The Member Montage


The upcoming member montage. I still nee to collect photos from everyone.

At Twin Oaks we have a printout that we hang in various buildings around the community that gives photos and names of members in the order in which they joined.  It’s called the member montage.  Woody started this project several years ago, and it has persisted since he left because it’s a helpful aid for visitors who are trying to match names with faces.


You wouldn’t think that it would be hard to figure out the placement order on the montage, right?  It’s actually become a complicated and charged topic.  Determining the order of the members who have only had one membership is easy, but many members have dropped membership and rejoined or gone on a PAL (personal affairs leave).  Woody’s original criteria for placement was that if a member went on PAL or if they dropped membership and rejoined within a year, they could keep their original spot. If they dropped membership and returned in over a year (needing to do a new visitor period), they would go at the bottom of the member montage.


Even with these criteria, the member montage has been inconsistent in its placement of members: What is interesting is that many members are super attached to their position on the member montage.  It is my sense that people take pride in how far up they are on the montage.   People in the lower, smaller slots at the bottom of the montage care about moving up to the bigger slots.  Members have bickered about their placement and made demands to be put in higher locations on the montage.


I recently took on the project of revamping the member montage, which hasn’t been updated since its last meta dropped membership in November.  At the suggestion of the person who tried to take on this project before me, I asked Casey for a list of all the members in order of the date that they first joined Twin Oaks.  Most people have only had one membership and stayed where they were on the montage, but a few other people jumped up.  Most notably, River, who just rejoined this year, went from the very bottom row to the very top row of the montage. 


I also moved up, and I was one of the most controversial moves.  In 2005, I was a resident (but not a member) of Twin Oaks for two months. I got a bedroom and an allowance and I was bound to Twin Oaks property codes, but I had a set leaving date.  I guested on and off at Twin Oaks for the next several years, but I didn’t join as a member until 2010.  According to Casey’s list, my first join date was June 2005.  I posted the new member montage last night, and I’ve already gotten several complaints from people that it’s not fair for me to get my 2005 spot because I wasn’t a member then.


What is interesting to me is how attached people are to their spots, to being ahead of other people on the montage.  Our seniority is important to us, and it’s hard to quantify.  I’m not sure whether it makes more sense for River to be at the top or the bottom of the montage, since he left Twin Oaks for more than 5 years.  It’s weird that I’m in the top half of the montage when I self-identify as having lived at Twin Oaks for 3 years (and I as on PAL for a portion of those years).  Some people suggested listing people by the total number of days that they’ve been members at Twin Oaks (which would exclude PALS, sabbaticals, and periods of dropped membership), but others thought that would be hard to maintain, since I would need to make more frequent shifts to photos on the montage.