Review of Sociocracy 3.0 Which Guides Our Governance

I wrote this review so that the folks at Sociocracy 3.0 could feel encouraged and having something to share about how S3 is being applied in various areas. You can learn more about Sociocracy 3.0 here.
The Review

Vegan Utopia Ecovillage is the project where I am applying these principles and patterns. I would like to share how I am applying Sociocracy 3.0 in a way that is yielding phenomenal results. For the first time in the 43 years I have been wanting to build community, I feel hopeful that we have a group of people who are committed to working towards this goal. S3 has been instrumental in achieving this goal.

First, the history:
I had heard of Sociocracy for years, but for some reason was not drawn to study it. When I heard of Sociocracy 3.0 when I was living in the Bay Area 3 years ago, I was immediately drawn to the website. I loved the attention to detail and the fact that James and had been willing to think so deeply about the question, “what is mission in Sociocracy”
Time went on. I didn’t have a group where I could practice the skills, and I yearned for more video training so I could understand better how to put into practice the patterns and understand the principles
When I found Sociocracy for All about 6 months ago, I was convinced that I was going to need to just give up on S3 because I needed more resources. But after hungrily devouring almost all the SoFA videos, plus attending some classes, I was left feeling a sense that something was not quite right with plain old sociocracy.
So I discovered that there were more videos on Youtube with James and Bernhard speaking, I focused my attention on S3 once again. I realized that James background in being a therapist helped bring a perspective that was missing in SoFA specifically, and Sociocracy in general. Healing our inner child and bringing reconciliation amongst all the different energies that are clamoring for attention within us is essential so that we can work with others effectively.
I also appreciate how S3 welcomes creativity and innovation, encouraging the best parts of Agile, Holocracy, Teal, and other ways of working together, to be used. In fact, they want people like me to share with them what is working and what unique ways we have discovered so they can add these insights to their list of patterns and practices.
Here are some ways we are using S3 patterns:
Consent decision making, using the words “good enough for now, safe enough to try” has been fantastic in helping us to move forward and learn as we go. Giving trial periods so the commitment isn’t too big, and as one person in our circle said, “I’ll try anything once.”
For example, we agreed to try out having 1 hour of our bi-weekly meeting be a “friendship circle” where we focus only on building our relationships in an atmosphere of safety and unconditional love. The second hour will be devoted to our business meeting.
We decided to try it once and then evaluate it. Of course, that is a key part of S3–evaluating everything we try and constantly improving.
Developing proposals got a lot easier after I listened to a video about this topic. Addressing each objection as they came up made it easier to keep refining the proposal–instead of, as in traditional Sociocracy–gathering up all the objections and then dealing with them.
Because we are moving so quickly in our development now that I am using S3 patterns, which actually give me permission to be super creative while always paying attention to making sure that everyone’s needs are getting met–I don’t have a lot of time to look at the patterns. But I continue to listen to videos as I find them, and I learn something new every time!
I feel very grateful to James, Bernhard, and Lilliana for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to helping to transform this world into a place where everyone has their needs met in an atmosphere of loving kindness.

Current Strategy: Spring 2019

So here is the plan that our Mission Circle has agreed upon. I feel so grateful for their counsel, input, ideas, encouragement, love and concrete efforts to help develop and promote this.

By having all these things in place

If you want to here the story of how we got to be here, check out this post.

Learning Center: We are starting the Vegan Utopia Learning Center! You can learn about the big picture here

First Class: Our kick off event is to host a conference call class called “Fostering Healthy Friendships”.   Our goal is to regularly host long distance and eventually on site classes relating to Building Healthy Communities.

Fundraiser #1: We are going to do a Go Fund Me campaign to earn $1500 for legal fees and basics which help us to get off the ground. See more details here.  

Vegan Friendship Camps: We are planning four week-long camps which will be chock full of fun, community building and learning activities at the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage and Learning Center site. The purpose is to help people get to know what we are doing and decide if they want to commit to exploring permanent community and/or to learn community building skills to take home to their groups.  Learn more here 

Fundraiser #2: This fundraiser will be for $50,000. Our big items are paying off the land $16,500, finishing the common house, and having start up capital to get our two businesses up and running: Sustainable Enterprises and Vegan Utopia Learning Center. 

