Talk:Coop rules/16 Directors/Change to Rule 85

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– comments from Mark in purple

  • In Support: I have heard comment to the effect of "we lack a clearly defined set of expectations for how non-resident members will contribute to EcoReality." I can resonate with that. I support a clear understanding of how any non-resident member (should the practice even be continued indefinitely) would interact with the coop.
  • Suggestion: having something like the Cooperative Association Act to lean on, for info on which decisions come before the entire group for consensus, does seem a helpful resource. I believe it's tough to expect that it will singlehandedly resolve all existing quandaries about this idea in the sense of what's "right" for EcoReality.
  • Question: is it true that rescinding the capacity for an off-site member to be a director/steward would effectively resolve the question of balancing rez and non-rez responsibility levels?
  • Request: I'd like to know more about how it is – practically – the Cooperative Association Act will address knowing which decisions to bring before which group.
  • Request: to seek consensus on the definition of the Problem Statement before proceeding with agreement process.

Comments/questions from Osha:

I understand the spirit of this proposal and I appreciate the time and energy that has gone into it. I have a number of questions and comments. I'm sure some of my comments will reflect either an understanding or misunderstanding of the proposal's language.

  • How would one become a member? Would it be based simply upon the acceptance by all members of one's application? At that point would it be okay for someone to move onsite?
    One becomes a member upon acceptance of one's application. The power to accept a new resident is undefined. —Jan
  • Does "resident on-site for six months" mean consecutive or non-consecutive months?
    Thanks for pointing out that omission! I just added "cumulative," but it doesn't have to be that way. —Jan
  • I feel like the requirement of being a resident in order to be a steward is short sighted and straps the residents with more work than necessary. What if there were certain stewardships that were required to be handled by residents, those that are essential for day to day farm life, while stewardships such as Justin's could be handled by offsite members? Another example that comes to mind is Mark's willingness/offer to steward the website and to take a huge burden from Jan's overworked shoulders. Why must this stewardship be handled by an onsite member? Onsite members have so much work to do! Why not let us help with what we can help with?
    This is about directors, not stewards, per se. Directors would be a new category of involvement, to be defined, possibly as "essential stewards," as Shannon has suggested. —Jan
  • I'm interested to hear residents' feedback regarding the requirement of reorienting one's self before resuming a stewardship for a time equal to the time that they have been away if it is over 30 days. I'm just curious, I know that life and travel happen. I'm not sure I understand why, let's say someone who has been living at EcoReality for three years (or whatever) and then goes away for a month, needs another month to remember how life works at their home.
    I was thinking of a more extended period than a month, but had to draw the line somewhere. I'd be happy to have my director rights suspended after being gone for a while. —Jan

I'm digesting all of this and I'm sure I will have more to say/ask later. --Osha 05:03, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Comments from Shan 01:12, 23 June 2009 (UTC):

I think that the overall ideas in Jan’s proposal will serve the group well. I have specific questions and comments about his proposal listed here. However, I wish to be very clear that the way I see things, there is a primary step for the Co-Op to make before agreement on this current proposal will result in the most positive, clear, organizational change that will actually move EcoReality to a practice of smoother onsite/offsite member relations and explicit roles for all participants in the membership process.

Here is the central question in my mind: How can EcoReality consist of a cohesive/integrated group containing both onsite and offsite group members –regardless of who holds stewardship roles and where they may reside?

To me, any offsite members (whether they hold stewardships/directorships or not) need to be able to know, relax and trust that the “day-to-day” running of the Co-operative will represent their voices and ideas, skills and preferences. Right now, I see that due to the patterns we are propagating as individual and group communicators, some stewards are acting without group approval on certain actions and they are either unaware of the impact of their actions on the erosion of group trust, or they have awareness and continue to choose these actions anyway (perhaps because of the very real impact or perceived impact of time and responsibilities to the Co-Op's mission?) Some stewards are taking too long to make decisions in their area of stewardship for the needs of the Co-Op (perhaps because they expect/desire to include all members of the Co-Op in decisions that perhaps should be made by the steward alone, or with input from one or two other people?). I see these extremes practiced by the very same person, in the very same stewardship, depending on the task or issue at hand. Further to this, the unique styles of learning/living/managing/teaching of all stewards in our group complexifies things because we do not have a central agreement regarding codes of conduct and group expectations (like a job description), to which people may be held accountable.

I have taken time to craft a proposal of my own that I wish the group to consider and discuss simultaneously with Jan’s proposal. Please see Essential stewardships and Stewards’ code of conduct.

Here below are specific points:

Proposed: Members who have been resident on-site for six months can be elected by the directors to serve as directors of the co-op. -- I think that depending on the final agreement we come to about what number of Essential stewardships we may desire to fill for EcoReality to achieve its short and medium term goals, we may wish to reduce this to 3-4 months of residency prior to election to be directors/stewards of the Co-Op. --I would like to clarify that since this is in the language of the “Act” -- for our purposes is EcoReality to understand this to be not a “vote” in of directors but rather the use of consensus, as with all our other agreements?

