I feel so encouraged and inspired now that 3 wonderful people have joined me to help get the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage to a place where people can live here and we have a real live community!
Cliff Mikkelson, my former husband and present time friend, has agreed to be co-founder of the community. Scott Masters, who shares my life long passion for cultivating healthy community, who I have known for a half decade, is joining. Rob McNeil, who I met almost a year ago, has been supporting me as a friend and advisor every since he came to visit on the LIVE tour (Loving Intentional Vegan Experience) where he helped facilitate a retreat and day of action for animal rights activists in the area.
Learning how to apply Sociocracy , a governing system that is in total harmony with our views of “every one matters, everyone is heard”, has helped me immensely. Applying these skills and principles has not only been wildly productive and connecting, but gives us all practice in actually living in community.
- Over the past 2 1/2 years (we got some major funding in Oct. 2016 that helped immensely). I learned to be a manager of of a staff of 5 people, and with their help we did the following:
- Created a website which continues to grow in content and be updated.
- Changed from being Jesus Vegans to Vegan Utopia Ecovillage when I realized that the main people who were interested in the community were not Christians, and the Christians that were interested did not like my interpretation of the Bible.
- Built a common house that can be used by about 30-40 people.
- Built two big sturdy decks, one of which will have a 16 foot diameter tent that can host circle gatherings
- Well on our way to completing all the steps to creating community outlined by Diana Leafe Christian, our coach and author of the book How to Live Together
- Almost completing a land agreement so that the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage land can be owned by the community itself, thus creating an entity which can last into the next 7 generations or more.
- Permaculture designers have done some work on making
In addition, I could write a book about how much I learned about the animal rights movement by spending 3 months in Berkeley where I was able to devote full time helping Direct Action Everywhere.
My time in Berkeley was cut short because my grandson, Gideon, died rather suddenly. I came back, thinking I was making a sacrifice to be here for my daughter, (his mother) especially. But I found that I was the one receiving the gift. I realized that I really needed to focus on building VUE. I needed to face every fear of failure–and even fear of success!
Over the past 6 months of being back in Arkansas, I have learned more about how to create healthy friendships than I ever have in my life! Having friends who are willing to work out even the most difficult of conflicts has helped me have confidence that healthy community is possible. I could also write a book about how many times I have been shocked and disappointed by people who I thought for sure were going to be my best friends. Something has shifted.
Even though I still get my hopes up and think that people who express interest in living in community are going to work out–and they don’t–I am no longer shattered. Instead of taking thing personally, I realize that the percentage of the population who are able to look at their shadow, and transform like a caterpillar into a butterfly–is very small. We just have to find those people who fit. Those who crave authentic relationships where we learn to love each other in ways that transform our lives so we can realize our fullest potential in helping create our common goal: a vegan utopia!
Finally, I feel ready to promote the Ecovillage and feel a solid enough foundation that we can invite people here in a way that people can explore possibilities without making a huge commitment. Just about everyone has been burned in some way working with groups and communities, and they are cautious! I certainly don’t blame people for wanting a way to get to know us that is non-threatening.
If you want to know our current strategy, check out this blog post.