Clearness Process

I learned about the Clearness Process, created by the Quakers, 25 years ago. I’ve always been drawn to it. You can learn a more detailed approach to having a Clearness Committee here. 

I will be adapting this policy that Acorn Community uses for various purposes.

Thanks to Federation of Egalitarian Communities and Acorn (a member community) for supplying all these wonderful structures from their member communities. You can find the original article here. 

Each clearness is framed by some focus questions:

At the end of a person’s visitor period the questions are: “How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me coming back as a member? How do I feel about you/me coming back as a member?”
At the various clearnesses during a person’s provisional membership, including the one paired with the decision about whether or not to invite them into the full membership the questions are: “How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me becoming a full member? How do I feel about you/me becoming a full member?”

For clearnesses during a person’s internship the questions are: “How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me staying on as an intern for a few more months? How do you feel about me staying an intern for a few more months”

For the annual clearnesses for existing full members the questions are “How do I feel about our relationship in light of you/me being a full member? How do I feel about you/me beng a full member?”
If a special clearness is called for, the person requesting the clearness or the group as a whole should define the focus question(s).

The focus person for the clearness is responsible for seeking out each member of Acorn and holding an individual clearness with them before the group clearness occurs. During the individual clearness, first the member and then the focus person reflects on their relationship with the other, their concerns and excitements all guided by the focus question.

If concerns come up, the two people should seek to understand the concern and then work to resolve it or work on defining a path towards resolving it, if possible. Ideally they reach a state of sufficient clarity with each other that when one of them summarizes the concern and conversation in the group the other will not need to clarify, correct, or argue.

(From the previous Clearness description)
This is an opportunity for the focus to have a one-on-one conversation with everyone.  Generally, each person answers the following two questions:
What do I appreciate about living with you?
What do I find difficult about living with you?

We encourage folks to be as open and honest as they can in these clearnesses, since this is a good opportunity to clear up interpersonal issues.  If two people have particular difficulty with each other, they may ask for someone else to be present to help the conversation go more smoothly.

The group portion of the clearness will be conducted as part of a member meeting. The focus person may choose to invite non-members to sit in on their clearness if they wish.

To begin, the focus person will reflect on their relationship with the community as an institution, guided by the focus question with the community standing in as the member in dialog. Here are a list of questions to guide a person’s reflection:

If that person is a member:
What are your general feelings and thoughts about our community?
What needs are being met in your life at Acorn?  What needs are not being met? What is getting in the way of having what you want?
How would you evaluate your interpersonal relationships and connections at Acorn?
What do you see as your role in the work ahead?
What do you see as your contribution to the life of our community?
What is your vision for Acorn?
How would you describe your current commitment to Acorn?

If that person is a visitor:
How was your visit?  What went well, what was difficult?
What was your work scene like and how did it fit you?
What was your social scene like and how did it fit you?
When do you think you might want to move to Acorn?
What are your general feelings and thoughts about our community?

After the focus person has finished the community has an opportunity to ask clarifying questions of the focus person or ask them to expand on or speak to various aspects of their relationship with the community.

Next, the membership takes turns summarizing their personal clearnesses with the focus person. How brief or expansive a member is in their summary is left to that member’s judgment. The facilitor is welcome to intervene if they feel a member is being too brief or too long winded. A member should be sure to include in their summary specific things they appreciate or value about the focus person and any concerns that came up and were discussed in their personal clearness. The member should not add any new material to their summary that they did not bring up in their personal clearness. Members should not react or respond to other member’s summaries. This is an opportunity for reporting, only.

Finally, the membership engages in a “Lightening Round of Affirmations” quickly stating something that they particularly appreciate or value about the focus person or otherwise affirming them.

Members are encouraged to discuss any concerns or thoughts they have casually with each other in the following week.

At the next member meeting, the members will discuss the previous week’s clearness. This is the opportunity for people to respond to and discuss material that came up in each other’s summaries. It is at this meeting that any decisions called for by the clearness (such as the decision to invite someone into the membership or full membership or whether or not to continue a person’s internship) are made.

Published by Patricia Mikkelson

I'm starting a Christian Universalist Monastery for women. I am a professional organizer and I enjoy helping people virtually via Zoom, FaceTime, etc. Vegan, conservative, Trump Supporter.

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