|Bill of rights/social codes||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Mandel (dlmandelrcip.com)|
|Date: Mon, 6 Jan 1997 04:53:43 -0600|
Marti of Salt Lake wrote: "... We need to conciously create the structure for our interactions, socializing and physically working together. ..." I admire the ambition, and sometimes I really do wish we had some better written principles of behavior and participation around here, but at the same time: Three-plus years in a cohousing community have taught me, and I think most of my neighbors would agree, that the dynamics of living here are at once too complicated and too unpredictable to be successfully subject to a lot of specific rigid rules. For instance, that old bugaboo, pets: We talked about it before we moved in and adopted what seemed like reasonable numerical limits. They're even enshrined in our CC&Rs. No one is supposed to have more than two cats. But now, five years later, we have found ourselves again engaged in a difficult discussion on the subject. The original rule didn't anticipate: @ A couple of extreme cat lovers joined the group after the initial decision. @ The principled difference some people see between indoor and outdoor cats. @ Living in an old, established neighborhood, we have been blessed/cursed with dozens of stray cats. @ It turns out we have widely divergent feelings about them. @ A veterinarian has come to live in the community since we moved in. Among other things, he fixes strays that can be tamed enough to be caught. We've spent much time at three general meetings recently trying to deal with the issue, and little by little, we have, for the most part, come to appreciate each others' points of view. That, I believe, could be far more important than the more concrete results. We adopted some guidelines about numbers, feeding and cleanup, but they incorporate quite a bit of flexibility, certainly more than many of the non-cat people would have wanted. Time will tell how it works out. My main point here is the following advice: Don't waste too much time and energy on making rigid rules for everyday life, especially before you move in. The reality is going to be different from what you expect in at least some important ways. Also, some of the people will undoubtedly join after you make rules, and surely you will want to consider their feelings as well. Finally, you will likely find that for some things, the "right thing to do" is to change the rules from time to time solely for the sake of change. For instance: Several times already we have revamped the systems by which we allocate the work of maintaining and governing the community. We are in the throes of doing it yet again. And while maybe the new plan we adopt will be a bit more effective in some ways, I'm sure it too will be replaced, or at least amended, when it grows stale. We're learning that there is no perfect system for regulating imperfect people; was it Tom Jefferson or Tom Paine who mused mischievously that societies need revolutions every once in a while to keep them vibrant. David Mandel, Southside Park, Sacramento
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