AMC Past Present and Future
We have had so much exciting growth and change here at the AMC. Over the past 10 years, we have created together a beautiful, vibrant, and ever evolving community. Some of you have been dancing for many years, while some of you may have just started dancing with us. We want to take a moment to share with you a brief context of our history, where we are now, and look ahead together at what we might create.
Much goes on behind the scenes to make this all happen and keep us healthy and thriving. In 2009 AMC adopted Dynamic Self Governance, or Sociocracy, to organize ourselves and to make decisions. Guiding this sacred community is a responsibility that the AMC core, along with all the circles, seeks to perform with wisdom and balance. We values inclusivity and transparency. We believe each dancer is a cherished part of the whole and each person's experience is important.
Context of past history
The AMC was started in the late 90's as a Sunday morning ecstatic dance and was facilitated solely by Rupa Vickers for several years. The leadership expanded from Rupa into a group of four, which slowly expanded into a larger group. It had a simple structure and meetings were open to the community. This was sustainable only because of the small community. Dances back then might have 25 people or less! But there were still issues (of course!) that needed addressing and because of the lack of structure and the number of voices at meetings, it was often hard to institute and sustain needed changes.
Not long after our move to the Asheville Arts Center, we began to grow amazingly fast. This left the core scrambling. Some people left and new people came on and there were some painful splits as group culture began to shift as well. Around this time, facilitators felt the necessity to pause and consolidate, and close our meetings to the community in order to do the important work of re-nourishing and clarifying from within. We knew that this is what our community deserved – a committed, energized, organized core willing to do the hard work of consensus leadership.
Financially, we operated as a honor system and there wasn’t much money. We didn’t have many expenses, but a big dream was having our own sound system. When that magic $2000 + amount finally accrued in the bank account, we went for it. Our beloved sound system is justice to the voices and instruments of the musicians and music the world over that lifts us into our weekly waves.
This past year saw an unprecedented growth in the membership. This growth has led to a whole new blossoming of activities.
In a diverse way to meet different people's varied needs, we've more than tripled our offerings in the last year:
* Friday nights for frequent dancers, and as a strategy to relieve the Sunday load
* Full moon dances for new experiences: ritual, live music, and creative community involvement
* Early Wave for those seeking more space within a more quiet intimate setting
In addition to these new dance offerings, we have also implemented:
* Institution of Child Care for the second wave
* Experimentation with Live Music
* Provided thousands of dollars in scholarships for dance workshops to members
* Workshop development for the future
* Yahoo groups for official AMC notifications and Dance n'Play for community announcements
* Creation of community bulletin board, volunteer opportunities, and doorkeeper
* Purchase of a new sound system for the Terpsicorps space
* AMC website
Equally important to these offerings, much foundational work has been developed to provide for this growth:
* statement of culture and clear community guidelines which you can find posted at the entry
* clarifying the opening and closing rituals that set the container
* creation of committees and job roles to accommodate increased responsibilities
Now that we have successfully regrouped and been able to implement these changes, we are beginning a new phase of our visioning as a community together. We want look at both our growth and stability and gather input and solutions as a collective. Here are a few of the issues:
* What are the visions and needs of the community?
* Educating ourselves about various participation inquiry and feedback models that we may wish to adopt.
* Explore strategies for an accurate assessment of what the group wants such as questionnaires, message boards, online forums.
* Clarify AMC community values,
* Revisit sharing circle/ community announcements.
* Commitment to be stronger than ever and do it in a community based way.
* Outreach: Explore AMC's possible role in events and activities that have a symbiotic relationship to that of the collective. Sponsoring workshops, classes, offering scholarships, charitable donations and ways to give back to the larger community.
* What are the questions that will move us forward in a deep and joy-filled way?
Feedback and Transparency -
* How can we encourage expedient communication, inquiry, deliberation, and authenticity.
* Investigate online feedback posting that is visible to all
* Comment Box at our dances for anonymous and/or signed feedback
* Post minutes from facilitator meetings
* Post a quarterly budget of expenses, revenues, etc.
* Committees - Exploring the double link process of small inquiry circles including members of the broader community need to explore issues and make recommendations back to the core.
Evolving the Container--- Accommodating growth
* The natural growth of AMC is a wonderful gift to our community in that we can spread this light to others. If we continue to grow as a collective, we welcome the challenges this poses and will rise to meet its energy with great care. To accommodate our current growth, we're taking incremental steps and we will continue to collectively decide what's working and what's not. As we grow, more AMC members come forward and greater measures may be taken. The highest priority is to maintain and develop our sacred movement container. This is an ongoing and very important topic. Here are some aspects of it:
* How we can we best continue to support a safe and nurturing space while accommodating an expanding membership?
* It's crucial that we clarify our issues around growth: e.g. Do we wish to expand? If so, in what manner?
* Do we want to offer additional dance times (such as additional weekdays/ nights)?
* Explore additional larger dance sites?
* Explore other formats, e.g. a longer wave
* Punch cards and or membership for frequent dancers
* How can we utilize all the great talent and energy that our community holds?
* Member involvement in music/ mix-making. helping take the DJ'ing load off of the facilitators while showcasing the musical resources of all. Creation of mix library, Mix Making Guidelines. Mentoring mix parties and collaborations. Instituting a mix feedback book.
* Community involvement opportunities for members who want to contribute! Contributing to full moon dance rituals; helping to evolve creative structures.
* Formalizing volunteer slots in exchange for free admission, etc. (3 month free entrance for large projects?)
2009 to present
In the May of 2009 the AMC conducted a fabulous Open Space community-wide gathering with Maureen and Zelle Nelson to vision our next steps. Open Space was a very effective and exciting format to discuss our many levels, contexts, issues, ideas, and visions. You can link to the synopsis of this meeting here. We have been transitioning into the Sociocracy/Dynamic Self Governace by forming our circles, and are working diligently to moving into full Sociocracy. We continue to host 3 dances a week, and frequently host Full Moon dances. Our AMC website, launched March 2010, reflects the amazing growth and evolvement of our community powered dance family in the past year.