a big gob of land?  The price is 90% off!

Then there are the downsides .....  the trick is to find a path that accentuates the upsides and mitigates the down sides.



paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Bytesmiths wrote:

Whenever I catch myself starting a sentence with "I can't imagine," I stop and ask myself if, perhaps, I simply lack imagination in this case.

I see a lot of negtalk here, and many unfounded claims.


Whenever I catch myself using the term "negtalk", I stop and ask myself if, perhaps, I simply am being negative.

I think it is fair for somebody to say "I'm trying on your ideas, but they just don't seem to fit."  In fact, I think it is really cool that they tried!  And then they take the time to find the words to say "here's what rubs me funny" - they are, in their own way, trying to say "help me understand."

As for the topic at hand ...  I find perpetual struggle in community.  When I look to the model communities, I see all sorts of stuff that rubs me funny.  Yet I have a powerful craving for community.  Somewhere out there is a fit for me. 

And, it seems, that community, as demonstrated today, might not be a fit for Leah.  Perhaps there is something that is a fit, only she is not yet aware of it.




paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Bytesmiths wrote:
I have no problem with that. She starts out subjective: "I can think of..." and "I can't imagine..." then turns judgemental: "It works much better..." I would have been much happier with "I think it works much better for me..."


You make an excellent point.  I, too, would be much happier if people could just talk to me the way I want. 

But ... these damn people just keep yammering on in their own way, not the way I want them to talk. 

Sometimes I think about how it is quite a miracle that folks can communicate at all.  With all the goofy ways there are to talk, and all the different crazy ideas people have .... 

Yup - lots of less than entirely accurate information. 

As for folks having made up their mind:  Yup - some folks say their mind is made up.  And, mysteriously, they keep reading.  I don't know about you, but I kinda like that they keep reading.  It makes me think that there is that glimpse of hope that they might change their mind.

I think your post is an excellent example of my experience with communication in community:  folks getting powerful upset over the way other folks talk.  Before you can talk about everything, you have to master the dance of walking on eggshells so that if you wish to express yourself, you need find a way to say it so it doesn't offend anybody.  Hoooooooweee!  Suddenly, community can become a helluva chore!  I know more than a few people that have given up on intentional community because it just wears a soul out.  It seems some people have infinite energy to be upset - and those that don't have that much energy for that sort of thing get plum tuckered.

You know what would be cool?  I would really like to have an expert on community stop by here and say the words that will lift Leah up and get her all tasted up and wanting to be part of community in a big way.  Some sort of message that is so heavy on the positive stuff and without any chiding or "negtalk" ....  something really inspiring!  Something that really shows what good communication is all about.  Something that really sets a good standard. 

In the meantime, I guess it's just us.  Bumbling along and making the best of it. 

I think that in time, we'll all be a little richer for the experience, even though we're not the ultimate in communication.


paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Bytesmiths wrote:
Why does someone come into a thread about "intentional community" and start right off knocking it?


Lessee:  Leah's post count is ....  1007

"Bytesmiths" post count is .... 7

So Leah has been a regular here for a long time.  She is powerfully interested in everything all of us talk about.  She's cool that way. 

Granted, she seems to be not a big fan of IC.  But I think the idea will grow on her in time. 

And I like that she uses her real name as her display name.  It feels .... proper ... and open .... and good.

Those who are interested enough in community to learn about it pick up the vocabulary and the tools needed. Those who don't just claim it doesn't work. Encouraging the latter won't attract the former.


Even though you say it as if it is absolute fact, I choose to relabel that as your opinion and not absolute fact.  And I have a different opinion. 

I'm rather keen on encouraging everybody.

I'm called out for being critical.


Just so we're clear:  are you concerned because you think I'm criticizing your criticism of her criticism? 

I don't really have a point to make.  I just thought it would be funny to say that. 

