Visit to Ojai Foundation

We had the opportunity to visit the Ojai Foundation and tour the beautiful grounds and ask questions about the community.  They focus on sustainable practices, being stewards of the land, and creating a space for retreats and connecting with the land.  We all felt inspired by being out in this place in the middle of the natural setting.

The intentional community has a small group of residents over the past 25 years, and it was very interesting to see the practices that helped with communication, including Council sessions.  These are conversations held in a circle in one of the special buildings that were constructed for this purpose.  They involve a facilitator starting off the session, each person offering their part, and keeping an awareness of the group and self.
I loved the different types of indoor and outdoor structures, and hearing from the designers, artists, and others who helped build them gave me a sense of awe and appreciation for what they accomplished.  They are testing different materials, and I hope that these techniques can be used in other parts of the city some day.  This field trip was organized by You Are Here, a group on focused on exploring intentional community. 

Regen co-op

We had another opportunity to visit the Regen Co-op in Pomona and talk to some members. They made space for some great conversations about group dinners, diversity in members, house meetings, communication styles, what makes someone well suited for living in a community, and getting involved in the neighborhood in a way that really creates positive change that goes beyond the homes themselves. 

It also made me think of the need for mentorship of forming communities by the more experienced residents. An idea is simmering for a summit of LA communities to get together, find out the status and ideas of all the forming groups, as well as hear from existing community leaders. 

Being able to see their co-op and all the home projects they have worked on through years, it always makes me believe that creating a community is possible. Thanks again to the residents who spent their Saturday afternoon with us sharing their experiences.  

The Sharing Economy

Here’s what I’ve been reading and listening to lately about sharing.

The Sharing Solution is a great book with the practical side of how to buy and share things together.  Its tagline is “How to save money, simplify your life, and build community.”  All of those things certainly appeal to me.  The book covers many topics such as ownership entities: unincorporated association, nonprofit, cooperative.  There’s a good chapter on effective communication, something that will be important to any group.  One tip reminded me of a workshop I participated in recently, where I had to repeat back the main points of what the other person had just said.  That really showed me how much I miss if I’m just waiting to talk, and was a good exercise to make me focus on the other person’s side.  There are also many questionnaires, fact sheets, and legal documents that are ready to use.  I recommend the book, and I was able to find it at my library.  

Yerdle is a site where you share items with people across the country, earning credits when you share an item which you can use to get other items.  It mainly uses shipping, which costs a few dollars, and is not as personal.  It’s a bit like a huge national garage sale.  I learned about Yerdle from The Good Stuff podcast, which has had several episodes on the sharing economy.  (This is the same group with Annie Leonard who created The Story of Stuff – a must-watch video.)

Buy Nothing Project is similar but local: it has the objective of neighbors sharing items they no longer need, by joining an online group (limited to your city or neighborhood), posting a picture, and seeing who needs it.  At first, it seemed like extra effort to arrange times with others to come pick up the item.  But when I gave away my first items, I understood!  I met people in my neighborhood I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I got a warm fuzzy feeling when they could use and appreciate something I didn’t need. My group is now talking about hosting local events such as free garage sales, so I view it as a big community-builder.