campaign signs & worthy causes
From: Lynn Nadeau (welcomeolympus.net)
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 14:54:08 -0700 (MST)
At RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA, we are currently mostly 
center-to-left liberals, and there is a certain degree of commonality 
about what political viewpoints are supported, and what good causes get 
members' time, money, and energy. 

But we are not in agreement about the appropriateness of using the common 
space for such items as campaign signs, political signs, or of implicitly 
or explicitly sponsoring benefits, for example, for local good causes. De 
facto, the practice has been that if members are supporters of an event, 
the common-house-use fee, or any donations, come from individual members, 
voluntarily. (And any member may reserve the use of the common house for 
meetings or gatherings of any organization they are part of.) We don't 
say "RoseWind" is having a benefit for the Green Party or the Land Trust. 
Campaign signs are welcome in individual house windows or yards, but have 
typically not appeared in the common house windows or along the nearby 
street, on common land. (One exception was when one of our members ran a 
successful City Council bid, and nobody objected to placing some signs.) 

One view is that free speech is great, but that signs on the commons or 
common house imply that all members endorse or believe in what a sign 
says. The danger is that a member who disagrees would feel pressured to 
go along with ok-ing it, or would feel less welcome in the community if 
their views were different from what appeared to be a "party line." Ditto 
for sponsoring events- does that mean that all members think X is the 
best cause around? Resulting tensions could work counter to building 
community. 

Alternately, the commons could be a "free speech" area, with signs 
welcome that ANY member wishes to post (subject to whatever guidelines 
the community might make, like just for a month before elections). Might 
have diverse signs. Is a member's free speech compromised if they can't 
put up statements of opinion in common areas, especially where the public 
is likely to see and figure it is what all here believe? 

I not only think there are dangers of alienating present members, but 
think that if we really believe our stated welcoming of diversity, we 
risk alienating potential members. Even if all current members support 
something like "No blood for oil", we could turn off a possible 
buyer/joiner who thought otherwise. 

Which brings up a deeper issue: how much diversity do we REALLY want? 
Personally, I find much inspiration and support, living in a community 
where many others share my values regarding politics, nutrition, 
child-rearing philosophy, etc etc. There's still diversity, but we 
currently have nobody who would identify as right-wing, or who embrace 
most mainstream cultural and political values (such as support of the 
Iraq war, support of Bush). My community's stated values indicate that we 
would welcome right-wing-ers as much as anybody else. I'm not sure I'd be 
nearly as pleased to live in a community where my personal culture was 
not well represented, however politically incorrect that admission may 
be! But for now, that is our stated value, that we respect and welcome 
diversity of belief. 

Those of you in built communities -- how do you handle implicit or 
explicit endorsements of political campaigns, points of view, or worthy 
causes? 
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