Issues that all small groups will have to deal with, no matter the noble purpose for which they ostensibly came together:
- Some people will develop intimate personal relationships with each other, including romantic ones. People will have sex with each other. Alliances will be formed. Hearts will be broken. There will be drama of various kinds related to romance that seem totally personal and not really to do with larger community but will deeply affect its members and therefore the group.
- It takes money to function in the world. Insisting that everyone contribute equally financially will likely restrict the group to middle and upper middle class members only. At the same time, wealthy folks who show up or who act as donors will expect—and usually receive—special attention or access. Wealthy people will often be flattered or held up as examples of ideal group members to eep them happy so they will keep giving. The community may resist talking about this directly because it seems tacky and also confusing. Or, it will be discussed openly but the discussion may be primarily venting because no one really knows what else to do. Money DOES need to come in. The bills DO have to be paid. What does financial fairness and justice actually look like when none of us have had any real experience with a fair or just economy in our lives?
- The group will ultimately be forced to answer the question: What is our top priority? That the organization continues on? That this particular group of people stays together, in one form or another? That the original goals of the organization are faithfully pursued, even if that means in the future they are no longer pursued together, or pursued in this particular group formation?
- There will be a lot of administration. Forms. Legal considerations. Rent. Set up. Clean Up. All of this is part of it. Infrastructure, maintenance, and administrative care are part of what it means to put something into the world.
- Conflicts will happen. There must be processes for decision making and conflict resolution that feels in alignment with the group’s mission and values or it won’t even take a very challenging decision or a very large conflict to break things apart.
- Difficult people will show up. People who at home in disfunction, on both the giving and receiving end. The processes for decision making and conflict resolution must factor in edge cases, and the potential for bad faith actors.
- How does the group evaluate itself in all of these areas? Iterate? Stay flexible and responsive to changing conditions while remaining focused on purpose and people?
None of this is “beside the point” or “not the real work.” Organizations that get creative and truly innovate in the above areas will make a different world possible.