Page 69 - ALG Issue 2 20202
P. 69

 Welcome to our new members...
Leyes Road Allotment Society London Borough of
Manorfield Primary
6 Individual Memberships
Mr Jeff Barber
39 Seagry Road, London E11 2NH 07900 328797
Grant Smith
0845 478 6351
Paula Owen
07838 344408
   “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast”
One method of looking at the way small voluntary membership organisations, such as allotment societies, work is to separate the tasks’ requirements from the members’ requirements.
What I am trying to suggest and claim is that you need to have both of them in operation and that they are very strongly connected in many ways that are not often taken on board. “I have been managing allotment sites for more than twenty years” was one verbatim report from a London site but there was no mention of the allotment tenants. The basic task functions
for a leased site of allotment lettings, routine site maintenance, rent collecting, care and protection of membership details, financial probity and the processes involved with issuing notices to quit (amongst others) are not without difficulties but the pathways are there to be followed although a clear map does need to be to hand. But beyond those items, there ought to be more than just an acquiescence
in the ways and processes by which those functions are carried out by the officers and committee.
Two examples, if I may. One association had no price list at its trading hut and was charging different prices to different members. Another site gave notice to quit to two members after
a two-year long series of disputes and the town council cleared their plots in fewer than the twenty-eight days’ notice set by the notice to quit and did not inform the former tenants where their property was.
Allotment tenants as allotment tenants initially are, I would suggest, in a relationship of radical equality with one another as partners in a common-pool-resource – the allotment land. In practice of course that is left behind as the various types and levels of allotment-relevant competencies are acquired or developed. There remains an agreed consensus that consent has been given to the officers and committee members to put into effect the site and association rules. But the purposes and reasons for any interactions taking place between the association officers and committee members on the one hand and the members on the other are the area
of focus that this overlong item is trying to sharpen.
Keeping within the boundaries of areas so far covered there are always processes by
which new members learn the culture of the allotment. Actually, that is, as likely as not, to come from other voices on the allotment site rather than the committee members but the allotment association officers and committee are, or should be, more likely to provide a more balanced view of what is required. All the reasons and aims behind new allotment holders becoming allotment tenants are ones that need to be taken on board and require,
I would suggest, a necessary and sustained interaction between association committee members and the other members of the association. In practice, absorbing the new members’ requirements into the association’s practices without jettisoning the routine administrative tasks’ requirements becomes a way the association can continue to develop.
As some of you are aware, this brings in the material below which is from Daniel Coyle’s “Culture Code.” It is the sort of material I wish I had come across four decades ago – but it possibly did not exist then. But it foregrounds the team building ethos which, I sense, is
of significance in voluntary, membership organisations as well as political parties, schools, religious organisations and, I think, to so many of today’s creative industries – in their widest sense.
The comments in italics below are very much a personal and abbreviated summary of points that Daniel Coyle makes and which might have relevance to allotment life.
Skill Set 1:
Build (psychological) safety Ideas to Action:
Overcommunicate your listening
Just listen, don’t interrupt.
Spotlight your fallibility – especially if you are a leader
Admit you might be wrong. At least in part and perhaps after time. Even if you are not.
Embrace the Messenger
Go one better than not shooting him or her. They could be right – and useful.
Preview Future Connection
There are many groups of interest to
allotments - many of them not known to allotment holders themselves. You may acquire nothing more (or less) than worthwhile goodwill.
Overdo your “thank yous”
Not least to the people who do not think they need to be thanked. A member who has been thanked is more likely to co-operate on the next occasion and/or when asked a favour by another person.
Be Painstaking in the Hiring Process
A tricky one for allotments I feel. There are very few reasons for not accepting a member. They can be removed – eventually. The commercial world will carry out internal and external checks and to an extent they can be replicated on allotments. This one also does need to take into account possible conflicts of interest on the allotment site. Not easy to expose and can cause difficulties on site.
Eliminate Bad Apples
Again, not as easy as in the commercial world but they can be removed although the decay will have progressed further than it perhaps should have done. The harder cases of non- cultivation are here but the real issues are with those whose behaviour is detrimental
to the work of the site association. To me this is one essential area where the support and acceptance by the bulk of the membership is necessary. And pre-empt, as far as you can, the formation of factions.
Create Safe, Collision-Rich Spaces
Celebrate differences. Enjoy them. Use them. And buy a drink for more than yourself at the end of the day.
Make sure Everyone Has a Voice
In socio-economic terms most allotments are very varied places indeed and not enough is made of the achievement of a degree of unanimity and uniformity within that diversity. Do make a point of listening to the voices that are not usually heard.
Pick Up Trash
Literally. It will get noticed by others – perhaps but don’t expect it. But more generally any minor action has the same standing. More specifically, watering your neighbour’s plot when he or she is on holiday counts. Don’t’ get too vindictive about those who do not.
      Allotment and Leisure Gardener 69

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