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As my classmates and I checked into Arabic class that morning, everyone was in a bit of shock. It had just been announced that Roe v. Wade had been overturned by the US Supreme Court. States would now be able to make abortion illegal. Only 3 of the 10 classmates were in the US. One was from the US but living in Jerusalem. The rest were not directly affected by this change in the legal landscape of the United States, but every single person was feeling something about the repercussions that this decision would have. 

The court decision written by Justice Alito had been leaked over a month earlier, but there was some hope that this would not be the final decision. It wasn’t a reasonable hope, but it was one that many of us had held on to, nonetheless. In the intervening time, much had been discussed about the ways that access to abortion is vital to the health and well being of any person who is capable of pregnancy. The news had also been full of concerns about the future of other important Supreme Court decisions of the past that this conservative court might overturn based on the logic of the written decision. 

On the day of the final publication of the decision for Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health, or Dobbs for short, which gave the decision to the states to restrict or allow abortions, one of the other justices, Justice Thomas, wrote a concurring opinion that directly stated that other precedents that brought civil rights into federal instead of state power should be overturned as well. The right to contraception. The right of same sex marriage. The right to have any kind of sex other than heterosexual missionary style. 

We all had been watching the rise of racist, homophobic, fascist ideas in the US, but this set off alarm bells louder than any of the other recent state level legal rulings attacking trans and queer people and tearing down women’s rights. Already, after Texas started investigating parents of trans kids for child abuse and putting those children into foster care, when California said that they would be a sanctuary for families escaping Texas to protect their trans children, analysts had described exactly how this could turn into a war between the states.

My classmates were not all aware of these other ramifications to the court’s decision. It was enough of a shock that the United States would go backwards like this in terms of a basic human right to bodily autonomy. Much of the class was spent discussing in broken Arabic mixed with Hebrew, English and French how this could happen and what it could mean for the stability of the US. We also discussed how other countries could be impacted by this decision if their courts or legislatures decided to follow our lead. I pointed out that the evangelical Christians of the US had already pushed their forced birth agenda in other countries, and how the strict laws against abortion in El Salvador have resulted in women being jailed for having miscarriages. The conversation was tense, but we were all on the same side of the issue. An advantage of studying with a Palestinian-Israeli cooperative language school was that everyone involved was fairly progressive. 

After Arabic class I had a half hour before my class on liturgy and ritual. That class was also overwhelmed by the news of the day. Unlike Arabic, though, the students in this class were nearly all located in the US, with just one student in Canada. The instructor and nearly every classmate was queer. At least a quarter of the class was trans and/or nonbinary. This group had been watching the recent laws made in one state after another targetting trans and queer youth. Again, the conversation swung between concerns about the health of people who can get pregnant and concerns about the trajectory of the country’s politics. Everyone expressed feeling unsafe, including the Canadian who worried that the right wing in Canada is pushing in similar directions. In the last few minutes of class, the instructor rescued some instructional potential by asking us to think about how liturgy or ritual might meet the current situation. Could we create ritual for righteous resistance? Could we create liturgy for facing a long journey out of state and other challenges that a person might face to get an abortion now? 

“We already have the Tefilat Haderech, the prayer for a journey,” our teacher pointed out, “but how could we change that or add to it to create something for this specific situation?”

When liturgy and ritual class was over, I had two hours to do homework before my next class. That’s when Morrison checked in on me. 

**Hello! How is your day going, Uri?** It almost sounded like he was in the room, but there was some quality to it that I can’t describe that let me know that he was just in my head. Even though I knew I could respond with silent thoughts, no one was around to judge me, so I just spoke out loud.

“Oof! I’m kinda worded out about it all, but it’s not been great.”

**Oh, no! What happened? You could show me instead of telling me.**

And so I projected my memories of when I got the news about the court decision. I projected some of the conversations I’d had in class. As I shared the mental images and sounds as I remembered them, I also let my emotions project so that he could understand how I felt about all of it. In my mind’s eye I could see him sitting and taking it all in. 

**That’s a lot,** He said. **What do you need right now?**

That question stopped me short. I’d been thinking about the big picture, about demonstrations and political organizing and community activism. I hadn’t thought about what I needed right that moment. I realized that I needed to get grounded so that anxiety wouldn’t carry me away. 

