🏠 Case study: The Village (San Francisco)

A guest post for the Supernuclear blog.

actually doing do-ocracy: the nuances and stumbling blocks of getting stuff done in a big community

Many community homes run non-hierarchically, meaning no-one is in charge and the group makes decisions together. This can be awesome and empowering, but sometimes it falls into the tedious trap of needing consensus for any small change, which takes forever to get anything done. Houses often utilize do-ocracy to solve this challenge, but using do-ocracy is not always rainbows and butterflies. This piece will briefly introduce what do-ocracy is and then discuss some of its nuances through the lens of wanting to mitigate conflict while also getting lots of great house contributions done!

📍 put a pin on it: solving the dishes problem

Dirty dishes left in the sink! The most common conflict that tears houses apart. One person innocently forgets a dish. Others add to the pile. The pile gets so tall that dishes can’t even be easily washed in the sink anymore. Even if each resident only leaves one dish -- 15 dishes in the sink is a monster to be reckoned with. The most common solution I’ve seen to this is using clothespins with names written on them.

🖐️ fist to five: making decisions efficiently

At The Village, like in many community homes, we strive to be non-hierarchical in our decision-making. This means that we want every resident to get an equal say into how the house is run. Since there are 15 adults in the house, this can sometimes result in long and tedious debates about small things that prevent us from getting things done. We avoid some of this slow-down by using a system we call fist to five.

🏠 connecting a multi-unit home to facilitate community living

Some communities choose to buy multiple units of a duplex or triplex and live as a community spread across the units. Though this setup can supply the number of bedrooms a community wants, it has the chance of splintering the group. If each unit is fully equipped with a kitchen, living room, and washing machine, people can lose motivation to travel to other floors and hang out with housemates in other units. At The Village, we live across three vertically-stacked units and we've set ourselves up such that many of us feel similarly connected to people across all units. There are several decisions we've made as a house and as individuals -- some intentional, and some unintentional but enlightening -- that have helped us stick together.

Come back soon to see more posts written about how we live together!