Clearness Methods

Theresa began this post with some ideas and questions about the ways that various communities use the clearness process:

I was one of the first people to respond because, in addition to the clearnesses that we are doing here at Glomus commune, I had been through a clearness when I visited the Acorn community.

We only got one additional response, again from Zamin, but it includes a reference to Quaker clearnesses, which is important because the Quakers (as far as I can tell) originated the process.

For anyone who is totally lost at this point, clearnesses are a process whereby new members get to process their feelings about joining a commune, and each member gets to process their feelings about the person joining, and that person gets to process their feelings about all the people in the commune. It also can be an annual process for each member to be focused on and feelings between individuals be aired.

I think of clearnesses as being a necessary part of communal social hygiene, keeping things from festering because people are too busy to process feelings.

Clearness Methods

The Mothership Clearness Process


from The Mothership website

Clearness Process  

    Clearnesses are intended to facilitate communication and bonding between individual community members, ensure that small interpersonal conflicts are addressed on a regular basis so they do not grow into major fires, and bring private challenges and excitements into public light.

Going through the whole clearness process is called “getting clear.” All residents of The Mothership are required to get clear at least once per year. This means each pair of crewmembers should be getting clear twice a year; once during each of their annual clearnesses. For any number of reasons (including the suggestion of a crewmember) an individual may choose to get clear more often, and non-residents may also choose to get clear.  A request for a clearnesses must be treated as a high priority and we agree to meet within 7 days if expediency is requested.

    In order to “get clear,” the focus person (the person who is having  a round of clearnesses) must seek out each crewmember of The Mothership to have an individual clearness. 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. Clearnesses should be guided by the focus questions  described below. If concerns come up, the two people should seek to first understand the concern and then work to resolve it or work on defining a path towards resolving it, if possible. Ideally they will 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.

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    You are encourage to discuss your consent relationship within the clearness process; how we’re accessing each others bodies, time and engagement.  This helps create a culture of consent for our community.

    Some focus questions should exist within any clearness, while others will depend on the specific context in which the clearness occurs.

Focus questions for all clearnesses:

  • What am I excited about in our current relationship?
  • What do I find difficult or challenging about our current relationship?
  • What do want to change about our current relationship?
  • What would I like our future relationship to look like next month? In a year?  In a decade?

Focus questions as part of a long-term guest application:

  • How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me continuing to be a guest at The Mothership?
  • Do you/I have any unmet needs during or as a result of your visit to The Mothership?

Focus questions for a crew member in their trial period (first 3-6 months):

  • How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of us continuing to live together for an extended period of time?

Focus questions for a crew member eligible to exit their trial period:

  • How do you feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me exiting your/my trial period.

Focus questions for senior bridge crewmember:

  • How do I feel about our relationship in light of you/me being a senior bridge crewmember?

If a special clearness is called for, the person requesting the clearness(es) or the group as a whole may define additional focus questions.  It is encouraged to define whether it’s a residency, long term guest or special clearness you want so people can think about the clearness within those parameters. A person requesting a special clearness is encouraged to offer a brief description of the topic when requesting it.

Once the focus person has completed an individual clearness with each resident of the Mothership, a group clearness will be conducted at a single item meeting scheduled by the focus person.  The focus person may choose to invite non-residents 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 questions 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 resident:

  • What are your general feelings and thoughts about our community?
  • What needs are being met in your life at The Mothership? 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 The Mothership?
  • 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 The Mothership?
  • How would you describe your current commitment to The Mothership?

If that person is a guest:

  • How was/is your visit going? What’s going well? What’s difficult?
  • What is your work scene like and how do you feel about it?
  • What is your social scene like and how do you feel about it?
  • Do you think you might eventually want to become a resident or member of The Mothership? If so, when?
  • 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

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    Next, the residents take 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 facilitator 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 “Lightning Round of Affirmations” quickly stating something that they particularly appreciate or value about the focus person or otherwise affirming them.

    Members are encouraged to wait 24 hours before discussing any concerns or thoughts they have with each other in response to the group clearness.


The Mothership Clearness Process