Auroville Retreat 2015

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Retreat flow.jpeg

The Auroville Retreat of March 2015 was a weekend of intensive exploration and work toward understanding how to manifest the ideals of Auroville. It brought together diverse individuals who do not normally work together – young and old Aurovilians, Governing Board and International Advisory Council members and Aurovilians, and Aurovilians who have not been able to sit together for many years due to personal or ‘political’ reasons. According to the organizing team two clear things emerged from the Retreat:

  1. A tremendous thirst for change, for movement forward based upon our ideals.
  2. A softening of old antagonisms and polarities, and the emergence of a third space that everybody can support.[1]

Planning and organizing the Retreat

The process of preparing for the Retreat was facilitated by the Residents' Assembly Service (RAS) and was open to all. Over 200 people were involved in the process, which included about 35 meeting sessions and a total of over 2000 Aurovilian work hours.[2]

The Retreat weekend

The two-day Retreat was held at Unity Pavilion on March 12 and 13, 2015 and saw an overall participation of 160 people. Aromar Revi was the main facilitator. Co-facilitators were members of the Retreat organizing team: Alan, Helena, Inge, Lalit, Manoj, Mike, Toine, Uma and Margarita.

Participating members of the Governing Board and International Advisory Council were: Ameeta Mehra, Aster Patel, Julian Lines, Kabir Shaikh, Marc Tully, Y.S.Y.V. Murthy, Shaunaka Rishi Das, and Vishakha Desai.

Participation by theme was:

  • Governance - 29 people
  • Land and Town Planning/Development - 25 people
  • Growth - 28 people
  • Education - 33 people
  • Economy - 32 people
  • Youth – 13 people[3]

Results

(Below is an abbreviation by Kristen - for full recommendations see reports.)

Governance

Goal: Auroville has a transparent, accountable and effective organizational structure. Our governance processes empower us to work together on any task in harmony and unity.

Milestones

  • Working groups reflect a vibrant and functional organization.
  • Transparent communication and sharing processes are utilized by all Working Groups.
  • Service teams are formed based on competence, engagement, skills, and intuitive capacity.
  • Under-represented groups are noticed and the issue is addressed.
  • Auroville has an effective Youth Council.
  • Each service team has at least 2 young members.
  • Decisions are made based on the values of Auroville.
  • Fears, distrust and cynicism are explored and addressed.
  • Residents have the power to activate community processes.
  • The Residents Assembly is active and effective.
  • The Residents Assembly Service has excellent communication with residents.
  • Participatory processes harness collective intelligence.
  • Auroville's experiments in governance and process of change are documented.

Planning & Development

Goal 1: Auroville co-develops consciously with the rest of the bioregion.

Milestones for Goal 1

  • Online and physical platforms allow networking and information sharing across the bioregion.
  • A data management system maps outreach services, demographics, and resources.
  • Priority intervention points in the bioregion (e.g. water, health) are identified.
  • A code of conduct informs Aurovilians' work in the bioregion.
  • Auroville initiatives work to support capacity- and skill-building in the bioregion.
  • Partnerships with outside agencies (NGOs) allow for effective outreach and co-development.
  • Village sanitation is well-managed.
  • Activities such as sports foster good relationships among neighbors.
  • Outlying lands are protected through a land management strategy.

Goal 2: City land is protected and consolidated. Green Belt land is protected and consolidated.

Milestones for Goal 2

  • Friends of Auroville are encouraged to buy lands in the buffer zone outside the Master Plan area.
  • Land purchases are based on multiple criteria (e.g. buffers for water channels, ecological corridors).
  • Infrastructure is not built where it will increase land price and promote speculation.
  • Financial proceeds from land sales fund land purchase within the Master Plan area.
  • Aurovilians and non-Aurovilians can deposit money in Auroville with guarantees of value protection.
  • Outlying lands have a good number of stewards.
  • Auroville has good communication and a strong relationship with the State Government.
  • Auroville has good communication and strong relationships with local Panchayats.

Goal 3: Progress is made continuously on building key elements of the city (e.g. the lake and one or two lines of force).

Milestones for Goal 3

  • The detailed galaxy plan connects to the ground reality.
  • Auroville development is supported by abundant funding from many sources.
  • Infrastructure is developed with a long term view.

Population Growth

Goal: Auroville's community culture is one of appreciation, collaboration, abundance mindset and proactive action. Auroville invites and welcomes an unrestricted flow of inspired and dedicated people from all over the world.

