Organo Editorial

Living in an Eco-Community

An eco-village is a human scale, a full-featured settlement which integrates human activities harmlessly into the natural environment, supports healthy development and can be continued into the indefinite future” - by Robert Gilman

Building an eco-community is just halfway through the journey of sustainable living. Rest of the journey involves certain lifestyle modification and adaptations that eco-community dwellers will have to practice to fulfill the sustainability requirements. Let’s take reference from Robert Gilma’s “8 steps to creating your own sustainable community” and find out how Organo Naandi is adapting those principles.

STEP 1: RECOGNIZE IT WILL BE A JOURNEY AND ENJOY IT!

If you have an “eco-village dream”, and focus too strongly on the desired end result, you set yourself and others up for frustration and disappointment. The process of community development takes time, usually for many years! It helps to recognize right from the start that a community is always a process of change, and it is best to honour and enjoy the process. - by Robert Gilman

Organo Naandi is a springboard for all Naandian's to take the spirit of sustainability forward and establish a thriving eco-habitat that celebrates the living. With ideal experts (i.e., right people doing the right job), Naandian's are collaborating with the right people to participate for a few hours every week to contribute towards collective growth.

STEP 2: DEVELOP A VISION AND KEEP DEVELOPING IT!

A clear, shared vision is one of the most important kinds of glue a group can have. For a vision to work like glue, however, it needs to be more than an intellectual construct. At its best, a vision gives voice to the full essence and deeply-felt purpose of the group. There are many ways of developing a vision (and a vision statement), but however arrived at, the vision will be most effective if each member of the group feels a resounding personal “Yes!” in response to it. Keep the vision alive by revisiting it regularly, as a group, to see whether it still feels right. -by Robert Gilman

As in any residential community working towards constant improvements, we have a multitude of goals and objectives that need to be addressed and met every year. However, a collective vision focused on a few (no more than 3) objectives per year is a realistic target and can lead to measurable and time-bound results. As first steps, the focus is fundamentally on:

  • conservation of water
  • efficient housekeeping & gardening services,
  • consistent farmscape services

The committee members at Organo are in the process of understanding and improving the processes &systems in place, and enhancing tools to monitor the progress in the above areas

STEP 3: BUILD RELATIONSHIPS AND BONDING!

The other fundamental glue for a group comes from the heart. It is vital to build solid interpersonal relationships, mutual understanding, caring, and trust. Building rich relationships isn’t necessarily easy, but, doing things together; eating, singing, dancing, telling life stories, travelling, facilitates the process much faster than meetings! -by Robert Gilman

There are a multitude of amenities, venues and opportunities for this to happen naturally at Organo Naandi. To aid this intention, Naandian's aims to create a calendar of events for the formative events revolving around the families, the community, social contributions and environmental impact. This will help them know and understand each other more.

STEP 4: MAKE THE “WHOLE-SYSTEM” CHALLENGE

Once the group has begun to clarify its vision and build relationships, get the group oriented to the tasks that need to be accomplished. Personality style conflicts may arise here. Some prefer to begin with planning, others would rather plunge in and experiment. The challenge for the group as a whole is to get these two tendencies into a constructive relationship so that they contribute to each other. You’ll need both. - by Robert Gilman

Naandian's are a group of families who truly believe in the power of responsible living. They are bound by the common core values of respect towards the environment as well as contributing towards positive social impact.While many perspectives are possible during the dialogues on running an Eco-community, the discussions have always remained honest and respectful. Since an Eco-community is all about collective growth, efforts have always been to ensure collective consensus on any decision that is best for all human and non-human varieties.

STEP 5: GET HELP TO BECOME MORE SELF-RELIANT!

