Planner Interview Transcript

My planner interview was not well attended.  The two planners came, and Piper, who is one of my bigger fans here on the commune.  It is unclear if my critics skipped the event because it was not especially well promoted (members did not get the famous “duck stamp” printed on their labor sheets, altering them to the community meeting) or because they are uninterested in engaging with me.  It could easily be both.  It was also complete in 50 minutes, which was wonderful.

Most of the questions were general ones, and some custom ones just for me appear at the end.  It was conducted in the Hammocks shop where Adder and i wove, while Sapphyre read the questions and took these very complete notes below (which i have tweaked only slightly).  To make this post more interesting, i have stolen a number of random photos of community life and included them.

[Key CP = Community Planners (or just The Planners), cmty = community, hx = hammocks]

Sky DJs the New Years Eve party

Sky DJs the New Years Eve party

Paxus’s Planner Interview

Posted by for CPs


  1. Why do you want to be a planner?  Couple of reasons: I stepped down from general mgmt of hammocks business & putting labor scene together and I like executive/complicated work so this fits in well , good use of my skills. I’m coming with an agenda. One piece is that we did a five year plan and process stopped after we had gathered the survey information. I’d like to move that process forward. Figure out what the communities agreed priorities are and try to advance them.  The other thing is that I feel particularly that the tofu expansion project is stuck and/or stalled and I would like to have regular mtgs with upgrade team and potentially do other things to push that project along. It is similar to work I’ve doing with some success over at Acorn with their new building construction. Moving projects along is work I’m already doing and I’d like to be a part of the bureaucracy that makes things happen.

  1. How much time do you expect to put into this job?  We estimate it takes 9-15 hours per week, more during a crisis.  I expect that I will do 9 to 15 hours a week. I will do what it takes, especially in a crisis.

    The best ones have thorns

    The best ones have thorns

  1. Do the current CP mtg times suit you? yes.
  1. How do you feel about how the current CPs function?  Frankly, I haven’t been paying close attention. I know both of them professionally and personally and know they are both great & capable. I haven’t heard any complaints and I imagine that there would be if they weren’t doing a good job. If there were major mistakes being made, i certainly would have heard about it.  I’m confident of their capacity and part of the reason I want to be planner in this group is because I’m confident that I won’t have to do all the work.

  1. On the spectrum from head-counters to independent thinkers, where do you place the role of the Cps?  If I had a general bias, it would be more toward independent thinkers. And i believe this is a very issue dependent spectrum. This is one thing that we talked a lot about during my last plannership, especially when we had a different opinion from the rest of the community. For example, on a federal level i am fine with courts ruling over majorities on gay marriages.  If you are granting people rights our building more fair or just systems – you can be ahead of the populace.  And there are times when more democratic (majority rule) based systems should probably trump leadership – for example how the community should deal with a budget shortfall – here the planers should frame the questions and let the community decide what areas get cut and how much.  We (as planners) should do a survey rather than deciding that my personal favorite area should get funding vs a less favored area.

    Smudging at May Day Circa 2013

    Smudging at May Day Circa 2013

  1. Are there current issues in which you’re interested?  Beyond the things I’ve already said – one of the reasons I’m interested in pushing forward the tofu expansion is because it is clear to me that we can’t talk about what we will build next until we get this project finish. We have been at population cap for three years.  I believe we are part of a movement and need to look at growth or starting new communities, especially because we are very slow in planning.  And at this point we can’t imagine building a new residence or facility because all of our resources are held up into the hut.