Milestones

  • The Entry/Access policy is transparent, simple and welcoming.
  • Visa needs do not impair the diversity of nationalities and cultures.
  • The Entry process matches skills with work that needs to be done in Auroville.
  • Auroville offers affordable housing of sophisticated simplicity, beauty and sustainability.
  • The building permission process is efficient.
  • Economic support is offered for young Newcomers and Youth of Auroville to join Auroville.
  • A financing option is offered to youth for their housing.
  • The International Zone is developed with strong participation of the international community (UNESCO, AVIs).
  • Members of the Financial Service, FAMC and BCC participate in voluntary work around the community.
  • Collaboration best practices are sought and rewarded.
  • Information is regularly published about the uniqueness of work and education in Auroville.

Education

Goal:Auroville is a Learning Society of constant progress guided by the emergence of each psychic being towards oneness.

Milestones

  • An educational resources database includes information on learning opportunities, mentors and schools.
  • Research undertaken in Auroville is coordinated and easily referenced.
  • Bio-regional resources centres in the villages around Auroville offer information and services.
  • Counseling is available for students about all the different possibilities for developing oneself.
  • Apprenticeships are offered to all students including those in outreach schools.
  • Units of Auroville are integrated into educational programmes.
  • Teachers, parents and others easily delve into Integral Education.
  • Auroville-identified education is recognized outside of Auroville.
  • Auroville has strong connections with universities abroad.
  • Affordable housing is offered to students, teachers and researchers.

Economy

Goal: Auroville has a sustainable and service-driven socio-economy. Residents' needs are provided in-kind in every field. All economy-related activities in Auroville respect the value and sustainability of the natural resources of our universe.

Milestones

  • The basic needs of Auroville today are known and understood.
  • Contributions (all kinds) and Maintenance focus on basic needs of Aurovilians.
  • Maintenance is not linked to specific work.
  • The economic situation today is assessed using proper estimates based on accurate data.
  • An Auroville budget includes current spending and capital investments.
  • A pool of Auroville common wealth fully supports the Auroville services.
  • A service unit procures all things needed in Auroville.
  • Auroville attracts youth committed to creating a self-supporting economy.
  • An Integral Entrepreneurship Lab support entrepreneurs.
  • A seed fund enables income-generating activities and enterprises.
  • Commercial activities with the outside generate wealth for Auroville.
  • Joint ventures are developed with industry.
  • The Circle Experiment is active.

Followup

Roles and responsibilities

Governing Board (1 or 2 Members as point of contact/consultants per theme)

  • Endorsement of the Action Plans
  • Guidance, monitoring and reviews during the implementation phase

International Advisory Council (1 or 2 Members as point of contact/consultants per theme)

  • Endorsement of the Action Plans
  • Reviews with reference to vision and values

Working Committee

  • Drives the implementation through existing Working Groups and new teams to be formed
  • Keeps the Governing Board and the International Advisory Council informed of progress made
  • Identifies barriers and challenges and ensures their resolution
  • Organises bi-annual “Progress Events” for:
    • A review of the progress made (with reference to predefined milestones and performance indicators)
    • A revision of strategies (if needed)
    • Discovery of new initiatives and projects to achieve vision and goals

Residents Assembly Service

  • Ensures participation and involvement of Auroville residents
  • Keeps the Auroville residents informed of progress made
  • Partners with the Working Committee for the organisation of the biannual Progress Events


Timeline

The Retreat organizing team outlined the stages of post-Retreat followup:

Dates Process Remarks
March - April 2015 Prepare concrete strategy (concept paper) for each goal/milestone Include people, teams, groups (accountability). Include performance indicators.
May - August 2015 Commence actions Observe and record.
September 2015 1st evaluation Produce report. Get community feedback and support. Get GB and IAC feedback and support.
September - October 2015 Revise and tweak strategies if needed
September 2015 - March 2016 Continuation of actions Observe and record.
March 2016 Comprehensive review Produce report and review goals, milestones, directions. Get community feedback and support. Get GB and IAC feedback and support.
March 2016 - April 2016 Revise and tweak strategies; define remedial actions where needed Consider change of people/teams/groups, change of methods/structures/processes.

Reports

References

  1. Retreat organizing team, "Change of Auroville Work Culture" slide presentation, April 2015
  2. Retreat organizing team, "Change of Auroville Work Culture" slide presentation, April 2015
  3. Auroville Retreat Condensed Report, 3 April 2015