“I think that I need a shower. And then I need to eat.” I usually shower before bed, but taking a shower really helps me when I’m feeling out of sorts. When I’m cold it warms me up. When I’m hot it cools me off. When I feel overwhelmed it gives me a little space outside of whatever is bothering me. Also, I hadn’t actually eaten breakfast. I’d rolled out of bed, put on tefillin and prayed, and then sat down for my first class of the day. After a moment’s thought I added, “And maybe I should take Doug out for a walk.”

**Those all sound like good things to do right now. Do you want my company? Or should I come back later?** 

“Your company is nice. But don’t feel obligated to stay if you have other things to do.” 

**Don’t worry about that. I’m sound asleep back home. I gave myself a lucid dream trigger so I could come spend time with you during your day without having to worry about obligations in my own reality.**

“Oh! That’s a brilliant idea. And also, thanks.” In my headspace I was putting my head on his shoulder. Being with him like that didn’t feel as solid as when we were together in the Crows world, but it was more vivid than an ordinary daydream or just simple imagination. 

I got up from my desk and started to peel off the clothing I’d picked up off the chair in the morning to re-wear from yesterday. Only the underwear were fresh today, so I kept those on as I headed to the bathroom for my shower.

Morrison chatted with me as I did that. **I wanted to try to go directly to your universe and see you in physical form, but despite the fact that I can communicate with you like this, and I’ve been over there through your body, I can’t quite place your coordinates. The ‘verse you are in doesn’t seem to match up with the dimensional travel system I use. It’s strange.**

When I got to the bathroom, I peeled off my underwear and pulled the stretchy bra off over my head. I put them both on the metal shelf against the wall. “Huh, that is weird. Do you have any idea why that is?” I asked.

**My guess is that this is confirmation that your ‘verse is on a different plane of existence than mine. We know that my ‘verse is at least in part a creation of fictional stories in your ‘verse. This may mean that your ‘verse is like the Keter to my Malchut. Or maybe not exactly that, but something analogous to that.**

I turned on the shower and tested the temperature. When it was just right, I stepped under the shower head and closed the curtain behind me. The curtain got stuck on the lip of the shower stall like it always does, so I had to hold the edge of the curtain with one hand against the wall while I used my foot to pull it inside the shower stall and down past the little barrier so that water wouldn’t pour down the plastic and onto the bathroom floor. I bent down to get some shampoo from the large container on the floor and started to massage the shampoo into my scalp. 

I’d thought a little about the problem and said, “That little girl in the foyer managed to run through my portal when I opened it, though.  When I picked her up, she was all the way on my side of the portal. I had to take her back over to your side as I stepped across myself. So, we know it is possible to come over here.” 

**Mmm… yeah. Good point. Maybe I could come across with you when you return to your world from mine. Instead of just falling asleep or letting yourself pop back home the simple way, maybe you could open a portal and we could both walk through together back to your home.**

“That sounds like it should work. When do you want to try that?” I let the shampoo stay in my hair while I got the soap and cleaned my body. 

**How about today? It’s Friday here, so even if I experience time parity while traveling like you’ve been having when you come here, I can afford to be away until late Saturday night or even Sunday morning.**

I rinsed off the soap and then rinsed the shampoo out of my hair. Then I decided to shave because my face was feeling a bit fuzzy. As I opened the shaving cream container I said, “That sounds like a great idea! You could meet my family and have Shabbat dinner with us.”

As soon as I said it I wondered if that was too much too soon. Then I remembered that the first person he introduced me to in his world was the niece that he’d raised since she was 4 years old. She was basically his daughter. He introduced me to his family right off the bat. I was glad that he no longer could hear or sense my self doubt unless I actively projected it to him. 

**That would be absolutely lovely,** he responded while I was busy fretting.

I cut my lip. “I am so bad at shaving my face. I didn’t think it would be harder than shaving legs or armpits, but it is. It’s a whole different thing.” 

**Would you like some help?**

“Yeah, could you just shave for me?” I joked.

**If you let me drive I can.**

“Oh! Yeah. Why didn’t I think of that?”

I sort of mentally moved aside and let him take over control of my body. His years of experience made for a much more comfortable shave.

**Weren’t you lamenting about not having facial hair before? Why are you shaving it all off?** He asked as he finished up.

