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92 . twin oaks community point for the structure of their community, however, the Twin Oakers literally sat down with Walden Two in their hands and extracted from its pages the economic and governmental structure (which they found to be far less detailed than they had wished) and went about implementing the results. From there on, they had to rely on their talent for improvisation. 9 The Planner-Manager System “it seemed to us when we started the Community,” remembers Kinkade, “that eight people didn’t need much government” (Walden 51). Their early, rather informal gatherings revolved around questions of what kind of decision -making process they would like for themselves and how often they should have meetings.2 They settled for decision making by consensus, because of one person’s enthusiasm for it, and had weekly meetings. Decision making by consensus, a system originally used in Quaker meetings, means that issues are not voted on but are discussed until an agreement acceptable to everybody can be reached.It seems rather surprising that decision making by consensus was even considered by the founders since it is pretty much the opposite of the idea of omnipotent planners.Also,the consensus process is by nature slow and tedious, even in a group as small as eight. Since not all Twin Oakers were committed to consensus,the less patient ones did the work they deemed necessary and made the decisions that had to be made without waiting for group consensus. Individuals with a special interest in one area of work simply took over responsibility for it, regardless of whether they were officially put into office to do so. These people came to be called managers as a matter of course. Exactly how people became managers at Twin Oaks, however, and what their duties and responsibilities were was not clear during the first few weeks of Twin Oaks life. If the position of the managers was undefined in the beginning, planners were nonexistent. Skinner had suggested a Board of Planners to guide the community’s general direction. In the early days of Twin Oaks, those who determined the general direction of the community were not officially charged with doing so. The consensus meeting, which was supposed to substitute not only for the managers but also the planners, did not fulfill this 03.79-132_Kuhl.indd 92 3/29/05 4:02:01 PM function either. Instead, Kinkade reports that “most decisions were really made by individuals who just thought of doing something and did it” (Walden 52). Kinkade probably speaks for herself to a large extent; she was opposed to decision making by consensus from the beginning but did not want to argue about it in order to hold the precarious communal peace. Not arguing about something, however, does not necessarily mean that one really goes along with it. Kinkade was the driving force behind the founding of Twin Oaks and held considerable power.If she was opposed to consensus, there was little chance for that form of government to survive for long. It may still seem surprising that Walden Two enthusiasts would stumble along for weeks without trying to implement Skinner’s idea of government. The major problem was perhaps that out of the eight people who founded Twin Oaks, only three were seriously committed to Walden Two. It took the resentment of one member—who wanted a managership already taken by somebody else—to formalize the community’s government after it had gone almost entirely without one for five weeks.The disgruntled member’s protest led to an election at Twin Oaks to establish the first Board of Planners. The board officially appointed the managers. Although decisions of a general nature were made by the Board of Planners, the actual power for most decisions lay with the managers. The community’s diet, work distribution, architectural plans, and clothing, to name only a few areas, were the responsibility of the various managers. The planners were mainly charged with working out the details of the labor-credit and planner-manager systems. It was decided that the three planners should serve staggered eighteenmonth terms. By having only one new planner every six months, the communards hoped to avoid incompetence on the part of a board consisting of new planners as well as the accumulation of power in the hands of three people working together for a long stretch of time. As Skinner suggested, planners were not elected by vote but...


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