|Fwd: Through the looking glasses?||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: PattyMara (PattyMaraaol.com)|
|Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 17:27:51 -0700 (MST)|
--part1_67.d6685d.25b8ffe7_boundary Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit --part1_67.d6685d.25b8ffe7_boundary Content-Type: message/rfc822 Content-Disposition: inline Return-path: PattyMara [at] aol.com From: PattyMara [at] aol.com Full-name: PattyMara Message-ID: <e3.5dca88.25b8a8ef [at] aol.com> Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 13:07:43 EST Subject: Re: Through the looking glasses? To: Zen [at] iinet.net.au MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit In a message dated 1/20/00 12:26:05 AM, Zen [at] iinet.net.au writes: << How easily we can dive into our pain - the need for a tenant in one of the newly finished houses has divided the community. There are all sorts of assumptions flying about - it's like a snowball fight. After having caught a couple in the back of the head I've started ducking. Good people doing dumb things. How does this happen? >> OK, Zen, spill. The rest of the post was the good feeling stuff (kids and carols) which is entertaining and warm and fuzzy. But. One of the aspirations of my original "Through the Looking Glass" posts was to comment not only on the warmfuzzies, but to reveal the "warts and all" of community life. I suspect that you minimized your comments about the tenant "snowball fight" because the issue is too intense at the moment. So I'll contribute a story from Tierra Nueva that involves a renter which happened over six months ago. At the time it occurred, emotions were running so hot that I felt uneasy discussing it on the list. Tierra Nueva, on the central CA coast, has 27 homes. 25 are owned and occupied by members. The remaining 2 are rented out to tenants. One of the owners is local and involved actively in community life: business meetings, meals, work days etc. The other owner lives out of town and has not integrated into community life, but plans to once she retires and moves here in the next 5 years. After six months of her unit remaining empty because her real estate agent had trouble finding renters, she finally found a tenant, a middle aged woman from out of town who integrated slowly into the community. After a couple of months this first tenant found a second tenant to live the downstairs portion, a single man in his thirties, from out of state, new to the area. Within a few weeks, this new person, Pete (not his real name), was the topic of rife speculation among the mothers of young children in the community. Pete spent a great deal of time hanging out with the kids in the village playground, throwing the frisbee around, playing soccer. He didn't seem to be employed and had lots of free time. He did not attend meetings or meals, even when invited and encouraged. When engaged conversationally by various folks and asked about where he moved from, he would answer that he was just released from a prison...then laugh about it, jokingly. Pete had a knack for trying to joke about inappropriate things, including sexual innuendoes to members and guests in the common house. At the same time he was not getting along with his house tenant. After a few weeks of this nebulous interaction with adults and increasingly ardent playtime with the kids (mostly the 3-6 year olds) the mothers of Tierra Nueva were in a lather. Kids were not allowed to be with him alone, supervision was amped up, and talk soon spread to doing a backround check on Pete. Some were uneasy confronting him but others took it upon themselves to have a sit down with him and try to diffuse the tension. This went on for a few more weeks until it reached a fevered pitch. At this time most of the community members had been living on site less than 3 or 4 months, and some were still not moved in. It was a time of fatigue and over-extension. We saw the need for a community meeting...and decided to use the Open Space process (Harrison Owen) to see what would percolate up from the group as needing to be discussed. Sure nuf, it did get put up on the topics board as "Owner-Renter Relations" along with other topics like ping pong vs. pool table, community meal menus and who gets to use the workshop. It was heavily attended, lasted over 2 hours and was intense but honest. Pete hung in there for the whole time as parents explained to him how inappropriate his behavior *appeared* when he spent time with the young children without establishing a trust level first with the adults. There was a flurry of support for Pete by some of the men who suggested that accusations were gender related, because he is a single *man" and therefore stereotyped as dangerous by the women and mothers. Hoo baby. It was good stuff...difficult work and of course, just the beginning. After the meeting one of the moms made this comment privately to me: "Well, Pete's not a pervert, he's just a dufus". Tensions were diffused in the short run. Personally I made a promise to him to speak to him directly when I witnessed behaviors that were questionable or comments that were in poor taste. I have had to do this on a couple of occasions when Pete's "jokes" were inappropriate. He seems to be getting it slowly. Finally I suggested that he simply not make jokes with the women here. He stopped hanging with the kids, seems to be getting to know a few of the parents and attends meetings and meals occasionally. It has been a most interesting experience. I was surprised by the intensity of the distrust, the capacity for gossip to run rampant and the subtle expectations placed on renters to "fit in". Well, not everyone who comes to community does fit in, and it remains to be seen if Pete will stay. But it's not just renters. Some of the buyers have also had some difficulty settling in as well. We're working on a set of behaviors which we found in a Community magazine article called "Respects and Responsibilities" and some conflict resolution agreements. But it has taken us months of discussion. There is a reluctance to codify behavior. One of the best agreements we did consense was the children's version of R and R's So progress has been made. I'm going to bring up the R and R's for us "dults" at tonight's meeting, since I'm thinking about it. So that's my renter story, only able to tell it after six months of cooling off. Anymore stories from the naked city? Warts and all. Coheartedly, Patty Mara Gourley Tierra Nueva, cen CA coast, where after months of clear skies it is finally raining and we may miss the full eclipse tonight. But we do need the rain. I'm holding out for both seeing the eclipse AND getting more rain. --part1_67.d6685d.25b8ffe7_boundary--
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