Go Ask Alice

I appreciate dynamic really, precise communication. So Equally, I’ve great respect for those who have an upbeat method of function’s and lifestyle’s most challenging issues authentically. It’s uncommon to get those two characteristics well integrated in a single person. I keep in my center two shining examples I want to tell you about.

Back in June 2014 I began an intermittent email correspondence with Coho/US’s Executive Director, Alice Alexander about various aspects of the May 2015 conference; how could we serve, how could we be served by the event. Little did I know I’d struck pure coho gold. Turns out our Alice could be (should be) the poster child for cooperative culture and is an excellent choice to spearhead the works arm of the national cohousing organization.

Alice Alexander executive director Coho USNever too busy or aloof. Grounded and even-minded (despite juggling major organizational challenges like a massive website redesign and this Hydra of a national conference, all while personally moving into Durham Central Park Cohousing which was just completed last August) Alice became simultaneously a doorway for our group to the conference, and a draw to me. She stayed well on top of things, making it easy-peasy to work out the details of our conference sponsorship and volunteerism in a timely manner, and to handle our group’s hodge-podge registration. I intuited from our notes back and forth that there would be at least this one friendly face when I arrived in Durham. And she was even better in real life than I’d supposed.

Helpful Ladies

We probably said it twelve times during the weekend, fri morning hours change in the sign up desk especially within my 6 hour, but We heard other folks telling in addition, it, “Move ask Alice. I think know she’ll. ” She was omni-present quietly, having a thin sheaf of documents clutched to her upper body typically, and appeared to move gracefully in one knot of inquisitive visitors to another, holding a beacon for the confused, the lost, even the disgruntled. And usually when she turned away all were smiling.

I’m not sure when I realized ask Alice “Go, I believe she’ll know” are some lyrics to White Rabbit (an old Jefferson Airplane song.) Naturally, they got stuck in my head. I can promise you I wasn’t smoking or doing anything trippy, but the three days that I spent at the national cohousing conference in Durham, NC were powerful, and felt trippy. Accustomed as we are to being the lone cohousers for at least 25 miles, we were suddenly just seven Jubilee members from Floyd, VA, at sea in a living ocean of nearly 500 cohousers from all over the nation as well as Australia and South Africa.

Not to mix my metaphors, but we just weren’t in Kansas any more.

And, boy, that felt terrific. Not once all weekend did we have to try to explain to any of those 500 other people what cohousing is; why it’s neither a commune nor a gated community, or why we might want to have community meals 7 days a week!

Each workshop I attended was a passage to a new adventure where participants explored harvests of experience and wisdom shared by people who once were exactly where Jubilee members are now, people who’ve also trod the path of uncertainty, and now are successfully living in their communities. These presenters were energetically coaching the participants from the vantage point of having (some of them) two or more decades in community behind them. Suddenly we were having passing conversations with influential cohousing community market leaders I’d only have you ever heard of before. Just what a hurry!

A huge selection of Attendees

Sunday morning, that was the final day time of the meeting, several Jubilee people pushed in to the crowded workshop called Community as an Economic Engine led by Terry O’Keefe and Laird Schaub. This is actually the workshop which was, for me, mind altering completely. I used to be opened by These presenters up to different group of queries regarding our building community. As an excellent cohouser, studied within the 6 common features of cohousing, among which you might keep in mind is not any distributed community overall economy, I had not allowed my mind to stray. Stray, for instance, into the territory of how our community might intentionally be proactive about economic changes headed our way regionally and meet them with greater foresight and imagination. Under the influence of what was in that room I could see how this work could strengthen Jubilee and also offer something of a stabilizing influence in the larger community of rural Floyd, VA in difficult economic times.

In fact, here is a subject of such importance and inherent complexity to communities that entering it alone, in one’s own mind, can be scary and unproductive. But these amazing guys managed to, in effect, entice me and fellow Jubilants (as we were quickly dubbed) into this very trippy area of community vision that I’ve previously held out of bounds. They worked as a team to set the fire, bait the hook and reel me in, just by clearly, optimistically communicating the higher sustaining purpose of such a pro-active exploration; for me, for Jubilee, for Floyd. Hey, now I’m in the frying pan! Yikes!

Terry was one of the happiest surprises of the conference for me. I was launched to him at the reception generously hosted for participants by the community at Durham Central Park a very well planned and executed urban cohousing community within walking distance of the conference center. I hadn’t any inkling of who he was. I loved speaking with him. He previously that sparkle when talking about his community and function encounters that says, I’m onto something right here. Due to that short discussion I sensed highly resulted in go to their workshop following morning.

Terry was the co-founder and executive director of a green business nonprofit and now maintains a small entrepreneurial coaching practice near Asheville, N.C. He published a weekly column on business and economics for the Suggestions section of the Asheville Citizen-Times and he blogs.

At one time Terry lived in an intentional community in Western MA called Sirius. Sirius community was founded in September 1978 by former users of Findhorn Community in Scotland wishing to establish a comparable community in their American homeland. Its foundation is spiritual, but in a nonsectarian manner that allows for each person to find their own way to the center of all beingness and fact. The shared expression reflects reverence for everyone Life and determination to reside in accord with this purpose whenever you can. We hence make use of lasting ways of living along with a consensus-style governance procedure ecologically, trying to honor all that’s.

Terry’s work is normally shaped by the fact that if we are able to understand how we have been changing and just why we have been changing, then perhaps we are able to get out prior to the transformation procedure and “co-create” our upcoming with just as much grace so when little damage as possible.

Laird SchaubMany occasions over the course of the weekend I had been delighted to see our aged Jubilee friend Laird smiling at us from your Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) publication table practically across the hall from our Jubilee info table. He was for a long time the main FIC administrator and is one of the creators of the FIC, itself an amazing community resource. He had a full plate like a presenter at this conference.

In addition to being an author and public speaker about various aspects of community, Laird’s also considers himself a meeting junkie and has parlayed his enthusiasm for good process into a consulting business on group dynamics (Canbridge Discussion and Facilitation.) He’s worked with over 60 different organizations, many of them multiple occasions. His specialty is definitely up-tempo meetings that engage the full range of human being input, teaching groupings to utilize issue artistically, and at the same time getting ruthless about recording as much item as possible.

Laird lived 38 years in Sandhill Plantation, an income-sharing rural community in Missouri that he helped present. Even more he resided at Dance Rabbit lately, an evergrowing eco village, in central MO also. Currently he is moving practically into our neighborhood, taking up residence in Chapel Hill, NC where we can have easy access to his stellar group process consultations and trainings. You might enjoy Laird’s blog.

Having access to Laird when you are forming/building community, or run into a bump in the road when living i