• Willow

last modified February 23, 2011 by strypey

Stable Ground - emergency response to Christchurch Earthquake

­­These were the notes I jotted down at the annual PINZ hui in Whaingaroa about the ideas behind the Willow Collective, ­supplemented by some thoughts at the time I typed them out. The project is about helping people get their roots into the soil. Since extracts of willow trees can be used as a solution to promoting root growth, and in the context of Haikai Tane's passionate defence of the willow as a watershed regenerator, it seemed highly appropriate.

I have observed that there are frustrated young people looking for spaces to practice communal living, and opportunities to grow and ­develop integrated living systems which are 'outside the square'. Similarly I have visited a number of intentional communities founded by young idealists in the 60s, 70s and 80s who are getting older, and need a new generation to succeed them. I have also noticed that there are whanau, hapu and iwi of tangata whenua who have had land returned to them over the last 20-40 years, and they need people with an non-colonial mentality to support them in returning it to being an independent economic base for their culture. Willow is essentially an attempt to formalize what I've been doing informally over the years through things like the rainbow gatherings. Attempting to build relationships between radical environmentalists in the cities, and intentional communities in the rural areas.

The SMART objectives I wrote down were:
* Define land-sharing arrangements with memorable buzz-phrases
* online tools built for hosting profiles of people and sites, and
facilitating connections between them
* collective established to maintain definition, website, and provide support

There's some question in my mind about the relationship between the Willow Collective and existing orgs with similar goals, like WWOOF. I think the answer is that Willow transcends and includes what WWOOF does. They would be one of the orgs we consult about realizing this project, and any online tools we build could federate/ interoperate with theirs. However Willow would be broader than WWOOF. It would include opportunities that do not fit the WWOOFing model. It could include social centres like 128 Abel Smith St in Tara (Welly), urban art communes like South Karori, Meme Drive in Hamilton, and the Opera House in Waitati, north of Otepoti (DnDn), community gardening projects, renewable energy projects etc It would connect people wanting to join a community with communities looking for new residents. It would connect people wanting to form new communities, on the basis of common interests, and help 'eco-village' groups fill skills gaps. Could also connect older people or solo parents with big backyards with people in their neighbourhood that want to plant gardens, and facilitate projects to get residential neighbourhoods planted out with fruit and nut trees.

Exactly how Willow will be structure, and how it will do this connecting work, will emerge as we get a conversation going about who would benefit, and what their needs are. I am going to work on getting reps from different communities to join this email list, as well as friends of mine who are keen to be part of an intentional community or eco-village, and see what happens.