We’ve already featured Acorn Community in one of our Podcasts of the Day. That was a fascinating conversation between KMO, host of the C-Realm, and G. Paul Blundell, a member of the community. Today we offer this follow up, featuring some texts from Acorn’s page including a passage on their governance system.
Acorn Community Farm is an egalitarian community founded in 1993. We are committed to non-coercive, voluntary associations both within our community as well as within the larger community in which we find ourselves. We are also committed to income-sharing, sustainable living, and creating a vibrant, eclectic culture.
We are members of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, which means that we hold in common our land, labor, resources, and income, and that we use this for the good of our community as a whole and our members as individuals. While all members must be enthusiastic about a culture of radical sharing and working with one another, we do not share religious, political, or philosophical beliefs. We use consensus decision-marking in our weekly meetings in order to make decisions about use of collective money, land, and resources.
Acorn is non-hierarchical. There are no bosses, owners, investors, managers or supervisors. Although structured in areas such as membership, we intentionally keep policies to a minimum (we have a policy of very little policy) preferring a calm anarchy to prevail. Of the few policies that are in place, our culture encourages personal responsibility rather than supervision, as well as taking issues on a case-by-case basis keeping in mind that needs of individuals vary. Our community strives to create a stimulating and enriching social, political and intellectual environment.
Our thriving seed business – Southern Exposure Seed Exchange – is part of an exciting movement and growing network of farmers, gardeners and seed savers dedicated to organic, heritage agriculture and independence from the processed, genetically modified, corporately delivered “food” paradigm.
If you are interested in visiting us, interning in our seed business and garden or in other areas of our farm-based livelihood, check out our page on How to visit Acorn Community Farm.
We are looking for folks to live and grow with us. Folks who share our vision of a vibrant, non-coercive, supportive, environmentally appropriate, self-sufficient community and have skills that are helpful in getting us to where we want to get to. Skills such as: vehicle & farm implement maintenance, repair & construction of our infrastructure, farming, livestock care, business management, customer service, healthy cooking, seed saving, organic gardening. Or if you lack specific skills but just like to work hard, get things done, and are willing to learn and take on responsibility, we would like to talk to you, so call us and schedule a visit.
Remember, this stuff is hard! Living and working together, trying to have fun while at the same time running a business, making decisions together and sharing income, are all challenging every day. These challenges give us many opportunities for personal growth. So in addition to the above mentioned skills, we are interested in meeting people experienced in community-building, communication and facilitation, who interested in building a healthy, dynamic, supportive social culture.
Meetings and Decisions
We make our decisions by formal consensus. Every member must agree to a proposal for it to be passed, or a compromise must be made that everyone is comfortable with. A member may choose to “stand aside” in a decision if they do not want to accept a proposal but do not feel comfortable blocking it. Full members may “block” a proposal, while provisional members may not. Provisional members’ input, however, is taken into consideration as much as a full member.
We regularly meet twice a week to discuss community issues and check in with members. Meetings usually last about an hour and a half. We have one direct-focused community meeting to make announcements, coordinate work and trips, and decide on proposals. Every member has an equal chance to be heard. Our second weekly meeting is an interpersonal meeting where we get together as a community to discuss our interpersonal relationships and to resolve conflicts. We expect all visitors to attend meetings, and we encourage all members to attend and participate fully in community responsibilities.
Full vs. Provisional Membership
When an individual becomes a member, they have “provisional” member status, which lasts at least one year. Though rare, during provisional membership, the community may ask the provisional member to leave if community conflicts cannot be resolved, or in extreme situations of physical violence or violent communication. During provisional membership, the member has a three-month review of membership, as well as other meetings with the community to discuss how membership is going. This all culminates at a final meeting of decision for full membership.
Full membership offers two main benefits not available to provisional members: a full member may block a decision at a meeting, and the community covers their health care costs.