Re: Mission Statements [was guns and cigarettes]
From: Kay Argyle (
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 14:21:00 -0700 (MST)
> > We have a half dozen residents (at least) with respiratory problems,
> > and others who resolutely Don't Get It when asked to make any
accommodations.  > [snip]  > > ....  We
> > would need muzzles for some of the residents to discuss [pet policy]
> > without whoever brought it up getting mauled ;).
> Does your community have a mission statement?   > Sharon

No -- perhaps I should be positive and say "not yet."  We have a workshop
weekend after this to discuss community values.

The "wisdom of the group," which we talk about honoring, was to discuss
values in short meetings over a period of months, so that (a) everyone could
attend at least some, instead of missing the whole thing because they didn't
have a particular weekend free, and (b) people had time to digest ideas and
shift positions if they came to feel the truth of a different point of view.
Instead, the Process Committee "discovered" that we had "already talked
about values," and assigned a subcommittee to write a draft, based on notes
from some old discussions.

This to me is evasion.  I feel my and other people's sense for how this
needed to be done got -- what's stronger than ignored? disrespected.  That
happening with a values statement of all things is not a good sign.

We spent six months last year talking about participation, without resolving
anything. Process thinks we can settle values in a weekend?

To take just one instance, I'm sure this document will have something about
diversity (haven't seen it yet -- another sore point, I need time to process
stuff).  Excuse me, but what do we mean by the word?

We've got the traditional kinds.  Oh, you're Jewish, atheist, Buddhist,
Mormon?  Black Hispanic, Cajun, nissei? a preschooler, a retiree? a postal
worker, a pediatrician? learning disabled, a candidate for hip replacement?
naturalized immigrant, descendant of Revolutionary War veteran?  traditional
nuclear family, gay single father, childless by choice?  How nice.

The diversity I see the community struggle with occurs between the people
who show up for meetings and the ones who show up for work parties, each of
whom feels the others don't participate.  The people bothered by clutter and
junk vs. those for whom a clean porch is the sign of a wasted life.  The
anxious and therefore crabby asthmatic vs. the person who remembered not to
wear perfume to the meeting, they just put on a little nice-smelling
handcream. The free-spirit to whom cruelty is keeping a cat imprisoned in
the house, vs. the sensitive soul to whom it is risking a cat being run
over.  The parent uplifted seeing dogs and children run free vs. the
gardener struggling not to weep over trampled irises.  To that type of
diversity, too many of us have the kneejerk "You're different than me, you
must be wrong."

As well, I'm frustrated about all the business, some very important to me,
that got postponed "until we have clarified community values."

All that bubbles out into caustic comments -- like the ones Sharon quoted --
about (what I see as) our community's reluctance/inability to engage with
our differences.

On the other hand, we made a break-through at the summer workshop, when
people realized they'd turned my poor room-mate into a boogey man to
frighten new residents (about how "difficult" she was).  People were
believing the talk and ignoring their personal experience with her.  The
workshop facilitator, Laird Schaub, asked each person to offer one small
commitment for what they could do to heal the relationship.  Things have
been easier (blessings to you, Laird!), and the one person whose offering
was mean-spirited has moved out.

People can look at themselves, learn, and grow.  Self-selection works.

Somebody on the list expressed frustration with "thumbs up" polling for
concensus -- How can she consense until she knows everybody's concerns have
been satisfied?  That to me is a higher morality that I would like to strive
for.  To quote Lilo & Stitch, "Family means nobody gets left behind."  If
something isn't good for an individual in the group, how can it be good for
the group?

I gather the values subcommittee are cribbing the "interpersonal agreements"
that another community (Heartwood?) came up with.  That's the aspect I'm
most hopeful will help us, if people really take any of this seriously.  You
can have wildly different values on many subjects and still live well
together, if a shared value is respecting each other and each other's


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