In this podcast Paul interviews Diana Leafe Christian, author of two books on community living, and editor of Communities magazine for fourteen years. Her basis of knowledge is her interaction with an extraordinarily large number of intentional communities – her current count is about 134 communities around the globe. She’s found that only a tiny fraction of communities kick off and survive for any length of time, and she’s trying to help more of them succeed at this.
Diana relates the story of Earth Haven’s establishment and how they got the property paid off in seven years.
Paul sent Diana the jump drive jar but she didn’t realize that it had data in it! So she probably hasn’t listened to any of the newer podcasts, since the intentional communities podcast in 2012. However, she does have a new thought on founder’s syndrome that she wants to share but that’ll have to wait for part 2 because first, she talks about:
THE THREE ASPECTS OF A THRIVING COMMUNITY
Diana describes a diagram like a donut, divided into three equal segments:
Segment 1: Community Glue. All the shared experiences of work and play that build trust, gratitude, and connection – the oxytocin triggers that build a sort of community immune system for when things get stressful. Diana passes on a piece of advice from Geoph Kozeny (probably the most knowledgeable human about intentional community building while he was still alive): that the single most important piece of glue you can have is a minimum of four shared meals a week.
Segment 2: Good Process and Communication Skills. Diana strongly encourages training in Nonviolent Communication and Nondefensive Communication, and recommends Taking the War Out of Our Words by Sharon Strand Ellison. (Link below) Paul and Diana discuss how these tools may be used for good or evil. Paul shares his recipe for community (a central leader and good glue), conflict resolution (repairing differences in knowledge base), and communication (patience).
Segment 3: Effective Project Management. Or, how to run the business-like facets of the community, and also how to communicate your vision, policies, and process effectively to prospective and current members.
Final Segment (the donut-hole): Governance and Decision making. Or, what does your community make decisions about, and how do you make those decisions? Also, when consensus (in its many many variations) is and isn’t right for a community. Diana mentions two specific forms of consensus that may be more useful for many communities: Holacracy and Sociocracy. This central aspect has the same reinforcing relationship with the outer pieces of the community puzzle.
Paul wants to recognize the immense amount of work that has been put into each of these aspects in other communities, but that he is having some success at shortcutting all this by having the comparatively simpler system of a central leader. Diana will share her new thoughts on this…in part 2!
Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community, by Diana Leafe Christian
Taking the War Out of Our Words: The Art of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication, by Sharon Ellison
Credit: Mike Jastram
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