Becoming a Full Member - Twin Oaks - 2009
[Excerpt from Twin Oaks Membership Policy]
II. BECOMING A FULL MEMBER
This section deals with procedures for first-time (six-month) provisional-to-full transition. See the Labor Hole and Money Hole policies for provisional-to-full transition under those policies.
This section of the Membership Policy was amended in June 1994. It was created in the spirit of giving provisional members a reasonable length of time to change objectionable behaviors or habits before facing a final poll which might result in a decision to reject. It is a move in the direction of trying to identify and address problems, allowing more people the chance to adapt to living at Twin Oaks, rather than rejecting people without trying to address the problems. It is a move towards more community involvement in membership decision making, especially by expecting increased input to the Membership Team in problem situations.
It includes, for the first time, Membership Team discretion at the six-month polling point. In cases that would formerly have led directly to rejection (and often override), the Membership Team will determine whether (a) the individual has been given an adequate amount of time and information to try to change problem behaviors; and (b) the reasons for rejecting are serious enough to warrant immediate rejection.
A. THREE-MONTH INPUT
In the course of the provisional membership period, typically at the end of the third month, provisional members will be informed that their three month input is approaching, and will be given the option of putting out a paper on the O&I (or mailbox paper, their choice) letting the community know how their membership is going. The Membership Team is responsible for making sure this happens.
A few days later, the Membership Team will call for input from all members about how they feel about the provisional member. The Membership Team will meet with the new member to pass on the input. If it seems appropriate, the team may suggest that a support person for the provisional member be present at this meeting.
The Membership Team will treat this information as confidential, and the names of the people who gave input will not be disclosed to the provisional member. However, the provisional member may request to communicate with the giver(s) of the feedback, in which case the Membership Team would ask the giver if co is willing to communicate with the provisional member. There is no obligation to grant the request, although direct communication is preferred.
If the feedback to the provisional member is largely positive and does not indicate problems, no further action needs to be taken.
However, if the feedback shows that there are concerns that might lead to a vote other than ACCEPT at the six-month poll, the provisional member will write a paper to the community (O&I or mailbox) communicating what co has heard and understood of these concerns and telling how co intends to address these concerns before cos full member poll.
B. SIX-MONTH POLLS
At the end of six months, provisional members will put out a paper on the O&I (or mailbox paper, their choice) letting the community know how their membership is going. If they have been in the labor or money hole for two or more months during their provisional membership, they must mention the specifics of their labor/money hole situation, along with whatever explanation they wish to provide. The Membership Team is responsible for making sure this happens. Once the letter has been posted, and if the provisional member is in good standing from a financial and labor perspective (zero or better balances in labor, allowance, VE, PFF and anything similar) the Membership Team issues a poll to the full members with the following options listed:
ACCEPT WITH FEEDBACK (A contract is not a possible outcome of the feedback)
EXTEND (which requires a Feedback, possible contract and a second poll at the end of a three-month extension)
All members must state reason(s) for any vote other than a simple ACCEPT. We strongly prefer explanations in some detail, but they can be as brief as, "I don’t like co."
We discourage REJECT votes based on political reasons, but recognize their inevitability and want to encourage people to give their honest reasons. Therefore, any reason will be considered a valid reason.
1. Tallying votes.
a. If fewer than 10% of the full members vote REJECT, EXTEND, or ACCEPT WITH FEEDBACK, then the provisional member is accepted as a full member without further process.
b. In the event of any outcome other than ACCEPT, the Process Team will be informed of the nature of the concerns so that they can help facilitate a positive resolution, if possible.
c. If 10% or more of the full members vote either ACCEPT WITH FEEDBACK, EXTEND, or REJECT, and the combination of EXTEND and REJECT votes total less than 10%, then the result is ACCEPT WITH FEEDBACK.
