Rick’s Corner: Finances and Ownership
With so much focus needed on finances and ownership to keep the ship afloat, it’s important for us to keep in mind that we also need to keep growing our capacity to steer the ship. Even as OUR Ecovillage has launched an exciting campaign to raise enough funds for ownership transfer to O.U.R. multi-stakeholder cooperative, and has a new business plan to generate sufficient revenue for all OUR needs, we’ve still been actively working on “operational sustainability” – the capacity to manage and grow our operations effectively and efficiently.
For the past year, I have been consulting with OUR through a federally-funded initiative to raise the Ecovillage’s management capacity and create/pilot a new system of decision-making and implementation called Dynamic Governance. We’ve set it up in a way that all stakeholders have a voice in major decisions, while at the same time decentralizing day-to-day operational decisions to the people directly involved in carrying them out. As we prepare to start drafting our 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, this new structure will help ensure that the Plan is achievable, true to our values, and has full buy-in to make sure it really happens.
Included in this work is succession planning. The setting up of teams with more autonomy and voice, together with the creation of a 3-member “Executive Team”, has helped spread the responsibility from just one person’s shoulders. More far-reaching policy and planning dialogue now occurs in a monthly “General Circle” with elected representatives from all teams and both boards – a forum that has proven to be rich in terms of bringing forward and honing the best ideas, and also making efficient decisions. This Circle then frees up the boards to do the top level vision-setting and oversight work that they are meant to do. As for Brandy, we
will see her creative energy focused on new onsite and broader community engagement as other individuals and teams carry their well-defined share of the load.
In March we’ll be sending out a report across the country about how other co-ops and non-profits can develop a similar system. Once again, OUR Ecovillage is forging new paths in our sustainability movement – this time around a way of working together that’s true to our vision of how to live and work together in community.
Finances and Operations are a lot like Love and Marriage – you can’t have one without the other. As we take on this huge, long-awaited step of transfecting ownership of the land from one individual to a shared ownership, we must also make sure that the day-to-day and bigger-picture work is shared among all stake-holders. With thanks to the Cooperative Development Initiative (our funder) and many individuals who have put in the time and effort to learn and implement this system, we are much closer to OUR vision of being “interdependent, viable and prosperous through our deep connection to ourselves, each other and the earth.”
– Rick Juliusson