Thanks to East Wind for providing such a comprehensive visitor packet that I used as a template. You can find the original here.
These guidelines were revised after I left. I think that the conflicts that arose because of lack of guidance that contributed to me being kicked out of East Wind inspired many of these changes! I lived in Eastwind when my son, Chris, was 5–in 1994-`95.
Living at East Wind gave me some of the best experiences in community I have experienced. I feel grateful that Chris and I were able to spend time there.
This is NOT complete. I just wanted to give you an idea of what I am working on. I have started editing this to accommodate Wellspring Community.
This guide is designed to familiarize you with the many facets of life at Wellspring. Inside are community norms, guidelines, and specific policies of Wellspring.
Your Expectations and the Community’s Priorities
Wellspring is a diverse community, but there are fundamental priorities that govern how we live and interact with one another and our surroundings. Some of these might not be what is important for you, and you may have ideas on how things should be changed. Before voicing your suggestions, however, we ask that you first take time to understand how and why the community chooses its priorities. We have put this handbook together to help you in the process.
Living at Wellspring is participating in building it. It is an experience in pioneering a new way of life, including all the setbacks and disappointments. But we also enjoy the adventure, celebrate our accomplishments, and have a sustained belief that what we are doing is important for the world and for ourselves. This makes it all worthwhile.
Food and Clothing
Community meals are served at 8am, noon and 6:00 p.m., except on Sunday. Sunday has brunch served around 10:00 a.m., and dinner is at 5:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch is not served on Sunday.
Food Storage and preparing your own food
Because we have limited food storage and want to make things simple, at this point you will need to find ways of storing your own food if you want vegan food other than what is served at community meals. If you prepare your own meals, you may use the kitchen except for when community meals are being prepared. In that case, please ask the cook if you can use the kitchen simultaneously.
We serve 80% raw, whole, oil-free plant-based food. Most of this kind of food is gluten free.
If in the case that we have a hard time obtaining food if there are food shortages for any reason, we may resort to eating a higher percentage of cooked food if that is all that is available. We should have access in early spring until winter to wild greens and other wild edibles. We will grow as much food in the garden as possible.
You are welcome to use community clothes during your visit, which are kept next to the shower room. (hopefully we will have a shower room soon!) There are bins for dirty laundry in the community clothes area, Please return all community clothes to the trailer before leaving Wellspring. Personal clothes may be washed in the community laundry before 6:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m. or by arrangement with whoever is doing the community clothes laundry that day. You can donate your unwanted private clothes. Put them in the “contributions” bin in the designated space.
There is nothing wrong with the beauty of the human body. However, because there are so many societal taboos about nudity, and most people are not comfortable with public nudity, we request that modest clothing be worn unless you are in the privacy of your own dwelling or places where nudity is allowed on the community land.
Furnishing And Rooms
Do not enter private rooms or dwellings without invitation. Our public spaces are available for unrestricted use all of the time unless they have been reserved for some special purpose. Public spaces can be reserved for activities with enough advance notice. Please clean up after yourself and turn off the lights if you are the last to leave. Visitors can receive labor credit for cleaning visitor spaces.
Trusterty is the term we use for oversight of rooms and furnishings. If you need additional furnishings ask the Trusterty manager or the visitor manager. Our spare furnishings are few and not always in the best condition. It is not okay to take furnishings from visitor spaces to other rooms or anywhere else.
Outhouses, Trash and Garbage
There are outhouses in various areas of the community. We compost our human waste, and sawdust buckets are in the outhouse and barrels of sawdust are outside the outhouses. Put a scoop of sawdust down the hole after you use the outhouses; this helps the composting process. Do not throw plastics or synthetic materials down the outhouse holes.
Put the lids down when finished. Since urine interferes with the composting process, it is encouraged to urinate outdoors. Please do so in areas that are not major traffic areas and off the paths. If you use “pee jars” and are due to leave, please empty and wash them before you go.
There are buckets for compost and located in the kitchen. Coffee grounds, tea leaves, citrus fruits or rinds should go into compost. Please scrape your plates into the compost bucket and put them in the wash tubs when done.
There are collection stations located throughout the community. We do recycle most of our trash in some way; be mindful of our efforts and separate any trash. Barrels labeled “Burn” receive wood and paper products. Plastics, aluminum, glass, and metals are put in barrels appropriately labeled for each. Save mason jars for food processing. Take the time to pick up any stray litter that you see. If you are working on something, don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean up.
Information about Wellspring
In addition to this handbook, you can find information about Wellspring in the Community Legislation book and the Vegan Visions History book. Copies are located in the lounge area in Mir House. Also in the Mir House are Decision Making Records, historical records of community legislation, and the Facilitator’s Handbook (community meetings are held in the Mir House)
We allow you to credit any time spent reading these materials towards your work quota, because this time will help you be more familiar with Wellspring, and reduce the need to ask questions of others. However, if you do have questions, don’t hesitate to ask you contact person or another member.
Places to put personal mail in Mir House. There are fresh and recycled envelopes, postcards and scratch paper for your use on shelves nearby. There is a visitor mailbox in MH for receipt of mail. Check with the the people who handle the mail if you have questions.
Our plan is to have an office right on the edge of the community land. Hopefully we will have high speed internet working at this time. If not, there is reception in areas near the road. We will work to create a shed so people can use computers.
Verizon seems to be the only cell phone coverage that we can get near the community. There are spots on the community land and on the road that gets good cell phone and wi-fi coverage. We may have a land-line. If so, we will give instructions for using that elsewhere.
The major bulletin boards are in Mir House. The Day Board is for personal messages and announcements of imminent events, the Back Board, for what is happening in the community, the Visitor Board, for visitor affairs, and the Activism Board, for subjects of about activism including, of course, animal rights. It is important to check the Day Board frequently. There are cards and writing utensils on the shelf next to the phones in Mir House. Always sign your notes!
