The Feeling, Thinking, and Business Meetings of Ecovillage Sieben Linden
Here’s what Sieben Linden member Kosha Joubert wrote in Beyond You and Me, the GEN/Gaia Education book on the social aspects of ecovillages:
We distinguish between time and space for feeling, for thinking, and for organizing. We have:
- Meetings for deep, emotional sharing, with the aim of strengthening love, compassion, and mutual trust.
- Meetings for sharing of worldviews, spiritual paths, and political thinking, with the aim of growing in awareness and building a pool of common values.
- Organizational meetings, with the aim of realizing our dreams together.
When we neglect the first two, the third, organizational meetings, become very tedious.
However, it needs a strong focus to hold enough time and space for deep emotional sharing and sharing of worldviews. There is always so much to do! Taking time off for inner processes seems like luxury to many, even though we experienced again and again how it enhances our overall level of trust, joy, creativity, and effectiveness as a community!
More Trust, Joy, Creativity, and Effectiveness
And if you hold meetings just to share your good ideas and what inspires you —with no getting sucked into emotions or drama — you’re also going to understand your fellow communitarians better. You’ll probably learn something new or even influence the future of the community.
And if you’re holding both kinds of meetings, well for sure your business meetings will run better. With regularly scheduled “escape valve”-meetings to express emotions or share inspirations, your regular meetings will be far less subject to emotional drama (or emotional hijacking) and impassioned speeches (or long-winded rants). Here you are in business meetings, all just discussing and modifying proposals, coming up with workable solutions, applying your "group intelligence" and happily moving towards your goals. Imagine that!
When Sieben Linden had less than 50 people and Kosha and other Forum facilitators actively supported the weekly Forum process, the meetings were well attended. About 30 or 35 people would attend the meetings, and over several weeks’ time each person would be in the center of the circle often enough that they felt seen and heard by the others, and this helped generate a great deal of mutual trust and connection in the community. But as the population grew larger than 50 it became impossible for each person to have a turn often enough, which reduced the sense of connection. So separate, smaller weekly Forum meetings were set up so everyone in each group could have a turn. But since the community didn’t meet as a whole anymore, the sense of strong, community-wide connection gradually diminished, and there was less and less energy for the feeling meetings. Now Sieben Linden holds Forums for the whole community once in awhile and three smaller groups do the Forum process together regularly, but feeling meetings are no longer as prevalent in the community.
“I takes continuous care to not let the energy for feeling and thinking meetings be lost,” Kosha told me. “Enough people need to care, to take the time to create and promote feeling and meetings. There seems to be a need for continual flexibility in community. If the size of a community changes, or if everyone gets busier, what the community needs can change too.” Nowadays Sieben Linden is consciously including aspects of both feeling meetings and thinking meetings in every business meeting, such as starting with a sharing circle, or people describing something that has inspired them recently.
- Is Consensus Right for Your Group? Part I – Oct ’08
- Is Consensus Right for Your Group? Part II – This issue
- What We Can Learn from Ecovillage Sieben Linden — This issue