**Yeah, I want facial hair, but right now all I have is pathetic peach fuzz. For a while I was leaving the mustache area unshaven, but it just looked silly for a middle aged man to have nearly transparent fuzz on his lip. Not a good look.**

Morrison laughed. **Oh, I get that. Don’t worry. It will grow in darker over time. How long have you been taking testosterone?**

**A little over a year.**

**Oh, so you are at the 14 year old boy stage of puberty now. Peach fuzz is to be expected, my dear.**

**Urrrgggghhhh!!! But it’s not fair! Some trans guys get good facial hair within just a few months of starting T!**

**And some guys just have to be a little more patient.** He rinsed off the razor and put it back where it came from on the shower caddy. Then he kissed the palm of my hand. We both laughed at that, because it was kinda weird but also made perfect sense under the circumstances. 

Morrison returned control of the body back to me and I gave myself one final rinse before turning off the water. I stepped out of the shower onto the towel I’d laid there a couple days ago so I wouldn’t have to stand on the cold floor in bare feet. I reached over for my bath towel that was hanging from a hook on the wall across from the shower and put it over my head. I dried my hair first so that water wouldn’t drip down to the rest of my body, and then I dried the rest of myself before putting the boxer briefs and bra back on. I headed back to my room and went into the closet to find fresh clothes. I picked out a new pair of cargo pants and then grabbed the perfect t-shirt for the mood I was in. 

Morrison was watching the world through my eyes of course, and I was pleased that he found my shirt amusing, too. **Oh, that is great! “Tikkun Olam Motherfuckers” is exactly the statement of the day.**

“Thank you. Honestly, I wish I could go picket in front of the Supreme Court wearing this shirt right now, and holding a big angry protest sign. But alas, that’s much too far to walk today. And besides, none of the conservative numb skulls would even comprehend what it means to repair the world or why that might be relevant to their horrible decision”

I started to pull my binder on over the stretchy bra, but I had to lay down on my bed so that my oversized chest melons would squish down enough to put it on properly. Once my binder was on and smoothed out, I put on the black t-shirt and cargo pants. I pulled the belt off the pants I’d been wearing before and put it onto the new pants. Then I switched everything from the old pockets to the new pockets. 

I went to my tiny kitchen to fix myself a grilled cheese sandwich and a can of tomato soup. Usually this would be a cold weather kind of lunch, but it felt like comfort food right now. I ate it and chatted idly with Morrison about a random assortment of things and Doug sat at my feet staring up hopefully for some treats off the table. I never feed him treats at the table, but no matter how hard I try to stop the grandkids from feeding him, they always do. So he waited and hoped, but no treats came until I was done with my lunch. I stood up and walked over by the sink. I put the plate that the sandwich was on into the sink, but I put the bowl down on the floor. Doug knew what that meant and he wagged his tail vigorously in anticipation. 

“Sit” I commanded as I gave the hand gesture for the command. He sat and stared at me, waiting. “OK. Break.” As soon as I gave him the release word, Doug buried his face in the bowl and licked all the leftover soup off it.

When Doug was done, I picked up the bowl and washed it together with the spoon and plate, then dried them and put them back in the cupboard. 

I returned to my bedroom to put on socks, and then headed to the door to put on my shoes. Doug sat expectantly next to the door. He’d heard that we were going for a walk, so he knew what was coming next. I pulled his harness and leash off the hook on the wall next to the door. Doug looked up at me so that I could put the harness over his head, then he waited while I buckled up the sides around his body. 

I opened the door and he walked out the door and waited for me just past the welcome mat. I double checked to make sure I had keys in my pocket, and then pulled the door shut. I checked to make sure the door was locked. Then I walked to the gate in the fence and headed out onto the street. There’s about a block with no sidewalk and then we have to cross the street anyway, so I just walked in the middle of the empty street moving diagonally across instead of crossing at the corner.

As we walked, Morrison and I kept talking, only now that we were in public I didn’t respond out loud. 

