Re: Chris Kemp's Response to Rules & Regs Violation
From: ken (
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2006 02:21:55 -0700 (PDT)

I'd agree with Lyle and add a couple notes:

The community erred in establishing a regulation which was against
federal law.  No group of people in the US can establish a rule or
regulation which deprives people-- even members of that group-- rights
given to them by law.  This is true even if all members of the group
agree to that rule or regulation.  The example I learned in high school
was that we have laws against slavery; so even if you wanted to and
agreed to it, you couldn't sell yourself into slavery.  Although the
concept of "inalienable rights" didn't come up (as far as I know) in the
discussion between the immediate parties, it should be considered by a
community when it's formulating its agreements.

I got the impression that a procedure wasn't in place for introducing
new members to the community's regulations (they were probably termed
"bylaws") and having a new member sign an agreement to adhere to those

Having been involved in starting up a formal organization and observing
meetings of several others, I've found that this is a lot more difficult
than it would first appear and that most people don't understand how it
works or how important it is.  Poorly written bylaws can lead to lax
enforcement and this can lead to members feeling that, if others aren't
following the bylaws, then why should I?  I've also seen major decisions
made (involving upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars) at meetings
where no one took notes, fewer than half the attendees actually
understood the issue and where no one checked to see if there was a
quorum, making the validity of the decision open to question and
generally making a huge political and bureaucratic mess which might
never be resolved.

Most any public library should have a dozen books on topics like
organizational management and nonprofits and it would be well worthwhile
for anyone involved or considering involvement in an IC to read a couple
of them.

Lyle Scheer wrote:
> ....
> Liz wrote:
>>>And I am hearing, mostly, from this list that if my community decides on
>>>a principle that is important to us, and comes to consensus on that
>>>issue, that we should not assume that there is any good reason to
>>>actually FOLLOW what we agreed to.
> That was not my takeaway.  It seemed like the person involved was new to
> the group and was not a participant in that consensus discussion.  It
> further appeared that the breakdown had to do with introducing new
> members to the previously consensed upon decisions and possibly (not
> actually stated in any e-mail, but an open issue in my mind in this
> case) providing an appropriate method to revisit those decisions.
>>>AND, if I were to go to a co-housing list and ask for advice on how to
>>>deal with an issue, in addition to some good ideas, I'd get 50% feedback
>>>that it was wrong for my community to want what it did and, by consensus
>>>agree to it.
> Also not my takeaway.  At least 50% of the group understands that there
> will be breakdowns and misunderstandings, and that a good co-housing
> community needs methods to resolve conflict, understand the true root
> causes of the breakdown, and address those root causes.  This may or may
> not involve rewriting the previously consensed upon policy.
> - Lyle
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