Dear Union Acres Members
Wayne and I would like to apply for membership at Union Acres. We love the community and very much would like to be a part of your lives. Both Wayne and I have been out of town and working on these questions by talking on phone. He can certainly answer for himself in more detail when he sees all of you. If anyone would like to talk to me by phone or email I am back home in California. My phone is 209-989-0213 For the sake of time I am not going to write more of a letter. I think it is more important at this point to get these responses out to all of you to review. I am very sorry that I am not going to be there with all of you but I couldn't take Shelby out of school at the end of
the term. I think of all of you often.
1.How did you hear about Union Acres and who referred you to us?
We read about Union Acres in the Intentional Communities guidebook and then visited the website. We were already looking at other intentional communities in NC.
2. Have you read our visitor packet and documents? Yes.
3.What level of membership are you interested in? full membership
4. What is your time frame for moving here?
We plan on moving to UA in 6-8 years. We are committed to visiting at least yearly, participating in community decision making and doing some sort of work for the community during our yearly visit. While we realize this is not ideal (having to wait until we move) we wanted to buy the land before we got out priced (which has already happened to us once already) and know where we were going and figure out how we
were going to do it. We wish we could move sooner but
for a variety of financial reasons and issues involving Shelby's education it simply not possible.
5. What kinds of things are you hoping/looking for in community? A sense of belonging,
friendship, committment to sustainable living, community gardens, rural environment, decision making by consensus, members interested in socializing together, ability to design and build our own home, living in an area that was part of a greater progressive community, community where we could have some privacy/autonomy as a family but still have a close connection with others in the community.
6.What kind of experiences, if any, have you had in community?
I (Sue) has lived in a number of communal households when I was in my twenties. I really enjoyed those experiences and lived that way mostly by choice (somewhat driven by finances also). I have lots of good memories of potlucks, spontaneous and planned
social outings, work parties, community gardens andyes, house meetings about practical and interpersonal issues. I felt the benefits of that process and the connection of community far outweighed the work involved in making it happen and I still feel that
way. Wayne and I have also worked hard in creating several informal communities as well. For more than 12 years we have been committed to maintaining a traditional
dance community in Sonora. We have played music and danced together, have gone on campouts, celebrate Solstice and birthdays, helped each other with projects and helped the group survive a very challenging issue involving serveral of the group's
members. Wayne and I have also tried to help facilitate Moccasin feeling more like a community. I have swapped childcare with neighbors, organized pool parties and outings for kids and Wayne spearheaded the establishment of a community garden. It has been great to see neighbors in the garden, not in their houses watching TV, talking and growing their own food.
7. What experiences have you had collaborating with others or group endeavors?
See above answer. We have also worked for the last four years with a group of people who are responsible for organizing and running a week long camp for families that offers traditional dance and music classes. Wayne and I are currently co-directors of the camp and a committee of people are working on various aspects of the camp program. We make decisions primarily by consensus (esp on policy issues). It is a big project that involves communication, organization, patience and hard work. I (Sue)have spent most of my career as a social worker working in interdisciplinary teams with nurses, doctors, other social workers, other medical professionals and volunteers. I have run a hospice
program, wrote a grant and started a mental health outreach program for older adults and am now working in a cancer center. My newest project is starting a hospice wide program to provide better supportive care to our patients with life limiting illness. I am used
to hearing other people's perspectives and trying to help a group come to consensus.
8. What kind of leadership or structure are you hoping for in community?
Decision making by consensus. When this model is effective we have found that the different perspectives of people in the group can usually be incorporated into the final decision. We think that in the long run you get a more inclusive decision vs voting on a decision where the majority prevails but the minority may feel unheard/left out. We certainly did not want to live in a community where a board of directors made decisions without members being involved in the decision making process.
9.What experience, if any, have you had with consensus decision making?
1)We have been working for four years with a family dance camp committee that works on a consensus decision making model.
