Sustainable Intentional Community Gathers at Loretto Motherhouse
During the weekend of Feb. 22-24, the Motherhouse welcomed the Sustainable Intentional Community gathering that included 17 participants plus several other people who joined for an hour or two. Participants included Mary Kay Brannan, Johanna Brian, Susan Classen, Martha Crawley, Andrew Dyrsten, Marie Ego, JoAnn Gates, Dorie Kincaide, Anna Koop, Maureen O’Connell, Dorothy Ortner, Mary Lou Pierron, Jessie Rathburn, Lisa Reynolds, Maureen Smith, Mary Swain and me.
The weekend began with self-introductions, supper and a beautiful opening ritual that included a Cecily Jones poem from Women of the Creeks entitled “Upon This Hill.” It took us back to the time in 1824 when the sisters moved from their home in Little Loretto to the current Motherhouse location where they had to start building again. For anyone considering a move to this new intentional community, the poem touched on some of the feelings that accompany such a move.
On Saturday the day began with sharing of previous experiences of community and the learnings derived from those experiences. People spoke about how essential relationships are, the need to discover common values and to identify a purpose for a community, the need to embrace change and recognize that each person is a work in progress every day of his or her life.
After a historical presentation by Eleanor Craig on the beginnings of Loretto, participants then immersed themselves in a visioning process that identified values and how to implement them in a new community. The primary values that were endorsed by the group included Earth consciousness, sharing diverse spiritualities and resources (such as shared work and space, laundry equipment, tools and library resources), trust, a spirit of cooperation, openness and hospitality, connectedness to the Motherhouse Community and a commitment to good processes within community. The discussion included the need for privacy, space and contemplation along with time for community building, group decision-making and conflict resolution.
The energy in the room was noticeable as we broke up into groups to reflect further on these values and how a new community might incorporate them. Many good ideas and possibilities were listed and reviewed since this was not a time for decision-making. Looking at future options included a discussion of Motherhouse land, if it would be available from LLBI, and other possible locations near the Motherhouse.
I presented some financial and land ownership options for a new community. A good discussion followed my presentation.
Late Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning focused on next steps, good communications with the Loretto Community, especially the Motherhouse Community, and topics for a future gathering. Participants departed with a deep sense of satisfaction and optimism for a new sustainable intentional community in Loretto.