Re: What do you want to talk about?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Mon, 17 May 2021 12:42:51 -0700 (PDT)
> On May 17, 2021, at 9:12 AM, Martie Weatherly <mhweatherly [at] 
>> wrote:
> We knew it was going to be challenging to bring in new people but it is more 
> challenging than we thought. [snip] What seems to us to be missing is the 
> level of trust we had for each other when we started. That is still present 
> in the pioneers toward each other but not in the general community. We are 
> more divisive on topics than we were. People are more wedded to their point 
> of view. 

I couldn’t have said it better. I think it is also a generational element. 
Those who began forming Takoma Village in 1998 had or were participating in the 
after glow of the social change movements of the 19070s and 1980s. There was a 
fundamental belief that organizations should be non-hierarchical, 
communications all inclusive, and decisions considered by asking what kind of 
society would this practice, rule, or decision create? 

It was also all for one and one for all. We had a city program that offered low 
income loans and down-payments for new DC home owners. Before we could move 
forward, everyone applying for that grant had to have their applications in. 
One person was just not understanding this and delaying us all. I objected and 
said look, this is unreasonable. It’s been so many weeks and we are still 
waiting on one person. The facilitator said, well we just aren’t all there yet. 
And then worked out a plan to help that one person be caught up by the end of 
the week.

No one asks what kind of society would this practice, rule, or decision create 
anymore. It’s not that everyone did before but that there were enough people 
and such strong beliefs that it was the main drift of things. Now, I feel like 
I’m fighting the belief that hierarchies are the adult way to do things. I’ve 
heard “that’s not standard practice” or “this is the professional way” more in 
the last 2 years than I have in the last 60. The people are wonderful and 
concerned and kind human beings who have stepped up community activities 100% 
if not more. They are incredibly responsible and contributing. 

But the tone is different when it comes to inclusiveness — to err on the side 
of over communicating is not acceptable. Only the people involved with this 
need to know about it. No one should be involved in a team decision except the 

The organizational diagram is important and newer people were very concerned 
that we really didn’t have one. I have twice heard the first question in 
resolving a problem to be "What should the rules be?" In the beginning many 
members were more likely to be extreme in the other direction—no rules—ever. 
“Guidelines if they are optional.” 

It’s not that all the founders discussed all the social issues, they were just 
more real somehow than they are now. We’ve always had military and government 
people, lawyers, etc., but now that trend is stronger. The units are more 
expensive so only households with 2 professional incomes or a house that was 
just sold can afford them. And thinking about continuing the afford them 
doesn’t encourage radical thinking.

I’ve become the person who is most resisting organization rather than the most  
persistent one talking about it. That’s extreme but I do find myself 
fantasizing about jack-in-the-boxes that jump out in the middle of meetings. I 
was the one who objected to having birthday parties in the middle of meetings 
because the meeting never got back on track. Maybe we need a streaker every 
month or so. (Remember those?) Some chaos to create some energy.

We are so organized that Covid didn’t cause a moment of panic or confusion or 
melt-down. It changed many, many things, but immediately a team formed to study 
and establish accepted practices that everyone observed. In almost 80 people 
we’ve had no contamination.

So my concern is in the direction of how do we discuss the positive uses of 
hierarchies but also understand the non-creative mindset and discrimination 
they produce and support? And then I get tired. 

Remember the woman in the Women’s March with the sign that said, “I can’t 
believe that I’m still protesting this same old sh**.” It’s not quite that bad 
but starting those discussions over again isn’t as exciting now as it was then. 
And I really don’t think the new people are any less aware of their emotions or 
caring for others. They just have a different worldview.

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
"Behavior is determined by the prevailing form of decision making." Gerard 

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