Last updated: 25 May, 2022

‘Participatory Working Groups’ and the new selection process for Working Committee, Auroville Council and FAMC

Amended version, 6, October 2014, by the Study Group, Auroville Council and Residents Assembly Service

Introduction

Auroville is a society based on universal values governing itself with an evolving level of integrity based on “living these values”. For this proposal, the 12 qualities / powers, as represented in the Mothers Symbol and in the Meditation Petals of the Matrimandir, are chosen basic values, on which we all can agree.
Sincerity, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance, Aspiration, Receptivity, Progress, Courage, Goodness, Generosity, Equality, Peace.

The first eight concern the attitude towards the Divine, and the last four towards humanity. ” The Mother

In essence ...  the 12 powers are the vibrations that are necessary for the complete manifestation. It is the symbol of manifestation, double perfection, in essence and in manifestation, in the creation.”  Sri Aurobindo        

The “Participatory Working Groups” proposal aims towards creating an organization where these values are the building blocks. An organization which fosters transparency, communication and participation, while being efficient and humane, aligning its actions with the ideals as presented in The Auroville Charter, A Dream, The True Aurovilian and other writings by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

A) Description of the “Participatory Working Groups” team structure; Distributing the workload wisely - the 4 ways of participating to support the efficient and transparent functioning the working group

Selected Working Group Members/Coordinators

The Mandated Members of the working group are here termed as Members/Coordinators, in accordance with the functions named in the “Participatory Working Groups” proposal.

3.    The Members/Coordinators of the working groups are selected by the community through a three day selection process. 

  • The Number of Members /Coordinators selected are as stipulated for the respective working groups: Working Committee maximum 7 persons and Auroville Council maximum 9 persons. 

Pool of Voluntary Support Persons

To support the functioning and efficiency of the working group as well as fostering transparency, in resonance with the proposal for “Participatory Working Groups”, pools of Facilitators, Resource Persons and Silent Listeners are created, drawing on the community at large.

  • Facilitators – Offer/volunteer their skills to help facilitate subgroups created to deal with specific topics.

4.    Resource Persons Offer/volunteer their expertise and experience as subgroup members, on specific topics as needed.

5.    Silent Listeners/ Observers – Offer/volunteer to silently observe the ongoing process of the working group.

The group dynamic:

6.    Aurovilians can offer their skills as Facilitators, Resource Persons or Silent Observers to the working groups at any time either voluntarily or at the request/ invitation of the working groups.

7.    The individual roles can evolve and change

B) Details of the roles and functioning of the working group

The Mandated Members of the working group are here termed as Members/Coordinators, in accordance with the functions named in the “Participatory Working Groups” proposal.

1.  The Members/Coordinators

3.    must be Residents of Auroville

4.    are selected for their expertise, experience, Integrity and commitment to Auroville. The Coordinators are the official Members of the working group.

Motto: “I offer to serve the work in an impartial way by coordinating the team, keeping in mind inclusivity, competency, efficiency and generosity. I cooperate and contribute to enable the best outcome for the task in alignment with the ideals of Auroville”

1.1. Commitments

  • A Member/Coordinator commits to a minimum of 5 hours per day and as needed (full time).
  • A Member/Coordinator cannot be simultaneously a member or a permanent representative in other mandated working groups
  • The Members/Coordinators are responsible for the  implementation and fulfillment of the tasks presented in the working group mandate
  •  In case of unavailability or absence for more than 2-3 weeks, a Member/Coordinator has to find an Interim Substitute to cover for him/her in consultation with the rest of the Members/Coordinators of the working group. The Substitute person will take up the work but will not be an official member with /decision making/passing function.

