Workshops

Offerings for 2023

Our 2023 event has two major threads/themes- one thread explores starting new communities, another examines diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We also include workshops through open space organizing, allowing more of the conference content to grow organically. We wanted you all to have a greater say in how the conference looks and feels, and give you a taste of what organizing in community is like. So, you can send us any workshop ideas you have in advance, or come prepared with a workshop pitch and we’ll organize it in real time during the conference!  As we’ve done in previous years, we’ll have open space workshops on Sunday.

Our 2023 schedule & program are available now! Below you will find workshop descriptions, you can see additional info on the tour schedules, Traditional Monday Program, and other happenings on the TOCC program page.

Saturday 1:30pm-3pm

Community Harm and Accountability

Saturday 1:30pm-3pm, Pavilion

Description: What does accountability look like in a community? How should communities support healing and repair between individuals and groups? In this workshop we’ll expand our understanding of harm and how communities can create a culture of accountability that works for one and all.

Presenter Bio: Crystal Byrd Farmer is an organizer and consultant in the intentional communities movement. She serves as a board member for the Foundation for Intentional Community, the BIPOC Intentional Community Council, and The Sum. Crystal is passionate about encouraging people to change their perspectives on diversity, relationships, and the world.

Community Start-ups Expert Panel

Saturday 1:30pm-3pm, Oasis/Big Dome

Polyamory in Community

Saturday 1:30pm-3pm, Cross Roads

Description: Let’s talk about having multiple consensual romantic relationships in community. The attending participants will help shape this workshop through questions, concerns and discussion. Possible topics include “Dealing with misconceptions and stigma”, “Building a community of support”, “Maintaining privacy”, “Maximizing love and freedom in relationships”, “Intersectionality and polyamory”, and more.

Presenter Bio: Daniel Greenberg is… a sustainability educator; serial social entrepreneur (you’d think I’d learn); climate activist; ecovillage consultant; hopeful utopian; vegetarian for 35 years; father of two wonderful daughters; audiobook narrator, and avid swimmer. After serving as President of GEN and Director of Education at the Findhorn Foundation, I am now Co-Director of the Foundation for Intentional Community. 

Agapoli: Building Meta-Communities with Community Power

Saturday 1:30pm-3pm, Ladyslipper

Description: What is Community Power and where does it come from? Why should we help and how do we trust each other? How can we build Meta-Communities able to stand up to anti-communal forces in society? Is love really all you need? Agapoli has some answers, with practical applications for any community.

Presenter Bio: Ian has been a 12-year affiliate and 4-year member and resident of the Baltimore Free Farm, an urban food-justice oriented family of projects including a housing co-op, community gardens, livestock, and food rescue and Food Not Bombs activity. He’s also a self-described agapist, avid chicken tender, and homebrewer (and the guy you’ve seen bringing the kegs to every CommCon in recent memory).

508(c)(1)(a) Church Association structure for Earth-centered Spirituality Communities

Saturday 1:30pm-3pm, Findhorn

Description: Introduce new or forming communities to the ideas, advantages and activist possibilities of using 508(c)(1)(a) Church/Private Member Association structure as the legal form of organization. Explore, in workshop format, ingrained cultural blocks to liberatory organizing: forming organizations that work by manifesting liberated possibilities for being and living together on the Earth, rather than starting from “what can we do/how can we set this up within the current regulatory environment?” Many would-be liberatory and/or egalitarian communities default to co-housing developments to conform to local laws and regs re: property purchase and ownership, taxation, organizational structure, building code etc. Workshop establishes the psychological possibility of holistic Earth-Centered Spirituality, of whatever stripe or denomination, as a legally protected category of religious worship, empowering organizations individually and collectively to worship the Earth in the way they live.

Presenter Bio: Valerie Hahn is the founder and director of Via Lactea Sanctuary, PMA, a 508(c)(1)(a) Church Association and small agrarian spiritual community outside Ithaca New York. Via Lactea’s mission is to recover and develop Earth-honoring and regenerative practices of European, Eurasian and Mediterranean regions that represent the intersection of agricultural and spiritual practice.

Saturday 3pm-4:30pm

The Two Worlds of North America  

Saturday 3pm-4:30pm, Pavilion

Description: How conscious are we of the two worlds in North America? Let’s explore different beliefs and assumptions present in the interactions of different cultures. We will engage in simple yet powerful group dances and singalongs sourced from Afro-Brazilian folkloric art traditions.

Presenter Bios: Macaco teaches the Afro-Brazilian art of Capoeira. He has taught to diverse groups including special needs children in the New York Public Schools, in behavioral health facilities and within socio-economically disenfranchised communities. Macaco works as an art circle celebrant in the intentional communities of central Virginia, while also partnering with organizations that build community.

Connor has lived and worked at four Louisa County communes since 2017, and contributed in the formation of three small co-housing groups in Charlottesville. He has studied capoeira since 2019 and became a member of Groupo Liberdade in 2022. 

