by Rejoice from the Federation of Egalitarian Communities blog
The annual assembly for the FEC takes place during March, in an attempt to happen at the beginning of the year when it’s least inconvenient to everyone. We have gardeners whose season hasn’t yet kicked into high gear, a goat herd who’s fielding baby goats (conveniently within range of the assembly), outdoor workers whose season hasn’t totally started yet, and people to whom the changing of seasons has absolutely no effect.
“I don’t understand agriculture. I eat trash.” – Alex of the Midden
We come together with two main purposes:
(a) to discuss common challenges, provide mutual aid, discuss problems beyond our reach, relate to each other as individuals and cooperate beyond our essential cooperative venture as a federation.
(b) to set our annual budget, including re-occurring costs of maintaining our obligations as an organization (labor exchange travel subsidy, mutual aid scholarships…), and proposals brought to us as an organization.
For our 2016 assembly, we declared the first three days to be “New Communities Weekend”, and the following three days to be oriented towards our business and budget. During this assembly, we accepted five new communities as being “communities in dialog” with the FEC. This is the largest single-year increase in community-building that anyone can remember, and we are heartened that each community has experienced communards to shepherd them along the path towards egalitarian living.
Our new communities in dialog include Cambia Community of Louisa county, AC/DC of the Point A DC project, Quercus Community as an offshoot of Acorn Community in Richmond, Sycamore Farm Community established by ex-Twin Oakers near Arcadia and the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, and the Chocolate Factory as established by former members and residents of the Mothership also in Portland, Oregon. These communities are largely income-sharing already, or have a strong understanding that this is their community goal. (AC/DC just started sharing income on Thursday, the day after the assembly completed and before they all begin living on the same property.)
It seems likely that at least some of our new communities will follow the path of Sapling Community, the newest full member community in the FEC, which fully joined at the federation during the previous year’s assembly at Sandhill in 2015. The purchase of the Sapling land was internally financed by Acorn Community, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and PEACH, instead of bank loans. The community was established by five experienced communards in October 2014, with a cottage industry incubated by Twin Oaks and Acorn Communities, and has already weathered the turnover of all of its founding members and is still the most rapidly successful new community in the movement in the last five years.
Some goals and plans of the upcoming year as we established during the assembly:
- Continue to support developing communities, especially by encouraging work and cultural exchange between communities who share egalitarian values.
- Persue the development of a “Commune Starter Kit,” a collection of information for forming egalitarian and income-sharing communities so that each one doesn’t have to perform the same research, and to get an intern via NASCO who will help us present this information as a coherent package.
- Collect information about communities developing in our midst to understand common problems of forming communities and what information is of use to a developing community.
- Increase our effectiveness as an organization by having multiple interested friends encourage each other to engage with other communities as a federation and keep our finances in order.
- Support Point A, a targeted program by communards and friends to seed egalitarian, income-sharing communities in urban centers along the East Coast.