News & Notes 872:AV Council Report – February, March & April 2021
AV Council Report – February, March & April 2021
The new Auroville Council group
We express our gratitude towards the community for excellent attendance to the selection process. Nine members were selected for the AVC, of which one selected member, Riju, decided to resign and instead offered herself as a Resource person. We thank her for all her valuable participation during her interim term. We also thank the outgoing members for their work.
The renewed Auroville Council initially invited & met with different groups to understand & strengthen the collaboration.
- The Residents' Assembly Service (RAS) announced on the 24 Feb, 2021 their wish to pause all Residents' Assembly Decision-making (RAD) processes until a review is made of the existing decision-making policy and the RAS mandate.
- A meeting with RAS was called jointly with the WCom to understand the challenges that they have to face & to discourage them from pausing the RAD process.
- The topic of reviewing the RAS mandate as well as the RAD process has been on the joint agenda of the WCom and Council for some time, and now that the groups have started to function with the new membership, the RAS was assured that this would be taken up with a deadline of 3 months.
- Following this a joint sub group composed of Council and Wcom members has started to review & focus on the present RAD process in order to restart all pending RAD processes soon, while also initiating an overall study on how to find better ways of arriving at community decisions.
- To harvest feedback and ideas on an entirely new RAD process and on the reformulation of the RAS mandate, an open invitation to bring ideas and feedback was published in the N&N, Auronet and via mass bulletin.
- The Council received about 20 mails with varying and diverse input. A subgroup of WCom and AVC will now look into the feedback received.
- “Identifying the directions of growth and development priorities for 2021-26” was presented at a meeting called by AV council with BCC, FAMC, WC and TDC. AV council invited the consultant Suhasini to present this work as part of their ongoing investigation on Auroville’s population growth, entry and housing. The study commissioned by ATDC is to provide the required data for preparation of the Detail Development Plan for Auroville.
- Next TDC presented their work on Auroville’s residential zone as well as related policy suggestions to the aforementioned working groups including FAMC. Those interested can find these presentations on the Auronet [...]
- TDC was requested to form a subgroup with HB/S, FAMC, and other interested people who had attended the meetings, to look at the multi-pronged approach required to fix the situation. The task was to remove roadblock to the implementation of housing projects and not to only look at previously considered projects but to consider new and creative housing solutions.
- Besides the limited choices of new housing projects, the biggest challenge is to house the Newcomers with limited or no means when they have completed their Newcomer year.
- AV Economy during Covid. It was observed that frequently newcomers ask for maintenance/emergency support at a very early stage of their stay in Auroville.
- Finding/ providing work for poorly skilled/educated people (Newcomers and Aurovilians) has become a real challenge for HRT hub.
- Communication of the present challenges and open questions to the Auroville Community. This sub group intends to bring its learnings to the community through a GM at a later stage to initiate the way forward collectively. Due to the present Covid situation some creative communication solutions will have to be found.
- This sub group is equally exploring the possibilities/ conditions of re-starting the Entry process, hopefully soon.
Selection Process for new Land Board members
In March 2021, the Land Board approached the AVC for the selection of new members for their team, as the term for four members was ending in May 2021. Jointly with the Working Committee, AVC decided to apply the same process as had been followed last time in 2019. […]
The first step of forming the Land Board Selection Committee (LBSC) was initiated early April. Soon there will be call to the community for nominations for the Land Board.
With an aim to consolidate and update the list of residents that can satisfactorily serve the RAS for RAD processes, the previous Council with RAS & Talam had begun the data collection. Now the new team has taken this up again to finish the task.
Selection Process 2021
No doubt the Selection Process of 2021 displayed a remarkable energy of collective interest. But an untoward incidence of ballot box tampering created upheaval and raised concern/regret and a lot of questions in the community.
The Council together with WCom have formed the Inquiry task force to look into the tampering of the last WCom Selection process. This is an independent body that is looking into the matter. [...]. The Council and Working Committee invited the community [...] to share their experiences and grievances of the last Selection process that could help improve the coming selection process. To our big surprise, even after an extension to the feedback period, not a single response was received.
Design Evaluation Panel for the Matrimandir premises
In December last year, on request from Matrimandir executives a process was started to create a team that could evaluate proposed designs, in various fields, and give an authoritative assessment to raise and widen the level of design expertise at Matrimandir. After receiving nominations from interested candidates, a participatory community selection process was initiated and the result has been announced to the community. […]
Mandates & Policies
Housing Mandate: The Council has been involved in assuring that the community feedback on the Housing Mandate was looked at and integrated to some extent. We are grateful to the newly selected FAMC for their openness to revisit this Housing mandate together with us and arrive at a mutually acceptable version. The final mandate was published to the community.
The process to select new Housing Board members has begun. A call to the community was made for nominations for community at large representatives.
FAMC Mandate: The assigned Task Force has reviewed the FAMC mandate 2016 and presented their work to the Council. The Council is in the process of taking further steps.
RAS mandate & RAD Policy: Following the decision declared by RAS regarding pausing RAD an urgent need to review the RAS mandate & the RAD process is being undertaken by Council & WCom. Bearing in mind the input from RAS, the community was invited to share their feedback & suggestions for revising the present RAD process. We express our gratitude for all the valuable responses we received.
