AT LONG, LONG LAST…..
REPORT FROM THE FIELD TO FORK! — From EDUCATION AND OUTREACH and FARM MANAGER.
If I have heard one statement repeated the most around OUR ECOVILLAGE – it might be “we are almost there!”. i can only tell you that it feels almost surreal to have ARRIVED!! At least at the most sought after milestone of 17 years of legal, political, financial, and organizational work to have OUR Ecovillage Coop finally gain title of the lands, processes and programs totally on SEPTEMBER 1ST, 2015.
Over 8 years ago, with many, many years of legal and regulatory research lead by the brilliance of Deborah Curran, LLC as the lead lawyer…..OUR team incorporated a “Multistakeholder Coop”. As innovative and inclusive as this Coop is — no bank or credit union knew how to actually take it on and grant a conventional mortgage! For longer than I can remember we have spoken at conferences and educational programs on the topics of cooperatives, social finance/alternative economy, inclusive ecological design, regulatory reform, and innovations in organizational structuring…..and on creating the ‘Seemingly Impossible’. From one Social Venture Institute to another, ethical investor supporters, and even the highest level of consultants — over and over we have heard OUR work has been ahead of it’s time in terms of the ‘finance world’ being ready for a fully holistic design for folks to live/work/farm/educate/enterprise together. Seems like it is a bit like trying to fund a bowl of spaghetti in relation to the conventional systems knowing how to deal with multiple stakeholders working with multiple streams of personal and social enterprise. And yet – we DID IT!
The highest acknowledgement goes to VANCITY CREDIT UNION for stepping forward with more support than we could have imagined. The relationship which began way back in 2004 has been a deeply progressive and forward thinking mutual path. After awarding OUR Green Building projects, the research of how to own and govern collective share lands/projects, OUR Green Burial Program, ‘Redefining Value’, and the overall framework for OUR Zero Mile Meal Eatery – we now have tied the knot with an even more progressive staged mortgage. Highest regards are due to the individuals and hopeful vision of Vancity for seeing beyond the complexities of all OUR regulatory framework and becoming the new holder of this mortgage and a valued player in the work of creating OUR ECOVILLAGE as the 25 acre Regenerative Living Demonstration Site and Education Centre……for all to now co-own.
Kudos would not be complete without a deep expression to Michael Contardi for also stepping up to carry a new baton as the General Manager. He has stepped in to this reshaped role of Leadership to support all of us on OUR Board of Directors and to be part of the vision as we continue to craft OUR way forward in support of the new HearthKeeper Stewards, Community Steward members, and all of YOU!! Having had Rick Juliusson for almost a year of ‘Transition Consultant’ and Interim Executive Director (when he urgently stepped forward to take the baton from me!) has been a vast help to have prepared all of OUR historic Non-Profit work and help to create a great hand off to the newly on title “Non-Profit Multistakeholder Community Service Coop” (like all things here that have put together a holistic framework….quite a mouthful!). AND before all of that the Boards of Directors from both OUR Non-Profit Community Association and the Board of OUR Ecovillage Coop…..who for many of the years tried to work together to pull such a huge ship out of dock and have the full organizational structure ‘set sail’. Sound like lots of bits in the puzzle — believe me it has felt like that for most all of us over these many years.
What does this mean now? Well for a start place – it means that all four new homes can now have OUR HearthKeepers have full Lease and title to the house sites we are working to have complete quite soon! We are so deeply appreciate of OUR wonderful family connections that have formed and how beautiful it is to have children and adults who are deeply committed to the process of living together in a new and ever evolving way. To learn, to laugh, to love, and to create a space where we will continue to host so many other learners over the years.
All this is tied in with the development of over 200 new perennials being planted out for OUR continued work on food security, new well going in, and a major new design for closed loop; power, waste to resource for nutrients and recycled water to the farm, and innovative heating….all with lots of new partners. Everything we have designed for over 14 years is being actualized on the ground — and you have to come and see how BEAUTIFUL it all looks.
We have outreach to new education partners, new business partnerships, and great programming within OUR ‘Sustainable Wellbeing’ work that has come to fruition….and more to come. Now each of those who wished to be part of OUR education programming can ‘own’ their part in this, each of us can ‘own’ our own homes if we like, and more community members can become supporters and become part of the overall ‘vote’ of OUR future. If you are interested in looking into OUR Coop membership as a ‘Community Steward’ , HearthKeeper Steward (living on the land), or other membership….just come for tea!
Tucking in to a season of Homeschooling (with other children joining us) and reaping the rewards and bounty of the harvests of a outstanding year. All my gratitude to each of you for being part of the journey, in large and even ever so small of ways to have brought OUR community to where we are today.
We are looking forward to seeing you for HARVEST FEASTIVAL
– and the outstanding fun of celebrating all of this with you on October 10th, 2015.
Brandy Gallagher BSW, MA