Lost and Found
Lost and Found is located in Mir House at the bottom of the stairs. If you’ve lost or found something, it helps to put a note up on the day board.
Visitor Pick-up and Drop-off Policy
At this time, we have no vehicles. However, we do have an old Dodge Truck that needs repair. Therefore, we are unable to pick visitors up. If we do get the use of a community vehicle, then the following will be true:
We do pick up visitors for any pick-up that is within 60 miles of Vegan Visions (which includes Kingston, Huntsville, Mountain Home, Fayetteville and Eureka Springs. Visitors need to schedule their arrivals and departures with a town trip if they don’t want to pay. Pick ups and Drop-offs that are not part of a town trip will be charged the same rates that members pay, which is 40 cents a mile.
Vehicle Usage – Yours and Ours
We ask that you not use your private vehicle very much during your visitor period. This is to give you a sense of what living here as a member is like. If you do drive your own vehicle, please do not use our gas, and please keep your driving to a minimum.
When we obtain vehicles, all of our vehicles will have names, and any member with an Arkansas license may drive them. Visitors may not drive community vehicles, although they may reserve them and find a members to drive them. Often members will get a group together to split the cost of the vehicle, which is 40 cents a mile , and take a trip into nearby towns. You can read more about vehicle policy and what is available at the Vehicle Use Board, which is located in the Mir House.
When we get vehicles, we will have regularly scheduled trips to neighboring towns – Kingston, Huntsville, Fayetteville, and Eureka Springs. There is a trip calendar posted at the Vehicle Use Board and at the bottom of the stairs in Mir House. You can arrange to go along on a town trip, or arrange to have something purchased for you by the person doing the trips; see “Requisition Cards” in the Money Transactions” section. You are not charged for these trips.
Eventually we plan to have a garage. In this case, our garage workers do not normally work on private vehicles, but it is possible to get minor work done, time permitting. There are a small amount of tools available to do some light service work. Visitors (and members) must have permission form the Auto Shop Manager to use the garage or have access to tools used to service and repair community vehicles for work on private vehicles.
The roads are pretty hilly, but there are times when you might want to use a bicycle. We plan to have community bicycle. When this happens, you are welcome to use the community bicycles. Please do not ride them at night or leave them on paths. Park them in places where people are likely to find them and use them. If you have your own bicycle, store it near your room, and attach a note to it telling folks who it belongs to and whether or not they may borrow it.
Health and Safety Concerns
In case of emergency, find a member as soon as possible, preferably one who has had first aid training (you’ll learn who these people are in your Medical Orientation). First aid materials are in the Mir House, and there are emergency numbers posted by the phones in RB. All major buildings have fire extinguishers; familiarize yourself with their location. Please relate any medical concerns to a member of the Medical Committee.
While ticks are a serious health hazard in other parts of the country, ticks present little threat here. They start to show up in march or April, are the greatest nuisance during late June, and disappear with the first frost in October. Check your clothing after walks in the woods and tall grass. Ticks tend to congregate around waistbands and socks. If you see a tick crawling on you, brush it off if you’re in an area where it won’t get to other people.
Sadly, we do feel a need to kill ticks at times because they are such a nuisance. Please do this with great compassion. We will pray that ticks stay away from us humans.
If in a room or public area, it’s best to kill a tick by cutting it in half, burning it, or popping it’s abdomen, so it won’t get to others. If a tick does bite you, it’s best to pull it out slowly using tweezers or long fingernails, and immediately treating the bite with natural ointment.
Seed ticks are very, very tiny ticks, smaller than a pinhead, and come in groups of 50 to 100. They are at their peak in late June. They can easily be removed by using masking tape on your skin to lift them off. If you have any bites, treat the area with natural ointment.
Wearing loose clothing discourages chiggers, which are invisible to the naked eye. Chiggers don’t actually bite; the red, itchy irritation on your skin is a reaction to secretions it releases when it feeds. Taking a shower right after a walk and rubbing your skin with a washcloth will remove any chiggers you may have picked up. If you do get chigger bites, there is white vinegar located in the Mir House. This has been our best method for easing itches. Try not to itch chiggers, because they just get worse–similar to poison ivy.
Poison ivy has three leaves and sometimes red berries. The leaves have a slightly shiny appearance. It is found along paths and in the woods in the spring and summer. To prevent a rash, avoid touching the leaves. If you do get a rash, it’s best to treat it with jewelweed, calamine lotion, clay or she other great remedy we hope to have on hand.
Since communities are susceptible to contagious illnesses, we place a high priority on good hygienic practices, and have had good success. Wash your hands frequently, and particularly after using the outhouses, before touching food, or working in the Nuthouse. Avoid touching stocks of food directly with your hands. Do not share toiletries or leave them in public spaces. If you have long hair, pull it back securely before working with food. When using the phone, do not touch the receiver directly to your mouth. If you are ill, do not work in areas where you would be in contact with food or food implements (kitchen, HTA, etc.) Put dirty clothes, including community clothes sandals, in the laundry bins after use.
We strongly encourage people to be celibate unless they have a life-long commitment to each other. People who decide to live at Wellspring do need to be full members before they can have children who live on the property. If someone is pregnant during their provisional membership, and has their child during that provisional membership, they will need to check in with the family circle to make sure that there is adequate space and facilities for the child.
Most likely, people who are having a good provisional membership period will be allowed to have the baby as part of the provisional membership. However, this can not be taken for granted.
Working at Wellspring
According to the bylaws, members must work their “Fair Share.” Fair share specifically means:
* Doing a certain number of hours each week (see “Quota” below)
* Cleaning up your messes
* Making sure your HTA shift (work that is “Hard To Assign”) is done, and
* Doing work that brings in income, if necessary.
