What is a community without its members?
What brings our community together? What kind of people are we looking for?
a) Community of Individuals
As a community of individuals, we try to maintain a balancing act between the rights of the community while preserving each members rights and privacy.
‘Community of Individuals’ in practice at Hedonisia:
- Shared v. Private Activities Members of the Hedonisia community can choose to cook shared meals, take trips, watch movies or hang out, but have separate, private or shared sleeping spaces. Some may come to stay at Hedonisia and live, eat, and read all day in silence. That is totally fine! As long as a person obeys our general community guidelines, we do not ask anyone to give up their privacy and autonomy for the sake of the community. We respect their right to be left alone.
- No Alpha Attitude! There are certain types of individuals who attempt to impose their personalities on a community. They may try to dominate every dinner conversation. If necessary, remind volunteers and guests to respect each other’s living space, lifestyle, and individuality. Every community member must behave in such a way that does not impose on the rights of others.
- Few Community Meetings: We only have one community intern meeting a week. From our observations of other communities and businesses, meetings often create unnecessary tension. This fact has been lampooned in the comic strip Dilbert where they have ‘meetings about meetings.’ We only have community meetings if there is an important issue.
- Reciprocal Respect between Community & Individuals. We don’t force ‘community’ on individuals. We simply create an ambiance for it to happen.
- Individual Focus on Community Projects based on Shared Passion. Each intern brings their own individual passion to a Focus project(s). Our eco-feminist community deals with edgy subjects like reproductive rights and sex-positive feminism, we respect each individual’s boundaries, interests, and anonymity. Our community welcomes individuals who respect our work even if they don’t agree with all of our projects!
b) Turning Shit to Sugar! Using Evolution as a Community Model
When a community is responsive to change, it can evolve. At Hedonisia, we try to turn all challenges and crises into teaching moments.
After dealing with a problem, we ascertain whether
it is something that could happen again. Then we devise a formal response to the challenge, which we publish on our website and print as guidelines, in hopes of preventing similar situations in the future. This has proven very successful and is the bulk of the material in this Hedonisia Handbook!
This is our basic principle in dealing with problems involving day-to-day life in the community. When something negative occurs, we brainstorm solutions to the issue. Finally, we try to find ways to implement change in the structure of the community, so that the issue may be mitigated or permanently solved.
An example, of where we turned ‘shit into sugar’. A few years ago we had an Intern who used a fake ID and was an extremely disruptive influence at Hedonisia and in the local Hawaii community. Dealing with this individual involved intense communications with the Hilo Deputy Prosecutor, Department of Labor, the Police, our lawyer and the Small Claims Court. It was that serious!
From this incident, we learned a great deal about the law and some shortcomings in our community policies. This resulted in a revamped and much-improved Community Manager Internship, which is now one of the most popular programs that we offer!
c) Using Design to Reduce Confrontation
By developing efficient systems that eliminate unnecessary second steps, we have fewer community meltdowns! Some examples:
- Community Dishes. A small issue as unwashed dishes can cause big arguments! Our solution allows for dishes to be dried and stored in the same place, rather than having a separate storage space. We also try to ensure that that are slightly fewer dishes for use than people on the property. This encourages a quick washing turn over rate because community members know someone else is waiting for them! With these simple changes, we reduced arguments stemming from a messy kitchen with dish pile-ups.
- Explanation Signs. Part of creating harmony in a community is having clear signs around the property that explain important everyday matters. It is those small little things that often cause big problems! We place colorful information notices exactly where they are needed. This saves on continual explanations and gives clarity to anyone using any resource in the community. Interns can suggest any future notices to give even greater clarity to our community policies!
- Lock on Laundry Door. We reduce laundry mysteries by having a lock on the laundry door. If you are on shift and the laundry is being used and you haven’t been paid for it, the easiest way to find the person without confrontation is to simply lock the door again! Eventually, someone will come up to you to say that they were doing laundry. Then you can collect payment easily and without having to look for who didn’t pay.
- Using Donation Zone when Cleaning Up. Interns on shift and cleaning up will often see many personal items left around. Rather than wasting time finding each person and telling them
tonot to leave their stuff in the community areas, simply put their stuff (with the exception of computers and electronics), in the Donation Boxes. Community residents quickly learn not to leave personal stuff around when they are directed to the Donation Bin!
- Private Cold & Dry Food Storage Compartments. This ensures that there is no ambiguity when it comes to food storage! Compared to other communities there are very few confrontations about people ‘inadvertently’ using each other’s food because everyone has a private cold and dry food storage.
- Making the Propane Shower Difficult to use! We don’t automatically tell people how to use the propane so that they just don’t overuse gas and instead enjoy the solar shower.
- Unfinished Business in Intern Reports. Each intern should read the morning report of the person who comes in the day after them to see if they left any unfinished business. This way they can apologize or explain to the next intern for having to clean up after them and also to make a mental note to close down their shift thoroughly when they finish. This is also to reduce confrontation. Because if an intern continually leaves aspects of their shift unfinished AND does not read the Morning Report section then they will continue on the same path until the situation boils over.
d) Complaint Buddy!
Sometimes a person on the property has issues with our community but is not just content to complain privately to either the Directors or an Intern on duty.
Instead, they may seek out ‘Complaint Buddies’; other visitors, volunteers or interns who are polite enough to listen to them so they can build a case with their new audience.
Often when they leave, they take their ‘complaint buddies’ with them because they need a ‘travel buddy’. This sows doubt and angst among those ‘left behind’.
It only takes one bad apple to spoil the barrel; one person defaming us creates negativity for the entire community.
