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How to hack into Vancouver's real estate market with a laneway house - The Vancouver Observer

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How to hack into Vancouver's real estate market with a laneway house
The Vancouver Observer
... be making some sort of deal with a friend or family member whose single-family lot is big enough to support your small-plot dream. In the latter case, you're hacking the housing market, as many in Vancouver already do through co-housing or shared ...

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Flying Blind

Laird's Blog -

My laptop is in "Depot" (the name Apple gives its high-tech service centers scattered around the country) getting a complete overhaul. When I brought it in to the St Louis Genius Bar to have the keyboard replaced last week—because the "e" key was getting balky—the technicians discovered when they opened the hood a "brown, sticky substance" had been corroding the motherboard. Bad, bad, bad.

Not only does that mean a longer delay (sending it out to Depot instead of effecting an in-house repair) but the damage is not covered under warranty—because it looked to them like someone slopped hot chocolate on the keyboard, even though I have no memory whatsoever of having spilled anything on my keyboard, and I'm the only person who uses my machine. Grr.

So here I am, composing this blog on my wife's laptop (until she departs for four days in Chicago to drop Jibran off at Shimer College, and takes her laptop with her) realizing that I'm going to have to operate for the reminder of the week without benefit of digital support (other than what I can manage with my actual fingers). That means:

o  No email (I can hardly wait to see the avalanche that will be waiting for me when I finally get reunited with my refurbished laptop—ugh).

o  No access to my calendar.

o  No access to my address book.

I figure this is Nature's way of telling me to concentrate on the non-electronic aspects of life:

—Organizing and otherwise putting away the myriad boxes of stuff that I just imported from my old bedroom at Sandhill. These are seriously restricting passageways in Moon Lodge and Ma'ikwe will be highly pleased if I can unclog the house. Further, It's an excellent opportunity in that Jibran's departure (as a regular resident in the house) means there is a serendipitous opening for storage in the loft that has heretofore been Jibran's sole domain.

—Helping Sandhill form up and pour a lid for their cistern.

—Continuing to dig out the damaged water line from the house to the cistern at Moon Lodge.

—Keeping abreast of food processing, which tends to get out of control this time of year.

All of which is to say that I'm not exactly out of work, or in danger of expiring from ennui. I just have an unexpected temporary simplification of my how-will-I-spend-my-day menu. My biggest challenge is accepting what I can't control and embracing my reality (rather than lamenting it—and obsessing over the jerk who spilled hot chocolate on my laptop).

While this is not exactly flying blind (I can still see and hear, after all) it's nonetheless an apt metaphor in that I'll be operating the next few days without navigational markers that are digitally based—which is just about all of them in the Information Age. While there is a refreshing, back-to-the-basics quality about this stretch of days, it is also evocative of the dead days of the Mayan calendar, when normal life (whatever that is) is suspended while the mathematically elegant (but slightly inaccurate) human-constructed calendar gets realigned with the earth's actual orbit around the sun.

These are days out of time, or least days out of digital time, and that's probably a good thing, affording me an opportunity to get my psychic gyroscope re-tuned to my physical reality. It also gives me more time to read, of which I never seem to get enough.

Disabili in sedia a ruote: convivenza e cohousing. Il racconto di Adriana Belotti - SuperAbile

Cohousing News from Google -


Disabili in sedia a ruote: convivenza e cohousing. Il racconto di Adriana Belotti
SuperAbile
Le parole sono di Adriana Belotti, giovane donne con disabilità, che pubblica la sua scelta di co-housing sul sito Lettera 43. Racconta di coinquiline che vanno e che vengono ma soprattutto di un progetto concreto e di relazioni autentiche, non sempre ...

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Critique of Sociocracy

Laird's Blog -



Following is a summary of my reservations about sociocracy (aka Dynamic Governance) as a governance system for cooperative groups—especially ones depending on voluntary participation. I'm just not that excited about it.


In this monograph I am paying particular attention to how this contrasts with consensus, which is the main horse that sociocracy is stalking. (Do not assign any meaning to the order in which I’ve presented my points.)


1. Does not address emotional input
One of my main concerns with this system is that there is no mention in its articulation of how to understand or work with emotions. As I see this as an essential component of group dynamics, this is a serious flaw.


I even had one advocate tell me once that when you use sociocracy no one gets upset. Puleeease! If you have a system that only works well when everyone is thinking and behaving rationally then you have an unstable equilibrium. This is not a system; it's a fragment.