Although visitors are exempt form HTA work, we ask that you keep to the spirit of Fair Share during your time at Wellspring.
“Quota” is the number of hours members agree to work each week. You become responsible for quota after your labor orientations, which will detail the labor system and how to get started with work. Any hours you work before this time are creditable towards your first week or quota. Persons over 49 years of age are eligible for a lower work quota (see “Economic Agreements, Lower Quota for Older Members”).
The membership manager may ask visitors who have a labor balance that is more than ten hours “in the hole” to extend their visitor period.
Wellspring hopes to offer a diversity of work that you can to do to meet quota. It is your responsibility to find work that you are interested in and to be sure that this work is creditable. During your labor orientation you will learn about priority work areas, and you will be referred to trainers for various jobs. You’ll also learn how to get in touch with managers and other key people in work areas that you may be interested in. Your contact person can help you find who to talk to for different kinds of work.
Also, you may count towards quota any time spent in orientation, tours, observations, etc., as well as time reading this handbook and other community information materials listed in the “Communication” section.
We keep track of labor flow by recording our hours on done time sheets. They are posted or available in each work area or in Mir House. If you have trouble locating one, ask someone. Record fractions of hours to one decimal point; for example, if you work for one hour and thirty-six minutes, record this as 1.6 hours. These sheets are collected each Sunday night.
Make an effort to record your hours immediately after you finish working in a work area. If you forget to record your hours, you will cause problems with accounting for your labor and may not receive credit (see “Economic Agreements, Adjustments in Labor Balances”).
A labor sheet on the back board details how each week’s labor is used, and is updated each Thursday with the previous week’s work.
You should record any time spent in orientation, yours, observation, etc., as well as time reading this handbook and other community information materials listed in the “Communication” section on the “Membership” done time sheet hanging in MH.
Sick Time can be used to meet quota if you are sick and cannot make up the lost time during the week. There is a done time sheet for the claiming of sick hours. The number of sick hours allowed to be claimed in a day varies according to the current quota. You cannot be over quota in a week that you claim sick time.
Over Quota Time
You are allowed to work more than quota and accumulate time off. The accumulated extra time will be recorded in what is known as your labor balance. A positive labor balance allows you to have more freedom to arrange your work as you want. Having a negative labor balance (being “in the hole”) for extended periods of time may reflect poorly on you and lead to problems.
Personal Service Credits (PSC’s)
PSC’s are labor hour credits transferred from one member’s labor balance to that of another member of visitor. This allows you to have another person do something for you that they would not ordinarily get credit for, such as painting a mural in your room, giving you a haircut, or making you a piece of jewelry. PSC’s are to be given at the rate of one PSC per hour worked. PSC’s may not be given in the following situations:
1. If the labor accountant receives the request for the transaction from anyone other than the giver.
2. When the giver has, or would have after the transaction, a negative labor balance.
3. When the transaction would drastically affect the labor flow.
4. When the transaction would be against the interests of the Community, as determined by any member of the management team, board, or the community meeting.
Use of Recreational Materials and Equipment
Community recreation and sports equipment is usually available for visitor’s use; ask the recreation manager or social manager to make sure. Library books, musical instruments, games, and other resources for leisure are available for your use. Please return all borrowed items to their storage place.
We do not have a book check-out system for the library. Please return borrowed library books before you leave. Donated books can be placed in the donated library books box. Please mark them as “donated to library”.
We may have a tv room. This is still to be decided. In cases where there is a large group wanting to watch television, deciding what to watch is settled by a vote, or by whomever reserved the TV room least 24 hours in advance.
Wellspring celebrates Thanksgiving, Appreciation Day (Valentine’s Day), Christmas, Resurrection Day (Easter), New Year’s Day, and Land Day (Mar 1st). These days are not work days and quota is lowered during the weeks in which they occur. We also have celebrations during the Dog Days of August. Any help you can offer in creating fun and varied celebrations and other diversions is very much appreciated.
Generally, no recorded music or radios can be played in Mir House except that the cooking staff may play music in the kitchen during afternoon hours when cooking dinner. If you are staying in a residence building, (if we have one) refrain from playing music in the building between 10:00 pm and 10:00 am. Be aware that sound can carry a long way, and the walls are not insulated for sound. If playing music outside, please refrain from playing loud drumming or music outdoors between 10:00 pm and 10:00 am, unless well away from residence buildings.
This is a smoke free community.
This really needs to be changed. People at East Wind are allowed to be distant, especially when it comes to visitors. Just know: this is going to be revised!
Getting to Know People
Good ways to get to know people are starting conversations during meals or while working with folks, organizing and attending recreational or educational activities, and trying out different work areas. Don’t be offended if some folks seem distant or uninterested in you. Lack of interest and even wariness of newcomers is common in intentional communities; it has to do with so many people coming and going. Folks that stay here a long time often become reluctant to extend themselves for fear of being let down or deserted if the new person decides to leave. This distance will disappear with time, and its disappearance largely depends on your commitment to and enthusiasm for the community.
When communicating with others, especially when dealing with conflicts, be respectful of the other person’s feelings and be as clear and definite as possible when communicating your views. During your Communication Orientation, you will be introduced to some of the ways in which communication occurs at Wellspring.
It is a good idea to ask before joining what may be an intimate or intense conversation. When beginning a conversation with someone, ask if the occasion is a good time to talk instead of assuming that they can. Make an appointment to talk if necessary. Leaving a note is a more gentle way to initiate a conversation. If a person refuses an overture, please respect that refusal, and use your judgment when deciding whether or not to press the matter.
