Permaculture. Sustainable Food Production. Natural Building. Education. Community.

Indie Brandy2

OUR Executive Director’s Report April 2014

brandy-gallagherThis is certainly the most challenging Executive Director Report I have ever had to write!

After struggling for the past few months with doctors, shocking medical news, and an incredible level of physical challenge we all realize that I must communicate with the wider community about my journey…and OUR journey.  After over a year and half of various treatment and intervention strategies–I found myself no longer able to maintain my leadership in OUR team and in my family.  As my physical abilities have changed it has become more and more apparent that I need to step out of my role….
The past few weeks have been evolving and challenging for all of us as we understand the impact of my health….on my own future, my children/partner, and for OUR ECOVILLAGE in so many ways.  
  • On an emotional and personal level–all the love, prayer, and possibility that can be held…is greatly felt  🙂  
  • On a legal level I have set a number of wheels in motion to better ensure that there should be no major complications with me changing my place in OUR team.  
    • And on a bigger picture practical level I have been now overturing to a team of folks who have stepped forward as a transition development support circle…and these folks have been titled as the ‘Transition Stewardship Team’.  This includes; Deborah Curran, Doug Makaroff, Guy Dauncey, Nichola Walkden, Brian Cockburn, Kerry Davis, Valerie Robinson, Jason Guille, Ann Mortifee, Jack Anderson, Steve King, Satiya Channer, Patrick Jackson, Mark Granfar and Mark Lakeman (and still 5 others who have not been able to respond fully yet).  They have stepped forward to give personally and professionally in order to ensure that OUR ECOVILLAGE transitions to the long awaited goal of Coop ownership, through community financing, within this year.  
  • On the level of OUR daily operations–the huge heart and beauty of those who live/work onsite as the ground team of OUR ECOVILLAGE, along with the invaluable and outstanding volunteering of so many wonderous humans who come and go, there is a solid circle that holds the lands and programs in the spirit of OUR continued work.

A difficult part of this journey for me is the type of language that others use to describe health and well-being.  I feel very torn between some people’s needs to describe health in fairly extreme ways…and my own need/belief that language and intention creates so much of my world.  I am choosing to see this time as a gift that is challenging me to change my life and it is my hope that the gifts of this will change others around me as well.

After years of working towards obtaining grants for organizational and business development for OUR Ecovillage Cooperative, a social enterprise business plan, a Canadian Handbook for Dynamic Governance for Coops/Non-Profits, and a multi-year plan for co-op ownership transition…..the Stewardship Council suggested that they raise the needed funds to bring in a transition consultant/new Executive Director, who would assist in carrying everything forward as I  step out of my role.  
One thing that strikes me as I write this–there is never a best time for something to change so drastically and in such a painful way…and yet I know that the way forward has been what we have all worked towards for over a decade of huge organizational structuring, capacity building, community building, business planning, governance development, and creative programming.  
Still the incredible ‘tripping hazard’ of trying to obtain mainstream financing for an award winning, precedent setting, totally unique, showcase of innovation lives on!!  OUR ECOVILLAGE still wrestles with obtaining a ‘conventional mortgage’. We have asked our financial institutions involved to create a public statement to ensure that there is no misunderstanding in relation to why the mortgage issue has not be able to be solved by now. We need to make it clear that it is not because of any reason on behalf of OUR ECOVILLAGE or the institutions…rather that it is the Act governing the mortgage laws which make it a complete barrier for multi-stakeholder organizations such as this.  We will hand this over for a deeper level of legal review and new folks will work towards having this solved not just for OUR…but hopefully for all others who come together to protect farms, do good work, contribute in their community, are educators, and simply want a good life for their family and next generations to come…..I believe this is possible and that still “No–is just an uneducated yes!!’.
We now need to proceed with finding ways to have the wider world take over this part of the process and have alternative models of economy/finance happen through ‘OUR Community Trust for Ethical Investment’ (investment mortgage which pays folks 3% interest and allows the local credit union to come off the lands title.  This investment also accepts RRSP transfer) and there is also a large general fundraising campaign to support this year of transition…and you will see more about both on OUR website.
I believe that this change in my health has happened so that I can find even higher value in what is all around me. My desire is that my family, friends, and life’s work continue to be supported and enriched as I walk into the next of so many unknowns for myself. Terms like ‘battle’ and ‘fight’ are not the language I have brought in to my/OUR work towards regulatory reform and partnership…and I realize that frankness and transparency, while still respecting my family, will be the best way to relate in terms that reflect conventional descriptions of health.  Those who are next in writing the Executive Reporting will speak in the ways that express my challenges in deeper detail perhaps. 
I wish to carry a positive connection forward with all of you–and I wish for my family to have all the support possible. As always; please keep me posted. I will be less ‘plugged’ in to the wider world, all the juicy projects, and the issues which hold my heart…and yet I am here in spirit with everyone and everything in a whole new level of loving intention. And I hope to return to OUR team in a new way in the future…

Permaculture. Sustainable Food Production. Natural Building. Education. Community.