Shilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!, an organization which connects, inspires and collaborates with change-makers to build thriving, just and regenerative ways of life for all. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India. Shilpa has researched and written numerous books and articles, and facilitated workshops and gatherings on topics including globalization, creative expressions, ecology, democratic living, innovative learning and unlearning. Her publications include A Poet’s Challenge to Schooling, Reclaiming the Gift Culture, Other Worlds of Power, Paths of Unlearning, Unfolding Learning Societies volumes one, two and three, and several issues of Vimukt Shiksha (“Liberating Learning”) and the Swapathgami newsletter “Making Our Paths of Living and Learning”. She is also co-author of “Connect. Inspire. Collaborate”, a highly sought-after facilitation manual.
Many years ago, Shilpa made the decision to leave the trappings of academia, Washington, DC, and the path of “professionalism” that had been laid before her to live and work in greater alignment with her soul’s calling. Today, she sees her work as contributing to the deep healing of internal, interpersonal and systemic breakdown. Shilpa is committed to using very simple human technologies – like listening, speaking from the heart, slowing down, breathing, and connecting to nature – to support authentic relationships, a deeper sense of self, an essential shift in consciousness, and aligned living practices. She is passionate about dance and music, organic and natural farming, upcycling and zero waste living, asking appreciative questions and being in community. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature. You can reach her at shilpa[at]yesworld.org
Alan spreads his storytelling methods to help communities target people they want through the power of story. After getting laid off a job after 9/11, the risk-taker decided to work for himself and make movies. He melded what he learned as a nonprofit development director and newspaper columnist to become a pretty good screenwriter. He recently produced three documentaries about aging gratefully following his deathbed experience while living in the Silver Sage Village senior cohousing community in Boulder, Colorado. He’s presented this workshop at several conferences – cohousing and otherwise – and it gets better and better with each outing. bouldercomedia.com
A passionate communitarian and avid systems thinker, CJ was drawn to Asheville, North Carolina by the rich appalachian community ecosystem. Communities he participates as an organizer in include the sociocratically governed Asheville Movement Collective ecstatic dance community, Earthaven Eco-Village, Firefly Earthskills Gathering, Asheville Contact Improvisation community, among others.
Crystal Byrd Farmer
Crystal Byrd Farmer is a North Carolina native who speaks and writes about ways communities can be more welcoming to people of all kinds of backgrounds. She serves as a board member with the Foundation for Intentional Communities and a member of the BIPOC Intentional Community Council. Her book The Token: Common Sense Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Your Organization is out now. Crystal is passionate about encouraging people to change their perspectives on diversity, relationships, and the world.
Elliott comes from a bi-cultural, biracial background—which sparked his passion for his learning and work at an early age. He began a teaching career on the Navajo reservation in special education and directed a school district transition program serving students with disabilities for 8 years in Fort Collins, CO. He was taught by his students with disability labels that they
needed community-but he couldn’t facilitate that because he didn’t have a sense of it for himself. He went on to direct the Human Rights Office for the City of Fort Collins and attempted to start a multiracial co-housing community–eventually moving in to Greyrock cohousing for the next 15 years. After a divorce in 2010, he moved to a multiracial community in Denver called Mayfair Village. He taught social justice classes at Naropa University and worked as a school principal both at a predominantly Latino elementary school, and at a progressive, experiential middle school. He founded his current nonprofit, The Sum, in 2006 (www.thesum.org).
After James Fields drove his car into a crowd in Charlottesville VA, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 40 others, Elliott bought a camper and moved to Charlottesville. Here, he started The Sum Study Center to support people's internal learning and related to our socio-cultural differences. Elliott partnered with the Heather Heyer Foundation to create a youth program called Heyer Voices (www.heyervoices.org) and is currently working to develop a cross-racial intentional community called Araminta Village (www.aramintavillage.org). Elliott established a faith community and faith community model based on the "sacredness of welcome to all" called The Welcome Circle (www.thewelcomecircle.org). In collaboration with Dr. Carla Sherrell, he developed the Power of Difference Model and the Power of Difference Assessment. In the past two years he created the Power of Difference Video Project and developed online “Power of Difference Certification” for to support the internal work of all people from all fields.
Gina Simm has been involved in a number of projects in the realm of open-hearted living. After a career in early childhood education, Gina published a book for parents and teachers called Heart to Heart – Three Systems for Staying Connected – a Manual for Parents and Teachers Gina leads workshops about her book for parents and teachers. She also works with co-housing communities to assist in conflict restoration protocols. The principles of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) are at the center of Gina’s work. She has done trainings for groups who are interested in having more effectiveness in connected communication. Gina lives in a co-housing community in Massachusetts where she is the leader of a committee called Care and Counsel. For more information see Gina’s website: www.teachingfromyourheart.org
Jen is a utopian feminist and crip/cyborg scholar/activist. Her work centers on reimagining accessibility for a post-ableist future. Jen has previously conducted original research on cohousing communities in Denmark and California as potential sites of reimagined accessibility—or cyborg accessibility. Jen earned her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Cincinnati (UC) in 2018, along with a double minor in Spanish and Women’s/Gender/Sexuality Studies. She continued to earn a Master’s degree in Women’s/Gender/Sexuality Studies at UC in 2020 with an emphasis on disability and crip studies. Jen is further developing her work on accessibility and cohousing communities as a doctoral student in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California Santa Cruz. When not in theory land, you can often find Jen teaching yoga, performing spoken word, or experimenting in her vegan lab/kitchen.