Finishing all the infrastructure: We have a list of 19 things that are needed to be done in order to be ready to have people become members of the Ecovillage. We are very close to having them all completed, but the great thing about our plan is that we can publicize our learning center and take in students without having to have every single thing in place. We can even get things winterized and live there in the winter if necessary,

Well, there you have it in a nutshell! Your feedback and encouragement are always welcome!

 

 

Vegan Friendship Camp

Maybe next spring!

Come join vegans, animal rights activists, and people who like to hang out with such people–at the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage: a vision in process.

We are still developing this. If you have input we would love to hear it! I hope we can do this around Labor Day.

If you answer yes to the following questions, you will love this event!

  • Do you want to help create a vegan utopia starting in one place?
  • Would you like to explore living in community for a week or two–with the possibility of a longer commitment?
  • Are you hardy? Adventuresome? Lover of the great outdoors?
  • Do you want to learn skills that you will use for the rest of your life to cultivate deep friendships and healthy community
  • Do you want to start a community of your own?
  • Would you like to experience a super healthy lifestyle–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?
  • Do you want to possibly make, life-long friends with people who have shared values?

Come join us at the Vegan Friendship Camp at the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage and Learning Center

Help make our vision manifest even more as well as get so many benefits!

As we work on useful projects that will help Vegan Utopia Ecovillage and Learning Center build more infrastructure, you will:

  • Learn and practice skills that help us all live in healthy community
  • Build long-lasting, healing friendships so that even when we leave we can stay connected.
  • Get familiar with the co-founders, friends of VUE, and the land itself so you can decide if you want to make a longer commitment

Come play and work with us in a space were everyone’s needs matter!

Cost: (all proceeds go to help VUE development)

$210-$500 per week (sliding scale) Discounts available for volunteers who have skills we need, and for multiple weeks.

There are some scholarships available. Contact Patricia at livablefutureproject@gmail.com for application

Accommodations: Tent camping, RV’s and trailers (no hook ups). Limited dorm sleeping inside community building.

Food: Vegan-Gluten and oil free, organic as much as possible. Lots of raw salad and fruit.

Daily Schedule: (may be adjusted slightly)

7am Yoga, meditation, silent prayer and journaling (optional attendance)

8:30-9:30 am Breakfast

9:45-10:15 Open Space Circle: We check in, connect, and plan our day according to people’s needs.

10:30-12:00 Everyone attends a daily training circle where they learn skills in friendship cultivation and healthy community building taught by Patricia Mikkelson and Cliff Mikkelson, Co-founders of VUE, and others who come to join us. To be announced. Everyone will be part of a small group of 3 or 4 people who will form a friendship circle

12-1 Lunch

1:30-5 PM Schedule created during open space: see below for possible activities

5:30-6:30 dinner

6:30-7 clean up

7-8 debrief day in small groups with a creative process called the Friendship Circle, created and practiced by the members of the mission circle of VUE

8-9:30 Fun things like campfires, singing, open mic, dramatic presentations, dancing. Or, extend your friendship circle.

10:00 quiet time honoring needs of those who need to get to sleep!

Options to participate in open space activities include:

  • swimming/kayaking in lake
  • Volleyball/basketball/frisbee
  • Explore the property and surrounding areas
  • Making trails
  • Clearing the forest to make a campground
  • Building a treehouse
  • Preparing plant-based food
  • Building hugelkultur beds/learn about veganic gardening
  • Identify and harvest wild edibles
  • Classes in oneness
  • Cooperative games
  • The art of weeping in order to heal trauma through inner parenting
  • Creating art together: drama, music, visual art
  • Organizing the resource yard
  • Designing a land use plan
  • Field trip to award winning recycling center in Huntsville
  • Field trip to nearby hiking trails in the National Forest
  • Field trip to closest little town of Kingston

We will have a special day of activities at the Living Springs Park which is located right next to Prayer Lake. This area is part of our neighborhood, and we access to this beautiful private recreation area.