1.2. Skills

  • Analysis, Strategy, Action Planning and communication

1.3. Functioning

  • The Members/Coordinators meet to prepare and prioritize long, medium and short term tasks. They respond to urgent matters and emergencies. They ensure that no issues are left unattended.
  • The tasks are distributed between the Members/Coordinators. Each task having one responsible Member/Coordinator. Each Member/Coordinator will form a task force team, if required, with an adequate number of Facilitators and Resource Persons (there might be multiple Facilitators if a task is divisible, but each task or part of a task has only one Facilitator responsible for its completion).
  • Members/Coordinators call on one or several Facilitators and delegate to them a specific task and set a certain time frame for completion.
  •  They ensure effective monitoring of work progress by tracking closures of tasks and issues at hand.
  • For the Working Committee a number of the Members/Coordinators must have experience in dealing with Officials of the Indian Government on all levels, Central as well as Regional and Local Government and Administration.

1.4. Communication responsibility

One Member/Coordinator is fully in charge of communication. S/He is responsible to establish communication tools, such as:

  • Create On-line Forum for the working group
  • To assure that the internal communication flow between Facilitators, Resource Persons and Silent Listeners/Observers is functioning well.  A team membership list along with roles is defined and published.
  • Define the access to mailing lists and assured that the agreed-on ethical code of conduct is followed in all group email/doc exchanges.
  • Draft Monthly Work reports to be approved by the other Members/Coordinators. These are published through the AV Net, News &Notes and via Mass Mail in very urgent cases.
  • Prepare monthly Interactive Information Meetings with the Community, in collaboration with RAS.

1.5. Term, Mandate and Turnover

  • Members/Coordinators are selected for a period of 3 years. 
  • After completing 3 years, there has to be a time lapse of 1 year before a Member/Coordinator can again nominate themselves/ be nominated, for membership in the same working group.
  • There will be a yearly selection process in October/November when 2-3 of the Members/Coordinators of a working group will be replaced. This will ensure continuity in the working groups, with a system of staggered turnover.
  • Every year in September at the latest the working group recommends to the RA through News&Notes and Auronet which Members/Coordinators will be replaced and which skills are needed from the new Members/ Coordinators. (To implement this, in the first batch 2-3 Members/Coordinators will resign  after 2 years, this can happen naturally by Members/Coordinators choosing to resign or by the decision of the group)

1.6. Resignation of Coordinators/Signatories from the working group

When a Member/Coordinator wants to resign during the term, s/he is requested to stay on until October/November and to make a proper handover of all his/her tasks. If this is not possible, the working group can ask a suitable individual from within the Community to join to fill the role as a Member/Coordinator without having a decision making function.

This can be a Resident of Auroville:

  •  who is already filling a support function, or
  • a person with needed expertise, or
  • a former member of the same working group.

S/he will be replaced in the selection process at the yearly turnover and/or can participate in the October/November selection process.

1.7. Removal of Members/Coordinators during term

  • Membership in a working group implies effective participation. Members/Coordinators, who are not executing their job assigned by the group as per the mandate, may be asked by the working group or by the Residents Assembly to shift their role. In either case it would be presented at the monthly meeting and dealt with in collaboration with the Residents Assembly.

The roles and functioning of the Support Persons:

2. The Facilitator

A Facilitator

  • must be a Resident of Auroville
  • offer their service to the working group, having the needed capacity and experience to facilitate a specific task.
  • Additionally,
  • There will be a pool of Facilitators created. Facilitators may be topic bound with specific expertise and capacities.
  • When needed, the working group can also call on other Resource Persons for facilitation from outside the pool.

Motto: “I offer my capacity to lead and bring people together, to facilitate a given task for the team. I cooperate and contribute what it takes for the best outcome of the task in alignment with the ideals of Auroville”.

2.1. Commitment

  • Time commitment as needed to fulfill the facilitation of an undertaken task.
  • In collaboration with the Member/Coordinator, the Facilitator chooses Resource Persons according to expertise, knowledge and experience relevant to the task. S/he creates a team that takes responsibility to complete the assigned task in a timely manner, taking all views and concerns into consideration.
  •  S/he keeps the Member/Coordinator informed of the status, outcome or any problem. All team members of a subgroup have access to emails on their task.

3.2. How to join

  • A Facilitator can offer their service at the yearly selection process in October/ November or anytime during the term. All new listed Facilitators are announced to the Community in the monthly report.

