Sunday, March 2, 2008

Houston: We Have an Opportunity

Yesterday, Ma'ikwe and I participated in "A Day of Intentional Community" in Houston. The organizer was D'Arcy Bryan Wilson, who is intent on creating a five-family community on the modest acreage her family owns in suburban Pearland.

While Houston is the largest metropolitan area in Texas, it is not the center of progressive thought or community interest (that would be Austin, the state capital). When we asked D'Arcy how many she thought might attend the one-day event, she replied, "Somewhere between 10 and 100." She was right. We had 21. It was sponsored by IC Houston.

Amazingly, when we asked people what they most wanted out of the day, three out of four related that they had been studying intentional communities for years, and were hungry hear from people had actually been doing it. I expected more interest in strengthening the sense of community in neighborhood associations, churches, or work place. And while that was present also, this group mostly wanted to know how to move beyond talking and get something built that had a decent chance of succeeding.

That was no problem for Ma'ikwe and me. We had brought four boxes of Community Bookshelf offerings with us, and we offered four workshops each on various aspects of cmty living and group dynamics. We handed our our spanking new FIC promotional postcards and advertisement for the Art of Community Southwest event we're hosting in Albuquerque May 30-June 1.

Ma'ikwe and I had fun telling stories, providing resources, and generally offering tools and excitement about cooperative living to an eager audience. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the discovery that there were (not one, not two, but) three groups which had been independently exploring cmty
in the Houston area without knowledge of one another. Perhaps the biggest outcome of the day was these groups readily agreed to to merge into one.

This all happened because Ma'ikwe and I had met D'Arcy the previous October, when she attended the Community Day we hosted in Austin following the FIC's fall organizational meetings. Because Ma'ikwe and I were going to be attending
my niece's wedding (happening next Saturday in San Antonio), we asked D'Arcy if we could do anything to support her cmty building aspirations when we were in Texas. D'Arcy did the rest. Attendees contributed on a sliding scale of $30-100 for the day. After covering her food costs for the day, Ma'ikwe and I received the rest, helping make our Texas trip more affordable.

In addition, we're doing facilitation training for the Board of Directors of Wheatsville Food Co-op in Austin this coming Wed.

It's a great example of accomplishing multiple things on the same trip. Not only does it squeeze more mileage (so to speak) out of the gas consumed on this foray to the Lone Star State, but we're generating income to balance the costs of attending the wedding and doing the work we love into the bargain. Yes, Ma'ikwe and I spend an inordinate amount of time on logistics, yet it's highly rewarding when we can weave everything into a workable whole.

If you are interested in having Ma'ikwe or me talk with people in your area about how you can get more community in your life, get in touch. Sooner or later, we're bound to be coming your way. And with enough advance notice, we can pretty much make anything work.


rick welland said...

buenos dias from mexico.. have been following your adventures for some time now..being down here south of the border does tend to keep us out of the loop some -(thats good and bad news for sure!!) thinking about heading up your way come spring to visit a few communitarians and see how the 'other half' is doing.

am very much the 'new boy on the block' re the blog thing..but think its great now that the initial fears have been overcome.

Realize that you are busy folks but seems like we have some common threads weaved into our lives-
and if you could have a look at my first ever attempt at a 'bog' perhaps you'll agree on that...

hope am not breaking any 'laws' putting a address in here.

Admire much your good works in many areas and hope you can find the time to compare a few notes on 'hard learned lessons' that appear to be coming at us as the empire crumbles..

gracias amigo , rick

S.L. Bond said...

the Art of Community Southwest event we're hosting in Albuquerque May 30-June 1.

That looks amazing! My friends and I will go, as we're just an hour away in Santa Fe. How exciting!