The purpose of this site is to encourage ongoing conversations among intentional communities across the Northwest, including planning and follow-up discussions for face-to-face gatherings and special events.
FIC Directory and Event Listings
NICA is affiliated with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities (FIC) and manages a special section on the FIC Web site.
A new generation of intentional communities and pioneering collectives are reimagining the way we live, love, grow food, eat, dance, and play. These are the eco-villages, artist coops, global pystrancers, tantra tribes, rebel bicycle clubs, urban homesteaders, healer co-ops, Burning Man camps, yoga ashrams, and Slab City dwellers forging new models of coexistence. This month, our 40+ Spores in the Evolver Social Movement will explore the communal ins-and-outs of intentional living – from how to facilitate group process, ways to share resources, efforts to create financial and environmentally sustainability, and even figuring out who washes the dishes and takes out the trash.
On the agenda for this months Seattle/Everett Convergence event, we will be focusing on the Economics of Gifting as a way to network our communities, tribes, families, and travelers betwixt them. Evening activities include a facilitated discussion on the evolution of intentional communities and intentional organizations, an introduction to gift economy circles and, yes, by popular demand.. a potluck >~_^<
Starting at 6:30 PM on Friday, 3/23:
1.) Opening Ceremony – a big welcome home to our new others
2.) Community Introductions – Who are you today, what’s one thing that brought you here
3.) Nourishment Potluck – Tea, water, and fruit provided by Mercury’s Outpost, food contribution not required
4.) Creative Collaboration – Viewing of the new short film on Charles Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics then facilitated discussion on Intentional Living
5.) Gift Flow Rounds – We’ll create a gift circle of intentional community cultivators by going round to state a need first, then to offer up our extras, and gratitudes
6.) Closing Celebration – We have lots of space and it *IS* Friday night…. there is a stage, there is room for dancing, there are living room sets for conversation
You are invited to NICA’s Spring Gathering on Saturday, April 14 at Duwamish Cohousing in West Seattle. The focus of the day will be on how to improve community meetings. We will have discussions and workshops on some of the following:
Improving Facilitation skills
What is Consensus Decision-Making? The basics
Consensus vs. “Consensus-minus-one”
The importance of taking good notes
Preparing an effective agenda
Fun exercises for building community
Event: NICA Spring Gathering-Getting Better Results from Meetings
Date: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Time: 10am to 4pm
Location: Duwamish Co-housing (6000 17th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106)
Lunch: Pot Luck
Suggested Donation: $10
Map and Directions:
Driving directions to Duwamish Co-Housing, 6000 17th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106
From West Seattle Bridge
1. Head west on W Seattle Bridge (0.2 mi)
2. Take the Delridge Way SW exit toward SW Spokane St/S Seattle Comm. Col (0.2 mi)
3. Slight left onto Delridge Way SW (0.6 mi)
4. Turn left onto SW Oregon St – 3rd light after the turn onto Delridge (128 ft)
5.Wind up Oregon, the arterial, (it has other names as you go up the hill, 23rd, Dawson) almost to the top of the hill
5. Turnright onto 17th Ave SW – follow the street to the very end (it is a dead end street) and park on the street. You will see a large building, theCommon House, on the left.
Alternative and best option for parking
Access from 16th Ave, SW, and lots of on street parking:
You may continue on past 17th Ave; the street curves and becomes 16th Ave SW. Continue south on 16th past the first sign for the South Seattle Community College; about a block past the first sign, on the left you see steps leading up to the college. Park on the street there. Just across the street from the steps, you will see a wooden gate opening to a ramp. Follow the ramp down and you will be in the Duwamish Co-housing Community. Turn right on the path and the Common House will be in front of you.
Directions on the bus:
Metro Bus #125 from downtown (it is the #11 coming from Madison Park, changes numbers downtown) comes to the South Seattle Community College entrance (less than a block from Duwamish Co-housing). It is very convenient.
Still need help? Call Frances Parks at 206-390-5855.
On October 15. 2011, NICA hosted Tree Bressen, a facilitation trainer from Eugene OR (http://www treegroup.info), who gave a daylong workshop entitled, Facilitating a Meeting with Care and Skill.
The event was held at the Ravenna Eckstein Community Center in the Ravenna district of Seattle. About 30 people attended, of whom about half were residents of intentional communities, and about half were not. It was a lively and informative workshop, with a variety of activities and role-playing to help understand and develop skills to help groups achieve their goals.
Tree made the point that her background in intentional community, and specifically in a commune where everything is shared, is about the best training for learning facilitation skills, because people in community live closely together. 247. and must learn to deal with the inevitable problems and conflicts.