d. If 10% or more of the votes cast are EXTEND and/or REJECT, and fewer than 15% of the votes are REJECT, then the result is EXTEND, requiring a Feedback and possibly a contract. The extension period will be three months unless there is a contract, in which case the extension period will be for the duration of the contract (see Section III, "Contracting Process"). A final membership poll is issued to all full members at the end of the extension period with the options of:
ACCEPT WITH FEEDBACK (no contract possible)
If the poll after the extension period results in 15% or higher REJECT vote, the person is rejected and must leave.
e. If 15% or more of the full members vote REJECT, then the Membership Team informs the Process Team that a feedback is required. Representatives of the Membership Team will attend the feedback. We encourage the feedback group to come to a unified recommendation to either extend cos membership or to reject co. Within two days following the feedback, the Membership Team will determine if the person’s provisional membership can be extended or if a second poll is necessary, with the options of EXTEND and REJECT. The Membership Team’s decision will be based on whether (a) the individual has been given an adequate amount of time and information to try to change problem behaviors; and (b) the reasons for rejecting are serious enough to warrant immediate rejection. The Team will consider all input, giving particular consideration to the opinions expressed at the feedback.
f. If the team decides that a second poll is necessary, the poll will be issued one week after the feedback. If 15% or more of the full members vote REJECT, the person is rejected. If a member is rejected, membership ends when the results of the poll are tallied. At the discretion of the CMT, co may have up to one month to leave the community.
2. Rejections Based on Political Reasons
If the Membership Team determines that half or more of the REJECT votes are due to a single political issue, the decision is suspended, unless there are enough non-political REJECT votes to cause rejection.
There will, in such a case, be a two-week period to allow at least one community meeting regarding the political issue, followed by a decision paper about the political issue, or, more likely (given the time constraint), a statement of intent from the Planners or other appropriate decision-making body. The statement of intent will try to convey a sense of the direction the decision-making body believes the Community will be taking regarding the political issue at hand. After the statement has been on the O&I Board for one week, a second poll will be issued with the same options as the first poll. All reasons are considered valid reasons.
The person whose membership is being discussed will be offered a leave of absence during the suspension period. Co will retain cos provisional status until the second poll is complete.
If the second poll results in a 15% or higher REJECT vote, the person is rejected and must leave. If a member is rejected, membership ends when the results of the poll are tallied. At the discretion of the CMT, co may have up to one month to leave the community.
C. PROVISIONAL MEMBERS IN THE HOLE
1. If a provisional member reaches the end of cos six-month trial period and is not then in good standing in labor and/or money (i.e., is in the hole in labor, allowance, VE, PFF or any similar matter), the Membership Team will issue a public statement of the problem account and at the same time will issue a poll. The poll in this case presents a choice between:
EXTEND WITH FEEDBACK (includes possible contract)
Reasons are required.
If 10% or less of the full members vote either EXTEND WITH FEEDBACK or REJECT, the result is EXTEND.
If 15% or more of the full members vote REJECT, the procedures in paragraph II.B.1.e,f and II.B.2 apply.
If more than 10% of the full members vote either EXTEND WITH FEEDBACK or REJECT and less than 15% vote REJECT, the result is EXTEND WITH FEEDBACK (and possible contract). In either case (EXTEND or EXTEND WITH FEEDBACK), the member’s provisional status is extended for three months (or for the duration of any contract that results). By this time, the financial or labor deficiencies must be corrected. There is no second extension.
2. If the deficiency has been corrected, a full member poll is issued to all full members at the end of the extension. This poll has only these options:
ACCEPT WITH FEEDBACK (no contract possible)
3. If the second poll results in 15% or higher REJECT votes, the person is rejected and must leave. Membership ends when the poll results are tallied. At the discretion of the CMT, co may have up to one month to leave the community.
4. If any of cos labor or money balances show a deficit at the end of the three-month extension, cos membership ends at that time and the provisional member must leave the community. At the discretion of the CMT, co may have up one month to leave the community.
III. CONTRACTING PROCESS
If it is determined through the membership process that a conditional membership contract shall be considered, this is the process that shall be used.
1. Conditional membership contract. A conditional membership contract is a contract entered into between the community and a member, as a condition for continued membership in the community. These contracts may be referred to simply as "contracts" elsewhere in this document.
