How to deal with issues that affect the community in a moral manner
Our community has established policies that act as a ‘filter’ to prevent unsavory characters from taking advantage of our community.
This handbook tries to deal with most contingencies but in the end we can’t make a policy for everything. Sometimes an intern has to think on their feet”!
How do we ensure our safety while living in the accepting, open, and tolerant environment of an intentional community?
What can we do to protect ourselves from shady or criminal characters? How do we protect the security of our belongings while still maintaining an atmosphere of trust and openness?
These are some of the difficult questions we face.
The true test of a great Intern Community Manager is not when everything is going right; the community is relatively simple to run in those times. It is when things are going wrong; when the proverbial ‘shit hits the fan’! That’s the true test of a great Intern and a Hedo hero!
Our community is one of the few in the area to not suffer a serious break-in or robbery in our history. We hope to keep it that way!
i) Property Security
For all communities, in order to prevent outside crime, it is important to have someone on property 24/7. This is why we prefer Hedonisia Interns who have hobbies, artistic or work-related activities that require them to be on the property.
One of the most important aspects of a intern’s duties is simply to be on the property when they are on shift. The police have told us that Hawaii criminals seek out empty properties. This allows them to drive up with a pickup truck and clean out the contents of the property. The most common method used, according to local law enforcement, is simply to drive onto a property claiming to be looking for a lost dog. Once certain the property is empty, they begin loading up the truck.
If a Community Intern is on shift and an emergency requires them to leave the property they should notify the Community Director, the gate at the driveway should be closed and the chain wrapped around it. Ideally another trusted volunteer or guest can be ‘deputized’ to hang out in the common area until the Intern returns.
ii) Enforcement of Violations of Community Guidelines
Because Hedonisia has worked hard to put a filter on who we allow into our community, banning someone from the grounds or asking them to leave happens rarely. Although the interview process does weed out many unfavorable candidates, we do live in the real world and have to handle issues as they arise, with grace and tact.
When dealing with any potentially serious incident, such as the first signs of someone drinking heavily this is the updated protocol:
a) Verbal Warning. This is a private chat where a verbal warning is given. An intern can make a judgement call whether to issue a verbal warning or communicate with the Director before doing so.
b) First Warning Printout. If necessary print and hand rule breakers a copy of their signed Registration Form and use a highlighter to point out where they violated the guidelines. First Warning Notices should only be given in the morning or early afternoon so that the receiver has time to search for other lodgings and communities right away if they decide to leave.
c) ‘I want to Speak to the Owner!’ When a volunteer or guest tries to override an intern’s authority on a serious issue and demands to speak to the owner they may only do so in writing. This is to avoid confrontation and encourage civil discourse. As well, we have a rigorous process for training and accepting interns so we do not take kindly to people who try to undermine an intern’s authority by trying to go over their heads. If dealing with an angry client guest or volunteer please communicate this and then you can give them the Community Director email address.
d) Compassionate Refund Form. Any refund they receive is dependent on the miscreant’s behavior before they depart.
iii) ECO-TOURIST SECURITY
Volunteers & guests often get caught up in the moment in our island paradise; they may decide to camp on the beach for a few days, and sometimes won’t show up for their scheduled work shift. Volunteers have responsibilities, and we are very flexible, but we need to be notified if a volunteer is not able to show up for their shift.
If a volunteer does not show up to work and did not stay the night it is possible that something has happened to them. So for their own security, if a volunteer does not show up on the property for 48 hours,
- We will first try to contact them by phone or email.
- If this is unsuccessful, we will file a Missing Persons Report with local police who will then come and take the personal possessions of the missing person.
If a volunteer is off property, does not show up for work and does not notify us, we give a First Warning. A second time and then we just pro-rate their program to guest status for their remaining time.
For the personal privacy of our community members we do not give out any personal information on the phone unless authorized by the member. Even if the person on the phone claims to be a family member!
When a community intern is ‘on call,’ there is no ‘hands-on’ work to complete. However, do not get inebriated, as you may have to deal with a number of situations. For example, you may have to drive out for a late night emergency pickup.
We do not usually accept any bookings after 11 p.m. The evening intern may leave the phone in its designated transfer spot at this time. However, on call interns are still responsible for noise control late at night.
v) Community Policy on Domestic Violence between Partners
This is one of the most difficult issues especially when one partner takes the abuse and does not leave the relationship or press charges as has happened before in our community. This highlights one of the greatest challenges with domestic abuse; when the abused partner keeps going back and insisting that nothing is wrong.
To avoid that we have now established a New rule: if there is ever a domestic incident in the community involving violence we automatically call the police even if it’s the first time and the abused partner insists that there is nothing to be alarmed about.
It does not matter if the police press charges or not. And technically the couple could still stay on the property with a First Warning if they show genuine remorse. But by getting the police involved we create a barrier to prevent future attacks better because the couple will now have a formal record that will follow them around. So if there is any incident in the future the police will be more likely to press criminal charges if there is a previous record.
vi) DIGITAL SECURITY
Aside from ensuring that the property and people are safe, there is the aspect of digital security. Though the law does protect us from vandalism or theft against the online accounts that interns have access to, we still have passwords for these accounts which we share on a case by case basis.
