Community Onboarding Processes

  • Nicole

    Member
    December 7, 2023 at 10:50 am

    Here’s a graphic that explains Earthaven’s onboarding process, which is a journey mapped over 2 years.

    In their membership tab, they state that they are “seeking emotionally mature, cooperative people of all kinds to join us in creating our sustainable ecovillage dream — including (but not limited to) entrepreneurs, organic growers and raisers of livestock, people with mechanical and engineering skills, healers, artists, and families with children.”

    They also have 7 different membership types:

    1. Pods

    2. Earthaven Community Association membership

    3. Friends of Earthaven

    4. Contributing Membership

    5. New Root Membership

    6. Provisional Membership

    7. Full Membership


    1. Pods

    A Pod is a legal entity that owns the land for one or more neighborhoods. Each type of Pod (such as Housing Cooperative or LLC) defines membership differently. For example, in a housing cooperative, a member is a shareholder with a residential site and unit.

    2. Earthaven Community Association membership

    A person interested in Earthaven may go through an educational and orientation membership process conducted by the Earthaven Community Association (ECA). There are several options for membership in the ECA for both Earthaven residents and nonresidents.

    3. Friends of Earthaven

    While not a formal membership category, becoming a Friend of Earthaven is a good option if you are or want to be part of Earthaven’s extended community or are considering joining Earthaven. To become a Friend of Earthaven, click here.

    4. Contributing Membership

    Contributing Membership is the formal channel for our local friends and neighbors to acknowledge the mutually supportive relationship that already exists with Earthaven. Contributing Members share Earthaven’s vision and commitment to re-learning how to live well in community and in close relationship with the land.

    5. New Root Membership

    New Root Membership is for Earthaven residents who are not Full or Provisional Members. New Roots include renters, work exchangers, interns, people exploring Full Membership, and other people who live at Earthaven. New Roots pay fees and contribute four hours a week of community service to approved projects; after the first year, the requirement is reduced to three hours a week.

    6. Provisional Membership

    Provisional Membership is the step between New Roots and Full Membership. It’s a six-month or longer period when they can better understand what Full Membership in Earthaven means, and community members can get to know and assess the Provisional Member better. Provisional Members participate in community governance and are preparing to join a Pod.

    7. Full Membership

    Full Members (“members”) have joined a Pod at Earthaven, where they can live and enjoy our beautiful mountain forest and our village social life. They take physical, cultural, and financial responsibility for developing our aspiring ecovillage — a decades-long, maybe lifelong, ecological and cultural project. Members may choose to live at Earthaven or elsewhere.

    Benefits of full membership:

    • Enjoy our beautiful mountain forest setting and the social life of our village.
    • Help build Earthaven Ecovillage over time with other like-minded people.
    • Access to all Earthaven common land and facilities.
    • Attend Council Meetings, participate in discussion, and have a voice in decisions.
    • Draft proposals for Council (usually through a guild or committee); receive all Council, guild, and committee minutes, by email or posted, and receive all inter-community discussion on email; participate in community processes and events.
    • Live on site. The different Pods have different options for building, buying, or renting. You can also live off site.
    • If you wish, own and operate a business here, and/or an agricultural project.
    • Have an indoor cat or dog, or one confined to your homesite. You cannot have a free-ranging cat or dog without explicit Council permission.

    What are a Full Earthaven Member’s responsibilities?

    • Abide by all Earthaven agreements and policies, as outlined in documents, Council decisions, and guild/committee decisions.
    • Contribute 1,500 hours (or the monetary equivalent) of community service in the first ten years of membership, with 50 hours a year minimum.
    • Be accepted to join a Pod at Earthaven.
    • Pay a Joining Fee of $3,000 upon becoming a Provisional Member and a Commons Fee of $5,000 when becoming a Full Member. Once one becomes a Full Member, the Joining Fee and Commons Fee are nonrefundable.
    • Pay annual fees and assessments, through your neighborhood. These include (1) Dues and fees that currently range from about $800 to $1,100 a year, depending on the facilities you use and whether you have a car on the land and (2) a property tax assessment for your personal buildings.

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    These are examples of how you can craft memberships unique to your audiences, roles, or stage of member onboarding that a person is at

  • Nicole

    Member
    December 7, 2023 at 11:20 am

    Something I’ve noticed in eco-communities that have lasted a long time is that they have something that I like to call a “strong membrane”.

    While not being cut off from the world, these communities exercise a very disciplined and discerning process when it comes to who they let get involved, especially at levels of leadership or special resident privileges.

    In my research, this is an emerging pattern demonstrated by communities that have (to-date) lasted an average of 30 years.

    This membrane grants them immunity to irresponsible spaceholders, demanding or difficult residents, and those who would alter the essence of the community and its core intentions. The membrane is reinforced by several layers of a) time b) presence c) measure of contribution, which can be different from d) measure of commitment.

    a) Time : typically measured continuously, as in time elapsed since getting involved or how early the member joined

    b) Presence : physical presence in the community, how much a member (actively) shows up determines their access

    c) Measure of contribution: in the form of finances, labor, gifts, resources, etc.

    d) Measure of commitment: qualitative measure of one’s commitment to the vision and the ongoing success of the community

    Often our strength is also our weakness, and here are some problems faced by these communities:

    1. Intergenerational leadership

    2. Relying on a membrane of people alone, without process

    3. Inflexibility to changing times

    1. Intergenerational leadership

    These same communities face the struggle of learning how to allow young leadership to permeate the membrane. When the membrane manifests as general distrust of newcomers (young or old), the passing of the torch becomes difficult. I have noticed that communities with strong apprenticeship programs that allow youth to directly work with and learn from the elders, as well as a gradient of power transfer, results in a smoother transition. Besides being able to maintain the logistical side of the community, younger generations need to be gifted with the ability to recreate whatever their predecessors have that makes the community remarkable.

    2. Relying on a membrane of people alone, without process

    In the case that some or all of the original founders move away (or pass away), communities that haven’t proceduralized their process so that anyone can do it, instead of relying on someone who acts as their human filter and “vibe check”. Here there is need to pay special attention if there is an identity-based criteria for the community — such as a lifestyle choice or spiritual affiliation — because these check marks don’t function as a strong enough filter for people who will be harmonious long-term community members.

    3. Inflexibility to changing times

    Currently we are witnessing the first wave of ecovillages struggle to adapt to new technologies and different cultural contexts. This is not to say that some communities are handling these brilliantly, but it’s a natural hiccup in generational shifts. Examples include new technologies like @revillager built specifically to be used in communities not finding traction in communities that still use email to communicate daily needs. Communities that have a spiritual focus but aren’t closed off to alternative views also thrive, allowing for secular customer base that may even become interested in their way of life.

    I’ve been reflecting on community onboarding processes lately, and these are my insights, synthesized.

Welcome to the tribe of tribes