The word "ganas" is a Spanish word meaning "motivation
sufficient to act".
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
is to bring reason and emotion together in daily problem solving,
in order to create our world, with love, the way we want it
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 65. 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 whatever problems
The following is a statement from the inclusion
group at Ganas:
In hopes of creating a culture in which people
of any race, sexual orientation or gender identity expression
feel welcome and included we see a need:
to be willing to do the work of recognizing
white, hetero, and cisgender privilege
to understand how this privilege impacts people
to create an environment where we raise awareness
of racism, sexism, genderism in ourselves
to demonstrate the value of antiracism.
We can always do better. We know there is
more work to do, and we are up for it!
Currently because of the COVID-19 pandemic
we restrict our indoor group gatherings, require masks and social
distancing in all public spaces, and hold community gatherings
virtually. The descriptions below are mainly what has happened
and will happen once we return to non-pandemic guidelines.
For over 40 years, we have worked to create
the secure, comfortable, rewarding environment we thought necessary
for a good life together. We share 7 large, mainly adjacent
residences on the North Shore of Staten Island in a racially
mixed, working class neighborhood, close to the Staten Island
ferry (a half-hour free ferry ride from downtown Manhattan).
Work. Some community members
work in and around NYC or Staten Island at a variety of fields,
including social services, health care, education, healing arts,
culinary arts and information technology. Others of us work
in our two 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 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 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. During the pandemic we continue to serve dinner
while maintaining social distancing, mask protocols, and hand
Dinner Discussions. Evenings
in the dining room are unstructured. Because of the need to
socially distance, seating at dinner is limited, and we encourage
people to eat outside if the weather permits, or take their
plates to their rooms. Any larger group discussions are being
held virtually for the time being..
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. Again this is a currently restricted activity.
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.
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
different, but complementary, populations at Ganas. The first,
called the core group, currently consists of nine people --
five men and four 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
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 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 value to them years after leaving. The few who are here
short term provide an opportunity for members to experience
a revolving population of 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 with input from interested
community members. Rarely, specific issues are decided by vote.
In general, each area has a manager who has the authority to
make most work decisions, 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 not necessarily relevant to new problems.
Rules: 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) No non-negotiable negativity. 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
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 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 9:15, 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 two retail stores called Every Thing Goes Thrift & Vintage. One sells furniture and clothing. The second is a bookstore/cafe and performance space. 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.
Approximately 15-20 people are involved with
the businesses. Another 12-15 people work with the
food, gardening, housekeeping, administration, and maintaining
or upgrading the property and vehicles. Full time work
is 30 hours a week. About 25-30 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.
We welcome visitors, but currently visitng is on hold.
Our daily rate is $50 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 Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a virtual visitors'
information session on the first Friday of every month from
7-8pm. Email Susan at email@example.com to get the link.
When we do have visitors again, you should
know that most of our activities will be open to you. You are
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 $50 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 $920 or $970 a month, depending
on what youc an afford. 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 dialogues.
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 themselves here.
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
you have sought close relationship with varied people
who want to hear, understand, and care about each
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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