We will also have a day of action in Fayetteville/Springdale where we will experience a variety of animal rights activism including a vigil at Tyson, chalking, leafleting, and Anonymous for the Voiceless, and a DxE action. .

 

We Are Going To Do A Fundraiser!

We are working on creating a GoFundMe site. We still need to refine some details, but here is what it is going to look like:

Help Vegan Utopia Ecovillage Shoot Up Like Bamboo!

We see ourselves like the roots of bamboo which dive deep into the ground for 7 years without the bamboo shoot revealing itself, and then shoot up 60 feet. We are ready to invite people who are a right fit to live, play, learn and thrive in our community that is about to manifest.

We need this money for legal expenses so we can buy out one of the co-owners, physical infrastructure development, and promotional costs for our upcoming Vegan Friendship Camps where people will come to learn and build and get a taste of what healthy vegan community living can be like.

How would you feel if you knew, a few months from now, that your donation made a huge difference in helping us get off the ground and be one of the handful of successful vegan communities in the word? What if your donation, however large or small, contributed greatly to your vision of a world where all of life, including animals, could thrive?  And what if you could come and take classes, or even live here–because of your contribution?

We have been building a foundation all this time so that our community vision can stand on a solid foundation of structures that will be sustainable through the next 7 generations at least.

For 43 years, VUE co-founders Cliff and Patricia Mikkelson have been dreaming of building community. Now, a growing number of us are joining Cliff and Patricia in making their dream a reality. We are all part of the bamboo that is putting down the roots. But we need your help to let the bamboo plant manifest visibly as a beautiful learning center and demonstration community that we hope will provide inspiration, motivation, empowerment, and education for vegans, animal rights activists and all people who want to world where all beings can thrive.

After receiving major funding in 2017, one of the most important aspects of any intentional community was built–the common house. Almost complete, we just need to put some finishing touches on it so it can be the perfect co-working space, dining hall, studio, library, kitchen and the center for the learning center that is planned.

Roots have been watered generously by our generous donor: a website, social media platform, resources that are needed for building infrastructure.

Your donation makes a difference! Here are some perks you can receive:

$5:  Free admission to a special friendship building course limited to 15 people where you have personalized attention and opportunity to connect with others who share your vegan values

$25: ½ hour of coaching (see below). A book about Oneness, written by Cliff Mikkelson

$50: 1 hour coaching session with Patricia: Friendship or problem solving coaching

$100 For people willing to keep agreements on the land a year of free camping (primitive) (code of conduct is still being developed)

$200 For the above–a camp site that is reserved for you year round

$500 Free attendance for a week at one of the Vegan Heart Camps(food and lodging provided)

Expenses:

Developing a LLC: $300

Legal fees for the deed of sale: $200

Rainwater Catchment system: $200

Kitchen needs: $200

Promotion for Vegan Heart Camp: $100

Solar system for charging cell phones and laptop: $300

Misc operating expenses for month of April: $200

_______________________

Total: $1500

 

The Past 2 1/2 Years Until Spring 2019: A summary

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.

VUE Starts A Learning Center

Although the mission circle has dissolved because some members were unwilling to resolve conflicts and visions also changed, I still remember this time with great love and hope and gratitude. This is part of the history of the community, which used to be called Vegan Utopia Ecovillage. Patricia

Recently the Mission Circle agreed that starting a learning center now would be a great way to get started. We already have a class that some of us are starting called Fostering Healthy Friendships! You can check out the event page here: 

Vision: We envision world where everyone feels inspired and empowered to practice healthy community building tools which enables all  to cooperate and build a world that is happy, safe and free for all animals, human and nonhuman. Our learning center will help that be a reality. 

Mission: We are building a residential and non-residential learning center where people who have community-building skills and who share our values can be empowered to teach them in ways that spread virally,  and they have all their needs supplied. We serve as an example of a successful intentional residential community

Purpose: To move Vegan Utopia Ecovillage (VUE) forward in such a way that we build a sense of community with people who are like-hearted as we move towards building the residential community

We create a non-residential community for now which includes the people who are in the mission circle.