First Tree presented her 5 basic principles of facilitation:
You are the servant of the group. You are not an authority figure. you should not be involved with the content of the meeting, and you should be willing to admit mistakes, or bias, and ask for help when you don’t know the answer.
Plan ahead — work outside the meeting for better preparation. This includes a practice such as meditation to ground and prepare yourself
Help each person feel heard. A facilitator should seek the full contribution of everyone. Speak back to them what someone is saying. and summarize their remarks for the group (this is quite a skill in itself)
Work with all of that’s in the room – not only the rational, verbal contributions, but open wider to allow the emotional, spiritual, and intuitive into the discussion. Name that emotion.
Listen for the common ground and reflect it back to the group as often as necessary . Bring out more depth of opinion. Break a larger issue into parts. Seek a balance between alternating times of divergence, when different opinions need to come out and convergence, where coming together in agreement is needed.
Next, Tree covered some guidelines for Reflective Listening. These included keeping your concentration on the other person. hearing their story. It’s not about you. Avoid being judgmental. Listen with your heart to get the essence of what they are trying to say, especially the emotional experience. The practices being developed in “NVC” or Non-Violent Communication are helpful. NVC emphasizes naming the emotion — “sounds like that was frustrating for you.” Then we paired off and did some exercises to practice this.
Some of the other areas covered by Tree were Stacking, Intervention. and Formats. Stacking includes various techniques to recognize speaking order. Intervention is how to interrupt and guide speakers going on too long or repeating. hi format Tree introduced a variety of alternatives to the large group format, including continuums, fishbowls, go arounds, talking sticks, and small groups. I won’t describe these, but she conveyed the sense that there are a lot of tools for getting people up and rearranged, for more effectively involving people.
Finally Tree talked about Facilitating Tough Situations, and we did some roleplaving. with several people volunteering to practice facilitating a meeting of the hypothetical Harmony Co-Housing community on the subject of a work-sharing proposal. This also was lively and revealing. We also made use of some “pattern-language” cards that site and others have created to focus on different elements of facilitation.
Overall the day was over too soon, with lots to digest. Tree emphasized that she has lots of work as a facilitator, and that these is an increasing need for people with facilitation skills. One woman present was participating in the Occupy Seattle movement in Westlake Park and said that there was a great need there for people with facilitation experience, as the people there were trying to self-organize in an organic and leaderless way, with a daily general assembly and a number of smaller work groups dealing with food, medical, media, and other issues.
Tree has a lot of information on her website. These include resources and links, exercises, services. and how to contact her.
The 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).
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.
Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (SMCU) created Co-opalooza to celebrate co-ops and help spread the word of the great things they do for their community. Co-ops from across the economic spectrum will be joining SMCU for a free, all-ages festival with live music, kid’s activities and raffle prizes to help demonstrate the broad spectrum of cooperatives and share the co-op message.
Co-operatives share a commitment to a set of principles that ensure fair business practices, just wages, and social responsibility, among other worthy goals. There are many kinds of cooperatives, including credit unions, pre-schools, farms, and even global news organizations.
Event: Cooopalooza 2011: A Celebration of Community & Co-ops
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.
Did you facilitate the monthly meeting only to freeze like a deer in the headlights when a conflict came up or someone acted inappropriately?
This workshop will cover the essentials of what every meeting facilitator needs to know. After going over the basic principles, we’ll practice skills such as reflective listening, how to intervene when someone is speaking too long, dealing with upsets, and other situations as brought forward by workshop participants.
This is a highly interactive workshop–come try out these key skills in a safe and supportive atmosphere.
Event: Facilitating a Meeting with Care and Skill
Date: Saturday, October 15, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Location: Ravenna Eckstein Community Center (6535 Ravenna Ave NE, 98115); easily accessible by bus. See Metro Trip Planner for bus route assistance.
Cost: Gift Economy basis (Pay an amount that feels good and right and fair to you, that you can afford, and that you can give joyfully.)
To SIGN UP for or get more information on this workshop, contact Syd by email (email@example.com) or call 206-679-5342
Click on image to view and download full size poster
Do you long to recapture a sense of true community, where friends know and help one another? Learn why intentional communities are attracting increasing interest as models for sustainable living. While living in an intentional community may not be for everybody, the lessons that are being learned, and the present models being developed, hold much promise for society as a whole. Join residents from several local communities as they share about some of the benefits of community living, including simple living and shared resources, sharing food growing and meals, a sense of belonging and creative participation, as well as more satisfying models of leadership and decision-making. There will be lots of time for questions. Presented by NICA (Northwest Intentional Communities Association.)
Event: Intentional Communities: Models for Sustainable Living Panel Discussion
Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Location: East West Bookshop (6500 Roosevelt AVE NE Seattle WA 98115)
For more information, contact: 206-523-3726, http://www.eastwestbookshop.com