Hey, hello, and a happy gloomy Thursday to everyone! I apologize for the seemingly sporadic posting recently, I was sick last week and took a blog sabbatical two weeks before that so I'm feeling a little rusty on the blogging front. But, anyways I'm back now, I plan to be back indefinitely, and I shall now get on with the post!
So, today I wanted to give a brief introduction into the nifty governance model that we've chosen to use to operate as a group of people working together in a cooperative. It serves as a set of rules and protocols that tells us things like how to run our meetings, how conflicts are resolved, how the review process works, and pretty much anything else that involves communicating with fellow cooperators. It has many different names depending on where in the world it's being used, but here in Sherwood it is known to us as "dynamic governance" and the main principles are laid out in the colorful photo above. I won't go through each item on the list, but the main idea is that it allows for a set of goals to be established for the organization as a whole (by the members), and then members act by "steering" the cooperative's actions/decisions/policies towards reaching those goals. Everyone has a say, and any single member can veto or change a proposal if they have what's known as a "paramount objection", or an objection that is based on the overall goals that have been set for the cooperative at large. This also helps with what's often called the "tyranny of the 51 percent". In all democratic systems, if a vote is taken and 51 percent of the voters say one thing then that thing goes. But, in dynamic governance, we value members consenting to a decision (but not necessarily agreeing to it) over a general consensus from the group as a whole. This allows members to express their thoughts and suggest changes to proposals/policies/etc. that can then be tried out (maybe for a few weeks or months) and then returned to in the future to be reevaluated instead of just making a proposal law by voting on it. This makes us more resilient and adaptive to change (hey, two words from the list), and creates a culture of good listening, trust building, and empowering (hey another word) individuals which only brings us closer together as a cooperative family. I could go on and really get into the nitty gritty details (and maybe I will someday because I've been learning a lot from serving on the board and it is actually really interesting once you get past some of the jargon and protocol), but if I've taken anything away from learning about DG (as I like to call it) it's that everyone gets a voice and the goals of the cooperative are king...that is until a goal becomes irrelevant based on the direction the members of the cooperative decide to take in which case a proposal is formed and... oops here I go, getting into the nitty gritty like I said I wouldn't. Let's just say that for now everyone getting a say is the big thing, and we'll save the other stuff for a more detailed post at a later date. :)
As we've been trying out and refining the DG procedures in our monthly all-farm meetings and now weekly "CoOp Love" Fridays where we have trainings specifically on being apart of the cooperative, my inspiration for this post has been building. The more we meet and the more and more efficient we get at using this method I honestly feel a growing closeness and openness coming from the regular sharing of thoughts and ideas that occurs within our meetings. Not only are the ideas shared, but they're actually heard and talked through by any members who have something to add. When you get down to it, if there is anything I think a family should be good for it's supporting each other in exactly this way: promoting individual growth and group interconnectedness at the same time, which is easier said than done for any family, genetic or professional. Overall I think family is what we're trying to cultivate at Our Table: between all future co-op members and within the local community in general. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that creating family is one goal that won't become irrelevant any time soon. Oh! and, what do you do when you start a new family that's going to grow and grow? You mark your heights on a door jamb of course so you can chart your growth over time, which is exactly what we did after our meeting last week! We are officially a family in my book now!
Til' next time,