Recently Sostenga and CooperativesUK released a “Greener Together” toolkit for people wanting to get an environmental group going (whether it was to get some allotments, help reduce energy bills or whatever). According to the toolkit
“Some common problems you might come across include:
Lack of funding
Not having space for your office or activities
Problems working with other groups
Encouraging participation in a project
People not doing what they say they will
People not coming to meetings
Not having clear rules or group agreements
Not being able to pay bills
It’s a good list, but by no means exhaustive (not that it claims to be). It’s also, in my opinion, important to explore different expectations of what is to be achieved, what can be achieved, different peeling off points. It’s important to acknowledge there’ll be different abilities, different willingness to do the hard work, on time. (You don’t get rewarded for hard work, and it’s easy to game the system, free-ride, free-load etc).
And it’s impossible to give detailed ‘solutions’ to all of the above. Much of the time there are too many variables, and anyway, the implementation is more important than the quality of the advice itself.
And this is the kicker for me: Those problems will sink almost anyone, yes. But if there isn’t a strong strong desire to tackle the interpersonal issues, if there isn’t an aching desire to “WIN”, then the advice will fall on stony ground, and it’ll just be more smugosphering.
And I believe (perhaps wrongly) that there’s a limited window of opportunity to get a group on a solid footing. After a while, once patterns and invisible hierarchies have been laid down (ESPECIALLY in the groups that claim not to have hierarchy), then attempts to address these problems will be a waste of energy and time. But maybe that’s just me…