This is a reverse chronological listing of some recent events in the Meadowdance group, started in October of 1999. The most recent news is first.
April 7th, 2008: A final decision
Dear friends of Meadowdance,
We at Meadowdance have recently come to some clarity on our future, and would like to share our decision with everybody. We have been living as only two families for the past two years, focusing our attention on our kids and our business, with no time or energy left over for growing the community. We have now decided formally to not pursue or accept any new members, but instead to remain the size we are now until either of our families decides to move on. At that point Meadowdance will disband.
An egalitarian, child-centered community was a bold experiment, and a successful one we think. Our time in Meadowdance has been fruitful, and we're all grateful for what we've learned from each other and our past members. Our business has been, and continues to be, very successful, supporting the community financially. But creating a community takes a good deal of work; keeping it growing takes just as much. We are choosing instead to focus our efforts on our lives together here in Walden, as well as our future plans, knowing that they may take us in different directions.
We appreciate all the help, love and curiosity Meadowdance has received since its very inception. We know there are many of those out there interested in this community, and we will continue to stay in contact about how we are doing.
With much love,
October 3rd, 2006: Our newest member!!
Today was the day we met the youngest member of our community, Gideon Jamer Walden, Amanda and Ken's new son. He was born at 10:03 here at home in a midwife-assisted waterbirth. Everything went very smoothly and we're all getting accustomed to having our fifth little boy in the house!
January, 2006: Membership Changes Abound
This has been a tumultuous winter for Meadowdance. First, Sue and John, founding members of Meadowdance decided to leave the community. We decided to sell the property in Marshfield to them, and they are embarking on an exciting time making room for their family to live with them there.
Now, Nancy and her children have also decided to move on. Nancy has started a new job in her field, working with infants and toddlers, and is thrilled about that. They have found a house in Plainfield, Savannah has switched schools and Sebastian is enjoying living right in town with his friends (and come summer, the skate park).
It's a very quiet house left. Well, not that quiet, we still have four young kids. Let's say an emptier house. Two families, three adults and four boys ages 2 1/2 to 8. This certainly isn't the Meadowdance we're used to, and when we get done reeling from all the changes we will have to determine what future Meadowdance has.
October,2004: Updated Core Agreements
After several years of discussion on these topics, we recently made some additions to our Core Agreements. The Core Agreements are the decisions and values that represent what our community is about at the core. We have revised our agreement about upholding the law to better represent our views on the subject, and added a new agreement about our stance on illegal drugs. Those agreements are quoted below. See our core agreements to read the rest.
Meadowdance is a community that upholds the law. In our role as citizens we consider our actions deeply as to how they affect Meadowdance, the surrounding community and the world in general.
We choose to maintain an environment free from illegal drugs and their influence.
September, 2004: The FEC sends help
Meadowdance has recently become a community-in-dialog in the FEC. And the FEC has already shown us their generous spirit by sending four wonderful members from Twin Oaks to help us do construction. We are trying in our spare time to winterize the house before the cold sets in. Alex, Cherry, Eula and Shayn came to help and spent four days here insulating our foundation, walling in our chimney, tearing down our rotten front porch, burying our gas line and sheetrocking the last of our outside walls. It's already feeling cozier here, and we couldn't have done it without our friends in the FEC lending us a hand. Thank you!
September, 2004: New school year
The school year has started and we now have 5 of our kids attending public school in some form or another. It's the first year in school or preschool for all three Marlier boys. Savannah is going back to public school after having home-schooled for the past year. Sebastian is starting his first year in high school. So there's a lot of early morning activity around here, and chauffeuring work is through the roof.
May, 2004: ...and a dog!
We have a large furry addition to our household. Nancy's family has adopted Mendi, a large white Great Pyrenees. We have built a fenced yard for both her and the kids. Meanwhile she has adopted us all as her flock. She anxiously roams the house trying to keep track of the locations of all 13 of us; we keep her quite busy.
April, 2004: Moving to Walden
With our lease ending in Plainfield, we have bought a farmhouse on 4 acres in Walden, Vermont (no relation to our members Ken and Amanda). We spent the winter renovating this "fixer-upper" just in time to move in this spring. The construction is an ongoing job, but it's good to be settled again. Here we are 15 minutes away from our land in Marshfield, 40 minutes away from Montpelier, and exploring the new towns around us: Danville, Hardwick and St. Johnsbury. Where's the good pizza?
November, 2003: New members
Jenn Marlier, and her boys Aidan (7), William (5) and Terran (4) have been with us since July of 2003, and are currently in Transitional Membership, the last stage before becoming a full member. Their addition makes us a group of 13, with 6 adults and 7 kids.
