Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ganas: Ten Learnings

This list was the start of this series.  I was thinking about what positive things you could learn from Ganas (after living here for a bit over six months) and without thinking too much about it I came up with ten things.  Here they are:

1)  Openness to Dealing with Conflict and experience doing it Conflict is going to happen at any community but I’m impressed with the fearlessness they have about dealing with it at Ganas.
2)  A No Blame Philosophy Ganas likes to think about problems and solutions to them, rather than trying to figure out who’s to blame in a situation
3)  Abiding by just four rules On the Ganas website they claim: “Since we deal with problems daily in open discussion, we are able to limit ourselves to only 4 rules:
1) Non-violence to people or things; 2) No free rides (everybody is required to work productively or pay their expenses); 3) No illegality (including illegal drugs); 4) This rule requires that people bring their complaints about the community or people in it to the group, where the problems can be discussed and resolved with the people involved. The reason for Rule 4 is that the community suffers when negativity is presented as non-negotiable fact in private or public venues.
People breaking one of these rules will be asked to leave.”
4)  Visitors Dinner  Every Friday night they invite visitors to come and talk about themselves and ask questions about Ganas
5)  Residents Dinner On Wednesday nights, Ganas holds a forum during dinner where people can talk about issues.  They often use a ‘question bowl’ where people write down a questions they have and one is pulled randomly from a bowl and discussed.
6)  Regular Birthday Celebrations  This is a major fun activity at Ganas.  When it’s your birthday, you can design the festivities and Ganas will try to accommodate.  (Limitations apply, naturally.)
7)   Food Chain  Every Tuesday night dinner is interrupted by this community building activity.  It makes me really feel part of a cooperative effort.  (For more on this, see my post Food Chain! on 4/27/15.)
8)  Courtyard/Gardens/Inter-house Layout  From the street, the Ganas buildings don’t stand out, but there are non-obvious walkways between them in the front and a big shared yard and gardens behind them.  It’s very well done.
9)  Businesses  The clothing, furniture, and book stores are all pretty different from one another and yet very similar.  As someone pointed out, these all focus on recycling as they sell donated and used items.  The businesses are part of the commercial area of the ‘North Shore’ of Staten Island, and so connect Ganas to the larger community.
10) Most successful community in NYC New York is the largest US city and while it has many little collectives and cooperative households in it, as far as I know this is the largest, longest running secular community in the city.  They’ve been here 35 years, have more than 70 folks, have a long waiting list, and seem to be going strong, all in a challenging urban environment.

Next, ten learnings from Twin Oaks.

Quote of the Day:  “Our purpose is to bring reason and emotion together in daily problem solving, in order to create our world, with love, the way we want it to be.” - from the Ganas website

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