2011年2月19日土曜日

the neighbourhood decision making process

It's that time of year again. The time when the six sub-groups in our neighbourhood association delegate out jobs for the next financial year (April to March) in order to be in order and all present and accounted for at the big AGM in March.

We're in sub-group 2. Each sub-group has their own way of doling out jobs. In sub-group 2 we have a roster. Jobs travel up and down the street. We were head of the subgroup two years ago, the neighbour over the road was this year and the neighbour one to his uphill-side is for the next coming year.

Some jobs have a one year term- head of subgroup, rubbish monitor, farming committee community liaison etc but others are two year terms- traffic safety committee rep, neighbourhood association VP and community centre rep.

With this mish mash of term lengths the simple up and down the street method sometimes runs into problems as someone is still doing one job when the next catches up with them. That's when the fun begins!

Jobs skip houses and then double back before they move on again. All of it is recorded for prosperity in the sub-group 2 record book and referred to in minute detail at the annual job allotment meeting.

And that's how it was that consternation was caused at the local meeting tonight.

By rights K should be in his second year of a two year term as all neighbourhood association VP. The second year is a semi-retirement as you act as big brother/ consultant to the incoming rep. And I should be the female community centre committee rep. Yes, I said the female rep. Each sub-group puts up a male and female rep and the jobs are completely gender differentiated- I'm almost certain having a man in an apron washing dishes or a woman with a towel tied around her head manning the keg at the summer festival would cause a complete failure of the apple crop for at least a couple of seasons....

So anyway, meeting day approached and I wasn't expecting any surprises. Silly, silly me. Far too simple just to pass the jobs on like that. Some wannabe bureaucrat went back through at least thirty- yes, three-oh thirty- years of role relegation records and worked out that the grandparent generation of female neighbours- who have started handing the reins over to their adult children- have all each done the community centre rep job twice.

All except my friend and neighbour A.

She has only done it once.

Some families have already passed neighbourhood association sub-group family rep responsibility over to their children. If A doesn't have her turn soon she may miss out. And that kind of inequality would surely tilt the axis of the earth, yeah?

And so A took my turn. But then if it goes from A back to me it has skipped three houses going the wrong direction. The horror, the horror! So, after much discussion it was decided that after A's two year stint a line would be drawn in the books and the new generation would start from scratch. The new generation that includes we recent immigrants and the other two recent immigrant families as well as the younger generation of the established families. (Confused yet?) It was agreed that we blow-ins would take our turn before the adult children of older families as we have never contributed to the role while the other families have all done so twice albeit with a different family member.

Phew.... decided then.

Not quite. What of the new order of duty? The three new families live nowhere near each other...

"Fukase's wife (apparently I'm fooling myself if I think I'm a Fukase in my own right) should go first. They've been here longer."
"Mmm."
"Umm.... M's wife is older than her isn't she?"
"Fukase? M?"
"Ummm, I think so."
"So she should go first. She's older."
"But Fukase's wife has lived here longer. She should go first...."

The conversation never really came to a conclusion. K ended up with an extra job that didn't work out for the recipient (there are a lot of bed-ridden great-grandparent generation here being looked after by relatively healthier grandparent generation children) and I guess there are two whole years to canvass opinion and debate minutiae and weigh up the heavy balance of responsibility in the age vs years in residence dichotomy. Knowing the neighbourhood decision making process I'm sure we'll need the full two years, too...

Don't worry, I'll keep you posted.

5 件のコメント:

Little Matt さんのコメント...

Wow.
And I thought I had to deal with clunky and overbearing beuracracy at work. I can't imagine having to deal with that at home as well.

Sounds like living in your neighbourhood is very serious work indeed. Is this the norm for Japanese towns?

Xana さんのコメント...

Wow! And my husband was complaining about our neighborhood last night, which is no where near as complicated. Block boss up and down the block (we are just finishing our turn). Kaicho is whichever young guy the old men manage to bully into it. I am supposed to be female volleyball rep this year, but being pregnant gets me off the hook, hurray! I've never played volleyball before.

The absolute worst is kodomokaicho and yakuins in 4th grade. There are over 100 kids in our kodomokai, so basically the mothers of 4th graders don't see their kids at home for a year.

Dh is already whinging about kodomokai and we haven't even been inducted yet. The problem is that all the events are on Saturdays. I work all day Saturday, so HE would have to give up his gardening for an hour or two to take M to the various kodomo kai functions. So he wants her to drop out before she even starts. Poor M.

Gaijin Wife さんのコメント...

we had similar meeting here yesterday - but was only the older men in the whole neighborhood deciding shit about the people that weren't even invited to come, and other exciting stuff like how much they should charge me for the one hour a week I use the hall to teach English. As long as hub dodges any responsibility bullets this year I'll be happy.

xx

Aramaki wife

Claire さんのコメント...

What a palaver! I suppose no-one would be satisfied if you and M's wife just had a quick game of janken to sort it out ...

thefukases さんのコメント...

little matt- see that's why I work with 4 year olds- they just feel so much more mature than what I get at home!

Xana- I love the volleyball rep thing- yup, experience definitely not a pre-requisite, huh? K was farmers union rep a couple of years ago, and we're the only non-farmers on the block! The kodomo-kai responsibility really varies from place to place, huh? We only have 14 kids in the whold kodomo-kai so while there're lots of jobs each one is pretty small time compared to the districts like yours with over 100 kids!

Do the parents accompany the kids? Or do you mean dropping her off? Our events are all held in the community centre or at the temple ground so all the kids walk there and back. The summer radio calisthenics is probably the nastiest job as you need to have them out the door by 6:20. On the holidayyyyssss.... :(

GW- what do they charge you? Our hall is old and while it's clean it's pretty much an ampty room with some tables and chairs and yet they want 5000 yen to use it! (That's for 1/2 day but there's no shorter hiring time). Extra if you want to use the heater... Freaking ripoff!

Claire- I'll suggest it! Would it be saisho wa gu or straight into it? And once off or best of three? Maybe leg junken... a meeting will have to be held to decide....