Now that we are using Sociocracy 3.0 as our governing system, we call our board of directors our Mission Circle. Thank you, Rob McNeil, for your wonderful support. I met Rob almost a year ago when Rob lead the LIVE tour and stopped in our neck of the woods. LIVE stands for Love-based Intentional Vegan Experience. I am so glad that Rob initiated this wonderful tour!
Sky, Cliff and I, who have been on the mission circle for the past 2 years, are very grateful to have Rob on board.
Here is his bio:
I went vegan 2+ years ago after visiting a farm sanctuary and making the connection that ‘we are who we eat’, and spending a summer with an already vegan daughter. A Financial Controller by trade, I plan to apply 3 decades of business experience to help forge the VUE into a strong, stable institution.
A New Zealander by birth, I have lived in Canada for 30 years now. I am an organizer or supporter of several animal rights organizations, including Save, Anonymous For the Voiceless and DxE.
I am intimately involved with a group working on reframing the AR movement to a clearer abolitionist stance, as well as helping lead the fight against a new massive slaughterhouse in his hometown in Canada.
I lead a tour of midwestern USA mega slaughterhouse towns in 2018 and I look forward to touring more in the future.
My other interests include astronomy, anti-capitalism, NVC, guitar and travel.
I am committed to social justice initiatives in general, and activism for animals in particular. These agendas are best advanced by being in community with like-minded people. I think it’s very important for ventures like VUE to succeed. In particular, VUE has the potential to blend Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and Healthy Community practices in a new way and rewrite the book on vegan intentional communities. I am excited to help in any way possible.
This is a revised Chapter 6, in the book, “Creating a Life Together” (Diana Leafe Christian. She re-wrote this chapter based on her own experience and the experiences of others. Diana has coached our team and we are continuing to use her services. You can learn more about her at her website https://dianaleafechristian.org
We are adopting Sociocracy 3.0 as our governing system which will hopefully alleviate the problems described in this chapter. Diana recommends Sociocracy as the ideal governing system. My research and experience has guided me to recommend this to our Mission Circle (similar to a board of directors) and we are trying this out. Here is an article that describes the difference between Sociocracy and Sociocracy 3.0
Here is a google doc with the entire chapter.
This is the beginning of working on our our first course. I am so excited! Cliff and Scott are going to be working on this with me, and I’m sure the other members of our mission circle, plus our Resource Person, Amrit, will be weighing in on this.
Practices for building healthy Community
Learn skills that are invaluable for creating and sustaining nurturing friendships which lead to healthy communities. This 3 hour workshop will help anyone cultivate healthy friendships, and bring those friends together into a healthy community–both residential, in person, and long distance.
Most of these practices and structures will include a short introduction, an exercise to practice, and resources on line which can help you deepen the skills. Making the habit of using these practices can lead to having a greater degree of emotional intelligence.
- Prevent conflicts: Tell the truth quickly by identifying, celebrating, and sharing incompletions
- Set healthy boundaries: Use Nonviolent Communication to share your needs with compassion
- Avoiding burn out and achieve thriving health: Self care and nurturing the Vagus Nerve
- Toxic relationships: How to identify, avoid, and escape
- Connecting Exercises: Practice “Dyads” to encourage vulnerability and intimacy
- Friendship Pledge: Set intentions to strengthen relationships
- A structure for friendship deepening: Learn a structure that is like the banks of a river so that the love between friends can flow abundantly
- Listening Empathically: A cornerstone of great relationships
- Oneness: Share the spirituality of connection with all life– without religion
- Celebration and appreciation: Authentic appreciation to build trust
- Anger Transformation: Use the “learning letter” to magically change anger into unconditional love
- Playing/dancing/singing: Bring light into your relationships to nurture the inner child
- Building Trust: Make deposits into your friends’ emotional bank accounts by keeping the Four Agreements
- Healing Past Trauma: Create a safe space so people can release those layers of negativity
- Supporting Equality: Consent Decision making so decisions can be made that are good enough for now, safe enough to try. Intro to Sociocracy 3.0
- Values identification: Make sure you have solid shared ethical foundation to avoid irreconcilable difference
- Putting it all together: Come together in healing, nurturing, restorative circles
- Long distance communities: Use conference calls, zoom, FB messaging to connect
- Buddy System: Create a network of friends who you can call on for emotional first aid
What do you think of this list of practices? Do you have any others to add? What resources would you like to share to help people develop practices for healthy community.
