Bryden Allen's Website

Members, Meetings, Officers and Voting


Like all clubs and societies, our various communities must have their own members, meetings, officers and voting systems. And how this should be done, in away that is fair to all people, will not be an easy problem to solve.

 

Now I, over my long life, have belonged to many clubs and societies. And I know that most meetings rarely work well. So some people talk about their own pet topics for far too long and everyone else gets bored. Members then often cease coming to these meetings. And then the officials of the society tend to form a special clique of their own. And then the society will tend to fall apart.
            Now this doesn’t matter in normal clubs or societies because new clubs and societies can form again from the past members. I have seen this happen many times. This doesn’t really matter much at all.

 

But, if a group of people are forming a new green community, then it will be far more disastrous, if such a community falls apart. After all, the land this community buys will probably cost millions of dollars. And, if this community fails, then all its members will lose their homes, their friends and their work. It would be absolutely terrible for everyone.
            So it is incredibly important that our community devises a set of fair rules that will ensure that this community’s members will be treated fairly; and that their system of membership, meetings and the voting for their officials will really work fairly and correctly.
            So we are forced to take this whole organisational subject very seriously indeed. The life of the community will depend on it. Each of us should think about this problem for several hours now and think about how we consider how the organisation system should all work.

 

This diagram is just to remind you what this community

looks like.

Now the subject of membership, meetings and voting are very general subjects indeed. So let us leave these subjects for a moment, and talk about all the official positions our community, which our members will need to elect to run the community.
            For my example I will use my "Green Hamlets - Independent" community. And, for this community, I will now list all the officers, who I think will be necessary for this community to work efficiently and well.

 

I will start with the five biggest areas of activity.
1)         Most people in this community will spend a significant amount of their time helping with the agricultural activity. But this is clearly a large complex subject and so there must be an officer in charge of this activity, who will tell the people working in this area, what to do. So we must clearly have an “Agricultural Officer”.
2)         This community would like to do as much of its own construction as possible. So we must have a “Construction Officer” in charge of this operation.
3)         This community would like to minimize the number of vehicles it needs to use. So many people will now not own their own personal cars. So there needs to be a “Transport Officer” in charge of this operation.
4)         The community will have lots of free time. So we will need a “Social Officer” to make sure all members enjoy this abundant free time as much as possible in pleasant social activities.
5)         A self-sufficient community will clearly try to do as much of the welfare and education activities as possible itself. So there must be a “Welfare and Education Officer” in charge of this whole operation.

 

Then there must be five officers in charge of the five service activities.
6)         There must be a “Energy Officer” in charge of the energy collection devices on our roofs and the wiring system that delivers this energy to each member’s rooms.
7)         There must be a “Water Officer” in charge of the dams and collection area of the community. And this officer must also look after the pipes, which deliver this water to our homes and our agriculture area.
8)         Then there must be a “Communications Officer” in charge the various communication systems.  Thus we still wish to be able to: watch TV, use the Internet and use our computers and phones in the normal way.
9)         If we wish to be a green society then we must clearly have a “Recycling Officer” to help us reuse use all our materials and organic waste.
10)       Finally we will need a “Work-shop Officer” in charge of the community’s work-shop (where we will make or mend whatever carts and agricultural implements we might need to use).

 

Finally, I think will need to have six official executives who will carry out the normal organisational functions (As opposed to the previous 10 officers, these officers will mostly do all the work themselves.) These officers are:
11)       Our “Representative Official” will represent the wishes of the community in the outside world (like the Foreign Office). Thus, if this hamlet belonged to a village, then this officer would be the hamlet’s representative there. This officer could also show visitors around the hamlet.
12)       We must clearly have a “Finance Officer”. I will cover this complex subject in detail in my next webpage "Finance and Remuneration".
13)       We also must clearly have a “Membership Officer”.  This officer will suggest to the meetings: when new people are ready for membership; or rescinding a membership when a person has acted in an anti-social manner. This is always a difficult task. I will talk about this subject more in my "Citizenship Levels" webpage.
14)       I think we will need a “Employment Officer”. Members will go to this officer if they need more employment. And officers will go to this officer if they need more workers. This officer could also in general be in charge of any other general internal tasks.
15)       I think we should have an “Analyst Officers”, who would study various long-term trends associated with the community. So, if this community was generating less free-time, or if the value of the hamlet’s “Work Hour” is being devalued, then this officer would bring the subject up for the hamlet to solve.
16)       Finally I think we will need a “Timer and Recorder Official”. I will discuss this office further when I discuss the running of our meetings.


I discuss all the duties of these 16 officials in far greater detail in my Green Living - book”(pdf).

 

Thus, out of our community of 100 people, we will need 16 officers. So every genuine member of our community should expect to be an officer for a reasonable proportion of their life. The rules that I think should apply to all officers are the following:-
a)         Each officer should be elected by the community on a yearly basis.
b)         A member would only eligible to be elected as an officer of an activity, if they have passed the exam associated with that activity.
c)         A member may only hold one office at a time.
d)         A member may only hold an office for 3 consecutive years.


These rules are designed to ensure that the officer positions are circulated fairly regularly among all the membership. This is the healthy thing to do because our members can only make a fair assessment of an officer’s performance, if they know the area reasonably well themselves.

