Elizabeth Collins was serving as the group facilitator for this session of ongoing cooperative planning; the role of facilitator being passed among individuals on a rotating basis. Not only did this allow for each person to hone his or her group leadership skills, but it reinforced the understanding that no one person was indispensable.
The group often noted the extraordinary lack of dissension and disagreement within the group, during their planning sessions and in their interchanges in general. "It's not difficult to understand," Nina Webb said, "the screening selected like-minded people and our training helped us develop skills in decision-making that make dissension unnecessary and counter-productive. It would be a marvel, given the screening and training, if we did experience significant differences of approach."
"First item on our agenda," Elizabeth said, "is to discuss the enterprises we've begun and which next to initiate. The list of ongoing or proposed enterprises and their various facets includes:
Educational enterprise: elementary, high school, online college, adult continuing education, and cooperative regional accrediting agency
Information enterprise: newspaper (local, regional, national), radio station, cable television station, library, publishing, monthly movie and presentation
Health enterprise: hospital, clinic, alternative medicine, hypnosis
Financial enterprise: bank, investment expert system on stocks and bonds
Services enterprise: general store (groceries, dry goods, drugs/prescriptions, hardware) cafeteria, gasoline and auto service, legal, Website design and management, group leadership (online)
"Each of the research teams reports that sizeable revenues appear feasible from these enterprises. Let's begin with Julia Mercer and Emily Blake who have a first report on their research for the educational enterprise."
"From our studies," Julia began immediately, "we think a multi-level educational enterprise can benefit the cooperative in a number of ways. First, we must have some means of educating community children as they come along. It's crucial that young people understand our shared values and gain the skills to think for themselves and prepare for possible acceptance into membership in the community or life outside the community.
"Each facet of the educational enterprise will include serving persons from outside the cooperative community, so revenue can be realized in that way. We feel it would be counterproductive to take over or purchase any existing educational unit because it would be mired in old, failed methodologies and values. We recommend starting afresh, just as our cooperative community has started with entirely new ideas and approaches. As our community leavens the larger society, our cooperative accrediting agency can provide a proficient, intelligent evaluation and approval system totally different from the current, corrupt accrediting agencies such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges."
Rick Webb reported on the information enterprise, indicating that the newspaper, under Diotima's direction, was again functional and serving previous and new subscribers. He indicated that he was continuing his research on setting up a local and/or regional radio station and a local and/or regional cable television channel.
Nina Webb told the group how she had set up a small medical clinic as the members had agreed and how she had been able to establish an ongoing agreement with the nearby hospital. All the local and state certification for the clinic had been completed, and Nina was now serving cooperative members gratis as well as people from the community on a sliding scale basis--and already realizing a small profit for the cooperative.
Darby White and Patrick Mercer explained their conception of an investment expert system based on research which had earlier been carried out by the late Richard Ney in his book Making It In The Market. The simplest way to explain the expert system, they said, was that it used the stock market's own hidden tricks to beat the system. They had already created the coding for the expert system, had tried it on selected stocks, and had realized a sizeable virtual profit. They were continuing to test it to try to discover any possible negative aspects.
"The services enterprise," Fred Collins said, "is moving swiftly. We'll need to plan immediately for additional members who can assist in food production, to supply both the grocery store and the cafeteria."
Each of the enterprise groups indicated that they needed additional time for research and planning. The next item of business was to decide on the admission of possible new members. Jose said he had something to say. "I'm one of the three present members who's single and I'd like to recommend that we find an acceptable female candidate, with the necessary skill set--but also someone who might be a possible mate for me."
The group laughed uproariously at that, but they understood Jose's concern. In a previous session it had been agreed that each cooperative member had to gain acceptance on their own merits, not through a relationship with a current member. That's how Elbridge and Diotima had chosen the present members and they wanted to continue with that procedure.
After a brief discussion, the group agreed that one of the next skill sets was that of a nurse-practitioner with additional capability in alternative health care and hypnosis and another member with food production skills relative to Fred's statement. The first would probably be a person of the female gender, so Jose was pleased. He assured the group that he fully understood that a new female member might very well have no romantic interest in him--or vice versa--but it provided a chance which was all he could hope for. The group agreed that Jose should be one of the two persons interviewing such a candidate.
Diotima reported that the first monthly movie and presentation event would be the following Friday evening in a refurbished movie theater. The movie would be Casablanca and the computer presentation was entitled "True Patriotism Opposing Fascist Tyranny." Julia Mercer had been able to rent a computer projector for the group which could be used in the theater, making the presentation a multimedia treat.
At the Friday event, moderators for the discussion which followed the presentation related to Casablanca were Melissa Thompson and Abraham Cole. The movie and presentation had been announced in the newspaper and through flyers placed in strategic places throughout the town. About thirty people showed up on Friday evening; the members waited for the townspeople to be seated before they filled in the rows in back of them. Evidently the movie and presentation stirred considerable excitement because several of the townies tried to speak at once when the discussion began.
"What's the meaning of showing this movie and then presenting the idea that it was an allegory about opposing fascism? It just seems like a nice romantic flick to me, nothing complicated."
"It's certainly a love film," Abraham replied. "But we were suggesting it has other meaning as well." The questioner seemed to accept that as a satisfactory answer.
"You seem to be suggesting that our present government is fascistic in a similar manner to Nazi Germany; is that right?"
"We see considerable similarity--sometimes identity--between what happened in 1930s Germany and today in America, yes. We're suggesting that persons should move out of their egomania and indifference to struggle against the oppression that's causing this current economic depression where we see rampant unemployment, prime mortgage scams, bank and financial institution bailouts, and people getting killed in senseless warprofiteering wars," Melissa said confidently.