🌍 ecoVillage Journal #6 Q&A: Open Meeting Part 2

in #ecotrain3 months ago

journal6.jpg

There is lots of thinking and planning happening for ecoVillage right now, as we create the foundation and crystallise our vision. There are five of us working on these details and we are right now all answering some questions to see how our ideas line up! I am Very curious what the others will write, and whether it will match up with my vision!I have been thinking about this for a few years now, and so this Q&A is a great opportunity for me to bring some of my thoughts together in answering these questions. The others will share their answers on our website once we have finished the 'discussions'. At the end of this process we will publish a final version of the vision! This may take time as we will have a lot to discuss and decide.

Anyone with inputs or comments please do let me know!


Q&A

  1. What are the "Institutions/Committees that will run the company? Management, Auditing, Specific committees for specific purposes such as Social/Community, Education, General Assembly, Finance, etc etc. What committees are hard wired (General Assembly, Management Board etc) and how committees can be formed ad hoc based on need? How are elections done?
    Committees will initially be managed by the elders. As community members join ecoVillage individuals may take on any roles they would like to have. Most positions will fill organically, with some delegations when necessary. Most people will stay in their role through merit and performance, and overall support from the community. The level of support can be seen on the community network, and any head of a committee can be asked to stand down if there is consensus. When consensus is not clear, elders will take a final vote.

  2. Salaries/Expenses Refund - For founders during time of establishment to support their expenses? Refund of expenses spent for the village? Who approves such expenses?
    ecoVillage is based on natural giving. In most cases, all donations of time, money, and resources are done with no expectation of reward, except for ecoVillage coin. If expenses need reimbursing, they are approved by the treasurer and/or relevant persons(s). 

  3. What are the sources to fund activity / establishment / salaries?
    There are no static salaries in ecoVillage. Instead we each have what we need, and will be given help when needed within the ecoVillage. Income is generated by the whole community, with profit sharing in place amongst the entire community, based on merit and other things discussed in other questions.

    External sources of income include, events, workshops, earthship build training, festivals, products, services, ecoVillage coin.

  4. The community has a virtual coin. Who owns the coin at the moment? What are the legal issues regarding selling the coin publicly? Can they cause legal trouble later? (Especially with regard to securities regulation, and potential future claims by coin holders)
    The ecoVillage coin is currently owned and held by me (Alex). The legal issues depend on local laws and restrictions. We need to speak to relevant people in Portugal to understand their requirements regarding holding, selling ecoVillage tokens.  At this stage the ecoVillage coin is more of a token, with a buy back option at a time and price that the investor desires. We do need fairly standard legal wording in place to protect us when investor purchase ecoVillage coin.

  5. What are the relationships and interfaces between the coin and  ecoVillage? How will the coin be used? There is a declaration that the village will repurchase coins from its revenues. At what price? How will this be done? What is the mechanism for that? What is the timetable? Lack of clarity regarding the coin may cause a lot of legal trouble later and risk the whole project. (In case someone decides to file a lawsuit and the village must pay substantial amounts, the land could be lost)
    A lot of this detail needs to be decided. ecoVillage will hold a significant number of ecoVillage coins that can be sold at a suitable time. The remaining coins (around 70%) are being sold to private investors at $0.50 per coin. This selling price is decided by ecoVillage, and will increase as we near the end of our initial sales. Currently the price is set to increase once 10,000 tokens have been sold. 

    Investors are free to hold or sell their coins at a time and price that suits them. The free open market will determine if they are able to sell them at the price they choose. There is no timetable but a continued buy back of ecoVillage coins from income generated. This is a longer term investment model, with risk, which is made clear to any investors.

    We will decide what it is used for as we proceed. Currently i can see legal fees taking up most of the initial investments.

    A declaration is made that ecoVillage are buying back ecoVillage coins as profits are generated. The exact amount and price is determined as needed.

  6. Who owns the coins? The revenues from selling the coin, where do they go? How are they used? Do they all belong to the village? Are they privately owned? What about the unallocated coins?
    This needs to be set up. Currently all sales and revenues are coming to me. Once the ecoVIllage is established as a legal entity / company, the coins would be moved and held in a private online wallet, accessible to anyone with the Key.  Investments will be used for ecoVillage related activities, decided by elders and/or the online community via upvotes. Unallocated coins currently sit in my wallet. 


  7. Will the coins be used in the village later? What legal issues are involved? What about certain permits that may be required by EU/Portugal regulations? (If such as required they are likely to be super expensive and involve heavy bureaucracy and not be in line with our goal to "live off the system. We also don't want to do anything illegal. So this is a very important point we must address.
    The coins will be used on an ongoing basis. To preserve the price of ecoVillage coin, sales will happen in small amounts spread out over time, when needed. They are sold on the open market on a dedicated trading platform, currently www.steem-engine.com. This may change. We need legal advice about regulations on this.

  8.  Businesses - who approves it, do we do businesses owned by the company, do we allow private businesses and how do we charge? contribution/revenue sharing with the village? (Also in the case of rentals of private homes)
    Private business can happen by anyone in ecoVillage, but must not preclude their involvement in other ecoVillage activities. Profits from external sources of income are not required to be shared with ecoVillage, however depending on the amount of time they spend on ecoVillage projects, they may be invited to donate something toward the community. Any subletting has to go through ecoVillage, and any income is split 50%/50%. Generally subletting is not encouraged.

