Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Steering The Process — Coleen O'Connell

Boats of various sizes, colors and design bob on Belfast Harbor in the late afternoon sun as five people pile into a little dinghy to row out to a sailboat moored near the landing. It is our weekly Steering Committee meeting. Sanna McKim, our Project Manager, has invited us to meet on her sailboat Tigger as a change of scenery from our headquarters on Edgecomb Road. Geoff Gilchrist, Wendy Watson, Denise Pendleton and myself have been working together weekly to literally “steer” our cohousing project forward. We haggle through issues of competing topics, delve into questions about the project that have arisen since our last meeting only a week ago, and prioritize the next steps to bring to our Equity members – those households who have committed their money and time to birth our intentional neighborhood. Certainly I had no idea when I joined this project that I was to become a developer. It never occurred to me as a child when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up that “developer” was even an aspiration or an option. Yet that is what I/we have all become in this project. We have bought land, designed homes and a Common House, and now we need to sell them in order to break ground.

The good news of today, Sanna reports, is that we received the final approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection that our project is environmentally sound. We have also cleared the old easement that was attached to our land, which the town needed that before granting final approval. Check. Check. Two more things off the list of “things that need to happen” to make this ecovillage a reality. So many little details tied to each other, so many ways to think about each piece of information, so many directions to go. We haggle about which one will follow next, questioning each other as to why that should be priority now over some other important aspect. Five good minds listening and questioning, and ultimately trusting that we are making good choices for all the other members who are not present.

It is a huge responsibility, but what I know to be true from my past experience of working closely with a group of people to make a dream come true is that we are building our community in the process. We are building relationships that will last us the rest of our lives. We are binding ourselves to each other in ways that are unseen on the surface but with each obstacle we tackle, each conflict resolved, each joy celebrated, the underlying web of interdependence is woven tighter and tighter. The juice, the chips and the dark chocolate almonds are gone. The sun has gone down behind the trees and the harbor loon starts calling. A few boats come in from the day. Today’s work is finished. The accomplishments are many. We look forward to the launching of our project come spring.

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