**So, when you come home – I mean to my world – tonight, it would be good for you to spend some time with Miri before we come back here. Not only can she help us understand a little more about the relationship between your ‘verse and ours, she also knows an awful lot about civil protest organizing. You two can swap stories and she might be able to help you think about ways you can do something without having to travel. I know that it’s harder to get attention for activism about national causes in a rural area like yours, but it’s not impossible. Miri has a lot of good experience in that area along with her academic creds.**

**OK. I will do that. I didn’t check her office hours schedule, unfortunately, so I’m not sure when is best to go talk to her,** I responded.

**On Fridays everyone stops working by noon except the food service, medical, and security teams. I’d say it’s best to try her office at 10am. I think her only class on Fridays is an 8 to 9:30 class in the morning.

**Another person who is really good to talk to is Jackson. They have organized pretty extensively here in New York state. When they aren’t here, they stay at their parents’ farm upstate, and I know that they’ve done a lot of social justice organizing in the small town near there. They’ve organized and taught a lot of civil conflict classes, too, so I know that they’ll have good information and ideas to share.

**They’ll almost certainly be in the foyer when you arrive if you show up any time between 6 and 10 in the morning, and you can schedule a time with them then.**

**Thanks,** I replied. **That’s helpful. But also, I need to figure out how to meet people around here. Churches are a big social thing around here. I know the folks in my synagogue, but we’re a much smaller community than I think any of the churches are. Where else do you meet people? I mean, even in normal times I don’t know how I would meet people here in town. Right now with the pandemic, I’m not exactly eager to be indoors with a bunch of people anywhere. We have reached the stage of this thing where people figure that 400 people dying every day in our country isn’t so bad and there’s no reason to wear masks or take precautions any more.** 

**So, just a couple of plane loads of people per day is an OK thing?** Morrison asked incredulously.

**The economy needs us all to go back to the office, back to concerts, back to massive conferences! We need to eat out and drink in pubs! If we don’t, you know what will happen?**

**Let me guess.** Morrison knew how to play this game. **Some rich people will be sad?**

**Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! You guessed it! And your prize today is…** I gave a long pause for effect. **A trip to the ICU for intubation! Yes, that’s right, my friends. It’s not just for people with asthma and emphysema anymore. You can even get intubated just days after your last marathon race where you caught Covid 19!**

**So, where’s your mask?** He asked. In my mind's eye I could see him raising his eyebrows at me and giving me a bit of side-eye.

I reached into my left front pocket and pulled out one N95 disposable mask then I put it back in my pocket. **Right now we are outside and not near any people. If I go indoors or if I’m outdoors but in close proximity to other people for more than the time it takes to walk past each other, the mask goes on.**

**OK. Good.** He relaxed a bit. **What was it like when this all started?**

**Oh, wow! Uhhh… Where to begin? We had a president who was completely unqualified for the task at hand surrounded by a bunch of other people who were unqualified to do much of anything who kept getting in the way of the people who actually were highly qualified and knew what the heck to do. The most qualified person brought in to help lead the efforts to protect the public from the pandemic and also communicate what scientists knew when and as they got that information was also stuck in a horrible situation where the president and his party were constantly saying the exact opposite things, and the right wing media got pretty vile about it. Oh, and also, there had been a whole organization in the government intended to prepare for and address the next pandemic when it hit. The president who was in charge when the pandemic hit was also the president who disbanded that organization as one of the earliest acts of his presidency.

**And that was the political backdrop as we watched this thing go from a strange new virus that was killing people in Wuhan, China to a pandemic that was forcing entire countries across Asia and then Europe to close their borders and then quarantine everyone inside their borders. 

**We thought that if we all stayed indoors for 2 weeks, maybe a month, that the whole thing would go away. But the thing is, you can’t actually keep everyone indoors for even a single day. People have to go out to buy food, to go to the doctor, to do essential jobs that you can’t just do from home on the computer. Some countries addressed that by having as few people outside as possible and arranging for food deliveries to everyone who wasn’t allowed out of their homes. Some countries just kind of shrugged and said, “We’ll just get to herd immunity when enough people have gotten sick.” But, whoops! Having the disease once does not give you immunity from getting it again. The US had a whole patchwork of different approaches, from state to state and sometimes even from county to county within states. Some cities made stricter rules than their state or county, but then some states passed laws saying that cities were not allowed to have stricter rules about the pandemic.

