Visitor Information Packet: still in process!

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

Meals

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.

Diet

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.

Clothes

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.

Nudity

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

Space Usage

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 Furnishings

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

Outhouse Usage

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.

Kitchen Refuse

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.

Other Refuse

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.

Communication Services

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.

Mail Services

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.

Computer Use

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.

Cell phones

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.

Bulletin Boards

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.

Transportation

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.

Town Trips

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.

Vehicle Repair

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.

Bicycles

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

Emergency Resources

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.

Insects

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

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.

Hygienic Practices

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.

Reproductive Responsibility

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

Fair Share

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

“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.

Finding Work

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.

Done Time

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

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.

Recreation

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.

Festivals

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.

Music

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.

Smoking

This is a smoke free community.

Interpersonal

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.

Communication

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.

Being Non-Intrusive

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.

Assertiveness

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.

Children

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.

Gender Concerns

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.

Sexual Harassment

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.

Definition

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.

Visitor fees:

to be decided.

Wildlife

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.

Membership

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.

Leaving Wellspring

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.

Published by Patricia Mikkelson

I'm starting a Christian Universalist Monastery for women. I am a professional organizer and I enjoy helping people virtually via Zoom, FaceTime, etc. Vegan, conservative, Trump Supporter.

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