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Give and take, yo

One psychologist's interesting take on "the simple life".

As Hæven, we have an obligation to pay attention to what our values are, what work we find fulfilling, and what trade-offs we consider "worth it".

Should there be a formal method for Hæven people to figure out / discuss / record these things? How should we encourage others to do so, too?

The enemy is bullshit.

From "Why We Hate Us", a book by Dick Meyer that I think I'll have to pick up eventually:

"When you write an Internet column about things like this, as I do, and your e-mail address is at the bottom of every column, as mine is, you hear about what people hate loud and clear, over and over. I can report definitively that people hate columnists who hate things. They loathe snails who drive slowly in the left lane. They don't like people who talk full volume about the heartbreak of their psoriasis on cell phone headsets in restaurants and quiet bookstores. They don't like that more and more stores are chains, the same everywhere, mostly with lousy service from blase employees, even if prices are lower and choice is more plentiful. They hate it when big multinational corporations have advertisements that say "We care about you," because corporations can't care, and besides, they don't really know you that well. They don't like it when they're talking with someone who starts thumbing their little digital personal device to answer an e-mail from someone five hundred miles away. They don't appreciate being bumped into at airports or on sidewalks by people with white earbuds crammed in their ears, oblivious to their human surroundings. They don't like oversold flights."

...You can read an article about this guy and some of his ideas over at NPR. The exerpt I quoted is pretty fluffy in comparison; the general idea is more that the American public, eager to "choose everything" in the 1960's, found too late that one of the things you forget to choose (when you're choosing where to live, where to work, when to marry -- all those things that were chosen for you in the old days) is to build a community of people you truly know. If that's even something you can choose.

You see where I'm going here: Hæven is our attempt to do exactly that, and if we can pull it off, to teach it to other people, too.
Fellow humans! So sorry about the lack of updates here; things have been crazy. But it's been crazy good, too, and there's a lot of exciting stuff in the works with Haeven. F'rinstance:

  • Cate's moving to Michigan this month! I know this makes us the most hated people in all of Boston (and rightfully so; if Boston was taking her from me, I'd have tried to sue them over it...at least), but it's a great positive step for the project. The two of us can really brainstorm now, and make more shared contacts; and of course the cheap, arable land we need to get started is here. (That's right: blatantly taking advantage of Michigan's depressed economy. But also aiming to help it, so I refuse to feel bad.) Of course, a lot of really important people to this project are over in / near Boston, and we hope as hard as we can that they stay in touch, stay involved and come to see us as often as humanly possible. I figure if we make this place half as wonderful as we'd like, they'll have no choice but to spend huge amounts of time with us, regardless of distance. ;)
So yeah, once the moving is out of the way, expect stupid fast progress on a lot of things that have been languishing in theory-land.

...But I shouldn't say that, because a lot of progress has been made already. For instance:
  • Libraries! There are now several Haeven Libraries set up in core members' homes. We deliberately wanted to keep who-has-what loose, and the library fluid and big ... and of course we're all bookophiles ... you should see what's in my house alone! In fact, soon you will, because I want to have the members who have libraries take pictures of them so that we can all have a peek. That comes after we get the book-plates designed, and maybe even a sign made to designate Haeven Library shelves. Also,there'll be a database soon, to keep track of exactly what books Haeven "owns".
  • Websites! Well, theoretical websites. It's in the works; I think we're going for wiki-with-forum. Anybody who wants to help out with setting that up, it'd be handy, since Shaggy (our super-awesome tech person) is kind of swamped as it is! (You're going to love how he's doing the voting-system, though.)
  • Gardens! We've all been learning about the gardening aspect as fast as we can...Mary (my mother and our resident medical person/herbalist) just went to a Plant Savers convention this weekend and brought home tons of info, recipes, tips and contacts...I've been reading up on forest gardening...and Cate is taking this awesome class in permaculture in September, which I think will push her personal Awesome Factor beyond the point where conventional measurements can go. ;)
  • Nonprofits! There's been a lot of progress on the vision of Haeven as a working nonprofit, on how it interacts with and benefits the public, on how and where it gets funding, that kind of thing. We've found one large project in Southeast Michigan that looks like a truly exciting source for money, and recently got a very good personal contact with an amazingly-connected and awesome person who can probably help us find the rest, as well as find land. (The Plan, for those following The Plan, is to secure said land by this time next year.)
...And that's not nearly everything, but I don't want to go crazy with conjectures.

Suffice to say things are moving, and please expect more updates soon.

Following is a few Questions To Ponder for havenaughts; if you have thoughts on any of this stuff, please jump in!

1. Logo: augh! Something incorporating the "ash" character (the combined "ae") that the word Haeven contains, maybe? It's called an ash becuase it comes from the symbol for "ash tree" in Futhark/runic...I've been trying to use that to come up with something, but nothing so far. *sigh* If you have ANY artistic or design talent, now would be a great time to contribute!

