Come Hell or High Water: A Handbook on Collective Process Gone Awry: By Delfina Vannucci and Richard Singer, 127 pgs. By Lauren Trout

Jul 30, 2010

This book is a really practical look at what can commonly go wrong when people try to work together in a collective setting. Hell, even the cover has a good example: a cartoon depicting a guy swinging from the ceiling yelling “Woo” while his stone-faced fellow collective members look up saying, “Get down from there. We’re trying to have a meeting,” to which he replies, “Whatever. You’re not the boss of me!” In reality, the problems in a collective can be much more subtle and serious, and this book covers many that I have seen in the past when trying to work in a collective setting. I am impressed by how the authors give a name to the kind of manipulation that some members will invariably try to pull off during meetings. Their analysis of what dynamics can be causing trouble in a group helped me to understand for the first time why I felt so uncomfortable in each collective that I have ended up leaving. If this were required reading for anybody in a collective, we would definitely see less drama and more camaraderie for that type of work or volunteer model. Lauren Trout (AK Press, 674-A 23rd St., Oakland, CA 94612)