Other Social Agreements
Section 6 of the IPC Membership Contract
Other Social Agreements
- Spirituality and Open-Faith Community
- Conflict Resolution
- Sharing Circles
- Generational Balance
- Schooling & unschooling
- Community Meals
- Relationships and Sexuality
- Personal Items
- Interaction with Local Communities
- Temporary Absences from the Community
- Substance Use
- Inappropriate Behavior and Grounds for Dismissal
- Leaving the Community
Spirituality and Open-Faith Community
There is no one particular religion or spirituality of the community. We adopt an attitude of acceptance and openness and this is what we look for in others who intend to join, whether or not they honor any of the manifestations of Spirit. A common recognition that ties us together is that we are all diverse, important and interconnected.
In general we hold a deep respect for the earth as a vibrantly living force and see ourselves connected to the web of what we call nature and what we call life. Living on the land, we take honor in being guided by the elements and the natural world and use that to walk on this land with care.
People may wish to have celebrations, community rituals, meditations, prayers... and all are welcome to participate or not in what feels right for them.
The backbone of maintaining a harmonious community lies in nourishing healthy relationships with each other and the environment. Through open and conscious communication we are able to express our needs, desires, fears and boundaries, helping us to be clear with ourselves and others. By listening to others we broaden our perspectives and allow ourselves to hear and feel the other. The Sharing Circle is one system in place to help us express and listen. If tensions, conflicts or misunderstandings come up, the sooner they are talked about the better. We feel the Twin Oaks community states it best by saying "It isn't the existence of conflict that determines the health of a group, but rather the manner in which a group does or doesn't deal with conflict which determines it's health". We make a commitment to speaking up and doing so with conscious delivery. By taking responsibility for our own behaviors and emotions, and by understanding that every story holds multiple perspectives, we contribute greatly to the resolution of conflict.
Understandably, emotions can get triggered and our ability to hear the other or express ourselves in a healthy way may sometimes need assistance. If there is a conflict that cannot be resolved between the individuals or group, the assistance of a mediator will be called upon. We hope to have several people in the community who can take on the role as mediators which people can seek council with and begin a mediation process. A good mediator is an empathic listener, who hears what both parties have to say, helps define the needs of each and guides them to find there own solutions to meet those needs. Anyone with deep listening and strong interpersonal skills as well as clear personal boundaries is welcome to be trained in the mediation process, which would then make them another available mediator to choose from. The mediator (or mediators) will meet with both parties together and if need be separately to assist in finding a solution. If this is a matter that affects the entire community and calls for a decision to be made, it will be brought to the democratic model. If the mediation does not lead to a resolution the issue may be brought to the democratic model as well. Any conflict not being addressed may be brought up by any member of the community as a request for mediation between the individuals involved.
The Sharing Circles are weekly community gatherings where people are invited to speak from their hearts and share what is alive for them, a chance to simply be heard by the group without any debate, defense or attack. This is not a time to try to resolve a conflict or decide on plans. Tensions that arise may be diffused through this process as we listen to each other and hear what the other is experiencing. Nor is this a space for berating, accusing or philosophizing. This is a space for sharing how you feel in general or regarding a particular event and sharing personal challenges as well as accomplishments and joy! Done in a pop-up style where people step up to speak when and if they feel moved, while the rest of the group holds them in a safe space and listens. This is a simple yet profound gathering that helps promote freedom of expression while contributing to community cohesion.
The founders believe that a well rounded community should include a variety of ages, from babies to the most elderly. We appreciate the dynamics, the patience, the humbling, the beauty it breathes into a group. As such we are interested in all types of ages and include different ways in which all ages are able to participate and enjoy life together. We value the elderly for their experiences, stories and wisdom and celebrate the joy of young ones engrossed in the discovery of the world around them. We also understand that the young lack the knowledge and capacity while the elderly often lack the energy and strength. As such we have some special privileges for each group.
The parents of a baby get a credit of one year of Shawoho (Shared Work Hours) to divide up as they choose to, in monthly segments and it can be used from two months prior to the expected birth to maximum one year after the birth. For example Georgia takes 2 month credit before the birth and 1 after the birth. Ivan and Georgia both take a month credit each for the next 3 months. This leaves them with 3 months left. Georgia is breast feeding so they decide she take the remainder 3 months which means the credit will be exhausted by the 8th month.
