For all the diversity of its members, one of the things we at Global Community Communications Alliance all have in common is a whole-hearted desire to make the world a better place for the generations to come. Since 1989 we have been engaged in the collective adventure of coming out of the “old order” of things and moving progressively, as a community and extended family, into a cooperative society. We are all in agreement that functional communities made up of healthy families are the solution to the hard times we are in. As co-founder of our group, based in Arizona, I am convinced that the process of true community building is a spiritual birthing process, a conscious and committed one for each individual as well as for the group as a whole.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of our years of community building has arisen from our work to recognize and admit the flaws in our own characters as well as in fellow family and community members, students, and others—limitations and erroneous ways of thinking, feeling, and doing that we and many others do not want to deal with. “Pardon me friend, but do you realize you are running at top speed towards a cliff and are about to go over the edge?” Suddenly pride and defensiveness take over as we humans respond with aggressive defiance rather than the humility it takes to really see the things about ourselves that we need to change in order to cause no harm to ourselves or to others. But we have found that in order to heal our relationships with all members of our family, this is exactly what we need to do. Our commitment to this has gotten us through many hard times.
We have learned that being “civil” and being “polite” are two different things. Being civil is being appropriately respectful of another’s perspective and attempting to understand someone else’s viewpoint in a nonviolent manner. Being polite is more on the surface and skirts any issues that may create any kind of conflict or heated discussion. People can be transparent and openly honest in their differences in a civil manner, but they tend not to be as genuine and open when just being polite.
Relationships go deeper when our masks of composure, pride, and denial fall away, and we begin to recognize certain cosmic connections with each other. In order to foster the communications and alliance building necessary to live as a cooperative society, we have found that it is a process of learning to express oneself honestly, with wisdom and discernment, understanding what is appropriate when, with whom, and how to do it. We are striving to create a “fourth dimensional” community where communication involves application of spiritual principles in relationships and encouragement of each other’s spiritual rehabilitation, growth, and healing.
We have had the opportunity to deal with many challenges in this way and find that, as long as everyone is willing to cooperate with the process, any situation can be reconciled to everyone’s satisfaction. Not only that, the darkest situation can become a blessing on many levels. As long as we are honest and respectful, we find this way of living fosters health and wellness for individual members, couples, families, housemates, co-workers, band members, classmates, and all in our collective society.
We have dealt with issues from every aspect of the life cycles of human beings, including: teaching parents not to spoil their children; correcting disrespectful children and adults; dealing with sexual boundaries in adolescents and immature adults; creating sacred homes with people from diverse cultures; and addressing power trips, issues with authority, complaining, gossiping, theft, deceit, dysfunctional/co-dependent relationships, laziness, workaholics, and denial of all of the above.
Whenever possible, we deal with those outside our community in the same manner. We have experienced hostile, aggressive attacks by various outlets of the corporate-driven media and responded by writing and sharing our views using our own community-driven media—the Alternative Voice quarterly periodical and a worldwide web cast called “Media Misrepresentation.” The 1999 Spring issue of Communities featured an article by Celinas Ruth about this titled “Seeking the Truth in Media: What Happens When Your Community is Criticized on National TV?”
When we first began to consider moving our entire community from Sedona, Arizona to Tumacácori, Arizona, we had a few very negative and vocal potential new neighbors expressing their fears about our being an undesirable cult. We suggested a meeting where we could meet and discuss the situation. A local restaurant owner in Tumacácori generously offered “Wisdom’s Café” for the meeting. The day of the meeting the place was packed. Five of our members attended. The two prominently vocal and aggressive neighbors who disliked and feared us (but had not really met us yet) verbally attacked the five members of our community and disrespectfully overshadowed the entire meeting. Our members managed to remain calm and respectful “under fire” and tried to bring the discussion up to a more spiritually mature level.
Afterwards, many who had sat quietly through the meeting came up to talk and privately state that the views of the two who had monopolized the evening did not speak for everyone, and that they were amazed that we had handled it so well. It was decided that another meeting would be held so that questions could be asked and answered in a more cordial manner in a neighbor’s private home.
In our experience, it is always better to give more time and energy to those who are willing to build towards a positive future. That is how we are building alliances for a future cooperative society that we hope will expand beyond our wildest dreams.
Some of our hardest times have been the result of losing friends and family when they choose to return to the stampede for the cliffs, deciding that the work and effort required to spiritually grow and heal—in order to thrive in a cooperative society—is no longer desirable. It seems obvious that everyone on the planet has to face making many changes in lifestyle so that we may learn to collectively live in balance with the many gifts that Mother Earth gives us to sustain our lives. Few people choose to make these kinds of changes unless forced into it by circumstantial reality.
Our “turning away from the stampeding herd” has led us to do many things that have been misunderstood by others in the past, but are increasingly applauded in the present. We have built organic gardens, starting out by cultivating three acres in Sedona and then, 20 years later, moving the entire community of 100 members and many ministry programs and affiliated services to a wonderful 165-acre ranch in Tumacácori, called Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage.
In our new home we are busy expanding the organic gardening and animal husbandry projects, goat cheese production, making soap from goat milk, and building small herds of horses and cattle. We also have rabbits and chickens. We started a Community Supported Agriculture Program that is expanding rapidly and supported by new friends and neighbors for miles around. The community kitchen serves tasty and nutritious food for the entire community (and many guests) on a daily basis.
As a cooperative society we are able to manifest so much more than is possible for the same number of individuals in a more mainstream setting. We have established Soulistic Hospice which provides holistic healthcare to people in our region. Our Out of the Way Galleria in Tubac, Arizona provides an outlet to sell the work of our artisans, as well as for the many donations of fine arts and crafts we receive in support of our services, which includes the Personality Integration Rehabilitation Program for Teens and Adults.
After showcasing quality music from all around the world at our performance venue called Future Studios in Sedona for eight years, we are now doing the same by producing concerts and other events at our Tubac Plaza Main Stage in Tubac, Arizona. We also host many events at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage.
The Global Community Communications Schools for Children and Adults are flourishing. We are able to contribute to local activist groups, helping to preserve the local environment, which has been called “The Palm of God’s Hand” for thousands of years.
Earth Harmony Builders are working with other alternative shelter entrepreneurs to create beautiful alternative shelters including a variety of domes, papercrete structures, homes with state-of-the-art, eco-friendly and alternative energy features, yurts, tipis, and more.
Because of our successes in learning to live as an ecovillage, people are now asking us how they can do what we are doing—how they can move from hard times to the good times they see us (with much effort) living in. We believe in unity without uniformity and encourage everyone to strive for harmony with their neighbors and learning to live sustainably on our Mother Earth.
Niánn Emerson Chase is an educator, spiritual teacher, counselor, writer, and co-founder of Global Community Communications Alliance, located in Arizona. She grew up on four different Native American reservations in the southwest and, after earning her bachelor’s degree, returned to the San Carlos Apache reservation where she lived and taught for 15 years. Niánn Emerson Chase’s articles have been published in various periodicals including New Thought Journal, Connecting Link, Communities magazine, Quantum Thoughts, Inner Word, and the Alternative Voice, of which she is the co-Executive Director.
Published in Communities Magazine Fall 2009