OUR ECOVILLAGE Cooperative Report

Report by Brandy Gallagher


What an amazing time for review…not only of OUR last year but OUR last decade!  As often said – it has been the best of times and it has been the worst of times!  And if you have been on OUR team for any length of time you almost always will hear the echo of; ‘what a big learning’!
With over 14K learner connects this year (and growing) OUR ECOVILLAGE has now become the ‘Regenerative Living Demonstration Site and Education Centre’ which has become the host site for 4 organizations and a increasing number of partners/institutions who simply utilize the immersed learning environment for their own programming or trainings.  After 20 years of working to build a cooperative culture towards creating a legal hybrid incorporated Coop….it continues to become obvious that OUR ECOVILLAGE is needed for an ever changing learning environment than was originally ever perhaps planned for.  The request on OUR ECOVILLAGE  is ongoing to increase capacity and yet as we age in place – OUR team begins to wonder if we simply wish to acknowledge a container which serves those who serve with heart and soul onsite as much (or even more) than we serve those who come to visit and learn aspects of re-villaging life.  Essentially this means that after 2 decades of giving everything we have to the service of those who coming wishing for every kind of connection; from membership, training, space to run their business, a salaried position, mentoring, financial support, emotional/psychological/mental health support, assistance consulting with their own projects/communities/etc,, now over approx 8500K scholarships, presentations at their community/organizational/business/university/conference, eating healthy food raised on OUR lands, having a healthy/beautiful building overhead, and a place for their children to blossom — it is necessary to have the core of OUR Cooperative actually be supported with the same.  For 20 years most of OUR Coop members have contributed endless personal time to co-create an outstanding opportunity which does not exist anywhere else in Canada (and really in North America!).  The love time and effort need to come around more full circle….taking care of OUR core will bring us forward into the next decade into the potency of a regenerative culture.
These shifts are coming into fruition as we now look towards OUR next decade with a decision to build renewed health, capacity and vitality in OUR ECOVILLAGE Cooperative.  This is the decade to begin bringing in new Cooperative members and thus we are working with national to international ecovillages and elders to design an ‘on-boarding Internship’ for those who wish to apply to potentially join OUR coop.  This internship is titled “Awakening: Designing for Community Resiliency and Deep Adaptation”.  Based on the work of leaders and facilitators around the world this is part ‘skilling-up’ process is being called forward as ecovillages and intentional communities around the world continue to keep our fingers on the pulse of the great challenge of human beings learning to live and work together collectively again….re-villaging in all it’s messiness.  The call to awaken is not only at OUR ECOVILLAGE these days – but the internship will be working with others who are on-boarding into other communities as well and will be producing a ‘re-skilling package’ as a template for the global connection of communities.  While this is piloted here at OUR it will assist in serving the very real need for helping new cooperative applicants to walk a path of deep dive learning and big picture connections. Let us know if you wish to contribute or participate in any way….
Along with ‘Awaken….” as an Internship we have crafted OUR whole year going forward with the theme of ‘Awakening the Dragon’ (ARD) for 2020!  ARD is designing itself into many projects and a major magical one comes with the idea of awakening the dragon….and no longer ‘slaying the dragon’ as we awaken to a more conscious way of living that does not have us fighting for peace any longer!   We are actually building a never ending cob dragon onsite at OUR ECOVILLAGE, in public schools and in other towns and cities.  Anywhere that community wishes to gather and begin Public Animation towards “Awakening the Dragon; reSTORYing Our Collective Future”.  Focusing in on public dialogue and digital storycapture towards finding new versions of climate strike conversations, education of the ‘sustainable development goals’ (United Nations), and community capacity building for resiliency as we walk towards are certainly uncertain future….
Awakening the Dragon will also include opportunity for many ways to participate including the ‘Art of Community’ with incredible “h’ART Attacks’ lead by amazing “h’ART Monitors” and gatherings with artists, teachers, animators, mosaic mistresses, sculptors, community facilitators, and SDG trainers as we kick of the new University for Peace.
Many of the deeply challenging needs of the village are transformed as there is new opportunities on the horizon.  So much of the internal scaffolding of OUR was deeply impacted a number of years ago and it has meant years of re-structuring, re-design, re-considering….and reSTORYing — and with incredible support from OUR Elders and friends from the wider community and Cowichan Nation; we reVISION in 2020.  Also re-directing OUR focus as we mature organizational (and hopefully humanly!) means a new start in many ways…with the best of what has been built by so many loving hearts and hands over these 2 decades past.
Please come and find us in these new ways.  We are more apt to want a longer cup of tea and conversation and yet are not ‘open’ for all and at all times.  The HUGE request on the resources and time of the village has decidedly needed to become even more structured.  As has been said; we are not closing the doors – just narrowing the driveway!  We are open to proposals as always for ways in which folks might wish to assist in this capacity building as we aim to move move forward with 2020 Vision!
it is with deep love and respect that OUR ECOVILLAGE Cooperative honours the passing of so many of OUR elders, heartfelt leaders and in some ways OUR guides….. this is the first year Anniversary without Bill at OUR sides.  As the former farmer and steward of these lands he had stayed steadfast in his support over 20 years till he finally passed in OUR arms January 2019. – and his final remains rest with us here at the village for all days.  It is deeply felt that the support of those of a different time and age is with us now in the unseen realms and not in the day to day – yet at this time there is much need to fully acknowledge the Eldership/leadership of loving time spent supporting the village in guidance by Estelle Sinclaire (Elder and medicine woman now with us for almost 17 years) and Robert George (Elder and Cowichan Nation teacher in his own right).  The steadfast ways of being and supporting something so far outside of mainstream cultural connect that they work to assist in transforming the many challenges/pain/healing that comes with the work of re-villaging.  Deep gratitude to you both and all who serve on this level over the years of caring/compassion/commitment to the continued existence of this seemingly impossible possibility 💞
moving forward as we are all becoming the words to this great love story of life…..