Young Child Privilege:
Parents with young children, from ages 6 months to 5 years, who are taking care of the child as a primary caregiver (house chores, being with the children, feeding them, etc...) are eligible for this privilege which reduces by half their Shawoho commitment. It does not matter how many children a primary giver is taking care of, there is only one privilege of half time hours given during the period per family. The amount of the half time hours is established each month as Shawoho can change over such a large period of time.
The example continues: Georgia takes her last Baby Credit in the 7th month and begins the Young Child Privilege. She takes on her 1/2 time Shawoho hours on tasks in the community which will be easy to do with a child nearby, sleeping or being watched. The grandparents or Ivan take care of the baby otherwise to help her out. In year 2, Georgia decides to go for a trip out of the country for a month and Ivan takes care of the child. He then receives the Young Child Privilege for that month. (It could have been any guardian, grandparent etc...). Georgia gives birth again a few months after returning. Georgia and Ivan stop using the Young Child Privilege and use the Baby Credit for the next 6 months. After this period Georgia then uses the Young Child Privilege again, which would half her Shawoho hours. Even though they now have 2 children only one parent is still receiving the credit for the whole. The credit can be shared in the family.
Parents cannot use both the Young Child Credit and the Baby Credit at the same time, nor can they change the dates to compensate for any overlap.
Participants who are 65 years and older have a choice to: take on the minimum Shawoho per month or not take on the minimum Shawoho per month. This decision it has been suggested would be best made a month in advance however if an elder completes only a portion of Shawoho in any given month, then automatically they are not taking on the minimum Shawoho and would fall in the latter choice.
If they choose not to take on Shawoho they are expected to pay the community coffers half the amount they receive per month from whatever pension they have coming to them from outside sources, no matter how little or large that may be. In this case, no work is expected from them however the elderly can partake and even take on tasks on the Wish List if they choose too for as many hours as they wish. Also in this scenario, they would not be entitled to receive any Share the Wealth dividends directly, however indirectly they obviously would - that is through what is spent from the Village Coffers, they are still able to benefit from infrastructure improvements, events, projects etc... and they still would be receiving shared resources, that is all the goods and services that IPC participants offer to the tribe, including the abundance of food produced.
If they choose to do Shawoho they do not have to pay half of their pension and will be eligible for the 'Share the Wealth Dividends'.
In either case, as the elderly are still considered participants, they would still need to be responsible as members in other ways.
If entering the community as a senior, the person would still need to pay their membership costs (Try Out Rental Fee & Steward Land Fee) and would still have to go through the process of membership with its Try Out period.
It has been suggested that as a collective we pay into the Panamanian, private or internal type of Old Age Security. This may be a possibility but will be brought up and dealt with once the community is up and running, as the participants will want to make those choices though our democratic model and many voices will need to be heard.
The IPC is a family friendly environment and the Tribe recognizes that the energy and wisdom of all ages contributes greatly to a well rounded healthy community.
Children are valued as creative, intuitive individuals that have just as much to teach us as learn from us. The community helps raise the children and we are raised by the children. By living in community, the children receive many perspectives, models, people to share with and reflect on as they test, explore, and question, the community grows and learns as well. The parents or primary caregivers will be responsible for ensuring daily care of the child, however it is also the responsibility of all members to keep an eye out for the safety of the children, respond to any immediate danger and provide or find the necessary support for the child. The community in that way supports the autonomy as well as the safety of the children.
Parenting support is important and we hope the Tribe will undertake activities that will accomplish this. Such activities could include a sharing circle for parents, workshops for both children and parents, a sharing of the responsibilities among parents of different families and even a designated child care provider, and many more that may be useful.
Just like the adults, children will be encouraged to take care of their environment by picking up after themselves and treating the natural environment with care. Any destructive behavior could be positively redirected by the adults of the community without need to punish or chastise. The parents are asked to help their children respect community guidelines concerning land, material care and respecting boundaries.
As much as possible we want children to grow in an environment where they feel loved, their voices are heard and their emotions, thoughts, needs, desires and curiosities are valued. They too may be involved in the decision making process by having a say on issues that feel relevant to them. However, the ability to cast votes will only be granted once an adolescent is participating fully in the shared work.
Teenagers may decide to participate in Shawoho, experimenting with what kinds of work and what schedule works best for them, and pending on the communities decision, may begin receiving some of the share the wealth dividends for part time shared work hours.
