Becoming an FEC Community
We of the Federation want you to know who we are and what we do. We think the path that our communities have taken has relevance for others. We also think that as an organization, we can better serve our members and the larger movement toward intentional communities if we increase our numbers.
The Federation was founded in 1976 by a group of intentional communities that had a strong commitment to economic, political, and social equality (see principles). Coming together to share common interests proved beneficial to the communities, most of which were recently formed at the time. Over the years, the FEC has developed programs that continue to help its member communities in ways that show the advantages to be gained from a greater degree of cooperation and sharing.
There are two levels of involvement in the FEC: Full Member communities and Communities-in-Dialog. Full member communities are committed to following the FEC's guiding principles, contributing a portion of their income and labor as dues, and regularly sending delegates to the FEC's assemblies. Communities-in-Dialog share most or all of the Federation tenets and consider full membership as an option for the future. A third membership category was recently created, called Allied Communities, for communities that share our values and wish to be affiliated with the FEC but have no intention of becoming a full member.
If you want to support our values and programs without actually joining one of our communities, we invite you to become a Friend of Community. Friends of Community support the work of creating egalitarian communities and keep in touch with FEC communities through receiving newsletters, hosting travelling communitarians, lending a hand on specific projects or whatever else inspires.
One of the most important services provided by the Federation has been new member recruitment. This work includes placing ads in appropriate publications, creating and disseminating an array of descriptive literature (flyers and booklets), attending conferences to give presentations, our slideshow, and more.
Our communities are income-sharing, and each person typically has a limited amount of money available for discretionary travel. The Federation helps compensate by offering travel subsidies of various kinds. Labor Exchange Travel Fund is an intercommunity program through which individuals of one community can go to another for work (see Labor Exchange). In so doing, they can meet their home community's labor obligations. The Federation assists with travel costs for labor exchange. Outside Events Travel Fund may also help pay expenses for attending outside events where there is an opportunity for doing outreach, or for gaining knowledge that may benefit our communities.
3. Loan Fund
The Federation has a loan fund intended to help new Federation communities with capital acquisitions and business initiatives.
The Federation communities have established a joint health care fund called PEACH (Preservation of Equity Accessibility for Community Health) that reimburses individual communities in the event of large medical expenses. The fund, which has continued to grow since its beginning in 1986, provides our communities with greater security.
5. Group Process and Facilitation
To help with the vital skills of group process and facilitation, the Federation offers financial help to its members to attend workshops away from home and to conduct them within community (see Rainbow program). There are some community members who are skilled teachers in these areas, and who travel within the network in times of need.
In addition to our Sharing the Dream recruitment booklet, the FEC publishes a newsletter called Soundings, a column in Communities magazine, and various other materials.
Labor and Money Dues FormulaFull Member Communities
- Labor: ten hours per adult working member per year, plus
time to attend two Assemblies, including travel to and from both
Assemblies, per year. (Each community is invited to send up to two delegates to each Assembly.)
Money: In the first year of being a full member in the FEC, a community pays $200 in dues. In the second year, a community pays $200 plus .5% of their "net income." In the third year and thereafter, full members of the FEC pay $200 + 1% of their "net income" per year. To determine a community's dues for a particular year, we calculate their "net income" for the previous calendar year.
The way the FEC defines "net income" is "gross business income" plus "miscellaneous income" minus "direct business expenses."
"Gross business income" is all money that comes in from the sale of community services and/or products.
"Miscellaneous income" is income not connected to community businesses, such as investments, interest income, social security and rents (or any other income that appears on individual tax returns but not on the community's tax return).
"Direct business expenses" are defined as monetary business expenses related directly to the creation or delivery of products and services, such as the cost of raw materials, marketing, packaging, etc. Interest expense is also deducted. We don't deduct depreciation and amortization for major assets, even if they're used for business purposes; note that this is a significant departure from the way the Federal government calculates taxable income. (Also, we don't deduct anything for the time we work in our businesses.)
- Labor: no labor dues required
- Money: $100 plus $5 per adult working member per year
- Labor: no labor dues required
- Money: $50 per year (flat fee)
New Communities Support
The FEC wants to see as many new communities sharing our values flourish as possible. As resources permit we may donate labor, share expertise, or provide a loan for a new business. We have found that moral support goes a long way, and that the most important resource we can provide may be relationships with people who know the challenges of building community firsthand. These relationships are most likely to form based on mutual chemistry and proximity.
We have collected documents describing how we structure and operate our communities. The documents include planning papers, policies, bylaws, tax documents, etc. While many of these are somewhat outdated, they may still be helpful, and you can also contact individual communities to ask about current documents. See Systems & Structures.
A new community may want help with group process skills, including meeting facilitation, how to work with conflict, and choices in decision-making. The Federation can help by providing skilled teachers.
You may also want to visit our communities where you can learn firsthand what we are doing and whether it suits your situation.