Here is a collection of really important points:  I like Leah.  I also like to have new folks come by and share interesting thoughts.  And I don't like it when somebody suggests that somebody else on this forum is anything less than perfect - that kinda seems to me that somebody cannot wrestle with the issue, so they try to beat up on the people.  And it really irks me when somebody does this with somebody that has been such a lovely contributor for such a long time. 

So, I would like to suggest that you show your colors as a guardian of the community spirit:  demonstrate the strength of character that comes from living in community.  Will you allow others to have a different opinion?  Will you allow others to be at the beginning of a learning curve on a topic?


Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
To me, an IC seems like both a wonderful idea and practically an impossibility.  How's that for sitting on the fence?

The problem that I see is in the programming.  You can't program people to be the way you want.  You can try, but they're going to end up hating you, and you're going to be incredibly frustrated.

And the link with the programming problems is the ownership problem.  Who owns the land, the LLC or the people as a group, or individuals?  Getting past THAT problem alone seems like a monumental task!

If one person or a small group owns the land, the community at large is at the mercy of their decisions.  So it works fine for 15 years, then the owners have a terrific blowup and some of them want to be vindictive.  What happens then?

If the people as a group own the land, does everyone have to agree on changes, or majority, or the ones who've put in the most money?

If the IC starts out as one piece of land (say 100 acres) that is divided into a certain number of parcels (say 40), what happens when some of them want to change the focus, or quit the group, or start a feud within but won't leave?

While I am unlikely to join an IC, it is still an interesting concept to me, so I still stop by and read the posts.  What's the problem if I don't agree with you?  Why MUST I agree with you?  Is this the 'boss problem' coming to the fore before we even had a chance to meet?  So you want to be part of an IC, but you want one who will agree with you on all matters?  And what do you intend to do if others get upset, and stamp their feet and say, "Well, MAKE me!"

We've got people here that can't even agree with basics on a discussion board, or agree to disagree, and we're going to form a seamless community?

Sheesh!

Sue
              


Joined: Nov 08, 2008
Posts: 133
Location: West Iowa
I honestly couldn't join such a community.  I have looked on the internet in the past looking at such websites and seems to be alot of idealism and romanticism that makes a person all warm and fuzzy inside. 
On the flipside though,  I don't own my own land, and work with my parents, compromising on issues, so I can see the possibilities behind such communities.  I like the idea of shared resources, it doesn't make much sense to own every thing myself, and then another person owns their own stuff, and its just a bunch of consumption and waste. 
Matt Ferrall


Joined: Dec 26, 2008
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
    
    4
Havent time to fully explore this thread but I can say that I'm not interested in ICs,only because my personality is incompatable.I relise that at some point people are going to have to form back into tribes in order to survive and I happily await that day but I'm not interested in volantarily doing it.Mainly it has to do with power relation abiguity.Im happy helping someone on their thing and Im happy directing someone on mine but I cant stand to pontificate on stuff together.I like the slogan "Lead,follow,or get out of the way".Their is an IC neer me and I can get 5x as much done as them becaus I dont have to articulate what I want to do before I do it.I'm very creative and I like my projects to unfold as they do with found materials along the way and ever changing desighn.Most of my decisions are based on intuition and if I have to explain what I'm doing before hand,then its too much of a burdan and I just lose all my exitement.But in the unfettered space Im in now,I greet each day with the exitement of following whatever inspiration comes my way.I'm on  my own time frame and open for any spontinaiety that might thrust itself onto me.Most ICs that I've experienced spend alot of time negotiating and discussing real stuff and more ambiguitous stuff like feelings.Any way the thought of that just really makes me deppressed.In concensus,the people that block hold all the power so its easier to crush spontinaity then it is to move forward.So,untill I have to,I will continue to enjoy the community that I live in.Not an IC but a good OL'fasioned americana community with all its unique problems.