**And one thing that I learned from this pandemic is that a very large number of people would actually go out to dinner with their best friend who is now a zombie and think nothing of the fact that they were actually on the menu, because we just really need to hang out with our friends again, you know?**

Morrison laughed at that. 

**Oh, sure. Laugh away. It’s hilarious if it’s fiction. I mean, really, the whole thing could make a really great comedy movie if you look at it from just the right angle. Unfortunately, it’s actual life here.**

**So, you are telling me that the answer to “What would we be doing if we lived in Europe during the Black Death?” is probably, “Organizing a community dance festival after two weeks of quarantine.”**

**Yes. That is exactly what I am telling you. I never ever would have believed that people would be as dumb as they’ve been throughout this, or how little they would care about the most vulnerable people. If a Boeing 747 was falling out of the sky once per day, we’d ground all flights until the problem was fixed. Or at least I used to think we would. Now I suspect that they’d just resume flights after a month or two because the economy really needs people to be able to travel.**

**I’ll be honest. I can imagine something similar would happen in my world. There are powerful people who care mostly about how much money they can accumulate and only secondarily about their own health and wellbeing. The health and wellbeing of any one else isn’t even on their radar. This thing that we call Capitalism doesn’t look much like what they teach in Econ 101, and its most significant impact is that it devours everything in an attempt to turn it all into money. People? Work them as long and as hard as you can, pay them as little as you can, make as much money as you can out of them. Trees? Take care of them only as much as absolutely necessary to make sure you can cut as many down as possible and turn them into money. Air? Who needs that?! It too can be turned into money, especially if you make the stuff that comes naturally on this planet as poisonous as possible while you are turning coal and oil and metals and all variety of chemicals into money.**

**You were born just a few years after the Great Flu Pandemic. Did they have that in your ‘verse?** I asked.

**Oh, yeah. I didn’t actually learn about it until I was in graduate school, though. It wasn’t even covered in the regular medical school curriculum. It was part of a public health course I took as an elective,** He responded.

**So, it got about as much attention there as it did here, I guess. There’s been a lot of talk about how that pandemic resulted in new standards for public health all over the world, but that it also was highly politicized as it was happening.**

**Honestly, I learned more about the public health standards that came out of it than I did about the politicization. Though, I do know that the US government kept a lid on it for a long time and even purposely undercounted cases and deaths because they didn’t want people to panic. I’ve never understood that kind of governmental thinking. It’s just bad leadership,** He said.

**Right? How do you think the Crows would have dealt with Covid if it happened in your world?**

**Oh, boy! I mean, I can optimistically say that I believe that most Crow cooperatives would have voted to delegate important decision making around the public health protections to the most qualified doctors and scientists within the community, and that those people would be expected to stay on top of the science that was coming out across the globe in order to make the best decisions. There would be a lot of economic issues that would need to be managed, too, though, and it would be interesting to simulate how that would work out in and across the cooperatives.

**It does take a lot of people to maintain the food supply, access to medicine and healthcare, electricity and internet access. Keeping them safe while making sure that everyone had what they needed to survive while in quarantine would be vital in those early days. I imagine that we’d be doing a lot of testing, and probably work out some sort of rotation for people doing those essential jobs so that we could reduce burnout as much as possible while also keeping the number of individuals in the highest risk situations down to a minimum.

**One thing that would absolutely happen across the cooperatives is that we’d all be keeping a close eye on how the other coops handled things and what their results were. There would be internal pushes within cooperatives to copy those that had the best outcomes. That’s what tends to happen with any major issue. There is usually a lot of variation in approaches in the early days of a new challenge coming up, and then over time more and more of the coops copy the most successful groups, until eventually we’re all doing very similar things with only a few variables that represent differing priorities or environmental factors.**

That made me curious. **Do people get upset when their coop copies another coop that they don’t agree with on other matters?**

**No, because the consent principle means that no coop can do anything without the consent of its members. When a group comes to an absolute stalemate where two or more sides can’t find any solution that they all consent to, they split up until the stalemate can be resolved. There is a system-wide policy for how to handle splits among coops, so that those details don’t become a battleground when emotions are running high after a big disagreement. It’s designed so that no one will walk away from a split unable to house and feed themselves, and everyone will still have access to medical care and other basic needs as long as they are part of the wider system of cooperatives,** He explained.

