|Re: TRG membership and community||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: John Ladwig (jladwigsoils.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 12 Jan 93 08:24 CST|
Fred H Olson -- WB0YQM <FRED%JWH [at] vx.cis.umn.edu> writes on 11 January 93 at 20:38 CST > Finally I get around to asking Andre, John or Mark (TRG members): > Does TRG in fact make welcome *only* those who are science fiction > fans? Hardly. It's just that when you've been putting a 2000+ person annual convention plus several smaller events on an annual basis, all on volunteer labor, in a real live 501c(3) organization, you find out who's interested in working together on interesting large projects like cohousing. SF fandom also has traditionally had a respect for alternative family structures that I have not seen in the broader Minnesotan and American culture. That has led some of us who had dreams of a shared living arrangement to fix on cohousing as a useful model. We are not looking to recreate the starship Enterprise, or the world of Ursula K. LeGuin's _The_Dispossessed_; we are a group of people who like to work together, and like to work on living together. We'd like others to work with us, but we haven't been real pushy or obvious about it. Putting on large volunteer-run events requires non-traditional decision-making structures and techniques as well. Minn-STF, our local SF organization, has a handbook of several different ways to "vote", along with a detailed description of each one's biases and strengths. We have simple majority, Australian ballot, iterated approval (we may have invented this one), and several forms of modified iterated approval. In the SF organization (and, carried like sourdough starter into TRG) there is a cultural tradition of making major decisions (our main annual convention has a budget well into five figures) in a spirit of laughter, affection, and punning. Oh, the punning... We already knew how to trust members of a social group to "get together and come up with something" in a volunteer organization before we formed TRG. We know that mistakes will get made (we've made them), and we know how to recover from mistakes and still have a healthy group (we've done that too). TRG isn't a "first date" for the current membership. I imagine it could look insular from outside, but we hope to attract new members who are secure in who they are, and can come to TRG with both strength and flexibility. We figure that those who get our jokes and amuse us with theirs will stay. The consensus model of decision making was a new idea, and we've developed some pretty useful group process techniques to support it. All TRG decisions of any consequence are made in consensus, although the group as a whole need not (and usually is not) involved in each and every level of decision making. There are delegations of responsibility or charges for specific missions, like negotiating the option on a property which is on the market for $1.1 million, at a meeting which will only have three TRG members negotiating. We trust one another. We have reason to; we've seen each other run conventions and the like. And after talking informally to several members of the Winslow (Bainbridge Island/Seattle) group, group process and trust means a helluva lot in cohousing. As a bit of history (which may be skewed; Victor is probably the best one to tell the story, but he's not on the list), several of the members of what is now TRG have been discussing ways to do something like cohousing since about 1988 or so. Two centers formed early, one discussing the formation of an urban living center, one a rural. The groups overlapped in the team of Victor Raymond, a neighborhood organizer with extensive experience in tenant and community relations, and his partner Lynn Litterer, a biochemist working in the local vet school. When the McCammett book came out (I first saw a copy in August of 1990, when Victor came over to me and said "It has a name..."). Victor and the rest of the informal discussion group members started talking about our ideas to others at, of all places, science fiction conventions, and with the people we work on them with. Thus the SF-community basis of TRG. > [An aside: the dreaded bane of Eforums, 'flame wars' did come to mind while > reading the recent messages here but I was pleased to see the articles did > not descend to this level. I wish to clarify that the above question > should not be construed as an attack on TRG but a sincere question that I > have heard raised.] And I'm happy to treat it as a sincere question. In fact, it's a question we've raised internally, and more than once. [ Disclaimer - I am speaking as an individual member of TRG. I am not charged by the membership as a whole with any type of spokesman authority ] At this time, we at TRG have not made a significant general recruiting effort. We did have visitors during the period of our option on the Lexington School, but they lost interest after we had to let the option go (sorry to hear about the well tests; our option was released in part due to estimated costs of asbestos and underground oil tank abatement). As a member of the TRG "ethiquette" (a blend of ethics and etiquette) working subgroup, we are talking actively about the issue of broadening our base. It will be a necessity, as we are currently about twelve "doors", or individual living units, and it looks like the project would need to be about 25-30 doors in order to do some of the things we'd like to see in cohousing. We are exploring strategies for "marketing" ourselves, and will actively pursue them once we have identified a new site. TRG welcomes any visitor interested in cohousing, whether or not they are interested in applying for membership. -- TRG UMN Department of Soil Science; St. Paul, MN Internet: john.ladwig [at] soils.umn.edu Fidonet: John Ladwig 1:282/8 jladwig [at] torpedo.forestry.umn.edu
Who's welcome to live here Fred H Olson -- WB0YQM, January 11 1993
- Re: TRG membership and community John Ladwig, January 12 1993
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