Short of stubborn and demanding behavior, it is important to let others know what you do and do not want and like. Not asserting yourself in this manner can allow small issues blow up into big ones, and cause interpersonal problems much more serious than the original issue.
It is likely that you will be approached with requests to do work. It is okay to say “no.” Do not feel obliged to say “yes” just to be pleasant and agreeable.
Rumor Control and Grievances
If you have a concern, issue, or grievance, take it to the appropriate manager if you are not up to discussing it with the person whom it concerns. When hearing rumors or grievances, assume the role of a confidant; it stops with you until it can be dealt with by someone whose official responsibility it is to deal with it. Casual discussion of such things is a less effective way to address them, and will increase misunderstanding and mistrust.
Building Friendship and Trust
Make time to get together with people. Volunteer or ask to be included instead of waiting for others to approach you. Remain aware of your and other’s boundaries however, and understand that trust is something that needs to grow over a certain period of time.
Don’t be shy about interacting with the children, but keep in mind that people need to reside at Wellspring for four months before they are allowed to be alone with them. If you play with the children, do so in public spaces. Children’s diets are supervised, so please don’t feed them without first checking with a meta or primary.
In communicating with young persons we make an effort to offer them the same respect adults would expect from adults. While it is fine to coo and babble with pre-verbal infants and toddlers, mimicking children in “baby talk” is not what children who are attempting to master language want or need from adults.
We try not to talk about the children in their presence as if they were not there. We assume that they are interested in following our conversations about them and would want to be directly involved just as adults would. We have many agreements which specifically concern the treatment of children, buy in the setting of different standards of treatment, we hope not to ignore the desires or concerns of our children, inviting their input where possible.
While sexist training dies hard and we cannot say that we have completely freed ourselves of our sexist expectations, we attempt to enhance our awareness of how such dynamics come into play as we live our lives.
We do not support the perpetuation of gender roles. Everyone is encouraged to explore the full dimensions of who they are and not let sexist training get in the way of finding out. Men may wish to pay more attention to how they look, or explore vulnerable aspects of their psyche. Women may wish to pay more attention to what they can achieve, and develop their confidence in thinking for themselves. Men can care for children; women can fix cars and build houses. Work traditionally done by women is not spurned or considered less valuable than work traditionally done by men. It is important to us to support one another in our breaking out of traditional gender roles.
In a society characterized by fairness and mutual respect, sexual harassment has no place. We agree to educate ourselves about sexual harassment, increase our awareness of when it happens, and be vigilant in seeing that it not happen.
Sexual harassment is defined as any act of a sexual nature directed at another person which that person finds offensive, providing that the person who commits such an act has been informed that the act is considered to be offensive. In line with this, the following three conditions must be present before a charge of sexual harassment can be made:
1. Acts or expressions must be considered offensive by those subjected to them, and a complaint must be made to communicate this, either directly or indirectly, to the offender.
2. The person acting in the offensive manner must be informed that either the specific act or the type of act was considered offensive by those subjected to it. A public notice is not sufficient to met this requirement.
3. The act must be determined by the Social Manager to be sexual in nature.
The Social Manager is charged with verifying these conditions and facilitating communication between those involved.
Some examples of acts which are likely to offend:
1. When a person tries to use some perceived power over another to get them involved in sexual activity, e.g. when a member implies that a visitor should be involved sexually with co or others in order to get accepted for membership.
2. Obscene advances, including words, jokes, gestures, actions, or unwanted touching. What is considered obscene will vary from person to person.
3. Staring at or following someone uninvited. This is not only irritating, but can be demeaning or even very threatening.
4. Repeated sexual advances, when the other person has made it clear through words or behavior that their company is not desired.
5. Ridicule of another person’s sexual orientation.
RESPONSES TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT
A person who has been the victim of sexual harassment may in some cases feel able to talk directly with the offender about it. The social Manager, if called upon, is prepared to question the accused individual about what happened, and to determine whether that person understands the community’s policy on sexual harassment. Based on the results of that conversation, the Social Manager may recommend one or more of the following:
1. No further action; assurance from the individual that co intends to abide by the community policy may suffice.
2. Facilitated discussion involving both parties.
3. Voluntary behavior contract, in which the individual agrees to abide by the community policy, and accepts specific consequences if co breaks the contract, such as leaving the community for a period of time or indefinitely.
4. Community-wide concerns meeting.
5. Resolution by Community Meeting asking offender to leave.
to be decided.
Wearing loose fitting clothing discourages chiggers and being thoroughly covered discourages ticks. It is useful to carry masking or duct tape on field trips to remove seed ticks. See “Health and Safety Concerns” for more information on handling ticks and chiggers.
Most all spiders are quite benign. The Brown Recluse is poisonous and is frequently seen in late spring and summer; as it name suggests, however it tends to be very shy. It is useful to shake out clothing, bedding, or shoes that have been sitting around for a long time.
Most snakes are harmless and beneficial. Copperheads are poisonous, but infrequently seen. Be careful around woodpiles, rock piles, and tall grass. We have had only three snake bites since 1974. If bitten please seek help.
There is a diversity of wildlife to see around East Wind. If you’d like more information about Missouri wildlife, you can find it in the Missouri/Ozarks section of the Library.
Pets and Ranch Animals
New pets must be approved by the pets manager and all concerns related to them discussed in advance of coming to Wellspring. See the pets manager for concerns about pets.
There are different kinds of membership for adults: associates, provisional; members, and full members. Full details regarding the acceptance process are in process.
Associates are required to be in residence at least sixty days in a given year, although space constraints may not allow for this. Associates are subject to Wellspring’s labor agreements, but not to Wellspring’s money and property rules, with some exceptions.