There is nothing permanent in a culture dependent on such temporaries as civilization.

www.feralfarmagroforestry.com
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 969
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
I'm at least somewhat interested in intentional communities.  I've had a thread about it (roundly trashed and thrashed) at HomesteadingToday (Paul may remember that one).  However, I don't think I'd want to get involved with a commune-type of community.  I like the village/small farms model better, where everyone owns their own place, and works together IF THEY CHOOSE TO.  Each person or family would be completely responsible for their own finances, property, and lives.  I've visited a couple of Christian communities, and was tempted by one, but we had doctrinal differences, and, in the long run, I think it was for the best.  The families had their own homes, but ate at least one meal a day together, and had work assignments.  It had started out much more communally, with one large building that everyone lived in to start out, but it worked a lot better once they got individual homes built, even though they were very small.

There have been living arrangements similar to the intentional communities idea that did work over the long haul, but they all had one person in charge.  I'm thinking of monasteries, feudal estates, and so on.  As long as you have a wise and good person in charge, everything works well, but if you get someone not so wise or good, it could be a miserable existence.  Human nature being what it is, I don't think I'd want to have to count on the person in charge always being wise and good....

Kathleen
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I don't think I'd want to get involved with a commune-type of community.


I'm with you on that one.  I think it can be a breeding ground for stress.

I like the village/small farms model better, where everyone owns their own place, and works together IF THEY CHOOSE TO.
 

I guess my preference would lean toward multi family households where folks work together if they choose to. 

I like your emphasis.  I think there is a lot to be said about doing something out of choice rather than obligation.

As long as you have a wise and good person in charge, everything works well, but if you get someone not so wise or good, it could be a miserable existence.


Excellent point.

And this opens an area of one of my concerns with consensus systems:  For a consensus based system to work, perhaps every last person has to be wise and good.  otherwise the whole community can be oppressed by any one individual.


paul wheaton
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Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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In my travels, I have yet to encounter anybody that says "We are practicing pseudoconsensus!"  Yet I have heard many proclaim "We are practicing consensus, not pseudoconsensus!"

My concern embraces all practices of consensus. 





paul wheaton
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Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I think my understanding of consensus may be a bit deeper than you think.  Not only have I had long talks with Diana about it, but I have visited many IC's and discussed not only the beauty of consensus, but the .... parts that are not discussed in the brochure.  Several of these communities had professional trainers that were part of their communities.  I've discussed nearly all of my discoveries with Diana.

I've helped organize a panel of consensus experts to come together to share with a significant audience the ups, downs, ins and outs of consensus in all of the different ways that they have done it.  With and without training. 

I've participated in so many consensus based meetings ...  about half went as smooth as silk and from the other half .... wow ... some people can be really mean. 

And the part that is most important to me:  with all of the farms and ecovillages I visited, I paid extra close attention to how much I felt they accomplished in the time they were there, and compared that to their organizations structure.  In nearly all cases, consensus was tied to non productivity. 

And here is an interesting tidbit.  There were two situations where there was productivity even though they said they were practicing consensus.  But, in reality, what happened was ....  there was one person in the community that was trusted.  So under the guise of "consensus", they all just did what the trusted person said to do.  And, in one of those, a young person came and got a bit big for her britches and .... it all ended.  (for the record, in these two cases, I was strictly an observer)

I heard one "consensus expert" say that if you cannot make decision in a reasonable amount of time, the meeting leader calls for a majority vote and that that is consensus.  "iscussion until there are no more concerns" is pseudo-consensus.  Wow.  I think I'm gonna stick to the opposite, but the story is cute.

I have now looked at so many different implementations of consensus, I'm just tired.  I guess it is not for me. 

And it was this very thread which put a very powerful idea in my head.  Something that I like so much, I'm going to say it again:  And this opens an area of one of my concerns with consensus systems:  For a consensus based system to work, perhaps every last person has to be wise and good.  otherwise the whole community can be oppressed by any one individual.

