Because it Takes a Whole Village
It was a sunny winter day
The participants sat down at a table across the street from the Glen Ellen Lodge. Several participants were given erroneous information as to the meeting from an employee of the Bistro Cafe.
There were 9 participants in all
Arlie, Antony, Bacci, Larry, Marcello, Mary, Perry, Sharane, and T. Larry is the recorderof the notes and moderator of the meeting, and asks that any errors in spelling of names or representation and inclusion of information be excused as unintentional, and be brought to his attention if necessary.
The meeting was started
with a passing around of the opportunity to introduce oneself. Antony, a Sonoma local had just found out about the project a few days ago from a friend who learned of it on the internet.
Antony has architectural training
with an interest in designing villages. He related the story of how he had worked for many years in Portugal on a project to renovate an abandoned village. Unfortunately the project did not reach completion, and Antony offered cautions that he had learned from this.
Antony felt that he might
not have the energy to embark on another community project at this time and that he was hoping to find a more established community, but that he was interested in the Eden Project and would like to learn more and follow the projects progress.
Sharane is a long time
Mendocino resident, having been in the county for 27 years. She is part of life a systems analyst and another part healer. She has experience in conflict resolution management, growing of organic medicinal herbs, involvement in the Round Valley Indian Community and other communities, and a strong interest/desire for a diverse inclusionary form of community.
Mary, attended the meeting
as a supportive companion for Sharane. She is a long time resident of the community of Monen's Ril, which has been established for 27 years and has 33 members. Mary suggested that a good way for people interested in the Eden Project to proceed is to visit established communities, and see what about them has enabled them to remain established.
Bacci, at present
a resident of Oakland, was attending a meeting for the first time. I infer that he found out about the project from the internet where he has introduced himself, and has reviewed the archived emails from the email group. He has experience in construction and is very interested in spirituality and ecology and believes them to be very connected. He has helped establish and is part of a local community with drum circle ritual.
Perry is a San Francisco
resident who has abandoned an "opportunity" to drive in circles around his neighborhood and city, in favor of pursuing community and rural lifestyle.
T is a rural resident
of the Sonoma high country. T thought that people whom he has communicated with over the internet might think that computers are a large part of his life. But really he has only become involved with computers and the internet for recent times, and likes to spend most of his time off the grid enjoying the land and the trees and the natural world.
T conceived of the Eden Project
as part of his desire to help create a form where he and others of like mind could enjoy the land and its life within a supportive community.
Arlie, has attended previous meetings
where she has introduced herself more completely. She lives in residential Sonoma. She feels that at this point in her life she is focused more on materialism than spirituality, but with the vision of building an earth ship home and living close to the land.
Marcello has been nomadic
in Northern California, although not by choice, and is currently residing in the East Bay. He comes from a suburban background. For sometime he could not understand why the suburban way didn't seem right, but he has realized that it is the separateness from one's neighbors that is a big part of that.
Marcello has activist experience
but he is now channelling that energy away from tearing down what is wrong to building a model of what is right. He has experience with being part of purpose groups and their workings and structure. He offered to pass along some representative documents of what some of those workings were. Marcello is planning some trips to established communities and is considering settling at one in the Ojai area.
Larry is currently
residing in Mill Valley and has been interested in the Eden Project for several years. To him it has seemed like the best idea for forming a community that he has encountered, even though from its inherent large scope it may be the 'longest shot'.
He is not sure whether he and family
will be able to live there on a permanent basis (although he hopes) but feels that involvement with the establishing of the Eden Project is a spiritually fulfilling process. During the meeting several resources were suggested:
-Always Coming Home by Ursula Leguin
The setting of the book is Northern California, and it relates to community and nature. (Sharane)
-Gaviotas by Alan Weisman
This book tells the story of what maybe one of the most successful eco-communities that has been recently established. The community is in Colombia. They plant millions of trees a year. (Perry)
- Humanities Next Greatest Adventure by Daniel Quinn. Although at first hard to believe, after some reading the thoughts become believable. A basic message is that one doesn't have to tear down what is wrong, just come up with something better. (Marcello)
-Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
A Sonoma community offering many educational opportunities in Permaculture and other related topics. oaec.org (T)
-Communities Magazine and ic.org
A central website for the intentional communities movement. (T)
-Permaculture Credit Union
A newly formed credit Union. An ethical and central place for people interested in permaculture and communities to save money. Access at pcuonline.org. (Larry)
As a model for community on a consensual basis. (Sharane)
of Tom Atley. Access via web search for co-intelligence. (Marcello) At some point pastries were broken all partook in substance or in spirit.
