Discussion: What’s the point of it all?

Discussion: What’s the point of it all?

Rob Crittenden

I recently read a piece by Karen Gimnig HERE that discussed the practice of community ‘work days’ or as others might know them ‘working bees’. She asked the simple question of why do we have them?

The obvious answer seemed to be, so that we can work together and get things done in a collaborative and efficient way while building the relationships within the community. That sounds good right?

Karen then gave me pause for thought. She elegantly mulled over whether it would be possible to first think about the connection building aspects of working together and let the productivity follow instead of the other way around.

Would a working bee achieve more if a greater number of people could participate because it wasn’t on one specific day? Does it really matter that the vegi patches are turned over a week before the rock wall is built? Is everybody at a working bee really feeling useful and connected all the time or are some waiting for guidance while others are to busy to eat?

A flip to a focus on the most valuable and worthwhile product of a working bee, the relationships, might well produce less work but more benefit to the community in terms of inclusive actions, flexible timing and more realistic planning and structure. Would this view allow more involvement by kids with other kids or entire families? the elderly? More opportunities for learning and sharing knowledge? We are after all here to be humans in a community first and foremost. It may even allow those who prefer to complete a task in solitude to find enjoyment in a fitting contribution in their own moment.

This isn’t to say that a complete absence of structure is best, but instead a structure that is guided by the relationships rather than what is most simple to organise, ie ‘this is the day, you’re there or you pay’.

Now apply this to the community building phase of a project, there is a seemingly endless list of non physical tasks that need doing, and there is just as much to learn from each other in these as there is in building or maintaining a entire site. We still have the urge to work together but the tasks are much harder to divide than the typical working bee list.

What would happen if instead of stating that we would take on the task of having *task x* completed by such and such a date, we instead made a commitment to meet up with any who are interested in the task every *week or so* until the task was done. The pressure of the task is removed, the relationships can build until the task is naturally complete.

Is there other more relationship focused ways to get these other types of tasks done, or will it all result in nothing getting done? I’m not sure but it would be interesting finding out.

What do you think? feel free to join the discussion below.