An Introduction to the Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC)
Formed as a regional network in 1948, the Fellowship for Intentional Commu-nity (FIC) shifted to a continent-wide focus in 1986. We began holding semiannual organizational meetings in 1987, and set about identifying the intentional community movement’s needs and selecting projects to meet those needs. The Fellowship’s work is based on four common values: cooperation, nonviolence, inclusivity, and unrestricted freedom to leave a group at any time. To promote these values, the Fellowship has pursued four main goals:
- To act as a clearinghouse for up-to-date information about intentional communities, including referrals to match groups seeking new members with people in search of a group. This work occasionally leads to receiving critical feedback. When it does, we try to promote dialog and resolution between communities and dissatisfied members or visitors.
- To build familiarity and trust among communities by encouraging communication, contact, and joint activities.
- To facilitate exchange of skills, technical information, and practical experience among communities—both those that are well established and those newly forming.
- To broaden the wider culture’s awareness of cooperative alternatives and the practical value of the structures and ‘tools’ developed by intentional communities. We regularly explain the reality and potential of community choices to the press.
How do we accomplish these goals?
The Fellowship’s first major project was creating the 1990 Directory of Intentional Communities, which took more than two years to compile. We sold out three printings and 18,000 copies of this highly successful book, and then repeated that performance with the second edition, released in 1995. Over the last decade the Directory has become the benchmark reference for options in intentional community living. Encouraged by the popularity of the Directory, the Fellowship decided to revive a companion publication, Communities magazine. Launched in 1972, the magazine had been in decline in the mid-80s, and we breathed new life into it after becoming the publisher in 1992. Today it’s a vibrant 80-page quarterly that complements the Directory with regular features like the ‘Directory Update’ column and Reach ads, listing the latest news in what individuals and groups are looking for in each other. In November 1994 a group coalesced at an FIC organizational meeting that went on to create the Intentional Communities Web site, http://www.ic.org/. The FIC portion of that site, http://www.ic.org/fic/, has up-to-date information about our activities, and select content of our publications available online. In 1999 FIC took over Community Bookshelf, a 20-year-old mail order business specializing in titles on cooperative living. Our catalog is available both in print and online, at http://bookshelf.ic.org/.
Fellowship Organizational Meetings
The Fellowship is administered by a board of directors, which gathers together with as much of the staff as can come, twice yearly for four-day meetings, hosted each time by a different community or support organization. In an attempt to make meetings accessible to participants from all corners of the continent, the location is rotated from region to region across North America. While the board sessions focus on values and policy questions, committee meetings are happening all around the edges, providing a rich foment for brainstorming and program development. Organizational meetings are open to all, and are operated by consensus in a way that encourages input from all who attend. There is no better way to meet the folks who make the FIC go, to find out what’s going on, and to find a spot where your energy might fit in. As we work together, understanding deepens, trust builds, and Fellowship meetings and projects become important personal experiences—much more than just occasions for doing business. As a decentralized organization, different tasks are managed from different sites, and it’s not uncommon for a project team to be scattered across the continent. Each gathering is a time to meet new people and renew established friendships—expanding the personal connections that are the ultimate wealth of our organization. Fellowship members receive copies of the periodic newsletter, and notice of all meetings. In addition, board meeting invitations are sent to everyone on our mailing list who lives within a day’s drive of the meeting site.
In 1993, the Fellowship created the Celebration of Community. With 1,000 attending all or part of the event, it was the largest community-focused event ever held. There were more than 200 workshops spread out over six days. On the seventh day, as far as we know, everyone rested. Since 1997, the Fellowship has put on regional Art of Community conferences at least twice a year, often in conjunction with our organizational meetings. Participants attend nuts and bolts workshops on practical topics like decision making, conflict resolution, sustainable building, community financing and fundraising, and also enjoy the excellent opportunities for face-to-face contact with other community-minded people from the area.
Revolving Loan Fund
The Fellowship assumed management of a long-established community loan fund when the Community Educational Services Council (CESCI) dissolved in the summer of 1994. Since 1952 this fund has loaned out over $200,000—in amounts up to $5,000—to help intentional community businesses with start-ups or expansions.
Who Joins the Fellowship?
Anyone who wants to be part of the fun! Anyone interested in supporting the intentional communities movement and the vision of the Fellowship. A member community may be of any form: an ecovillage, a cohousing group, a residential cooperative, a hippie farm, a monastery. Individual members may live in a cooperative situation, or may be completely unaffiliated. Alternative businesses and networking organizations can join as nonresidential affiliates (see the membership card at the back of the book for details).
A Dream in Progress
For many of us, the Fellowship is the realization of a long-sought vision: a continental association dedicated to nurturing and promoting a greater sense of community in lives everywhere, and to helping people find the right home in community for themselves and their families. This dream can grow only as fast as people feel the call to come together and do the work. If you’re inspired to participate in the flowering of the intentional communities movement, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. Fellowship Headquarters RR 1 Box 156 Rutledge MO 63563, USA Tel: 660-883-5545 Fax: 660-883-5535 Email: [email protected] http://fic.ic.org/
The Editorial Review Board (ERB) of the FIC has responsibility for ensuring the quality of Fellowship publications with respect to organizational values and mission. This calls for balancing authors’ freedom of individual expression with subject matter relevant to our publications and our audience’s ability to understand and work constructively with the style and content of the writing. Our goal always is promoting dialog which enhances cooperation and community. FIC publications include Communities Directory, Communities magazine, the Fellowship Newsletter, and our Web site at http://www.ic.org/. Current members of the ERB are Betty Didcoct, Paul DeLapa, and Laird Schaub.