2. New Members: We'll need a few more people to work and/or stay at Haeven as we build it up -- so what are everybody's thoughts on what those people should be like? We have a lot of areas of expertise covered so far, but of course extra hands in things like legal and gardening can never hurt...and some things we still need, like construction-types who can install energy-efficiency stuff, and preferably someone with a good head for farm animals. (Mary Beth, who also does child care and will be running our summer camp eventually, has got the goats covered, we think. But other than that? What I know about chickens I learned at KFC...!) I'm trying to come up with a full list, but what's more important to that list than "what these people know" is "who these people ARE", so we'd love to hear from everyone what types of people they think fit with Haeven's goals.

3. Member fees. This is still heavily in-the-works, but will be a priority for ironing-out in the coming months. Thus, if you have any comments or opinions on member fees, now is probably the best time to get them heard! All you have to do is tell one of us, and we'll pass the word around (for now, we're calling this our "sneaker forum", heh -- but we really need to get a real online forum up and working soon, don't we?). Do you want to suggest a minimum/maximum? Do you think some people should pay more than others, or be able to trade work for fees? Let's hear it!

...And I suppose I'll leave it at that; no more than three "exercises-for-the-reader" is a personal rule of mine. (Well, unless there's five...)

Be talking to you all more soon! (Some of you a lot more, very soon; did I mention that I'm taking a trip to Boston in two weeks? I am!)


not that this is *remotely* as interesting as the site that Kallisti posted, but I've been rather obsessed with the institute for appropriate technology lately: http://www.thefarm.org/charities/i4at/library.html

check it out if you get the chance!

::x-posted from all my other journals::

You guys know about TED, right? Only the smartest people talking about the smartest, most relevant things ever, collected in free video online. I've never, ever seen a TED video that didn't pop my eyes and drop my jaw and change something about my thinking forever.

Today, I have to recommend this one, which literally made me stand up and cheer. James Howard Kunstler, who will impress the crap out of you, gives this amazing talk about urban design and suburban sprawl. I think it speaks in several places to what we're aiming for with Haeven and why it's necessary. Seriously, don't miss it.

Every Class is Unfit to Govern

"The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern." - Lord Acton

Lots of great Haven conversation is going on, just to keep you posted, but the real grunt work is taking a deep breath to begin this fall.  In preparation, we're both doing a lot of studying, Cate into community dynamics and what's already out there, and me into nonprofits and how to structure the business.

In the midst of a good conversation yesterday, we were relieved to discover that our "committee" structure, as envisioned by the clot of Havenaughts who gathered a few months ago, does a really nice job of doubling as a direct representative democracy that in its structure prevents classicism

Hear me out:  There are two levels of governance that go on at Haeven*.  One is Governance of the Community (ComGov, 'cause I ain't typing that twelve times), and the other is Governance of the Corporation (CorpGov).  Obviously these two have to meet at some points, and they do, though we haven't completely smoothed over all the wrinkles where they join. 

Part of ComGov is committees, which are based around activities, and whose members elect a committee leader who reports directly to the Board.  The structure and function of the Board as a ComGov entity is really well envisioned I think; it was one of the crowning glories to come out of the "clot of Havenaughts meeting".  (That, and the voting system.  Whew!)  Because of this structure, community issues regarding gardening are directly informed by the gardeners; technology by the techies; groundskeeping by the groundskeepers; and so forth. 

On a CorpGov level, it looks as though we'll be able to fit the existing conception of a Board nicely into the position of being a Board of Directors, and still have room for all the usual corporate claptrap that goes with that.  (I won't bore you, because trust me, it IS boring.)  The usual practice in any business, then, is to appoint A Person who is reponsible in total for the day-to-day operations -- in our case, for the community, since that is our day-to-day operation.  In a for-profit business, this Person is called the President; in a non-profit, usually the Executive Director.  Yesterday we were talking about how to implement this, and in a flash of sheer brilliance, Cate decided that we just shouldn't.

Yup, no E.D. for us.  Why?  Several reasons. 
  • First, the community is too diverse a project to ever be overseen by one person, in our opinions
  • Second, the committees represent important aspects of the community, and we believe that each should have a direct line of input to the Board
  • Third, an Executive Director sounds to me like a Single Point of Failure, and I/we don't like those
And fourth, and possibly coolest, is that letting the Committee Leaders report directly to the Board -- making them the zenith of day-to-day oversight -- basically "ports over" the representative democracy of ComGov into CorpGov too, and puts the divisions among the corporation and the community along the lines of activity or concern *rather than class*.  Think about a normal corporation -- you have the down-lows, the middlings, the higher-ups and the suits; a total classist structure.  The suits are largely one group, even if one is a Finance Suit and one is a Manufacturing Suit and so forth -- they stick together a lot more than they stick to their respective departments.  This wouldn't be the case with Committee Leaders, who would be Committee Leaders specifically because they're very invested in the work that that committee is doing.  They are elected by the members of the committee, pure and simple.  (And the Board wouldn't be a "suits" organization either, but for reasons I don't have time to go into at the moment; they hark back to the structure of the Board itself, which can, I think, be largely unchanged from how we envisioned it as the "clot of Havenaughts".) 

