If you have ever thought about living with a group of people or going in on a piece of property together, you pretty much need to read this book. This book goes into an incredible amount of detail about all sorts of aspects related to group interactions and communal buying power. I don't know of any other book which so thoroughly details why 90 percent of community start ups fail and what you can do to be part of the successful 10 percent. Before reading this book, I thought I knew a thing or two about what it takes to get a group of people working together towards a common goal and make it happen, but man did I learn about all sorts of things I had previously not even considered which, if not addressed, would surely lead to failure.
She starts the book off right by introducing six key ways to reduce structural conflict, which she sees as the main reason why most new community failures seem to happen. She defines 'structural conflict' as;
"problems that arise when founders don't explicitly put certain processes in place or make certain important decisions at the outset, creating one or more omissions in their organizational structure."
These six key concepts are:
1. Identify your community vision and create vision documents
2. Choose a fair, participatory decision making process appropriate for your group
3. Make clear agreements in writing including a legal entity for owning the land together
4. Learn good communication and group process skills. Make clear communication and resolving conflicts a priority
5. In choosing co-founders and new members select for emotional maturity
6. Learn the head skills and heart skills you need to know
This list is a real basis for the rest of the book. She goes into detail on all these points and often refers to successful communities and how they went about addressing all their issues. There is a group of seven main communities she refers to regularly throughout the book.
The book goes through all the process of successfully starting up a community in a chronological order of processes, starting with the role as a founder, on to creating a vision together, all the way to financing your property as a legal entity, and then thriving in the established community through dealing with conflict and selecting new members to join. In each detailed section she refers to what and how the different example communities went about dealing with the topic at hand. This helps to get a real life picture of the process.
Diana spent a great deal of time in the 90's travelling between different communities all over north America and documenting their journey. She has made helping people on their journey to living peacefully together her mission and this book is a huge contribution in that space. She has very real experiences with what she talks about in this book and it shows.
Again, this book is a key read to anyone even remotely interested in community and what it takes to establish a functional one. Definitely go check out this book.