After many weeks of traveling, coming home, and then traveling again, I’m staying home for awhile. I thought about going to a campaign strategy party for Brad Blanton, a radical congressional candidate in my district (with whom I was arrested in DC 5 years ago at a march for campaign finance reform! Small world…), but I decided to stay home, soak up the springtime sun, and catch up on work and life and friendships.

The big news for me here is that I’m being courted to be a planner, which is the “big picture” decision-making role in the community. The planners are a group of 3-4 people who meet for 3 hours, twice a week, to address the major questions and concerns that don’t fall under anyone else’s area of responsibility. They deal with overall budget stuff, big interpersonal concerns that are affecting the community, community conflicts that don’t get worked out on a smaller scale (kind of like the Supreme Court), and other “nuts and bolts” (lots of nuts)…

One of the people on the team is seducing me into thinking about it as a possibility for me, and I feel pretty flattered. It’s a position of a lot of responsibility, and I like that he thinks I’d be good at it and that he specifically wants to work with me. Planners typically serve for 18 months in rotating terms, so every 6 months (theoretically) one planner steps down and another one joins the team. It usually doesn’t work out so smoothly, because sometimes it takes a while to find a new planner. There’s a community process of applying, receiving input, responding to input, and then going through a final “veto” process. Often, people have to be convinced/begged to apply. It’s a major commitment, because so much work and thought happens outside of those 2 planner meetings, and many folks in the community consider the planners to be at their beck and call (at mealtimes, at parties, swimming in the pond… ah, the world of living and working together!). I’m curious, and I’m not sure if I want to skew my current world to fit a plannership into it. I’d have to let go of some of the jobs I currently do, just for the sake of time and energy, and I’d have to make a commitment to be on the farm more than I currently am. And yet, I’m interested in it because I want to be more aware of and involved in the inner workings of the community. A current planner (the one who’s encouraging me to give it a try) told me that it’s the most in-depth look at human nature I could ever get on the commune. Planners deal with a lot of shit, a lot of people complaining and lobbying and being absolutely convinced that their way is the right way. Do I really want that for 18 months? I don’t know. I’m going to sit in on a few planner meetings this week to get more perspective on what’s involved. We’ll see… I’m nervous about the input process and I’m not sure if I really want to deal with so much of people’s shit. But someone has to do it, it’s just the nature of living together and it’s the way we’re currently set up to govern ourselves. I actually have a critique of the planner/manager system we have in place, and I wonder if becoming a planner would just frustrate me more with it, or give me deeper perspective about how it works, or (likely) both.

So, wish me luck, or bettter yet, clarity of thought. Ask me questions to help me think it through! (if I become a planner, I’ll have ample fodder for brilliant blog entries…)