**How do you guys manage that, though? How do you have enough resources to make sure everyone is fed, housed, provided healthcare, and provided the accommodations they need to live.**

**Well, that’s a long discussion. Literally, we have an entire degree program on cooperative governance and management just so that we have experts who know all the ins and outs of not only how we do things presently, but what other options there are in the history of the world in case we need to do some innovating. The people who graduate from that program serve as walking encyclopedias in addition to whatever other job they hold. They are often librarians or teachers, but sometimes they do administrative work of some kind. Sometimes they do something completely different as their main job, but they are available for consultation when needed by individuals or committees.

**The short answer is that in the early days it was very hard, but it isn’t hard forever. It takes some catalyst to fundraise enough to get over the infrastructural hump to make it all work in the beginning. You need to gather enough supplies for the time before you are, as a community, making enough stuff to either distribute internally or sell externally for money to buy things to distribute. You also need to build or acquire the infrastructure to be able to make new things  to distribute and/or sell. When the community grows past a certain point, we have to stop and have a meeting of delegates from across the coops to make decisions about the next round of improvements to the overall system and how we will fund them. 

**Now that we are well established, though, we have enough of almost everything across the different coops that we can trade from group to group, location to location, to cover everyone’s needs. We all agree not to request more of anything that we need to cover our own cooperative. If there is surplus beyond a necessary safety net, it gets donated into the larger pool of resources to take care of groups who are unable to cover their own needs through trade either because they are too new or because of some other unforeseen event. Every coop sells a percentage of the surplus of the stuff they make or services they provide to the outside world so that they have money to buy anything that isn’t produced anywhere within the larger cooperative network. If one coop wants to sell products from another coop, they can only sell from that salable surplus, and they must trade with the producing coop to get the products they want to sell. Those trades can be in kind or money based, according to the needs of the coops that are doing the trading.

**At this point we have such a variety of different economic activities that we are practically a state-level actor in the global economy. A relatively small state with just a few million people, sure, but a state nonetheless. For comparison, globally we have more members than New Zealand has citizens.**

**Do you have your own logistics cooperatives, too?** I asked because that would be a pretty important piece in all this trade.

**Absolutely! There are trucking coops, a shipping coop, and one smallish air freight coop. The air freight coop has a few planes, and they are experimenting with dirigibles for air transport. Slower than planes, but faster than trucks, and much more environmentally friendly than either. However, like other things that we sometimes have to get from outside sources, we will contract with Union run logistics organizations any time we can’t cover the need within our cooperative ecosystem.**

**When you talk about everyone agreeing not to take more than they need, how do you decide what a coop, a family, or a person needs?** I asked because this is one of those sticky problems that people get so upset about, and that nearly always end up with people not getting enough, in my experience.

**When it comes to the macro scale, we trust coops to be honest in their accounting and their requests from others, whether that's in a trade or a request for donations. On the micro scale, each coop decides for itself through its own governance mechanisms how individual or family needs are decided as well as how the communal needs are agreed upon. Most coops are under 200 people, so everyone at least knows everyone else’s face if not their name, and people have more empathy for people that they know personally and consider part of their community, so they tend to do a good job of making sure that no one is left in dire need. In bigger coops, like ours at the Bet Shalom Building, there are usually sub-coops or some other kind of smaller unit within the organization that makes its own decisions.**

As Morrison explained all this to me, I was also thinking about the experiences I’d had with cooperatives. Some were really good experiences, like the time I spent at the Ravenna Kibbutz in Seattle, but that housing coop fell apart because we lost the three houses we were renting one after the other in quick succession as the landlords sold the properties. We tried, but we were unable to raise enough funds to buy even one of the buildings. Another cooperative I was involved in was a worker-owned tech company that kind of imploded over issues of personal friction. That one left me angry and hurt. The idea of managing to build and maintain such a large system of cooperatives felt absolutely overwhelming. Someone had done it, though, even if they were fictional from the perspective of my reality, so I believed it had to be possible. 

Of course, there are functional cooperatives in our world, too. The one that gets the most attention is the Mondragon worker cooperative in Spain. They have a university, factories that build everything from furniture to appliances, and service oriented businesses as well. They aren’t perfect, but they’ve lasted for a long time and continue to have success. There are actually many types of cooperatives in our world. Housing cooperatives. Medical cooperatives. Cooperative grocery stores. Some are worker-owned. Some are owned by the customers. There are some that are hybrids of worker and customer owned.