  1. Are there issues you hope to promote as planner? I’ve already been talking about these so beyond implementing long term survey results through some kind of process, pushing tofu expansion to completion, I’d like us to start thinking about our next projects and I’d also like us to be talking about what kinds of things we’re going to do about our persistent pop cap/waiting list. Are we going to try to grow the community?Do we want to help a new community get started?   If so, we need to look at upgrading/maintaining our existing structures.

    some odd stuff grows here

    some odd stuff grows here

  1. What do you see as your strengths for the job? I’m smart, I’m immodest, I’m experienced with the cmty — i know it’s operations. I have experience in many different areas of cmty, I’m good in crisis, I’m a team player, especially when I like the people on the team. I’m good at weighing different kind of variables in complicated equations. Good at compromise & modifying proposals to take care of the diverse needs of the cmty. As an example, I worked with the loud minority that were upset about the BDSM workshops and we came up with a workable solution that resulted with the majority not feeling over run by the minority. I feel that I am approachable, at least by most people who live here. I have good advisers. There is more but that’s plenty.  i imagine the next question is “What are my weaknesses?”

  1. What do you see as your weaknesses or challenges?  My ability to forecast planner interview questions. Some of my weaknesses are addressed in my paper: occasionally flaky & drop responsibilities. Occasionally emotional about issues. In this job, a challenge or weakness is that there are some people who do not like me and an even greater group who do not trust me so they will think I am making decisions not based on what is in the best interests of group but what is my own personal agenda. Some people have told me that I am so effective at this that I may dupe the other planners into believing my agenda rather than the right thing. Other challenges are that I am quite actively involved in Acorn. I’m also working on trying to start new cmty so I have other things that are drawing my attention & distracting me from the focus of what is happening at Twin Oaks. Also, in my T.O work, I have a number of things that take me away from the cmty e.g. Hx marketing, fairs, TOAST gigs and on top of this I take vacations and trips that are off the farm. As Rayne suggested was missing from my paper, I am highly accessible by cell phone & email so should the other planners need my input, I’m quite easy to reach & fairly responsive.

  1. How are you as a note-taker?  Facilitator?  Paper-writer? I was the principal note taker & paper writer for my last planner group. I am an experienced and trained facilitator. I imagine I’ll be doing a significant fraction of facilitator work. I have terrible spelling and grammar and my work needs to be proof read before it goes out.

  1. How are you with confidentiality? This is a great question. I am absolutely a gossip and yet I still have many many secrets that I have to keep as a function of being in transparency groups & other situations where I have been asked not reveal info. I do a reasonably good job at maintaining these confidences, I think.

    Finley and Yogart - or perhaps the other way around

    Finley and Yogart – or perhaps the other way around

  1. Do you consider yourself approachable?  Highly. I tell people consistently you don’t have to ask to ask, you can ALWAYS ask me a question without asking to ask anytime you see me.

  1. How are you at receiving feedback or criticism?  Highly experienced.

  1. How do you think you would cope if you draft an O&I paper as a CP and it gets a lot of flak? I have drafted O&I papers both as a planner and member that have received tremendous flak. This means that this thing I am trying to advance doesn’t advance and we go back to the drawing board. This is fundamental to our decision making process here. I don’t take it personally.

  1. How do you think you would cope if you need to tell someone an important decision has not gone the way co wanted and co is very upset?  Or, how are you at talking with a “difficult” person? I think I am reasonably good at delivering bad news and/or talking to an upset person. If it is someone who doesn’t trust me, then I’m probably a bad person to deliver bad news, but not a big deal, just pick someone else to do it. I have delivered a lot of bad news and mostly people haven’t wanted to shoot the messenger.

    Nothing stops frisbee

    Nothing stops frisbee

  1. Can you set aside your personal preferences when making decisions about what’s best for the community? I do with some regularity. Recent example is that Ned was having some trouble finding an advocate. Ned and I don’t especially get along but I offered that I would be his advocate because I believe this service is important.

  1. How well do you think you can work with the current CPs and/or other potential candidates? The other potential candidates I am confident that I can work brilliantly with them as there are none. I have worked with both Adder & Sapphyre and have done so well. Sapphyre & I have had some small struggles around room assigning styles, but nothing that wasn’t able to be worked through. I trust both of their capacities. Again, part of the reason I choosing to be a planner now is because I want to work with this team.

