5. Emergence of a Learning Community
All those who are familiar with Vale da Lama probably heard at some point that “this is not a community, this is not an ecovillage”. And it’s true. But it’s not totally true and we all know it.
As the dream expands, more people connect with the project willing to understand the vision and support in whatever it takes to make it real.
It´s between 2011 and 2012, with the synchronized arrival of those who became the first residents of Lama Village, that the first evaluation and participatory planning process supported by an outside consultant takes place. With an organized team, defined service offers and a designed action plan, a group of young dreamers jump into the boat and is ready to sail into unknown seas. This process include assessments, designs, research and development, marketing strategies and much more. It include specially great cooperation and willingness to take action. It creates community.
By the end of 2013 after an intense evaluation process, another planning stage occurs and the team revisits the initial dream to build a common vision and mission for the project. Using Dragon Dreaming and other useful collaborative planning tools, Nita and Walt share their deep beliefs and concerns and take the organization to a whole new level – to implement a horizontal governance model.
From 2014 onwards the challenge increases while trying to figure out how each circle can become socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. The major focus is to proof the financial viability of the project and to build more autonomy for all those involved. Inspired by Holacracy and Sociocracy organizational models Walt takes the lead and encourages the team to experiment a more holistic way of managing projects within the farm by having people energising different roles within semi-autonomous circles of governance and action.
Around 2017, due to overworked management teams and increasing financial loss, those who lived in Lama Village – the home of many volunteers – had to say good bye to the farm. It was time to rethink the learning community of Quinta Vale da Lama.