Building Community: The Necessary but Annoying Business End

First of all, I’m very excited to announce that the North Country Druidic Study Group has been welcomed to perform our High Day rituals at the Kripalu Yoga Center here in Northern NY!  They have a lovely little stone circle with a fire pit that is just perfect for us.  What’s more, they have an indoor facility with heat, electricity, bathrooms, tables, chairs, and a kitchen!  As I’ve told everyone, I like to perform rites outside surrounded by Nature and in the elements, but I understand the importance of having indoor space, especially for a group of people.  Individuals can suddenly feel ill, babies can become too cold, and people want to feast in comfort come winter.  Access to this lovely, sacred space comes as a particular stroke of good fortune in a month that has been largely stressful and disappointing in other life areas. Of course, it hasn’t happened without much effort – phone tag, many messages over FB, letters, meetings, and much explanation.  I’m very grateful to the Yoga Center’s board, in particular Kimberly Ward, who has been communicative and supportive since the beginning, and Steve Williams, who has been very helpful and welcoming over the phone.  I pray this is the start to a wonderful, positive partnership!

Of course, being a facility that has a vast lawn to maintain, electricity, heat, water, etc…  It should not be a surprise that the group will have to pay a little to utilize this space.  This brings up the question about money.  Ah, that necessary evil that permeates our life…

Like others in the group, I rent an apartment lacking a private lawn or sufficient space for large group rituals.  What’s more, since we are aiming to become an ADF grove, our rituals must be open to the public and accessible, yet we also want more privacy than a park can offer.  Although there are many people in ADF comfortable with such a high level of hospitality and open their home to complete strangers, I’m on the more protective side of my property and, especially, pets.  There are other members who have children and I would be the same way.  Renting a ritual space at an established property just makes sense.  We aren’t alone in the ADF community.  As it turns out, a great many groves and protogroves rely on the hospitality of spiritual and community centers – UU Churches, libraries, camping lodges,  and even Masonic temples.  Because of this need for space, other groups also deal with the annoyance of money.

As the study group matures and moves towards our first anniversary in the summer, acquiring access to this space has solidified our desire to move forward with becoming an actual grove.  We will not stagnate over the winter without a good place for ritual!  Yet we are suddenly faced with business.  Who pays for this space? Will a request for donations be enough? Should we start collecting dues?  Who pays the dues? What constitutes a member of the study group?

Most people probably recognize that we’re moving into bylaws territory.  Even though protogroves aren’t required to have any, it seems like something is necessary when money comes into the equation. I’m no stranger to bylaws.  Muin Mound Grove has some that we’re currently in the process of reviewing.  The Mohawk Valley Pagan Network I used to belong to had them.  I was actually involved in the process of writing them!  Like money, bylaws are a necessary evil.  It is unfortunate that spiritual communities have to have these rules, but due to the imperfect and sometimes unpredictable nature of humanity, rules are a form of protection.  The key is not letting the rules take over the function of the group, and being open about their necessity and formation.  I’m hopeful that people who were very interested and involved before don’t become discouraged by this development.

I’ve been spending some time looking over other grove bylaws for ideas.  The study group’s second business meeting is tonight and I plan to start at least discussing some of the issues at hand.  The group is growing up.

 

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