Re: Common spaces and decision making
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 7 Jul 2012 08:34:31 -0700 (PDT)
On 6 Jul 2012, at 2:22 PM, oz wrote:

> I'm pretty clear that our current process discriminates against people who
> are less willing/able to write out their ideas and make requests. Its easy
> to sit in judgment about these non-proposers, saying things like "they are
> just not willing to do the work." Its much harder to help them meet their
> needs if that support is needed and welcome.

I totally agree. It's very easy for those more capable or more skilled or more 
interested in process and governance to raise the standards for action so high 
that no one can reach them — or no one wants to. It's hard to argue with 
requests for quality. How professional do we need to be? 

Does a proposal have to be able to pass the standards sent by NIH for $1.5 
million grants? Does it have to have to have a purpose, rationale, executive 
summary, short description, budget, alternate sources of funding, and methods 
of evaluation, resumes of principle executors, ETC., and be submitted 10 days 
in advance of some date on which 35 copies will be required. Even i who can 
write a proposal in my sleep refuse to do that.

It's enough to say "We need forks. I'll go get a dozen at Joe's Hardware and 
give Joan the receipt." Wait for objections and go to the store. 

Even with chickens, which are a bit more complicated and have more implications 
for everyone's environment, how much do we have to spell it out? I have a 
friend who writes proposals for NSF research. He says the common practice is to 
do the research and then ask for the grant — it's the only way to know all the 
information the NSF requires.

We run into this in facilitating too. Meeting evaluations quickly become an 
evaluation of the facilitator. Fortunately, we do have several people who want 
to become better facilitators professionally, but I often wish we could just 
have a meeting with someone running it, old fashioned style: "Here's the deal — 
do we want to do this or not?"

And I wish that those who don't know how to write policies or proposals would 
ask those who do to write them. It's okay if people specialize. Not every one 
has to learn everything, or even want to learn everything. We can still have 
wonderful flat organizations in which people are equal even when they are not 
the same.

And we may be setting to high a model for cohousing all together. What happens 
if a community isn't populated with people with college degrees?

My Saturday rant,
Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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