Provisional members are those who are accepted by the Community on a trail basis, and allowed partial voting status on certain issues before the community. After a certain period of time, the community votes to accept them as full members of Wellspring. Full members are granted tenure in the community, and may participate in decision making which includes amendments to the Wellspring’s bylaws.
Before your visitor period ends, we would appreciate if you would attend to the following: Leave your room neat, return all borrowed community articles to their proper places, settle all money matters with our accounting office. Leave an address where we can reach you (to forward mail or to keep in touch), and let us know if you wish to be on our mailing list. Be sure to have filled out both the initial visitor information form, and the post visitor questionnaire, both of which are available from the Visitor Manager. We invite you to keep in touch.
Related Documents: These relate to the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. This is such a great resource! Thank you FEC.
- Visitor Stays – EGFS – 1999 in Joining Process
- Internship – 2008 in Alternate Membership or Residency Structures
- Tradeoff Game – Twin Oaks – 1992 inEconomics
- The Mothership Handbook in Member Handbooks
- Child Program – 1997 in Families
- Taxes (13 Documents)
- Economics (12 Documents)
- Outreach (11 Documents)
- Joining Process (10 Documents)
- Mission Statements, Spirituality Statements, etc. (10 Documents)
- Intercommunity Activity
- Extended Leave
- Tax Info Package
- Alpha Farm
- Organization and Planning
- Personal Possessions
- Community Autonomy
- Personal Experience
- Forming Community
- Communication and Feedback
- Wait List
- Income Sharing
- Gender and Sexuality
- Visits and Visitors
- Community Life
- Mettanokit Community
- Dual Membership
- Behavioral Expectations
- Manager-Planner System
- Veiled Cliffs
- FEC Application
- Conflict Resolution
The Enneagram is a way of reflecting on yourself and others–to understand that we are usually born with certain efficiencies, tendencies, and priorities. I hope that we will use the enneagram as we get to know each other.
Reading these values, I thought that these are values that we want to create space for in the community. We all need to have these in our lives.
Eight: I value Autonomy
Nine: I value Serenity
One: I value Justice
Two: I value Appreciation
Three: I value Authenticity
Four: I value Creativity
Five: I value Clarity
Six: I value Guarantees
Seven: I value Experiences 
I learned about the Clearness Process, created by the Quakers, 25 years ago. I’ve always been drawn to it. You can learn a more detailed approach to having a Clearness Committee here.
I will be adapting this policy that Acorn Community uses for various purposes.
Thanks to Federation of Egalitarian Communities and Acorn (a member community) for supplying all these wonderful structures from their member communities. You can find the original article here.
Each clearness is framed by some focus questions:
At the end of a person’s visitor period the questions are: “How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me coming back as a member? How do I feel about you/me coming back as a member?”
At the various clearnesses during a person’s provisional membership, including the one paired with the decision about whether or not to invite them into the full membership the questions are: “How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me becoming a full member? How do I feel about you/me becoming a full member?”
For clearnesses during a person’s internship the questions are: “How do I feel about our relationship in light of the possibility of you/me staying on as an intern for a few more months? How do you feel about me staying an intern for a few more months”
For the annual clearnesses for existing full members the questions are “How do I feel about our relationship in light of you/me being a full member? How do I feel about you/me beng a full member?”
If a special clearness is called for, the person requesting the clearness or the group as a whole should define the focus question(s).
The focus person for the clearness is responsible for seeking out each member of Acorn and holding an individual clearness with them before the group clearness occurs. During the individual clearness, first the member and then the focus person reflects on their relationship with the other, their concerns and excitements all guided by the focus question.
If concerns come up, the two people should seek to understand the concern and then work to resolve it or work on defining a path towards resolving it, if possible. Ideally they reach a state of sufficient clarity with each other that when one of them summarizes the concern and conversation in the group the other will not need to clarify, correct, or argue.
(From the previous Clearness description)
This is an opportunity for the focus to have a one-on-one conversation with everyone. Generally, each person answers the following two questions:
What do I appreciate about living with you?
What do I find difficult about living with you?
We encourage folks to be as open and honest as they can in these clearnesses, since this is a good opportunity to clear up interpersonal issues. If two people have particular difficulty with each other, they may ask for someone else to be present to help the conversation go more smoothly.
The group portion of the clearness will be conducted as part of a member meeting. The focus person may choose to invite non-members to sit in on their clearness if they wish.
To begin, the focus person will reflect on their relationship with the community as an institution, guided by the focus question with the community standing in as the member in dialog. Here are a list of questions to guide a person’s reflection:
If that person is a member:
What are your general feelings and thoughts about our community?
What needs are being met in your life at Acorn? What needs are not being met? What is getting in the way of having what you want?
How would you evaluate your interpersonal relationships and connections at Acorn?
What do you see as your role in the work ahead?
What do you see as your contribution to the life of our community?
What is your vision for Acorn?
How would you describe your current commitment to Acorn?
If that person is a visitor:
How was your visit? What went well, what was difficult?
What was your work scene like and how did it fit you?
What was your social scene like and how did it fit you?
When do you think you might want to move to Acorn?
What are your general feelings and thoughts about our community?
After the focus person has finished the community has an opportunity to ask clarifying questions of the focus person or ask them to expand on or speak to various aspects of their relationship with the community.
Next, the membership takes turns summarizing their personal clearnesses with the focus person. How brief or expansive a member is in their summary is left to that member’s judgment. The facilitor is welcome to intervene if they feel a member is being too brief or too long winded. A member should be sure to include in their summary specific things they appreciate or value about the focus person and any concerns that came up and were discussed in their personal clearness. The member should not add any new material to their summary that they did not bring up in their personal clearness. Members should not react or respond to other member’s summaries. This is an opportunity for reporting, only.
