Answers to Planner Survey Questions

[Background: A group of 3 or 4 planners serve staggered 18 month terms and are my communities highest executive decision making body.  They are also the policy/political trash collection entity, in that many small and annoying issues role up to them.  The current group of planners have initiated a long term planning survey, these are my answers to their questions.]

Summary Recommendations

  • Develop a 5 year plan to get the community off the grid
  • Increase population to 110 adult members by 2015 (it is currently 93 Adults)
  • Initiate process for new residence or expansion of existing one
  • Fix the TCLR and Tupelo roofs
  • Make it easier for members to make money thru Outside Work
  • Expand TOAST and recruit for the communities movement
  • Recommit and actually do something about mold problems in residences

Do i think i will be here in 5 years?  Possibly, it depends a bit on how the community chooses to grow and deal with some of the issues touched on in the survey.  I love Twin Oaks, i have been here for a while, perhaps i should move on.  I am interested in starting new FEC communities in the area – beyond LEF.

Population:  We have been at pop cap for 3 years now and the community has not had any serious discussion about either building additional housing or starting a new community (as we did with Acorn when we were in this place 19 years ago).  While it would be impossible to break ground on a new building now, we are (as we often do) ignoring that it would take at least a year of process to build a new building.  The planners could initiate this process or direct the Pop Gang to poll community sentiment.  In 2004 Recruiting did a survey in which 41 of 45 members wanted the community to increase its population with time.

Alternatively, Twin Oaks (possibly in conjunction with Acorn) could work on building a new community in the area.  This does not need to be done in the expensive and slow manner that Acorn was started ($250K and a big new building construction project).  This could be done by simply helping provide cottage industry opportunity (Satellite hammocks, Seed business support, or other more exotic solutions) along with providing labor credits to interested members to explore this option.  Approving Pioneer PALs could go a long way towards making this happen.

Allowance/Money:  The community allowance linked into profitability is an adequate fix from my perspective.  I think the community should prioritize making income generating work be available to members who need more personal money than is generally available.  This could be done thru Outside Work (which is currently largely dormant because of the communities labor shortage) and by changing the OW/VE ratio back to 50/50 as it was for years.

Standard of Living:  This is perhaps addressed on a more specific way in other answers.  We could do more to deal with our deferred maintenance projects.  Specifically TCLR roof, Tupelo Roof and mold in many community buildings.

Sustainability:  The community should develop a plan to get us off the power grid by expanding our renewable energy resources, especially solar PV and thru the micro hydro at the mill.  The CPs should ask Keenan to report on the possibilities of mill micro hydro as he is already working with George Payne on the restoration of this building.  We should be putting resources aside to expand our renewable energy solutions.  The community has consistently wanted to go this way, but has lagged in our performance.  And energy prices are quite likely to increase significantly with time.

Community Growth:  It is unclear to me how this differs from population in the above question.  I think the community should grow by expanding the existing housing stock or increasing the number of SLGs.  I think we should look to being about 110 members by 2015.

Outreach:  During periods of high population community outreach efforts (usually coordinated by recruiting – which Valerie and i manage) are oriented towards promoting the communities movement in general, rather than Twin Oaks specifically.  We could be doing more in terms or writing articles for magazine or newspapers, encouraging magazines or websites to do articles on us and putting energy into a Twin Oaks members community blog.  TOAST could be expanded as an income area method for increasing outreach.  We could also do more to recruit for a more racially and culturally diverse population of the community.

Infrastructure:  We have several deferred maintenance problems which we are not addressing.  Specifically, TCLR roof and Tupelo roof, both of which are leaking or badly in need of repair.  The planners have promised to work on the campus wide mold problem but have so far been stymied in this effort (or perhaps not reported back yet).

Social/Cultural:  The commune has a rich and uneven social and cultural experience.  The planners could take a more active role in finding out what types of social and cultural activities are desired by the members.  This is not often a planner initiative, but it could be.