    There is no rent, tax, or costs payable to ecoVillage members to run a business, All the support that is needed (land, labour, materials, etc) will be donated by the community who then share in the income generated. Costs relating to things like materials would be taken on by individual groups as they see fit. If funding is needed then that can be declared using the on-line community system, and supported when funds allow.  EcoVillage then receive ~40% of profits which are used or saved as is appropriate.

  9. How do we create a separate legal entity which is not a social company for holding businesses? Who owns it? Use the separate legal entity so in case one business fails/gets in trouble (example: one of the businesses was sued by a client who suffered damages) only this business fails and not the whole village. Those are rules that belong to the "capitalist world but we cannot ignore them. We must protect the sustainability of our village, and a huge part of this is making sure that we coexist with the "capitalist world and not get into any conflict with legal issues/authorities. This will ensure that we can live peacefully in our village the way we want.
    We need legal advice on this. My general approach would be to keep it as simple as possible, and not create any entities for the sole reason of protecting potential law suits. People or small groups who want to perform business can operate as a sole trader and be solely responsible for their actions. Larger projects that involve the whole ecoVillage may need some more formal structure, but avoided when possible. This is much easier to do when trading locally with people who are also neighbours where disputes and any problems are handled  person to person. If needed insurance could be taken on.

  10. How are revenues used/distributed?
    Revenues are distributed according to merit and need. Those who take on more responsibility and put more time into projects will reap more rewards. The exact split will be determined by those involved in each group rather than ecoVillage. If there is a dispute about sharing, ecoVillage will then make a community decision.

    My current thinking is that 40% of profits from any group are kept by the organisers of that group, divided as they see fit.  40% goes to ecoVillage, and 20% is distributed equally amongst all ecoVillage members. These guidelines will change depending on the project and amount of support given from ecoVillage.

    This blanket profit sharing is very important, and encourages collaborations, support, and also means that people are still motivated to work on projects that bring in less income.

  11. How can the initial Set of rules be changed? Who can decide? What majority is needed? Do we protect some specific articles so they cannot be changed?
    There are no rules that are fixed in stone. All rules are guidelines or conventions. Every situation is dealt with on an individual basis, and exceptions made when needed. The most important rules, our pillars, should be more strongly protected than other rules, but can be ignored when it makes sense to do so.

  12. How do we create an efficient mechanism In order to void "Greedy Takeover do we define a 1 person-1 share-1 house policy? (which means 1 person can only own one house and one share only.
    Each person or family can have one home or whatever space they need to function.

  13. How do we deal in unfortunate cases of possible divorce/separation of couples who now will need 2 homes? (allocation of land and and the house?
    If a family need an additional home they can decide how to handle that, and build a new home if space is available. In the event of there not being enough land the family could opt to join a new ecoVillage community. If a family need more space to live, they are able to sell their home, managed by the ecoVillage. Any profits would be kept by the family and can be used to create a new home with the support of the ecoVillage community to manage the entire build process.

  14. Other services such as health, taking care of old people, our own school?
    To be decided. Schools etc. are low on the priority list until the community is built.
     
  15. How many members do we want to accept? Is there a limit to prevent the village to grow too big? (We can later open new villages next to us. Keeping a group not too big has many advantages)
    Members will be added gradually, as homes are built. We can decide when to cap this, based on how the community is managing with existing numbers. Clearly there is a point when ecoVillage becomes full, and then land expansion or creation of a new ecoVillage becomes necessary.

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Sounds all very interesting and exciting.
In Germany there is at least one consulting firm to help people founding communities, usually housing projects, based on experience from other communities, so each community does not have to invent the wheel again.
I don´t know if there is such a company in Portugal, but there should be several in the English speaking world, which maybe could give you some ideas.
There is a crazy project going on in Paraguay, El Paraiso verde, where they build like a whole city . Their YT channel is in German though.
In an interview the initiator said something very interesting:
"The size of his project (planned for 4 to 6000 people) is an advantage, because communities usually fail because of the human factor which is more disruptive in small communities because people depend on each other more the smaller the community is.
With a pool of 4 to 6000 people you can choose your friends and partners and the other people, those you don´t really click with, you just treat with friendliness and respect."

Anyway, good luck with your project!

Inntersting! thanks for this comment Mr Deeler! Yes we do know of some groups in Portugal that are doing similar things, and are communicating with them to see if we can get some local knowledge...

ill google that city, sounds MAD,, HUGE! wow.. not sure I even agree with that thinking though, but 6,000 is still pretty small compared to a proper city so it could work well also..

The level of transparency you're showing us is truly awesome - actually has grains of Food 4 Thought even for my little family of 2 here in Thailand.


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Friend @eco-alex It's wonderful to see how initiatives like yours are working.
At present we can see through this publication that it is a very serious work and full of statutes and rules that are effective to be able to live in community, we congratulate them, we would love to one day follow their footsteps.

Thank u! Its a process to figure it all out but were on it!

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Wow. I like the thought you are putting into this! So now you are based in Portugal?

not yet! lets hope one day, and sooner than later ;-).. I am planning to visit in Feb / March to see the location and get things firmed up.. It will be a long process to get building, and before that we have a fundraising healing dance festival in the works to get the flow going .. During these events we get to meet everyone, and also get to know people who may want to join the ecoVillage..