Does TL:dr Equal Consent?

The challenge of getting on the same page in the age of handheld devices

May 27, 2018


Windward is committed to being different enough to make a difference, and on the one hand that necessarily means that we intentionally do some things differently than the way they’re done in the world at large.

On the other hand, we understand that often important keys to the future can be found in the past. Our ancestors felt the same passions and fears we feel. They coped as best they could with the challenges of their time, and left a record of some of the things that worked, and a lot of things that didn’t. Cultural innovators ignore those lessons at their peril.

Which is why Windward is a mix of tradition and innovation, a hybrid approach that can be confusing. Gaining a working appreciation of what we’re doing that’s different involves a considerable amount of reading and reflecting on the range of issues that we believe are relevant to the art and science of creating sustainable community. These very Notes are an earnest effort to convey some of those details, but the process only works when someone is willing to put in the effort to read the Notes and ask earnest questions.

We’re more than willing to answer questions and to talk about the reasoning behind the ways we’ve chosen to do things differently. We understand that savvy and crazy can be difficult to tell apart when seen from a distance, and we recognize that the burden of proof lies on us to make our case and explain ourselves.

Creating sustainable community is a huge challenge, and we know how easy it is to fall short of one’s goals. We’re learning as we go, determined to build on what we learned yesterday, and to use that hard won knowledge to create a better tomorrow.

Is it mad for us to think that a group of dedicated adventurers can discover ways to manifest the goal of love-based living? Maybe so, but so what? Isn’t it even more crazy to accept the status quo as permanent and unchangeable? To imply by inaction that the way things are is the best that’s humanly possible?

I joined this enterprise forty-five years ago, and I’ve watched as we learned a lot about the business of creating a community that is dedicated to getting right with nature, healing the wounds between men and women, transforming the nature of work, and creating sustainable life-support systems. And we very much want to share that information with everyone who also cares deeply about those things.

And yes, there’s a lot to read, consider, and discuss, but isn’t that great! How sad it would be if the solutions the world needs now turned out to be simple and easy, because that would mean that people could have engaged meaningful change by now, but didn’t because they actually wanted the world to be the way it is. Well, we aren’t willing to settle for historical norms, and we are willing to engage the process of mining history for what worked, and what didn’t. We’re determined to use that hard won knowledge to transform our world, or at least our small corner of it.

But we live in a world in which the attention span of folks is shrinking, and their willingness to read the operator’s manual almost non-existent; a reality that’s given rise to the TL: dr convention as shorthand for “Too Long: didn’t read.” For us, this shrinking attention span leads to such things as people not reading the site waiver and understanding that Windward is a transitional center instead of an apartment complex.

Other folk don’t take the time to read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress—the book that laid out the vision that inspired Windward—and then are surprised to find that Windward is not quite what they imagined in some way. Windward is a work-in-progress, but it’s real; not some magical place that exists outside of reality. As a result, engaging with it successfully involves doing some homework, and frankly, a willingness to show respect for the scope of what we’re working to accomplish here.

On almost a daily basis, folks are presented with a set of terms and conditions that have to be agreed to in order to use some system or participate in some activity, and while we all know that we should read what we’re agreeing to be bound by, we almost never do. We just click the “I agree” box and get on with what we want to do. In Windward’s case, we want to err on the side of too much information rather than too little, but it’s a difficult line to draw.

Success can be said to be something that’s found at the intersection of preparation and opportunity; our experience is that the people who make an effort to prepare have the greatest likelihood of having a successful internship. And whether they choose to remain at Windward or move on to other adventures, once a person’s awareness is expanded, it doesn’t shrink back—from then on they interact with the world in a different, more holistic way. And we see that as a good thing.

At Windward, we’re determined to take each new person as an individual and not expect them to conform to stereotypes—and we ask that each new person afford us the same consideration. We understand that you’re different, and want to take the time to get to know the deeper you—that’s a key part of what the apprenticeship period is all about. At the same time, we hope that you’ll be willing to put in the effort needed to get to know us, and to understand what makes Windward different.

Deep meaningful communication isn’t quick or easy, but we believe it’s worth the effort. We hope you will feel that way too.