[TheThinkTank] dealing with volunteers who have been really offensive?

joshua joshua at santacruzhub.org
Fri Aug 24 22:56:40 PDT 2007

Josh Muir here from the bike church in Santa Cruz on conflict-

Primarily, the first step has got to be for the collective to discuss  
the behavior that's making folks feel uncomfortable.  communication  
can either create the clarity for people to adjust their behavior and  
their experience of the (offensive) behavior, or it can trigger what  
I think of as being the actual conflict.  People have a hard time  
delivering and receiving criticism.  With practice, groups that go  
through the process of sharing criticism and even experience the  
"conflict" process i think get better at it.  I have learned to let  
go of some amount of dread of conflicts, and have learned a lot about  
my own reactions in that situation.  When the strain is too much for  
the org. and attempts to discuss issues and establish goals for  
understanding and mutual trust only lead to dead-end or hurtful  
discussions, seek outside mediation.  generally the sooner the better  
cause collectives can get quite disrupted by such events.

despite our wealth of  of experience with interpersonal conflict  
within the collective, we are still not as prepared with a mediation/ 
conflict resolution process as we could be (which I believe to be  
really important).  We had 3-year conflict during which time power  
was too concentrated and finally outside hired mediators gave a  
growing collective the clarity and strength to make hard choices  
(kick out an offending member who was carrying 75% of the collective  
work load).  More recently, conflicts have simmered and then  
exploded- the collective members offered whatever they were willing  
to share about the issue and set in motion steps for in -house and  
then outside mediation if needed- the result has been the departure  
of one of the parties  (in one case a core member who over-stepped  
his bounds left on his own(left town), and in another one party in a  
conflict left rather than go through processing with the group)

It is something that we all deal with- how to be diverse and get  
along- how to communicate without pushing buttons and how to not  
react to your buttons being pushed.  I have found that if people are  
encouraged to feel empowered and speak clearly to each other without  
imposing themselves, growth actually happens for those who stick it  
out (and i suppose, those who are invited to stick it out, because it  
is the collective's prerogative to decide who they're to work with)  
It is super stressful. it's important.
and how DO you decide if someone's a thief? or even harder, how do  
you feel empowered to make that decision and keep someone out of the  
shop, especially when your only one mechanic working one day/wk in a  
twelve member collective?

On Aug 24, 2007, at 1:24 PM, Graham Stewart wrote:

> Two questions:  Why is panhandling a major problem?  How do you decide
> if someone is a bike thief?
> Graham
> Simon Z wrote:
>> The major problems I have seen are sexual harassment, threats of
>> violence, panhandling, theft from the shop or use of the shop by  
>> known
>> bike thieves. None of these behaviors are tolerated and shop
>> coordinators are free to remove and ban indefinitely anyone doing
>> this. We try to keep a photographic record of these offenders to
>> display in our shops.
> _______________________________________________
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> bikecollectives.org

Joshua Muir
joshua at santacruzhub.org

Frances Cycles  --  francescycles.com
Handbuilt cycling framesets
Touring, Track, Raod,Cross, and cycletrucks for hauling any distance

The Bicycle Church Collective
Community Self-Service Cycle Repair
3pm to 7pm everyday except Sunday
703 Pacific Ave  (enter on Spruce St)
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 425-2453

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