Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Meetings Are in the Air

I'm in Lawrence KS, where the FIC Board is gathering for our semi-annual organizational meetings, starting Friday and running through Sunday. We're being graciously hosted by Delaware St Cohousing, and the timing couldn't be better: our last snow shower of the winter (he wrote hopefully) blew through northeast Missouri Monday morning and now the temps are in the 60s and full of promise for the growing season ahead.

Just as the redbud, forsythia, and ornamental pears are all in full bloom here in eastern Kansas, so is our agenda. Here is what we have on tap for the long weekend:

o  Reviewing negotiations with the Ecovillage Network of the Americas about the possibility of FIC becoming the North American network for the Global Ecovillage Network. In addition to reviewing a proposal about that, FIC's Board will hold a joint conference call with the ENA Task Force looking into how best to proceed.

o  Discussing the 2014 budget and the cash flow squeeze we've been experiencing as a result of delays in completing a major overhaul of our websites, rewriting all our code in WordPress, to take advantage of a widely used language with more off-the-shelf plug-ins.

It's a double whammy in that we've used our reserve to fund the work, and are depending on its successful completion to replenish our coffers. Part of our willingness to make this gamble was that we have wonderful new products to offer that could not be delivered with our old website—in particular, downloadable PDFs of every issue of Communities magazine ever published, plus a completely revised set of themed reprint packets with 85% new content (also available as PDFs).

o  Developing roll out plans for reorganizing how we list groups in our online Communities Directory. Our intention is to sort all listings into four categories:

A. Established intentional communities
B. Forming intentional communities
C. Dead or unresponsive groups
D. Groups or projects that have an association with community yet are not intentional communities (this is something of a catchall, and might include networks, housing developments that emphasize a community quality, nonprofits that hold community as a core value, research projects that investigate aspects of community, etc)

We'll also be looking closely at: 1) the sort criteria that will determine which category a group is placed into (asking groups to self-select will not produce consistent results); and 2) how best to review our 1600+ listings to get them placed into the appropriate pen. It's a huge undertaking!

o  Balancing the need for general fundraising (which will relieve pressure on our strapped cash flow) with the concomitant need to raise money to replace our aging office facility at our Missouri headquarters.

o  Cooking up ways to attract more subscribers to Communities magazinethe source for ideas and inspiration about cooperative living.

o  Choosing the winner of the 2015 Kozeny Communitarian Award. As we have no shortage of qualified candidates, the anguish here is over whittling it down to only one.

o  Selecting new Board members (which will include a review of how we select Board members).

I'm telling you, there's no end to the fun we're going to have! And if we get done early of an evening, we can go for stroll and smell the freshly mown lawns (instead of the flip chart markers).

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