  • Our rules still say that decisions, by any body, are made by consensus. —Jan

Proposed: All decisions requiring a vote of members will still require the agreement of all members. Day-to-day business operations of the co-op will typically be made by directors, and may or may not be brought before the entire membership. Such decisions may be brought before the entire membership if:

  1. the directors seek the approval of the members, or
  2. any member seeks consent of all members to overrule a decision made by the directors.

--In other businesses, it is typical that directors sit on a Board and meet regularly to make such decisions. In our group, would this mean that stewards have “board” meetings that are not open to full membership? Is this the same as the “Resident’s Meeting” we currently have weekly at EcoReality? What do you all think?

-- By number 2, above, I hear that any decision made by a steward without full group consent or even consent of other stewards (assuming they are all residents) could be “overruled” or changed if any member (resident or not) puts forth a proposal to “overrule” or change that decision. From everything I’ve seen and read and learned about consensus, it really behooves a group to get input, feedback, and alignment BEFORE a steward or committee makes a decision that will impact the group. Therefore, I think outlining for each stewardship what kinds of decisions that steward is empowered to make and where and how that steward needs to take full group guidance into account is imperative. Since we are (Gratefully) beginning our strategic planning process, this should be straightforward. If the full membership understands that stewards will agree to act in alignment with the strategic plan, I assert that the lack of trust and the disagreement that currently exists between some members and some stewards will diminish. I also assert that the nonresident-resident relationships will be more clear, structured and the implicit differences will be named and acknowledged.

I don't think you understand #2. Any member can seek to have any agreement made by directors overruled by general membership. Such an overruling would require the consent of the general membership.

Proposed: It is simply not possible for people who are here less than once each month (on average) to have the same level of involvement in co-op business as those living here.

While I have experienced the reality of this from both resident and offsite perspectives over the time period 2006 to 2009, I don’t fully agree with this statement. I think that some stewardship areas/ Co-Op “jobs” require the steward or “job manager” to live and work onsite, others are likely easier when the steward resides onsite, yet successful fulfillment of the “job” of stewarding can happen with non-resident member stewards (as long as resident members agree to communicate with nonresidents, to give input and feedback on the steward’s actions, and in some instances to team up and “Advise” the steward). I think that distinguishing between different types of stewardships would help the group to see a) which are essential to the short term goals of EcoReality and, b) who is in fact the “person with the most knowledge about a situation/resource”. This may result in switching stewards in their positions if necessary to have the essential stewardships filled with those who are best for the job. The outcome could be that those most skilled and most inspired are actually doing the “stewarding”, in a way that the whole group understands and agrees is acceptable behaviour for each stewardship area.

Proposed disadvantages and my thoughts:

  • We have to change our coop rules and file them with a fee. – no big deal to me
  • Some non-resident members may object to explicitly recognizing necessary power imbalances.
    Some non-resident members may object to "giving up" power that they assumed they had.
    • neither seem likely to me, as long as the conversation is allowed to take the full time it needs to have all voices be heard and that the agreement is not forced and consensus is reached.
  • It puts back a distinction that we originally hoped was unnecessary.
    It is less egalitarian in its recognition of power imbalances necessary for proper day-to-day operation and management of the co-op.
    • I think that delineation of what “proper day to day operation and management of the Co-Op” actually is will go a very long way to making this an egalitarian situation where any member not holding a directorship will understand when and how their voice is invited into decisions, depending on the stewardship. Current non-members (residents) who hold stewardships and current non-resident members (whether they hold stewardships or not) will have input into what are the essential stewardships and what is the code of conduct for stewards to follow. All residents and all members (regardless of directorships) will be given, by this proposal, the power to question, offer feedback to, and interact with stewards in their positions. I think that the clarifying of stewardship code of conduct will go a long way to creating more welcoming communications between stewards and any other EcoRealitarians.

Being authentic: I hope that it will alter the current impatience, passive aggressiveness and “attitude” that is real and/or perceived in actions by certain members will be transformed by the practice of agreeing to a stewardship code of conduct by which we can all hold one another compassionately accountable. I see that these characteristics and negative behaviours have been practiced, frequently, by both those in stewardship/founder roles and those in nonresident “new” member roles.

May discourage some who wish to be part-time residents. --I think we could still have what we call “minor” stewardships that do not significantly depend on residency

One non-resident member who currently holds a formally-agreed stewardship would either have to rescind it, be allowed as an exception, or we would have to create a special "non-director stewardship" for their role. --What does this mean for “informal” stewardships…like Osha’s coordination of meal planning and recipes? Would others agree to a set of “minor” stewardships that become formalized, with a code of conduct and criteria to which they can be held accountable, and which can be held by nonresident members (ie. not the same as the major stewardships that are directorships?)

No change to stewardships is really needed. This is adding a new structure. —Jan

Please take and listen to these comments and queries from a place of compassionShan 01:12, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

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