Who are you?
This FAQ is for those who are interested in becoming members of EcoReality Co-op.
What we need most at this point is financial involvement. We have begun a land purchase fund that will enable us to secure our land debt-free. But this needs the financial involvement of people who hope to live on this land in the future, and other forms of support. Please see land purchase fund drive for more information on other means of financial support.
- We need roughly $200,000 commitment from those who wish to contribute to building their common-wall, clustered housing at this site.
- Investment beyond this level ensures that high-capacity applicants who cannot quite get to this level are able to participate, through internal loans.
- Those with outstanding skills who cannot contribute at the $200,000 level are invited to begin involvement toward having an internal loan for sums beyond their assets.
- Ideal prospective members are actively practising some of the following skills:
- fiscally responsible
- emotionally mature
- effective communicator
- physically healthy
- mentally healthy
- sense of humour
- subject to bouts of spontaneous generosity
- demonstrates committment
- speaks and acts with integrity
- caring and nuturing
- Additional desirable skills include:
- stable relationships,
- training in communication, leadership, facilitation, or consensus,
- handy with tools and materials,
- have active listening skills,
- has speciality skills we need, such as
- natural building,
- architecture and design,
- organic agriculture,
- cook or foodie,
- and more,
- experience living in community,
- professional skills,
- intuition, and
- criminal transparency.
How is EcoReality governed?
EcoReality is a British Columbia Cooperative Association. Our governance model is based on the principle that the person with the most knowledge about a situation should be empowered to make decisions about that situation. To that end, we select Stewards by consensus to speak for resources that cannot speak for themselves. Most Stewards will be residents, but can be anyone who is knowledgeable about a resource and is willing to represent that resource. Stewards often have overlapping interests and responsibilities, and are obliged to work together in areas of mutual interest.
We also have a board of directors, which is empowered to make day-to-day operating business decisions — directors are the Stewards of the business of the co-op, in effect. The responsibilities of directors are defined in the BC Cooperative Association Act and our coop rules.
In addition to our rules, we are governed by agreements we formally make by consensus in our meetings, although recognizing that "consensus everything" is inefficient, we delegate most day-to-day authority and responsibility to stewards.
What criteria determine membership in EcoReality?
- Membership is open to individuals in a non-discriminatory manner to all who are willing and able to accept the responsibilities of membership. (co-op rules, Rule 5)
- By far, the most important responsibility of membership is agreement with the shared values of the existing membership of the cooperative.
- As part of the application procedure, a prospective member will be asked to read and sign our values, vision and mission documents.
- EcoReality has agreed to re-visit, and perhaps to revise, such things periodically. In order to avoid confusion or dilution of this principally important document, this will occur only when the membership determines that there has been a significant lapse of time, change in membership, and/or other significant change to the co-op.
- Another important responsibility of membership is agreement with agreements made to date.
What will it cost me to be a member of EcoReality and live in the ecovillage?
- Each adult member must, as a minimum, acquire a single member share for $1,000.
- This member share gives you agreement-making rights in our consensus agreement-making process, but does not guarantee habitation, nor does it necessarily give you agreement-making rights in our day-to-day business operations, which is the purview of the board of directors.
- To live on-site, each member household will need to acquire a minimum of $150,000 Class A Investment Shares ($1 per share) for the cost of common land and existing common infrastructure and/or pay a suitable amount of rent.
- This does not include common infrastructure planned for the future, such as alternative energy sources and alternative water sources, and members may all agree by consensus to increase the basic habitation investment level in order to fund such improvements.
- Additional funds will be needed for building your residence, or to be vested in an existing residence. Please see dwelling equity for details. Our goal is that a small residential unit will cost $50,000 and up, depending on size and amenities.
- Ongoing operating expenses include mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance, and a monthly co-op assessment. Operational expenses that are not directly measured (as electricity is) are divided up based on the value of individual dwellings. The current co-op assessment (as of February 2010) is $25 per month, per member, plus an hour per day of community labour.
