Jul
08
2012

Thoughts on Collectives

The other week I got my official rejection letter from the Clever Girls Collective.  I honestly was expecting it as my anti-brand, radical, and old skool internet vibe didn’t seem up their alley.  Their whole concept was just too amusing to pass up.  So I applied for membership in jest, and if accepted probably would have had some fun with it.  Doesn’t matter if I’m getting a bonus to do a review, I’m still gonna be honest.

The source of my amusement lay in the Clever Girls calling themselves a collective.  A collective is typically noted by being a group where each member puts the group before individual efforts.  Collectives also tend to be anti-corporate and anti-capitalism.  Having been a member of work collective/infoshop for three years of my life the Clever Girls don’t meet my definition of collectivism.

  1. There are senior members, and each have an extensive bio page on the website.  Collectives put the group before individual efforts, anything I did in my collective belonged to the group, not to me.  That’s kind of the point of collectives.  Even better, senior members (who all have ranking titles) get links and bios off the main website, but the other members get no reciprocal linking.  The group is highly hierarchical.
  2. Collectives have traditionally been seen as an alternative structure, seeking alternatives to capitalism.  Clever Girls are a group of social media brand promoters.  There also doesn’t appear to be any theme to contracts they accept.  I could see maintaining a collective that promoted green products, or cruelty free products.  However, a mix of video games, American cars, clothes, and Cheerios.  They do tend to lean towards healthy, and green options.  Though on the corporate level, most of these efforts are consolatory, and are done to appease trends in popular culture.

While the radical definition of collectives is not the only one, it’s the one that matters to me, and I try to protect the word.  There has been a trend of groups like this tacking this work onto their name to sound clever.  Anytime a socially recognized term is co-opted it loses power.  Wikipedia also tends to agree with me regarding the libertarian-socialist leanings in the definition of collectives.  Though no surprise there as Wikipedia could easily be characterized as a collective 😉

My news from clever girls also had amazing timing as I was spotted and recognized from the time in my collective seemingly every time I was in public the past few weeks.  People remembering me from behind the coffee bar always felt good to me, it’s nice to be remembered as a person when pulling for the team.  Especially four years since I had been a member. My old shop is still growing strong, and I remain proud of my part in it.  I also recognize my part was small, the beauty of collectives is how all decisions end with 100% agreement of members in the group.  Consensus is a beautiful thing.

Some of my favorite collectives:

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