|RE: Enforcing group agreements||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (RobsanExchange.MICROSOFT.com)|
|Date: Wed, 24 Jul 1996 17:13:45 -0500|
Using your cat example, my point is you have no cat agreement anymore. Since people don't honor it, or know about it, its worthless and anyone who comes in to the community can have as many cats as they want. So really what has happened is that your agreement has changed, and you just haven't acknowledged the change yet. Maybe you never will bother to acknowlege the change, but anybody who wants to can have more than two cats because that has already been established as the operational protocol. Anyone who you try and limit to the agreement will point to the others not in compliance and say, they are not bound by this rule so why should I be? And they are completely right. Then you find one day you have way more cats than anybody wants, but you've hosed yourself by not honoring your previous agreements. The deeper issue is that people don't care about the things you ALL worked to agree on. In my opinion, this is dysfunctional in a cooperative community and is something that would really worry me if it happened in my community. Sometimes these things happen because of conflict avoidance, don't want to hassle people or even talk about a difficult agreement or situation, sometimes everyone agrees tacitly to let things slide or to make an exception. Where this can cause problems is when people join your community based on the written agreements, then they find out they are not honored, or that what's written as agreed to isn't what actually is. What happens then is a HUGE undermining of ALL the agreements you have in writing, because if you can't trust one, can you trust any? Again, this is primarily when new people come in, they don't have the history of the why things are, so they take the written agreements at face value and expect everyone else does too. That's why keeping these up to date is good idea. For example, in our written pet policy we have a clause that pets are to be spaid. A member decided to get a dog to raise puppies to sell and went around and talked to the group about it and at that time no one had a problem with it. We were going to update our policies document at a board meeting but never got around to it. Later a couple joined who saw that clause and thought it was great because they have strong feelings about breeding animals and selling them... Oops, they later found out this had been sort of bypassed and they immediately started questioning all the agreements, because , to their point of view, they could not rely on what we PUT IN WRITING what we agreed to. This is still an unresolved issue in our group, and eventually we will have to deal with it. I'm still not sure they trust any of our agreements. As a group, updating such things is a lower priority than the millions of other things to do so it doesn't get done, and we then have trust problems. Another point about our spaid thing is that to everyone at the time this was not a big issue, nobody was really passionate about it. Now there is someone who this is one of the most important things about Sharingwood to them, and its not enforced. I would said, so what? But to them, its a top 5 issue. It is currently an unresolved conflict within the group. Since the Dog in question is going away soon, it will cease to be an issue directly, but we still will need to retouch that agreement and discuss keeping the spaid part or not. We are avoiding this conflict until the dog leaves, but we will deal with it. At Sharingwood, everyone who lives in our neighborhood is bound by the rules, whether they are kin, just visiting for a weekend, or a live in lover, mother in law, etc. Often as temporary situations, they don't know the rules, but transgressions get noticed and the rule will be explained. We expect the owners to do this, but its not a big deal. For instance, any kids who comes to visit and rides a bike has to wear a helmet. No exceptions. If they didn't bring one they borrow one or don't ride their bike. Its enforced not only by all the adults, but also by every kid. The other day I test rode my bike to see if I had my gears adjusted right and three people all told me to put on a helmet! I was annoyed, but also went and put on my helment. I couldn't imagine blowing off my neighbors and not following the helment rule, it would be totally the wrong thing to do. Honoring agreements has a lot to do with the intregity of your community. If you have bogus agreements that nobody follows, you should ditch them publically and delebrately. Whereas maybe you couldn't imagine living in a place where community agreements are enforced. I couldn't imagine living in a place where they were not. If you don't care about an agreement that everyone made, and nobody follows it, but you keep the agreement how could you have any community intgrety? If burning trash is not allowed, but its done by 5 people with impunity, what does that say about the intregity of community agreements? What does that say about the value people hold for the time and energy putting together an agreement? What does that say about the trust people have in what you agree to? Sure stuff goes out of date and gets fixed later, but to have people blowing off things that you ALL agreed to sounds like really dysfunctional conflict avoidance is going on. I think would really unacceptable for most my neighbors to have someone come live in our neighborhood and blow off our rules. I can't even imagine that happening, as the person would get such flack as they would leave, or we would change the agreement if a change was needed. Rob Sandelin >-----Original Message----- Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 1996 1:35 PM Subject: Re: Enforcing group agreements In a message dated 96-07-24 13:54:33 EDT, Rob writes: >In my experience,if you do not deal with broken agreements right away and right up >front, then you effectively have NO agreement. There are 3 things that come to mind 1) We have several people who are ATTACHED to a member of the group - 2 are lovers, one is a sister. These 3 people are not ATTACHED to the community, but to the individuals they live with. The community accepts that, flows around them, and hopes that with time, they will join in/ contribute more to the community as a whole. All 3 contribute a lot IN THEIR OWN WAY, mostly by giving a lot to individual within the community. All 3 are very stubborn people, and not easily influenced. So they say " I didn't agree to anything" because they don't go to meetings. 2) We have several people who over achieve in several areas of life, and lots of things are left undone on a regular basis. They drive some folks nuts, while other folks accept them as true eccentrics and others rejoice in their flamboyant style. Each of these individuals has different groups that accept/reject their behavior, yet overall it causes a more tolerant attitude to prevail. "Your friend drives me crazy, but you put up with my friend's ways, so I guess it evens out" 3) Many of our agreements are "So what?" kind of agreements. We agreed not to have more than 2 cats per household - 3 have more. We agreed not to let dogs off a leash on the property, but one is old and dying and the owner lets him off now and again. We agreed not to leave sheets tacked up to the windows after 1 year, yet several folks still haven't gotten around to putting up proper window coverings. What I am saying is, I don't want to live in a situation where everything is so neat and clean, every little thing is mandated, every breach noted. Does the whole group really have to discuss giving the dying dog special dispensation? No, because we are small enough to overlook these small breaches. If we were 40 households, would we be so tolerant? >If agreements are never enforced or followed, whats the point of making agreements at all? Important agreements are generally followed, and the kind of general policy stuff that some folks ignore is OK to have in general. I mean, it would be a disaster if 20 households each had 3 or 4 cats!! 3 households violating the general policy has not created a crisis at this point in time.We are not good at enforcing stuff. By and large we rely on peer pressure. Some folks are much more susceptable to peer pressure than others. And some agreements were reached under the negative impact of consensus " I don't care enough to say anything because I have better things to do than sit in this meeting for another hour." Mela Silva Southside Park Sacramento CA
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