Joining the FEC

Becoming an FEC Community has many benefits for your community and its members!

All FEC Communities are given instant access to PEACH, our catastrophic health care fund. Members may also engage in our Labor Exchange program, called LEX. The FEC also provides support for recruitment and outreach for your community, among many other projects and programs. And by becoming a member of the FEC, your community joins a group of like minded yet diverse communities that work together to try to make a better world.

The first step in becoming an FEC Community is to contact the FEC Secretary. secretary@thefec.org

The FEC Secretary will help guide you through the process.

The Secretary will send you information and a questionnaire to fill out.

You will then be invited to come to our next FEC Assembly and meet members of our communities.

The applying community:

  1. Expresses interest in FEC membership.
  2. Receives a package of written material from the FEC explaining what the FEC is about, the membership requirements, and the application procedure.
  3. Sends back to the FEC:
    1. written information describing itself (e.g., bylaws, behavioral norms, membership criteria, outreach material, etc.);
    2. some collective binding agreement, with a defined process for changing that agreement, that represents a written affirmation of the FEC's seven basic principles;
    3. a response to the FEC Questionnaire.
  4. Develops and maintains an active relationship with at least one FEC community through activities such as visiting or labor exchange, written communication, attendance at conferences, or other forms of sharing.
  5. Attends at least one assembly prior to the one at which it formally applies for membership.
  6. Is visited by a designated representative of the FEC.
  7. Comes to the next assembly, formally applies for membership, and receives an answer at that assembly.

Note that steps 1-5 may occur in any order and that at any point in the process prior to attaining membership, a community may apply for Community-In-Dialogue status.

In the above process the FEC Assembly takes the responsibility for designating a representative to handle correspondence with an applying community, including sending the written materials required in step 2, and for designating a representative to visit that community, as set out in step 6.

Consensus of the existing FEC communities is necessary to accept a new group. Once accepted the new community is granted full member rights and privileges from that point on.

FEC Membership Questionnaire

Ownership of Property

1. Who holds legal title to the land?

2. What is held in common, and what is owned by individuals? If anything is owned privately, are there any restrictions on what kind or how much?

3. What happens to the community's assets if it decides to disband?

Membership

4. What is the procedure for becoming a member? Are there any membership requirements? Do you accept children, and, if so, at what point do children become members?

5. How many members do you currently have? How long have they been members? How many members have you had in the past? What are the most you have had at one time? How many members do you intend to have? How long has the group been in existence?

6. Under what conditions could someone lose co's membership? What would the expulsion procedure be?

Work

7. How do you organize your income-producing and domestic work? How do you decide who does what?

8. Do members take vacations, and if so, how is it decided who goes, when, and for how long?

Money

9. How do you make money? What is the community's gross annual income? How do you foresee making money in the future?

10. How do you decide to spend money?

11. Do members get money to spend on themselves? If so, how is it decided who gets how much? If members get different amounts, what are these amounts based on?

Decision-making

12. How are major and minor community decisions made?

13. How can existing decisions be changed?

Health, Affiliation, and Welfare

14. How does your community deal with members' major and minor medical problems?

15. Does your community have any religious affiliation or creed?

16. What does the group provide for its members, and what are members expected to provide for themselves?

17. How does the group deal with members who do not follow group rules or norms? How does the group deal with acts of physical and verbal violence?

Community-In-Dialogue Status

If a community is seeking FEC membership but is not yet at the point where the Assembly will approve its application, that community may apply for Community-in-Dialogue (CID) status. For a community to be accepted as a CID, the Assembly need only be convinced that the community is actively working toward meeting the membership criteria, and that there exists a mutual desire for cooperation between the community and the FEC.

The Assembly shall not be obliged to accept a community as a CID, even if it is working toward meeting the membership criteria, if it is felt that the community in question is actively contradicting those criteria (e.g., using violence, being governed by a leader or minority, discriminating on any of the grounds outlined in the Federation’s basic principles).

A Community-in-Dialogue shall:

  1. Maintain an active relationship with at least one FEC community through activities such as visiting or labor exchange, written communication, attendance at conferences, etc.;
  2. Attend FEC assemblies if they so desire, and participate in discussions on a limited basis;
  3. Pay an annual base tax of $100, plus $5 per working member. This fee covers short listings in the FEC brochure, general administrative overhead, and other benefits that may be offered by the Assembly;
  4. Be eligible to participate in FEC projects specifically designated by the Assembly (e.g., conferences, training programs, etc.) on the same basis as members, but with the understanding that FEC members receive space priority. For some projects, if a CID wishes to participate, payment of a proportional tax equivalent to the share paid by a member community may be required; and
  5. Have their status reviewed annually by the Assembly.

A Community-in-Dialogue shall not:

  1. Vote upon or ratify decisions of the Assembly; or
  2. Be eligible for transportation subsidies.

 

Community in Dialogue to Full FEC Membership

by Ethan Tupelo

Background

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.

Constitutional Requirements

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.”

and:

“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.”

Specific Criteria

(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.