For all our diversity, one thing we missionaries of Global Community Communications Alliance all have in common is a whole-hearted desire to make the world a better place, now and for the generations to come. Since 1989 we have been engaged in the collective adventure of transitioning out of the “old order” and moving progressively as a community and extended family into a cooperative society. We all agree that functional communities made up of healthy families are the solution to the hard times we face. As Co-Founder of our group, based in Arizona, I am convinced the process of true community building is a spiritual-birthing process, a conscious and committed transition for each individual as well as for the group as a whole.
One of the most challenging aspects of community building is recognizing and admitting the flaws in our own characters as well as in fellow family and community members, seeing our limitations and erroneous ways of thinking, feeling, and doing that we and many others don’t want to address. “Pardon me friend, but do you realize you’re running at top speed towards a cliff?” Suddenly pride and defensiveness take over as we humans respond with aggressive defiance rather than the humility needed to see things about ourselves that should change in order to cause no harm to ourselves or to others. In order to heal our relationships, this is what we must do, and our commitment to this has gotten us through many hard times.
We have learned being civil and being polite are two different things. Civility is being appropriately respectful of others’ perspectives and attempting to understand their viewpoint in a nonviolent manner. Politeness is more surface and skirts issues that may create conflict. People can be transparent and openly honest in their differences in a civil manner, but they tend not to be as genuine and open when just being polite.
Relationships go deeper when our masks of composure, pride, and denial fall away. We begin to recognize cosmic connections with each other. Fostering the communication and alliance building necessary to live as a cooperative society is a process of learning to express oneself honestly, with wisdom and discernment. We are striving to create a “fourth dimensional” community with application of spiritual principles in relationships and encouragement of each other’s spiritual rehabilitation, transition, growth, and healing.
If everyone is willing to cooperate with the process, any situation can be reconciled to everyone’s satisfaction. Not only that, the darkest situation can become a blessing, an opportunity for transformation. As long as we are honest and respectful, this way of living fosters health and wellness within our collective society.
We have dealt with issues from every aspect of the life cycles of human beings, including: teaching parents not to spoil their children; correcting disrespectful children and adults; dealing with sexual boundaries in adolescents and immature adults; creating sacred homes with people from diverse cultures; assisting those who are mentally ill; and addressing power trips, issues with authority, complaining, gossiping, theft, deceit, dysfunctional/co-dependent relationships, laziness, workaholics, and denial of all of the above.
Whenever possible and appropriate, we deal with those outside our community in the same manner. When we first began to consider moving our entire community from Sedona to Tumacácori, a few negative and vocal potential new neighbors expressed fears about our being an undesirable cult. We suggested meeting and discussing the situation. A local restaurant owner in Tumacácori generously offered his café for the meeting. The day of the meeting the place was packed. Five of our members attended. The three vocal and aggressive neighbors who disliked and feared us (but had not really met us yet) verbally attacked our community members and overshadowed the entire meeting. Our members remained calm and respectful “under fire” and tried to bring the discussion to a more spiritually mature level.
Afterwards, many came up to privately state that the views of the three negative neighbors did not speak for everyone, and that they were amazed we handled it so well. It was decided another meeting would be held so questions could be asked and answered in a more cordial manner in a neighbor’s private home. We believe it is better to give time and energy to those willing to build bridges towards a positive future. That is how we’re building alliances for the future cooperative society we envision.
Some of our hardest times have been losing friends and family when they choose to return to the stampede for the cliffs, deciding the work and effort required to spiritually grow and heal is no longer desirable. Although it seems obvious that everyone needs to face making many changes in lifestyle so we can collectively live in balance with the many gifts Mother Earth gives us, few people choose to make these kinds of changes unless forced by circumstantial reality.
Turning away from “the stampeding herd” has led us to do many things that have been misunderstood by some, but are increasingly applauded by many others. We started out cultivating three acres of organic produce on our Avalon Gardens in Sedona and then, twenty years later, moving the entire community and many ministry programs and affiliated services to a wonderful 220-acre property in the Santa Cruz Valley in southern Arizona—Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage—which is also the campus for our University of Ascension Science and the Physics of Rebellion. Most of our programs and affiliated services have grown, and we have also started new enterprises.
As a cooperative society we manifest so much more than is possible for the same number of individuals in a mainstream setting. Here in the borderlands, we established the Soulistic Hospice and Soulistic Healing Center, providing holistic healthcare. Sacred Treasures—our stores in Tubac and Tucson—provide an outlet for Fair Trade co-op items from around the world, as well as the art of our own community members, and many donations of fine art and crafts we receive in support of our outreach programs.
We showcased quality international performances for eight years at Future Studios in Sedona and now host concerts and other activities at the Sea of Glass Center for the Arts in Tucson. At Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage, we have an outdoor stage for concerts, films, educational presentations, and more.
The Global Community Communications Schools for Children and Teens is very active, and our children join the adults in participating with other local groups for humanitarian purposes and preservation of local waterways and wild lands. We live in a valley which has been called “The Palm of God’s Hand” for hundreds of years, and most of us “locals” agree with the name.
Earth Harmony Builders collaborates with other alternative shelter entrepreneurs to create a beautiful variety of domes, straw-bale and papercrete structures, and homes with state-of-the-art, eco-friendly and alternative energy features.
Because of our successes in transitioning out of the “old order” and learning to live as an ecovillage, people are now asking us how they can do it—how they can move from hard times to the good times they see us (with much effort) living in. For true and lasting transformation, we believe in unity without uniformity and encourage everyone to strive for harmony with their neighbors and to live sustainably on our Mother Earth.
Niánn Emerson Chase is an educator, spiritual teacher, counselor, writer, and cofounder of Global Community Communications Alliance and Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage, located in Arizona. She grew up on four different Native American reservations in the southwest and, after earning her bachelor’s degree, returned to the San Carlos Apache reservation where she lived and taught for 15 years.
This article was previously published in Communities Magazine
-Niánn Emerson Chase