 

Now there is a very good logic for saying that an officer should be paid considerably more than normal workers - perhaps twice as much. But this is a "green" community, where no one is allowed to accumulate more money than anyone else (as I explained in my starting webpage). So, if an officer was paid twice as much, it would simply mean that they could only work for half as long. And, in this community, everyone would clearly like to work for the same amount of time, when everyone else is working. So, in this community, it is far simpler and easier to pay everyone at the same rate. I know this situation is a bit abnormal now. But, remember, in this capitalistic world of our's, 99.99% of people are already enjoying the supposed wonders of being in unequal situations. Surely just the 00.01% of people in green communities should show the world that this inequality is not really neccessary.

 

And so it might appear that many people would not be bothered to do the learning work associated with becoming an officer. I do not think this would happen, because there would be a huge amount of prestige associated with becoming an officer. Besides the natural status that comes with being in charge of an area, the prestige of an officer could be further increased by the following benefits:-
1)         Each officer would be allowed 10 hours of unspecified time on their time-sheets to allow for general things like - thinking and producing reports. However, officers must specify where this time is spent on their weekly time-sheets, like everyone else. (If this time is in their own unit, then their front door must be left open).
2)         Each officer would have their own desk and a phone at the front of the community building where everyone sees them every day.
3)         There should be an important well-circulated membership list. And this list would show all offices each member has held over their life. All members would have this list and it would be circulated at all meetings. So all people would be proud of the previous offices they have held.
            So there would be a lot of status associated with holding an officer position (and, in these communities, there would be very little status associated with the acquisition  money).

 

            Membership

 

Now I must say something general about the basic nature of the membership in our community.

 

There are two quite different forms of community. One kind of community is mostly interested in finance. The other kind of community values a person’s work capacity most of all. And both kinds of community are appropriate for different circumstances.
            So finance type communities are appropriate when buying a unit in a block of appartments. So this type of community applies now in the flat I am now living in. And so I can sell my unit to the person who offers the largest amount of money. This is a very good simple financial arrangement.
            But all my communities cannot be take this simple form at all. In these communities all members must be capable of working in the community and obeying the rules of the community. And, if the new members are not capable of doing this, then the community won’t want them. The community could get rid of a member – but this becomes difficult when such a member owns a substantial amount equity in the community’s assets. But, of course, it far better to check new members out very carefully before they become new members.
            To allow this to happen, I suggest two preliminary forms of members.
a)         Associate Social Members
This community will run a large number of social activities. Interested future members can be offered “associate membership” and then join in all community’s social activities. So both parties can get to know each other very easily.
b)         Interim Membership
This next level of membership will allow a possible new member to work in the community for perhaps a year and so acquire a small amount equity in the community. So then both parties can learn, if the new person can do and enjoy the work in the community. If everything is OK then this person could become a new member of the community.
            So, I’m afraid new membership must be taken very seriously indeed in all the communities I am discussing here.

 

            Meetings

 

We are now in a position to say something about the nature of the community’s all important meetings.


As all the members live at the community, I would suggest that there should be a general meeting once a week for perhaps an hour. For example, from 7 pm to 8 pm on Wednesday night. I suggest that most of these meetings be fairly informal. But one meeting a month will be so import that it must be formal (i.e. strict rules will apply) – perhaps the first Wednesday of the month. I will describe our informal meetings first.

 

The main thing that needs to occur in these informal meetings is that the members discuss with the relevant officers any facet or the organisation that is worrying them. As there are three types of officials, my suggestion is that:

           Attendance at these informal meetings should be optional. But people's attendance should be recorded. And, of course, the relevant officials must attend.

 

This diagram shows the nature of this very formal meeting.

 

The most important task of our meetings is, of course, to elect our 16 officers. So these elections will be carried out at our formal meetings, when strict speaking times apply. It would be quite impossible to elect all these 16 officers carefully and well on just one night. So I think 1 or 2 officials should be elected on the 12 formal nights of the year.
           Every member must take these nights very seriously indeed. The very existence of the community will depend on competent new officials being elected on these formal nights. All speakers must think in terms of writing down everything they will say before they speak. Everything that that is said, and the votes of all members will then be recorded for posterity. And all the speaker’s times will all be recorded by the Timer and Recorder official. (And all possible speakers should give their intended speaking times to the above official well before the meeting starts – so that length of the meeting can be estimated before hand.)
            Attendance should be mandatory for all officials and all members would be expected to attend 90% of all formal meetings. Visitors, and Social Members and Interim members could listen and watch at the back. But they won’t be allowed to speak. It should be the job of the Analyst Officer to check the total speaking times of all officials and members add up to sensible totals.
            I say more on this whole subject in my Green Living - book”(pdf) (about things like the official’s annual reports). But perhaps this is enough for the time being here.

            You will notice that all the members of this community will be taking their meetings far, far more seriously than the MPs do in Canberra at their meetings in parliament. But it has to be this way. These MPs get a huge incomes and they can all live on their pensions without any difficulty at all. They won’t really be worried at all. Their main worry it to make these parliament meetings as entertaining as possible.
            But, as I have said before, the life of our community will depend on us all voting for competent officials. I’m afraid this process can’t be a joking matter.

 

Most people would prefer that their community had a leader. But then there is a problem - who should the members believe - their leader or their officers, who the members have elected on the basis of their knowledge. As far as I can work out, we can't have both. So I think we should just have officers and take their election very seriously indeed. I discuss this problem further in my webpage: Pure, Visible Democracy – versus – Current Democracies.

 

My next normal webpage is: "Finance and Remuneration".

 

          You might now also like to look back at:

either my "Home Page" (which introduces this whole website and lists all my webpages),

or "Green Living" (which introduces this major set of webpages),

or "Forming Green Communities", (which introduces this set of webpages).

 

Updated on 14/11/2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can click on any of the following pictures and this will send you to the relevant webpage.