2)Sue lived in several communal households that had a consensus decision making structure
3)Sue worked as a volunteer with a women's coffeehouse collective that used that model
4) Sue has worked with a number of professional committees where most decisions were made by consensus
10.Do you enjoy group processes such as Business or committee meetings?
Sue enjoys group processes such as business/committee meetings (after all she is a social
worker). Wayne likes meetings OK but tends to be less interested in the group process per se and more interested in the outcome of the meeting
10.How do you handle conflict or conflict of interests?
Talk it through. I (Sue)am usually quite comfortable talking about conflicts of interest and usually handle conflict fairly well by trying to be direct and honest, I would like to think that I am generally not defensive.
What pushes our buttons-Wayne says people who are not humble. Sue- people who don't listen, won't compromise, who are judgemental. I (Sue)tend to go into therapist mode and try to stay calm and not be reactive. If I get really angry I will ask to take a break or sometimes get upset and cry.
11. Are you on a spiritual path? Do you have any preference for the spiritual or
religious beliefs of those around you?
I think we both have our own spiritual beliefs. Sue has been interested in the Unitarian Church but doesn't attend on a regular basis. I (Sue)certainly have a strong belief in some sort of greater spiritual power. I have found this belief grounding and important in my work especially working with people who were dying. We don't have a preference for the
spiritual or religious beliefs of those around us.
11. Have you experienced therapy or sought other modalities of personal growth?
We both have been in therapy at different points in our lives and Sue had a private practice as a psychotherapist for seven years.
12. What are your skills and how do you see yourself contributing to our community?
Wayne-electronically minded-understands electricity, basic building skills, can work with off-grid energy issues, gardener, a musician, could help with starting
a community dance.
Sue-trained in interpersonal communication, a good organizer, good writing skills. Sue could do committee work, help with developing the retreat center, facilitate meetings.
13. Realistically, will you have much free time, still or interest to contribute
toward community activities?
Wayne is planning on not working in a paid job when we move, will have time/interest to participate in community activities and will be building our house.
Sue may work part time as I would like to get out in the community and meet people (and make some money) Iam looking forward to having time to devote to community activities as well.
14.Are you aware of any shared interests we may have?
social activities such as music,dance, celebrations like may-day and solstice
15. What are your hobbies and how do you like to relax and play?
Both of us-gardening, music,dance.
Sue-hiking,camping, swimming,used to raft, canoe.Sue-enjoys spending time with kids (Wayne also likes children); reading. Wayne likes to cook, Sue can cook but likes Wayne to cook; potlucks with friends; movies; political discussions/forums
16. We are a family oriented community. Do you enjoy children ?
Very much. This was one of the things that attracted us to UA. We did not want to be in age segregated community. Sue would like to adopt some grandkids to make cookies with and could even be available to babysit.
17.Who would you live with on your property (e.g. family, kids, pets) and what, if any, is their interest in community?
Well, Wayne and Sue would live there. It is possible that our son Shelby, who is now 12 might be living with us while he goes to college. We really don't know what he will be doing, it is too soon to stay. It would be our expectation that if he was living in the
community as an adult that he would need to participate actively in the life/work of the community. He is very excited about the community. He is interested in home construction, likes animals and is very easy going. We have one older cat who is 13 and
we are not planning on obtaining any more pets.
18.What is your economic situation? How do you imagine making a living here? Wayne is planning on retiring from his job as an electronic technician and focusing on building our home and helping out in UA. We will get a pension, have some retirement savings and will get social security (we hope) when we decide to take it, Wayne is 52, Sue is 50. I (Sue)plan on most likely working part time as a social worker. I have a MSW and am licensed in California as a LCSW and plan on getting my North Carolina license as an LCSW before I move. I have never had trouble getting a job as a social worker and I don't expect having difficulty finding some sort of professional employment there. I
also have other job skills-grant writing, program development, fundraising, marketing, volunteer recruitment and training. Wages are lower but we anticipate that and are planning accordingly.
19. Are you willing, if you should ever sell your property at Union Acres, to limit the resale of your lot to someone who is adopted through our membership procedure?