Sharane came up with
a very interesting consideration. She has found through experience that it is important to consider what one's deepest needs are in a potential community, and whether they resonate with the deepest needs of other potential members of a community. If one's deepest needs are not compatible then it is likely that one will not be able to endure as part of the community.
Larry suggested that
the participants each take a turn at expressing what their deepest needs (in relation to the community) might be.
He felt the needs could relate to
the initial establishment of the project and also to when the community came into existence.
Anthony felt the need for
a solid clear plan especially as regards to the land needing to be acquired and the planned use for it to be approved by regulatory authorities.
Marcello felt that
organizational structure was a deep need, such as 501c3 status, trust accounts, the various levels of organization to maintain such things, and to attract people to work with these.
Arlie felt that for her
organizational structure, particularly as relates to the way issues like succession of the land rights would be handled. She also felt that the project needed to move forward in the next few years as regards the acquisition of land.
Perry felt that there needed to be
more clarity in communication as to what is reality and what is in a state of development, so that people don't get alienated by misperceptions. Personally, his deepest need is a sense of community.
Bacci let go with a volume of needs
First he needs to be with people that are aware that there is a global crisis of deficiency in spirituality, community, and ecology. These aspects are like the need for a three legged stool to give stability.
Second was the need of land for people to fulfill these needs.
Third was an organizational structure so that he could personally find the niche where he would best fit. He has a need for that organizational structure to be documented and accessible.
Fourth he has a need for the community to be a model and to educate (from an ecovillage scene) in a way to offer 'reconsciousing to the mainstream', so it could not be inwardly focused in hiding or escaping.
Fifth he needs to be part of a community of conscious people with common spiritual interests - a common spiritual planetary vision.
Sixth he has a need for appropriate technology.
Seven he has a need for beauty in the form of an aesthetic, healing, nurturing environment where one can be creative and expressive - a vessel for love and inspiration.
Also Bacci felt he needed to educate himself more about community and things like permaculture that will be necessary for an ecovillage.
Sharane also felt a need
for organizational structure. She felt that the organizational structure was best managed on a consensual basis. She felt the need for a community of creative, heartfelt people. She also felt the need for an inclusionary approach that would foster diversity, such as offering a retreat center.
Larry felt that as the moderator
of this meeting, his deepest immediate need was to further promote discussion of the needs that were already presented many of which were resonant with his own needs. It seemed like there was wide support and agreement for the needs for a common vision of community, spirituality, and ecology.
There was further discussion
of the need for clarity of the presentation of the project, and the organizational structure for the development of the project. As it was discussed it became evident that the two were interrelated.
Perry suggested that a FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions) document be generated that would clearly state some of the basic status of the project.
T felt that the basic information
was being made publicly available in the form of the Eden Journal that has been widely distributed and the expanding website as time permits as well as the email discussion groups. Quite a lot of ground has been covered for those who really will do the digging.
T felt that there was
a certain amount of information available to the public and that only those who joined in with the work involved would be able to pursue it further o it was a matter of how it was approached.
If you approach this community in the right way you will be received in the right way. Otherwise who can say? We do want to see some signs of self determination on the part of any new member. And yet there needs to be a certain amount of willingness to accept what it is that they find here.
This led to the question of how
and who would be responsible for developing a document such as a FAQ or a "group mission statement" and the further development of organizational structure.
This bounced all over the place
But when T got a chance to speak he did say that there would be various layers of organizational structure that he is asking people to work more closely with him on.
