Spring 2018 edition of Communities magazine focuses on “Class, Race, and Privilege”

In today’s world, it’s rare to find positive and engaging stories that simultaneously expose readers to sensitive topics like race, class, and social barriers and biases. The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), a nonprofit organization with offices based in Rutledge, Missouri and Louisa, Virginia, has produced Communities magazine for the past 25 years, exploring the joys and challenges of navigating such issues together in cooperative groups.

The Spring 2018 edition of Communities, released on March 7, focuses on “Class, Race, and Privilege,” and contains more than 20 articles which look unflinchingly at a major “elephant in the room”—the relative lack of racial and class diversity in most intentional communities, at least in North America—while suggesting ways of understanding and addressing it.

For those who are unaware, intentional communities are essentially planned developments with a purpose, with members who share common social, economic, philosophical, or political interests. These communities come in a variety of forms, including cohousing, ecovillages, cooperative houses, and communes.

The magazine issue’s relevance extends far beyond intentional communities, which serve as microcosms for dealing with these core social concerns. In order to facilitate wider distribution and readership of this issue, the FIC is offering digital copies of issue #178 for free download from https://www.ic.org/community-bookstore/product/communities-magazine-178-spring-2018-class-race-privilege —including formats compatible with every variation of electronic device.

The FIC is soliciting donations to support this offering, but not as a condition of digital issue download.

Authors share stories of obstacles they’ve encountered (from both sides of the privilege equation) and positive steps they and their groups have taken to move toward greater inclusivity and equity. They also reflect honestly on the deep-rootedness of unconscious racism, of social and cultural barriers, of problems of power, privilege, classism, “white fragility,” and more.

To learn more about the Fellowship for Intentional Community visit www.ic.org or www.facebook.com/FellowshipForIntentionalCommunity. The FIC is funded by members, donors, and subscribers, and it also offers the public an online community bookstore with hundreds of low-cost and free resources, and a directory for searching for and locating intentional communities across the globe

Dynamic Governance Workshop

Jerry Koch-Gonzalez will be doing a one-day Sociocracy workshop on Sunday, January 25th in Seattle – 2100 24th Avenue South. (His workshop is called “Dynamic Governance.” a different name for Sociocracy.) The price is $120-$40 sliding scale, $75 as median price

Bookshelf Highlight: The Zen of Groups

ZenOfGroupsThe Zen of Groups is one book I recommend for anyone in an organizing role in forming groups or for new facilitators in community or work settings. Anyone interested in group dynamics can appreciate it but it’s especially good as an introductory view of what to expect from group behavior, common tensions and pitfalls and what to do about the various challenges. It has clear descriptions of what affects decision-making in a group setting, provides a nice overview of options that an intentional community can choose from along a continuum of group processes & styles. Half the book is structured as a list of activities to draw from for creativity or problem-solving, depending on the goal of a group at a particular time. There are good reminders of what you might propose if you are in a facilitative situation, but a group must be willing to agree to a process which is sometimes not so easy, even if it’s a simple exercise. There can be many subtleties to checking for agreement within a group; and if you’re a group member and you want to alter the culture of the group to truly be flexible, there may be challenges, but there are practices you can learn, reinforce, and ritualize.

Many groups forget to discuss their own agreements about what decision-making process they will use, so the role of a facilitator can then be murky and mixed with resentment toward leadership. If however, you are in a group where a facilitator has been designated for any amount of time, no matter what decision making process or style is prevalent, and the group is open to try new ways of structuring meetings, then they can gain new ways of seeing themselves by using this book. It provides explicit and simple exercises to draw from allowing any number of people in a group to build skills and create what becomes a facilitator’s tool kit.

NICA has several copies of this book which are for sale at any of our events (or available by mail order, with postage).

Syd Fredrickson