June 2003: Drew Phoenix Walden
This month we have been celebrating the first baby to be born while living here at Meadowdance. Amanda and Ken gave birth to Drew Phoenix Walden right here at home on June 12th. Drew was born in water in our "birthing room" in the presence of his parents, midwives, and grandmother. All the Meadowdancers soon paraded through to meet him, and he has been passed from person to person ever since. He's healthy and happy, and seems to be enjoying his new home. .
May 15, 2003: Preview issue of magazine released
Two days after the release of the electronic edition, the preview mini-issue of Just Weird Enough came off the presses. In the coming months it will go out to bookstore, libraries, teachers' conventions, science fiction conventions, and other venues. You can download the preview issue for free from our Web site.
February, 2003: Meadowdance starts quarterly imaginative fiction magazine for kids
After long and careful consideration of new community business possibilities, we came to consensus this month to start a new magazine for 9- to 14-year-olds: Just Weird Enough: Science fiction, fantasy & fable. We felt the business had reasonable possibilities for future income because of the unusual combination of resources, abilities, and infrastructure at the community; that it might open new doors to reading for kids; that it would be a challenging and exciting kind of work to do; and that it would provide a needed publication that isn't available anywhere else.
Our editorial team began soliciting and reviewing submissions soon after the decision. Our free, mini preview issue is due out for Summer 2003, and our first full issue is planned for Fall 2003. We're looking for writers, poets and artists (both kids and professionals) as well as 9- to 14-year-olds who are interested in being on our Readers Editorial Board.
December, 2002: Decision to focus efforts on Meadowdance School
Late in 2002, it began to become clear to us that it was important for the community to be able to expand its work on Meadowdance School, an independent, recognized school in Vermont that is currently very small and informal. After a good deal of discussion, we agreed to focus our efforts into finding a dedicated space for the school and developing its programs to the point where we could accept a few students from the surrounding area starting in September.
We anticipate that these efforts will delay our pursuit of permits for our Marshfield land. Of course putting that off isn't ideal, but it is acceptable to us in the service of creating more learning opportunities for our children and providing an educational alternative for other children in the area.
August 26, 2002: Meadowdance moves to Plainfield and sells Springfield house
We've begun moving into our new home, just in time for several of our children to start school at Twinfield Union. We're working to get our phone and Internet connections settled so that we can finish moving in in earnest, since we depend on those connections to run our businesses.
We were also fortunate enough to quickly find a buyer for our large house in Springfield, although at the time of this writing the sale has not yet closed.
Kristy, Jaime, Jen, and Lily (our new Seekers) have moved in, and we're beginning to find our feet in our new home.
August 2, 2002: Meadowdance is moving to Washington County
After a long and arduous search, especially on the part of Sue, our Administrator (one of the many Caretakerships at Meadowdance), we've found a new home for the next year or two, just a short distance from our land. Goddard College (in Plainfield, one town over from our Marshfield land) has agreed to rent us a building that will serve comfortably as a residence for Meadowdance as we work on permitting and then (if the permitting is approved) begin building. We are overjoyed to be able to move to the area, get involved in the community, meet people, and spend some time on our beautiful land. We hope to move by the end of the month, a daunting task, but one we're ready to take on.
July 23, 2002: New Seekerships Approved; Exploring Temporary Housing
This month we've considered two separate applications for Seekership, the first phase of prospective membership at Meadowdance, and have approved both applications. The first Seekership approved was for Jaime and Kristy, a couple who have been visiting and corresponding for several weeks; they will join us at the beginning of September, if all goes as planned.
The second Seekership arises from the engagement of Luc (a Meadowdance member) to Jennifer (who first visited Meadowdance when visiting Luc). Jennifer and her daughter Lily have progressed from visitors to Seekers in the community. Luc and Jen will be married August 10th on our land in Marshfield.
We have been exploring temporary housing options to rent in or near Marshfield, so that we can begin participating in the community, getting to know people, and provided permitting is granted begin building our community building early in 2003.
June 28, 2002: Meadowdance Has Land!
On June 28th, we closed on the purchase of the 200 acre Marshfield property we like so much. We expect to start the permitting process some time in the next few months, working with the town and the Development Review Board to try to submit a plan that works well for all involved.
For now, we are staying at our house in Springfield and continuing to rent the house on the land to the tenants who have been renting it from the previous owners. We're looking for a large place to rent as a temporary home in Marshfield so that we can sell the Springfield house and begin to get to know our new home. We hope to move in the late summer/early fall timeframe, but may stay in Springfield though Spring 2003 if appropriate housing isn't available for us around Marshfield.
You can see some pictures of the land, a satellite photo, and a topographic map by clicking here.
