Columbia Ecovillage is legally structured as a self-managed condominium. Since 2013 we have used sociocracy as our decision making and organizing tool. We have divided the work and decision-making among four self-organizing domains: Administration, Facilities/Maintenance, Land Use, and Social Life. Everyone contributes to making it all work, and every voice is equally valued as we meet in our various circles to decide by consent on the agreements and policies that guide our community life and our work together.
We take great pride in our beautiful acreage and the abundance of wonderful food we produce on it. We share the work it takes to keep our gardens and buildings in good shape, including maintenance of our shared facilities: a 1912 farmhouse; new Common Hall used for meals, meetings, parties, yoga and more; a laundry room; crafts room; workshop; tool shed; and storage building.
The land takes more work in spring and summer, but there are land tasks year-round, from chopping wood and tending the wood-burning stove that heats our Common Hall to pruning fruit trees and many rows of berries and grapes. Saturday morning “work parties” are a hive of activity especially in spring and summer—weeding, planting, watering, harvesting. Speaking of hives, we’ve got bees and beekeepers. We also have a large number of people who enjoy taking care of our chickens. We grow a lot of food and preserve food, too, for our community meals. We typically have two to three meals per week that people can sign up for, prepared by skilled cooks and cook assistants, and made possible by our meal cleaners as well as our gardeners.
The bonding we experience while working together is an important part of our community's culture. "Work parties" on Saturday mornings usually include a coffee hour or lunch. Quarterly work parties are designed to get more and bigger outdoor and indoor jobs done. Plenty of behind-the-scenes work also gets done by our maintenance, administrative and social "pods" (teams). The range of tasks we do is broad, from tending compost, maintaining our water cisterns and collecting chicken eggs, to bookkeeping, leading yoga classes, organizing special events, and hosting community tours.
Our current participation policy calls for a 9-hour contribution each month from every adult resident. Some people log many more hours. Like many aspects of living here, this policy is intended to be flexible and adjust to people’s personal needs, so discussions are ongoing as to how to make our participation agreements and work contributions more effective.