As a Facilitator and Consultant, Joe Cole supports communities and non-profit organizations in developing cooperative skills, collaborative governance, and conflict transformation. Joe has a PhD in Philosophy, and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He was one of the original residents of Pacifica Cohousing Community, and is a member of Hart’s Mill Ecovillage, North Carolina. Joe is the author of “I’m Not a Racist, But Racism is in Me” (Communities Magazine #178) and “Skill Building for a Culture of Collaboration” (Communities Magazine #181).
Karen is a relationship and connection consultant for communities, organizations and teams of all kinds. Her work includes support for conflict, consensus, sociocracy and agile. Her recent book, coauthored with Yana Ludwig, is The Cooperative Culture Handbook available at ic.org/handbook.
Martie Weatherly has been a personal and life coach for over 20 years, where she specializes in health, well-being, vitality and community. Her passion now is Hassle Free Consensus that Sticks.
Martie became a partner in Liberty Village in 1995 and participated in the planning and building of the community. She has studied consensus and facilitation since then and has taught many groups over the last 20 years. She is the lead facilitator in her community and on the Board of Directors.
Mathilde Berthe is a graduate architect from ENSA Normandie School in France. Her background in Cohousing design includes working at McCamant and Durrett Architects, who introduced the concept of Cohousing in America. She also helped develop a cooperative that aims to facilitate the emergence of Cohousing projects in France, called Habitat & Partage. Between France and the USA, she has visited and contributed to many communities exploring the relationship between design and the social structure of communites. While living at Les Hérisons in Prades de Lez (FR), for example, she contributed to the auto-construction phase – engaging with straw-bale construction while living with the residents. She is experienced in designing workshops and giving public presentations inspired by her diverse experiences. Website
Born Marc Gauthier in Montreal, Canada in 1961, Mukunda received his name in 1984 upon formally committing to adopt the Hare Krishna philosophy and lifestyle.
He lives in North-Central Florida, USA. He’s been married since 1982. He has 2 daughters, 3 granddaughters, and 1 grandson.
A self-employed carpenter/builder by trade since 1989, Mukunda is also a certified life skills coach.
He is passionate about all aspects of intentional community development, and particularly about governance which appears to be the cornerstone of success.
He has studied and practiced Dynamic Governance (DG) for the last 3 years and, is presently training to assist groups and organizations interested in implementing Dynamic Governance.
His life’s mission is to spark the co-creation of several rural cohousing communities/eco-villages for people interested in Self-Realization as taught in the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
He is currently in the process of writing the visioning documents for Krishna Cohousing which he envisions to lunch soon.
Some of his most important personal values are: Integrity, transparency, courage, teamwork, health, perseverance, and attention to details, all in service of self-realization.
He is fiercely independent and yet, he loves cooperating with like-minded people.
Some of his areas of interest are: Compassionate leadership development, physical fitness, loving healthy families as well as discovering and developing our God-given gifts leading to a fulfilling life of service to God and one another.
Sarah Arthurs with Cohousing Connections is a graduate of the 500 Communities Program and an affiliate of CoHousing Solutions. She is currently working on cohousing projects with Katie McCamant and is excited to continue that collaborative relationship to further cohousing opportunities in North America.
Her emerging work with cohousing groups is called Stone Soup Services – in which she supports forming and existing cohousing groups to cocreate and refresh their experience of intentional community.
An outside champion can enable cohousing communities to rediscover their playfulness, companionship and joy in life together. Sarah has lived in cohousing for over a decade and is motivated by the richness of that experience to support others in their cohousing story. Her background as a psychologist and community developer supports this work.
Sky Blue has spent 22 years living, working, and organizing in intentional communities, cooperatives, and community organizations. He has visited over 130 ecovillages, cohousing, coliving, co-ops, and communes in the US and Europe. He served as the Executive Director for the Foundation for Intentional Community and has worked for the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, Global Ecovillage Network of North America, and consulted with a variety of projects and events. As a movement builder he explores the relevance of intentional communities as laboratories and training grounds for addressing the systemic problems humanity faces.
I am a mother, a partner, a midwife, a community builder, a dog lover, a cyclist, I enjoy making music in my living room and working with IT. I grew up in upstate New York and did my undergraduate degree in Business Management and Administration with a concentration in Computer Science and then worked in an IT department in academia.
I lived in an Ecovillage @ Ithaca where we did everything by consensus. When I left for Canada, I went to McMaster University to become a midwife. Where I moved to there was no existing Ecovillage or Cohousing community, so I’ve been building community in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario area.
To help foster community in our neighbourhood we host a weekly potluck at our home which started in 2007 and has never been canceled regardless of if we’re home or not. With the pandemic, we moved the shared meal to be online. With over 700+ potlucks, we’ve been building community one meal at a time.
I first learned about Sociocracy and SoFA in 2016 when I co-founded a cohousing group in Kitchener (currently called Waterloo Region Cohousing Project), and I’ve been loving it, using it, living it, teaching it and promoting it ever since. I’m a SoFA member, SoFA trainer and currently enrolled in the SoFA Academy.
I am a lifelong learner and love learning more about people, community, group dynamics and myself all the time.
The Cohousing Association thanks our sponsors for the 2021 online conference series.