Essential stewardships

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As per our first Group Process Session on May 30, 2009, please see Minutes:20090530, it is perceived by some (or all) of the members that EcoReality does not have a system of accountability for stewards. We identified in this session that including others in the “planning” phases for stewardships could go a long way to creating/feeling trust between membership and steward. It was also expressed that there is no clear threshold for determining if an agreement is to be made by a steward alone, or by the full group (or partial group, ie. residents only). This could be a necessity for each of the essential stewardships that are fulfilled by members of the Co-Op.

Are all stewardships equal in magnitude, power and influence? How can the group hold stewards accountable to their agreed area of responsibility that is both fair and feasible? For example, is it naïve and counter-productive to expect the same level of skill and rigour in the behaviours and actions of a recipe steward as a finance steward? Does this erode group trust and efficiency?

With help from Diana Christian, on her visit here last Thursday, I can see that structural conflict has arisen within our group (namely, our two “informal” types of members: resident and non-resident). I experience conflicting roles, responsibilities and acceptable behaviours among individuals in these two groups, whether stewards or not (yet). I experience conflicting levels of “collaboration” practiced by the existing stewards, especially within the four founding members. For this reason, I am not at all surprised that nonresident members seeking to take on stewardships are confused about “best practices” and the general expectations of being a steward of EcoReality resources.

I think that it is essential that EcoReality agree on what exactly EcoReality members deem to be the “norms” or expected behaviours of each steward – to which the group can hold individuals accountable. I think this may begin unlocking a future for EcoReality that is full of more feelings of alignment, trust, compassion, love, smoother communications, prosperity and success.


To determine what stewardships are essential and what are the rights and responsibilities of those.

In my perspective, EcoReality would do well to create clear, written agreements about:

  1. What stewardships are absolutely necessary for the effective operations of our Co-Operative?
  2. What stewardships are ideal, but not essential at this time?
  3. What types of agreements does the membership agree are be made by stewards alone?
  4. What types of agreements are best made by the entire membership?
  5. What types of agreements can be made by the resident members alone to allow for efficiency, expediency and relevancy?

I think this will create fewer assumptions, more trust, willingness and clarity about who’s job is whose. Offsite members will be able to know and trust that there is a plan that resident stewards are following when agreements are made without offsite members being part of the agreement-making process.

Stewards: What is practiced now? What is missing? What are Next Steps?

What is practiced now? A Steward is a single person who speaks for a resource. Thus far, EcoReality stewardships have been suggested or self-selected. The parameters of the most stewardships are loose and general- proposed by the steward and agreed to by the full membership at a regular members' meeting. For example, please read the first five stewardships that EcoReality formed: Ecology steward, Finance steward, Program steward, Farm steward or Communications steward.

Missing: There has been no practice to date in the culture of EcoReality of setting out plans/action proposals or timelines when one takes on the role of Steward of a resource. While there is Steward's council at every Members' meeting, the only time we typically formally review the parameters of stewardships and require formal reporting to the membership is once annually at the Annual General Meeting.

Next Steps: What possibility can we create? Agreement by the full membership on what areas of the Co-Op require stewarding. Agreement by the full membership on which of these areas are most essential to be represented right now, according to our strategic planning process (see Strategic metaplan. Action proposals by each steward that provide timelines. These would follow the EcoReality mission statement and respond directly to needs in our Strategic metaplan (this would be more specific than the duties and responsibilities of stewards, as already indicated in writing on each steward page). Agreement by the full membership on the action proposals by each steward, so that stewards can be held accountable to their word. Agreement on a Steward code of conduct that stewards are expected to follow. Steward code of conduct explicitly states the types of decisions/agreements that each steward is empowered and encouraged by the Co-Op to make alone, without the necessity of input by other members (although input and reflection is always encouraged, where feasible). It explicitly states the types of decisions that require full membership agreement within that stewardship. It would be understood that stewards are encouraged to receive member input for all decisions not on the two above-mentioned lists, yet it could be based on resident members’ inputs only.

Proposed essential stewardships:

  • Land use planning steward - includes permaculture steward duties
  • Finance steward
    • could be two distinct areas in one stewardship or in two essential stewardships: accounts and financial planning/management
  • Communications steward - includes large public relations duties
  • Group process steward - and team of 1-3 people, including nonresident members.
    • Duties to be revised to include timeline, action plan, communication model/process as a category of responsibility.
  • Program steward - this could include Guest speaker steward roles that are not recruitment but the care and management/logistics of hosting guest speakers
  • Apprenticeship steward - this could be broadened to be called Education steward
  • Website steward - distinct from communications, in my opinion, yet could be included in promotions or public relations?
  • Memberships and recruitment steward
  • Farm steward
    • this could be divided into Garden steward, Buildings steward, Water steward, etc.

Existing stewardships or informal roles that may be termed "minor", where duties could be included in one of the essential stewardships if necessary, yet as stand alone areas might not be deemed essential

  • Guest speaker steward - could also be broadened and made essential as the Recruitment steward
  • Recipe steward - could be combined with the Food and hospitality steward
  • Work party steward
  • Childcare steward
  • Food and hospitality steward

Others that are perhaps future or minor stewardships:

  • Facilitation and agenda planning steward
  • Water steward
  • Garden steward
  • Buildings steward
  • Tools steward
  • Wellness steward
  • Ceremonies steward

Respectfully submitted for consideration by the community.Shan 03:30, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

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