FEC Assembly Report by Drew Acorn

This is a report from the 2010 Assembly from Drew Acorn, Enjoy!

My name is Drew Howes, and I live at Acorn Community in central Virginia. I was privileged to be a delegate at the latest FEC Assembly for 2010, held at Emma Goldman Finishing School in Seattle, Washington. This was a wonderful opportunity for me, because I have never visited the Pacific Northwest, or Emma Goldman’s. Seattle is the major city in the region, and is beautifully tucked away on Puget Sound between the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Range. It is a creative city, a musical Mecca, and home to fantastic attractions like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. Emma’s is an easy walk to downtown through Chinatown, and sits on Beacon Hill overlooking the striking cityscape. The local area was pleasantly diverse in culture, and I was happy to eat Chinese noodles, Mexican tortas, and Super Bowl bar food within an easy walk of the community. It was also wonderful knowing Emma members were out making a difference in this area, like social working, child activist training, and community gardening.

This latest assembly was attended by Tom & Roxanna from East Wind, Stan from Sandhill, Monica and Rebecca from Emma Goldman, Bucket & Ethan from Twin Oaks, and Paul & I from Acorn. In addition to the FEC delegates, Mattie from Community Autonomy and Seamus (an ex-Twin Oaker) from Patchwork Community attended. They were both representing their respective communities with the interest of joining the FEC. The first day we were all together was a day off. It was very nice to catch up with other “Egals,” as well as representatives from outside communities. There was plenty to talk about, including major events that have happened to the federation.

East Wind recently got some baby goats, and is in the preliminary stages of tree house construction with Villages in the Sky. Unfortunately, they are having a difficult year and they seem to be the community most in need right now. They have recently endured the death of many members in a tragically short period of time. New challenges are arising in the Nut Butters business, including nut supply changes and greater enforcement of USDA regulations in their industry. East Wind is facing difficult choices ahead as the market place continues to change around us. Fortunately, during the assembly the delegates had time to discuss how the FEC could assist particular communities in need within the organization. We shared various techniques we had all found helpful like sharing circles, meeting check-ins, special care teams, second-line celebrations, and outside facilitation. In the end, however, it seemed like East Wind needed a different approach tailored specifically to their community. No specific plan was formed, but ideas about East Winders having special LEX opportunities to get time in a new environment seemed to be gathering steam. Later on, the delegation created a special budget for East Wind in order to facilitate direct aid from the FEC.

Sandhill has had a wet, cool, and busy growing season. They produced less sorghum, lots of fruit, their first hazelnuts, plenty of eggs and venison, and lots of maple syrup, yum! They grew seed stock for Acorn and another local seed company, but decided to discontinue their tempeh production. They have a new member, Emily, who lived at both Twin Oaks and Acorn. Unfortunately, long time members Michael and Kathe decided to leave this fall though.

Over at Emma Goldman Finishing School, the community finished their new deck this year with some help from Twin Oaks members. They have also been developing an Egalitarian Economics presentation for the public, and the delegation had the opportunity to see and discuss it. The delegation was also fortunate enough to take part in Emma’s monthly open house and give presentations for their respective communities. Sadly though, Sheldon and Johanna have plans to leave Emma’s soon, and Sheldon is the last remaining founding member.

There has been lots of snow in central Virginia this winter, leaving Twin Oaks and Acorn consistently covered in a fluffy white blanket. Before the weather became too prohibitive, Twin Oaks was able to complete its new slaughter barn. They have also picked up a new customer that doubles their total tofu production. In family news, Elsa has had a baby and little Anja is now walking.

Over here at Acorn, we are amidst the busy season of our seed business. It is continuing to grow rapidly, and we posted a 40% increase in sales for the month of January. Villages in the Sky recently complete their tree houses on our property, and we are also in the process of re-siding our main residence. We also have just gotten 18 new chickens and hope to be producing eggs in a couple of months.

Perhaps one of the most exciting recent events in the FEC was the natural building workshop held at Acorn. Twin Oaks, East Wind, and Acorn collaborated with workshop attendees to create the main structure of the natural building this fall. This was a great step forward in sustainability for the FEC as an organization, and the skills learned in its construction have already been applied to other projects.

Over the course of the assembly, the delegation was able to come a number of decisions of varying significance. One of the biggest decisions was to enhance the clarity of how exactly FEC dues hours can be spent. It is an important subject because FEC hours are specifically created to serve the 7 values we all share, for the benefit of all of the communities in our federation. We decided that, while ultimately the FEC delegation has the ability to hold individual delegates accountable for misappropriation, each communities’ two delegates are trusted as gatekeepers in deciding how their respective communities spend their FEC dues hours.

We decided that we would begin participating at the US Social Forum to continue to spread our message of egalitarianism. Another major activity was developing more structure around the use of our FEC expansion fund. Our hope is to use the fund to assist in the growth of the FEC by providing affordable capital for new or expanding FEC communities. We are excited about using the fund for a Community in Dialogue that has a really good chance of joining the FEC. We also decided to change the FEC Allies dues after 2009 to a donation. From now on there will be a delegate in charge of maintaining and enhancing our relationships with our Allied communities. In order to improve our image to the public, Bucket was given approval to thoroughly update the FEC website.

One of the most arduous tasks of the assembly was to budget all of our expenses for 2010. After examining the previous year’s budget, we were able to make various changes to more effectively use federation money.

The FEC assembly in Seattle was a wonderful experience. Though this was my first representative assembly, I was very pleased with our level of communication and progress. Not only was it a productive trip, but our flight was also delayed a few days from heavy snow. This gave me extra time to walk around Seattle, as well as take the bus up to Olympia. During my side trip at the state capital, I was able to truly appreciate the natural beauty of the region’s luscious forests, towering peaks, and elegant waterways. I feel very fortunate to have a fellow FEC community in such a wonderful area. I’ll get to see more natural beauty at the following FEC assembly, which is going to be held at East Wind in southern Missouri. Though I just returned to Acorn, I am already looking forward to continuing FEC progress with my fellow egalitarian communards.

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