Today we will hold our 3rd “mission circle” meeting. A mission circle is similar to a board of directors. Since we are using Sociocracy 3.0 as our governance system, this is a name often used to describe the circle that performs many of the same functions as a board.
I feel really excited to be sharing updates with this wonderful circle which is made up of Cliff Mikkelson, Scott Masters, Rob McNeil, Kyle Luzynski, and myself.
Here are the announcements that I will be sharing. The first item–I just heard about this morning, so not even they know!
- We Are Meeting a Need! Direct Action Everywhere is going to start a campaign similar to the way that Bernie Sanders did his. They will use Slack.com (yay–we are starting to use that!) and a weekly call so that everyone can share knowledge, resources, and strategies. They want to encourage small groups to get together to run with this.
I feel happy because they are not needing I am going to get the link where we can sign up and be a part of that. I learned this on the monthly donors call that is held every Sat. morning. I asked Wayne if they were going to encourage people to start community circles and he was very happy that I asked this question–and acknowledged that I came to Berkeley and helped get this project off the ground!
He said they will definitely be encouraging people to connect, build friendships, and be there for each other. And they still haven’t gotten as much training about healthy community circle building as I would like. They need us!
2. Our First Course. I hope to have an outline for the 3 hour course, Skills for Building Healthy Communities (working name). Cliff has completed his 20 minute section on Oneness, and Sky and I are going to meet tomorrow to talk about moving this project forward. Cliff is going to help with editing and giving feedback–two things he is great at!
3. Cooperation With DxE: When Wayne answered my question about community, he spoke for about 3 minutes about how essential it is for animal rights activists to have a place where they feel a sense of belonging. “50% of activists leave the movement because of burn out and feeling a lack of support,” he said. I am so excited because now we can support the Ban Fur movement, which is truly becoming international, with our healthy community building skills.
I will be joining the weekly calls and getting on the Slack channel. I will also find out who is in charge of this, and see if we can have a channel on healthy community building! I will offer to be in charge of this channel. I am really glad to be reconnecting with DxE.
4. Limited Liability Corporation: I’m 99% sure we will be forming a Limited Liability Corporation for the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage. The reasons are as follows:
a. It is one of the simplest legal entities to form. Easier than a non-profit
b. This is highly recommended by Diana Leafe Christian, author of Creating Life Together, one of the leading experts in forming intentional communities. You can find a document she has written about legal stuff and communities here. Plus, she is our coach! She owes me about an hour of time, and she has agreed to look over our final documents and give recommendations and feedback.
c. Kickstarter campaign check list recommends creating an LLC.
I am going to take this course about how to start an LLC and see what I can do on my own. I might get a lawyer to look at it if necessary.
5. I am getting a notebook together in order to stay more organized. There are three major projects that VUE is working on and I want to be able to put resources and notes in the notebook, as well as create folders in google docs. Here are the three main projects which each have google docs that are serving as check lists for me to work off of.
a. Community Building Checklist: Recently I re-connected with Diana Leafe Christian, and she sent me a whole slew of google docs that I can edit and adopt for our community. This check list was one of them. I have written updates as to how we are doing on the check list.
b. Kickstarter Checklist: Kyle and Rob agreed that they want to help with creating a crowdfunding campaign in order to raise the $16,500 which is owed for the property, and about $20,000 to finish the infrastructure on the land so people can semi-comfortably live there. I am excited that social media presence is important for successful campaigns. With Chris’s help, when he worked for me, we have large followings on Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook. Also, since we have been around for almost 3 years, that gives us credibility as well. Did you know we have one video on hugelkultur gardening that has over 80,000 views?
c. Learning Center Description: This document describes all the things that we can teach at the learning center. Many of these classes are ones that Cliff, Amrit and I can teach. Amrit is not able to be on the Mission Circle as this time, but she wants to be a resource person. We still need to figure out a name for the Learning Center, especially since in the beginning it will be on line. Also, we want courses to appeal to both vegans and non vegans, and we are figuring that out as well.
