Friday, August 23, 2013

An Eventful Time of Year

A week from today I'll be arriving at Twin Oaks—the well-known 46-year-old egalitarian community in Louisa VA—for the start of their annual Communities Conference, running Aug 30-Sept 2. I've been attending this gathering for so many years in a row that I don't recall the last one I missed. Probably in the last millennium sometime.

Participating in community-related events like this is one of most enjoyable things I do. Typically I give a few workshops, perhaps facilitate a panel, often operate Community Bookshelf, sometimes run a benefit auction, and get to schmooze with a bunch of people hungry for more community in their lives. At Twin Oaks I'll get to do all of that. What's not to like?

As the main administrator for the Fellowship for Intentional Community, it's important that I'm in regular contact with our constituency, which includes both people living in community and those who would like to be. At gatherings like the TO Conference, I get to meet with folks from both sides of the aisle. With a projected attendance in the 200-250 range there are likely to be as many as 30-35 different groups represented. While it will be hard to have a conversation with everyone, I can try.

In some cases I'll be catching up with friends. In most cases though, I'll be meeting people for the first time, nurturing the seeds of community that have germinated sprouted in their consciousness. My job is to water the seedlings, to pull a few weeds, and perhaps to build a trellis to help guide the tender shoots.

I'll leave home next Wed for the drive east, and won't be home until October. With the Twin Oaks event on the front end of my trip, I won't head for the barn until after the Northeast Regional Cohousing Summit, happening in Cambridge MA Sept 28. In between I'll attend the biennial gathering Ecovillage Network of Canada at Whole Village in Caledon Ontario (about an hour west of Toronto).
In between I'll do a mixture of consulting & training for four groups from North Carolina to Massachusetts, with FIC's semi-annual organizational meeting thrown in for good measure. When I get back home it will be fall, and Sandhill's annual sorghum harvest will already be underway. 

After three weeks of recharge in the sorghum fields (and wrapping up the garden harvest), I'm back out for another month as a community circuit rider: first at The Farm (Summertown TN, Oct 25-27) for a weekend offering of Conflict Resolution and Consensus; then the annual NASCO Institute for student co-ops (Ann Arbor MI, Nov 1-3); and finally the Cooperative Communities & Sustainability Conference at Ananda College (Gaston OR, Nov 15-17).

• • •
Because one of FIC's main missions is to be a resource for building community, it's crucial that we spend time with the people we're trying to serve, so that we can fine tune our offerings. Do we have the right mix of books and videos? Are we able to demystify the community search process such that people know how to be discerning shoppers? What are the trends in new community starts? How many are looking to intentional communities for guidance and mentoring about how to build community where they are (in schools, neighborhoods, churches, and workplaces)? 

In this light, I think of my upcoming sojourns more as field testing than as a business trips. On the one hand, I'll be out there pressing the flesh. On the other, I'll be getting impressions from the flesh. Being a community networker is rather Taoist in that regard (I'll show you my way if you show me yours).

All and all, it shapes up to be an eventful fall.

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