Due diligence, a protocol for dismissing an Aurovilian from the workplace: In the last 3 years the Council has had to deal with many situations where a unit/service/AV activity or school had to ask an Aurovilian to discontinue their work. This prompted the Council to formulate a set of guidelines to be followed by the work places before the final dismissal of an Aurovilian from their work. The document had been shared with FAMC and later also with Koodam. Presently it has also been sent to ABS and ABC and the schools to collect feedback.
Conflict Resolution Policy (CRP): Amendment of Section 3 (Exceptions): The Council together with Working Committee initiated a reflection/study of this particular paragraph (Chapter 3. Exceptions: extreme cases, like physical violence or sexual abuse) via a subgroup that consisted of members from Council and WCom, AV Security, AV Child Protection (AVCP) and members of Koodam. The aim of the study was to analyze cases and to see what improvements could be made in the policy itself but also in how the 2 working groups respond and work with such incidents.
Several improvements have been suggested to Section 3 of the CRP. The changes will be presented to the Community in due time.
Additionally, a set of guidelines/protocols, which will help the Council and Wcom tackle such difficult situations in a more professional, efficient and effective way, were the result of this in-depth study and reflection process. Helene and Vikram Mani as facilitators were instrumental in this review. We thank them for their dedicated commitment to this work.
A pool of resource people will also be necessary to hold these kinds of delicate processes, who will have to be carefully chosen for their aptitude.
As with these sorts of cases people are often drawn toward involving the police it makes things all the more difficult and complex. Auroville hopes to be able to deal with as many of these cases as possible internally. But therein also lies a responsibility to tackle them appropriately by being very sensitive toward the needs of the affected and certainly without turning a blind eye to any implications.
Roma’s Kitchen: The appeal body on Roma's Kitchen declared the decision of FAMC invalid. However, as both other parties that had been in the final selection round withdrew their interest the appeal body asked the FAMC to newly appoint Gumsoon and Thulasingam.
African Pavilion: One of the managers of the African Pavilion has contested the Council’s decision to revoke their management responsibility by placing an appeal. The Working Committee is holding the appeal process in this particular situation as the appeal is against a decision made by the Council. The first step of a facilitated meeting between the 2 parties has taken place. The request of the appealers to reconsider the decision made and annul the decision was declined by the Council.
Sanjana Housing complex: Due to conflicts that arose during its construction it has so far not been possible to define the costs of the individual units/apartments. Therefore, the Housing Service could not finalize the actual cost and the stewardship agreements. At the same time there are concerns regarding the construction quality of some of the roofs.
It is hoped that the arbitration between the Architect and the Sanjana project management team will soon begin now that the bills and calculations are ready.
Morning Star project Appeal: In the facilitated meeting, the first process step, the Morning Star team understood the issues/ doubts that had prompted the FAMC not to give permission. They withdrew the appeal and are presently reworking their project of building up a Birthing Center for Auroville.
Sundar Rajamani/ Balaji Appeal against TDC decision: The facilitated meeting took place that gave both parties an opportunity to better understand the project and the issue in regard to Town planning. As a consequence, the appeal was withdrawn.
ACUR: Recently, in April, an appeal was placed against the FAMC decision to reject the unit/activity application for the Town Hall canteen.
Padmanabhan/Jacques housing complex in Auromodel – TDC. The facilitated meeting took place.
Pending appeal: Kalpana – FAMC.
Discipline Farm/Community: Over the past 3 years there is an ongoing conflict between Discipline Farm and the Discipline community. It is in regard to assets and stewardship of the farm.
In December 2020 an effort to make a proper assessment of the Farm and Infrastructure was initiated. The Discipline Farm assessment team, facilitated by Anita and Elisa, and constituted by members of Green Group, FAMC, AVC, Farm Group, and Disciple farm representatives convened and started their work.
Siddhartha Farm & Buddha Garden: This is a long-standing conflict between SF and BG regarding access to BG. In March the Council with Koodam formulated a status quo to stabilize the situation prior and during negotiations. Unfortunately, there were serious violations of the status quo and an unexpected delay with the intended negotiations. Koodam had begun a negotiation between the 2 sides but SF pulled out not trusting the process. Therefore, Koodam had recommended arbitration but SF were not willing because they did not trust the process. This brought the situation almost to a stalemate where the Council had to intervene as SF had insisted now on not allowing BG any access through the front gate because they had lost all trust. SF asked that BG only use the back (southern) access which it is not a proper road, its distance to VC is further and considered by BG to potentially be dangerous for women to use.
At this point Koodam stepped back and the Council took the lead. We managed to get BG and SF to agree to a process of negotiation but new temporary access measures had to be agreed upon.
After several meetings with both sides, some facilitated by Vikram Mani, AVC by good fortune was able to lease the neighboring plot for a period of 6 weeks to allow BG access via the northern side. Because many Council member fell sick with Covid and because of the lockdown the negotiation could not begin. As the Zoom meetings have started after the recovery the Council has taken up this topic at a high priority.
Interpersonal conflicts: In January there was a violent incident in Kriya community that involved 2 Aurovilians. The Aurovilian respondent was asked by AVC to temporarily leave his home in Kriya after the other involved expressed concern about the safety of his family. Subsequently, in February, a police complaint and case registration were made against the same Aurovilian resulting in him spending a few days in jail. Post release he insisted that he would like to go back to his home to Kriya. AVC in collaboration with Housing, moved the other Aurovilian family to Djaima so that he could return back to his house in Kriya.