Finally, the membership engages in a “Lightening Round of Affirmations” quickly stating something that they particularly appreciate or value about the focus person or otherwise affirming them.
Members are encouraged to discuss any concerns or thoughts they have casually with each other in the following week.
At the next member meeting, the members will discuss the previous week’s clearness. This is the opportunity for people to respond to and discuss material that came up in each other’s summaries. It is at this meeting that any decisions called for by the clearness (such as the decision to invite someone into the membership or full membership or whether or not to continue a person’s internship) are made.
This is a sample document from a community that is part of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. Thank you, http://www.theFEC.org, for providing all these sample documents.
As you can see, membership process is quite detailed, and it is essential that people who are serious about joining a community go through various stages so everyone can feel reassured that there is a good fit.
How many times have you met someone, or joined a group, convinced that this person or group was the perfect match? I have done so countless times, and so I want to create a process that can be enriching, and enlightening to everyone.
I will be editing this very soon, but I want to show you, interested reader, the kind of process that many intentional communities utilize after decade of experience.
Remote Membership Process Overview
Hi! We’re glad you’re are interested in us! First, a little background. While taking in new members is exciting, it can also be challenging to balance both the needs of the house and the needs of the individual interested in us. Historically, we at Emma’s have been a bit hesitant about engaging with folks from far away because we really value a lot of face-to-face time to get to know each other
From our past experiences, we feel its important that any prospective member is both interested in us as a community and in Seattle as a place to live. Because we are a small collective with no business of our own, people seeking membership should have the ability to find local employment as well as to create a social life for themselves outside our community. That said, we’re excited to engage with folks who might want to join our project!
Phase One: Information
In Phase One, we make sure that you fully understand what our house is about before you come to stay with us. The onus is on you to move the process forward. Don’t be afraid to be persistent, ask questions, and call often.
- Read the website.
- Read the “Quick and Dirty” document (#2).
- Review the house documents: Political, Historical, and Economic Overview (#3,4,5).
- Fill out the
- , and send it to us. We’ll give you a “buddy” who will be your go-to person through the rest of the process.
- Have an introductory phone conversation with your buddy.
- Have a one-on-one phone conversation about the political purpose and foundation of the house (Politics Overview).
- Have a one-on-one phone conversation regarding the house economics (Economic Overview).
- Schedule a visitor stay.
Phase Two: Visitor Stay (optional)
Your visitor stay period is an opportunity to get to know us, learn what we are about, and delve into the details of the house systems. If you already know you are moving to Seattle, you can do your visitor stay when you first arrive, with the expectation that you will then move out until the membership process is complete.
- Come visit Emma’s for one to two weeks.
- Attend house meetings, including one where we will talk about your interest in Emma’s.
- Meet everyone, hang out with each member one-on-one, participate in house events. Engage house members in conversion. Get a feel for us, let us get a feel for you.
- Explore the city! Go out and about, attend community events, go to interviews, get a feel for the local culture.
- Meet with a member to get detailed specifics about how your financial/labor situation would fit with our economic system, and see what it would look like if you were a member.
- Leave. Before we continue with the membership process, we require that people leave after their visitor stay.
If you have completed all the above and you are still interested, let us know by shouting “Green light go!” and proceed to Phase Three.
Phase Three: Move to Seattle and Follow up
In Phase Three we clarify details, continue the get-to-know-you process, and follow up on any open questions you or we still have.
- Ponder if EGFS is right for you.
- Schedule one or more follow up phone conversations.
- Move to Seattle! In order to not rush the process from either end, we ask prospective members to move to Seattle but stay somewhere else for a short period of time (1 month or so). We may be able to help you find temporary housing/sublet at another collective in town.
- Attend house meetings, work parties, events, and hang out with anyone who wants more time with you.
- If you are still enthusiastic about applying for membership then you should schedule a membership interview and get the page of “Membership Interview Questions.” (#7).
- Attend a Membership Interview, where we and you can ask any questions that haven’t been answered yet, and where we will give you a definitive Yes 🙂 or No 😦
- Move in! You are welcome to move in anytime after your membership interview as a “prospective member”. As a “prospective member” you will participate and function in the house in almost every way as a full member, except 1. you do not have blocking power in our consensus decision-making process 2. you can be exempt from some agreements like our spending cap and owning your own car 3. we don’t figure you into our catastrophic health care budget item.
Phase Four: Full Membership
After living with us for 3 months, we will have a membership check-in, where you will have a chance to say what’s been good/hard for you at Emma’s, and we also can give you feedback. All together we can discuss any concerns or issues that have come up. At this point you tell the group if you are ready to become a full member (and make a 2+ year commitment). If you or we want more time to feel things out, we j continue checking in every 3 months or so for up to a year. Usually by then it will be clear to everyone if Emma’s is a good fit for you and vice versa.
P.S. Well, you made it through that document! Congrats. While this is the process we try to follow, some adjustments can be made around particular circumstances. Feel free to ask any questions through your contact person.
A description of a book By David Truman and Sara Donna
I am publishing this description because I feel inspired simply by this writing. I hope to read it soon, but even if I don’t, I wonder–is there something that inspires you about this description?
Communities come together for a variety of purposes, and have a wide range of expectations. But no matter what we propose as the goals and intentions for our community, as human beings we all need the same thing. What we really want and really need is to exchange real and substantial love with a number of people. And we need to be profoundly engaged, not just for a few minutes or hours here and there, but on an ongoing basis, with true friends.
Human beings are social animals, that’s part of it. But more to the point, we are spiritual beings, with spiritual needs. Our innate aspirations as spiritual beings cannot be fully satisfied with functional, philosophical, or political purposes, no matter how idealistic. We want to fully exercise our capacity for loving, and satisfy our need to love and be loved—both of which far exceed the love we can exchange in our romantic and family relations. In addition, we have a lifelong need for ongoing personal and spiritual growth, which is best supported in the context of close, committed community.
