Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The FIC Circus Comes to Town

FIC held its spring organizational meetings April 5-7 at Manzanita Village, a well-established cohousing community in Prescott AZ. This is an image of the participants, posing on the deck outside the community's Common House at sunset at end of the first day. While not everyone in attendance coalesced for this photo op, it's interesting to note that there are seven FIC veterans in this configuration, and seven first-timers and non-regulars, which is a good mix.

The theme for these meetings was transition. As in:

o  Tony Sirna (the dude kneeling in front of me with the broad smile and the dark beard) stepped down from the Board after 17 years. In addition to his Board work, Tony managed our websites for a decade and has been our main financial analyst during his tenure. He'll be damned hard to replace.

o  Christopher Kindig (the other guy with a dark beard, standing in the middle in a green  shirt) stepped up to become our Business Manager—a role we've been trying to fill for years.

o  Ma'ikwe (in an oriental print pink shawl to my right) stepped off Oversight Committee and onto the Board, which requires less travel. While she continues her upward trajectory from chronic Lyme disease, she still has compromised stamina and travel wears her out.

o  Amanda Creighton (kneeling in a green dress and brown shawl) stepped up to become our on-site coordinator, in addition to her role as Development Assistant.

o  FIC stepped back from the brink of charging groups to list in our Communities Directory. To be sure, we'll ask for donations to support the work of maintaining the website, but we won't require it. Mainly, we're excited by the business initiatives that Christopher is bringing to his work, generating more revenue for both Communities magazine and our web activity.

o  We stepped into uncharted waters by deciding to separate—for the first time—the role of Development Director from that of main administrator. I had been wearing both hats for more than a decade and we agreed that it's too much for one person to handle both. So in the next year I'll be trying to raise the money to compensate my replacement.

o  The Fellowship is stepping into potential partnerships with a handful of sustainability education initiatives: 

a) Ubiquity University
This 10-year-old institution (formerly Wisdom University) is launching a fully accredited undergraduate program that is essentially delivered online (with an annual tuition of $2000, which is in sharp contrast with the national average of $34,000). The key concepts are the living university and Integral theory and practice, taking inspiration from the work of Duane Elgin (Voluntary Simplicity) and Ken Wilber.

b) Global Phoenix Foundation
This group is focusing on creating demonstration models of sustainable development aimed at revitalizing under-developed or stagnant economies. This scope is worldwide and the foundation has approached us to look at the educational component—how local citizenry will learn the skills and mindset needed to be sustainable.
c) Ananda College
This 10-year-old undergraduate institution (with a campus outside of Portland OR) is looking to FIC both for curriculum enhancement and instructors outside of the Ananda family of communities to strengthen their Cooperative Communities & Sustainability program.

d) Ecovillage Education US
There were five people (I am one one them) in Prescott this weekend who will be part of the team producing this 37-day immersion course at Dancing Rabbit this summer (July 5-Aug11). While we offered this course last year, we didn't get enough enrollment and we cancelled. This year we tried again. Needing a minimum of 10 students for the course to work financially, we got our 10th enrollment in the past week. Yeehah!
Without question, FIC is blessed to be operating in interesting times.

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