by Raven Cotyledon
At the close of my final article on the Detailed FEC History, I wrote: “The current status of the FEC communities (as far as I know and subject to change with little or no notice): Full member communities–Twin Oaks, East Wind, Acorn, and Compersia; Re-forming communities–Sandhill and Mimosa; Communities in Dialogue–Oran Mor, The Mothership, Ionia, Rainforest Lab, Open Circle, Cambia, Le Manoir, East Brook Community Farm, and Cotyledon.”
What do these statuses mean? What is the difference between a Full community and a Community in Dialogue? What is a Re-forming community? And what is an Ally (or Allied) Community? That’s what I want to explore here. (Warning: in great detail.)
Most of this information has been taken from the FEC website and more information can be found there. (Yes. As long as this is, I left out a bunch of things.)
From the section on Joining the FEC: “The first step in becoming an FEC Community is to contact the FEC Secretary… The FEC Secretary is responsible for guiding you through the process, or connecting you with a delegate from another community to do so.
“There are six things that we expect from a community before applying for full membership in the FEC.
* A member of your community completes a questionnaire, and sends out written information that you have about your community…
* The members of your community make some kind of collective binding agreement, with a defined process for changing that agreement, that represents a written affirmation of the FEC’s seven basic principles.
* A representative requests for your community to officially become a Community-in-Dialogue with the FEC, at least one year before applying for full membership in the FEC.
* Members of your community develop and maintain an active relationship with the FEC or at least one FEC community by attending monthly conference calls, visiting other communities or doing labor exchange, written communication, attendance at our annual assembly, conferences attended or hosted by other FEC communities, or other forms of sharing.
* One or more delegates chosen by your community attends annual assemblies of the FEC. A community can apply for membership in the FEC during the second assembly to which they send delegates.
* A representative of the FEC designated by the delegates visits your community, and co writes a report to the FEC and its member communities about your community and your adherence to FEC values.
* Consensus of the existing FEC communities is necessary to accept a new community, both as a Community-in-Dialogue and as a full member community in the FEC.
“For your community to become a full member in the FEC, delegates will evaluate your community on the basis of these requirements and criteria. Once accepted the new community is granted full member rights and privileges from that point on.”
But, before we go into Full Membership Status, here’s a lot more on Communities in Dialogue. The status of Community in Dialogue was created at the January, 1980 Assembly.
From the section on Community-In-Dialogue Status:
“If a community is seeking FEC membership but is not yet at the point where the Assembly will approve its application, that community may apply for Community-in-Dialogue (CID) status. For a community to be accepted as a CID, the Assembly need only be convinced that the community is actively working toward meeting the membership criteria, and that there exists a mutual desire for cooperation between the community and the FEC.
“The Assembly shall not be obliged to accept a community as a CID, even if it is working toward meeting the membership criteria, if it is felt that the community in question is actively contradicting those criteria (e.g., using violence, being governed by a leader or minority, discriminating on any of the grounds outlined in the Federation’s basic principles).
“A Community-in-Dialogue shall:
1 Maintain an active relationship with at least one FEC community through activities such as visiting or labor exchange, written communication, attendance at conferences, etc.;
2 Attend FEC assemblies if they so desire, and participate in discussions on a limited basis;
3 Pay an annual base tax of $100, plus $5 per working member.
4 Be eligible to participate in FEC projects specifically designated by the Assembly (e.g., conferences, training programs, etc.) on the same basis as members, but with the understanding that FEC members receive space priority… and
5 Have their status reviewed annually by the Assembly.
A Community-in-Dialogue shall not:
1 Vote upon or ratify decisions of the Assembly; or
2 Be eligible for transportation subsidies without approval.”
From the section on Full Membership:
“CID status essentially has been the category we hold interested communities in while they are working to meet all the criteria for full membership. There is no fixed limit on the amount of time a community can have CID status; presumably, as long as the delegates see no reason to revoke that status, they can be CID as long as it takes until they can be accepted as full members.”
“The only guidelines the FEC Constitution gives about new communities joining is that they must meet the seven core principles of the FEC. The decision is made through normal decision making structure we establish for all our decisions.”
“Communities desiring full membership in the FEC should:
- Be a Community in Dialogue for at least one year, and meet the requirements for communities in that category, such as attending Assemblies, participating in FEC discussions, having at least one site visit, etc.
