Do you have a mission circle?

Another topic discussed during the last Advocates meeting (January 2023) was that of the mission circle. None of the communities represented at the meeting had created one. The mission circle was identified as one in which representatives from organizations outside of the community provided support for contextual integration of the sociocratic organization’s core mission: For example, a “sustainable” cooperative bakery that uses sociocracy might include representatives of sustainable agriculture and food producers, a representative from an association of cooperative organizations and someone from an organization like Sociocracy4all. I am curious about who, or what organizations might serve on an Intentional Community’s mission circle? Does any IC have one?

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My community has a visioning circle. It only has internal people; in the past, it was connected to the GC, then it moved under CommLife. So it doesn’t really count but it has the aim of a Mission Circle.
They bring a lot of impulses around sustainability etc.

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The video "The Art of Community: Integrating NVC and Sociocracy" from 2017, featuring Gregory Rouillard and Jerry Koch-Gonzales offers a perspective on circle structure I was glad to watch. Rouillard describes the Mission Circle (AKA Top Circle) as composed of the general manager (leader of the General Circle), the General Circle representatives (leaders and delegates of the work circles), and outside experts; people with expertise in law, finance, governance and the aim of the organization. The Mission Circle is tasked with strategic planning and guidance like a Board of Directors. and it connects the organization to the broader environment. The connection part strikes me as an important piece that’s easy to overlook and good to remember, that each organization is nested in a bigger system… That said, our IC is in the forming stage and does not yet have a Mission Circle, the thinking being that it can wait until we’ve gotten basics in place (like buildings!). I’d be interested to hear another perspective on this: is the Mission Circle something that can wait for a more mature phase of development, or have people found it helpful early on in a community’s formation?
One note: Although we don’t yet have a Mission Circle in our forming community, the General Circle takes a “big picture” view, acting as a Mission Circle in some ways. A Mission Circle will likely be formed when the General Circle gets so busy responding to operational projects that there is less time to think broadly about the community’s direction and wellbeing. A useful step for us, I think, would be to define the markers that tell us when it’s time to form a Mission Circle - essentially a term limit/review date for our General Circle/Mission Circle hybrid.

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