Toward Enlightened Community was written to help people recognize and actually fulfill their own deeper human needs for community. What does it take to create a community that will support the members’ true human and spiritual needs? What are the benefits of doing so, and what are the challenges to be overcome? You will find food for thought and heart inspiration here.
Written by two of the founding members of Lampa Mountain Community. With forty years of experience in building a harmonious and fulfilling community, this book comes from a place of understanding the human challenges and graces we encounter in live-in community.
“A passionate desire for community seems to be innate in the human heart.
Community can be expressed and experienced in many ways, but some of the most dedicated seekers take the bold step of forming residential intentional communities.
High ideals are necessary for that task, but realistic plans and programs are essential as well. David Truman and Sara Donna together have over forty years of living in a functioning, fulfilling intentional community, and here have provided a most practical manual for making it all work. Community founders would do well to read this short
Timothy Miller, Professor Emeritus
Religious Studies, Kansas University
To purchase, go here. (available as ebook only)
I have been working since 1975 in various ways to help “save the world.”
This list can give you some ideas of the projects I have worked on.
It might seem counter-intuitive to include this experience at the very top, but I just think that you need to learn this side of me–the whistle blower aspect. I suffered a lot because I stood up for innocent people who were unwilling to reveal their names at times for fear of repercussions. I suffered because I lost what I thought were close friendships. And if I had this to do over again–I would do the same thing.
I was very drawn to work with Direct Action Everywhere for almost 3 years because I felt inspired by their whole-systems approach, especially animal liberation. However, I was deeply hurt, disillusioned and concerned by their actions towards me and others who entered the Berkeley DXE Chapter with high hopes and trust. So you can learn about my whistleblower abilities here.
This letter of recommendation describes how I helped inspire a rather hopeless activist community to get re-engaged resulting in a tree-sit, saving some old growth trees, and the Fayetteville city government become more progressive.
This list of recommendations from a variety of people can give you a sense of the history of my leadership abilities.
I have had a desire to live in an intentional community since I was 21, in 1975. When I first heard the words, “intentional community” back in the late 70’s, I was so curious! And when I learned more from very first Directory of Intentional Communities,I was hooked on this dream.
A Vegan Community near Kingston: Much history and pictures of the sites we are working on are included on this Facebook Page.
Twitter: Get an idea of the kinds of things I am interested in.
Youtube: This will provide you with a nice history of the community building efforts and the kinds of topics I am drawn to.
Animal Lovers of the Ozarks: I co-founded this group.
Can you tell that I love to start projects? I am happy that I had wonderful people who wanted to help with these projects.
Critical Mass Project: Even though I did very little with this blog, it really was part of my motivation to go to the Bay Area in 2016 where my life changed forever in so many ways!
Berkeley Politics: In the past, I have taken on too many projects. This was one of them! We had one interesting meeting.
Timebanking in Bay Area: I worked with AZ Zahid and a few others to try to get the Bay Area Community Exchange up and running. Although
Kindness Alliance: When Bob Jordan fell off a roof and had brain damage which inspired him to be very kind, we felt inspired to start this group where we met every month at Ann Shaw’s home for a year. Some have said that this was what inspired the Compassion Fayettevilleproject.
I Luv Fayetteville: For some reason which I do not remember, I just felt compelled to take on yet another project! We had a very successful event using Open Space Technology at the co-working place, The Ice Berg, but things fizzled after that. I think God was telling me to focus, and not get spread too thin!
Life Coaching: My friend, Scott Masters, and I kept trying to hone our coaching skills and start a coaching collective. Although our dreams never became reality, we enjoyed the ride. I think all the skills I learned got into my subconscious and I use them in my day to day life and in mentoring others. Scott and I continue to be close friends, and he is so supportive of my efforts at creating community. Maybe some day he will join me!
Wellspring Ecovillage: When I returned from my month-long tour of Christian communities, I felt inspired to start a community with my two former husbands and our children. They agreed! We really did have fun meeting often to discuss community dreamsm share a meal and have wonderful fellowship together.
Dignity Village: I wanted to support hardworking Michael Brown get a community for homeless people established in Fayetteville. So I started a Facebook pagefor him and administrated it for a while. Last time I talked to him, he was still working on this project.
Facebook page, personal: I am an open book! I’ve been on Facebook for a long time. Anyone can view my profile.
Family blog:At one time, we were experimenting with calling our family a community, and this is a record of that time.
My business blog: I am still open for business!
My personal blog: You can learn about what I’ve been up to since 2007!
Recommendations and history: I gathered most of my recommendations up on this page, and I could add a bunch more.
Organizing Stories: An old blog about some of my first organizing experiences
Experience with NonViolent Communication: I have been studying and practicing NVC since 1988, when my son was living in my womb.
I used to be a musician and I produced 7 tapes (yes, that was when cassette tapes where in vogue). Here is a sample: http://www.songsforteaching.com/store/can-do-kids-cooperative-learning-mini-album-download-pr-58272.html
Us against the problem: http://www.songsforteaching.com/charactereducationsongs/itsusagainsttheproblem.htm
An article in the Free Weekly: http://www.freeweekly.com/2015/12/16/making-the-holidays-meaningful-sustainable-and-simple/
You have been able to find out a lot of information about me, the founder of the community–so if you want to start the process of coming to visit in order to explore joining the community, please answer the questions below. You can cut and past these on a google doc or email in order to give the answers.
If you have a challenging time writing, can you somehow send a video where you can answer these questions?
Or, answer very briefly and we can cover the details more in an interview–as long as you have provided references.
References: People you have lived with or worked for. Names, numbers, email.
