business vs personal is a misleading dichotomy
From: Kay Argyle (
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 08:55:02 -0600 (MDT)
> Another dynamic that seems relevant is the appropriateness of the forum.
> Is a business meeting the place to delve into personal needs?

One might ask whether the name "business meeting" doesn't give people the
wrong expectations.

In "business" (capitalism), the goal of the organization is profit -- not
providing jobs, not even producing widgets, except as those contribute to
the goal.  All parties attempt to get as much as they can while giving as
little as possible, with a direct quid pro quo -- in return for money, the
worker is expected to subjugate her/his own needs to the needs of the
organization, suppressing as much of her/his humanity as necessary.  Labor
is necessary; workers are not.  If a worker can be replaced with a machine
(getting rid of inefficient, messy humanity entirely), that is a good thing.

The hierarchy of stakeholders determines the allotment of the benefits of
the organization: profits, power, prestige, products -- offered first to the
board and shareholders; eventually a dribble to the workers and customers.
It predicts the winner when the needs of the organization are in conflict
with the needs of a stakeholder:  The organization loses to management in a
hostile takeover; the workers lose to the organization in a layoff.  The
organization takes little responsibility for the well-being of the
low-echelon stakeholders.

All that baggage comes with the word "business," and it isn't exactly a
model for cohousing.

The goal of a cohousing organization is providing a community for residents.
Getting things accomplished is incidental.

The organizational structure is side-by-side, not up-and-down.  Residents
are peers.  If each individual holds part of the truth, then a need felt by
a single person is as important as a need shared by twenty people.  When the
needs of the organization or of residents conflict with those of other
residents, the object is not to win, but to shift paradigms, to see the
needs as complementary rather than adversarial.

In the community economy, what I receive has little to do with what I give.
Neither my time nor my benefits are metered.  I work when somebody asks me,
when I see a job that needs doing, for the good of the community, for my
personal satisfaction.  I choose jobs on the basis of  the skills and
time/energy that I have to contribute, or my perception of the urgency, not
for prestige or money.

What is there for me in this, except having my personal needs fulfilled?


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