Re: ecovillage and sustainability
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I am still wrestling with these issues myself, but I would baulk severely at anyone (or even any group consensus) telling me what music I can listen to, what books I can read, or when to laugh.
Here is what I envision as an ideal ecovillage, in brief.
I would call it "Dharma Gaia Practice Center" and its mission would be to model, develop, and share a synthesis of "vertical" (body-mind-spirit) and "horizontal" (self-community-ecology) healing practices as well, and it would be in continuous interaction with--not isolated from--the larger world, offering classes, retreats, and workshops in both "vertical" healing arts (e.g. yoga, tai chi, qigong, massage, meditation, etc.) and "horizontal" healing arts (permaculture, ecological restoration, conflict resolution, environmental politics, etc.).
To establish clarity of common purpose, I would arrange to start every day with a recitation, silent meditation, and discussion of the following Principle, Precept, and Practice:
Principle: (Everyone joins palms as one person recites) "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
Precept: (Everyone recites together) Let us strive to take care of everyone, and abandon no one. Let us strive to take care of everything, and abandon nothing. (after Lao Tzu)
Practice: (This could be done as a guided meditation, with the facilitator saying each word or phrase on the in and outbreath)
Breathe, Observe, Let Go.
Be well, Do Good Work, Keep in Touch. (with gratitude to Garrison Keillor)
Learn Gaia, Teach Gaia, Heal Gaia, Create Gaia.
The following discussion, of course, would involve a shared interpretive exploration of this Dharma Gaia principle, precept, and practice, as it applies to our own daily lives, experiences, plans, and decisions.
This would be the only mandatory ritual for the Dharma Gaia sangha, though members and guests could feel free to share their own supplementary practices with the group (e.g. sufi dances and other solidarity-building group exercises).
The core community (no more than about 30 people max) would be governed by an elective governing board of, say, 5-7 members, who would serve staggered three-year terms to establish continuity of direction and policy. They in turn would employ a staff to allocate daily responsibilities to teams of members on a rotating basis. General membership meetings would be restricted to once a month, to air issues and make recommendations for consideration by the board.
Married members, or members with families, would live in separate houses (built sustainably according to a preapproved master plan but allowing for autonomy in particulars). Single members might live in men's and women's dormitories, or some such arrangement. Evening meals, however, would be taken together by everyone.
Prospective members would have to visit and work with the community for a week, before being asked to join (or not).
Newly selected members would have a probationary period of, say, six months to a year, during which any member who is sufficiently irritated by his/her behavior would be empowered to ask him or her to leave, before the person is granted full membership, subject to board unanimity. But once the person is given full membership, his/her status would be guaranteed, except in the event of a crime or grave infraction.
My purpose behind the above policy would be to ensure that members, once certified, would not continually feel as if they were being judged by everyone else, and could feel free to express their own personalities without fear. And the community as a whole would have to embrace that member, and learn to deal with his or her particular quirks. It would therefore (ideally) retain adaptive flexibility and not take itself too seriously.
This, of course, is just a sketch of what I envision for a Dharma Gaia Center. I have no idea of where it would be, how to get it started, or anything else. But the Principle, Precept, and Practice are the cornerstone--the Sine Qua Non--if my conception.