Re: Evolving a Unique Community Culture
From: Linda Felch (lfelchwelchlink.welch.jhu.edu)
Date: Thu, 15 May 1997 12:23:36 -0500
I live at Heathcote Community in Maryland.

We have rituals on the solstices and equinoxes. We also have what we call
"musical potlucks" once a month, basically a sing-along with food. We have
community workdays twice a month, quarterly weekend retreats, and weekly
meetings -- one for business and one for feelings. We have checkins before
our meetings and a closing song. We also have a cake for any birthdays
that happened that week. We eat dinner together and share chores. All of
these are ways in which we consciously build community, both within the
group of people living on the land and with other "friends of community." 

We also try to build a sense of community around our permaculture 
education efforts. We have a good-sized group of design course graduates 
who help out with education efforts and a standing weekly work exchange 
between members of our community and Spoutwood Farm CSA (community 
supported agriculture) in which we rotate between working at Heathcote 
and Spoutwood, have dinner together, and then practice Spanish.

We've moved from individual managers of areas (e.g., garden, 
administration, repairs and renovation, etc.) to committees of several 
interested parties. This has been an organic process -- we found 
ourselves with more and more managerships being shared, so we made it 
official.

Working in the garden and childcare (also known as playing with the kids) 
are also big community builders.

There are a number of phrases that community members use: eww, skusty; 
Shoveled Handsfuls (translation: Shredded Spoonsfuls) which come from our 
kids. Stinking slacker is a loving term for someone who does not do his 
or her chore, hence the song: Four Stinking Slackers, sung to the tune of 
Burning down the House by the Talking Heads. We use the word process to 
refer to dealing with feelings, hence our feelings meetings are called 
process meetings. New words for songs are one of our specialties, e.g., I'm 
being Followed by a New Member sung to the tune of MoonShadow by Cat 
Stevens and The Barn Roof is Blowing in the Wind sung to the tune of The 
Answer is Blowin' in the Wind.

On the issue of how much time it takes -- this group has been together 
for more than three years. I've only been on the scene for the past year 
and a lot of the more "conscious" community building that I describe 
above has happened in the past year.

Linda Felch
lfelch [at] welchlink.welch.jhu.edu
http://www.welch.jhu.edu/~lfelch/heathcote.html
Baltimore, MD

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