2. Contract Team. Shall be comprised of a member of each of the following bodies: Community Planners, Community Membership Team, Health Team, Process Team, and a member at large. If the contract that is being made involves another body, such as the Child Board, etc., then a representative from that body shall sit on the Contract Team for that particular contract. Also present during the negotiations will be the focus person and/or an advocate for the focus person if co chooses to have one.
The Contract Team (CT )is the bottom-line decision maker on (a) whether a contract is the appropriate option (except in the case of returning ex-members, in which case the CMT is the bottom-line decision maker), (b) the contents of the contract, (c) the duration of the contract, (d) monitoring contract compliance as well as calling any public meetings relevant to the contract, (e) determining if a contract should be considered irrevocably broken after a public meeting on such a topic.
3. Length of Contract. Contracts shall be for a period not less than six months and not more than a year from the date they are signed.
4. Status of Membership. When the community enters into a conditional membership contract with a provisional member, the focus person shall remain a provisional member for the duration of the contract. Some benefits, such as health coverage and possible other benefits normally provided for full members, will be given to those whose provisional membership is extended because of a contract since their provisional membership will then go well beyond the normal six-month period.
5. Focus Person. The member being contracted with.
6. Irrevocably Broken Contract. For the purpose of this policy, irrevocably broken is used to mean that some term or terms of the contract have been broken, or have not been met, to the extent that the community as represented by the CT (see III.B.13) does not wish to re-negotiate and wants the focus person to honor the agreement to drop cos membership. This provision is not meant to apply each time a focus person breaks any aspect of cos contract, but rather is intended for use when reasonable negotiation does not seem to be working and inappropriate or undesirable behaviors or circumstances persist. If the focus person refuses to drop cos membership when asked, the Contract Team may cancel the contract (regardless of its stated expiration date), at which time a full member poll will be issued by the Membership Team. In the alternative, expulsion proceedings may be used.
1. If during the three-month input process or after a provisional member receives an EXTEND outcome on their six-month poll or on a poll on a returning ex-member, the members of the community make it known to the Membership Team that they wish co to have a contract as a condition for cos membership, the following procedure will be followed.
2. A public feedback will precede the decision to make a contract through the membership process (groups such as the Health Team may decide to make particular types of contracts that do not require a public meeting). Members of the contract team (or the CMT in the case of returning ex-members) will attend the feedback.
3. The period for community input is from the time a feedback is announced until the contract team meets with the focus person to negotiate the contract. Ordinarily, at least 7 days will be allowed for this. At the feedback and through individual input, members should communicate their concerns about the focus person and any specific conditions they wish to see in the contract if there is to be one. The feedback group will recommend to the CT (or the CMT in the case of returning ex-members) whether or not they think a contract is appropriate. This is to encourage participation in the meeting process. The feedback group is encouraged to come to a unified recommendation. The idea of this process is to involve more members in dealing with problems and difficulties. The CT will consider the feedback group’s recommendation and any other pertinent information in determining whether or not the contracting process is the best option, and what terms the community wishes to have included in a contract.
4. When the feedback is scheduled, a meeting of the Contract Team will also be scheduled to occur as soon after the feedback as possible. At this meeting, the Contract Team will decide whether a contract is an appropriate and desirable option and will discuss what terms the community wants to have included in the contract. (In the case of returning ex-members, the CMT will determine within two days after the feedback whether a contract is desirable. The Contract Team will not be convened unless the CMT decides to pursue the contract option.)
5. If the CT decides to use the contracting process, the focus person is informed and a meeting is scheduled. Public notice to the membership is made announcing that a contract will be negotiated and soliciting any input from all members, whether or not they were present at the feedback. It is up to the focus person to arrange for an advocate if they want one. It is up to the CT to make sure that a meeting happens in as timely a manner as possible and that any relevant information needed to make the contract is gathered prior to the contract meeting. Once the feedback is announced, it is the responsibility of the membership at large to give input to the Contract Team ASAP so that the contracting process can be completed in as short a time as possible.