Name, contact info, basic demographic information, and anything else you’d like to share about where you’re from, your family, past experiences, etc.
- How did you hear about us?
- What is your experience living in intentional community?
- Describe what’s important to you in a community.
- What interested you about Vegan Visions in particular? What do you think you would benefit from? What do you have to contribute?
Have you read the values on the blog? If not, please read them.
Do you find any problematic?
Could you live with people who have these values, even if you don’t totally agree?
Are there any values that you hold dear that are missing?
How are you living out the values listed now? How do you want to in the future?
Describe your understanding of egalitarianism.
- How do you like to spend your time?
- What do you do to sustain yourself financially, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc?
- What kind of living environment to you like (in terms of privacy/common space, cleanliness, noise levels, number of community/ political/ social events in your house, children, emotional closeness with housemates, etc)?
Other nitty gritty:
- How do you feel about our current policies and will they be difficult for you?
- Is there anything we should know about your history? Have you been convicted of any crime? Do you have long term physical or mental health issues? Have you had difficulty with drugs and alcohol? Do you have addictions?
- How do you deal with personal and community-level conflict?
- Do you like structure?
- What is your understanding of sociocracy>
I thought the article below makes a lot of sense. I have long been interested in the Enneagram as a way of understanding myself and others. This approach makes sense because these are universal character traits and values that people hold. the only one I don’t understand is number 6: Loyalist: I value guarantees. I would think that the value would be “Trust”
I am seeking to find the universal values and character traits that if people are cultivating them or have cultivated them, healthy community is a result.
I want to create a community design that brings out the best in people, and people coming here know what we define as “the best.”
I am not asking for perfect people to join the community. I am asking for people who have the humility to know that they need to foster character traits that lead to them being healthy, whole individuals. I want people who can demonstrate that they sincerely are aspiring to live according to the universal values such as the ones listed below.
I would like to hear what you think about this way of approaching defining who the kind of people I am looking for to join Wellspring Community.
People do not have to be eating a plant based diet in order to join Wellspring. They just need to be willing to eat the whole food, oil free plant based diet when living on the land.
I would rather people join who want to foster character traits and live in alignment with the following values. I believe these people will contribute more to creating healthy community, than committed vegans who do not share these things in common.
I will be writing about practices, rules (boundaries) and the structure of the community that can contribute to creating an environment where everyone feels a sense of freedom and purpose.
This is the excerpt from a newsletter which I received from A Center for Action and Contemplation http://www.cac.org
One of our recent Living School students, Dr. Jerome Lubbe, is a functional neurologist and co-founder of Thrive NeuroTheology. He has developed a science-based method to understand the Enneagram which he explores in his book Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)holistic Human Thriving. For the next couple Saturdays, we’ll share some ideas and practices from Dr. Lubbe’s book. While I believe it can be helpful to recognize the habitual tendencies within ourselves associated with a primary Enneagram number, Lubbe reminds us that we’re complex and multi-faceted beings:
When we understand the Enneagram as a Whole-Identity Profile instead of a single number personality “type,” we expand our capacity for growth and health in a multitude of directions. . . .
You are not a personality. You are not even multiple personalities. You have an identity—and what creates and characterizes your identity can be charted by the nine numbers of the Enneagram. The anatomy of the brain reflects this: we are not left-brained or right-brained, we are whole brained. The same is true for the Enneagram. To put it more plainly, you are not a personality type or number on the Enneagram. You are a whole person who has a whole identity—you are all nine numbers. . . . Tools like the Enneagram are meant for expanding awareness of the whole. . . .
When you shift the Enneagram Framework from being a number to having efficiencies in all nine numbers, the Enneagram language shifts with it. It becomes about nature and values instead of type and reductive behaviors. For example, number Seven, traditionally associated with the title of “Enthusiast,” is instead represented by the innate human capacity for “Enthusiasm” as well as the value of “Experiences.”
“I am an enthusiast” becomes “I value experiences” which allows more room for nuance, invites growth and begs the question, “. . . and what else do I value?” . . . There is no human who is defined by a single number. 
If you have resisted being “pinned down” to any one Enneagram number, perhaps Lubbe’s approach will help you see all of these qualities within yourself. Take a few minutes to read the statements below aloud slowly, pausing for reflection after each one. Notice any sensations in your body. Observe the difference between the impact of “I am” statements versus “I value.” After reading all nine, where do you feel the most energy and resonance? What values are especially meaningful to you? What values do you want to spend more time cultivating?
Eight: I am a Challenger = I value Autonomy
Nine: I am a Peacemaker = I value Serenity
One: I am a Reformer = I value Justice
Two: I am a Helper = I value Appreciation
Three: I am an Individualist = I value Authenticity
Four: I am an Achiever = I value Creativity
Five: I am an Investigator = I value Clarity
Six: I am a Loyalist = I value Guarantees
Seven: I am an Enthusiast = I value Experiences 
 Jerome D. Lubbe, Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)holistic Human Thriving (Thrive Neuro: 2019), 4, 23, 32. See also https://www.wholeidentity.com. Artwork by Aimee Strickland; used with permission.
 Ibid., 32. Dr. Lubbe’s upcoming book The Brain-Based Enneagram: You are not A number (vol. 1) will share his latest work on whole-brained interpretation of the Enneagram.
Banner image credit: Last Supper Study (detail), Andrea del Sarto, 1520-1525, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Here in the Ozarks, there are plants that actually grow all year long–like wintercress. Yes, we want to grow lots of food, yet foraging for wild plants is a great use of our time, and yields a high amount of nutrients. Here is sd useful article.
Here are my two play lists on Youtube for gathering wild edibles and foraging for food. What are your favorite wild edibles? What are the best resources you have found to help identify them? We want to know!