Thanks to circle members for helping do research on the best platform. I am leaning towards Teachable. Here is a link to a review by a person I trust. $29 a month is the basic fee for unlimited courses which I think is doable. This is so exciting–to think that we can attract people who are interested in VUE who are teachers and want to do courses even if they don’t live here.
5. Thank You, Mission Circle Members! I just want to thank all the members of the circle for being so faithful in showing up and being supportive. Their encouragement, presence and advice has motivated me immensely. I connect with Cliff, Rob, Kyle and Sky throughout the week to get advice and ideas. Amrit has contributed to ideas as well, plus we do an emotional release session every Friday which helps me to stay emotionally healthy.
We are all working together so wonderfully! Building friendships as we work on projects is the way to build healthy community!
6. Co-founders Meetings: Cliff and I have kept our commitment to talk every night unless we have a meeting. Except for one night when his phone didn’t ring, we have met every single day, and this has really helped us feel as if we truly are co-founders–not just me running the show! I am getting better at writing down the things we talk about so that we can be more transparent (a very important aspect of Sociocracy) and organized. The minutes of our meetings can be found here.
7. Sociocracy Class Report: I was thinking about dropping out of my sociocracy class because I wasn’t learning as much as I wanted, and my time is so precious. But I am sensing that it will be good for me and the group if I finish the class. However, we will be talking in our next meeting about adopting Sociocracy 3.0 as our governance system. You can find out more about why this is different from basic Sociocracy here. Although in my class I encountered some disappointing dynamics which didn’t seem congruent with sociocratic principles, my experience gave me more confidence to go forward with trying out the various structures and skills.
Plus, I saw first hand what the weaknesses of basic Sociocracy were, so I could more intelligently embrace Sociocracy 3.0. I had been exposed to S-3 first, but because they didn’t have as much training as the Sociocracy for All organization, I thought SoFA was the way to go. Now, S-3 has a lot more videos, the explanations are clearer, and they have revised some stuff.
I see that all of the skills and structures that S-3 offers, and gives away freely, can be used in our Skills for Building Healthy Community course. I also love that they encourage people to improve upon the skills and structures they share in such detail on their website and change them however we like. Maybe they will use our changes! And maybe we will add more skills to the tool box.
8. Today we will go over the Friendship Pledge and have a simple ceremony where we share in our own words what the pledge means to us personally. Today, March 2, 2019, will be the official beginning of the Mission Circle where we make a commitment to each other and to the project to work together for the next 6 months, at which time we will review our commitment and see if we can make a longer commitment.
Our two previous meetings gave us an opportunity to all get to know each other better and get a taste of what it will be like to meet on a conference call every month and stay in contact throughout the month. Our one hour conference calls were so harmonious and uplifting, and we got a lot done in an hour. A description of what it means to be a Mission Circle member is found here.
9. Weekly Reports: I need to make a checklist of what to include in the weekly reports. I am going to start posting them on a blog, and encouraging everyone to subscribe to the blog so that mission circle members will get notifications about new blog posts, and be up to date on everything. This also will be great for people who are interested in being involved who want to hear updates. I am ready to prioritize my time to keep people posted. Partly this is because it is a foundational part of Sociocracy 3.0, and because I want people to see how we are evolving and how exciting it is to be involved with this.
I would love it if you would write any comments and let me know what you are thinking and how you felt about this blog post.