How to Build Trans Inclusivity into your Intentional Community

Saturday 3pm-4:30pm, Oasis/Big Dome

Description: Intentional communities have the potential to be a crucial safe-haven for trans folks in 2023’s political climate, but they can also be unintentionally alienating. This workshop will share infrastructural, social, and cultural steps to ensure trans folks are not just accepted but included in ICs.  The workshop will also be a safe, designated space to ask invasive or “stupid” questions about trans and nonbinary folks and our transitions. That said, it will not be a space to debate the merits of trans inclusion— it will be specifically geared towards those who are interested in making their community a safer place for existing or prospective trans members. 

Presenter Bio: Jules Amanita has lived at Twin Oaks for 5 years. They have been Twin Oaks’s delegate to the Federation of Egalitarian Communities for the majority of that time.

How to Develop and Sustain a Small Community

Saturday 3pm-4:30pm, Cross Roads

Description: Join David and Victoria in a conversation about what it takes to develop and sustain a small community with stories and examples from their experience at the White Lotus Eco Spa Retreat. The discussion will explore topics such as values, personality types, communication, and how to evolve together.

Presenter Bios: David VanDerveer, founder and architect of The White Lotus Eco Spa Retreat has worked professionally as an electronic technician, yoga instructor, builder, and heavy equipment operator, but he is best known as an international comedy juggler. 

Victoria Bryant is an educator, performing artist, and serves as the event manager and retreat facilitator at the White Lotus.

Accountability Groups in Community 

Saturday 3pm-4:30pm, Ladyslipper

Description: This is a workshop for people who are interested in learning what an Accountability Group is, why they might want to start one, and how they might do that. Informed by concepts of transformative justice, some communards have been experimenting with the implementation of Accountability Groups at Twin Oaks. This workshop will include talks, resources, small group discussion, and Q+A. 

Presenter Bios: Summer moved to Twin Oaks in 2003. She is passionate about growing a culture in which people have the material and emotional resources to live their values and be free from harm and oppression. She likes drawing and listening to music with her 14 year old daughter. 

Raen moved to Twin Oaks in January of this year. They have studied and practiced NVC, meditation, group facilitation, and empathic dialogue for around a decade. Creating containers for authenticity & vulnerability really fires them up!

Community is the Solution to Climate Change

Saturday 3pm-4:30pm, Findhorn

Description: Community is the magic bullet that makes renewable energy work. We will talk about efficient building design, direct drive DC microgrids, solar thermal energy, and biogas. We will work with people in the group to figure out how to maximize your self determination. 

Presenter Bio: Alexis Zeigler has lived in intentional community all of his adult life, and founded several. He has extensive experience in a wide range of trades related to sustainable building practices and renewable energy. He is the chief designer of Living Energy Farm, a community that produces most of its own food and energy. 

Saturday 4:30pm-6pm

Going from all-white to majority POC: Struggles to achieve inclusion, justice and belonging within a (newly) racially diverse community

Saturday 4:30pm-6pm, Pavilion

Description: Heathcote, a small community in Freeland, MD, went from being all-white to majority POC in a few short years. Our current membership includes 2 Black, 1 ‘brown’ and 2 white adults. Our children are all POC – 1 Black and 2 ‘brown’. This workshop will begin with a presentation of Heathcote’s history of racial awakening – the period of time when the community became aware of its whiteness, the community’s efforts to become anti-racist and increase racial diversity, and how the transition occurred. We will then share the experiences of our POC members and our many intersecting struggles to achieve inclusion, belonging and justice. We will conclude with a few pointers to predominantly white communities who want to attract and retain POC. The last 30 mins of the workshop will be interactive. 

Presenter Bios: Karen Stupski has lived at Heathcote since 1993 and fills many roles within the community, including administration, finance, facilities management, and grant writing. She works as a grants and program manager for an environmental nonprofit and is a faculty member at Goddard College. 

Shilpa Reddy is a new member at Heathcote. White this is her first time living in a community, she has visited communities over the last 5 years. She is a sociologist, college professor, gender scholar, professional cuddler, former journalist, aspiring DEI trainer, a mother, and is very passionate about smashing the patriarchy! 

a playful look at good and evil in complex dynamics

Saturday 4:30pm-6pm, Oasis/Big Dome

Description: This workshop takes a radical look at peoples hidden motives and how they play out in the social sphere, from the interpersonal to the global. This workshop we will be playing a giant board game of colonizing an alien planet by different civilizations.

Presenter Bio: Gil Benmoshe has been living in communities for over 20 years, and has started several communities which some, surprisingly, still exist today. Gil also works professionally in developing and facilitating group dynamics activities and consulting for various groups, from students, to government executives, banking CEOs, and military personnel.

Visualizing & Mapping the Ecologies of Healthy Communities

Saturday 4:30pm-6pm, Crossroads

Description: Come play with us as we design and map what constitutes the values, elements, resources and flows within the living ecologies of healthy communities. How do you put love, interdependence and systems on a map? Let’s find out! Bring your experience, ideas and dreams. We’ll bring the art supplies. 

