Who's moving in?
Svanholm is a wonderful place - no doubt about that. But it's certainly not a paradise without conflicts where you can float on a pink cloud while the angels scratch your back.
There are always a lot of things to deal with and a lot of decisions to make.
Through heaven's door
Neither is it a place where everyone can slip through heaven's door. There's no Saint Peter here with a big key, but still there are some written and unwritten rules about whom we can and want to accept in our community. Because of our big debt to the bank, we cannot accept people who would be too big a financial burden to the collective. Such as people who have a big debt, people who are under education or in any other way can't guarantee a reasonable level of income. Another reason for rejection could be that they take up too much space. Generally we have decided to reject single parents with more than one child, because they take up too much space in relation to the amount of income we can expect from the adult. Another rule is that a member of Svanholm must be able to speak danish.
For outsiders such rules might sound pretty incomprehensible, almost cynical, and our rules are regularly subject to discussions at Svanholm. For many people it is hard to accept, that financial considerations so often weigh more than other things. But then again, our system is not that rigid. We do choose to break our own rules, if arguments for it are good enough.
We've had to realize that good intentions are not enough. That it's better to reject some people straight away in stead of them having to go through a long and painful process leading to failure, because we don't have the abilities and possibilities to help them. We often think about whether Svanholm has a moral duty to be open to people with severe problems. Maybe some day we'll manage to create a system within the System, with the kind of structure, network and control, needed by people with less self-help skills.
On the other hand Svanholm is a good place to be for people with all sorts of problems, who can manage to take care of themselves. This could be people who, for some reason, don't really fit-in "out-there in the big world", but find a place at Svanholm where their oddities are not that odd and where there's a need for them because there's always a need for an extra pair of hands.
Throughout the years we've seen a lot of people blossom here - people who have been able to use the kind of "training" cur practice of self-government provides to grow.
We definitely don't all belong to the category "psychologically perfectly in balance". We have as many personal problems as anyone else does, some of them caused by the fact that we haven't received that much training in living close together with so many people. It can be hard to draw a line where the "me" ends and the collective starts. And to consolidate this line towards fellow members who forget to respect your borders or have them in completely different places.
In for a change
Of course we have some mechanisms that - intentional or not - counteract the problems that may arise from being part of the collective. If you and your home mates turn out to be a bad combination, if you're not satisfied with your room or if you're simply one of those who's always in for a change, you might get the possibility to move to another living group. If you feel the need for a bigger distance between you and the action, you can choose to live in one of the houses which are at a few miles distance from the estate, if there's an empty room and an acceptant living group. It's a big advantage to be able to move around within the collective like that, instead of having to wave everyone good bye after a big conflict, as might be the case in smaller communities and collectives.
There's also the possibility to move around in Svanholm's local labour market. If you're tired of working in the woodwork factory, there might be a pair of hands needed in the communal kitchen. If you're fed up sorting and packing vegetables, an empty chair might be waiting for you in the accountancy office. Of course these changes can't be made too spontaneously and it's a minority of people who use the option of changing. But, those who feel the need can give it a try and test another side of themselves. By being open to such changes we also try to prevent the dissatisfaction of a person on the wrong shelf. The disadvantage is a quick turnover where a lot of energy is spent on putting new people up to the ropes.