The word "ganas" is a Spanish word meaning "motivation
sufficient to act".
it as a name for our community after watching the movie “Stand
and Deliver”, about a teacher in LA who inspired his underachieving
students to become motivated to work hard to surpass obstacles
to their learning and growth.
living is full of interpersonal challenges and opportunities.
With “ganas” we use our energy to focus on working
out problems together.
This allows us to embrace diversity, which makes community living
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.
Open minds make it possible to talk together
and understand each other better. Ongoingly, we are learning
how to cooperate, care for each other and share resources.
We welcome those who want to join us in learning together.
Ganas Community started on Staten Island
in 1979. Our population has grown from 6 to about 75. The original
founders came together to form a self-selected extended family
based on an intention to care for each other while sharing the
work, having fun and addressing together whatever problems come
For the better part of 35 years, we have worked
to create the secure, comfortable, rewarding environment we
thought necessary for a good life together. We share 8 large,
mainly adjacent residences on Staten Island in a racially mixed,
working class neighborhood, a half-hour free ferry ride from
downtown Manhattan. The bus and train system on Staten Island
provide easy transportation.
Work. Some community members
work in and around NYC or Staten Island at a variety of fields,
including social services, medicine, education, healing arts,
culinary arts and information technology. Others of us work
in our three Every Thing Goes stores nearby, where we sell used
clothing, books, furniture and a variety of related merchandise,
or for the Ganas Community in housekeeping, food distribution,
cooking or building maintenance and renovation.
Indoor Spaces. We’ve
renovated all of our buildings to suit our needs and our pleasure.
Our living spaces are comfortable, attractive and relatively
well maintained. Bathrooms are shared among floormates in each
house. Public spaces are shared, and some can be reserved for
Outdoor Spaces. Boardwalks connect most of
the houses. We have some flower and vegetable gardens. There
are several porches, a hammock, an outdoor clothesline, and
lovely spots for sitting. We have many trees (some fruit bearing)
and berry bushes, and the yards are kept somewhat wild, not
heavily manicured. Ganas sits on a hill, from which we can catch
the sun and moon as they rise and set. Year round, there are
breathtaking views of the sky, the bay and the city. In summertime,
we enjoy the shade and shelter of the large trees which surround
us, and the option to cool off in our small dipping pool.
Food at Ganas is plentiful
and varied enough to suit most people, from meat eaters to vegans.
Dinner is served in our main dining room Tuesday through Saturday
and leftovers are available 24/7. Additionally, everyone has
access to stocked kitchens where people can prepare their own
meals and snacks.
Dinner Discussions. Some
evenings in the dining room are unstructured. One evening a
week is devoted to welcoming newcomers and visitors. Another
evening is a Q&A for current residents to better understand
some of the history and philosophy of Ganas Community. All activities,
including these discussions are optional for members and guests
Small Group Activities.
We have several living rooms which are used for meetings, gatherings,
discussions of various types, dancing, exercise, computer use,
listening to or making music, TV or movie watching, eating or
just hanging out.
Group activities. Anyone
can organize most anything, with a bit of communication and
responsibility-taking for set-up and clean up.. We have dances,
talent shows, potlucks and parties. Some people organize outings
and trips, barbeques and play readings. Birthdays are often
celebrated with a brunch on the weekend, with the birthday person
selecting activities for the group to enjoy together.
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 regularly 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 a 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. They share in almost all decision
making, and they tend to live here for many years. Members of
this group 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 interested community
members 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.
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; and several items that we produce or re-make in
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
37.5 hours a week. Your wages are enough to cover all your community
expenses plus up to about $400 per month. Some members may also
be eligible for bonuses at the end of the year. Usually about
25 people work outside the community and pay their expenses.
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.
Now is a great time to visit us for either a few days or a few
Our daily rate is $45 a night, including room, food, toiletries,
Email Susan at email@example.com if you are interested.
People who might like to live, work, or visit
at Ganas are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ganas is by appointment only. Contact
host a weekly Friday evening visitors' dinner. If you'd like
to come on a Friday evening, contact Susan at email@example.com
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 $810 a month. A few large rooms may be more.
That covers space, food, toiletries, laundry supplies,
utilities, etc. If you want to work in the community, you need
to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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
equal to one month's expenses whether you work here or 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
People 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 may 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