Penthouse and basement

It is my last couple of weeks as planner and i have quite enjoyed the communities highest executive position.  One of the last things i will be doing is running (with a great group of advisers) the communities overall budgeting process.  There are lots of different budget lines and significant knowledge within the group about each one  of them (some from the area manager, some from the member survey we have taken, and some from the diverse knowledge of the perhaps 10 people in the room who are designing our budget game).

We look at whether we can raise population to cover the requests for sabbaticals and if this will create a room crunch or a labor problem from doing this fix.  We speculate on whether good managers will return (often saving us money, but sometimes costing us labor) or poor ones will drop the job and perhaps the community.  Are we budgeting or are we forecasting?  We need to cut $17K from the money budgets, we need to cut 7000 hours from our work area labor budgets.  It is a lively, complex and high impact discussion.

At Acorn the painters are nearly finished.  We just need to move some boxes and bookcases and we can clear the last hall for cleaning and priming (ok, “some: is perhaps an understatement – hundreds”.  i try to do this with a guest who is struggling with mental health problems and they are unable to follow the simplest instruction for more than 30 seconds.  Tim (pictured below) stepped in and took their place.

In the space of half an hour i have gone from our highest executive function, to some of our simplest manual labor.  This is not unusual however, many members of the budget team go from our spirited negotiations to gardening or tofu or hammocks making, this is what life on the commune is often like.

Guest Tim with fire and pattern

Guest Tim with fire and pattern

It is actually one of the things i love about community, the differentiated social status of different jobs being significantly compressed in the community context.  i already have some guilt around feeling like i manage/organize too much and dont do enuf “real work” which is more physical labor.  And the rationalist part of my brain tries to justify this by considering the money saved or the work that gets completed (by others hands typically) which would not if i had not been pushing.  And there are times when i feel like perhaps all the organizing and bottleneck fighting would get done by someone else and i could spend more of my time just helping clean the floor like almost everyone else.

balancing leads to happiness

balancing leads to happiness

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

6 responses to “Penthouse and basement”

  1. tickledspirit says :

    yep, this is one of the things I LOVE about community life… not only for the balance of power (in which a worker ‘under’ a manager in one area can be a manager of that same person (the manager of the other area) in another area!) — but also for the balance to my active work life. These days, I’m mostly a “thinker” and a “communicator”, sitting at my desk and typing up curriculum and sending emails. I long for physical, tangible work. Living at TO, I had a lovely balance.

  2. Will says :

    There’s terminology in economics, which I can’t remember offhand, to describe nations trading things that they can produce efficiently to other nations for things those nations produce efficiently. If management is a particular skill, as it is for you, and it’s high-value, then manage, and let others do other work. Whether it’s physical work or intellectual work isn’t even a meaningful consideration.

    • paxus says :

      And were we anything like a classical economic entity, this might make sense. But we are not and it often does not. Members want other members to “pitch in” to the physical work of holding the community together. Members who do not manage want to feel like the managers know their situation because they are working on the line next to them. We prefer our economic inefficiencies, and egalitarianism and self sustaining practices to more classical economi answers.

      I get that this can be hard to understand sometimes, but everyone else worries about efficiency and classical economic solutions, so we dont feel like we must (presuming we can stay in business, which we clearly can).

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