It seems like the Crows’ cooperative set up is essentially a hybrid system, because most of the businesses are serving the members of the cooperatives, and the framework for negotiations is collectivized in both directions in those situations. 

**So, all that voting and deciding and figuring stuff out together translates to a lot of meetings and a lot of politics. How do you get people to stay engaged in that over the long term instead of leaving it to a few people who really like to leverage power?** I asked.

**In the experience of the Crows’ collectives, people get involved and stay involved under two conditions. 1. They need to feel like their involvement actually has an impact on their daily lives, and 2. They need to have enough time in their life to put energy into the process. If someone is being completely burnt out by the work that they do for their livelihood, they don’t have time for politics. Also, if the time spent in meetings feels wasted, no one is going to want to be involved. So, one of the first things that any coop has to do is figure out what the right balance of livelihood work hours to cooperative decision making hours will keep everyone happy and healthy. That also means that other needs have to be taken care of, like childcare, time for medical appointments, and other basic tasks to maintain life. 

**We have also set up trainings in how to manage meetings so that they are more manageable. There are a few different approaches that appeal to different people, so that can also be a deciding factor for a person who is looking for a cooperative to join. Does this group handle business with long meetings that cover lots of different issues or do they schedule many different shorter meetings, each addressing just one thing or a couple of related things? The smallest groups often make all their decisions together, but some choose to vote for individuals to make all the decisions in a given area of interest. In a big coop like at the Bet Shalom House, each of the residential units sends representatives to the various decision making meetings. This often means that a decision takes at least two, more often three or four meetings, before a final decision is made as information is shared back to the residential units where the people in each group can agree on what they would like to see happen and what the boundaries of their consent might be. When it comes to making decisions where highly specialized knowledge is required, some of the residential units just vote for the most qualified person to represent them on that specific issue and they trust that they vote with the best interests of the community in mind. Other residential units will spend hours learning the ins and outs of every single issue so that they can have a solid joint decision that their representative can take back to the House-wide meeting, along with all the talking points and reasoning that the group would want to share with other residential units who are not yet in agreement with them.**

**So, in effect, each residential unit is a sub-coop?** I asked.

**Yes, precisely. There are also job-related sub-coops, but they function a little differently. You can belong to more than one sub-coop, but on issues relating to the entire community in the building, the decisions are made through the residential units. The job-related sub-coops tend to bring up issues to the full community that are related to their specific area, but the final decisions are made through the residential unit representation process. This can sometimes look a bit like a union negotiating with management, but we’ve never once had a strike, thank goodness! I think that’s mostly because of how everyone is reminded constantly about the ways that we are all working for the same end goals.

**If the laundry crew comes and says, “Hey, we don’t have enough people and the work is overwhelming us. We need more help,” no one says, “Just work harder.” We all want a decent life, and we all want clean clothes. If one team is getting overworked and underappreciated, then the same thing could happen to any other team. So we have to figure out how to meet the needs of the laundry crew in a way that everyone can be happy** He explained.

**What residential unit am I a part of?**

**Officially, you aren’t in any residential unit right now. You are technically a guest in the Old Wing Apartments. In order to move from being a guest to being a voting member of the unit, you would have to attend meetings for at least three months and then request membership in the unit. If you were rejected from membership, you could choose to continue to live there as a non-voting guest or you could seek out another residential unit that has available space and where you are a better fit.

**Normally, a new resident would be going to meetings at lots of different residential units to get to know people during their first few weeks or months so that they could decide where they wanted to settle in. Your situation was a bit different, though. I wanted you to have a place to land when you are in our world, but it wasn’t clear how much time you’d be spending in our world and whether you would need more than a place to keep some stuff and maybe visit with friends. The Old Wing Apartments are the easiest to get to from the Shaman’s Door in the foyer, so I asked them if you could take one of their open one bedroom apartments. As I’m sure you guessed, they said yes.**

**You coulda just given me a studio, you know. I don’t have much stuff, and it feels a bit wasteful to have such a nice place just to hold stuff in it.**

