INTRODUCTION

BOOK ONE

BOOK TWO

BOOK THREE

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ABOUT US

COLLECTIVE BOOK ON COLLECTIVE PROCESS

THIS IS A HANDBOOK ON GROUP PROCESS FOR EGALITARIAN COLLECTIVES. ITS FOCUS IS ON THE OFTEN UNRECOGNIZED NEGATIVE DYNAMICS THAT CAN OCCUR WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO WORK COLLECTIVELY. IT IS A COLLABORATIVE WORK-IN-PROGRESS, AND EVERYBODY IS INVITED TO CONTRIBUTE.


BOOK ONE:

IS THIS WHAT CONSENSUS LOOKS LIKE?


TABLE OF CONTENTS:
[To read the full chapter draft, click on the title.]

WHY THIS BOOKLET?
"There are many collectives that claim to operate by consensus while overlooking its fundamental core: equality, respect, mutual acceptance, and an open forum for the exchange of ideas."
INTRODUCTION TO CONSENSUS
"If an influential or intimidating member exhibits annoyance or impatience with anyone who raises concerns, the decision will not have been made by consensus."
THE PARTICULAR VULNERABILITY OF COLLECTIVES
"The group's most common reaction to a [power-grabbing] faction is gratitude that someone is taking on the difficult work of running the group and its activities."
POWER SHARING
"If the core faction scoffs at adherence to established procedures, claiming that they are more interested in getting things done than going to meetings, there is no consensus or collectivism at work in the group."
RED FLAGS TO GUARD AGAINST
"1. Meetings are poorly attended and those who do attend appear to be sullen and bored. This is a sure sign that people have given up on the possibility of having meaningful input into the group?s direction."
PLOYS TO SUBVERT CONSENSUS
"7. Scoffing, scowling, staring down, yelling down, sighing loudly, acting wounded, worried, impatient, or put upon, and walking out."
THE PROBLEM WITH POLITENESS
"Politeness gives bullies free rein, since the social compact says we should respond with quiet composure to someone who attempts to intimidate us by shouting us down."
THE NEED FOR KINDNESS
"The shared effort of being in a collective presupposes good will and genuine consideration for each person involved."
CREATING PARIAHS
"It's normal for people sometimes to be obnoxious or awkward. The basis for collectives founded on equality is that people have the right to be themselves, regardless of whether their attitudes make them popular or not."



RESPECT FOR DIFFERENCES
"Using ugly societal ills like racism and sexism as a pretext to assassinate the character of perceived enemies is reprehensible."
PERSONAL VS. GROUP ISSUES
"A self-appointed leader who does not wish to answer for her actions will seek to distract from any criticism by claiming that the complainant has a personal problem with her."
MICRO-MANAGING OTHER PEOPLE'S BEHAVIOR
"An attempt to codify and restrict normal human interactions can create a tightly wound atmosphere of coercion and disapproval."
SKEPTICISM IS HEALTHY
"Regardless of who you believe to be right or wrong--whether it?s the defendant or the complainant--making hasty judgments never serves the interests of fairness."
VAGUENESS LEADS TO AUTHORITARIANISM
"If a group spells out as clearly as possible how things will be accomplished and through whom the necessary skills will be passed down, a lot of problems that can eventually lead to power struggles in the collective will be avoided."
THERE'S HOPE
"It is our belief and hope that virtually all problems in collectives can be overcome by applying compassion, tolerance, and patience, and by being thorough and even-handed in our thinking."

BOOK TWO:

IS THIS THE JUST SOCIETY WE WANT TO MODEL?


TABLE OF CONTENTS:
[To read the full chapter draft, click on the title.]

A MODEL FOR JUSTICE?
"In dealing with offenders, collective members tend to proceed straight to the basest of human instincts: name-calling, spreading or repeating baseless allegations, lying to cover up one?s own bad behavior, and--everyone?s favorite--banning."
THE DEARTH OF DUE PROCESS
"When local rumors and accusations spread like wildfire, it is important to move the trial beyond the places where the fire has spread. The local group from which a case originated is often the last place where that case should be tried."
WHAT ABOUT FREE SPEECH?
"Counter-demonstration is not the same as threatening to beat up the other demonstrators and initiating some thuggish turf war."



CRUELTY
"If we hope to bring about a fairer, more compassionate world we have to start with our most basic interactions. The fact that deliberate cruelty does not lead to greater justice should be too obvious to mention."
THE COLLECTIVE IS NOT ALWAYS MORE CORRECT THAN THE INDIVIDUAL
"When a group is manipulated, becomes misguided, or simply fails to be vigilant about judging everyone fairly and equally, it can become more wrong than any single member."

BOOK THREE:

SOME SOLUTIONS?


TABLE OF CONTENTS:
[To read the full chapter draft, click on the title.]

CODIFYING THE COLLECTIVE PROCESS
"When people are already angry at someone, they’re often all too happy to just let the person(s) fry, process be damned. That’s why it’s paramount that the collective have a set of procedural guidelines in place."
SOME CARDINAL POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN CONFLICT ARISES IN A GROUP
"8. Sometimes someone (or a group) can be so self-involved that he sees any disagreement with his chosen course as sabotage or disruption."
RELINQUISHING CONTROL OF PROJECTS AND PEOPLE
"Most collective projects involve an uneven patchwork of viewpoints and abilities. Making room for everybody to contribute, even when ability is not equal, is a strength, not a weakness; so is letting the process show."
STAYING TRUE TO THE MISSION
"[The mission statement] should spell out the fundamental belief that the collective must operate internally by the same high standards of fairness and democracy that it is working to bring about in the larger society."



WHAT’S A LONE PERSON TO DO?
"It’s all well and good to say that all the people in a collective need to take responsibility for the group’s functioning in order to avoid power inequalities, but if you’re just one person, and the group is in fact not taking responsibility, what can you alone do?"
ESSAYS
Here we would like to discuss issues related to group process and egalitarian decision making that may not fit neatly under the rubrics of the Booklets as they exist now. Please feel free to submit your opinions, discourses, and rants.
CASE STUDIES
We would love to give concrete examples of how problems within collectives can start, escalate, and turn ugly (or fizzle out, get resolved, and return to harmonious relationships). Please send us your stories.

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This site was created July 2002
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