(This is the last post about Bowen Island. I’ll move on after this, I promise.)
When Chris and I met at the coffee house in Snug Cove Sunday morning, I realized that my vacation to Bowen Island was really God’s way of giving me a glimpse into my preferred future. She may have been setting before me an agenda of sorts that dovetails well with my current work on the future of community building. Some sort of mandate maybe, but I’ll have to pray more about that.
Chris launched into his description of the commmunity’s vision and planning effort — Bowen 2042. Apparently he’s facilitating the process using Open Space technology in conjunction with an outfit called the Sustainable Development Research Institute. They apparently have adopted Bowen as a pilot project for an innovative simulation game called QUEST which allows people to make choices about their desired future and then map out a strategy to get started making those choices happen. The Bowen/SDRI project has even been featured in Utne Online. It looks pretty impressive.
But what really impressed me is where Chris and his compadres were taking this beyond mere sustainability into creating an “Inviting Community.” You see, they think sustainability is well and good, but not an end in itself. By itself, sustainability tends to turn toward limiting or restrictive modes of thinking — restricting use of limited resources, opposing new development, limiting growth, etc. The Bowen planners are fitting the sustainabilty help from SDRI into a larger model of an “Inviting Community.” In an age where some of the more progressive communities are just waking up to the possibilities of doing some sustainability practices, Bowen is already looking beyond that to something broader.
So Bowen Island, a municipality of less than 4,000 people that nevertheless has a “Sustainability Task Force” and a “Lifelong Learning Society” and a community theatre and a community choir, is a model of community to learn from. It’s what I call “The Island of the Cultural Creatives” (They came! They conquered! They established “Learning Circles!”…)
When I say I’d like to retire to Bowen, I mean I’d like to retire to *a* Bowen, not just *the* Bowen I visited this last week. I want to live out my years in a place that is that self-aware, that inviting, that diverse and creative. I want to be a part of a community that is intimately tied to its geography. A community that has a common vision and strives to make it real.
So I gush about Bowen not because I think it’s the best darn vacation spot in the world and eveyone should go there. I just think that Bowen Island may be on the right track toward being a truly inviting community. And that’s a track I want to be on. Even if I have to be a change driver to help make it happen wherever I end up.
And that may be part of the agenda that God’s laying before me. Who knows…