On Oct 1st - 4th, we were blessed enough to be the guests of Blue Water Farms in New Hampshire for our 2006 farm retreat. For four days we left the farm (thanks to our farm sitters, Ashley, Ryan, and Murph) and discussed the short and long term future of what this project will be... and is becoming.
We started the work a week before we left. The retreat committee (Ashley L, Rafter, Erika, Alicia, and others as drop ins) posed a few questions to create the structure for the workshop schedule:
1. What is your overall vision for waht you'd like to see/ accomplish over the retreat?
2. What are the specifc topics you'd like to address?
a. What concerns do you have?
b. Where have you noticed not meeting up in conversation with others on the farm?
3. What methods or ground rules would you like to use in the discussions?
4. What are your personal needs and expectations living in this community?
5. Are there any specific projects or workshops you would like to faciliatate?
6. Any other questions you'd like to see asked and answered now?
We spent a lot of time reading, writing, thinking...
Here is a brief idea of what our schedule was like:
3- 4:30 Ground Agreements for Discussion: Kaya and Alicia facilitated a discussion around nonviolent communication and conflict resolution. We each wrote a list of personal unresolved conflicts and discussed different techniques for effective communication. As a group we consensed on our principles to use in the following days:
*everyone gets a chance to speak
*trust what needs to get said will
*calling out, without interrupting, each other on participation
*be sensitive to the moods and experiences of the group
*look critically at judgement of each other and ourselves
*non- violent communication: use loving, caring, and non desctructive language
*apce to leave if one needs it, and being respectful to myself and others by acknowledging it
*voices heard and validated
*facilitated discussions and method
*setting time limits and sticking to them
*honesty to myself and others: taking time, pauses, check ins, what are you scared to say?, notice temptation towards optimism, transparency
5-6:30 ENVISIONING #1: Ashley L. and Rafter started us off writing and thinking about how we might write about the farm 20 years from now! Mistakes, triumphs, and refections.
6:30 Delicious Dinner!
What is a Germantown Kitchen Cleanup Crew without a dance party?
9-10 Yoga with Alicia (when she wasn't sick)
10am BREAKFAST Bobby cooked us a delicious breakfast of French Toast, applesauce, yogurt. Yum!
11-1pm PRINCIPLES Courtney faclitated a workshop looking at our guiding principles as individuals and as a group. We each wrote about agreements we try to live by (ie honesty, compassion...) She read out the principles created at the farm retreat a year ago, and then had us brainstorm and discuss new year additions!
1-3 lunch (Can't remember what it was, but it was delicious)
3-4:30 BURNOUT Ben lead a discussion around avoiding burnout. We each wrote on what feels unsustainable in our personal life. We created lists of these causes and then brainstormed around solutions and techniques for prevention. We talked about how to support each other as community members in our struggle for individual sustainablilty.
5-6:30 More Envisioning Discussion
6:30 Dinner. Ashley and Alicia slipped away to surprise Ben with a homemade ginger chocolate raspberry cake! (Sorry to focus on such particulars but these are not forgotten!)
9:30- 11:30 ENVISIONING
Midway through the retreat, we realized we had the opportunity to expand the vision of our collective structure. Ashley, Alicia, and Rafter facilitated a discussion aroudn the different possibilites. There were so many options, we created diagragms, discussed each one, and eventually voted. We decided that the visions of our collective are best recognized under a broader structure. One that includes members who agree to our developing mission statement, and participate in one of the collectives numerous projects. The three most defined projects at this time are living together, working on the CSA farm, and developing an education program. Members can be involved in one or all. We hope this model will expand our community in the future.
We took a long lunch and advantage of the beautiful day. We canoed out to an small island on the lake, to enjoy a picnic lunch and cold swimming.
2:30-4 ADVANCED DIRECTIVES: Sascha facilitated a discussion around mental health, our triggers and our emotional support needs. We each were able to read and share some of what we personally need from the community.
4:30-6 VISION STATEMENT STRUCTURE Rafter started us thinking about a vision statement. We discovered what values were most important to us by each writing out five post its with simple. We then organized these by category, and voted on the ones most important to us. It was an intricate and eye opening excercise. Here's some of what we came up with:
There was some kind of yummy salad. Some delicious baken pears for desert with Creamy Cashew butter sauce!
And Rafter fork throwing.
7:30-9 ONE YEAR PLAN Month by month, we laid out all our objectives and projects. Actions like: wood chopping, canning, cleaning the chimneys, tree pruning, etc, all the way up to Sept 2007!
9:30- 11 ENVISIONING
Alicia facilitated a workshop around building a vision/ mission statement, including a statement of principles, long terms goals, and short term objectives. We answered a few major questions and came up with lots of answers. Here are just a few:
11:30-12:30 CONCRETE AGENDA
Bobby facilitated a workshop to creat a workshop where we created a time plan to discuss what we didn't have time to finish. We came up with concrete dates for topics like: finishing vision statement, writing advanced directives, and discussing our histories of oppression and priviledge.
LUNCH AND LODGE CLEANING!