|RE: work and expectations||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Jim Snyder-Grant (jimsghotmail.com)|
|Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 11:33:05 -0600|
I can hardly say that New View (Acton MA) has a well-worked out plan for all the ongoing work, but I''m happy to share my perspective on our experiences so far in case that is helpful. We certainly saw a big change in people's interest in being involved as we moved from the development stage into the move-in. To a large extent, people needed to focus on getting their houses moved-in to, and/or working extra hard to pay what for most people was higher monthly house costs. Also, as more kids were born, more time was absorbed in child care. Unfortunately, the work changed, but did not get less. In some ways it grew. Gone were the intense meetings wrestling with make-or-break decisions in the development process: instead we had a LOT of maintenance to do, including the start-up landscaping, most onerously taking care of all the new grass we put in. Sidebar on grass: Sure, many of us wanted, and still want, more sustainable alternatives to grass. But, it's cheap to put in and we had to cover the bare dirt with something, and we were cutting our landscaping budget to the bone. Second, our fine grass consultant wisely (I think) urged us to put extra time and money in now, so that the grass COULD be way lower maintenance in the future (deep strong roots...). That meant lots of watering, and then fertilizing & liming, and then of course mowing. The group had agreed to take on some of the landscaping work in exchange for lower development costs, but few if any knew all that that would entail. Suddenly, as the summer of '96 heated up, EVERYONE was asked to water. This is not a simple task, as we had elaborate brittle systems of hoses to cover our many oddly-shaped acres. This caused resentment or rebellion in those who did not have the time or energy to water, and burn out and resentment among those who picked up the slack. We tried a variety of ways to cope, such as: -Hired some high school students for some of the watering. -Had each of the 4 'neighborhoods' meet to figure out how to get the work done for their areas. -Listened to each other's complaints and concerns about all the work at meetings. -Hired a professional for some of the liming. -Paid someone in the group a bit (probably less than minimum wage, overall, given all the extra hours) to coordinate. As the need for watering slowed down, the maintenance and landscaping committees started being able to work through all the other work that was needed. They tried a variety of strategies: -Continue to have each of our 4 'neighborhood' groupings have a 'captain' or two who kept up with what was needed to be done & called together volunteers to get the work done. -Have occaisonal work days. These sometimes had fairly good turnout, and were fun especially at the beginning or middle of the day. Sometimes, though, there was so much work to do that there was some frustration over working a long time and only getting through a bit of the list. Also, the turnout dwindled through the day, which also made the endings not feel so community-building: just a few diehards flailing away at a task too big for them.. -Continued to talk at meetings, in more and less structured ways, about what was working and what wasn't, and what people were thinking and feeling about it. This year, inspired mostly by conversations with folks from Pioneer Valley (Amherst MA), we tried out a 'team' approach. The group was divided into 3 teams, each of which worked one week per month. Tasks were prioritized by the landscaping and maintenence committees. In the smaller teams, it seemed easier to talk about and work through the various levels of energy and commitement and time people had. Each team figured out what sort of combination of work-days and individual tasks it would try on to get stuff done. We haven't evaluated how the first summer & fall of work teams was for people: I know it worked well for a few people, but I think we will need to make some refinements based on what we learn when we evaluate. An earlier version of the work team proposal had people paying an extra fee if they chose not to work their share of hours for a particular month, but that discussion didn't reach a conclusion, and was dropped from the final work-team proposal that passed. Views varied: Some didn't want people to have an easy way to 'buy their way out', some thought that that it was wrong to force people to pay extra just because they had too much to do between kids and work etc., or who couldn't work because of physical. limitations; others thought it was a reasonable way to give choices to people while still getting the work done one way or another. The budget cycle this year gave us a structured way to talk more about paid labor vs. volunteers. We decided to budget as if we would need some paid labor for our maintenance tasks, and then charge each committee with the task of seeing if there were effective ways to use volunteer labor to save money and simultaneously create fine oppurtnities for community-building. So far, for example, we have volunteer labor to clear all the sidewalks of snow, with a rotating set of volunteers who ride our mini-tractor along with lots of volunteer shovellers. The big roads get plowed by a professional. We have also budgeted (a bit) for an in-house maintenance coordinator, who will supplement the efforts of the maintenance and landscaping committees to (we hope) better identify and prioritize the work that needs to be done. We will see what 1998 brings... -Jim Snyder-Grant New View Acton MA (Where we are in the middle of recruiting for a new household, raising individual donations for extra items in the common house, and raising money for a loan fund for households that can't meet the final CH bills now, having successful potlucks about twice a week in lieu of a common house, having emergency meetings to agree on when and how we ought to use our right of first refusal for the upcoming unit sale, and worrying about the weather (will it be a $5,000 plowing winter like last year, or a $16,000 plowing winter like two years ago? Our budget is in between...)) >From: Julie Ellen Boleyn <ellen [at] uruk.org> >Subject: RE: work and expectations > > Judy Baxter wrote: > > We pay for snowplowing ( we have two long driveways + > > parking areas) and someone to clean the common living > > room and a few other things, once a month 2 hours. > > Other than that, we do what is done. > >I am very curious how you, and other communities, have decided what to >pay for, and what to do your selves. Obviously, if something is not >getting done, that needs to be done, you pay for it. But there are a few >questions that my community has gotten stuck on: > > 1. How do you decide it needs to be done (what are your > criterion)? > 2. Who decides it needs to be done (who makes the > recommendations to the larger group, in general) ? > >The group I'm with has toyed with the idea of a 'Don't Fall Through The >Cracks' committee that would field these questions of what's not getting >done, why, and make a recommendation for dealing with it. Unfortunately, >IMHO, many members felt this group would have too much 'power'. So I'm >very curious how you have dealt with this. > >Personally, I like the idea of the DFTTC Committee-- and I feel the lack >of support for the idea may stem from distrust, rather than real >objection. But I'm not sure. The idea seems logical to me... but perhaps >that is precisely the problem? > > - Julie > Trillium Hollow > --------------- > Where we've begun framing after completing our big concrete pours. The > site is a mess, with mud, rocks and more mud covering much of the site. > We're looking at moving in April or May, with only 5 more of the 30 or 31 > units to sell! > > ______________________________________________________ Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com
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