Manual For Opportunity Village – from Tent City Urbanism: From Self-organized Camps to Tiny House Villages by Andrew Heben, 2014
Types of Membership
Villager: An individual who has been accepted as a member of the community. New villagers undergo a two week training period supported by an existing villager, known as a village guide. The new villager is a non-voting member during this time period.
Village Council Member: 5 or 7 residents elected to have additional responsibility in managing the Village. A more detailed description of this role can be found under Village Governance.
Village Volunteer: A non-villager or prior villager who is trained to assist in the operation and maintenance of the Village. They must be familiar with the Community Agreement and Village Manual.
Board of Directors: Elected or appointed individuals who oversee the activities of the non-profit organization.
Community Agreement: The internal agreement that outlines expectations and acceptable conduct for villagers.
Operational Agreement: The formal agreement between the nonprofit organization and the City that regulates what the Village can and can’t do.
Self-governance is a core value of the Village. This means that the success of the Village rests on the participation of those who live here. There are three governing groups for making decisions related to the management of the Village. They are:
1) Weekly Village Meeting (All Residents)
- Every________at________a mandatory weekly meeting will be held. Attendance is mandatory for all residents. Issues related to the organization of the Village will be discussed and voted on at this time. Specific roles will be identified and rilled in order to maintain a safe and sanitary environment. The following applies to the mandatory meeting:
- Advanced notice with documentation must be provided to the front desk for excused absences (i.e. work, school, medical), which must be approved by Village Council.
- Excused absences may vote on policy issues prior to the meeting through absentee ballot.
- A quorum is established when over 50% of residents are present.
- Any decisions made at the weekly meeting must comply with the existing Community Agreement, Village Manual, and Operational
- Amendments to the Community Agreement and Village Manual may be proposed at the meeting and require a majority vote to pass.
- Amendments to the Community Agreement and Village Manual will be reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors before taking effect.
- Expulsion from the Village may be appealed at the weekly meeting, and is decided upon by a majority vote of the Village.
2) Village Council (Elected Residents)
Elections are held during the weekly meeting to maintain a Village Council of 5 or 7 residents. To become a council member, a villager must be nominated by another resident. A majority vote of villagers present then decides which nominees are elected. The elected term is two months. Council members may serve consecutive terms if they are
nominated and receive 2/3 majority vote. Elections are to be staggered so that the entire council does not change at once.
The role of the Village Council is to uphold orderly management of the Village. The council is not meant to have greater power than any other villager. Villagers elected to the council are simply given the task of responding to incidents when the Community Agreement is broken, and enacting the appropriate level of intervention as specified within this manual. A primary responsibility of the council is to act between meetings when urgent situations arise. There is to be a designated “councilor of the day” as a point of contact.
For the issues addressed within this manual, it is the responsibility of the Village Council to ensure that the appropriate level of intervention is being enforced. A council member may be removed from their position for violating this duty through a majority vote at a weekly meeting. When an incident occurs that is not described in this manual, it is up to the council to determine the appropriate level of intervention.
All Village Council decisions are potentially subject to review by the entire village at a weekly meeting. In this way, service on the council is much like any other form of contribution to the operation and maintenance of the Village. The Village Council is to hold at least two regular meetings per week. During this time council members:
- Set the agenda for the next weekly meeting (any villager can propose items)
- Review incident reports and listen to appeals
- Review front desk log and make sure everyone is completing their host shifts
- Deal with other issues relevant to maintaining orderly operation of the Village
Impromptu Village Council meetings may also be necessary to address urgent situations. The quorum for holding a Village Council meeting is to have at least 50% of members present, but an attempt should be made to notify all council members. Members of the Board of Directors may also attend these meetings, but may not vote.
3) Board of Directors (Non-profit Organization)
The main governing role of the Board of Directors is to provide oversight. The purpose of this is to ensure that the Community Agreement and Village Manual are being upheld. In cases where the Village is not in compliance, and the Village Council has not taken action, the Board of Directors may step in to take action at its discretion.The Board of Directors is also responsible for ensuring that financial, legal, administrative, safety, and sanitation matters are being properly managed. Interface between the Village and the Board will occur through the following:
Resident Board Members: There will be at least two villagers appointed to the Board for six month terms. Resident board members are appointed by the Board of Directors and may not simultaneously serve on the Village Council.
Village Council Liaison: One Village Council member will be appointed monthly by the council to attend board meetings, serving as a liaison between the council and the Board of Directors.
Village Security Plan
The front desk is the only gateway in and out of the Village and shall remain secure. Staffing the front desk is one of the most important duties at Opportunity Village. This will be a mandatory service of all villagers.
The front desk is to be staffed by at least two trained individuals during open hours (8am- 10pm). At least one person must be a villager. The second may be a villagers or a village volunteer. The primary purpose of this duty is to be the “eyes and ears” of the Village during your shift. Staffing the front desk involves the following duties:
- Register visitors and locate a villager to accompany the visitor
- Document any disruption to normal operations in the log book
- Inner perimeter checks of the site
- Notify Village Council when you witness a rule break
The gate will be locked between 12am-8am. During this time, one person is to spend the night at the front desk in case assistance is needed at the gate. In the case of an incident, the resident on duty should write an incident report and alert a council members.
