Our purpose is to bring
reason and emotion together in daily problem solving, in order
to create our world, with love, the way we want it to be.
Ganas people dream of developing open
minds with which to talk together and understand each other
better. We want to learn how to cooperate, care, share resources,
and welcome those who want to join us.
Ganas started on Staten Island in
1979. Our population has grown from 6 to about 75. Most of us
think of ourselves as a bonded, caring, hard working, fun loving,
For the better part of 25 years, we have worked
on creating the secure, comfortable, rewarding environment we
thought necessary for making a good life together.
We share 8 large, mainly adjacent residences
on Staten Island in a racially mixed, lower middle class, suburban
neighborhood, a half-hour free ferry ride from downtown Manhattan.
Many of us work in NYC or Staten Island at a variety of jobs
- doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, real estate, landscaper, home
health, etc. Others of us work in our
3 Every Thing Goes stores nearby, where we collect and resell
clothing, books, furniture and a variety of related merchandise.
We renovated all of our buildings ourselves to suit our needs
and our pleasure.
Boardwalks connect most of the houses and
their flower and vegetable gardens. We have many trees (some
fruit bearing), berry bushes, a small swimming pool, a large
deck, and pretty spots for hanging out. Because we live on top
of a hill, we can enjoy the shade and shelter of our large trees,
porches and yards as well as the views of the sky, the bay and
the city. Living space is comfortable, attractive and well maintained.
Food is plentiful and varied enough to suit most people, from
meat eaters to vegans. We eat dinner together in our main dining
room Tuesday through Saturday at 6:30 pm. In addition, each
house has its own kitchen which is fully stocked so people can
prepare meals whenever it suits their schedules.
Public spaces are used for dancing, exericse,
computer use, listening to or making music, TV or movie watching,
eating or just hanging out. We have a collection of movies and
books, and the St. George branch of the New York Public Library
is nearby. Each house has its own phone line, with extensions
and internet hook ups in most rooms. Washers and dryers are
available for use.
Fun activities are whatever people
create. We have dances, talent shows, parties, go on
outings and trips, make music, do theater readings, celebrate
birthdays, tell jokes, and often just enjoy each other a lot.
Age, like everything else about Ganas
people, is diverse. The majority are between 20 and
75. A few children live here, but not very many. We have no
organized child care programs.
Ganas has the international quality of the
city. People of many races, nationalities, religions, professions,
educational backgrounds, personalities, and life views live
together in surprising harmony. Possibly that is because many
of us get together every day to discuss work, personal issues
and anything else that comes up.
A rather unusual social and political
structure has evolved, probably because of our desire
to create as many lifestyle options as possible. We have several
very different, but quite complementary, populations at Ganas.
The first, called the core group, currently consists of ten
people -- five men and five women -- who function as the community's
management team. They pool all their time, talents, and material
things. They're also committed to exchange thoughts, feelings
and feedback. This group is open to new members, but because
of the demands made on core group people's time and resources,
few people opt to join.
The second is an extended core group of about
25 people, most of whom are interested in the Ganas philosophy.
They do not share resources, are not necessarily committed to
join any particular activity, or to exchange feedback, expose
their own emotional reality, or accept anyone else's. However,
mostly they do opt to participate. The extended core group shares
in almost all decision making, and they tend to live here for
many years. Members of the extended core may work either outside
or inside the community.
The third consists of about 35 people many
of whom consider this their home. Others have come for a short
visit, anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. Some work in
the community. Some are employed elsewhere or are students.
They tend to form close social sub-groups, and may hold very
different but surprisingly compatible philosophies. They may
or may not be involved with Ganas' goals and activities, but
almost all of them enjoy the Ganas experience, and many report
on its extraordinary value to them years after leaving. The
few who are here short term provide an opportunity to experience
a revolving population of very diverse people.
Despite this variety of connection, everyone
who lives here agrees to follow our four rules (described below)
and to use our method of problem solving.
Decision Making procedures are not fixed.
Matters that require major resources or policy issues are usually
made by consensus of the core group and extended core group
after much dialogue. Occasionally, specific issues are decided
by vote. Area coordinators have authority to make most work
decisions, but only after getting input interactively. Almost
anyone can have an area of work or administrative function to
coordinate -- and therefore some decision making authority --
if they are willing to take responsibility for it.
The idea is that most current issues are
better resolved by treating each conflict as a new event that
requires its own unique attention, and that old considerations
are rarely relevant to new problems.
The extended core group spends so much time
talking together everyday that closed or formal meetings are
almost never necessary for group decision making.
Rules and Agreements: Since we deal
with problems daily in open discussion, we are able to limit
ourselves to only 4 rules:
1) Non-violence to people or things; 2)
No free rides (everybody is required to work productively or
pay their expenses); 3) No illegality (including illegal drugs);
4) This rule requires that people bring their complaints about
the community or people in it to the group, where the problems
can be discussed and resolved with the people involved.
The reason for Rule 4 is that the community suffers when negativity
is presented as non-negotiable fact in private or public venues.
People breaking one of these rules will be
asked to leave.
Agreements are made and changed often. Anyone
can bring up any issue any time, and anything can be somewhat
modified, if that's what it takes to meet people's needs. We've
agreed in principle to help everyone get as much of what they
want as possible. None of this consistently goes according to
plan, but we work on it.
Good interactive communication is our central
value. Of course, we include emotional and other nonverbal
exchanges in our definition of communication. Critical feedback
is clearly the most important and seems to be the hardest kind
of information to give or to accept. Yet it's obviously necessary
to identify mistakes before we can correct them.
