News & Notes 791:Report: Exploration into L’Avenir since its selection in 2017
An exploration was carried out by sub-group of the Auroville Council and Working Committee into the way that the L’avenir team performed since it was selected in October 2017. The exploration concentrated on two main questions:
- Team dynamics
- Understanding of the work requirements relating to their new mandate, and the extent to which this was followed.
It was agreed by all that the team dynamics were difficult from the start, with clashes of personality and differing views on basic principles and priorities. There was little or no agreed team structure and agreement on roles and responsibilities. Team dynamics deteriorated over time, with polarizing of viewpoints and unresolved issues. Although there was an attempt to work on team dynamics with a facilitator, this work was never fully carried through. The difficult dynamics lead to a number of resignations within the team, and may have contributed to long absences by some members, and an apparent lack of commitment by others.
New L’avenir Mandate
The question was asked to the members of the team whether they fully understood the new mandate of L’avenir, and whether there was a serious attempt to follow it. It became clear that although there was a basic understanding of the mandate, there was little attempt made to follow it. This resulted in the work on the Term of Reference and development priorities, that are key tasks according to the mandate, being largely left undone.
It was clear that not all agreed with the new mandate, and this also affected its adherence. Some work was done on the Detailed Development Plan for the International Zone by an outside consultant, but the work is as yet incomplete.
Other factors which affected the work of the team were also discussed. Some mentioned inadequate funding for the technical team and secretarial work, and a lack of proper management of that team and of resource members. The lack of competence in both the interface and technical teams was mentioned as a serious issue. It was mentioned also that the pressure of the 50th anniversary took a lot of energy away from the main work.
To make sure this time L’avenir d’Auroville/ TDC can work together and deliver, it is proposed:
1) THE INTERFACE TEAM: The Interface Team should indicate the professional profiles of the people needed for the preparation of the Detailed Development Plans and their brief; Identify the Aurovilians who have the professional skill to undertake the required tasks; if those people are not available, the work has to be outsourced to professionals outside.
Prepare a budget for the appointments of the various technical experts to be submitted to the GOI grant group and other sources of funding in Auroville.
2) WORK PLAN: Within three months of its nomination, the Interface Team should present in a General Meeting how it intends to proceed for the preparation of the Detailed Development Plans, keeping as the reference the key elements of the Galaxy approved by the RA in February 2007 and again in May 2017, the Terms of Reference and the Planning Principles to be adopted, and present the names of the technical experts and consultants to be appointed.
3) COMMUNITY CONSULTATION: The Interface Team should indicate also the process of community consultation to be followed to determine the development priorities for the next three years.
4) COMPOSITION: Since the task of the Interface Team is to activate a participatory role of the community and at the same time be a client of technical experts / outside professional on behalf of the RA, the interface team should ideally be composed by a mix of people with communication and technical skills that could enable them to prepare the briefs and interact with experts.
5) DECISION: On receiving the output from the technical experts, the Interface Team, may approve the works of the technical experts, and/or ask modifications and/or reject the output or part of it on the basis of the outcome of the community consultation. The final endorsement of the Detailed Development Plan and the Development Priorities will be taken by the Residents' Assembly.
6) SITE AND BUILDING APPLICATIONS: The Interface Team is responsible for the approval of site and building applications and for designing the related process and identify the role of the groups that are to be involved for feed-back at various stages. If so desired the Interface team can delegate the function to a specialized sub-group.
7) SELECTION: Competence is a key nominating factor. The upcoming selection process in April will be made according to the existing system of the participatory working group. However, in future it would be advisable to have a selection process specially designed for L’Avenir d'Auroville.
8) PROPOSAL OF NAMES: The community will be invited to propose names. The nominees who are part of the existing selection process can be considered for inclusion. Nominees are expected to accept the key elements of the Galaxy, the Terms of Reference and the Planning Principles approved by the RA as a framework to implement their task.
9) TERM OF OFFICE: The term of office is for four years, subject to an assessment after every year. Each of the existing members nominated through the participatory process in October 2017 can continue till the end of the mandate, if they so wish, subject to assessment.
10) VACANCY: In case of the resignation of any member or vacancy, the replacement can be made immediately by the selection team.
11) SUPPORT GROUP: The Working Committee and Auroville Council will JOINTLY constitute a group whose task it is to do regular quality auditing of the functioning of the interface team, of each of its members and of each staff member.
12) DECISIONS: Decisions of the Interface Team will ideally be made by consensus. If consensus cannot be reached, decisions will be made by simple majority vote.