What difference does community "vision" make in the short and long term?

The last IC Advocates meeting was small, but the discussion potent. Attendees represented the concerns of communities spanning the broad arch of organizational development: from the excitement and uncertainty of transitioning from forming to move-in, with financial concerns driving decisions around membership to the tension of well-established and stable communities that recognize the need to re-think or change governance structures, either towards or away from sociocracy. A newbie attendee full of idealism and hope talked about wanting to start a community; another person recounted the heartache of forming an incipient commitment to found a community, only to have the alliance fail to move forward. A central theme tying together the developmental life of community was that of the vision and mission: The role of core group identity.

In each situation, lack of clarity around what the shared vision is or how it is manifested in everyday practices directly influenced the quality of group relationships and organizational thriving. Time and time again, Advocate meeting attendees who are part of early stage forming group encounter struggles linked to misalignment between who they say they are and how they are perceived–thus attracting potential members who do not stick around. Or a community’s identity may change over time and some who joined in the initial stage no longer experience commitment to goals as the sense of shared purpose has eroded.

If you live in a “later stage” community (over five years old), do you emphasize the founding vision and purpose in your application of sociocracy? If so, how it is woven into domain mandate and aims? Have you revisited and adjusted the initial vision and identity to reflect the values and goals of current members?


Hello Kath,

Thank you for sharing some insights from the last “Advocates for sociocracy in Intentional Communities” meeting.

It turns out that starting an intentional community is a complex process that requires careful planning, ongoing communication, and a commitment to collaboration.

It is imperative to remember that challenges and conflicts may arise, so maintaining an open dialogue and a shared sense of purpose will be essential to the success of the community.

Striking a balance between maintaining the original MVA and being flexible to accommodate other people’s expectations is never an easy task. Ultimately, I believe there is enough room for everyone, but often not in the same community …

Given that people’s circumstances can vary over time, it’s even harder to stay on track. I remember Ted Rau saying at a meeting about SoFA that it is like a ship and we’re sailing the oceans while still building the ship …

Best wishes,

Your comments are very on-point, as usual, Adrian. A seasoned community person–Yana Ludwig–recently published a book on starting community–“Building Belonging” that is said to be very helpful. I have not read it, but I have read many of her previous books and took course in facilitation with her and Laird Schaub several years ago. Yana does not advocate use of sociocracy–her direct experience has been in communities that successfully use consensus–but she has a very solid understanding of the relationship issues that are woven into the process of translating dreams to reality. Her next-to-last book, “The Cooperative Culture Handbook” is one I have read and used—it provides a well-organized template for interpersonal exercises that help shift personal orientation away from “toxic culture” patterns towards cooperation. Unfortunately, it is published in English only.

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