Morrison smiled, amused at my naivete. **We don’t have any studio apartments. One bedroom is the smallest single-occupancy space. A lot of people live in shared houses, where they have one bedroom plus the use of all the common space, but that wouldn’t work for someone who wasn’t going to be around for meetings. Each one has its own rules about stuff like shared housework and all that, and most of them have group dinners or other shared activities on a regular basis. Just using a bedroom in a place like that if you don’t already have an established relationship with the other residents is a fast track to annoyance and disagreements. I think this was the best choice.**

**But, it’s like a crazy luxury apartment! That bathroom looks like it could be in a mansion, and I don’t mean a cheap knock off McMansion. Even the counter in the bathroom is insane craftsmanship!**

Morrison laughed a little. **Yeah. That’s pretty much how all the housing is. Everything is made by members of one of the coops, either here or in the larger collective. It’s all been acquired through trades of one sort or another. Funny thing: When you let people do the work that they love to do, you end up with higher quality stuff. There is no fast fashion or cheap construction. At least not for long. Anything that starts out with the cheapest alternative from the outside economy gets swapped out for better stuff as the coop trades within the larger collective. That’s one of the perks of the Crow economy.**

**That explains why there’s so much linen clothing around the coop.** 

**Oh, no. That’s not linen.** Morrison corrected me. **That’s nettle cloth. Believe it or not, stinging nettle makes fantastic fiber. The first part of the processing takes away all the stinginess of it, and the rest is just like making linen fiber. And since stinging nettle grows so easily in so many places, it’s a cheap alternative that’s easy to farm.**

I had to laugh at that. **Oh, my God. I love stinging nettle tea. I never would have thought of making clothes from it, though!**

**Mm.. Nettle is good stuff. It’s used for food, medicine, and fiber.**

**Do you have hemp clothes, too?** I asked.

**Not in the US. It’s illegal to grow.**

**Still?!** I was surprised by that. **In my world, the US allows hemp fiber now, and some states have even made recreational use of cannabis legal.** 

**Ah-ha! We have found a thing that is better in your world than in mine!**

We both laughed.

**Well, I mean, there’s also the part where my ‘verse doesn’t suffer from collisions with other dimensions that rip the fabric of reality.**

**Are you sure about that?** Morrison raised one eyebrow at me like he didn’t believe that was likely. 

**I’m pretty sure. Things would get a whole lot weirder if they did.**

**Maybe it’s just more subtle where you are. Maybe you are just walking along in your normal life and suddenly you are absolutely certain that a completely different building was on this corner just yesterday. Or maybe you remember facts about the past, but when you look them up you find out they are completely wrong. That book has a different title. Someone you thought was dead is actually alive, or vice versa. You might not see giant tears in reality or dragons flying through your city, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any dimensional collisions affecting your reality.**

**Eeps. I’ll have to think about that.** I didn’t want to mention The Mandela Effect. I’m pretty sure that whole thing can be explained by the imperfections of memory. Some things are easy to confuse over time. Then again, maybe Morrison’s explanation is the right one. I’d rather it just be faulty human minds.

We came around the last corner back to my house. Doug was pulling me towards the house already, as excited to be back home as he was to go out on a walk. I didn’t want to stop hanging out with Morrison, but I had another class starting in a few minutes. I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check the time. I had 10 minutes.

**I gotta hurry up and get to my next class.** I said as we reached the gate.

**Are you feeling a little better?** Morrison asked. I could feel something like the ghost of him putting his hand on my shoulder as he spoke.

**Yeah. I’m still upset and very unsure of what to do next, but I feel a bit more grounded for the moment, at least.**

**And you have some assignments.**

**To speak to Miri and Jackson.** I nodded.

**Yes. And I’ll give you another one. Come have breakfast with Sandy and me in my morning. Can you arrive about 7am?**

**I can do that.** 

**Great! The cafeteria is doing waffles with fruit toppings tomorrow. I love waffles. And fruit.** He was grinning really big as he finished that last bit. I grinned right back as I realized that the invitation was at least in part so that I could make those waffles edible for him.

**I love you, and I also love waffles and fruit. Sandy is pretty ok, as grown up kids go. I’ll see you there.** I said as we stepped back into my place.

**OK, study hard, and I’ll see you soon.** 

I felt him kiss the top of my head and then he was gone.