2. Double linking of committees (or “circles” in sociocratic parlance)
When a group is large enough (probably anything past 12, and maybe smaller) it makes sense to create a committee structure to delegate tasks. While people can serve on more than one committee, it’s naturally important to have a clear understanding of how each committee relates to each other, and to the whole.


While the above paragraph is Organizational Structure 101, in sociocracy there is the added wrinkle that committees regularly working together (as when one oversees the other, or when two committees are expected to collaborate regularly) are asked to place a representative in each related committee. These reps (one each way) serve as liaisons and communications links from one committee to the other, helping to ensure that messages and their nuances are more accurately transmitted.


While this sounds good in theory (and may work well in practice in the corporate environment for which sociocracy was originally created), it runs smack into a chronic problem in cooperative groups that are highly depended on committee slots filled by volunteers: too many slots and too few people to fill them well. In 27 years as a process consultant for cooperative groups, I don’t recall ever having encountered a group that reported being able to easily fill all of its committee and manager positions. Sociocracy blithely asks that groups add an additional layer of responsibility to what they already have in place, which means even more committee assignments. It’s unworkable.


3. Selection process calls for surfacing candidate concerns on the spot
One of the trickier aspects of cooperative group dynamics is handling critical feedback well. That includes several non-trivial challenges:


o  Creating a culture in which critical feedback relative to group function is valued and encouraged.


o  Helping people find the courage to say hard things.


o  Helping people with critical things to say to sort out (and process separately) any upset or reactivity they are carrying in association with the critique, so that they don’t unload on the person when offering feedback.


o  Helping recipients respond to critical feedback openly, not defensively.


Even though the goal is worthy, none of these is necessarily easy to do, and my experience in the field has taught me the value of giving people choices in how best to give and receive critical feedback. (For some its absolutely excruciating to be criticized in public.)


In the case of sociocracy, the model calls for selecting people to fill positions (such as a managership or committee seat) in an up-tempo process where you call for nominations, discuss candidate suitability, and make a decision all in one go.


While that is admirable for its efficiency, you cannot convince me that this promotes full disclosure of reservations, complete digestion of critical statements (without dyspepsia), or thoughtful consideration of flawed candidates. While I can imagine this approach working fine in a group comprised wholly of mature, self-aware individuals, how many groups like that do you know? Me neither.


4. The concepts of “paramount” concerns, and “consent” versus “consensus”
Sociocracy makes a large deal out of participants only expressing: a) preferences about what should be taken into account; or b) reservations about proposals, if they constitute “paramount” concerns. Unfortunately, the term “paramount” is undefined and results in considerable confusion about what the standard represents. I believe that this maps well onto the basic consensus principle that you should be voicing what you believe is best for the group—as distinct from personal preferences—and that you should only speak if your concern is non-trivial. In short, I have not found this principle to be illuminating, or distinctive from consensus thinking.


The second piece of confusing rhetoric is insisting that sociocracy is about seeking “consent” rather than “consensus.” I believe that the aim in this attempt it to encourage an atmosphere of “is it good enough,” in contrast with “is it perfect”?


To be sure, there is anxiety among consensus users about being held hostage by an obstinate minority that may be unwilling to let a proposal go forward because they see how bad results are possible and are afraid of being stuck with them. This leads to paralysis. While it shouldn’t be hard to change an ineffective agreement (once experience with its application has exposed its weaknesses), I believe a better way to manage tyranny-of-the-minority dynamics is by educating participants (read consensus training) and developing a high-trust culture characterized by good listening, and proposal development that takes into account all views.


In the end, sociocracy’s “consent” is not significantly different from “consensus”; it’s just playing with words.


5. Rounds are not always the best format


Sociocracy is in love with Rounds, where everyone has a protected chance to offer comments on the matter at hand. While it’s laudable to protect everyone’s opportunity for input, this is only one of many choices available for how to solicit input on topics (others include open discussion, sharing circles, individual writing, small group breakout, silence, guided visualization, fishbowls). Each has their purpose, as well as their advantages and liabilities.


While Rounds are great at protecting talking time for those more timid about pushing their way into an open discussion, and serve as an affective muzzle for those inclined to take up more than their share of air time, they tend to be slow and repetitive. If you speed them up (Lightning Rounds) this addresses time use, yet at the expense of bamboozling those who find speaking in group daunting, or are naturally slower to know their mind and be ready to speak.