May 11, 2002: Offer accepted to purchase 200 acres in Marshfield, Vermont
Recently we found and took a good look at a beautiful, 200-acre property in the small, culturally alive town of Marshfield, Vermont, about 30 minutes from the small city of Montpelier. The property offers a large pond, a year-round stream, hills, woods, apple trees, berry bushes, and what looks to be a wonderful site for our Ecovillage. We made a conditional offer on the land and it was accepted, so provided we get the necessary permits (a cluster of residences is already a permitted use of the land, although our specific plans would need to be approved) and financing, we plan to move onto the land and begin building our Ecovillage in either late Summer/early Fall of this year or late Spring of next year.
April 9, 2002: Land and New Members
For some time, our land search has been put off while we built up our businesses and got our community on an even keel. This Spring, however, we've decided again to actively search for land. We'll also begin considering new members again and have fine-tuned our Membership Policy.
April 4, 2002: Fire in the Carriage House
Very early in the morning, a fire started near the wood stove in the third floor of our stone carriage house, which we had renovated into four bedrooms, a bathroom, and a common space. It had some time to spread before it was discovered, since no one was staying in the carriage house that night, and eventually did substantial (but repairable) damage to that part of the building.
On the bright side: no one was hurt; the cat got out unharmed (although I'm sure a little traumatized); and our diligent insurances working group had the proper insurance on both the building and the belongings of the people who lived there. We'll be able to get that floor of the garage back to livable condition, and have not yet decided whether or not to reconstruct the bedrooms.
October 21, 2001: Membership Changes and Work, Work, Work
Over the past year and a half, we've been working energetically on building up our community. This has meant typing and transcription for Wordsworth, our typing and editing business; getting Dragonfly, our issue-tracking software, ready to sell as a commercial product; completely ripping out and restoring the third floor of the stone garage (now living space); making the basement into living and working space; learning activities with kids, and so on.
We still have need for weekly consensus meetings, where we make decisions on current situations as well as continuing to craft and improve our community agreements. We hope to have the chance to post some of that material on the Web soon. Some of the larger agreements recently have been a policy on how we can (and can't) change our major agreements, an arrangement of details of having guests at Meadowdance, work on a Sabbatical/Vacation/Emergency Leave/Illness policy, agreements on accounting for work, doulas, how to help meet the needs of parents of young children, and others.
We've seen a variety of changes in Membership. Nancy and her two youngest children, Savannah and Sebastian, joined us early this year, and have since completed their Transitional Membership and been accepted as Full (permanent) Members. Other Founding Members have completed their transitional periods, while two have decided to leave Meadowdance to pursue other interests. Johnny has joined us, and is currently in his Transitional Member phase.
We're developing and strengthening our community now, in preparation for getting land and moving onto it in the future. For the moment, we're not able to consider new members, although we expect to be talking to new potential members some time in the next year or two.
August 5, 2000: Meadowdance Grows
On August 5th, our longtime friends Christine, William, Zack, Liz, Rhiannon, William (Jr.) and Ceridwyn of the Bates/Carlton family moved in, effectively doubling our population and bringing the kid:adult ratio to about 1:1, as well as bringing their various talents, interests, ideas, and good company. Our long project of completely renovating the basement is almost at an end, and when done will provide enough permanent bedrooms for all our current residents.
Next, we expect to move ahead with renovations to the third floor of the carriage house/garage, which will begin in about a month.
April 30, 2000: Meadowdance Is Founded!
On April 30th, the last of the original founding group moved into our new home in Springfield. We immediately began work on further developing our software testing business, bringing our various policies and structures into play, and living daily life. In our first six weeks, we have done substantial marketing work for VSTG (the software testing business), found several new clients, redone the first floor bathroom, held a number of consensus meetings, welcomed guests, implemented a computer network for information sharing and high-speed Internet access, created and confirmed policies, joined the local co-op, began laying out gardens, started a second business (providing shopping services for local residents), and are making substantial progress on the first room we are redoing in the basement (our future community and community business office).
April 5, 2000: Meadowdance Finds Its First Home in Springfield, VT
By April 19, we will be closing on the purchase of a very large house with three-story stone garage in the town of Springfield, Vermont. This is a beautiful property in excellent condition with a deck, porch, and ample space. Although there is very little land with the building, it is across the street from a park and 3/4 of a mile from the municipal forest. We expect to be able to use as many as 15-16 bedrooms on this property if we grow to that size.
Members will begin moving in after closing, up through April 30.
In addition to not receiving the permit on our initial design of the community building, we have discovered other serious concerns and will unfortunately be giving up on the Plainfield property and searching for (then permitting) another while we spend our first 1-2 years at our home in Springfield.
