Codifying the Collective Process

Itís clearly too late to try to decide what would be a fair way of resolving an issue once the shit has already hit the fan. Whenever thereís a problem within a collective, whether itís an interpersonal conflict or back-and-forth accusations of wrongdoing, emotions tend to run high. This is not the time to decide on proper procedures. When people are already angry at someone, theyíre often all too happy to just let the person(s) fry, process be damned. Thatís why itís paramount that the collective have a set of procedural guidelines in place that can be called into play when difficulties crop up.

At the very least, every collective needs the following:

1. A statement of guiding principles or mission. This should form the basis to inform all other decisions.

Ideally, the mission statement should not be too prescriptive or narrow. For instance, including statements like ďAll members will treat each other with respect at all timesĒ may sound good on its face but doesnít take into account the reality that people may sometimes lose their temper or their patience and should not, as a result, have to face the accusation of having violated a basic tenet.

On the other hand, a guiding statement should include the seemingly obvious, since in times of crisis common sense and common decency often tend to be among the first casualties. For instance, it might be useful to overtly state that the group strives to model a more just society through its own actions and therefore supports kindness, fairness, and compassion while condemning intentional cruelty, underhandedness and manipulation.

2. A grievance procedure.

Grievances are slightly different from requests for conflict resolution since there may only be one side who perceives a problem.

It is imperative that grievances be heard by an unbiased, outside observer, or a panel made up of people WHO ARE NOT MEMBERS OF THE COLLECTIVE WHERE THE PROBLEM ORIGINATED. We cannot stress this enough. In a small group itís extraordinarily easy for rumors to spread quickly and biased opinions to solidify instantly.

We recommend that a collective establish a grievance committee, whose job it is to maintain a contact list of outside volunteers who can be called in when needed. The committee also agrees to follow the groupís previously agreed-upon protocol whenever a grievance is brought to its attention by any member, regardless of the committeeís personal opinions about the member in question.

(More to come.)

Please send your comments and suggestions to: collectivebook@yahoo.com.


BOOK I:
"Is This What Consensus Looks Like?"

BOOK II:
"Is This the Just Society We Want to Model?

BOOK III:
"Some
Solutions?"

[Why This Booklet?]
[Introduction to Consensus]
[The Particular Vulnera-
bility of Collectives
]
[Power Sharing]
[Red Flags to Guard Against]
[Ploys To Subvert Consensus]
[The Problem With Politeness]
[The Need For Kindness]
[Creating Pariahs]
[Respect for Differences]
[Personal vs. Group Issues]
[Micro-Managing Behaviors]
[Skepticism is Healthy]
[There's Hope]


[A Model for Justice?]
[The Dearth of Due Process]
[What About Free Speech?]
[Cruelty]


[Codifying the Collective Process]
[Relinquishing Control of Projects and People]
[Staying True to the Mission]
[Whatís a Lone Person to Do?]


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