2.3 Skills

  • Team Spirit, Striving for Omni-partiality, Collaboration and Goal setting

3.  The Resource person

A Resource Person

  • must be a Resident of Auroville.
  • offers his/her service to be called upon by the Facilitators, as having the needed capacity and experience to contribute to a specific task.
  • Additionally,
  • There will be a pool of Resource Persons created.
  • When needed the working group can also call on other Resource Person from outside the pool.
  • Members/Coordinators may enlist a non-resident Consultant (non Aurovilian) for help based on pertinent skills and experience for a specific task. These Consultants will not have access to any other material except the task in hand.

Motto: “I offer my expertise and experience to complete a given task for the team. I cooperate and contribute towards the best outcome of the task in alignment with the ideals of Auroville

3.1. Commitments

  •  The time commitment of a Resource Person is need-based and thus allows flexibility to help the team according to her/his availability.
  • Resource persons are needed for all relevant fields of expertise and experience, including human relations and community experience.
  • There is a high priority to create a pool of Resource Persons with experience of interaction with the Central, Regional and Local Government.
  • A Resource Person can offer their expertise experience and integrity to be permanent representatives of the working group, in one or more of Auroville’s other mandated working groups. The Resource Person taking up such tasks must be a Resident of Auroville and have the necessary expertise, experience and integrity. There must be a commitment to

a. - give timely and regular written and verbal reports of meetings.

b. - interact on behalf of the represented working groups and

c. - participate in decisions only in accordance with the views and decision of the represented working group they represent

3.2. How to join

A Resource Person can join at the yearly selection process in October/November or anytime during the term, all new listed Resource Persons are announced to the Community in the monthly report.

3.3. Skills

  • Expertise, Experience, Wisdom and Values

4. The Silent Listener/Observer

A Silent Listener/Observer

  • must be a Resident of Auroville,
  • offer her/his service as a silent observer of the working group.

Motto: “I offer myself as a Silent Listener/Observer to witness the process of the Working Group, and aspire for the success of the task  in alignment with the ideals of Auroville

4.1. Commitment

  • A Silent Listener/Observer is ready to commit to be a silent observer of the groups’ processes for 3 months. Every three months, all Silent Listeners/Observers are asked to re-confirm their wish to continue the silent listening.
  • The Silent Listener/Observer will follow the working group’s Internet forum and can attend meetings as a silent observer/ witness of the ongoing work of the working group.
  • This is seen as a supportive presence of the community.
  • A Silent Listener/Observer can commit to be a listener to several working groups.
  • Silent Listeners /Observers who have been participating for a stipulated time may be invited by the Members/Coordinators to give their observations in a manner to be determined by the working group.
  • An additional function of a Silent Listener/Observer is to learn how a working group goes about its tasks. Young Residents of Auroville can participate as Silent Listeners/Observers to working groups with which they have an affinity.

4.2. How to join

  • A Silent Listener/Observer can join at the yearly selection process in October/November or anytime during the term,. All new participating Silent Listeners /Observers are announced to the Community in the monthly report.

4.3. Skills

  • Silent observation, Learning, Goodwill, Restraint

C) Training and Education

  • Members/Coordinators commit to an active learning process and training in needed fields.
  • For the Members/Coordinators and Facilitators there will be ongoing training opportunities offered in facilitation, mediation, Restorative Circles, through Koodam and others.
  •  In the working groups Members/Coordinators will individually choose who will take up which specific training possibilities.
  • Other parties may be invited to give relevant leadership, organizational and conflict resolution workshops.
  • Training and Education may be open for all Aurovilians who would like to prepare themselves for an organization role in the future. If there is limited seating, first come first serve basis may be used or other repeat workshops offered.

D) Decision-making

Depending on the tasks of a working group, its Members/Coordinators identify the diverse types of decisions/validations in categories like:

  • 1.   long term/ strategy tasks
  • 2.    routine tasks
  • 3.    day to day tasks
  • 4.    emergency cases
  • 5.    cases which need approval from the Residents Assembly

Arriving at a decision

1.    Members/Coordinators hold the responsibility to together arrive at agreement and take decisions on behalf of the residents Assembly in any of the above mentioned tasks, unless:

a) The task involve the forming of a sub group.

b) The task is of such a nature that it has to be referred to the Residents Assembly.