March 6, 2000: Planning Board Turns Down Plans for Community Building
On Monday evening, March 6, the Plainfield Planning Board turned down our application to built the Meadowdance community building as currently planned "without prejudice". That is, they appear supportive of the project as a whole, but are not comfortable with the current community building design. The key concern appears to be its size and visibility with neighbors. A number of neighbors also attended and presented once again their concerns about the community building.
Since the February 21 meeting, we have been working on alternative approaches to the community building that may address some of these concerns, but we will wait for direction from the Planning Board as to what they would like to see different before taking any concrete steps.
In the mean time, we are on schedule to move together into Plainfield in late April, although we no longer expect to break ground on the community building at that time. We may still move into temporary housing on the land, or we may decide to find temporary housing in town.
March 5, 2000: Meadowdance on Front Page of Boston Globe
Ellen Barry, a Boston Globe reporter who visited us at our February gathering, wrote the piece, entitled "Planning for Utopia", that appeared on the front page of the Globe with a picture of several Meadowdancers on the Plainfield land. The article talked about how communities and community seekers find each other, discussed ways in which modern intentional communities have learned from the problems of earlier ones, and focused on Meadowdance as an example of a community that is coming together using this knowledge.
February 18-21, 2000: Meadowdance Gathering and Membership Applications
From February 18-21, roughly 35 members and interested new people gathered at the home of our friend Sheila Braun in South Burlington, Vermont to talk, plan, make decisions, and have a little fun. Many new people came to this gathering. We had brief workshops on basic building tools and techniques and on our Formal Consensus process, danced in the evenings, and visited the land. Several newer participants, encouraged and interested by the gathering, applied for Seeker or Founding Member statuses.
Many of us wrapped up the gathering Monday night at the Planning Commission hearing in Plainfield. At that meeting, neighbors expressed concerns about the project, although most seemed supportive in general. A meeting to continue the process was scheduled for March 6.
February 10, 2000: First Permitting Hearing
On Feb 10th, several Meadowdance members and participants attended the first of our permitting hearings, a conditional use hearing. The conditional use permit is the one that would allow us to use the land for a purpose other than specified in its current zoning. The meeting went well; the concerns that were raised by and large appeared to be ones that we had already considered and for which we had already made provision. Some possible changes to our planning that arise from this meeting are inclusion of a sprinkler system in the community building, and planting trees to better screen the community building from the view of some of our neighbors.
On Feb 9th, John and Sue Morris of our permitting group submitted our Act 250 application, a massive, months-long undertaking that is our final step in getting the permitting process under way.
Our next hearing will be on Feb 21st at 7:00 PM, again of course in Plainfield, Vermont
February 8, 2000: Media Coverage
On Feb 8th, The Barre Times-Argus featured an article about Meadowdance on the bottom of the front page. Unfortunately the article contained a number of inaccuracies (please contact us if you'd like a copy of the corrections). The article has since been picked up by the Burlington Free Press and the Rutland Herald, printed in the Feb 9th editions of those papers.
Stephen Mills of the Times-Argus wrote a follow-up article that appeared in the Times-Argus on Feb 9th as the lead story on the front page, which corrects a number of the errors in the first article. Mr. Mills also wrote an article covering our conditional use hearing, which was very helpful to us in that it did an excellent job of describing how we intend to address each of the concerns that has been brought up about the community.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that the Free Press or the Herald picked up the second article. We submitted a Letter to the Editor to the Free Press on February 16th, and may do so with the Rutland Herald as well.
A reporter from the Boston Globe has contacted us and plans to meet us at our February 18-21 gathering in South Burlington, Vermont, to interview members and seekers about the process of finding and joining a community. As we understand it, the article is not about Meadowdance, but is likely to feature it prominently.
November 21, 1999: First Founding Members Accepted
The first Founding Members of Meadowdance were accepted at a brief consensus meeting at the Art of Community gathering in upstate New York. Per our procedures, these approvals must be ratified with the group as a whole over the course of two weeks. Most of the eight adults and four children accepted as Founding Members have been waiting for this opportunity as the Membership Process was slowly refined and finally accepted without reservation earlier in November. Founding Members are now in a trial period that extends through 4-7 months after we move onto the land in April 2000. At the end of that time, those who are interested will apply for permanent Full Membership, and must be accepted by consensus.
We anticipate that we will have 12-20 adult Founding Members by move-in. Several participants have expressed their commitment to the group but have not made a formal application for Founding Membership yet.
The full text of our Membership Process is available in our agreements section. In essence, all new members, including even the founders, must go through a trial period living in the community before applying for permanent membership status.
October 1999: Meadowdance Purchases Option on Plainfield Land
Soon after the September gathering, our Land group received word that our offer for a six-month option on the land in Plainfield we like so much had been accepted. This gives us the ability to get permitting and financing in place before the final purchase, without danger of losing the land to another buyer.