What would it be like to be part of a group of deep friends who live nearby — people committed to being there for one another come what may, building intimacy and trust over the years? Having a community of friends who live in their own homes but are committed to staying in place, and to meeting frequently to support one another’s personal growth, lives and projects?
That’s the model of community developed by Bill Kauth and Zoe Alowan of Ashland, Oregon. They call it “New Tribe.” Their own tribe has been together for three years, with a regular meeting each week. Their values are for intimacy (non-sexual), transparency, gender safety, integrity. Their model is a bonding group, focusing inwardly on the group itself and thus being exclusive, rather than a bridging group. Bill says it took years of so-called failures to come up with this model, which includes formal processes for sponsoring and vetting new members, an initiation, and a five-session training before being accepted for provisional membership.
Among other qualities, such a social safety net has been something Robin and I have been looking for, especially as we age. So last month we attended a “New Tribe Training” facilitated by Bill, Zoe and Jack Wiens, a member of their Ashland tribe. The event took 17 strangers through the same training that prospective Tribe members receive. Highly experiential, with ritual, song, partner and group practices, the four-day training opened our hearts (yes, we fell in love with our temporary tribe members!) and gave us practical models for gender safety, conflict resolution, and more.
It was totally transformative for us. Shy Robin was terrified at the prospect of being in a room full of strangers. But, courage in hand, she showed up. And by the end, she felt connected to everyone there. She had a roomful of new friends.
We both bonded with two women friends from Sechelt, on the Sunshine Coast of western British Columbia. They have invited us into their newly-forming Sunshine Coast Tribe. Since our 2013-2014 trip to the Pacific Northwest, we’ve considered relocating to the Salish Sea area of southwest Canada, just north of Robin’s Puget Sound home region. We plan to travel to Sechelt this summer, hopefully for the permitted six-month visit in Canada, to investigate the community in three seasons (and also to visit other friends nearby). It’s a true gift to have friends welcoming us with open hearts in a totally new community.
Here’s some media and links:
- Our Peak Moment shows: Longing to Belong – Looking for your Tribe, part 1 (#308), and Longing to Belong – Looking for your Tribe, part 2 (#309), recorded with Bill and Zoe just after the training.
- Their book: We Need Each Other: Building Gift Community.
- An article on their tribe in Communities Magazine, Spring 2015.
- Information about our Tribe Training.
- Contact them at timefortribe.com