We are so excited for this week’s guest on the podcast, Cynthia Tina is an expert in the field of intentional communities, having traveled to over a hundred sustainability and community projects worldwide. She helps people connect to intentional communities as a matchmaker for seekers and as a consultant for growing community projects.
Cynthia is Co-Director of the Foundation for Intentional Community (FIC), a 35 year-old nonprofit dedicated to supporting intentional communities as pathways towards a more cooperative, sustainable, and just world. She is also the founder of Ecovillage Tours (since 2019), was an officeholder on the Board of Trustees for the Global Ecovillage Network (2015-2020), and was Director of the youth ecovillage network NextGENNA (2013-2018).
Cynthia lives in an intentional community in Vermont where she is currently building a passive solar home and tending a permaculture garden. Learn more and book a community matchmaking session with Cynthia at www.cynthiatina.com.
This episode begins with Cynthia setting the stage of her white privileged background, and the desire to break out of that shell and use the resources around her to make a positive impact in the world. So many times there’s a really clear point where we look at where we’ve come from and then decide a different path to move forward with, especially for those in the regeneration realm. This is a big decision to make, many people will disagree with you breaking from the status quo. That’s the safe, normal, predictable sphere to live in! And yet for those of us who are truly inspired and moved with the potential for positive change, there’s really no going back. No matter what that forward motion looks like, we know it needs to be in a new direction on a path less traveled. But sometimes it can be hard to decide if making a large life change is right for us.
So many people look on from the sidelines and dream of living more regeneratively. They see the work going on, but for many reasons, they are unable to make that transition. As Cynthia noted, that is totally valid, and we should all accept that some are not in a position to overhaul their lives. We just hope that it’s not out of fear of doing something different. Oftentimes people will get hung up because they feel like in order to join the regenerative movement they need to sell everything, go live in an eco-village and cut all ties with the modern world. While some may do that, it’s not the end all be all. We need to be willing to work with what we’ve got, where we’re at. Honestly, the big changes that really stick come about through small and simple lifestyle choices in the beginning.
Cynthia mentioned that right now many intentional communities are not open to visitors and are pretty inaccessible, but we can always be doing the most important work for the benefit of the movement - the work on ourselves. She noted in the episode that soft skills are just as or more important than the hard skills. We need more people with skills in non-violent communication, emotional intelligence, and empathy. All of us can work harder in this realm to be a better person and community member, and for many that first big next step will arrive for them.
It is always an amazing experience when we’ve been dreaming of creating our lives a certain way and then an opportunity presents itself for us to move forward with. But it is also super scary! Moving into the unknown, outside of anything we’re familiar with is a brave move. Many times we won’t even know step two in that path. But until we take that first step, we will never see the second.
One thing that really helps in this situation is staying really rooted to who you are, what you’re about, and where you want to go. That way if any other steps present themselves you can be in tune with your intuition as to what you should do next. I used to be a total sceptic of intuition but over the last couple of years, as I have exercised it more, my intuition is my constant companion and guiding light. Staying in tune with ourselves will help us as we step onto that next step and further on in our journey ahead.
Cynthia shares in the episode the many colorful experiences she has had along her journey and reflects on the path she has taken. She notes that looking back she can see a thread that she followed and allowed her to get to where she is now. Her journey led her out of suburbia, around the world, and into intentional communities, along with many pit stops and side tangents. Our journeys may look like Cynthia’s or they may look different. All are valid and beautiful. We hope that as you go on your journey you will find courage in the stories of your fellows of the work and find your community to bolster you forward.
Keep Growing Permies!
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