Belonging to a group of followers vs. belonging to a group of leaders
When the pandemic hit, it became clear. Slowly. Month by month.
I belonged to a group willing to follow. A people comfortable with, or not resistant to, the idea of having the path dictated for them.
The desire to be led, as opposed to the desire to lead — was something I had not usually thought about or named in others or myself, before 2020.
What I had noticed in this co-housing community was a general attraction to what I felt to be quite dogmatic leadership. Many seemed to like those who offered clear answers and a strict path to follow… who told others the way — to get healthy, to become more openminded, to practice this or that.
We’re all equal here, on paper, in this “eco” co-housing community in the middle of nowhere. The fact that the main business owners/most powerful influencers in the community were intent on maintaining the status and authority they’d acquired, at all costs, was disappointing. But it was not surprising.
What shocked us was to realize, month by month, that we were the only two people who were willing to push back. To insist upon speaking our minds despite the attempts to shame us; to call us afraid and divisive.
We were the only two willing to rock the boat. Stick our necks out. Shake things up.
That was the biggest surprise.
We have a small organic family farm. We are not dogmatic or preachy in our approaches, so here, our expertise is often ignored or taken for granted — in the fields of health, holistic land management, permaculture, cooking, etc.
Before the pandemic, many of our ideas had seemed appealing to those with capital and authority. Many shared them. Concepts like diversifying the local rural economy with organic agriculture based businesses — seemed logical in a rural area that has no local organic farms. People are wholly dependent on a three-month tourism season for work. That is it, along with building construction, and poorly-paid seasonal services for tourists and second-home owners.
But with the very first meeting about how we’d handle Covid-19 as a community, our request to meet virtually was denied. We weren’t given a seat at the table. We might have realized what was coming, but we remained optimistic, for a little while at least.
After that, whenever we spoke up, our voices where silenced or shamed; we were called “fearful” and “divisive.”
And so, 6 months into the pandemic, the holistic retreat center, at the heart of the co-housing community, opened for the season.
Without a mask or rubbing alcohol anywhere. People hugged and kissed upon greeting, shared their communal mate straws… while tourists arrived in droves.
Covid-19 appeared just a few weeks after opening, if not before. Two cooks in the center caught the virus. No mentions were made on the center’s Facebook page or website.
People continue to gather. Tourists and family members continue to arrive.
And that’s where are. Two-thirds of the way into the tourist season.
So it is.