Unpredictably, one of the most important successes of the Point A project has been helping to spark the Catalyst Community project. This was not expected, because Catalyst is outside of the 5 boroughs of NYC (Point A is focused on starting and supporting communities inside the city limits). None-the-less at the first Brooklyn, Teagan from Catalyst came and presented and a number of people were interested in the project and what had been a great idea took off.
This is something vaguely like what Catalyst might look like.
Now less than 6 months later they are gathering and looking seriously at buying land, cottage industries and designing eco-friendly residences which foster a sense of being together. Today they had a retreat and I was flattered to be asked for my advise to this starting community. This is what I said:
So from my understanding of what you are trying to do, were i a principal organizer of your group this is what i would be doing.
Are these modern hobbit holes?
Building Trust: The vast majority of new community projects never get past the talking phase. This is because (in my evaluation) the group is not strong enough to make a commitment to each other.
There are two parts of trust building in my experience. The first part is interpersonal trust
– you know some of my important secrets and struggles. You have listened to me and my worries and said clever, helpful or supportive things and i feel closer and trusting of you. We have built caring and compassion between each other. There are lots of good tool sets out there for this, NVC
, Transparency Tools
, ZEGG Forum
The other trust is work trust – that we tried to so something together and we succeeded or at least were happy with how we failed together. This allows the participants to think that in the pending struggles which will certainly come up in the community forming process, there is faith and experience of working on things together. Hearing each other, compromising, stepping up to support each other and celebrating joint successes.
Ideally, work trust would be built on things related to the community – wresting with the city for zoning approval, selecting an architect who everyone likes, designing equity plans for shared businesses. People need to take on significant tasks and then deliver on them in a visible and important way to the rest of the group.