  1. Commitment to TO? I have been at T.O. 15 years. I have a son who lives here that isn’t leaving any time soon & I have a very high commitment to him. This lifestyle works very well for me. I have a friend in silicon valley who has offered me a high salary job since I arrived & I continue to turn him down. I don’t see myself going anywhere any time soon.

    Hawina as Air - at the center of my commitment to here - Beltane 2013

    Hawina as Air – at the center of my commitment to here – Beltane 2013

[The following questions were crafted specifically for me (as opposed to the general questions above) based on the input the planners got from the membership.  In this input 8 people commented favorably, 4 people had concerns or objections and 1 person was neutral in their evaluation. ]

20. You’re known to take off the farm for business and personal needs, and currently spend a significant portion of your time at Acorn. How do you think this lack of presence on the farm will affect your plannership? I think that what the planners will get is something like 3/4’s of a regular planner. Were there other people itching for this job, I would step out of the way. I think ¾ of planner is better than no other planner so I don’t feel bad about taking this spot. This concern is valid and I’ve already addressed my accessibility.

Micha's rope work near Morningstar at the kids palace

Micha’s rope work near Morningstar at the kids palace

21. Because of historical conflict or political difference, there are some members you tend not to be having face-to-face communication with. Will this affect your ability to meet the needs of these individuals? Yes. The last time I was planner there were people who did not want to meet with me. I was willing to meet but they weren’t. It is harder for them to get their needs met without face to face communication. I am willing to change the dynamic from my side but it is unclear to me if they are willing to change it from their side. Certainly I am willing to work with them though.

22. How would you address a members concerns that you may, as a planner, end up pushing items on your agenda too hard? I am not a planner by myself. If the other planners think I am pushing my agenda too hard I am confident that they will tell me to back off & I will respond favorably to their analysis.

The walls of Unicorn School have our kids names on them

The walls of Unicorn School have our kids names on them

23. Do you plan to abide by community policy during your plannership? Please address use of money and cmty resources, specifically as it relates to being a dual member. My modus operandi is that I operate inside cmty agreements and when I feel constrained by agreements I will ask for exceptions. Sometimes they are granted sometimes they do not. It is certainly that I ask for more than others. I do not think that asking for and being granted exceptions makes me outside of our agreements. I know from my conversations with some members that they disagree. As it is the cmty’s prerogative to say no and I abide by that. For example, I did not want my dual process and planner veto box having at the same time. I asked, I was told no & they are now happening at exactly the same time. And, on the flip side, I currently have access to the Acorn fleet as an acorn member. I use them for acorn cmty use as well as personal use. There are Oakers who feel that this isn’t fair that I have access to the fleet in ways that others oakers that don’t. There are oakers who are not dual members who are on acorn insurance and driving acorn cars. Are members upset with them as well? Another example is that while I was on PAL, I was granted the option to drive TO vehicles to fairs so that I could drive Hawina to fairs that she and I go to. There are people who don’t like this. I am one of the top fairs sales people. I was happy to do the work. I was unwilling to leave my PAL to come back to be a member for these very brief stints & Hawina doesn’t drive. I feel that this was a great deal for Twin Oaks. I didn’t drive myself around on vacation. I drove so that the community could make a bunch of money.

Piper, as only attendee, comments that she is very glad that Paxus has an agenda with the tofu expansion. They need better equipment to take care of their bodies. About this egalitarian thing that we were just talking about – there was a time that cmty took a survey of how happy each member vs how happy the cmty was as a whole. The result was that most people were personally very happy but that the cmty was not very happy/fulfilled. Piper thinks that something like this is going on now with this egalitarian thing. No one individual feels shorthanded by Pax’s exceptions but that they think that others are impacted despite no one saying so. Piper wishes it was a non issue. One thing not in questions is that it is also important that Pax’s is anti nuclear in every way possible without damaging twin oaks. Piper is very grateful that Pax fits this in without it creating any damage to the communities name and reputation. Gives her extra confidence that he will look out for our best interests.

One of the ways we celebrate each other - the validation card box

One of the ways we celebrate each other – the validation card box