Why transparency is so important to us
We think that transparency is important in many areas of life, especially for life in community, to prevent and reduce domination and hierarchies, but also to foster responsibility, self-determination, reasonable decisions and a positive contact with each other.
Transparency and freedom of domination
If everybody has the necessary knowledge to understand a problem and has all factual information on the subject to form a proper opinion, it’s less likely that individual people get more power to make a decision. Of course it’s also reasonable not to omit special expert knowledge in decision-making-processes, even if there’s only one person who has it. But then we aspire that everyone’s able to know the relevant information, so everybody can make a contribution.
Transparency and money
Only if you know where our money goes to, how much money is in which pot and how much money is spent on what and how often is able to sensefully save money. What is more, transparency establishes trust and that is especially important in a → communal economy. Since we all managed our economies individually for the greater part of our lives, we will have to muster a lot of work to accustom ourselves to the communal economy. And also when it comes to decisions it’s very important for everyone to know about our cash position. Before asking the community about buying a tractor, first I should (and can) look up if we’re able to afford it.
Transparency and work
Especially when it comes to work in the community (→ recognised activities), transparency is nothing we can take as a given. I notice the obvious stuff, I see what I do myself and I notice what’s done by those who work with me. Most of the rest of the work is hard or impossible to notice. But we want to endeavour to make all work / recognised activities transparent. The point is to give all work the same amount of appreciation and to not only give it to the work (or rather the people who did it) that is obvious or special or to those people who call attention to their work themselves. No, we want to give everyone recognition and appreciation for all the work they do for us, for the community. Especially the reproductive activities are often not recognised and especially women tend to hide their light under a bushel. Appreciation is important to people and it makes them happy when their community recognises and appreciates their work.
But there is more: We want everybody to know about the work that is due, where there is a lot to do, where work is most urgent and so on. We don’t want individuals to have to point out deficits, but rather that all members assume and bear the responsibility, so that everything that needs to be done, is done.
And one more thing: The percipience of people is often quite different. It can happen that I estimate the work I’ve done as very long and valuable and that I think I do much more than anybody else. Or that I think that I never do enough and therefore have guilty conscience all the time. And both situations don’t have anything to do with the real situation. In order to know for sure about how much I do compared to the others (if I may as well relax a bit more or if I may as well do some more) is really hard to know. Only by written transparency I can get real clarity.
Transparency and rules
Not all rules where deliberated and decided by all members. Every new member is confronted with rules that existed before he or she joined the community. Every new member should know those rules before joining, if not he or she can hardly decide to be a part of this particular community. But wouldn’t it also be nice and helpful if we’d also explain the rules, why we have them, how we came to establish them? Maybe it’s not as important for one member as for the other and maybe it’s not important for all rules, but we can’t always know which rule explains itself and which rule has to be explained. And then we want everybody to stick to the rules we set up. And for that to happen, we need everyone to know about them. Sounds trivial, but if we don’t write down the rules and if not everybody knows where to find them, how is a new member / potential member supposed to inform him / herself about them?
Transparency and decisions
For all decisions, especially those who are taken in subgroups, it’s important to document them in written form. If possible together with the underlying thinking-process, with all the information that was relevant for this decision. All too often it happens that different people remember a decision they took differently or even that they don’t remember the decision being taken, at all. We don’t want to fuss about how that happens, if it’s on purpose and lies or just varying perception. But we do know that it happens. To prevent the resulting conflicts, we want decisions to be written down. And then be signed by everybody who was present or have a note with who was present.
Transparency and responsibility
Only those people who have the necessary information about a thing are able to assume the responsibility for it. We want that everybody bears roughly the same amount of responsibility. We really don’t want just a few people to bear all responsibility, because that can be problematic in two directions: The ones who have to bear all that responsibility feels burdened by it. And at the same time he or she has a lot of power that other people don’t have.
Transparency and feelings
We want to create transparency about our feelings. For ourselves but also for each other. I prefer to tell Peter, that I don’t feel like working with him today, because I’m still angry with him about smashing my guitar, instead of irksomely working alongside with him. Because that way I’d spoil his temper, I don’t have the best day myself and the conflicts still not solved. Instead I ask if we can postpone this decision-making-process for a day because I’m still so occupied with the argument from yesterday.
It also seems important to us to be aware of out interpretations of the others, our “films” and to talk about them, at least in some cases. We’re always interpreting the actions, pitch of the voice, statements of each other and we make many mistakes. Some grow into “films” in our heads: We think about what the other meant with this, what he or she meant to say with that, what he or she actually thinks. Transparency here means: To address this “film” and to clarify what’s really going on, instead of insisting on one’s interpretation.
If you know what’s important to me, what scares me, what bothers me and what makes me happy, it’s way easier for you to respond to me. If I know how you feel, it’s easier for me to help you out and back you up and make you happy.
Transparency and efficiency
Transparency is important because we don’t want everyone to reinvent the wheel: If I want to straighten the workshop and really organise it, I invent a cool system, start doing it and make a real mess. But then there is an urgent call for work in another sector and I go help out there for a while. Jack has the same idea two days later when he looks for a tool but can’t find it. Since he only found a big chaos, he starts to organise the tools and stuff. If we’d have talked about it, if I’d have made it clear what I was doing, one of us could have not done the work or we could have done it together, faster and better. And we have better things to do.
Transparency and structures
In order to adapt and improve our structures (methods for decision-making, division of work, division of money etc.) constantly, we need transparency. Only if we do evaluate experiments are we able to get information out of them. If, for example, we frequently try out different ways of decision-making, we should think about them afterwards, talk about who liked what and who has which problems. That way we can find the best type for us or develop our own.