Monday, February 4, 2008

Meetin' in the Holler

I’ve just wrapped up two days of Oversight Committee meetings for the FIC, and will be headed back to the barn in the wee hours of Monday (I’ve got to arrive at Sandhill in time to unload the car, turn in my accounting, download my email, change my underwear, post this blog, and catch the westbound Southwest Chief at 8:06 pm in La Plata—in order to get to Albuquerque in time celebrate with my wife the entirety of her 38th birthday on Wed). Nothing like the simple country life, I always say…

The Oversight mtgs were held at Dunmire Hollow, home of long-time friend and fellow networker Harvey Baker. It’s been our habit for years to have our winter mtgs here (for some reason, it’s often fallen on the weekend that straddles the Super Bowl), and I have myriad fond memories of discussing with friends and compatriots the giant and small intricacies and potentials of the North American Communities Movement in Harvey’s living room (this weekend, of course, we also got to discuss the strategies and challenges of the Patriots and the Giants). This time, there were only four us: Harvey, Jenny Upton, Marty Klaif, and myself. Jenny & Marty drove down from Shannon Farm in VA (oddly, all four of us live in cmties founded in 1974—apparently a vintage year for cmties).

It was indeed a Super Weekend, though the football game, good as it was, was incidental. Among other things, we made solid progress on:
o The timetable and process by which we’ll select a new Production Team for Communities magazine.
o How to do a better job of identifying & advertising job openings in the FIC, and soliciting candidates to fill them.
o Whether to accept an invitation to apply to NIH for a grant to conduct social research to investigate the successes and challenges of creating intentional cmties.
o Establishing an FIC award to honor cmty networking, named in honor of our recently fallen comrade, Geoph Kozeny.

Finishing early Sunday afternoon, we had time to visit with friends from The Farm (less than an hour to the east), where we spent a tender 90 minutes remembering Geoph. Michael Lee, Joan Thomas, Robert Moore, and Douglas Stevenson joined us, along with Dunmire members Karen Fletcher and David Baker. People told stories and Douglas sang a few songs. It helps immeasurably to grieve with friends.

One of the most intriguing of our conversations was about how to fulfill our mission to help people create cmty where they are. We know there is widespread interest in this, yet are uncertain what our product is. Perhaps it comes down to cultivating a consistently curious response (as oppose to a defensive or attacking one) in the moment when a person becomes aware of someone who is different or presents a different view on something that matters. How do we teach people to respond with openness, instead of fear? We believe that intentional cmties are learning something important about how to execute this graceful pirouette. In the years ahead, we’ll see whether we can teach it.

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