Anyway, I'm rather impressed with how that all worked out.  Any comments, questions or haggles, throw them at Cate or myself.  The work continues!

Apr. 19th, 2008

this is a ery, very good blog that provides a basic (but well articulated understanding)of a whole, whole lot we've been discussing for ages: http://goodwordswan.wildflowerstew.com/

check it out.

Administrative things:  Pretty soon (i.e. in a matter of months, we think), Haven will be getting its own website.  There will still be an RSS feed, so if you have us added to your LJ Friends page, you can keep us there.  This is just a heads up -- repeat, this is just a heads-up.  If this had been an actual announcement or notice of action, it would have included some concrete data and not been amusingly worded in parody of a Test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  This concludes the heads-up.


In other news, there's been good news on the non-profit front.  Mind you, many rebels died to bring us this information...

The good news is, it takes $20 and 3-5 days to get state recognition as a non-profit.  This lets us do most things, but not offer Federal tax deductions for donations; we'll need the Federal IRS exemption for that (that's the pain-in-the-patoot one, but it should be noticeably easier with State nonprofit status figured out).  In order to apply, we just need our Articles of Incorporation figured out, same as we would in order to incorporate independently of non-profit status.  They really don't require anything else.  w00t! 

There will be some getting-together of Haven people this week (MORE W00T!), so maybe some progress on the Articles can be made right then.  I'm volunteering up front to pay the $20 to file.  ;)

Oh, and in other Administrative news...we haven't forgotten about the donations structure as discussed at the last major Haven meeting.  In fact, we've made quite a bit of progress on it...but our lawyer advised us not to start collecting money until Haven was incorporated, since otherwise we risk uncertainty about who's responsible for the money and where it can and can't go.  Since incorporating (which is now the same step as becoming a state non-profit) looks pretty easy at this point, we've decided (at least I think we have), to take this step first, to be on the safe side.  Do expect to hear more about monthly membership donations soon, though.  (And no, I'm not just waiting until I'm less broke.  Hmph.)

Happy Darn-Near-Spring, all!  (Oh, and one more reminder -- if any of you, full-time-interested or not, want to come out and scope the area, just let me know.  Within reason, I can put most visitors up for free and provide some sightseeing tips as needed.)

Something Useful & Domain Names

Hey Havenaughts ~

Those of us who will be involved in marketing, even indirectly, would probably benefit from this blog: 

http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/blog/  ...I've found it pretty useful already.  ;)

Also, it's Domain Registration Time!  Cate & I seem happy with "havenaughts" as a general-use name, including for domain purposes.  But we really like puns.  If you don't -- if you, for instance, think that a "havenaught" sounds like "the Chosen Ones among the Gundam" whose "leader is a guy with sunglasses and a sword who can inexplicably walk around in outer space with no helmet" -- well, then, speak up.  (Unless you're the person who already did, ahem.)


Awesome Weekend Recap

Hmm, it totally slipped my/our minds that this should go here, I think.  But hey, we've been busy!

Last weekend, that of Jan. 25, some of the core Haven-people got to sit in the same room for half a night and talk shop.  Looking back on it, a lot was accomplished; more than I think we gave ourselves credit for at the time.  All of it's still working notes, so I won't post those here, but I will post a recap of the things we worked out, as a starting-point for more details, a yardstick of our progress and a reminder that a lot gets done when we're in the same room!

Before I say anything, though, there should be huge thanks to shrinking_cate, riotmod, Jame, Ken K. & Tina, without whose input this would not have gotten so far, or been so amazingly good.  Or fun.  ;)

The following subjects were fleshed out quite well, and there will be separate posts to discuss them in detail soon:

Voting:  We now have weighted and "general population" voting, and what each should be used for, as well as polling, its uses and the rules for doing it.  We've done an awesome job of giving the population as much say as possible while retaining order and fairness, I think. 

The Board:  Who will be on the board, how they will get there, for how long they'll stay, and what types of things the Board will do are all on paper now.  Yay!

Committees:  We now know how committees will generally work, how their leaders get and keep and lose those positions, and how they should work together.

Investment:  Some good ideas were had for how people should invest initially in the Haven project, though we're not firm on what the "reward" for investing in the startup should be.

Financial sustainability was heavily discussed, and some good ideas thrown around for how to get the project to fund itself as time goes on.  There's still a lot to talk about here, but we at least got a handle on some of the major avenues.

Community values, which will form the basis of all our decisions, really, were discussed quite a bit, and I think we've got most, if not all, of them written down now.  This wasn't an easy conversation, but we handled it admirably -- no blood!  ;)

Other things we touched on, but still need to develop much more, are membership requirements, process of becoming a member, fees for different tiers of membership, the justice system, self-sufficiency, and the corporation structure.  But that's a good thing, because I, for one, would be upset as all get-out if I didn't have a reason to get all these people together for another chat.  Chasing a dream like this, absolutely nothing gives you the warm-fuzzies like knowing that you're going to be doing it with the most awesome people you know!

Okay, gushing done.  More details soon, and thanks again to everyone who participated and made the gathering possible!