- Have the seven FEC principles as core values of the community in their Bylaws (or equivalent fundamental documents). This does not have to be a word for word copy… but the community should be able to demonstrate that those principles are part of the community’s written core values.
- Be actually following the above seven principles.
- Have group ownership of all land, property, and other major resources.
- Have a detailed income-sharing model in place, preferably already functioning for some time before applying for full membership.
- Appear to be sufficiently stable, in terms of population, economics, and other relevant factors.
- Have, at minimum, three members, none of whom are in a romantic relationship or family.
- Not have different tiers or levels of membership, or significantly different privileges based on membership length, beyond the provisional to full member process. Once people are full members, they should have the same basic level of political and economic equality.
- Not have any blanket restrictions on people joining based on sex, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other similar discriminatory categories.
- Have systems in place to provide for the health and medical needs of all its members up to at least the requirements of PEACH. Since FEC membership guarantees automatic membership in PEACH, and since one of the presumptions of PEACH is that member communities are taking care of the health needs of its members up to the catastrophic level where PEACH kicks in, this is something we need to evaluate.
- Be able to address a variety of less tangible factors that the delegates believe are necessary. There are likely going to be many situations where a community seems to be in a somewhat borderline situation with some of the above criteria, or there may be issues about things that we can’t think of in advance.”
The Allied Community or Ally Community status was created at the September, 2004 Assembly. There isn’t a lot written about this status on the FEC website, but if you look at the Our Communities page, you will see Baltimore Free Farm, Ganas, Living Energy Farm, Terra Nova, and the Walnut Street Co-op listed as Ally Communities. From what I have heard, this status was created at the request of Ganas, which is not (by their own admission) an egalitarian community, but has a long relationship with Twin Oaks and the FEC and wanted some status within the FEC. Terra Nova and the Walnut Street Co-op also have had a long history with the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. When Living Energy Farm realized that they were not going to be able to become income-sharing, at least for a long time yet, they requested this status. And, honestly, Baltimore Free Farm is on the page in that status because there is no income-sharing group there now, but there are people there that hope they will in the future. This is not an official status for them. They are literally there because I didn’t want to completely take them out since they might return in the future.
The Re-forming Community status is the newest status having just been created at the November/December, 2017 Assembly. It was created to address difficulties with two full communities which had dropped down to only a few folks, less than the required amount: Mimosa (formerly Sapling, which Acorn had put a lot of energy into) and Sandhill (one of the oldest communities in the FEC). It is so new that there isn’t yet a section on the Our Communities page (even though there is supposed to be one).
From the section on Re-forming Community Status:
“Becoming a Re-forming Community is a voluntary action taken via the full member community’s own internal decision making process, although members of other communities may gently encourage them to consider the idea.
“Re-forming Communities will be given a separate section on the web site, and are encouraged to include a paragraph in their long description explaining why they are currently a Re-forming community.
“The FEC will make special efforts to assist Re-forming Communities in returning to the principles of The FEC.
“Re-forming Communities may elect to begin paying dues equal to those of a Community in Dialog and their rights and privileges will be reduced to those of a Community in Dialog. Re-forming Communities may choose to continue paying Full Member dues and retain the rights and privileges of full member communities. The delegates may check in about this at each assembly.
“In order to regain their status as a full member of the FEC, a Re-forming Community applies in the same way a CID applies for full membership, but the application can be made at the FEC Assembly or on a Conference call. Re-forming Communities who have elected to reduce their dues to the CID level must pay the dues that would have been due during the current fiscal year had they remained a full member community.
“Full Member communities who experience major turnover may find the experience of re-forming to be more like starting a new community than coming back into alignment with The FEC principles. Such a community may also elect, by their own decision making processes, to change their status to Community in Dialog by submitting a CID application.”
If you have read all the way to here, I am sure that you are truly interested in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. You may be wondering about the Seven Principles mentioned several times here. Rejoice has promised to write seven posts about these principles, analyzing each of them. I look forward to publishing them here in the future.
Meanwhile, again, if you have any questions about any of these statuses, I suggest that you go to the relevant section on the FEC website (follow the link) where there is even more information, or ask in the comments.
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