The Community Leadership Board (CLB) would serve as the glue that holds a community together. Members of the CLB would work as a team to ensure that members of the community participate in community activities, that the Local Elector is connected with the community, and would to some degree help to ensure that the Local Elector is held accountable.
Here are some initial thoughts about the job description of the CLB and some related considerations. This job description would ultimately be determined by the states and the communities themselves, with some guidance from the Department of Communities (DCM). Much public discussion will be needed in order to flesh this out.
Fostering Community Participation
It seems difficult to expect that a collection of households in a neighborhood would feel compelled to participate in community meetings and maintain their community as an ongoing organization without good reason. While the political function of a community would satisfy the need people inherently have of participating in the making of the laws that affect them, this is not enough. People will be most likely to form a community if membership offers things that make participation attractive, compelling and enjoyable. If members are naturally drawn to participate, they will also engage in more intimate activities that allow them to become friends with other community members and cause the community to come to life. Communities need to be communities in the deepest sense of the word in order to be truly successful.
Such a community will not spontaneously appear on its own. It must be created and maintained by leaders who are interested in creating it, and who are able to claim responsibility for creating it. A group is needed for this job because a group is a community in and of itself—a microcosm of the larger community. A group can more easily represent the whole, and can maintain connections with everyone in the community far better than a single individual could. In a system of Local Electors, the group that would do this would be the Community Leadership Board.
Eleven is a good number of members for the CLB. It is the number corporations have found as a good number for their boards of directors. In a community, eleven would be small enough that it would allow board members to work together closely and get to know one other well, yet it would be large enough to accommodate the diversity that is needed to represent the people of the community, as well as to ensure interaction with everyone in a community consisting of 150 members. In addition, with more than eleven members, each member would increasingly feel a lack of responsibility to the board, causing each member to contribute less.
The CLB would meet regularly to discuss how well the community is functioning, how well members are participating, and to consider ways for improving the community. They would work with members of the community to find out what their needs and interests are, and to develop groups that members could participate in, activities they could enjoy, and benefits they could take advantage of. Such groups might include one that enjoys cooking and perhaps sharing meals, one that helps kids with homework, or one that enjoys home improvement, with members helping one other on projects. Activities might include a softball team, a chess tournament, or artistic pursuits such as pottery, painting, or glass blowing. Benefits might include shared community tools and recreational equipment, or shared daycare or pet care. The coordination and operation of each of these would be delegated to other members of the community, who would in turn lead them.
Some members of the community would be put in charge of welcoming newcomers and introducing them to others. Others would be put in charge of ensuring groups members attend meeting and are aware of community activities. Members of the CLB would oversee these groups, ensure they don’t fall apart once started and recruit people to fill vacant roles when needed. All of this would have the goal of creating a great place to live that enriches the lives of the community members, maintaining connections among members, and a creating a vibrant community that members will want to participate in. It is likely that a strong CLB would lead to a strong community and a weak CLB would lead to a weak community.
Helping the Community Connect With Its Local Elector
Members of the CLB would have relationships throughout their community, and would in essence be the connectors of their community. As such, it makes sense for community leaders to be anchored in government—the entity we have created to help us live together in harmony, and be given legitimacy by being part of the government. Since this group would be closely connected with the community, it also makes sense that they be responsible for working closely with the Local Elector.
Even with a ratio as small as one Local Elector to 150 community members, it may still be difficult for even a highly talented Local Elector to maintain a good connection with everyone in their community if acting alone. The CLB would serve as a bridge, smoothing over this numerical gap and helping to maintain a connection between the Local Elector and the members of the community. It would distribute the responsibilities of leadership among multiple people, much like a layer of management does in a business.
In addition to holding regular community meetings, the Local Elector would also be responsible for holding meetings with the CLB. These meetings would allow members of the CLB and the Local Elector to discuss what is happening in the community and in government, and would allow them to maintain a close working relationship. These meetings could also be used for setting the agenda for upcoming community meetings.
By working closely with the Local Elector, members of the CLB would be in a good position to understand how well the Local Elector is doing his job, and how responsive he is. By communicating what they know to the rest of the community, members of the CLB would play a big role in helping to hold the Local Elector accountable.
Maintaining the Community Leadership
Members of the CLB would also be responsible for ensuring that the CLB itself remains a viable group over the long term. Before elections, they would be responsible for getting other members of the community interested in serving on the CLB, and then would nominate those they believe would be able to best serve their community. The CLB would also be responsible for ensuring that good candidates are available for the position of Local Elector, and would play an important role in grooming and nominating candidates.
Membership in the CLB would be a natural stepping-stone towards becoming the Local Elector. In this way, communities would provide an easy first step for people interested in in a career of government work. People who are found to be good public servants would naturally progress from membership on the CLB to the position of Local Elector. Local Electors who prove themselves to their peers would naturally be elected to higher offices in the future. At every step of the process, candidates would be well known to the people in the community they work with, and the best people would naturally be selected for higher office. In this way, the government would truly be by the people, and the people would be insured of having a good government.
Should members of the CLB receive financial compensation? This is a difficult question to answer, particularly before the CLB has come into existence. Hopefully, every community would have plenty of people who are eager to volunteer to be on the CLB, and who would do an outstanding job while there. The stronger a community is, the more likely it is that this would be the case. One reason it may make sense to compensate them, however, is that the absence of compensation could encourage the feeling that whatever they do or don’t do is okay, since they are only volunteers. Paying CLB members at least a small amount would make it clear to them that they have certain responsibilities. On the other hand, work of this type is often done happily by volunteers who don’t expect pay, and expectations of pay could add an undesirable element to the job. With experience managing all of the communities in their respective states, the Department of Communities would be in the best position to make a decision in this matter.
“A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.” – Bertrand de Jouvenel
Continue Reading: Electing Local Electors and the Community Leadership Board