Our economic system
Based in our core value of egalitarianism, the goal of our economic system is to value each person's labor equally. By taking advantage of the economies of scale that occur when a large number of people share their resources and expenses and by encouraging less consumption, we aim to reduce to a minimum the number of hours each member must devote to making a living and the number of dollars that flow into the system.
All hours are created equal
We believe that one hour of any person's time is equal in value to one hour of anyone else's time. We trust that each member will use their time as well as they are able, and rely on the honor system for the reportage of hours spent. We believe that clear expectations combined with a high level of trust inspires people to do their best work, and to do it--whenever possible--joyfully.
Whether we work outside the community generating income or work within the house (on things like renovation, cooking communal meals or attending meetings) each hour of our labor is valued equally, and all community members are expected to do the same number of hours per week. Different members, depending on their individual circumstances, do a different balance of income-generating and in-house labor.
One house member might do all her work in-house; another might work half his work in the house and half outside; still another might do the bare minimum of in-house labor and do the rest outside the house. The community supports them all.
How our decision making works
The whole community meets once each week, currently WEDNESDAY evenings, to discuss all matters of significance to the community. We make all decisions by consensus, with facilitation duties rotating among all the members. Our goal is to equalize power so that all members have an equal voice in our discussions, and equal sense of ownership over all community decisions.
Even though few people love long meetings, we see our weekly house meeting as an important opportunity to build cohesion, friendship and solidarity. Each meeting begins with a personal check-in so we can keep up with one another's busy lives, and ends with a check-out where each person reflects on their experience of the meeting. It is no exaggeration to say that in our meetings we laugh, we cry, we yell, we doze off, and-not infrequently-we eat cake. Running the gamut of emotions, trading our loftiest and lowliest moments with one another, these meetings represent the pulsing heart of community life at Emma Goldman Finishing School. We love meetings!!
In consensus decision-making, a decision is taken only when every member of the community approves it. This means that even one dissenter can block the passage of a decision. When each member has this kind of power, the whole dynamic of decision-making shifts. Decisions no longer depend on building coalitions, and counting votes, but on achieving a true unanimity of intent. This means that each person's concerns and ideas must be accounted for, and each objection carefully considered. More often than not, much more thoughtful decisions result; and a deep sense of collaboration develops. The magic of consensus, which we have experienced countless times in our meetings, is when unity emerges from discussions that began with deep differences. This process encourages the community to look deeply into the question at hand, examine each person's needs and concerns thoughtfully, and find the solution which works for everyone.