We create a way for members to start connecting through conference calls, zoom, facebook, email, and other means.  We are looking into Ning.com as a way of having a platform where people can find kindred spirits. Here is a review that is impressive. Can you believe that I chose Ning as my platform about ten years ago when they just got started? I couldn’t get people to join my team to create Livable Future project, so it didn’t go anywhere. 

Membership requirements: for now, members will be people that we know personally and who have demonstrated a sincere interest in the community. 

Patricia will develop a proposal to identify membership qualifications.

We will reach out to people who have the skills we want to teach and see if they want to be a part of a teaching collaborative.

Non vegans can teach courses if they have skills that help build healthy communities, and if they are respectful of vegans. 

Goal:  Be an experiment and example so that we can be living those things we are teaching.

Goal:  Apply these skills to our own community and simultaneously make these skills accessible to all so that they can apply to their organization, family, community, neighborhood.

Goal: Create in person and online courses which are for-profit and which can pay for expenses of the community members and expanding the community.

Some projects to learn from:

Family Heart Camps: Here is an example of a network of camps that is run by sociocracy, and applies the principles of Open Space Technology, Nonviolent Communication and Restorative Circles.  Family heart Camp www.familyheartcamp.org

The Shift Network http://www.theshiftnetwork.com

Thinkific (we have an account)

Skills we have already to teach: 

Plant based diet/making a transition to veganism/ (Patricia)

Fundamentals of Oneness (cliff)

  • Background/history/evidence
  • Ways to practice: Nature intelligence (water studies/meditation/mindfulness
  • Spiritual theory behind sociocracy www.sociocracyforall.com , nonviolent communication,

Nonviolent Communication (Sky and Patricia)

Organic Gardening: Cliff

HugelKultur gardening: Patricia

Community: Connect! Events: Patricia

Sociocracy 3.0 for beginners: Patricia

Fostering Healthy Friendship: Patricia, Kim and Sky

Peer Support Skills/healing past trauma: Carolyn Amrit Knaus

Singing and choir directing: Patricia

Designing Celebrations for Community: Patricia

Nurturing the Vagus Nerve: Patricia and Sky

Laughter Yoga: Patricia

Conflict prevention and resolution: Patricia/Amrit

How to create healthy community life in animal rights activist organizations: Patricia

Living in harmony with the earth:focus on animals, trees, rocks  and plants: Cliff and Patricia

How to start a Time Bank: Patricia

Journaling for emotional release and connection with Higher Power (whatever you define that to be): Patricia

Simplifying your life: decluttering, downsizing, organizing: Patricia

Cooperative Games and Creative Play: Patricia

Natural Parenting: Patricia

Unschooling: Patricia

How to create a right livelihood: Patricia

Other topics: We will reach out to people who have skills  in the above topics and these topics listed below in order to have people who already have healthy community building skills join the community. This list is just beginning

Vegan Permaculture

Restorative Circles

Alternative building:

  • Tree houses
  • Tiny houses
  • Huts

Meditation/mindfulness

Tai Chi/Qigong

Kung Fu or other martial arts that are offense

Fitness

Goals:

We can give certificates for classes

We can have week long vegan friendship camps where we can teach many of the classes listed above.

We can create certification in Healthy Community Building.

Eventually we will invite families with children, but for now with the primitive conditions we have, we may need to limit to adults only. But we can think about this.

We will be reaching out first to animal rights activists, then vegans, then activists in any movement, then people who want to foster healthy friendships and communities.

We can invite teachers to be guess presenters and this will be a way of enriching our community greatly. also, they may decide they want to live there.

Having a lot of teachers together who are focusing on learning healthy community skills will give us a great foundation where we can eventually be a healing center where we are strong enough to invite people who have severe emotional and physical challenges. In the wonderfully healing environment we cultivate, we will see beautiful and profound and miraculous healing.

We already have developed good relationships with non-profits in Fayetteville: Omni Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology, Feed Communities, and Ann Brown Memorial School. We can offer classes at their facilities as well as have them come up for classes–to teach and take.

We will develop school assemblies where we can plant seeds and inspire students about an alternative way of life. (Patricia used to do assemblies for a living)

We will develop presentations for churches and businesses as well so that they can cultivate healthy communities and be inspired to adopt vegan practices.

