Every year, sometime in spring, the day comes when the interns of the season arrive. We anticipate this day with curiosity, excitement and a bit of anxiety: how will the new members of the community fit with each other, with those of us who have been here a while and with the place and our organization and its peculiar ways.
Over the years we have created a process that we call “permaculturalization” – a way of bringing us all together as learning community. We spend between 3 and 5 days with activities focused on getting to know each other, connecting with place, building trust, playing games, and downloading information about O.U.R. Ecovillage. We create a vision for the season, talk about personal goals and make team agreements. Guest facilitators bring in pieces about conflict resolution, team building games, personality profiles or body awareness.
This past week was this year’s spring staff retreat. 25 of us spent many hours in the yurt, learning about the ecovillage structures both visible and invisible. We had workshops on successful meeting facilitation with Dawn Smith, Village elements with John Andreas, strategic planning with Rick Juliussen and conflict resolution with Brandon Tallman. Our teams (kitchen, office, building and food production) took turns cooking meals – an opportunity to find out how we work together.
Explaining to others how things work here I really bring to my own awareness all the small bits that have become pattern: how to use the composting toilet, where to put the recycling, who to ask for what, how the greenhouse shower works and so on. There are so many details and there’s a story that goes which each one. And so we all become story tellers- the longer we live here the more stories we hold.
Our team agreements are tools: each team lays out their intention on how we want to work together, communicate with each other, hold responsibility, give respect, deal with conflict and get our work done. Through the season we will revisit our agreement regularly and have a look at how we’re doing: are we following what we set out to do? Do we need to re-negotiate?
In summary I believe that as a result of this initial time together we will be safer and more open with each other, which enables us to better learning and working performance.
And when I look at my team this year I am stoked : anticipating fun and lots of action.

Change of topics: Yesterday was World Labyrinth Day and I will post here a few images of the recently finished labyrinth at O.U.R. Ecovillage

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