Dear Connor, GPaul, Jenny, Kathryn, and Steve,
Thanks very much for hosting Tom and me at Compersia! We learned so much from talking with each of you! And you were so friendly and open in how you included us in your community family while we were there!
We feel lucky to have met you, the pioneers of your new thriving income-sharing community. Learning from your experiences makes it far more likely that we’ll be able to participate in making a new income-sharing community in New York.
In gratitude for our time with you, we wanted to share the unexpected lessons we learned about Compersia when we visited you — lessons which might be helpful not only to us but also to others working on starting income-sharing communities:
- The founding members of Compersia applied the membership process to themselves. No one was “grandfathered in” (which would have created two classes of family members). Instead, everyone went through the membership process.
- The community formation process included intentional work on building trust and affinity, simultaneous with the work on building the structure of the community. The personal connections among Compersia members grew and deepened through clearnesses and transparency tools during the community formation process. All along, the personal connections were growing side-by-side with the community decisions.
- Community members bonded around and stuck with a few fundamental principles — such as income-sharing, urban location, and FEC principles — together with additional important shared values whose implementation the members left open to work on together — such as community engagement, ambition, non-violence, feminism, and environmentalism. Additional details of the vision remained open so that prospective members could carve their own niches into the vision.
- The pioneer Compersians engaged in a reflective process, consciously returning to basic principles, not a mechanical process about defining procedures in advance. The idea was to work together to implement principles, not to follow other communities cookie-cutter style.
- Additional people became interested in Compersia for a variety of reasons. One approach to attracting others: Ignition first by figuring out what’s important to new additional potential members and showing how the commune will achieve that. Then remove individual barriers to joining.
- While forming, Compersia enjoyed lots of support from multiple existing groups! The support included a paid worker for a year supplied by the Point A project and Acorn as well as free housing and food provided by The Keep. To start a commune, it takes a lot of material support and time and commitment to shared principles!
- We’ve been asked what complaints we heard at Compersia, and we can’t remember hearing even one single complaint! How rare to find a group where no member feels a need to complain! It’s not that all the circumstances are perfect. Instead, the communication and support network is such that everyone seems to feel that their needs and feelings are respected. When issues arise, the community talks about them. At Compersia, we heard conversations about expansion, chores, and the communal house. The community choices were made by consensus and represented the intentions of the community members, upon taking each other’s feelings into account.
- Compersia feels like a family. Income-sharing may help, but may not be the only way. The shared love and caring is inspiring. There’s far more than the sum of the parts. Compersians provide each other support to take risks and grow, individually and together. The sense of caring and love seems to increase through working together as a group to pursue shared principles and seems to extend beyond Compersians to genuine caring for those not yet inside the community.
Thanks so much to each of you! We had a wonderful time and learned a lot!
Happy new year and best wishes!