Approved Interns receive password access to the following accounts. As we note in the Intern Community Manager Working Agreement, no-one other than an approved intern has access to these accounts. Unless permission, is given by the Community Director, interns may NOT access these accounts when they have ended their internship.
Digital Inventory. We have digital records of our tools, appliances, and supplies. This allows for a transparent way to monitor our property assets and inventory.
vii) Registration Forms & Photo ID
We take a photo of every guest’s legal ID when they register upon arrival. This is one of our most important security procedures for the protection of everyone in the community.
- It is required for all persons who stay at Hedonisia, even if staying only for one night. Once a person has their ID scanned it acts as a deterrent on any subsequent negative behavior.
- Over our history, we have banned a number of Black Hats from the property for criminal or aggressive behavior. However, Black Hats may try to come into the community when they know the Directors are not on the property. With our digital registration system, a copy with the Photo ID is immediately sent to the Community Directors.
- When there is a couple or group checking in, only one person has to complete the Registration Form but a photograph should be taken of all their IDs grouped together.
- Many people who live in Hawaii have assumed names and legal names. By digitally receiving ID’s in real time, the Community Directors are able to immediately see who a person is, because their legal name may be very different from the name they go by.
- Acceptable forms of Identification: Passport for all non-United States visitors and Driver’s license or official federal or state ID for all United States residents
- Unacceptable forms of Identification: ‘World’ Passport
- Worker ID, or any other form of non-government issued identification.
viii) Fridge Safe Organization & Cash Payments Accounting Procedure
Cash, by it’s very nature, is not easily traceable or recoverable. It is much easier and tempting to steal than, for example, trying to commit fraud with credit cards.
Having most customers pay with their credit card or Paypal ensures that there is an impartial record, which allows accounting expenses and income to be trackable and not completely reliant on human honesty and trust.
- Neat Fridge Safe! When using the Fridge Safe make sure you keep the fridge neat and organized and re-lock it when you’re done.
- Match Safe & Electronic Records. Match amounts in Bookings Spreadsheet Safe tab to the physical cash in the Fridge Safe while on shift and update if needed. Each Intern must enter their own sales and driving amounts on the day of the transaction.
- Intern Commissions need to be noted twice: once on the Safe tab that they have been removed and once on the Cash tab at the top confirming that each intern has been paid out what they were owed and zeroing the amount.
- Cash & Float. There are 2 plastic bill pouches in the fridge safe. One envelope is for Lodgings only. The other pouch houses three spaces for Sales, Driving and Float. Always insure that Float contains $50 in small bills. If you have to make change by moving cash from one section then please note that in the Safe tab in the Comments section with the date.
- Float Run/Cash Deposit. When we run out of small bills please make a note for the Anchor Intern who will make the next bank deposit on the recycling run. Then they can break up the float into small bills.
- Departing Interns. If an intern is leaving before the end of the month it is their responsibility to touch base with us at that time to confirm the amount they are owed and more sure it is properly noted in both sheets when they withdraw commissions early.
- End of the Month Fridge Safe Accounting & Payouts: At the end of the month, generally on the last day of the month, the Bookings Director will communicate with the intern on duty to total the cash in the safe, pay out commissions and prepare the remaining amount for deposit into the bank. When money is removed from the safe it needs to be marked on the safe tab.
ix) Neighbor Security & Police
While we totally support any intern calling the police if there is a security incident on the property, when it comes to calling the police on neighbors this is another story.
We are residents in Hawaii not natives. Cultures can be different. And when it comes to screaming and shouting within the family, they can be very different! As a result, we cannot just call the police on the neighbors.
This practice was started last year with a neighbor who was arguing with his wife and kid. One Intern called the police on them because she heard the kid screaming. It was a loud argument which is common in local Hawaiian cultures. Please remember that we have to live with our neighbors long after the intern who called the police on them has left.
Some interns panic when there are security incidents. This creates fear for others and can lead to spontaneous behavior not in the community guidelines.
Please communicate with the Director when making decisions regarding security unless it is an issue directly on the property then you have authority to do as you see fit within the legal parameters of our community guidelines.
x) Video or Written Statements
When we have a security or harassment incident we now try to get a written or video statement from the parties affected. However, since we started this policy we noticed that especially when it comes to females, getting a statement is very difficult. Every woman has a different reason but the result is usually negative.
So far we have had two domestic incidents where the female declined giving a statement. And in 2014 we had another incident where two other women had an incident with an ex-intern off property. Though we the community had called the police, when it came to giving a statement both women declined.
I completely understand the reluctance of women to do this as the system does not treat them well. In one case I was arguing with police officer about his casual disregard for a woman’s feelings when it comes to her hesitation for giving a statement.
As a feminist community that strongly supports and backs a woman’s (and man’s) right to feel safe on the property this has been a little frustrating because basically it allows the guy to ‘get away’ without an official check on his behavior.
I have noticed that once people know there is an official record of their behavior, it serves as a deterrent to future similar behavior.
xi) Laptop security
The red community laptop is sometimes left open with all the tabs including the intern password page, open. When you are leaving the desk simply close the laptop. Then it is automatically password protected.
Leaving the laptop open and unattended exposes our customer’s bookings information and other sensitive data.