Herding Cats to Network Communities

by Raven Cotyledon

I have been posting, monthly, a detailed history of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities.  (Here’s parts one, two, and three. Part four will come out in early May, probably on May 13th.)  Looking over old posts, I realized that I have never written a post just about the FEC.

It’s probably easier to start by talking about what the FEC is not.  The Federation of Egalitarian Communities is not, as I have said, a governing body.  It does not tell any of the communes what to do. It cannot police them, or make policies for them, or organize them in any way.

The Federation of Egalitarian Communities exists to connect the communes, to facilitate communication and transportation between them, and to help work out labor exchanges. It also funds some activities that the individual communities can’t or won’t and tries to support new and/or small communes and holds regular assemblies.  And really that’s about it.


Rejoice, Cat Wrangler in Chief

Unfortunately, as I have pointed out, communities are very imperfect places. And, when there is stuff going on in individual communes that people don’t like, they sometimes approach the FEC to step in.  And since the FEC has no authority over any of its member communities, not a lot happens. Which can lead to some frustrated people.

The communes are a lot like cats.  Each of them is different and each has a unique way of working.  (I once heard someone ask one of the founders of the umpteenth commune in the Louisa, VA area why they were starting yet another income-sharing community. The answer was that this was a different flavor of income-sharing community.)  While I think that the differences between the communes is precious, it can sometimes lead to tension.

An early FEC assembly

It isn’t as if any of these difficulties are new or there aren’t people trying to work on these problems. At the last FEC assembly, we talked about creating a team to deal with conflict and mediation as well as a different team to respond to reports of harm or abuse. But the reality is that communes are very busy places and intentions often don’t lead to lasting initiatives. Without at least a few people with the time, energy, and enthusiasm to make sure that these things happen, it may take a good while before either team actually meets and gets working.

In the meanwhile, the FEC has monthly calls to keep communication open, figure out what activities can be funded, and where and when the next assembly will be.  The calls give the delegates from the member communities a chance to hear what is happening at the other communes. And the FEC also supports Commune Life. We have become one of their projects.

As I said last week, the communes are part of a worldwide movement, something that I want to see encouraged and grown.  By keeping the communes connected, hard as that is sometimes, the FEC is helping make that happen.


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Deep gratitude to all of our patrons:  


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Herding Cats to Network Communities

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