An intentional community is not a hotel even if its based on ecotourism like Hedonisia. It is a home and its members are like family. When you invite a guest to your home and they start complaining it is not very polite or respectful to the people already living there.
As an Intern, if you see such behavior please politely give them the option to leave rather than spreading discord and disharmony.
What we do not appreciate or tolerate is when someone tries to bring down the energy of the community with PDN, Public Displays of Negativity! Communal spaces should be Confrontation-Free. The Hedonisia Barn is our communal area. We maintain a positive space in the barn area.
Refunds are dependent on how the complainant conducts themselves on the property and how harmonious their departure is.
e) Referral of Friends: Creating Community!
Many past and present community members have become friends. As friends, we give a certain amount of trust to their opinions and references.
However, while a referral from a friend can act as a reference it is by no means a guarantee of good character or conduct. Sometimes a reference can actually backfire as it allows a person to bypass the ‘normal’ application process to be a member of the Hedonisia community without a full appreciation of Hedonisia community policies and guidelines.
This can often give rise to a certain attitude. As the friend of a trusted community member, we have found that when the ‘friend’ does break any rules they act with personal hurt towards the person who referred them as if to say ‘how can the rules apply to me? I’m your friend!’
In the past, this has led to much bigger dramas than when a person goes through the normal application process. And it goes without saying, this reflects negatively on the reputation of the community member who referred them.
So while we will still accept a friendly referral it must be emphasized that ALL referrals MUST go through the normal application process. Applicants can in no way claim friendship as a way to bypass the normal process.
On a related note, feel free to also recommend people who you like in the island to join any of our programs. This way you can choose some of the people who will live with you! As long as they go through our application process, we are open to applicants who are already on the island.
As interns, simply carry a couple of our business cards with you so that when you are out and about on the island you can easily hand cards out to people who you like and who you think would be great members of the community!
f) Community Complaints Policy
We do not ignore complaints. We actually listen and respond. If an intern hears a complaint that they are able to resolve, then do so. If it involves any cash expenditure or is an emergency, call the Director.
When someone is complaining about any aspect of our lodgings or service, it is necessary for the Intern on duty to take that person aside and politely—but firmly—tell them to jot down the key points of dissatisfaction in our Customer Compliments & Complaints Feedback Form which is sent immediately to the Community Director.
If Director is off the property, interns can tell the complainant that they should receive a response within 24 hours. Because we are writing a manual on Sustainable Community Management, we welcome legitimate complaints about our community. It helps us mold our practices, policies, and guidelines, which we then teach in our workshops and in our intern trainings.
No community member should have to put up with anyone ranting loudly. Politely—but firmly—tell the complainer they may write down their complaints and the intern will notify the owner by phone or email.
It is not acceptable if a person loudly complaining on the property causes stress among other community members. Our motto is fair-trade. If they feel we are unfair, they should leave. And if we feel that we are being treated unfairly, we are free to ask someone to leave.
We have had hundreds of people happily enjoy their stay at our community, so if we do not feel the problem is on our end, we will defend ourselves accordingly and hope that community members do the same.
g) Hedonisia Clutter Reduction Policies:
Hedonisia is an eco-tourist community. That is how we make the income that keeps this community alive. So clutter is not acceptable.
If tourists don’t like coming here because it’s a ‘filthy hippy place’ or a ‘construction site’ they will start giving negative reviews. This has happened in the past.
- ALL intern personal items are to be stored in the their personal space. The 5 drawers in the manager’s desk area are the only other space for intern personal storage in the community areas unless other space is authorized by the Director.
- NO building materials lying around the barn or strewn around a building site.
- Interns cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen is VERY important because volunteers and guests are often look to interns for guidance. Interns leaving dishes in the sink sets an example!
Community clutter leads to mental clutter. When there’s just stuff everywhere it gets overwhelming and overall intern productivity declines.
Though it is challenging, we should always be striving for a more Zen community with less clutter. That has been our effort since the beginning and is how we rose from being a junkyard to an eco-community!
h) Drop-in Volunteers or Interns!
Most volunteers and interns plan their stay with us months in advance. If anyone arrives unexpectedly and they’re interested in the volunteer/intern program, make a quick assessment of their personality. When a person is a drop-in and wants to volunteer or intern that is a Red Flag for us. If they seem okay you can let them use the computer (on the Guest account only), and tell them they must go through the online application process.
If they don’t seem okay then tell them they must apply online when they are off property and then notify the director. If they want to just book a few nights as a guest, show them the available spaces and process their payment.
i) Intern Eco-Feminism, Entrepreneurialism & Community Harmony!
The issue of males jumping into land and building jobs while relegating cleaning and domestic duties to women is something that we have continually faced at our community over the years. As an eco-feminist community, we try to give all genders the opportunity to do all jobs.
With the bathroom, sheets, kitchen, bedmaking, we often have had resistance or sloppy work from males. The bathroom, toilet, shower need to be regularly cleaned because we only have one of each for the community.
It is crucial that ‘domestic’ jobs such as laundry, toilet and so on, not be ‘accidentally’ left for female interns.
There are advantages to Community Harmony when an intern has a social entrepreneur idea.
Interns with Business Plans will communicate more in-depth and enjoy it more because now they have ‘skin in the game’.
Focus conversations would then be much more in depth because they are not just about the community jobs. We will discuss the community but then also the big picture as it relates to the intern because they actually have an entrepreneur project they are working on!
Intern entrepreneurs would be hungry for feedback and to learn. Because information is valuable. Feedback is one of the greatest opportunities to learn.