Spaceship versus Mission Control
There are several metaphors for community design and outreach. If you believe there are serious problems with industrial capitalist civilization and that anyone who decodes this should have a place in community outside of this system, then you see community as a lifeboat. If you believe that a specific community has a specific mission to complete and there only so many seats to be filled selectively (the number of which are often determined by the number of bedrooms in the community) then you see community as a spaceship.
We (GPaul, Amy. Belladonna Took and myself) just came back from a roller coaster tour of NYC in which we were hustling the Point A ideas. When we arrived i felt compressed by the double crush of shark-like real estate developers on one side and the nearly unavoidable problem of gentrification on the other (blog post to come). It felt like the city was too difficult and there was so much struggle for space, in a way that i had not felt in the Washington DC discussions.
And in the case of the Washington Point A group, it felt like we were building a spaceship. Not everyone in the group was going to be on the ship, but many were actively considering it. And that there was some recognized risk associated with being on this exploratory journey and there were people willing to take that risk.
In NYC we seem to be building out this metaphor and now we are building mission control. What this means as organizers is we are not looking for the select few people who will be next to us in the limited spaceship seats (rooms), but rather we are entering into conversation with anyone who is interested in the project and figuring out how they can help. But “the project” is much larger than just Point A chapter/building. The project is making highly resource sharing and potentially income sharing communities come into being in the NYC greater metropolitan area. Mission control can launch many spaceships and we had a bit of success with this in Brooklyn.
We discovered the need to recognize and support the other spaceships when we went to visit Teagan and Arrow just west of Manhattan. Teagan is a networking titan who has been pitching the need for ecovillage expansion for years. Arrow is a socially responsible industrialist who has a vertically integrate bio-diesel company. Together they are starting the Catalyst Community eco-village project outside in NYC. We also met Jon that evening from the Eastern Light Project, who is trying to save some beautiful land from development. We spoke about there projects and we ended up spending so much time on them, that we never made it to discussing Point A.
This made us realize we have more of a mission control mandate. There are lots of highly useful workshops and skill shares at the annual Twin Oaks communities conference and the vast majority of the people from the NYC area are never going to make it to this event. If most NYC folks can’t make it to events on Staten Island, there is no chance they are going to find themselves in central Virginia. So we should be doing at least parts of this multi-community introducing format in NYC. So we did a miniture version of “Meet the Communities” where each of the perhaps a dozen communities present gave a 90 second self descriptions and then went to different tables in the room to invite more direct communication. This seemed to work well and some important alliances seemed to form.