One was the Eden WorkGroup, which could begin to act like a board of directors and the other is to join the Steward's Council.
Much has been written in the Journal. It's all a part of the emerging Mission Statement that can never be limited down to a little tiny paragraph or even a great big wall of words. Look at the problems we have had with the US Constitution.
Eden is still Going
and growing out of its own self. Eden is open ended. Eden is a living thing. Nothing is ever going to be absolute.
T said he was only here to serve and to honor. Big things take time to become fully understood, and some things were never meant to be penned in.
There is enough to work with so it's time for people to grant the organizer of this group the support he needs to do the work he is here to do so that he may continue to create and to shape this group into what it needs to become.
T said he does have a very clear vision for these meetings and for this project as a whole. We have all come here for different reasons.
We need to start asking people to put Eden First from now on instead of just their own personal needs and expectations.
All of the understandings about what can or cannot be done on the homesteads were just there to protect the integrity and the flow of the land.
It's not going to be about everybody having everything they want. That has to be understood.
If we do attract a few people who may want to talk a lot then they will first have to show some willingness to listen first and then to do a lot, because we are among those who must learn to value Deeds instead of Words, and that means proven commitments that can be counted and referred to, as completed projects, and not just empty promises or a lot of vague desires that may really be of no concern to us here in Eden.
From T: I have gotten a lot of criticism on this project and now you can see where some of this may be coming from. A lot of people aren't too comfortable with the realities of self sufficiency.
And that things are really going to be real in Eden is the first thing that comes up. What happened to the dream? Well the dream has become the reality as you might have expected from somebody who writes like this, and so that does require a big leap into the world of Truth.
There is something to be said for hearing from everybody as though it was all just up in the air. But it's not entirely like that.
There are a few understandings already in place as you can see, and that will help us all out a lot. Study this well. Then we can talk in a more meaningful way next time we meet among those who are more than just curious.
The stewards council would be the community's working consensus council.
I see this as comprising a minimum of 9 persons and a maximum of about 84 (the 84 corresponds to one representative from each planned homestead unit). Even that is a very large number of people. But this would be one way to set up a representative body of some of the most deeply committed members who have all made the Contribution Pledge.
The criteria for becoming a member of the Stewards Council would be to join in with the others or to stand out as one of the only people making a financial commitment (of $1500 or more) to the Seed Fund of the project.
That would put you on the council and that would assure your place in the Order of Progressions as the homesteads all get taken one by one until there are no more left to give out, and that goes up and up each time one goes down, so that is like a deposit on a homestead, and that will come right out of your down payment, so you will lose nothing.
Larry asked if other criteria could be considered.
T said that there are many other ways to show a deeper level of commitment to this project. But everything else is above and beyond all of that, like the attendance of meetings and strong positive involvement in the groups.
But there are many other ways you can show your complete support for this project, only there is no direct connection with any credit that would be given for that, since it is all presumed to be voluntarily provided unless otherwise arranged for in advance.
It's not like you would only want to do something in return for getting something. Here everything is to be given freely, but someone might stand up for you at council and sing a song about your many virtues or something.
People do need to come forward who are people who may want to be accepted as leaders in their own right and who can integrate into this project in a harmonious manner and will volunteer their time and energy to work for this project.
There is no real reason why others could not join in within the very heart of this work at the highest levels of involvement.
Eden comes first. We don't need a lot of people who are only looking for the deal of a lifetime, and who put the Vision of Eden last.
If it doesn't come from the Earth then we don't need it.
The 501c(3) is not what the vision of Eden is to be limited to being. That is only going to be a few choice words on paper.
Just as the chicken feed will be fed to the chickens, the paperwork will be fed to the paper eaters. We don't eat that. That is not fit to eat.
All the paperwork goes towards the same ends, just to satisfy legal requirements, and to protect us all from being picked apart by all the petty lawsuits that a lot of people have become enamored of.
This does require some financial commitments. But all of that comes right back to the Earth.
How does that figure?
