User:Diana Leafe Christian/workshops

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Diana's Workshops

Ecovillage Slide Shows

These can be 1-1/2 hour to 2-hour presentations, with 1-hour slide shows and time for questions.

  1. "Ecovillages: Where They Are, What They're Doing,” explores what an ecovillage is, featuring Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina, Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Missouri, Los Angeles Eco-Village, and EcoVillage at Ithaca, noting the pros and cons of each, and how they might fare in terms of the economic and challenges associated with Peak Oil.
  2. “Ecovillage as ‘Lifeboat Communities’ -- Alternatives in Place Now," shows alternative, relatively non-oil-dependent practices ecovillages are using for water, shelter, food, heat, hot water, cooking, storing food, dealing with human waste, transportation, and electric power.

One-Day and Two-Day Workshops

  1. "Starting a Successful Ecovillage or Intentional Community"
    • Presentations, experiential exercises, musical skits, role-playing, and step-by-step practical advice to help participants understand the major principles and methods of starting a new community.
    • Depending on the number of days, the workshop touches on main topics in Template:Christian03 -- typical time-frames & costs; vision documents; power, decision-making, and governance; the relationship between financial contribution and decision-making rights; the relationship between common mission & purpose, decision-making method, and the membership process; legal entities; finding & financing land; sustainable site plans; communication, process, dealing with conflict. It can include the Ecovillage slide show and information and exercises not featured in Template:Christian03, including "The Ecovillage Timeline Game," "Future Community Success Assessment Tool," and other educational tools.
  2. One-day workshop: "The Heart of Healthy Community: Communication, Process, and Dealing with Conflict"
    • Presentations, experiential exercises, slide show, and practical advice to help participants understand methods groups can use to communicate well and resolve conflict. Common sources of community conflict. Six ways to reduce "Structural Conflict." Helping the most number of people to get the most of what they want, most of the time. The Magnifying Mirror effect, Rock-polisher effect, Lightning Rod effect. High Woundedness and High Willingness. Antidotes for resentment: 3 ways to help each other stay accountable to the group; communication agreements dealing well with "the difficult person"; creating "community glue" -- activities that build trust and connection.
  3. See also Consultations for groups.

Sample Two-Day Workshop Schedule

FRIDAY night: Ecovillage Slide Show


  1. 9:00 - 10:30 am - Overview: Starting a New Ecovillage
    • Definitions, time-frames & costs, number of founders, typical steps, 3 ownership structures, "structural conflict," 6 essentials for forming community.
  2. 10:45 -12:15 pm - Decision-Making & Power Issues
    • Power, authority, hierarchy, authoritarianism. Participatory decision-making, power to influence; power-over behaviors. Agreement-seeking methods, multi-winner voting. Consensus overview. 3 requirements for consensus, 5 signs of pseudoconsensus. Crucial relationship of financial contribution & decision-making.
  3. 12:30 – 1:30 pm Lunch
  4. 12:30 - 2:00 pm - The Triad: Mission-Purpose -- Membership Process -- Decision-Making Method
    • Skit: "That's Not Community!" Sample vision, mission-purpose documents. Vision, mission-purpose, goals, strategic plan. Vision Statement. Relationship between shared mission/purpose, incoming membership process, decision-making method.
  5. 2:15 - 3:45 pm - Three Common Sources of Community Conflict (& Antidotes)
    • Magnifying mirror effect. Rock-polisher effect. High woundedness/high willingness. Resentment. Responsibility issues. 3 ways to help each other stay accountable to the group. Graduated series of consequences. Communication-style issues. Communication Agreements. Lack of trust & connection.
  6. 4:00 - 5:00 pm - Ten Ways to Build Trust and Connection
    • "Community glue" connection-building exercise.


    • 9:00 - 10:30 am - Finding & Financing Property: 3 Case Histories
    • If you already own the property. Triple-net lease. Raw, developed, turn-key property Cost, zoning, members, mortgage payments, jobs. 3 sources of financing. 3 ways to own property. One person buys/finances.
  1. 10:45 -12:15 pm - Financing Property, Internal Community Finances
    • Personal loans; Owner financing. Revolving Loan Funds. Determining the group's assets.
    • Helping less affluent members afford it. Income & expenses. Can People afford to live there? Creating a village-scale economy.
  2. 12:30 – 1:30 pm Lunch
  3. 12:30 - 2:00 pm - Legal Entities for Owning Land Together
    • Individual deeds & choosing members. Checklist for legal entities. LLCs, 501(c)3 nonprofits. Land trusts, conservation easements
  4. 2:15 - 3:45 pm - Zoning; Site Planning; Community Businesses
    • How zoning works, seeking a zoning variance/special-use permit. Urban refugee syndrome. Learning from cohousing designers. Community buildings. When is sustainable building not really sustainable? Community-based businesses; “multiple centers of initiative.” Future Community Success Assessment Tool.
  5. 4:00 - 5:00 pm - The Best Communication Process I Know

For Conferences and Fairs: Short (1-3 hour) Workshops or Presentations

These workshops can be adjusted in length from less than an hour (for a panel discussion) to two to up to half a day.

