Why so long between issues?
It's been almost a year since we put our last issue of the Notes onto the web, and there are a number of reasons why.
In part, we've been really busy, and some trade-offs have to be taken. We paid off the land contract last spring, and since then we've been hustling to get a new wave of construction and development underway. There's an old saying that notes that you can play cards without money, but you can't play cards without cards.
In our case, you can't build a sustainable community without land, and we made the decision early on to keep from taking on more debt than necessary. Consequently, the development of many of our systems was delayed while we dealt with first things first. Now that we've moved beyond that first stage, it's a very exciting time.
Windward is a voluntary association of individuals, and it's important to keep the load on any one person at a modest level. While each of us is capable of making substantial efforts on behalf of the organization, that's a temporary solution at best, and can really hurt a group in the long run. Sure and steady wins the race, especially when you're dealing with developing an intentionally different form of social association.
There's a very broad gulf between knowing what you don't want, and building something better. When dealing with so many unknowns, the wise course is the cautious course. Unfortunately for the Notes, caution doesn't make for very exciting newsletter copy. Part of the irony of this work is that so much of what we do doesn't show, but it still has to be done nonetheless.
Another reason for the delay has to do with the cyclical nature of sustainability. In some ways, talking about the latest construction and developments gives a misleading impression of life here at Windward. Most of what we're doing this year is the same sort of thing we were doing this time last year. Most of the articles in the previous issues of the Notes are still relevant today. Much of life at Windward is a "repeat performance" of the "same time, next year" variety.
A community is sustainable to the degree that it's life is interwoven into the life around it. We're successful to the degree that we compliment the ambient ecology. There's a natural flow that we strive to adapt to, and while it is possible the expend extra energy and go against that flow, it isn't efficient, and in the long run, inefficient isn't sustainable. And so, May and June of each year are the months we put up firewood. It isn't too hot yet, and the wood will be cut and stacked when the hot months come, thereby insuring especially dry (i.e. efficient) firewood come next winter.
This isn't to say that there aren't changes from year to year. There are changes, but they're incremental sorts of adaptations and improvements that aren't obvious to the casual observer. Each year, our mastery of the tasks which make up our life close to the land increases. Each year, we expand our options, and enhance the range of resources that we can bring to bear on our essential lifesupport systems, but that sort of incremental progress doesn't write up well as part of a general interest newsletter.
I think that a third reason for the fall off in writing for the newsletter had to do with the learning curve that our people have undergone in getting acquainted with the internet. Before, there was this twenty-page booklet that was produced, and they could keep a tangible copy of it and send it to their friends. A veritual newsletter lacks that tactile quality, and doesn't seem as "real." Now that a majority of our people are online, they're becoming more comforable with the idea of a virtual newsletter.
A fourth reason has to do with things that a virtual newsletter can do that just weren't possible in the old 20-page format. A key reason for publishing Notes from Windward is our desire to give people a useful understanding of what we're trying to do and how we're trying to do it. If people are going to give serious consideration to getting involved, and we hope that they will, they need ready access to critical bits of information.
Bylaws are like kid's pictures; your's are interesting, and everyone else's are boring. Still, anyone considering investing their time and hopes into Windward needs to take the time to examine our formal decision making system. The website allows us to "include" a copy of the Bylaws with every issue of the Notes.
Utlimately, the Notes is a volunteer project, and I expect that it will continue to have an irregular publishing schedule. I really like the way that our virtual newsletter is becoming a more comprehensive record of what we're doing it and why we're doing it.
Index for Notes Issue # 59
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