Thursday, March 23, 2006

An Appreciative Approach to Community

Well, you all know how i (and many of you) dream about intentional community. Well, i've been having these amazing conversations lately that have spawned some questions around a different approach.

Talking with seasoned vets of communes and other intentional communities has highlighted just how difficult it is to artificially construct a viable community. How leadership is usually a thorny issue--a bit of a catch-22 really--you need a strong and visionary leader to actually make one of these things happen, and then after a few years, everybody is sick of the "controlling, overbearing, sob"... And then there's money...some have it, some don't; some earn it, some don't. How do you make it all equitable and what kind of internal economy will help the community flourish? And what about the interface with the external economy? Then there's the question of numbers--how many folks do you need to make a vibrant and viable community? And what about the mix of skills and professions (to say nothing of personalities or ages)? And this is just scratching the surface.

So, i have started wondering, what might emerge if i began to apply an appreciative approach to the issue of intentional community? What if i looked at the community i already live in as one which is largely functional, viable, and sustainable? What would change if i tried believing that the distance between what we have and what we need to create is very small? What would be different if i began to ask, "What is working well here and how can we grow more of it?" instead of, "What is wrong here and how can we escape it?" I am really interested to see what small steps and actions suggest themselves to me as i sit with this new set of wonderings.
It is absolutely entrancing to my writer's mind to look at my community through this new lens. What if i imagine that my community is an intentional community that has been thriving for 100 years? How would i approach my neighbours differently? What would i think was possible? How would my assumptions about how change happens be different? What if i began acting as if Gabriola is an intentional community of 5,000 souls that is threatened by external and internal changes and pressures? What invitations could i issue from this new perspective?

It is just flipping the paradigm around. I would be bringing intention to my community rather than attempting to attract a community to my intention.

PS: Further to my post of March 02, here is a link to a letter from Starhawk reflecting on her work of the past three years and in remembrance of Rachel Corrie, the peace activist who was crushed to death by a bulldozer in Gaza. You can access her other writings about her work in New Orleans and at the G8 summit via this site also.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

For your listening pleasure

I have been wanting to post about the wonderful music coming out of CHLY Community Radio for a while now (available on the web). One of my favourite shows, Third Stone from the Sun (Wednesdays from 3:00 pm to 6:00pm) is hosted by friend and fellow Gabriolan Fergus Foley. George and I saw Fergus tonight on our way to and from Nanaimo and he very kindly sent a set out to us. Thanks, Fergus!


This is a pic of Fergus relaxing at his Gabriola digs. Several people are encouraging Fergus to start a wee blog, so perhaps we will be hearing more from him in the future. At the moment, you can find his top 10 list from 2005 here.

Some of the other shows i have been checking out...Eclectic Celtic--just what it sounds like and American Crossroads--live bluegrass--oh yes, and Indiecontextual--it's an absolute hoot if you are, were, or love a GRRL and serious RnR. You can check out the whole line up here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Time for a change?

I don't know if it's spring or the alignment of the planets, but i'm all revved up again about making big transformations and having another go at changing my life and maybe helping to change the world. My friend Dave Pollard has been blogging about the same sort of thing over at How to Save the World. Interesting that he has been on my mind a lot the last few days--must be that group soul thing...

In his post, Taking Things into our own Hands, he suggests a cell-based, distributed system to just get things done locally that can have global implications. He asks for suggestions for a code of principles and silly as it may seem, my kids have been getting into Dinotopia recently and the Dinotopian code isn't a bad start. Needs some tweaking, but:

1. Survival of all or none. (recognizes our interconnection)
2. One raindrop raises the sea. (recognizes our uniqueness and its value to the community)
3. Weapons are enemies even to their owners. (nuff said)

4. Give more, take less.
5. Others first, self last.
6. Observe, listen, and learn.
7. Do one thing at a time. (Ah, the temptation of sanity)

8. Sing every day.
9. Exercise imagination.
10. Eat to live, don't live to eat.
11. Don't p...remaining text missing. ( The movie says: Find the light.)

So there you go Dave! If five-year-olds find it meaningful, it must have something going for it. I'll keep thinking about a name, although i almost wish it could be nameless. Somehow, everytime we name something, we close a bit of space and all of a sudden there's us and them.

And in his post for today, he points out the insanity of modern life--all work and no (meaningful) play. I was talking to a sister parent on Monday about how we seem to be caught in a new feudal system, continuing to work for subsistence rather than sustenance. Wondering how we can shift out of it. Continuing to have these conversations is part of it. Continuing to name it, raise our awareness, and support each other is another. And maybe it's past time i started demonstrating it.

A couple of women who are doing amazing work demonstrating the power of the people to create their own solutions and just doin' it are Starhawk, who is supporting incredible bioremediation work in New Orleans, and Cheryl Honey, founder of the Family Support Network.

The importance of practice

I have written a lot about why we find it difficult to achieve peace, about the need to reinforce good intentions and desires with practical skill-building and daily practice. Here is a story passed along by Jack Ricchiuto from jack/zen:

For decades after his enlightenment, the Buddha found it necessary to meditate 3 times a day and take 3 months a year off to meditate. Seriously. So what does that say about the importance of practice?

Thanks for the reminder.