|How's Your Process Committee?||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Mary Rose (mary.roseclear.net.nz)|
|Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2001 21:10:03 -0600 (MDT)|
HOW'S YOUR PROCESS COMMITTEE DOING? Rod Sandelin asked this question some time ago. Since then I have written a draft or two, asked members and ex-members to read it, and used their responses to shape this story. The answer to Rod's question from this corner of the globe is 'Not at all well. The process team at Earthsong,Aotearoa/New Zealand was sacked.' It happened several months ago among high feelings that included outrage, hurt, confusion, fear and helplessness. I was in the midst of all that. It was excrutiatingly painful and scarey. Answering Rod's question has been a chance for me to tease out some of the painful knots that occurred , begin to make sense of what happened, talk with others about it and maybe offer something to the discussion on the role of process committees. This is my view and my perception may change as I listen to others. The process team at Earthsong was a small group that arranged rituals and celebrations, a workshop on facilitation, fireside conversations, breakfast meetings to talk about power, a healing process after the architect selection, venues and rosters of roles for meetings, delightful dinners, asked questions about the financial process of the project and about the leadership style that was evolving. The process team also loved to talk about the dynamics of power: the way decisions were being made in the full group: who got heard and who didn't: about what gets said and what doesn't - and what stops people speaking out: about what it feels like to be in this cohousing project. Some of the process team were in painful places in the power structure. The process team talked about patterns in the big group that seemed to contribute to this. Our discussions were minuted: observations and comments about the dynamics were sent out to the full group. The few responses to these observations and suggestions were quite difficult and did not lead to understanding among those in the process team and those not. Except for one time when a member was so incensed when she read a piece in our minutes about 'power' that she accused the people in the process team of insanity. That in turn, so touched the outrage of a process team member that we invited the incensed woman to meet with us. Out of that meeting came an understanding of her concern that our focus on the dynamics of power would have the effect of undermining the task: ie, it would stop people putting energy into getting the houses built. All this is hardly surprising. In any group, one of the most difficult issues is the dynamics of power (try asking "Who's boss around here?" and "What happens when anyone disagrees with the boss?"). And with the wisdom of hindsight, some of the inadequacies we saw and named in the whole group were present - mostly unnamed- in the process team. What happened in Earthsong is about normal. However, in my view,Earthsong is not about 'normal'. It is about finding ways for sustainable relating and working co-operatively as well as building houses. The vision statement says so. Major confrontations happened in the full group and a proposal was brought to sack the process team. I was faced with what seemed to me to be the choice between loyalty to the process team and commitment to building the houses, including mine. I chose the latter and did not block the decision to sack the team. Some members left. I stayed: painfully. It was a weird process. I was terrified! And it released the whole group of the need to deal with the conflict that was among us and freed energy to continue with the building. So --- the houses of Earthsong are rising. And lovely they are! Slowly - ever so slowly - the issues that the process team were noticing and talking about are being named and ways of dealing with them are being found: the difficulty of saying/hearing hard things, scapegoating, fear, hurt, suspicion, what happens to those who disagree, sacking, expulsion, how to deal with conflict in the whole group. These aspects of being in a group lie in the dark of our being. They are easily noticed: hard to talk about. It is even harder to find ways of talking about them together so that learnings can be made and better ways found. I think it must be done! I do not know how - yet. Now there is no process team in Earthsong. Some aspects of process are being picked up by other focus groups or individuals. Reading back over the process team minutes I found these words. As I read them now, I think they have a wisdom I did not fully understand at the time they were written. " "This group (the process team) is a vessel. It holds the processes of the full group. We know and understand these processes - many of them difficult. We do not have answers, nor should we be required to. At some time all or part of this knowledge and holding will be offered to the group by one, other or all of us. Others are welcome to join us at any time." Building a neighbourhood cooperatively must be the ultimate challenge in balancing task and process. Wouldn't it be wonderful to find a way of doing this task and attending to the process, including an understanding of the dynamics of power. Has anyone done it? Mary Rose _______________________________________________ Cohousing-L mailing list Cohousing-L [at] cohousing.org Unsubscribe and other info: http://www.communityforum.net/mailman/listinfo/cohousing-l
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