If you only have a hammer (one tool), pretty soon everything starts looking like a nail and reality is not nearly so one-dimensional and who wants to lie down on a bed of nails anyway? You need more tools in the box.


6. Starting with proposals
In sociocracy (and in many groups using consensus as well) there is the expectation that when an item comes to plenary it will be in the form of a proposal ("here is the issue and here is a suggested solution"). In fact, you won’t get time on the plenary agenda unless you have a proposal.


While this forces the shepherd to be ready for plenary (a good thing) and can sometimes save time (when the proposal is excellent and does a good job of anticipating what needs to be taken into account and balancing the factors well), it can also be a train wreck. Far better, in my experience, is that if something is worthy of plenary attention, that you not begin proposal development until after the plenary has agreed on what factors the proposal needs to address, and with what relative weight. If the manager or committee guesses at these (in order to get time on the agenda) they may invest considerably in a solution that just gets trashed.


Not only is this demoralizing for the proposal generators, but it skews the conversation about how to respond to the issue (“What needs to be taken into account in addressing this issue?” is a different question than “Does this proposal adequately address this concern?”) In essence, leading with the proposal is placing the cart (the solution) before the horse (what the solution needs to balance).


Cooperative groups make this mistake a lot, and sociocracy follows them right down the same rabbit hole.

Econtrol

Laird's Blog -

Have you ever attempted digital communication without a functional "e" key? It's a booger.

Over the course of last weekend, the most-used key on my laptop started misfiring. By Monday it was failing more than 75% of the time. Ufda. While it's somewhat better now—performing intermittently—I can't count on it.

At the moment I'm queued up for a keyboard transplant under warranty at the St Louis Apple Genius Bar. Meanwhile, I've been coping by substituting "command V" for "e" when I compose messages. While it's a damn nuisance, there is an amusing, creative aspect when normal systems fail and one is forced to improvise. Under duress, its amazing what work-arounds we can come up with. (And I've already had two people offer even more creative ways to produce an "e" on my screen without actually using the "e" key—apparently I'm not the first to have suffered this malaise.)

The good news is that I was scheduled to be in the Gateway City anyway for four days of duplicate bridge, and I'm playing cards less than 10 miles away from the Apple Store (read hospital).

The bad news is that the operation requires general anesthesia and my laptop will need to be in sick bay two days—an excruciatingly long separation when you're as dependent on electronic communication as I am. It's like entering radio silence, or sitting a Vipassana course.

The good news is that when I'm immersed in the arcane world of tournament bridge, all I do is live and breathe cards anyway and thus was anticipating a vacation from email (I'll play somewhere in the vicinity of 240 hands in 75 hours—and, yes, I will sleep each night).

The bad news is that when I checked in at the Genius Bar Wed evening (when I first hit town) they didn't have the part in stock.

The good news is that they can secure the part quickly and I can keep my laptop until it came in (which is why I've been able to compose and post this blog on my regular three-day cycle).

The bad news is that the delay to secure the part means there is a smaller window in which to effect the repair. As I'll be driving home Sunday evening whether I have a new keyboard or not, my fingers are crossed that there will be time enough.

And to think that this "crisis" wasn't even on my horizon a mere week ago. When Hayoka energy shows up in your life like this, you realize that the gods are smiling at our attempts to impose order on life through planning. Not only is it a myth—but it's one that we sustain despite consistent evidence to the contrary.
• • •Over the course of the last 25 years I've gradually transitioned from communicating via mail to communicating via email. While it's a difference of only one letter, it's a big shift.

We are, without question, firmly operating in an electronic world these days, and moving more in that direction every day. In fact, it wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that I'm evolving into becoming an emale myself—a man who functions significantly in an digital context. In addition to my daily dose of email management (the volume of which is much greater than postal mail ever was), I regularly participate in conference calls, and two days ago I delivered my sixth process workshop via webinar. Are we headed for a future where we're constantly online?

To be sure, there remain significant and precious portions of my life that do not involve electronics or virtual reality. Intimate time with my wife, face-to-face dates with friends—witness my Sunday evenings with Men's Group, time with my counselor, and the bulk of my work as a process consultant. I reckon there will always be a benefit to being in the room, observing and responding to people in real time, where all senses can be brought to bear.

Thus, while econtrol in one's life may be desirable—the ability to understand and accurately manage digital content—it is not the same as control in one's life. And for today, at least, I have the much more modest goal of simply reestablishing "e" control.

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