We've opted to increase our receptivity to
intake rather than try to control the content or style of people's
output. The idea is to disclose what's really happening and
then work out what's wanted; instead of hiding unpopular thoughts
and feelings, and living in a haze of unknowns and deceptions.
That means making approval or disapproval far less important
than we now do. We created an environment in which we really
are safe to do these things -- but we don't always feel safe.
Too often, most of us still hide our truth and recoil from others
when they present theirs. It's a full time job learning to do
We have used many methods over the years,
including a range of relaxation and mind quieting procedures;
a variety of instruments for performance feedback and behavioral
recordkeeping; and study groups that define terms and discuss
theories of behavior. The main approach we rely on now is direct
discussion. Therefore, group involvement is almost a daily event
at Ganas. Five mornings a week, Tuesdays through Saturdays,
, from 7:45 to 9:45, is when most of the work really happens.
We discuss business and personal problems, explore hidden agendas
and defenses, and think about how we communicate (or don't)
about whatever is going on.
About 30 or 35 people are committed to try
to express feelings and thoughts freely. We've agreed to maintain
one focus at these times so that anyone that speaks can expect
to have everyone's attention. Many people find these large interactive
groups difficult -- even frightening -- at first, but some newcomers
find the rewards worth the effort, and participation keeps growing.
Recycling is the community's business.
Most of our work happens in 3 retail stores called Every
Thing Goes. One store refinishes and sells furniture. The
second offers clothing. The third is a combination book store,
internet cafe and neighborhood performance venue and art gallery.
The businesses are housed near the residences. They are well
organized, efficiently run, attractive, and profitable.
Most of the inventory is comprised of donations from households
and estates; discount merchandise and some imports bought at
auction; and several items that we produce or re-make in the
Approximately 25-30 people are involved with
the businesses. Another 15 people work with the food,
gardening, housekeeping, administration, and maintaining or
upgrading the property and vehicles. Full time work is
35 hours a week. Your wages are enough to cover all your community
expenses plus up to about $300 per month. Some members
may also be eligible for profit sharing at the end of the year.
Usually about 25 people work outside the community and pay their
Most of Ganas shares a strong work ethic.
It is important to most of us to create replicable models of
profitable cooperatives in the context of ecologically sound
practices and socially valuable products. As resources grow,
Ganas plans to support many new, potentially profitable, socially
valuable ventures proposed by members.
Visitors are welcome. People who might
like to live, work, or visit at Ganas are invited to email email@example.com.
Ganas is by appointment only. Contact link. We
host a weekly Friday evening visitors' dinner. If you'd like
to come on a Friday evening, contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
to find out if it's happening, what time to arrive, etc.
When you do visit, most of our activities will
be open to you. Feel free to participate in our discussions
if they interest you. You will be encouraged to say or ask whatever
you want (even if it's personal) and express whatever you feel.
But then you will be asked to hear whatever is said or felt
in response. If someone in the group feels that your input is
ill informed, or an interference with what's happening at a
particular time, they'll tell you so and explain why. If what's
happening cannot be interrupted at that moment, you might be
asked to wait until a better time, but we do urge you to ask.
We will try to provide information about people, to update you,
or to discuss community affairs, feedback learning theory and
practice, or anything else you'd like to know.
People staying for a night to a week are
asked to pay $45 a day and help out some. If you decide
to try living at Ganas for a while, all your expenses can be
met with one fee of $660-760 a month. That covers space, food,
toiletries, laundry supplies, utilities, etc. If you want
to work in the community, you need to contact Jenny, our staffing
manager, at email@example.com to find out if there is work
available, and if your skills meet our needs. If working here
looks like an option, you will undergo a one month work trial
when you get here, so we can find out how things work between
us during that time. You will need to bring a deposit with you
equal to one month's expenses whether you work here or will
be paying your expenses while you work outside. In addition,
all Ganas members are asked to help out in some way for at least
a few hours a week.
What Ganas offers and does not offer is
not always clear. We are not a therapeutic community
and we don't give feedback to everyone. People have to be willing
(and thought to be able) to make good use of direct feedback
before we do. Personal issues do come up spontaneously and sometimes
quite publicly, but they are only discussed in depth with clear
consent and effective cooperation.
We feel that our group discussions are simply
ongoing, truth seeking, planning or problem solving dialogues.
But because we are involved with new methods for behavior change
or learning, and confront rather than avoid conflicts, Ganas
groups are often mistakenly thought of as personal therapy.
In fact, we rarely offer the kind of "support" that many people
seem to expect of therapeutic intervention.
Those not familiar with interaction as direct
as ours often find the process too cerebral or too emotional,
too invasive or too controlling. The whole thing can be experienced
as cold or even unkind. People who fear or dislike exposure
of anger or strong feelings are not usually comfortable here.
People with serious emotional problems seeking help aren't
likely to find it here.
Those who want to learn how to think, love,
and bring expressions of reason and emotion together in dialogue
will probably enjoy Ganas very much. People who want to understand and
contribute to others might find a treasure house of value for
YOU WOULD LIKE TO LIVE, WORK & PLAY IN COMMUNITY
WITH INTERESTING AND INTERESTED PEOPLE,
you care about good problem-solving dialogue based on
truth and goodwill (and want to learn how to do it);
you have sought close relationship with varied people
who want to hear, understand, and care about each other;
you want interesting, valuable work, and you enjoy working
productively (or want to learn how to);
SUCH THINGS FEEL RIGHT FOR YOU
YOU ARE INVITED
TO VISIT AND PERHAPS TO LIVE & WORK WITH US
for more information contact:
Susan at GANAS,
135 Corson Ave., Staten Island, NY 10301-2933
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Every Thing Goes retail