Presenter Bio: Charles Planck is a life long entrepreneur, creator and community builder. He was co-founder of Affinity Lab, one of the world’s first co-working spaces, and a 13 year Burning Man theme camp and community systems organizer. He now runs Articulated, a special projects facilitation consultancy, while he and his collaborators launch HomeWorlding, a community creation, development and support agency.

Creatively Visioning Into Deeper Purpose

Saturday 4:30pm-6pm, Ladyslipper

Description: This workshop will offer participants a fun and creative experience of exploring different ways of understanding and communicating a community’s purpose. Through several quickfire challenges and sharebacks with each other, participants will have ample opportunity to iterate on the why of it all.

Presenter Bio: Avi is the co-founder of The Next Big Step and currently resides in The Sanctuary, a small community house in Oakland focused on Sacred Living. She draws upon her background in theater, film production, creative writing, and systems thinking to facilitate spaces for connection and reflection that are playful, meaningful, and nourishing for the soul.

Anarchy as community praxis

Saturday 4:30pm-6pm, Findhorn

Description: Demystifying “anarchy” and sharing examples of how it shows up in various communities as healthy culture and praxis.

Presenter Bio: Oufgar/Ozgard/-ozzlegommet et al (they/them) is a genderfluid fae changeling critter who has been traveling for over a decade, visited over 45 communities in that time.

Sunday 9:30am-11am

A Community of Resistance

Sunday 9:30am-11am, Pavilion

Description: Let’s compare the Afro-Brazilian quilombos to contemporary intentional communities ​of North America. In these maroon settlements culture and community thrived at a tenuous distance from colonial activity.What can we learn from this contemporary of our own Intentional Communities movement?

Presenter BiosMacaco teaches the Afro-Brazilian art of Capoeira. He has taught to diverse groups including special needs children in the New York Public Schools, in behavioral health facilities and within socio-economically disenfranchised communities. Macaco works as an art circle celebrant in the intentional communities of central Virginia, while also partnering with organizations that build community.

Connor has lived and worked at four Louisa County communes since 2017, and contributed in the formation of three small co-housing groups in Charlottesville. He has studied capoeira since 2019 and became a member of Groupo Liberdade in 2022.

How to Start an Intentional Community

Sunday, 9:30am-11am, Oasis/Big Dome

Description: When you hear stories of how established ICs were founded, it often feels like fate. We also know that there are lots of different best practices to help us tempt fate. Come explore common pitfalls, strategies, frameworks, and key choice points for those embarking on this monumental undertaking.

Presenter Bio: I am a gender-fluid SAM of European heritage, coming from a weird mix of working-class, counterculture, and college-educated, by parents who met on a commune, and raised me non-christian, feminist, anti-capitalism, with a deep reverence for nature. I’m a massive intentional community nerd, and the movement has been my world for 25 years.

My keys to creating cohousing or community – french experiences

Sunday, 9:30am-11am, Cross Roads

Description: In this workshop, Audrey shares her ingredients for successful community building. She will give us a lively, playful and interactive show. She will start with a short presentation of “Les Choux Lents”, her community outside of Lyon, France.

Presenter Bio: Audrey Gicquel is a co-founder of a community in France, where she has lived for 10 years. In 2018, she became a group facilitator to help people to create their communities. She has written a book and has a Youtube channel on the subject and is currently on a 6 month trip in US and Mexico with her family to visit communities (video in english) :Gicquel’s trip to US & Mexico – 2023

Community Legal Clinic

Sunday, 9:30am-11am, Ladyslipper

Description: Starting a community? Planning to share resources? Then you need agreements among members and possibly legal status with the state. This workshop covers possible corporate and tax structures and addresses the various policies any new intentional community should have.

Presenter Bio: Jenny Hoffpauir is a lawyer and experienced communard who helps forming communities navigate the various legal, financing and other landscapes to create lasting structures which reflect community values. Jenny has particular expertise in the structures and agreements which enable income sharing communes.

Starting and Stopping an Ecovillage: Navigating the Journey     

Sunday, 9:30am-11am, Findhorn

Description: As a founder of two intentional communities (one urban, one rural), I have distilled many of the issues we face when embarking on the founding of an ecovillage. From vision, to land, to financing, to facing challenging realities, the journey is usually complicated. I will unpack many of the issues faced. (See my article in the current issue of Communities Magazine: Starting and Stopping an Ecovillage.) A concise overview of the founding journey. Where do you start, what is a “vision,” what are your expectations, what will you do when things become difficult, “should I stay or should I go,” etc. 

Presenter Bio:  Dan Antonioli is a seasoned green builder, permaculture designer, general building contractor, and ecovillage founder. Founder of the Laytonville Ecovillage in rural Northern California, he navigated a conventional system to create a permaculture paradise and opportunity to legally develop an intentional community. Putting round pegs into square holes. going-green.co