Work And Planning First Draft - Alpha Farm

Tags: Alpha Farm, Organization and Planning

Work And Planning First Draft
Alpha Farm

Work And Planning First Draft AF-C1

Even if we didn't have to "prove" ourselves to the old time neighbors through hard work, Alpha has been a hard-at-work kind of place anyway. The intent was not to come here to get away to a dream farm and live the easy life. The intent was to "change the world", starting right here with us--which calls for committed people.

There is an interesting balance to consider here. On the one hand is energy, willpower, dedication, and stamina; on the other hand, equally important, is "letting go" to the guiding spirit and not attempting to push our own way. Our ideal, as the poster says, is that "work is love made visible"--work that is coming from a calm and centered position where we can individually be receptive to the "rightness" of the spirit's prompting.

We are aware that the way we work, the attitude that we bring to our work, many times determines the outcome of a specific project. When the work is done in a positive, centered manner, the project flows with a predictable ease. If a person is angry, frustrated, or otherwise distracted from their work, the project reflects it by not turning out right, taking longer, or even needing to be done over. However advocating that people here work positively and centeredly just because that seems to be the most efficient way of doing things is not the point. Bringing our energies to focus as an expression of love, and living with faith in the spirit, is what we live for.

Therefore, it is a high priority for people at Alpha to be centered and "present" in whatever is done, whether in talking, driving, or working. If necessary we encourage the person to stop what they are doing, within reasonableness of the situation to do what they can to remember their purpose and re-align with it.

So, where does planning fit in? Is planning necessarily antagonistic to being lead by the spirit? It can be, if there is a clinging to the plan for a sense of security, then planning becomes rigid and stifling. But if we can use planning as a guide, or as a tool for greater ease and efficiency, always ready to change it as the clear inner prompting suggests, then everyone gains. This is our goal with planning.

Few of us were used to being more than sixty miles away from a major shopping area before moving to Deadwood. It quickly became apparent that careful lists and scheduled trips saved us time and money. That called for planning the job ahead of time, carefully enough to know all of the materials needed. Planning has become more and more important to Alpha, from the individual project to a whole year's activities--and more.

Planning is one of the major responsibilities of the team leaders and the committee chair-people. Each winter they are responsible for projecting the amounts of money and time required by their area. Frequently that will require research on a project intended to be done in that area in the upcoming year. Sometimes there will be large research tasks undertaken, such as the construction of a building or the organization of a new income-producing activity. So to begin the "planning season" each October or so we gather to consider all of our ideas on needed projects. Jointly we sift through the list, establishing some priorities. Some of these ideas will be researched to be brought back to the house. Frequently a small (or not so small) booklet is the result of all this research, which we all read and then discuss. Usually there are different options presented for each project--usually representing different levels of money or time- investment called for, and providing comparisons between them. We think we have gotten pretty good at all this (take a look at an old research booklet and see!). Most everyone takes part in this process of doing research in one way or another, and there is lots of helpful advice available.

The planner and bursar compile their figures of what it will take to do what we want to do in the upcoming year, and everything is projected out in the form of a year-long schedule--what money and labor will be available during what weeks of the year, and what money and labor is needed to do what we want to do. Gradually the two are made to fit with each other, of course a few categories for the unexpected are thrown in. To experience planning time is an excellent thing for new folks particularly, since it is the one time of year when we most obviously look at everything we are doing and get it all into perspective. [sic] "It is also a time of making basic choices of direct should the need or desire arise." It is a time of active consensus.

Becoming fully a part of it all, not just in the doing but in the deciding. After all the projects and plans achieve some semblance of balance and the annual plan is approved, it is the planner's job to refer to the plan as a guideline to the time requests that are made as the year goes on, and like wise it is a reference point for the bursar for money needs. Obviously situations are constantly shifting and the plan will need to accommodate to what is happening, but it offers a guideline. If we are tending to deflect too far from the plan, the bursar or planner will usually call it to our attention so that some continuing decisions can be made.

Another factor in our work and planning is long-range planning which encompasses some of the physical and personal needs at Alpha. The planning of structures, water and septic systems, and so on, and the legal approval necessary for these things, is taken care of by the long-range planning committee, although frequently these meetings are well-attended by others not officially on the committee! And this committee also does some sketching of the future in terms of personal needs or desires for longer periods of time away or specialized training, and so on. It would be a hardship if everyone wanted to go to school at once, for instance, and so the committee suggests some balances or order to this.

All these plans offer a little restraint, shall we say. In our early years we experienced too much of the "running off in all directions simultaneously" syndrome, and as a result there is more of a tendency to not get anything done. Even if the plan is overruled by us because of some situation that has arisen, a plan that is properly used will still offer a point to center on. It should be a tool to help us maintain work as a consistently positive and centered expression into the world around us--an expression of love made visible.