Governmental & Organizational Issues
[This section is under construction].
Since we do not yet have a clear idea of our governmental and
organizational structure, this page will begin as a list of possible
approaches and issues to be worked out. As we work through these
issue and obtain solutions, they will be listed here.
Designing a community is extremely complicated, as you will
see by reading some of the things that have come up so far. This
list is by no means complete, and is not organized, but it should
give you a good idea of the sorts of things we are thinking about.
Feel free to brainstorm about these issues and try to figure out
your vision of an ideal community. In the fall, we plan to begin
tackling these in discussions on the mailing list (email
patri to join):
- Who owns the buildings? Community, individuals? Should the
community have to worry about collecting rent and fixing leaky
pipes, or would that be better left to individuals who manage
buildings. What about constructing new ones? How much does a
building owner pay for the land he is sitting on?
- Judicial Branch: Does the community have a set of central
rules or commandments and a means for resolving disputes (like
JB, DB, or both)?
- What about Executive/Representative branches? Patri thinks
a good mix of open-to-all yammer-yammer discussion groups and
small groups that actually get stuff done is needed. Let masses
and committees handle long term planning, serious discussions
and issues, but have no immediate, day-to-day power, leave that
- Patri also believes in Revolving Offices - most community
positions should have a moderate length term (say, 6-12 mo.)
and people shouldn't be allowed to repeat for a long time. Make
everyone see every different aspect of the community, so they
have a better understanding of how it all works.
- Community service: who does stuff for the community? building
construction and maintenance, record keeping, taxes, etc. Are
they compensated? Do we require a certain amount of service?
If not, what happens when the network needs reconfiguring, or
the library is flooding, and no-one feels like helping?
- Property - where do we draw the line between lending and
ownership by the community. We want to be able to pool our books,
our tools, and our DVD's. Are we giving them to the community
or lending them? If lending, what happens if something breaks?
Is the lender, the community, or the breaker responsible? If
giving, what if some people don't want to give, but want to use
what others have.
- Admission - how long a trial period? Who decides? A unanimous
vote of current members? A majority? An admission committee?
- Who pays for group stuff? Does the IC buy pool tables, or
do people get together and form a pool table club and raise money?
Who pays for the T1 line? Are members who use it charged, or
is it split up among the community? Who pays for the wiring?
Do we depend on philanthropy, or explicitly tax the members.
Who allocates spending? Do we let people form private clubs only
open to some people, or require all groups to be open to all
- Where does the IC get money? Charge building owners for land
use? Charge annual fees to members? Do we accept donations (say
if a community member's internet startup has a successful IPO)
- Do we set rules for buildings - architectural style, distance
between other buildings, must have communal facilities if above
a certain size.
- Who buys/designs/builds things? Suppose everyone thinks it
would be neat to have a pool, or a volleyball court. Do we rely
on volunteerism, or is the designer compensated?
- Do we worry a lot about all these issues from the beginning,
or do we "build it and they will come" and let things
work themselves out?
- What are our taboos? Nudity? PDA's? Who decides these things
- explicit rules, community standards? How much freedom do we
give to buildings to have their own rules?
- What sort of democratic process do we use? majority? Consensus?
- Is the IC (formally or informally) responsible for the well-being
of its members? Do we intervene if someone has a serious problem?
- What happens when someone leaves? Is their share "bought
out", do they get to take their books & movies back?
- An IC is in a difficult economic position - its largest expense
(land) occurs at its creation, while its income stream, which
should be approx. proportional to the number of members, starts
small and increases steadily. In the initial stage(<10 people),
the IC will be heavily in debt to the bank for the land, and
not have a lot of income. In the middle stage (10-30 people)
it has enough income to both work towards paying off the land
and expand with new buildings. In the late stage it will own
its land and have enough income for substantial capital improvements,
community venture capital, and so forth. How do we divide the
costs, timewise? Do we charge people more in the beginning than
we expect to in the end, just because their burden is heavier?
That seems unfair, given that there will be the fewest community
- What song should be our anthem? What symbols on our flag?
To see an under construction page, go to the next
This website maintained by Patri,
last modified August 5, 1999.