- At this time, we are needing members who can also contribute beyond $150,000 in Class A Investment Shares to help EcoReality pay the loan for purchase of the property.
- In the near future, once the loan is paid, EcoReality will be in a position to accept prospective members who take an internal loan to purchase the full Class A Investment Share amount.
How do I apply for membership?
- It is important to meet the existing members of EcoReality and to determine if it might be a "fit" for you. If possible, this is best done in person at one of our monthly meetings.
- After you've met existing members, you need to select (subject to time availability) a member guide, who will be your "buddy" through the application procedure.
- Then go to the application procedure and copy the questions from that page into a new document on your computer. Take your time to fill in all sections of the application, and please ask your member guide if you need to seek clarification.
- Some of the questions require that you sign our existing agreements about values, vision, past agreements, etc. Please do this carefully, and we welcome conversation to bring this alive for you.
- Other questions ask you to fill out personality assays online, and copy and paste your results into your application procedure document. The purpose of this portion of the application is to help all members and prospective members get to know one another a bit better, and to help us become aware of patterns and tendencies and working styles that we each may have. There is no "correct" way to do these.
- The last section asks for personal information, it is up to you to decide how to answer.
What happens after I submit my application procedure?
- The application will be circulated to the existing members and prospective members of EcoReality.
- Then, your member guide will arrange for one or more existing members to meet face to face with you to discuss your answers.
- While we are very committed to welcoming diversity of all forms in our membership, the existing members reserve the right to make the final judgment about who may qualify as prospective members.
- This is an important step for EcoReality. It is the stage where we have determined we want to discover any "red flags" that might suggest your membership is not in the best interests of the EcoReality Co-op based on our shared values, vision, mission, and past agreements, or if there seems to be some aspect that you bring that is not likely to work in our community, such as a need for particular housing or a business that is not workable given EcoReality's development process.
What happens after my application is accepted?
- Once your application is accepted (subject to consensus agreement among all members) and you pay for one member share ($1,000), you will become a member of EcoReality.
- In order to live at EcoReality, you need to pay for enough Class A Investment Shares to cover your share of common land and infrastructure.
- After six months habitation at EcoReality, you become eligible to be elected to the board of directors, or stewards council.
- We have no intention of excluding members from the stewards council. This time allows for all parties to explore areas of strength and improvement opportunities in relationships with the community, and enculturates the new member to EcoReality customs and business practices, such as consensus agreement making and stewardship.
Where will I live?
- This is not a simple answer! We plan to build thirteen units of housing, but this will involve re-zoning, government planners, and possibly public hearings. This can take a long time.
- As of May 2014, we can offer a few medium-term options:
- House sharing in the two existing houses.
- Trailers or other wheeled structures.
- Yurts and other temporary structures.
- Help us put a separate suite in the yellow house.
- Begin the process of building a segment of our planned multi-family housing complex. As a very "early adopter," you will need mid-six figures invested to get this kick-started!
- Please send us your questions and suggestion about your living space needs.
I'm interested in participating without applying for Membership just yet. What can I do?
- The first step is to sign up on the Advisory Council to receive monthly newsletters and have write access to our website.
- Our website is where members, advisors, and the public access the agreements, ideas and history of the community. We highly recommend that you spend time to learn your way around this site. Please ask questions or seek a tutorial if you need help.
- Attend and observe one or more of our meetings. Ask lots of questions — we welcome your participation!
- Come to other EcoReality events, such as work parties, potluck dinners, and workshops.
- Volunteer to help: at a work party, by doing research, perhaps offering a workshop at EcoReality, or some other activity.
- Come for an extended period of time, to experience daily life at EcoReality. In such a case, we would appreciate a nominal voluntary contribution, as noted in our welcome letter.
- After you've met the people involved and have become comfortable with our plans, you can begin the membership process by becoming a prospective member.
My question isn't on this list!
Thank you for the gift of sending us your questions. We won't promise your question will appear on this list, but someone will get back to you! (And if you join our Advisory Council, you can add your question here yourself!)
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