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General News · 7th September 2009
Noba Anderson
An Invitation to Consider a New Approach to Planning

The Field: the current state of Cortes
In the early spring, when a farmer is planning her growing cycle, she stands out in the field. The field’s condition will determine the quality of her fall harvest. Soil rich in nutrients and structure holds water and will yield sweeter fruits. The same is true for a community process. What is the history of disease and what life will flourish in this soil? What has grown well before and how can it be improved? Cortes too has a community ‘field’ with its own pathogens and richness. To know that field allows for better planning. What is the healthy soil of our current community plan?

Seeds: your ideas and knowledge
When we know the health and condition of the field we can choose seeds accordingly. A framer does not just scatter random seeds and come back months later. She intentionally plants that which she wants to harvest. What ideas do we want to plant for harvest in the Cortes soil? What has a history of growing well here? And what new varieties, with the right tending and care, will thrive?

Growing Structure: the review process
Like ideas, once our seeds sprout some will need structures upon which to grow. Tomatoes need a stick to stay upright, peas prefer a net, and grapes will need a strong arbor. Which planning ideas need which kind of organizational structures? Communities are complex entities and a diverse tool-kit of organizational techniques will aid us in building the best vision possible for Cortes.

Diversity: key to health
A diverse garden is a resilient garden and companion planting enables healthier growth. The same is true in community process. A resilient process is one that includes one-on-one dialogue, large group meetings, web-based discussions, written input, anonymous participation, small kitchen-table gatherings, circles, private reflection, etc. A healthy process is one informed by the best ideas and successes from a diversity of other communities, including our own.

Harvest: our gift to ourselves
After intentional seed selection and care for growth, we can celebrate the opulence of the harvest. What do we want to harvest form our community plan review? When do we pick for optimal ripeness? How do we store community energy for long-lasting value?

Composting: our gift to this place
That which we don’t eat this year becomes food again for the field. How can we offer the unused portion of this community plan review harvest back to the community soil? How can the failed crops be nourishing lessons for the future Cortes field? Through the heat of decomposition comes food for next year’s seeds.

Seed Saving: our gift to our children
A plentiful harvest will both feed us this year and provide enough seed for next season’s planting / planning. Seeds are the next generation of food. A community process that enriches the Cortes field and leaves carefully selected, strong seeds for future planting is one that I want to be a part of.

You have by no means missed your opportunity to give input on the review of the Cortes Official Community Plan (OCP). In fact, we have not yet begun. We are in the pre-review stage of gathering data (ex. housing survey), educating ourselves (Lorraine is your Education Coordinator), and designing the review process. As part of the OCP steering committee’s task of designing the review process for 2010 we did a day-long workshop last week with Chris Corrigan. We learned some tools that build community ownership and social capital and then began drafting next year’s review process. This article was inspired from that day. Chris ( lives on Bowen Island and teaches large group process methodologies.

In gratitude,
Noba Anderson