Normally for a homestead that would be valued at one to three hundred thousand your property taxes might be from one to three thousand a year or more. And that is what the value of these homesteads really are going to be once they are fully completed, that we are getting for so little.
After thirty years you may have gotten that all back many times over on what you will save on taxes alone.
We are a service oriented community and an educationally oriented community. And we may even consider ourselves to be a bit of an EcoSpiritual Community to some extent as we begin to mature into the Vision of Eden which is To Save the Earth.
But we don't want to have to report back and account for every little thing we do which would be burdensome and unnecessary so we will choose the most optimal tax status possible to qualify for under the law which I believe will be very similar to the one used by Twin Oaks and a lot of other places.
It's not at all unusual
Much of this is already well understood. But people don't know how to understand their relationship to this project.
People aren't ready to follow where this is going as members of this community because of a serious personal identity crisis. And that has a lot to do with low self esteem.
People don't know who they are supposed to be anymore, and so they will try to revert back to who they used to be, and by doing that they will cut themselves right out of the very best thing they ever could have had because of pride.
This group needs to become a little bit tighter before we can go right to work on the next layer of Truth behind this project. I do have certain expectations about how I want this to go. And I do need people to remain open minded and accepting of the new ideas as they come on down the stream.
I need to know that I have your full and complete support not just a blank stare off into space as we have seen from some of the new members who have shown more of an interest in having it all now in an easy breezy fantasy dream of getting all this for nothing, but even less than the usual empty promises of love, that have never been real, but who have no conception of what it means to become fully self sufficient in community.
The understanding has to be clear. We do have to meet you and then we can talk about many things face to face. It cannot all be presented right here on the streets of the superhighway.
There are limits
Try to respect those limits. I don't need followers. But you should be able to demonstrate that you are willing to do so.
Otherwise you really do have to be able to show that you really are somebody who does have something very real to contribute to our overall success.
This is all so very Real
You can make it if you try. But you do have to be willing to try real hard and not give up too quick.
We all start from all different places. You probably don't have a place in Eden and you don't have any way of getting there. Not a real one. And you may not even be very clear about where everything stops and nothing begins since T is always moving the goal posts around.
Well you have so come to the right place to find out whether or not you have arrived or not. But first I would like to see some careful speaking and some considerate listening skills demonstrated with a great deal of loving kindness and grace and a great deal of generosity.
We will begin to make something out of nothing right here before your very eyes once they have been opened up a little bit. But you may have no right to have everything explained just yet, not as an uncommitted individual who may be here just sniffing about, and not as an uncommitted group either that may be looking to establish predominance through the power of numbers.
That will all come in its own time, once it has been earned. You may have not yet made it that far into this project.
We do have an account with the Permaculture Credit Union. #385. And you can make any deposits you would like to make into that account. And that is the only thing we really do need from you right now. We do need your support on every level.
Some may have come from a long way off. And that in some cases might be as far away as Findhorn in Scotland or Damanhur in Italy. But do come here prepared to accept whatever it is you see and don't keep trying to compare apples and oranges, because Eden is like a whole new kind of community that you may not be familiar with yet.
Later on maybe you can make some real contribution to this project. And these were some of the things that T was trying to say. But this meeting was coming to an end. It seemed like it was too much to form the backbone of a stewards council on the spot as the meeting had already been in session for over 2 hours and it felt like it was drawing to a close.
Arlie expressed the need
to see at least one tangible step come out of the meeting, and so T gave her a copy of the Eden Journal..
Larry proposed that some
sort of working group be formed to further work on issues that had been raised such as creating a FAQ and forming a board or council.
It was considered to create a separate email workgroup that would be called the EdenWorkGroup that could work on such issues.
The 'pro' was that things could be discussed among people who are beyond the initial introduction to the project without turning off or being inundated with too much information from those who are new to the project.
Larry felt that a 'con' was
That it would be creating layers of openness in the project. T and others felt that this was natural that at any time there would be some more and some less deeply involved in various aspects within the overall project.
In the End
There was no definite resolution to form a working group, but there was commitment to continue to work towards this at the next meeting. - T
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