Knowledge about sustainable community development is growing so quickly that it is unlikely the founding group will know everything. For some specific topics, such as building details, it may make sense to depend entirely on outside expertise. On many other topics, however, it makes sense to work within your group. Include plenty of time and resources in your budget for group learning about how to do things, how to manage tasks, and how to build group process and interpersonal skills. Lack of management or process skills is the number one reason communities fail. - by Robert Gilman

Organo Naandi community has several features to encourage sustainable living. As an Eco-community, they are learning and evolving to be self-reliant. The residents have taken upon themselves to ensure the critical systems for sustainability and smooth functioning of the community are being maintained properly. For example,

  • Infrastructure - To ensure the smooth functioning of the Eco-community, there are many infrastructural facilities in place. Maintaining and running them has been taken over by the community committee members who are discovering more beneficial ways to advance the process such as water conservation, improving swimming pool functioning, etc.

  • Farming and Animal Husbandry - Since it is a collective farming community, collaboration from the community people is imperative for adequate results. Community members are making efforts to understand, improve and monitor agricultural practices.

STEP 6: DEVELOP CLEAR PROCEDURES!

The community should be an adventure among friends, not an exercise in bureaucracy. The painful experience of many groups makes it clear, however, that a little bureaucracy is both necessary and helpful. Specifically, it is wise to develop clear, written procedures for decision making, resolving disputes, handling finances, and determining membership. Perhaps even more important is to develop “meta-procedures” for making changes to these(and other) procedures. Groups change, so plan on changing your procedures too!Frequently at first, more slowly later as the group matures. -by Robert Gilman
  • There are full-time residents, part-time/weekend residents and annual visiting members at Naandi. Therefore the community guidelines should be crafted keeping in perspective the best interests of all three groups. Any community guidelines should be a fair solution for all three types of Naandian's like rationalizing procedures in milk & vegetable production, maintenance fees, and more.
  • Since it is a Rurban community, the residents are dependent on local villages. Hence it is important to build a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with the village neighbours. For example, one initiative could be skill development of community staff by residents which will improve their skills and provide opportunities for their economic growth.
  • As Naandian's, any community-level decision must be achieved through unanimity, ideally, then by majority. It should become the responsibility of the majority to engage, educate and buy in the confidence of the others until a unanimous decision is made.

STEP 7: MAINTAIN BALANCE – SUSTAINABLY!

Once the group is formed, there will be many specific tasks required to develop its eco- village or sustainable community qualities, and many important balances to be maintained:
  • Between “group” and “private”. People need some of each, often in changing quantities.
  • The success of the community depends on their balanced development and a shared appreciation forboth the “hardware” (infrastructure) and “software”(the spirit of Rurban).
  • Every community can benefit from balancing and cultivating the positive qualities of the heart(bonding, caring, trust), the mind (clarity of understanding, vision, integrity), and the will (the ability toact with courage and effectiveness).
  • Fundamentally, people are different and have different ways of learning and translating them intoactions. Disagreements within groups are mostly matters of substance. With all these differences,working in the right relationship can complement each other for the collective good.
  • Sustainability is fundamentally about fairness and balance across time. One of the most concrete waysto express this is through a balance among expenditure of time as well as money that spreads throughcurrent consumption, investment, and service to others.

STEP 8: BE OPEN AND HONEST!

Finally, the evidence is strong that for many community issues including the always sensitive issues of power and money, what you do is less important than how openly and honestly you do it. What doesn’t work, what gets communities into trouble, is when the public story no longer fits the private behaviour, especially if those in leadership positions are the ones breaking the rules. A healthier approach is to acknowledge what is, while also honouring one’s ideals. The group may also find that it can reformulate its ideals in a waythat better honours their deep meaning (for example, equal fairness for all may be more important than equal power) and better fits the complex truth of their experience. - by Robert Gilman

With more than 25 Naandian families moving into the community to stay full-time and more weekenders visiting regularly, different views are being heard about various aspects of community functioning.Honest and open discussions are taking place regularly to help progress community development. Guidelines and processes are being formulated and shared with residents. While the infrastructure (hardware) part is in place with processes to monitor efficiencies, software part (Naandian's) is also under development to joyfully celebrate collective living.

Now take another look at Step One, and you’re on your way!

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