6. The focus person may choose not to be part of the contracting process and instead have an advocate present in cos place at the contract negotiating meeting although it is preferred that co participate in the meeting. Co will be reminded prior to the contract meeting specifically what the issues of concern are so that co can think about what co is willing to agree to.
7. A decision by the Contract Team to pursue the contract option does not obligate the team or the community to enter into a contract with the focus person if the CT and the focus person are unable to settle on mutually agreeable terms for the contract.
8. A contract is made between the focus person and Twin Oaks Community and is signed by the focus person and a member of the Contract Team as a representative of the community. One condition that will be part of every contract will be that the focus person agrees to drop cos membership if the CT determines that co has broken the contract irrevocably.
9. After the contract has been negotiated, it will be available for review and input for one week. The CT will re-negotiate the contract if, in their opinion, there is significant enough input that this should happen. This re-negotiation will be final. After the final contract has been agreed upon, there will be a poll on which the options will be: EXTEND WITH CONTRACT and REJECT. If 15% or more of the voting members vote REJECT, the person is rejected and cos membership ends when the results of the poll are tallied. At the discretion of the CMT, co may have one month to leave the community. In the case of returning ex-members, the poll options will be ACCEPT WITH CONTRACT and REJECT.
10. Once the contract is agreed to between the CT and the focus person, community members cannot ask for amendments without good reason (new problems arise, the focus person does not meet the terms of the contract that co signed, etc.).
11. A copy of the completed contract is kept in a mailbox so that members may refer to it if they so choose.
12. Any member can approach the CT if they feel that someone is not abiding by the terms of cos contract. The CT may solicit input from the community to see if more members have concerns and a public meeting may be called. The CT may call a public meeting if in the course of monitoring contract compliance it feels that a condition or conditions of the contract have not been met.
13. The purpose of such a meeting will be to talk about how the contract was broken, whether or not it needs to be adjusted or if it should be considered to have been irrevocably broken. The public meeting is encouraged to come to a unified recommendation. The CT will meet soon after the public meeting and will consider the recommendation of the public meeting and any other pertinent information in deciding whether or not the contract needs to be amended or whether it should be considered irrevocably broken. If it needs to be amended, the CT and the focus person will meet and negotiate an amendment and a copy of the new contract will be placed in a mailbox. The focus person is expected to honor the terms of the contract, in which co agrees to drop cos membership if it is considered irrevocably broken. If the focus person refuses to drop cos membership, the CT may cancel the contract (regardless of its stated expiration date), at which time a full member poll will be issued by the Membership Team. In the alternative, expulsion proceedings may be used.
14. Before a contract expires, a card will be posted asking the community if it wishes to have a public meeting regarding closure of the contract.
15. The Membership Team will issue a full member poll upon the expiration of a contract, in accordance with the procedures for first-time (six-month) provisional-to-full transition. (See Section II.B.)
16. The Contract Team will evaluate the effectiveness of each contract.
17. The Addressing Conflict policy is available to members if problems/concerns surface with the focus person after the expiration of cos contract.
C. SENSITIVITY AND PRIVACY
It is a stressful experience to be a focus person in a conflict. We want to have a process that is sensitive to that fact, but that is also an effective tool for the community to deal with concerns about individual members. We want to have an atmosphere and a general community attitude that creates the possibility for people with as many differences as possible to live at Twin Oaks, balanced by the reality that it doesn’t always work out. When it is not working out, we need a process that allows and encourages everyone to be involved, balanced by a sensitivity toward the focus person’s position. We feel that the process should move along as quickly as possible and maintain a sense of privacy for the focus person. In order to help preserve privacy:
1. Contracts are not posted on the O&I or other "highly public" locations. They are a mailbox issue available to members only.
2. "Members Only" 3X5’s are posted with contract info on the back.
3. Contract meetings are held in a space that affords a level of privacy and an appropriate level of focus to the topic (no meetings over meals, etc.).