Report from the Art of Community Conference

From Sept 23-25, 2011, FIC (Federation for Intentional Community) presented a weekend conference in Occidental, CA, about 50 miles north of San Francisco.

About 250 people attended. 20-30 communities were represented, mostly from the Bay Area and the West coast.

The keynote speaker was Kevin Danaher, founder of the Green Festivals and Global Exchange. He gave a lively and inspiring talk about some of the many success of individuals and organizations in building a sustainable economic system. Some companies, for example, are finding financial success in making useful products out of free “used” or recycled materials. Mr. Danaher is also involved with bringing together “green” investors with “green” companies, with considerable financial success. You can hear a similar talk of his here.

There were a great many workshop choices, on such subjects as consensus, power and leadership in IC’s (intentional communities), meeting facilitation skills, history of IC’s, spirituality, legal and financial structures for IC’s, CoHousing IC’s, Ecovillages, songs and games for community building, and many more.

The main event Saturday night was the premier showing of a 2-hour movie, Within reach, by Mandy and Ryan, two young people who bicycled over 6,000 miles around the country. They visited 100 IC’s, and the movie is filled with many voices enthusiastically talking about their communities all over the nation. Here is a 3-minute trailer.

There was dancing, lots of music, gentle yoga, laughing yoga, great food, and lots of great connections with new and old friends. I came away with a renewed optimism that despite the obvious problems so often covered in the media, there are in fact a great many small and local successes as people of all kinds are finding ways to join together to build a more sustainable future. There is indeed hope for a better world.

Larry Rider, President, NICA

Report on NICA East West Panel, Sept 1, 2011

On Thursday, September 1, 2011, NICA hosted its 3rd panel presentation at the East West Bookshop at 6500 Rossevelt Way NE Seattle. About 30 people attended. The topic was

Intentional Communities: Models for Sustainable Living. Our goal was to share with people some of the many benefits of community living, and how examples of a saner, more sustainable lifestyle are now being developed in communities, and that many of these developments hold the promise of benefits that can spread in the wider community as well.

The panel consisted of :

  • Phil Noterman and Helen Gabel from New Earth Song in Bothell;
  • Larry Rider from the Ananda Community of Lynnwood;
  • Jonathan Betz-Zall from Bright Morningstarin Seattle, and
  • Francis Parks from Duwamish Co-Housing in Seattle.

In addition to briefly describing their communities, panelists shared examples from their life in community on such topics as simple living and shared resources; sharing food growing and meals; a sense of belonging and creative participation; and more satisfying models of leadership and decision-making.

There was a wide range of questions from the audience, sharing their own stories and asking questions of the panelists. From these questions there was a sense among the panelists that the interest in intentional community is growing as people become more concerned about the need for more sustainable lifestyles.

Videos available from Hope for a Better World Panel Discussion

Video segments from the Hope for a Better World panel discussion, hosted by NICA at East West Bookshop, October 13, 2010, are now available on the nwcommunities Youtube site.

Communities represented on this panel included Bright Morning Star, Ananda Community Lynnwood, Jackson Park Co-housing, and Sherwood Co-op.

Each community provided an introduction as well as a reflection on specific benefits of living in intentional community, such as Satisfying Relationships, Harmonious Living, Shared Resources, and Cooperation.

Here are a few samples:



The entire playlist can be viewed here.

And the playlist from the previous Panel Discussion (Models for Sustainable Living) can be viewed here.

Thanks to all who participated.

Communities Welcome Bees, with a Cautionary Tale

Port Townsend EcoVillage and Songaia Cohousing welcomed bee hives this spring. Here are a few shots, the first two from Port Townsend, and the second two from Songaia:

Kees Kolff from Port Townsend shared this cautionary tale about being sure to count your zippers while tending the hive:

There I was, all suited up with the top of the hive open.  The bees were particularly feisty and this hive at Sunfield Farm was not my favorite.  I suspect they were a slightly aggressive Russian hybrid but don’t really know since I had volunteered to care for them after the previous beekeeper left.  So I was treating them with all due respect and care when I noticed that part of my blue shirt was sticking out of the zipper in my bee suit.  In fact, my bee suit wasn’t zipped up at all and there were hundreds of bees on my shirt and now inside my suit.

The next scene would have been a hit on YouTube but unfortunately nobody was around to film it.  I went racing down the wide-open field in a panic, shedding my veil, gloves, boots and eventually the entire suit while I ran for my life with a stream of bees in pursuit.  The queen guardian of beekeepers must have been smiling down on me that day since I did not get a single sting!

So what’s the moral of this story?  If you have a zipper on your blue jeans and you are fully suited up and you need to relieve yourself, remember to count the number of zippers you zip down and then zip up again.  And count your blessing every day!