Thursday, September 5, 2013

Circling Around to the Communities Conference

Folks following my journeys over the past year may remember that I started my travels when I left the group house I started the year before and went to the Twin Oaks Communities Conference (see my post entitled Update 1: The Twin Oaks Community Conference, 9/9/12).  I spent the last couple of weeks in Virginia, spending a week with cousins that I love, then a couple of days at Twin Oaks proper (working on gardening, food prep, kitchen help, and, naturally, some of the preparations for the conference), before spending the weekend at the conference.  I thought attending the conference again was a fitting way to finish the year long cycle.

This year, three of the people from the group in NY that I'm currently exploring building community with joined me.  Friday night began with dinner, an award ceremony for Ira Wallace (a long time communitarian and one of the pillars of the Acorn community), an exercise on exploring the reasons for joining community, and an introduction to Transparency Tools.  I found the Transparency Tools to be a particularly useful set of exercises.

On Saturday, our community presented during the 'Meet the Communities' and I got to network with folks from other communities.  I took workshops on 'Permaculture in Community' (which focused on applying permaculture principles like 'Design from Patterns to Details' and 'Use Small and Slow Solutions' to community building and living--one point the presenter put out was that "Human communities are a great example of renewable and regenerative resources") and 'Zones of Intimacy' (which applied the permaculture concept of building in 'zones' to human relationships, with zone 0 being the self, zone 1 described as 'marriage'--not only to people but to whatever or whoever is of primary importance to you, zone 2 as 'Strong Allies'--those folks that you can count on and who can count on you, zone 3 as your 'Affinity Group'--your real friends, zone 4 as aquaintances or--as the presenter said--'semi-strangers', and zone 5 being absolute strangers).  Both workshops were facilitated by self-described activists from Earthaven Ecovillage.

On Sunday I took a morning workshop on 'Embodied Intimacy', which was great, but left me wanting to do less brief workshops on intimacy and more time building real long-term intimacy.  In the afternoon I went to an 'Open Space' workshop on 'Polyamory 301' with Paxus Calta where he and I ended up rehashing the dialogue we had on his blog about 'egalitarian relationships'.  Our group stayed for the 'Closing Circle' on Sunday and then left to head north.  The circle ended with a powerful chant that I later found out was from the Rainbow Gatherings:

We are circling
Circling together
We are singing
Singing our heart song
This is family
This is unity
This is celebration
This is sacred

Quote of the Day:  "I think that there are two extreme philosophies of community building. The first is the Field of Dreams Model: if you build it (buildings, infrastructure, gardens) they (community members) will come. The second is the Take Care of the Relationships Model. The relationships between the people building the community are the most important thing, and the strength of the community depends on the strength of these relationships and their ability to successfully work through conflicts. If the relationships are strong, any other problem is manageable by the group. ... I think that the elements of the Relationships Model tends to get overlooked more frequently than the elements of the Field of Dreams Model. People get excited about a shared vision and shared values, and in all the excitement this vital piece can get overlooked; often with detrimental results down the line." - Paxus Calta


Austan said...

Holy cow, that last bit about the Field of Dreams vs maintaining relationships is so relevant to things in my life these days. And I've seen some big dreams crash from a failure to maintain good relations. Always interesting, Moony.

MoonRaven said...

So good to hear from you.

Ironically, I'm currently with some folks who are going for the Field of Dreams anyway--I'm sure we'll have to deal with the results. (We are trying to work on relationships along the way, but in this case it looks like if we wait to build relationships, there won't be a community to build them in.) The truth is, of course, both are necessary.

Thanks for the insights!