At this moment, I just finished three weeks of training under the mighty, the amazing, the glorious ... Sepp Holzer.  There's a guy that has really accomplished a great deal.  In my imagination, if he tried to do his thing within a consensus based community, he would not have accomplished a tenth of what he wanted to.  I can imagine something where could have lived in a consensus based community and he accomplished two or three times more because people would have recognized his greatness and supported his excellent ideas.  But ...  I would think the odds of that are about 1 in a thousand.  As is, his ideas were so unconventional that the government repeatedly tried to put him out of business.  His own neighbors rallied against him.

Of course, in hindsight, the neighbors and the government now respect him for the genius he is.    But before, they were certain he was a lunatic that should be stopped.

Rather than go on with "shoulda" and "coulda" and whatnot, I've been trying to focus on what is. 

Consensus in IC's ....  a rich and diverse topic. 

paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Bytesmiths wrote:
If I understand you properly, Paul, you seem to feel it is more important to "get things done" (whatever that means), than to have universal buy-in, and that the two are mutually exclusive. Please correct me if this summary is inaccurate.


It would seem that you have erred.  I do not see these as mutually exclusive.

Bytesmiths wrote:
In your assessment, "In nearly all cases, consensus [is] tied to non productivity."


I'm not sure why you felt the need to change my quote.  It makes me feel like the message is a little different in a way that I'm not comfortable with.

Bytesmiths wrote:
In your assessment, "In nearly all cases, consensus [is] tied to non productivity." I didn't see in that assessment how happy the people were, how satisfied they were with decisions, how permanent and stable the population was, etc.


Then allow me to elaborate.

In comparison to farms or group homes that are not consensus based, I would say that those in consensus systems were less happy and there seemed to be far more population turnover.   As for decisions, in the non-consensus systems, they just didn't think of it.

Bytesmiths wrote:
On the other hand, I agree that a well-run dictatorship is more likely to "get things done," but I'm not convinced those under the dictator are very happy, or satisfied with decisions made without their consent, or likely to stick around for the long run (if they have a choice).


It seems there are a lot of examples of long and healthy relationships in the non-consensus systems.  They seem, to me, to be easier to find than in consensus systems.

I guess it would make a big difference in who the property owner is:  a decent person, or an ass.

Bytesmiths wrote:
If you are working with a group of people, you ignore the "soft," invisible things that get done via consensus -- such as buy-in, satisfaction, and stability -- at your peril. If you don't hold a whip or a paycheck over them, good luck "getting things done" over the long haul.


The woofers seem to cope pretty good.   Working for nothing - just for the pleasure of being there.  Hell, at the bullock brothers farm (non-consensus), people pay to intern there, where they often work for years - and love it!  

Bytesmiths wrote:
(Since this is an intentional community thread, I'm making the assumption that some group of people are involved. The "go it alone" versus "go with a group" discussion is an entirely different matter.)


This is all about collective groups.  

So .... in summary ...  I have participated in some really beautiful consensus groups where everything was smooth as silk.  And, I have participated in a broad spectrum of many flavors of less-than-optimal-consensus.  

And I have seen many groups of people function without consensus.  Typically something hierarchical.  Again, a broad spectrum.  

And, it is my horribly obnoxious opinion that I think I would fit better in a non-consensus community.  I continue to learn and explore this component in my overall mission of being part of a full farm eco system.



paul wheaton
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Posts: 14856
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I have my experiences.  They are in the past.  I rely on those experiences to help me form my opinions.  Those are in the present.  I see nothing strange about that.

It's such a huge difference to say, "It doesn't work," than to say, "It doesn't work for me."


I would like to think that I have always qualified my statements.

You (and others) seem to think that successful consensus somehow requires that all who take part are some kind of super-persons. But I think they only need agree to learn and use certain skills, such as compassionate communication and empathy.


I don't think this is true, but I do think there is a lot of truth to it.  Setting aside what ingredients are required in order to have successful consensus, I would like to focus, for a moment, on the need to acquire something.

