How to organize a band of hillbilly hippies…

Here is another item I am wrestling with. It seems to me that if I am going to help start up some sort of community, there are two basic models. The Strong Leader model and the Consensus model. A true community, less than 100 souls or so seems to be ideal based on Diane Leafe Christiansen’s research, doesn’t require representative leadership. It’s plenty small for direct democracy…if that is the model that serves best.

Consensus can take many forms. Most Protestant, especially Baptist, churches operate on a sort of consensus. That may or may not be encouraging. A lot of the Intentional Community groups are based on consensus in one form or another. Paul Wheaton in a recent podcast reported on his visits to a great many IC’s and his impression was that those with a consensus model usually exhibited a large degree of social stress and internal politics. This isn’t definitive research, but it conforms to what I would expect to find, based on my own association with a great many varied Baptist churches.

He is an advocate of the Strong Leader model. If you have read any old Westerns, it is the situation you find on Old West ranches. You have a ranch owner who owns the land and the primary means of income and who provides room, board and income in exchange for work. The ranch owner couldn’t be too much of a tyrant or he would lose the good hands to a ranch down the way, nor could he be incompetent or he would lose his ranch. The best had a sense of obligation to their men and families which engendered legendary loyalty. Read up on the Lincoln County war and rancher Tunstall’s cowhands for how far that can go.

I am, frankly, convicted. My training and inclination lean me towards Strong Man. But, with all I am reading on freedom, individual Liberty, free markets and free will I am having trouble believing that I can, or even desire to, lead such an endeavor. After all, if I was looking at such a situation would I enter into it without being the leader? I think I can answer that yes, as long as I have trust in the leader. But, I don’t know that it would be optimal for me. If I feel that way, why would anyone, especially anyone I was hoping would develop an intense belief in their own self worth and freedom, feel any different?

There are any number of compromise situations that spring to mind. I guess what I am wondering is if I can find the courage to help create something and then truly let it go to grow into whatever it wants to be. How much am I willing to risk investing, financially, time wise, emotionally and with my family?

I don’t know yet.


About cptcaveman

An Army Major, my family and I are in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. We enjoy photography, cooking, reading and outdoor sports like hunting, fishing and trapping.
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5 Responses to How to organize a band of hillbilly hippies…

  1. aleph says:

    one person with a vision can start a community, but then the inevitable problem arises with the change of leadership from the founder to the next generation.

    Not putting you off your idea, just pointing out what you can expect down the track.

  2. cptcaveman says:

    It’s common enough to have a name, Founder’s Syndrome, and is understood in IC communities. Usually it occurs when a group within the Community wants to change direction from the Founder’s intent, or there is a crisis of transition of leadership. It’s one of the down sides to strong leader style organization.

  3. aleph says:

    that may well be part of it, but there are enough issues in passing on the reins to another person who may have a different way of doing things, a different personality, different priorities.

    All these things mean that the first change of leadership is often difficult (painful) and can casue the Community to implode

  4. cptcaveman says:

    Absolutely. If I remember right, according to Christensen about 90% of IC’s that make a start fail to reach their 5th year and the final hurdle for many is the passing of the reigns, regardless of the style of organization. It makes sense that someone who was in a leadership position would be ready to move on to other pursuits, even if they plan to stay within the community, after 5 years or so. From having done and seen so many different changes of command in the military, I absolutley agree it is a delicate dance to do well, and requires everyones positive cooperation. I havent really seen it pulled off on the civilian side, so I am 100% sure there are some surprises there for me. Has this been an issue in the NC?

  5. aleph says:

    yes the transition from the first leader to the next generation was rough and painful. The folks coming in were in training for the role but the change over was turbulent and unplanned.

    To use business language – succession planning, is something that Communities need to think about. (This is just me thinking aloud but it give folks a real chance to know what the pressures of leadership are about, and to feel it for real before the other folks move on).

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