2.    a) When a Sub Group is formed; it consists of a Member/Coordinator, one or more Facilitators and the relevant Resource Persons.

         b) The Member/Coordinator, Facilitator/s and Resource Persons will in a timely manner arrive together at a        proposed solution.

c) The outcome is presented to all the Members/ Coordinators, who generally will abide by the results arrived          at by the specific Sub Group created for the purpose.

d) In case the result is established to be biased or incomplete, another Member/Coordinator will be chosen to create a new Sub Group and look into the task once more.

         e) If the second round of conclusions still does not find agreement among the Members/Coordinators, the     matter will be brought to the Residents’ Assembly.

3.    In case an issue is referred to the Residents Assembly, this is done in collaboration with the Residents Assembly Service.

E) SELECTION PROCESS IN 4 STEPS

  • Step 1 – Information sharing on mandate and job description
  • Step 2 - Inviting Residents of Auroville to participate through nomination and self-nomination 
  • Step 3 – 3 Days Selection Process
  • Step 4 - Constitution of the working group/s/Handing the process over to the AVC

Step 1 - Information sharing on mandate and job description.

  • The mandate and/or specific job descriptions/ competencies as well as eligibility for being a member of the working group to be constituted, is shared in a General Meeting, via News & Notes and Auronet.
  • Relevant documents, together with the proposal for the “Participatory Working Groups” and the new selection process, will be available on Auronet and, by request, in hard copy at the Town Hall Reception counter. The intention is to have the documents available in all major languages where translations are needed, depending on the need and the availability of translators.
  • This information sharing is organized by the Residents’ Assembly Service

Step 2 - Inviting Residents of Auroville to participate in the 3 days selection process

  •  For a minimum of two weeks after the public announcement of the mandate / job descriptions, any Resident of Auroville with the needed expertise, experience and integrity are invited to be nominated or can nominate themselves to be part of the selection process.
  • (If needed, this can be extended by another week, in case not enough candidates with needed qualifications come forward. This will be decided by the Auroville Council and the Residents Assembly Service, if needed in consultation with the Study Group.)
  • RAS will collect all nominations and self-nominations; contact all nominees to see if they are willing to participate in the three day selection process.
  • All those who agree, will have their names published in the News & Notes, on Auronet and through mass mail if needed.
  •  Those Residents of Auroville who present themselves for the 3 days selection process are by default the selectors.
  •  Participants in the 3 day selection process, who are not selected as Members/Coordinators, are invited to support the working group/s as Facilitators, Resource Persons or Silent Observers according to their capacity and choice.
  • Attendance during the full 3 days is conditional.

Feedback

a) Committee to review feedback (“Feedback Review Committee”)

  • The Auroville Council and the Residents Assembly Service will strive to create an Omni-partial “Feedback Review Committee” consisting of long-term Residents of Auroville who have shown deep commitment in action to the ideals of Auroville.  This committee will dissolve after the feedback is processed.
  • The Auroville Council and the Residents Assembly Service will provide required facilitation with the support of the Study Group.
  • The task of the temporary “Feedback Review Committee” will be to look through the feedback in depth and decide which feedback received is of such nature as to be termed non- negotiable, which disqualifies a nominee from participating in the selection process. For this they will have the guidance of Law of India, the Code of Conduct and the Eligibility Criteria.  All feedback of a negotiable nature will be dealt with within the selection process itself.

b) Inviting and dealing with feedback

  • Feedback must be factual and signed. Those which lack either will be discarded.
  • Feedback containing strong valid/ factual reservations against any nominee(s) will be communicated to the concerned nominee(s). In the absence of valid clarifications to dissolve such reservations/ objections, the concerned nominee(s) can be considered ineligible.
  • Feedback will not be confidential.
  • If there is a strong valid concern combined with fear for repercussions, and the feedback is of concern to the community, a mandated working group can take up the feedback and in this case there will be confidentiality for the individual.