  1. Creating a Life Together: Starting Successful Ecovillages and Intentional Communities --Overview
    • Basic overview of what it takes. The "successful 10 percent." Six ways to reduce "Structural Conflict." Steps to take, sample time-frames and costs, skills and areas to learn more about.
  2. Two Ways to Reduce Conflict in Existing and Forming Communities
    • The relationship between (2) the amount of each members' financial contribution and the amount and kind of decision-making rights, and between (2) the group's common mission & purpose, decision-making method, and membership process is crucial for reducing resentment and enhancing the health and satisfaction in ecovillages and other kinds of intentional communities.
  3. Getting Off to a Good Start
    • Tips, techniques, suggestions for first steps, promoting your new community project and attracting new members, creating community glue and sustaining group energy, and self-tests the group can use to assess itself for various potential success factors, purchasing power, and borrowing power.
  4. Creating Community Vision & Purpose: What It Is, Why You Need It
    • Elements of community vision in ecovillages and intentional communities, vision documents and vision statements, hidden expectations about community and "structural conflict," and what happens when a group has more than one vision & purpose. Exercises for identifying community vision & purpose which participants can take back to their own forming-community groups.
  5. Power, Decision-Making, and Community Governance
    • The nature of power in communities (the ability to influence others); how the group's decision-making method can help focus power among a few people or spread it widely. A brief look at the kinds of decision-making methods communities typically use -- from consensus (and "pseudoconsensus"), to agreement-seeking methods, multi-winner voting, and Sociocracy -- and using more than one form of decision-making.
  6. Communication, Process, and Dealing with Conflict
    • Principles and methods communities can use to communicate well and resolve conflict. Reducing "structural” conflict," helping each other stay accountable to the group, creating a strong sense of connection, dealing with conflict once it arises, giving and receiving feedback, a graduated series of consequences, specific conflict and mediation methods, when to call for outside help.
  7. The Great Land-Buying Adventure
    • Tips for the land-search process, working w/realtors (or not), real estate attorneys, zoning & neighbor issues, and sources of financing. The Catch-22 between location, zoning, building codes, mortgage payments, and locally available jobs.
  8. Legal Entities for Owning Land as a Group
    • Why you need a legal entity to own land together (and what happens if you don't); checklist for assessing potential legal entities relative to your group's values, vision, and plans; how to use (and find) a good lawyer; basic overview of for profit and nonprofit corporations and basic legal terms; brief overview of legal entities most commonly used by communities formed in the last decade: Limited Liability Companies, Homeowners Associations, Housing Co-ops, and non-exempt nonprofits.
  9. How to Look For, Evaluate, and Join an Ecovillage or Sustainable Community
    • How to research, visit, evaluate, and join communities -- what to look for and what to ask, pitfalls to avoid, how to clearly assess a community for a good fit, how to be a successful incoming member.


Please contact Diana for current fee structure.

What Workshop Hosts & Participants say

"Diana is a joy to work with, always getting and giving the big picture of a group, yet never losing sight of the details. She is a sparkling trainer, with a unique ability to integrate the "see-hear-do" learning modes so important to adult learning. Always fun and lively, my community was energized for a year with follow-up activities inspired by her workshop."

-- Lois Arkin, co-founder, Los Angeles Eco-Village

"Diana's workshops have been outstanding. She has been very responsive to and has tailored her workshop to the specific needs of our participants. The workshop is very well planned out and organized. On a scale of 1 through 10, Diana's four-day section was consistently rated 9 or 10 and was one of the highest-rated sections overall in our 2 month program."

-- Marc Tobin, Coordinator, Ecovillage and Permaculture Program

"Diana's work as a workshop presenter and consultant to our community was extremely helpful -- strong, effective and clear. Her help was a gift."

-- John Stasio, Director, Easton Mountain Center, Easton, New York

"We at Enright Ridge Eco-village have not come across anyone with the breath and depth of knowledge that Diana offers. Her presentations are folksy, easy to follow, while being very insightful."

-- Jim Schenk, Coordinator, Enright Ridge Eco-village, Cincinnati, Ohio

"Worth six months of individual research on how to form a new community."

-- David Boddy, San Mateo, California

“Truly astounding! Clear, concise, direct, informed, and fun. Diana’s workshop powerfully distilled both what I have and have not learned from 20 years of exploring community!

-- Don St. Clair, Eugene, Oregon

"Diana's years of research -- made more interesting through a multitude of stories -- make her one of the foremost authorities in ecovillage and intentional community development. She is grounded and realistic, has excellent command of her material, and exudes a level of genuine interest and enthusiasm that is quite contagious. New community builders well as seasoned veterans will find rich content and value in her workshop."

-- Bill Becker, CEO Sunrise Credit Union, Loveland, Colorado

"Diana saved us from disaster, and followed up with loving advice and mentoring after we totally changed course, based at least partially on her advice. We knew inside something was wrong, but Diana skillfully helped us find clarity in our purpose, and enabled us to stop expending our energy on what had become a dysfunctional process."

-- Jan Steinman, Communication Steward, EcoReality

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