Cheesecake Feedback

At Twin Oaks there are a number of formalized processes for confronting issues that come up regarding specific members. One of these is a ‘community feedback,’ in which a meeting is open to all members of the community to share concerns about a specific member. While they can be brought forth by any member concerned about another’s behavior, feedbacks are often called automatically by policy in certain situations, such as having a negative labor balance for too long or not adhering to provisions of a personal behavior contract. While innocuous-sounding in name, they are generally a pretty stressful event for the focus person and other involved parties. It’s a chance for any members to call out, face-to-face and in front of the community, pretty much anything they take issue with.

Now imagine how Sky must have felt hearing that his provisional membership period would be concluded with a community feedback. Sky’s been connected to Twin Oaks his whole life. Having lived here as a baby, he was drawn back as a young adult and spent several years as a member before leaving again for a couple years. Six months ago he returned and dove straight back into community life, joining our decision-making teams, putting together our annual Communities Conference, and continually strengthening social ties with those at and connected to Twin Oaks. Of course, all (well, most) members have to go through standard membership process, so Sky’s transition from ‘provisional member’ to ‘full member’ at the end of his six-month provisional period was dependent on a community poll. In this poll the community may, among other things, decide to grant full membership while requiring a feedback. Only 10% of full members need to call for the Feedback for it happen, in this case eight people.

One would think Sky would sail smoothly through his six-month poll, but exactly eight members voted to require a feedback. The concern cited on their input slips: no cheesecake. Sky had spend a whole six months back at Twin Oaks, and not once did he make cheesecake to share with the community. Blatant disregard of community well-being such as this can’t be ignored. A feedback was necessary.

feedback cheesecake

Well, okay. It wasn’t quite necessary. It wasn’t really an issue at all. No one in cos right mind would have a problem with that. It turns out that an anonymous mischief-maker encouraged others to vote for the feedback because, well, it’s hilarious. And only for someone as loved and valued as Sky would people willing to do mock negative input. Sky was dumbstruck when he heard he was required a feedback, but after hearing the community concern quickly took the opportunity to play along bring the friends together.

Sky organized his own feedback, complete with representatives from the normally required teams, a personal advocate, and public notice. His notice to the community read “Feedback and Dance Party. Cheesecake provided. I hear your concerns.”

At the time of feedback, a circle of concerned communards experienced an improv satire of Twin Oaks process and politics. Calls for more teams to be involved, members urging for policy to be rewritten, NVC language, and ad hoc solutions to appease individuals (Luca expressed great concern about getting cheesecake in his large beard) all poked loving fun at the way we do feedbacks. Most apt and hilarious was Brittany’s comment, “I didn’t realize how much this issue upset me until everyone started talking about.”

Sky was very receptive to the concerns of the community and concluded the feedback with an ‘audio response.’ That is, he played I’m On a Boat and transitioned the event into a dance party. In the end, I think the community was satisfied and their concerns were addressed. And there was a shit ton of cheesecake.