Cynthia Tina – GEN Trustee and GENNA International Coordinator reports.
Collaboration continues to deepen among the partner organizations that comprise GENNA, which is currently GEN-US, the Fellowship for Intentional Community, and NextGEN North America. North America is a unique region in the fact that we have several organizations serving different aspects of the communities movement. Last year, these groups and individuals agreed to join forces as the GENNA Council, recognizing the similarity of our missions and the strength we can find we when we work together. The road to collaboration has not always been easy, and we regret to report that one of the original partner organizations, the Ecovillage Network of Canada, withdrew from the Council this year. However, with several “at-large” members from Canada, we continue to represent both countries within the North American region.
The first official GENNA Council gathering took place in November at La Cité Ecologiqué, a 30+ year old community near Montreal. The meeting preceded FIC’s bi-annual organizational meetings as well as a celebration of the "Kozeny Communitarian Award" presented to the founder of La Cité, Michael Deunov. Nine Council members gathered for a full day of discussion. The primary outcome was the creation of two paid positions within GENNA, a regional coordinator and an international coordinator. With both positions recently filled through sociocratic elections, these coordinators are eager to begin fundraising and outreach efforts to strengthen our region!
In 2016 GENNA offered financial support to several ecovillage and sustainability projects:
- We provided a research grant to a study looking at decision-making methods successfully used by mature intentional communities, groups living together for +15 years. Results to be published later this year!
- Through the Earth Deeds platform, we accounted for the environmental costs of Council members’ travel to two organizational meetings by offering our hosts a correlating monetary donation. Debate has been sparked within the Council surrounding the ethics and impactfulness of “on-setting” our meetings in this way. We hope to engage a wider audience in this discussion with an article to be published in in the Spring 2017 issue of Communities Magazine, which happens to be on the topic of Climate Change.
- The two host communities to receive funds:
- Lost Valley Education and Event Center – funding a “Solar Roller,” a mobile station educating youth across Oregon about renewable energy options
- La Cité Ecologiqué – funding an innovative greenhouse project with heat sinks and aquaculture in order to achieve greater local food and educational opportunities.
Looking Ahead to 2017
We envision a year of deepening collaboration, clarifying our intentions as a Council, and taking action to celebrate and support ecovillage projects throughout North America. Our new coordinators will draft a budget and fundraising plan to be presented to the Council by the end of January. The funds raised will be used to support GENNA’s operating costs and networking efforts, as well as continuing to award grants for community-related projects. The Council will maintain regular virtual meetings and likely hold another in-person gathering sometime in the coming year.