by Ethan Tupelo
The intent of this document is to create standing guidelines of specific criteria FEC delegates should look for in current CID communities to become full members of the FEC.
We already have guidelines on how a community interested in the FEC can get CID status. CID status essentially has been the category we hold interested communities in while they are working to meet all the criteria for full membership. There is no fixed limit on the amount of time a community can have CID status; presumably, as long as the delegates see no reason to revoke that status, they can be CID as long as it takes until they can be accepted as full members.
The only guidelines the FEC Constitution gives about new communities joining is that they must meet the seven core principles of the FEC. The decision is made through normal decision making structure we establish for all our decisions. In practice we have been making decisions entirely by consensus in recent years, as the Constitution suggests we always strive to do. However, in the event that we can’t reach consensus, there is the option of using the fallback weighted voting method based on population. If this method is used, ? of the weighted votes cast are needed to admit a new community to the FEC.
For good measure, the FEC Constitution states that:
“A necessary condition for membership will be that the prospective community, in the judgment of the Assembly, meets the following basic requirements:
1. Holds its land, labor, and other resources in common;
2. Assumes responsibility for the needs of its members, receiving the products of their labor and distributing these and all other goods equally or according to need;
3. Practices non-violence;
4. Uses a form of decision-making in which members have an equal opportunity to participate, either through consensus, direct vote, or right of appeal or overrule;
5. Actively works to establish the equality of all people and does not permit discrimination on the basis of race, class, creed, ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity;
6. Acts to conserve natural resources for present and future generations while striving to continually improve ecological awareness and practice;
7. Creates processes for group communication and participation and provides an environment which supports people's development.”
“A majority greater than 1/2 of the votes cast is necessary for decisions to be made, except for proposed amendments to this constitution, accepting communities into the Federation, and expelling communities from the Federation, all of which require at least 3/5 of the votes cast.”
(The following can only be viewed as a guide for what we are looking for, as many of these points are going to come down to judgement calls made by the delegates about specific situations that we can’t anticipate.)
Communities desiring full membership in the FEC should:
1. Be a Community in Dialogue for at least one year, and meet the requirements for communities in that category, such as attending Assemblies, participating in FEC discussions, having at least one site visit, etc.
2. Have the seven FEC principles as core values of the community in their Bylaws (or equivalent fundamental documents). This does not have to be a word for word copy (it may actually be preferable for communities to put the core principles into their own words so they are relevant to their own situation), but the community should be able to demonstrate that those principles are part of the community’s written core values.
3. Be actually following the above seven principles. As in, to the best of our ability to determine, make sure that the community hasn’t just put these nice sounding words on paper when they’re actually doing something different in practice. This is usually what we’re looking for when we do site visits and have other conversations with members.
4. Have group ownership of all land, property, and other major resources. This can be accomplished by having the owner of those resources be the community as a corporation, and having all full members of the community being members of the corporation; by adding full members onto a legal joint ownership document; or some other equivalent. One member, or a small group of the members, having ownership of these major resources is not acceptable, as those people can wield undue influence over the community as long as they retain ownership. The delegates can consider admitting communities that have multi-year plans for ownership transition, but those agreements should be legally binding. “Ownership” doesn’t necessarily mean that the community must completely own their own land or property, but instead refers to the relevant legal arrangement for group versus individual control of the land. For example, it is acceptable for the community to be paying off a 30 year mortgage on their property to a bank (it doesn’t have to be completely paid off for them to join the FEC), but these situations should still be done as a collective, not only a few individuals.
5. Have a detailed income-sharing model in place, preferably already functioning for some time before applying for full membership.
6. Appear to be sufficiently stable, in terms of population, economics, and other relevant factors. While all communities go through such fluctuations on a regular basis, we want to be fairly certain that the community is not going to disappear within a year or so, which is especially common with new communities. If it appears that is the case, the community should remain at CID status, and the FEC should do whatever it can to help create the necessary stability.
7. Have, at minimum, three members, none of whom are in a romantic relationship or family. We’ve had communities in the past apply for FEC membership that no one else seemed to want to join, mostly because there was a dynamic of one family essentially having control over the community, and occasionally a few other people living there for a few months. Preferably, the population of a new community would be closer to at least six people when applying for FEC membership, which is usually enough to counteract a lot of this dynamic, even if there is a family unit in that small group.
8. Not have different tiers or levels of membership, or significantly different privileges based on membership length, beyond the provisional to full member process. Once people are full members, they should have the same basic level of political and economic equality.
9. Not have any blanket restrictions on people joining based on sex, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other similar discriminatory categories. For example, we have in the past rejected communities that were explicitly only one gender. While things like this may be controversial, it is our current standing decision. Policies that establish certain demographic quotas are acceptable (for example, the limits many of our communities have on overall gender balance, or average age).
10. Have systems in place to provide for the health and medical needs of all its members up to at least the requirements of PEACH. Since FEC membership guarantees automatic membership in PEACH, and since one of the presumptions of PEACH is that member communities are taking care of the health needs of its members up to the catastrophic level where PEACH kicks in, this is something we need to evaluate.
11. Be able to address a variety of less tangible factors that the delegates believe are necessary. There are likely going to be many situations where a community seems to be in a somewhat borderline situation with some of the above criteria, or there may be issues about things that we can’t think of in advance.