East Wind is a community owned and operated by its members, who share all income and expenses, and responsibility for food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, and other needs and amenities considered desirable, insofar as the community is able to provide them.
Our bylaws set forth our purposes, direction, ideology, define the rights and obligations of membership, and state the guarantees made by the community to its members. The bylaws allow for experimentation and are intentionally minimal in their restrictions. The bylaws can be amended in any manner desirable with a two thirds majority vote of full members. The bylaws state that East Wind may “govern itself by any reasonable means which its members desire.” We encourage those who are interested in visiting East Wind to read our bylaws in full.
East Wind is a founding member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. We are one of seven (and growing) egalitarian communities which have joined together in common to create a lifestyle based on equality, cooperation, and harmony with the Earth. This is a fundamentally different approach than that of the society in which most of us were raised. We believe a different way of living holds the promise of realizing the human potential lost through unequal distribution of wealth, power, and opportunity.
Our bylaws are a core document that our community uses to self-govern and are the foundation of a larger set of legislation and policy tools (Legispol) that lays out in detail the methods and processes we use to make decisions. The multitude of issues that may arise in community are dealt with through a number of established processes, including community meetings, petitions, simple majority votes, two-thirds majority votes, procedures for concerns, elections, legislation, policies, and meetings of the Board. Legispol is ever changing as our membership’s needs change over time. For this reason, we do not have a copy of Legispol on our website (Also, Legispol is over a hundred pages long). Any visitor to East Wind is free to read Legispol in full.
East Wind Community’s Board is composed of five full members. Board meetings take place once per week. Four members are selected at random from a rotation for a term that may last up to one year (or they may resign at any point) and one member is a Board Chair elected annually by a simple majority vote. The Board makes decisions by consensus on various matters brought to its attention. A summary of the weekly meeting and any decisions made is publicly posted and subject to a concerns process (any decision can be overturned by written concerns submitted by 10% of voting members).
We have several message boards in Rock Bottom, our main common space, on which members are free to post comments and notices. Members may choose to call a community meeting to discuss and vote on any particular issue by writing a proposal for a meeting and obtaining the signatures of 10% of voting members. Community meetings are typically held on Saturday or Sunday and everyone is welcome to attend. Time spent in community meetings are labor creditable towards that week’s labor quota. Community meetings sometimes result in a vote— votes favor a simple majority unless they involve revoking membership, which requires a two-thirds majority of full members. Any decision can be made by a two-thirds majority of full members by passing a written petition in ten days, including decisions that may overturn existing legislation, decisions made by the Board, or amend the bylaws.
All full members have an equal vote and equal access to utilize the established processes. Provisional members receive many of the same benefits as full members (for example: the right to be a manager of a labor area, drive community vehicles, participate in the legislative process) and over the course of a year are given full member rights and finally are voted on for full membership. Visitors must complete a three week visitor period to be considered for provisional membership.
Members who have, or are willing and able to learn, the skills necessary for the management of a particular branch of community are encouraged to run for managerial positions (Garden Manager, Ranch Manager, Nut Butters General Manager, Board Chair, etc.). Managers are able to control their branch’s budget and labor hours claimed. They can also make policy within the scope of their labor area. Any provisional or full member interested may run for these managerial positions annually (and sometimes during interim elections) and are elected by a majority vote. Policies set by managers are subject to veto by 10% of full members.
All legal documents, financial accounting records, labor accounting records, records of government and managerial decisions (excluding secret ballot forms for membership votes), and other community records are available to all members. Transparency and fairness are very important to East Winders. We firmly believe that members should have equal access to any information that pertains to our community and an equal say in decisions made. East Wind’s bylaws and Legispol are intended simply to keep the minimal amount of efficient bureaucracy necessary for our community of over seventy people and our multi-million dollar business to function effectively. At East Wind, one person or a small group of people really can make a difference where they see injustice or inefficiency. Our system relies on direct democracy and readily accommodates flexibility, change, and improvement. East Wind is not utopia, but most who live here appreciate not having to deal with a ‘boss’ and having a great deal of autonomy in how they lead their life.