Written by Leyla Makris, co-founder at The Emerald Village
When visitors come to the Emerald Village, they often have a lot questions about the inner-workings of community life. How do we make decisions? How do we maintain harmony while sharing the same land? How do we raise children together? How do we get so much accomplished?
I’m not going to answer these specific questions, nor am I going to tell you that it’s all fun and easy… rather, I’m going to share a bit about how we do it here at the Emerald Village. Just like family life, it isn’t always pretty and it requires a lot of work to run smoothly.
We have been living on this land, for six years. Our process of “doing community” is constantly evolving as we learn new methodologies and grow as individuals. We’ve come together with some shared fundamental beliefs and desires for a way of life together. We are constantly striving for improved connection and communication, as we know these are the keys to living our dreams together. We are also on our own spiritual paths and understand that living in community is an opportunity to grow deeper in our connection through the mirrors provided by our community members.
To make decisions and run the village effectively, we use Sociocracy which is a system of governance that we learned from Diana Leafe Christian. Rather than decisions being made by ALL of us (which is how we tried to do it in the beginning) many decisions are made by individual “circles”. The circles are comprised of community members who feel passionate about a certain part of community life.
We have a land circle, a finance circle, a human relations circle and so on. These circles often meet weekly or bi-weekly in order to make decisions, establish systems, work on the land, etc. Each circle has its own domain and aims which are based on the community mission statement. Those circles report to the General Circle to keep them all communicating seamlessly.
The key to the success of a system like sociocracy is trust and surrender. (Hmmm… kinda sounds like life.:) Since it is not humanly possible to sit on every circle, each person must trust that the circles are meeting their domain and aims and ultimately working for the good of the whole community.
Some of our deepest work together is done during our four quarterly business retreats. These are times for us to dive deeper with our community members and address any topics that we are unable to do during the other meetings. From emotional and relational clearing sessions, land work to tackle big projects, financial reports and project planning, emergency drills and continued education about our governance model, we cover every corner of community life in one weekend. Most especially, we play together. Our retreats are a special kind of time that acts as ‘community glue.’ This is a time for us to eat together, work together, play together, celebrate and pray together. This is an important focus not just during retreats, but we schedule time weekly, monthly and as needed to keep us feeling connected and in sync.
We are constantly working on finding balance within community life. We are striving for ways for our land, our home-life and community life to thrive and be more sustainable. We know that this is accomplished through recognizing the strengths within each other and ourselves and being grateful for the abundance of our lives and what we have created together. At the end of the day, this is what makes us healthy as ONE.