Weapons are not allowed at the Village. Weapons are defined as firearms, knives (other than small pocket knives with 4″ blade or less or those used for cooking), explosives of any type, clubs, or other striking implements. Chemicals such as mace or pepper spray must be checked at the front desk.
There are three stages of response for maintaining a secure and orderly environment at the Village. Stage 1 is the least severe and most common type of response. Stage 3 is the most severe and least common type of response.
Stage 1: Village Council
Village Council members are responsible for maintaining order when urgent situations arise. For a full description of this duty see the Intervention Action Plan.
Stage 2: Intermediary Security Agency
When Village Council members are unable to gain the cooperation of a disruptive resident, they are to contact the intermediary security agency. A contract enables the security agency to act on behalf of the Village in order to gain control of the situation. The phone number for the security agency is listed at the front desk.
Stage 3: Eugene Police Department
The Eugene Police Department (EPD) is welcome to patrol the Village as they would any other neighborhood in Eugene. In cases where the law is being broken and residents or the security agency are unable to gain cooperation of the offender, the police department will be contacted. The previous two stages of response are to be tried first if appropriate. Contact the Eugene Police Department when a person crime is committed or is in progress, or upon a victim’s request. Villagers may resolve lower level crimes such as petty theft and minor criminal mischief.
Intervention Action Plan
When a complaint that is not technically a rule break is cause for concern to members of the Village, the Village Council will meet with said villager and discuss a plan of action to curtail the behavior. We hope that early intervention will help prevent further and more severe action.
In cases of a complaint by one villager against another when the complaint is not a clear rule break, members of the Village Council or a third party mediator should meet with the complaintant and the alleged offender to discuss the issue and reach a resolution that is agreeable to both parties.
When a rule break occurs, any villager may write an incident report. The Village Council is then responsible for verifying that the level of intervention is appropriate and notifying the alleged offender. From there, the alleged offender has three options:
- Accept the incident report with the proposed level of intervention
- Appeal the incident report at the next council meeting, in which case the level of intervention requires the vote of a majority of council members
- If the alleged offender still feels that the action is unjust they may appeal to the weekly meeting in which case a majority vote will either uphold or revise the decision
Minor rule violations (i.e. missed host shift, missed weekly meeting, etc.) result in 4 levels of intervention:
Level 1 — Verbal Warning
Level 2 — Written Warning
Level 3—48 hour suspension from Village
Level 4 — Expulsion from Village
- Minor rule violations will be tracked for a 3 month rolling period.
- Villagers reserve the right to work off minor rule violations by contributing extra hours towards the operation and maintenance of the Village. Missed host shifts may be made up by working twice the number of hours missed. The Village Council will designate requirements for other minor rule violations.
- More severe rule violations may require action at a heightened level of intervention even though the rule violation may be a first The Village Council will deal with these rule violations on a case-by-case basis unless defined in this manual.
- For incidents resulting in suspension or expulsion, the offender should be given a chance to appeal before taking their leave— unless the Village Council considers the behavior to be a threat to the Village.
- Villagers may appeal their expulsion from the Village at the weekly meeting, which may include actions for addressing the problematic behavior that caused their expulsion.
Food Storage Policy
- Fair sharing of resources is critical to the well-being of the Village. Hoarding or inequitable division of resources is unhealthy. Additionally, the Village is vulnerable to food stealth by dogs, cats, rodents and other animals. Rodents themselves provide a health hazard and we must discourage their presence by not having food available to attract them. Consequently, the following Food Storage Policies have been adopted at the Village:
- All community food that enters the Village as a donation must be stored in the community food pantry in an appropriate sealed con No donated food may be taken to an individual residence. All community food must be eaten in community areas.
- Non-perishable food purchased by the villagers with their own
- resources may be stored in rodent and insect resistant containers in their residence.
- A limited amount of perishable food may be stored in the community refrigerator if it is labeled with a name and date. Items in the refrigerator without a label immediately belong to “everyone.” No perishable food may be stored in an individual residence.
- All food should be prepared in community areas.
- It is important, if one eats in their residence, to immediately wipe or sweep up any crumbs for the prevention of rodent infestation.
- Any villager who fails to store food properly in their unit may be ruled no longer able to have food in their unit.Alcohol, Drug, and Paraphernalia Policy
- Possession of alcohol: 48 hour expulsion (enrollment in an AA program or random breathalyzer testing may also be required if Village Council deems necessary).
- Possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia (including pipes made from other items: cans, vegetables, bottles, etc.): 48 hour expulsion.
- Other illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia, including needles (without medical prescription), pipes (used for anything other then tobacco or marijuana), and spoons that have been used for “cooking” drugs: permanent expulsion.
- Any other items suspected to have been used for drug related purposes will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the Village
Villagers who have been continuously absent from the Village and have made no effort to remain in contact for a period of 4 days have abandoned their dwelling. Said persons would no longer be a villager and their possessions would be removed from their previous dwelling immediately upon the dwelling being declared abandoned. They would then have a period of 30 days to retrieve their possessions after which time those items would be disposed of at Village discretion.
Exceptions will be made for residents who are unable to contact the Village due to extenuating circumstances such as jail, hospital, etc. Abandonment will not be considered for those villagers who wish to spend time away from the Village for personal reasons provided they inform the Village Council and make arrangements to cover their front desk host hours when possible. In the case of emergencies, exceptions will be made for those unable to make arrangements to cover their host hours.