Last weekend, I attended a course at a long-established intentional community in the UK, the Cannon Frome Court community, near Ledbury. The course was designed for people like me who have decided to set up their own community. It was useful.
Canon Frome Court near Ledbury, has some 20 homes on 40 acres of land which they farm, and this is their main focus. In addition to pasture, the land includes a fabulous 2 acre classic red-brick walled Victorian garden. The community produces most of its own food, including meat, eggs, fruit, veg, milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Accommodation consists of a large rambling country house that was previously a school (and is now flats and communal space), a converted stable block and a few cottages. Water comes from a borehole much of their own power is produced from an array of photovoltaic panels. There has been a lot of change over the years but they have weathered the storms of time. The information they provided was honest and helpful, and I also gained insights from talking to attenders, who ranged in age, circumstances and lifestyle.
As a follow up, the community emailed their core documents including decision making protocols, vetting procedures for prospective members, budgets and accounts. This was open and generous of them, and extremely useful.
One particular discussion helped to clarify my thinking. I am in the process of reading Diana Leafe Christian’s excellent book, ‘Creating a life together’ – a bible of do’s and don’ts for starting a community. In fact, Canon Frome Court invited Diana to visit them, to help solve a problem they had encountered.
While it may seem like a good idea to have a total consensus decision-making system, the downside is that if just one person disagrees with a proposal, for any reason, they can block it. So, all the power lies with the one. Canon Frome explained that, in practise, most community business at their management meetings, is agreed by consensus. But a big decision for them was severely hampered and set back a number of years because of the disagreement of one person. So, Diana suggested a different system which has since, proved much fairer and quicker. I had been reading about various options in her book, so it was interesting to hear a real life case study.
There are, of course, variations on the consensus theme. For instance, attempting in two meetings to reach full consensus. If the proposal is still blocked, you then switch to majority voting, at whatever percentage the community has agreed. Alternatively, you can have consensus minus one, or two. This means a proposal can still pass if one, or two people block it. However, for Canon Frome, Diana suggested the community tries a ‘super-majority’ voting system. This is how it works:
If one or more people block a proposal, the onus of responsibility is on them to come up a better alternative. They are obligated to meet with a small group of other members, in a series of solution-oriented, consensus-generating sessions. They must think through the issue and mutually agree on a new proposal which addresses the same problem as the blocked one, and present it at the next meeting.
This group is required to meet up to six times (in not more than three months). Canon Frome says that, in practise, it’s never taken more than two meetings of the sub-group to do this step. Assuming a proposal is reached, it goes back to the whole group and this supersedes the previous proposal.
If the group cannot come up with a proposal (or the meetings don’t take place), the original proposal comes back to the group to be reconsidered. However, it can then be passed by a 75 percent’ super-majority’ agreement of the members present.
Reflecting on the weekend, I revisited the ‘Diggers and Dreamers’ website (where I had found the Canon Frome Court community) and placed an advert on their noticeboard, putting out a call to anyone who might be interested in my project. Creating the advert was a good exercise in clarifying my thinking. Here it is:
The Earth Collective – a new intentional community to be established in Ireland.
I have a vision for a new intentional community and I am at the starting point of creating this. I am looking for a small group of like-minded souls to share my vision, embellish it and manifest it with me, co-creating an extraordinary life, in the process.
The Earth Collective will offer an example to others who might also want to live in a more cohesive way – one which enhances ‘living’ (as opposed to surviving), being with people who have similar principles and desires, living in harmony with nature, self-sufficient, using leading edge thinking and design. The Earth Collective experience will be a publicly available resource.
We will build our community from scratch, using innovations from natural physics, quantum physics, sacred geometry, earth energy, biomimicry and permaculture, to create self-sufficiency and sustainability of power, heat, water (harvesting and purification), waste recycling and food production, that support health (mind, body and soul) of the community, its buildings and Gaia, and which enhance vitality and creativity.
Each building will have an orientation that is fundamental to its health. Materials will be organic and breathable. There will be an underground and overground aspect, allowing for immersion in earth energies and a connection to the cosmos, reminding us of our place in it all. This also has practical advantages, for instance, heat retention and water storage.
We will build our own homes, with helpers, using an Earth Ship hybrid curvilinear concept developed by Bioveda Academy. Either, we will design the buildings ourselves (if enough members have completed an online design course with Bioveda). Or, Bioveda’s founder Alosha, can create bespoke designs to suit the climate, site and our individual requirements. Bioveda also teaches construction. Alosha can be involved and project manage, if required.
I am in UK and plan to go to southern Ireland in spring 2023 to look for a suitable site.
Information on me, Fiona Price, is on my website www.theultimaterelationship.co.uk. A recent blog called ‘Phoenix rising’ explains how the project came about and contains useful links (including to Bioveda Academy). A previous blog entitled ‘The art of homeostasis’ is also relevant. Further information on my background and general outlook, is in my book, ‘The Ultimate Relationship… the one with yourself’, published June ‘22(excerpts on my website).
Expressions of interest
If you are seriously interested in discussing your involvement in the Earth Collective, please contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, providing information:
I look forward to hearing from you.
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