Community culture is composed of both official and unofficial aspects of life. In the community at LVEC, some official aspects of the community culture are represented in the community’s mission statement and the shared agreements and responsibilities. Since those are described in other pages, this page is devoted to describing some of the less official aspects of community culture. Also, here is an article on unrealisitc expectations that people often bring to LVEC.
*DISCLAIMER: UTOPIA UNDER CONSTRUCTION*
Social Connections in Community:
Living in community provides wonderful opportunities for residents to build connective relationships with others. Generally, LV attracts people who are inclusive, kind, and friendly towards others. One of the residential agreements is that everyone in the community treat each other with respect and use compassionate and honest communication with everyone else in the community. In this sense the community aims to be a place where there are no enemies and no “them”, just “us”. That baseline of respect and care for each other, however, does not mean that everyone in the community will be everyone’s best friend. Like all people, LV residents have moods and social preferences, and some people simply get along better with certain people than others. We aim to honor that reality while having an overall atmosphere of love, kindness and respect.
The LV community is typically a very easy place for people with reasonable social skills to make friends. “Reasonable social skills” means that while the community aims to create an atmosphere of connection and support, residents also need to take a fair amount of personal responsbiliity to reach out and build the connections with others that they would like. The community often functions like a mirror, where people who put out helpfulness, cheerfulness, reliability, vulnerability and friendliness towards others will, in the long run, generally find that others with those qualities want to connect with them. Those who put out hostility, negativity, self-centeredness, lack of empathy, excessively complain, or have poor conversational skills (constant interrupting, talking over people, etc.) and/or unreliability, will find that people will tend to avoid them or interact with them using those similar qualities.
Spirituality, Religion, and Personal Philosophies
LVEC has no official spiritual path, but supports a diversity of spiritual or athletic personal expressions. Some residents have no spiritual path. Some find meaning through a scientific understanding of ecology and living systems. Some residents have paths they do not have a label for. We hold a high regard for the various spiritual and religious practices through which many our residents find meaning in life. Some of these are done as personal practice and others are shared between some or open to everyone in the community. These include rituals from Celtic, Native American, and other Earth-based traditions to acknowledge and deepen our connection to the land that we are honored to steward.
Amongst residents who have spiritual paths that can put into descriptions, some examples include Earth-based Traditions, Buddhism, Yogic philosophy, Christianity, Judaism, and Neo-Paganism. Some residents follow a non-specific “be here now” “power of now” type philosophy, some are inspired by a “you create your own reality” physics meets mysticism approach, while some are fans of astrology. There are sometimes residents who are interested in integral psychology and spiral dynamics. Some residents focus on therapeutic, healing, or self-help approaches in their personal lives. LVC does not have any mandatory spiritual or religious practices. Any resident is welcome to initiate a spiritual ritual or event and reserve an appropriate common space for it, and anywhere from 1-60 people may choose to participate. At the beginning of most community meetings, there is a space held for a couple of minutes where residents are given an opportunity to “call in” spiritual entities if they wish, or just observe stillness.
Coming together in circles is a common ritual for many of the residents in our daily lives. There are optional circles with a song before the shared meals. We generally circle at the beginning of community meetings to align with a common purpose.
Residents coordinate well-being meetings where we strive to maintain close connections and loving, open, and honest communication. Residents facilitate these with a variety of formats. There is also a Community Council which pays extra attention to issues of well-being, conflicts, tension that is not being addressed, etc., and supports people through peer counseling, conflict mediation, and group facilitation.
We believe that sharing in fun and recreational activities is every bit as important for community building as “working hard” on creating community with each other. However, residents often have a diversity of opinions on what is fun. We have found that putting huge amounts of energy into trying to come up with activities that will be fun for everyone usually does not work out well. Instead, we have found that if a variety of individual residents take the initiative to spearhead some sort of fun activity (i.e. putting a description, place and time on the community calendar), then there will be enough of a variety of activities that everyone will have the opportunity to attend some that they find fun, and not attend others. While usually not every resident is at the same event at the same time, through this diversity of fun activities, eventually everyone mixes with everyone else in some fun activity or other. There seems to be a continuous stream of birthday celebrations and rituals to acknowledge various transitions and passages. As the mood strikes us, we have dance parties, jam sessions, group outings, games, and regularly enjoy the cultural and recreational opportunities in nearby Eugene. See the community member activities page for more on this.
Multiple Centers of Initiative in the Community Culture
At LVC, we have found that for the best overall happiness of the most residents that large group collective activities need to be balanced with a culture of support for people to initiate and take part in dispersed and spontaneous activities that are not collectively managed.
This realization is also reflected in Robert Gilman’s definition of ecovillages, which includes the phrase “multiple centers of initiative”. What this means is that:
1. Within the formal organization of the ecovillage, personal and small group initiative is supported in the way in which people go about accomplishing the ecovillages shared goals.
2. There is an ethic of support for personal and small group centers of initiatives to flourish outside of the formal ecovillage’s shared goals and official organizing bodies, as long as these are not in conflict with the collective goals of the ecovillage.