When I was last down at Twin Oaks Community I stopped by their O&I board (a board of proposals, reports, opinions, and information) and saw that a couple of members had proposed a calendar of continuous reflection and learning connected to the core values of the community. I was inspired, snapped a picture, and shared it with the Point A DC crew.
Our friend Beth Raps liked the idea so much she interviewed me and wrote about it at her blog Raising Clarity. You can see her post here.
I’ve copied our short exchange below:
Beth Raps: What caught your eye at first?
GPaul Blundell: Honestly, when confronted with a wall of clipboards covered in pages of type and written words a splash of color goes a long way to drawing the eye.
BR: What kept you reading it?
GPB: I, like everyone here, feel driven to live a value-based life yet, possibly because we agree on so much, there are not many conversations about those values. Any serious proposal to get us talking more about what inspires us and what world we are trying to create merits my attention.
BR: Why are you interested in that?
GPB: Vonnegut cynically wrote the epitaph of the human world: “The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.” I’m not so cynical but I do worry. It is easy and in fact completely reasonable to be caught up in the immediate concerns of life and want to be economical with our limited time and resources. Stepping out of our immediate situation into the world of ideals and values is an effective way to call ourselves to solve the big, slow, vague, complicated problems that afflict us: climate disruption, ecological catastrophe, economic inequality, racial injustice, patriarchy, etc. Continuously regrounding ourselves in a liberatory analysis and compassionate connection with the wider world helps us to prioritize actions and investments that don’t obviously and quickly pay off for us but are hugely important.
BR: How does it relate to what you’re up to in the world?
GPB: I’m one of the instigating organizers of Point A which is a project of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities to cultivate ambitious engaged egalitarian income sharing communes in the cities of the East Coast. As a project we take a lot of inspiration from the Movement for a New Society (MNS) and from Las Indias, both of which centered collective learning and analysis in their socially transformative work. For MNS, several veterans of the movement attributed the stalling and creeping irrelevance of the movement to their move away from constant learning and analysis. In Point A, if we want the communes we create to be catalysts and strongholds of liberatory and compassionate social transformation, we take the lessons of history to show that we need to be constantly engaging with the world, seeking to understand it, and sharing and developing that understanding with each other. If we ever stop we risk losing sight of the big picture that keeps us on the path to the more beautiful world that lives in our hearts or we risk sinking into irrelevance as the world changes underneath of us but our understanding of it does not.
My experience over the last decade at Acorn Community supports the importance of having these values conversations. When you’re operating a business, and a household, and a farm together it’s easy to end up just putting your head down and getting caught up in the day to day business of keeping it all running. Petty conflicts and practical concerns can begin to crowd your field of vision. But when we get together and talk about the values, the politics, and the grand goals that brought us together in the first place we can rise above the cloud of day to day concerns and see each other in a new and brighter light and begin to see the long outline of the path we have set out to tread. It’s a sure way to boost morale and the quality, creativity, and compassion of our thinking.