Self-Governance at East Wind

East Wind is an income-sharing intentional community and a proud member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. We are one of six egalitarian communities which have joined together in a common struggle to create a lifestyle based on equality, cooperation, and harmony with the Earth. We believe that this is a fundamentally different approach than that offered by most cultures throughout the world, and the one that holds the promise of realizing the human potential lost through unequal distribution of wealth, power, and opportunity.

East Wind is a community owned and operated by the members, who share all income and expenses, and responsibility for needs including food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, and other needs and amenities considered desirable, insofar as the community is able to provide them.

Our bylaws set forth our purposes, direction, and ideology, define the rights and obligations of membership, and state the guarantees made by the community to its members. The bylaws allow for experimentation, and under any form of government, two-thirds of the full members can overrule any decision or change the bylaws themselves. The bylaws state that East Wind may “govern itself by any reasonable means which its members desire.” We encourage those who are interested in visiting East Wind or learning more about how our community works to read our bylaws in full.

Our bylaws are a core document that our community uses to self-govern, but they are just the foundation of a larger set of tools that we use to maintain day to day peace and order. Legispol (East Wind slang for Legislation and Policy) lays out in detail the methods and processes we use to make decisions. Issues that arise in community are dealt with through a number of established processes, including community meetings, petitions, simple majority and two-thirds majority votes, procedures for concerns, elections, legislation, policies, and meetings of the Board.

We have a Board composed of five full members. Board meetings take place once per week. Four members are selected at random from a rotation for a term that may last up to one year (or they may resign at any point), and one member is a Board Chair elected annually by a simple majority vote. The Board makes decisions by consensus on various matters brought to its attention, and a summary of the weekly meeting and any decisions made is publicly posted and subject to a concerns process (any decision can be overturned by written concerns submitted by 10% of voting members). The Board has recently created a Planning Committee to help us set and reach desired goals.

We have several message boards in Rock Bottom, our main common space, on which members are free to post comments and notices. Members may choose to call a community meeting to discuss and/or vote on any particular issue by writing a proposal for a meeting and obtaining the signatures of 10% of voting members. Community meetings are typically held on Saturday and/or Sunday and everyone is welcome to attend. Community meetings sometimes result in a vote— votes favor a simple majority unless they involve revoking membership, which requires a two-thirds majority of full members. Any decision can be made by a two-thirds majority of full members by passing a written petition in ten days, including decisions that may overturn existing legislation, decisions made by the Board, or even our bylaws.

All full members have an equal vote and equal access to utilize the established processes. Visitors must complete a three week visitor period to be considered for provisional membership. Please visit the Visitor Program and Membership pages for more information on becoming a member.

Members who have, or are willing and able to learn, the skills necessary for the management of a particular branch of community are encouraged to run for managerial positions (Garden Manager, Ranch Manager, Nut Butters General Manager, Board Chair, etc.). Managers are able to control their branch’s budget and labor hours claimed. They can also make policy. Members are able to run for these managerial positions annually and sometimes during interim elections, and are elected by majority. Managers can make policy that affects their branch, but all policy is subject to veto by 10% of full members. All legal documents, financial accounting records, labor accounting records, records of government and managerial decisions (excluding secret ballot forms for membership votes), and other community records are available to all members. Transparency and fairness are very important to many East Winders; we believe that members should have equal access to any information that pertains to our community and an equal say in decisions made. Though not all of us are completely happy with the bureaucratic processes and the ways in which they are sometimes used, most of us appreciate the system in place and continue to work to improve upon it. At East Wind, one person or a small group of people really can make a difference where they see injustice or inefficiency. Our system relies on direct democracy and readily accommodates flexibility, change, and improvement. East Wind may not be a utopia yet, but at least we’re giving it our best try.