We will develop relationships with and influence leaders in animal rights organizations such as DxE to offer our trainings to their members at conferences, webinars, and other venues. Invite them to be a part of our non-hierarchical coalition of animal rights activist organizations.

What suggestions do you have? What do you think of this idea?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagining That I have A Full Time Community Building Partner: A Hope Story

I found the perfect community building partner!

Note: The main purpose of this harmony story is to help me get in touch with what it might look like to have someone working alongside me to build the community. I am open to a man or a woman. I referred to the person as a woman–just because I wanted to stick with one gender for convenience sake. Here is the story:

All of our wonderful promotion paid off. Just by deciding to do this class, and have something very concrete to do, the plan cascaded into such a beautiful bigger picture that was as abundant as an apple tree that is healthy and strong with thousands of apples giving gifts of nutrition and love. And it was as powerful as Niagara Falls. As compassionate and tender as the self-sacrificing love of a cow mother for her newborn.

The best thing was that we reached so many people and i was ready in every way–with the website and blog being so complete–as well as the social media platforms. I am rather astonished at how persistent i was about completing every detail, and grateful that i was able to take the time because of my minimal expenses.

One person in particular saw that what i was going fit in with her dream, and she fit all my qualifications. Being healthy emotionally plus sharing our values was so essential. Her passion for fighting for animal rights matched mine! Plus, she had great references and was free to join me full time in working at the land.

And she had resources so that she could contribute–we figured out a way that people can work and get equity so that when they become a full member they can get a plot of land. We found the perfect location for the housing part, and also people can work for equity to get a camping space as well.

I feel so happy having a partner to help me. We have moved to the land, and got the high speed internet hooked up in the Mir House. We have enough solar power to run the basics, and all the infrastructure is now up and running thanks to our successful fundraiser

Getting the place ready to receive the full time person was really important, because we didn’t want to waste our resources living in Fayetteville. She has an online business which she needs to pay attention to about 5 hours a week, and it yields her enough money to live on and to pay into the equity fund

We have the greatest system so people can pay for being at the ecovillage. We figured it all out. From temporary camping to having a holding, it all works out. We have cleaned up down below and fixed the bridge so it is safer. Now it is a retreat where people come to camp and it is silent, and people are really craving this kind of closeness to nature. Plus, it is so reasonable! And they can come and visit the village part any time if they want company.

We figured out a way of making tree houses that doesn’t hurt the trees, and utilizes all of our scrap wood, and pallets. We have a source for pallets that is unlimited. With the truck up and running, we can get pallets. It is running so well!

I love having someone to bounce ideas off of. She has a ton of friends and connections, and has all the talents i need–graphic artist, social media expert, marketing expert, database development, creating online courses. Technical skills–she knows her mac and pc inside and out. And she is great with iphone as well! Her building and mechanical skills are amazingly helpful!

We have so much fun. Every night we sing, laugh, dance, gaze at stars, and meditate and pray. Our spiritual paths are really compatible. She isn’t afraid of my Christian walk, and i love her compassionate way of living life. We have a beautiful morning meditation and prayer time as well as just connecting beautifully during the day. She loves volleyball, so on weekends we play volleyball with Cliff (cofounder) and other neighbors at the Living Springs Park (which is real!)

She loves learning Nonviolent Communication, and she is a natural. I developed the inner child healing that i learned from Immanuel, adapting to people who are not into Jesus. It has worked beautifully and we both exchange sessions daily so we can heal our inner child. We grow closer every day as we do healing work as well as the many tasks it takes to get ready for the Vegan Heart Camps coming up.

She is a great vegan cook, and can cook for large groups. We eat simply–we made a hay box cooker AND a solar cooker–so we don’t have to use propane or wood. Plus we eat lots of salads made from wild edibles, and fruit. We are eating the moringa from the moringa trees (which we really do have!) and that is supplying a ton of nutrition for us.

I love having a person who is equally passionate about building community, and who wants to devote full time to this endeavor. She loves everyone in the Mission Circle and they love her!