Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Prairie Hill and Dynamic Governance Draws California Couple to Iowa City

The following piece is by Val Bowman. She and her husband John will be moving into one of the common house apartments within the next month!

People ask me all the time why we're moving away from California and how can we leave Auburn? It has been a wonderful home for us. We have a beautiful community of friends here, many of them at the Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalists, which is five blocks from our home. We live in the foothills of the Sierra and we are close to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe and many other wonderful places. I usually answer that we have been longing to be part of a cohousing community for about a dozen years. We've explored many here in California and they have just not been affordable, even though we want to live in a community with people who are committed to sustainability and supporting each other.

We have a granddaughter and her family in Iowa City; Vanessa was the first to tell us about Prairie Hill and she invited us to consider it. We started exploring and liked everything we discovered about Prairie Hill and Iowa City. (I spent the first 12 years of my life in Keokuk, an hour and a half from there.) When we read on the website that the community would be adopting Sociocracy for making decisions, we were even more excited about making this life-changing move.

Sociocracy is based on the values of Equality (Equivalency), Effectiveness and Transparency. Another way to express that is to share as much information as possible with everyone when making decisions, to use tools that make meetings run more smoothly and where things get done, and creating an environment where all voices are heard and no one is ignored. That sharing of power is very important to John and me. It is a bit of a new norm and not always easy to do.

Sociocracy is also known as Dynamic Governance and I find the word dynamic particularly appealing because when John and I first decided to get married 38 years ago and were planning our future, we agreed that one of the most important pieces (besides being kind to each other) was to Keep Learning. And that is an essential piece of Sociocracy. When decisions are made, it is on the basis of 'safe enough to try for now." Feedback is encouraged and we can learn from what works and take it to the next level of action. This is a way for a community (and individuals) to evolve and continue to grow in a healthy way.

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