F) Step 4 – Three Day Selection Process

All nominees are invited to a three day selection workshop.  The RAS and the Study Group coordinate the sessions together with invited facilitators.

Day 1:  Finding Unity through our values:

  • Guided by the 12 Values embedded in the Mother's ‘Dream’, all participants will go through a process preparing themselves for this new approach of working in collaboration.

Day 2: Mandates, Job description, Code of Conduct, Feedback and eligibility

  • Going through and understanding the mandates of the working groups, job descriptions, team- and operational structure including confidentiality and access to information.  (In the case of the Working Committee the Auroville Foundation Act will also be part of the information necessary.)
  • Going through the individual feedback of participants and looking at the Code of Conduct and eligibility criteria guidelines.  All feedback will be dealt with in the open forum with facilitation by Koodam and the Study Group. The Code of Conduct and Eligibility criteria will be displayed in the room, as guidelines representing the request and concerns of the community at large.

Day 3Selection of the Coordinators

  • The selection can be made from all the members in the room, keeping all information in mind and using it wisely, to choose a good and balanced group with the skills needed, putting aside group-ism and keeping the best for the community as the aim.

Part 1:  Selection of the Members/Coordinators. 

  •  The Members/Coordinators will be selected in a group process facilitated by the Study Group and Koodam.
  • For selection of the Members/Coordinators, there should be a strong agreement amongst the selection participants.  It should not be a matter of simply filling up places.

Part 2: Meeting together of the group/s

  • Is everything in place?' Is there sufficient agreement?
  •  Are all the needed qualities and skills present in the group? 
  • Is there anything else the Members/Coordinators need to function as a team?
  • The rest of the participants in the selection process who are not selected as Members/Coordinators, may opt for themselves roles in which they may be willing to support the working groups – As Facilitators, Resource Persons, and Silent Listeners.

Part 3:  Concluding the 3 days Selection Process

  • Process Evaluation 
  • Coming together with the aspiration that all can leave the process with a feeling of peace, acceptance and willingness to support.

Presenting the outcome to the community

  • Study group will present the new Working Committee and Auroville Council members to the community in collaboration with RAS and AVC at a General Meeting.
  • A list of Support Persons, including all new Facilitators, Resource Persons and Silent Observers will be published.
  • In cases of strong disagreement on the outcome of the Selection process, the Study group will hand over the process to AVC to proceed further.

G) Support and Amendments

  • It should be emphasized that this proposal is a new attempt to improve Auroville’s organization. The Study Group who worked out the proposal will commit to closely follow and support the implementation of this new organizational structure at all stages, in collaboration with the concerned working groups. The support and collaboration for the implementation of this proposal is on process only, not on issues.
  • The Study Group, in its support function during the process development, can adapt the proposal at any stage, in consultation with the Auroville Council and the Residents Assembly Service, if any unforeseen flaws turn up.  Amendments have to be approved by the Residents Assembly.

Results of Residents' Assembly Decision Making Process on 3 day selection process for Working Committee
Dear Friends, 
Please find below the results of the Decision Making Process held on Monday 27th October 2014 regards the 3 day selection process for the Working Committee, 
The question asked of the community was:
Participatory Working Group and 3 day selection process for Working Committee (revised proposal) – YES / NO?
The RAS registered the following responses:
a) 69% of participants (291) chose YES.
b) 31% of participants(133) chose NO.
c) 25 participants abstained (chose neither YES nor NO but submitted the form).
Community Supports Participatory Working Group and 3 day selection process for Working Committee
The RAS registers that the community supports the Participatory Working Group and 3 day selection process for Working Committee (revised proposal).
This process will now be used to select the next Working Committee.
The Auroville Council, the RAS and the Study Group have published further information on this process elsewhere in this issue of the News & Notes.
For more information, please don't hesitate to email the RAS at raservice@auroville.org.in
Kind regards,
Your RAS Team