A child or adolescent will be welcomed into sharing circles and other events or activities. They may stay in meetings or other gatherings as long as they are not disrupting the process and if they do, they will be asked to leave (same applies to adults!) and may return at a later time if they feel ready to.
We hope to create a safe, inspiring, and enriching environment for both children and families to play, explore, live and flourish together.
Schooling and Unschooling
There is no mandatory schooling system within the Tribe. Parents and children are free to choose whatever form of education best suits them including options of personalized homeschooling programs, unschooling, attending the local school in the nearest village or even starting up a school on the land.
Community MealsPeople will most often organize their own food and eating schedule within their own personal dwellings. There will be a community kitchen to use, with its own rules and orientations. The core team is hoping to meet to eat communally, once a week. Head chefs will alternate. Depending on the needs of the community we may decide to eat together more or less frequently. This is not a mandatory gathering but hopefully a beautiful place to share in the joy of culinary delights. There is no specific diet followed in the community and people may eat what feels right for their bodies. Eating styles may range from omnivores, vegetarians, vegans and living food eaters. Community meals will be organized to try to offer meals that will fit all our diets.
Relationships and Sexuality
A myriad of intimate relationship styles exist. The IPC accepts all expressions, whether monogamous, open, single, celibate, polyamorous or other. Part of every adult individual having a personal stewarded lot is to allow for freedom and personal space. For instance, a couple may decide to live together and have an additional space if one of them needs time to themselves, or others may choose live separately and choose when they spend time together... People are free to live their relationships in whatever dynamic works for them, without judgment from the community.
Sex is a natural and beautiful part of life! Unfortunately there is much taboo and unhealthy expressions of sexual energy in much of the world and the IPC hopes to inspire healthy sexual relationships and consciousness around the subject. The community is a sex positive space where people are open to discuss their fears, desires and boundaries and where children, and especially adolescents are welcome to join in on the discussions. Tantra workshops are one way in which those interested in the community can gather together to bring playfulness to these discussions, offer transparency and offer a model of healthy and sacred sexuality. There are bound to be different levels of comfort with displays of sexuality or sexual energy and through communication we will find ways of encouraging expression while respecting boundaries. Any sexual behavior that inflicts harm on another or crosses a boundary of another will be brought immediately to mediation and possibly the democratic model to decide on the best course of action.
Our gorgeous human bodies have the choice to be free of clothes. Because we view the human body as our blessed vessels nudity is accepted and embraced as a natural right on community lands. To remain in a friendly open relationship with locals we ask that people refrain from being naked on the public access road and near our neighboring local families. As well, for safety or hygienic purposes there are certain locations on the land where clothing will be required such as in the community kitchen and in workshop spaces. Any invasive or other inappropriate behavior related to the nudity will be stopped immediately and brought to mediation or discussed in the democratic model.
Participants can own and use personal items as easily as they borrow and use communal items and both can be found interchangeably under their roofs. One is a 'good' which the owner is not willing to share as it is too precious to them such as a beautifully crafted cane or it may be an item that is not even sharable such as a kitchen table, and the other is a 'good' that is sharable and was either made via Shawoho hours, purchased via the village coffer or donated by a participant or outsider to the IPC as an association. Even if something could be shared and was made in Shawoho hours does not mean it can not be held as a personal item in private spaces, for example commodities that are used up such as candles, soap, conserves or even a dining room set. The most important rule is that if a product is manifested out of Shawoho hours then it should not be sold unless the community has decided to do so and the Tribe shares in the profits of its sale, that is, monies go to the village coffer and are redistributed in the normal fashion from there.
No matter what the case, materials, tools and goods should be respected and well maintained. Such basics as - 'put it back where you found it', 'tell someone if you have broke it', 'repair it if you can', 'prepare it for the next person who wants to use it', etc... are expected from all people who visit or live on the land.
Personal items should for the most part be kept on a participants stewarded land when not in use. This will help set the boundary for such items. Most communal items will be found and stored in communal spaces. See Resource Sharing Model in the Shared Economy section for details about communal goods.
Interaction with Local Communities
We aim to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with the outer community. Integration is key to building a sense of trust and camaraderie with the local community so that those living on the land are not forever seen as outsiders and so that our neighbors equally feel non threatened by our presence. We adopt a philosophy that we both have much to learn from each other, avoiding the colonial mentality of subjugation or superiority.
