Community Association

We have one.  Five people sit on the local board.  They meet monthly.  Half of them get elected every two staggered years. Their principle job is to manage and make decisions on the ‘community’ land and buildings that we have including the community house, the workshop and the gymnasium.  It’s not a big job but one of Murphy’s laws is that each job expands just beyond the time allotted for it so we get some ‘issues’ now and then.

Mostly the ‘issues’ we get arise from something other than the buildings and they can be anything.  If the local grant application for whatever needs support, our board may be the official community voice for our collective sentiment on the matter.  If someone wants to take the initiative on anything from a local business to a political stand or even apply for a grant, they would first try to get board blessing….that sort of thing.

The primary function of the board at the political level is that the regional district uses them as the ‘contact’ entity whenever the larger government presence wants to get our attention.

And they fundraise.  But they don’t do it actively.  It is passive fundraising.  They are always fundraising because they always need the funds.  Even a roof repair on an old building needs new materials and so there is a constant hand out and there is a constant dribble in. But they rarely ask for anything.  People just give a little now and then.  We sell our book at the local post office and the proceeds (after printing costs) go to the board. That sort of thing.  And several people do that kind of thing in different ways.  Plus we have a membership fee.  Plus you can subscribe to the community newsletter.  I have no real idea but I am guessing that the board raises in the neighbourhood of $1000 a year (not counting the odd grant) and that seems to keep us in nails and glue.  It’s a good system. Mostly.

Big projects are harder to do for a society that operates with a gross annual income of $1000 and a gross annual expenditure of $999.  The workshop renovation actually required applying for and getting a $11,000 grant (I think it was that much).  We did all the work, the money only went for hard goods, materials and such.  That job would have cost $50,000 in the city if it had been undertaken and we did it all for 22% of that.

I mention all this because this summer saw another small influx of new people join the larger community.  Probably gained almost a dozen now in two years.  And, at the last two annual elections, new people stepped up.  So, the board will continue.  New people will add to the synergy, the energy and likely add some good ideas as well.  We will continue to prosper small and live tiny Green.

We had no Harpers to depose, no real electioneering went on, I doubt that anyone actually even spoke at the meeting – not to GET elected, anyway.  They just put up their hands to volunteer and were likely voted in by acclimation.  They won’t cheat or steal from the funds, make stupid moves to rattle sabers at the other islands, they will balance the budget such as it is.  They will do their job.  There will be no corporate pay-offs.  No one will be charged with anything or have to resign. The RCMP won’t investigate or even taser and jump on any backs.  And the community will continue to welcome newcomers with open arms.

Democracy OTG style.


7 thoughts on “Community Association

  1. Key point for stuff to happen folks need to be invested in the process. The biggest motivator ought to be informed self interest. The ‘quid pro quo.’


    • I am NOT SO sure that informed self interest plays much of a role, actually. Most things seem selfless. Of course, the concept of community is served and that is like an insurance policy for the future but I don’t think anyone consciously thinks that way. ‘Good of the community’ is about as far as it gets. Some are more self-interested in a ‘what’s in it for me’ kind of way but most are not and just feel that that they owe something back to the community. Certainly there is rarely if any pressure to contribute…it all feels 99% voluntary at the very least.
      For instance, why would I volunteer to teach the kids dispute resolution skills?


      • Why teach dispute resolution skills? Raises the capacity of the children to deal with conflict, introduces them to political discourse(i.e. who gets what and why) develops listening and problem solving skills, teaches them how to compromise, use reasoning over brute force, it is nurturing, builds communities but the list is much longer than these learning outcomes. What it is not is altruism! It is a shining example of some of the elements of a civilized conduct. Acting civilized is informed self interest.


        • NOT altruism, eh? Civilization as a manifestation of self interest, eh? So is living OTG a rejection of self-interest? It is definitely a rejection of civilization or – more to the point – MODERN living which is (I admit) NOT the same as civilized (in fact, we may be more civilized even if we don’t have mod cons).
          I do not, however, reject altruism as a real force. I do NOT believe everything has a self-interest component (yes, I know the argument that even if it just feels good, you are getting something). I believe that people will often do the right thing when it does not feel good, no one is around to watch and no personal gain can be measured. But we likely disagree on that.
          Doesn’t matter. We are both civilized enough to do that, eh?


          • It is the argument of the philosophes (a group French thinkers looking to improve society) It’s also the ‘golden rule as in do unto others…’ We are of one mind on this issue and there is no disagreement. Informed self interest is not the same as being selfish. Living OTG is most civilized since the opportunity to have a thoughtful society increases with the more like minded ethical individuals that bind together.


  2. Sounds like an excellent group.
    Ive always found that small, volunteer groups work very well when things are still small.
    Toss in a few more bucks and bigger decisions and whoa! The self promoters and the control freaks come slithering into the light.
    My experience in meetings involving lazy people and egos……….
    The “late type” that always shows up at least 10 minutes after the meeting begins and then asks questions about items poreviously discussed, forcing the meeting to drag on due to repetition. Note to self …appoint a chairperson that will nuke such questions with “perhaps you should be here on time’ followed by a withering stare.
    There’s always the “arguementative type” that disagrees with everything and ends up dominating meetings by focusing on minutae, rules and procedures. Note to self…… set time limits for people to talk.
    The “uniformed type” that doesnt really know what the hell they’re talking about but loves to hear them selves talk and then later tell all and sundry that “Yeah, it was a tough decision but I had to do it” as if it was them alone and involved the slaying of fire breathing dragons with a sword. Note to self…set time limits for stupid people to talk.
    The “there’s money in the account and it MUST be spent” type. Possibly the most dangerous individual on the committee. Perhaps after careful contemplation, there is no need for repairs or construction until a later date….ARGHH! sez the spender. Why are we here? To get agreement on how to empty that account of course!
    And last but not least.
    The “hand washer” type. The person that agrees(votes) with everything in the meeting but then later tells all and sundry. “What a Stoo-pid idea! It’ll NEVER work! Its a waste of money! etc etc etc.
    Committees… least there free coffee and donuts.
    The “


    • We’ve had all of ’em and their clones up here. And a few other ‘types’ as well. I can’t do it. I am known around here for helping so long as no committee meetings are held. None. Not one. Ever. But I am lucky – most of the things I do involve building with other old guys who mostly won’t talk to each other anyway and, if they do, half are stone deaf and so it’s just pointless. That’s not an optimum way to be efficient but it’s at least quiet and not crazy-making.


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