I know, for a fact, that nearly everybody feels they are ready to practice consensus after five minutes.  They have great faith in their own communication skills.  And the idea that they have to do some sort of training first is, to them, just silly.  And anyone that suggests it is not only being rude, but is just plain wrong. 

I want to emphasize my use of "nearly everybody" - leaving room for exceptions to the rule. 

So:  we could form a community and say "you don't get a say until you've been to the training."  This position alone is a birthplace for a lot of headaches. 

But, lets say we do that.  So now everybody has been to the training.  And let us suppose we have two people in our group that have been to the training, but they are not "super persons" as you call them.  It is my opinion that they have all the power to confound all of my projects - if that is their choice.

So .... this leads me to the logical conclusion that ...  if there is one party in charge that is a super person - good and decent to the core .... and that person is the only person I have to convince, then I think I can be part of that.  But if there is a group of 12 and I have to convince the other 11, including one or two that are not super people - well, the challenges are far greater. 

IMOO.

paul wheaton
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It seems to me that you are talking about another form of pseudo-consensus, often called "consensus everything."


Jan, if you feel you need to stick labels on my stuff, you do what you gotta do. 

In the snippet in question, I was referring to a general form of consensus.  I was attempting to make a generalist point.  A point that seems to have escaped you because you needed a label I guess.

We use consensus as a delegation and ratification mechanism. We don't hold big meetings to figure out what to do about a hangnail.


Jan,

I'm pretty sure this thread is about gulching.  Perhaps you meant to start a new thread to talk about how your group does consensus?

Above all else, community (intentional or conventional) is about trust building.


You state that as absolute fact.  Whereas I always thought it could be subjective.

One can certainly find good and bad examples of just about any governance system on earth! But that doesn't mean that (for example) all democracies are good and all monarchies are bad.


And there is my point.

Clearly, a consensus model is just right for you.  Well, a very particular consensus model is just right for you. 

I remain open to the idea of a consensus model, but I have developed a lot of concerns over time.  And because of these concerns, and because of other organizational observations, I have come to the conclusion that a hierarchical system may be a better fit for me.  Hence, this thread. 

I think that what drives/pulls/moves me is the idea of a full farm eco system.  And I think that this is something that cannot be achieved by one person.  So once you travel into having multiple people, better understanding of how community works is wise. 

So I travel and visit and travel and visit ... I ask lots of questions ... I try to wrap my head around this massive topic.  I've now been a part of several communities and have tried a variety of things. 

At some point soon I need to document what I think would be good.  Soon.
Miles Flansburg
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Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 2120
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
    
  52
Sorry to dig up this old thread but I have an interest in the concept of Gulching as a form of IC based on information I learned from Rand and Claire Wolfe and the folks at another forum called the Mental Militia. Here is a link to a good explanation of gulching.

http://wikibin.org/articles/gulching.html

In my mind the difference between Gulching and other forms of IC is that Gulching is more "Libertarian", as the article above suggests.
The zero agression priciple (ZAP) is key to a successful gulch. This article by L.Neil Smith explains the concept very well.

http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2009/tle500-20090104-02.html

So as long as we all practice the ZAP we do not need to rely on consenses. It doesn't matter if you agree with my views or what skills I practice. If I provide a service to others  they will trade with me. As long as we are not "agressive " towards each other we live in harmony.

I think, for me, a community must allow me ownership, and freedom. I will work hard if I have ownership and the freedom to practice my skills in exchange for the things I am not very good at.

Each of us has skills to contribute to a community. For example I have had several conversations in my life where I have sugested that my skill as a gardener could be traded for others skills in warfare. In other words if you help defend my family and I against agression, I will feed you and yours.
Todd Chinnock


Joined: Mar 25, 2011
Posts: 5
What do you think www.commongoodbank.com could do for IC's and the permaculture movement?
 
 
subject: gulching
 
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