Making connection with local neighbors will be most available to those who are not afraid to communicate, who accept differences, and who genuinely understand that we are all a human family. Once the community is more established, we may start up some community outreach projects such as gardening in schools or a much needed recycling program.
Temporary Absences from the Community
Participants leaving the community for a temporary period will have their benefits and Share the Wealth Dividends stopped upon leaving and resume upon return. There is no minimum stay required per year, however since we want a vibrant community, those who end up never being around (only one or two months per year) may be asked to divest their membership to make space for those whom would invest and enjoy their time being in the IPC on a more regular basis. Exceptions are possible depending on circumstances and would need to be discussed with the community through our regular decision making processes. Please see Steward Land Model for more information about absences.
Hard drugs (such as cocaine, heroin, crystal meth etc..) are strictly forbidden in the community and use of other substances is tolerated on peoples stewarded lands but not tolerated in communally areas, including the village, the forest and farm lands. If there is any substance use on peoples stewarded lands, they must be mindful of keeping the land clean (such as putting cigarette butts in the garbage).
Please be aware that there is a tobacco virus that can spread from cigarettes and can affect plants. Therefore we ask smokers to be especially careful and wash their hands and shoes before going into agricultural areas.
If there is use of any drugs, alcohol or mind-altering substances that seem to be impeding in one's functioning or is inducing destructive behavior (to the group or to the individual), the subject will be brought to mediation and if not resolved, to the democratic model.
There may be times when groups of community members decide to use tobacco, alcohol or mind altering substances ceremoniously or festively, and ask for permission from the Tribe to do it in certain community spaces however that must always be discussed and decided upon before hand.
Inappropriate Behavior and Grounds for Dismissal
Hopefully through the mediation process, healing services, counseling and/or group processing, people will have systems in place to help them work through challenging patterns and recondition. We recognize that no person is perfect and yet are at the same time. What is more important is a genuine desire for personal growth, an ability to self reflect and use triggers, challenges, and old conditioning as a platform for transformation. Ultimately though we are responsible for our own emotional and physical well being, as well as our actions and ways we treat the environment and each other. These are some of the things that may lead to dismissal.
- Polluting the air, water or soil knowingly or through gross negligence.
- Non-consensual physical, sexual or verbal abuse
- Mistreating animals
- Misusing drugs, alcohol or other mind altering substances
- Not keeping up your responsibility of Shawoho (Shared Work Hours)
- Lying about hours worked or income generated
- Selling of our communal goods and services for personal private gain
- Being repeatedly irresponsible to community resources
- Repeated crossing or breaking of boundaries.
All such matters will be immediately brought to the democratic model.
Leaving the community
When someone is leaving the community for good, the community will reimburse them back for half of the stewarded land fee (so long as they have previously paid it off in full) but only once a new member has joined the community in thier stead, and paid their membership costs also in full. This ensures that the community doesn't get into financial problems due to members coming and going and further promotes everyone involved to find a suitable replacement.
As long as conditions are met, these monies will be reimbursed as soon as possible. One must be in good financial standing with the community: that is, having no debts toward the community, such as damages to property. That person must also not be under any legal issues that affect the community within the Panamanian Legal System. The following is an example: Joanna was the 20th participant in the community. She paid a steward land fee of $4800. She is leaving the community 2 years later and there is someone on the waiting list. The newcomer, Juan will be the 53rd participant. Juan's steward land fee is $8,800 (the maximum it can be). Once Juan's fee is received, Joanna gets her reimbursement of $2400. The difference between these two goes directly to the community coffers, if Juan were to leave he would get back $4,400. Let us change the dynamic as a matter of example and say that Juan is not able to pay his full fee immediately, so the community agrees to making monthly payments. Only once these installments reach the amount that Joanna paid, will she be reimbursed in full. Although this scenario could inconvenience the person who is leaving we think it is fair considering that monies will eventually be given over and that inconvenience could also be felt on the part of the rest of the participants. Note there will never be other fees or interest paid when dealing with Stewarded land. Reimbursement is available whether or not the new participant chooses the same lot as the leaving participant.
If there is a livable house on the stewarded lot, the leaving participant will also be reimbursed for part of those costs as well. For details about such arrangements please read through the Economy and Steward Land sections of this Membership Contract. If the community buys the house back from an individual leaving, the space will either be used as a rental house for visitors, temporary housing for work exchangers, new comers and persons building their houses, or to fill any other need the community may have.