Our list of independent consultants represents a wide variety of skills needed by intentional communities. While the DIY ethic is admirable, there’s a lot to be said for getting some expert guidance to jumpstart your project. Many groups hire a consultant to teach them skills that they can gain proficiency at and utilize themselves. The following are some of the most in-demand consultant services.
Getting Along as a Group
Group mentors develop familiarity with your group members over time. They may not have specific certifications but are wise and experienced. The understanding they develop about your particular group is a key component to their assistance.
These professionals specialize in guiding groups in coming to difficult decisions using consensus-based decision-making.
These professionals have a variety of specialized skills listed in their profile descriptions. As generalists, they may guide groups in coming to difficult decisions using a variety of methods an IC or founding group has chosen. This category is intended as a catch-all for group processes other than consensus decision-making. Follow this link to a further description of group facilitators, along with tips for groups in a DIY phase to take turns as facilitators.
Mediator (conflict resolution)
Ideally, in an intentional community, there is a hope for an equitable outcome rather than any one party trying to have the greatest gain for themselves. We invite our legal consultants to list based on their experience with intentional communities or their training as mediators. The one consultant can act as an intermediaries rather than having a double cost of representative for each side. For relatively minor concerns, you might hire a group facilitator trained in conflict resolution. Many facilitators can do an adequate job at less expense to your group than a legal professional. Be sure to recap and write up the agreement promptly, preferably before the end of the meetings. This helps ensure that everyone’s understanding and memory of the agreement is the same. Get the agreement signed by all when finalized. Give each member a signed copy of the agreement, so there is no question later of whether unauthorized changes were made.
These professionals have skills in sociocracy, holocracy, business or non-profit, or general community leadership experience.
Team building (recreational)
You might find these consultants helpful to add in the mix for retreats or for getting to know prospective members during visitor sessions.
These consultants have experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion. Intentional communities often have difficulty recruiting and retaining diverse members. Many intentional communities want to attract members who differ from the local norm in race, gender, sexuality, education, socioeconomic status, or disability. Hiring a DEI consultant can help you better understand the barriers to inclusive community-building, and provide solutions moving forward!
Bringing in Income and Resources
Youth education programs
These professionals have a variety of specialized skills listed in their profile descriptions. Some have experience with charter school setup and alternative education styles such as Montessori and Waldorf.
Often remote communities are interested in ensuring that their residents have viable livelihoods. This could include a business that several or most members are engaged in, or individual businesses.
These professionals have experience with the business and non-profit aspect of ICs. This is more than just book keeping. Look for consultants who run a similar type of operation to your IC or planned IC. If part of your business is to offer space for or to coordinate retreats, hire our listed consultants as presenters. In addition, the consultants listed for team building have skills and recreational activities to delight guests as well as your own IC members.
Marketing or website expert
These professionals have in-depth experience with ICs and know how to increase your visibility. Follow this link for a further description of how marketing experts can benefit your IC.
Our listed grant writers may be able to direct you to relevant funding sources even if you are not a certified non-profit organization. Professional grant writers may also be willing to train one of your members to do the bulk of the grant searches and research. Nonprofits such as Open Collective may be able to act as an umbrella organization to support your funding of a project that meets their guidelines.
Financial and Legal Setup of ICs
Even with the best of intentions on both sides, written agreements are crucial. Our listed lawyers can help you with document preparation. You need your agreements to hold up in court, even if you trust your partners thoroughly. Consider that in the event of one of you passing, an inheritor of the partner’s assets may be a challenge to deal with. In addition, by making clear everyone’s commitments, you give yourselves a mandate to discuss potential challenges thoroughly. This can prevent misunderstandings or disputes. For any financial interactions, agreements should be in writing, signed, and dated. Most likely everyone will maintain their good will and compliance with the agreement. Yet it is still possible that a members’ unexpected death would cause uncertainty about how much was contributed by each member. You should have signed records to prevent loss of your contributions. Don’t make it something you think you’ll get around to later.
Each state has different laws around housing, so we recommend you check local jurisdictional requirements and limitations. It is important to consult with a lawyer for specifics on your situation. Get legal advice relevant to your state or province. With our listed consultants, you can limit your search by area. Often, a legal aide can assist you in writing your agreements at a lower cost. Then you should get a final review by a lawyer and officially file the document with the appropriate governing body.
Our listed realtors specialize in multiple-party purchases or are actively upgrading their understanding of location-specific legal options for joint ownership.
Our finance advisors specialize in community-related contexts.
Financial institution or lender
These are funding or lending institutions that are willing to work with unconventional loan structures or mixed mortgages.
Land & Property Development
Property management advisor
Our property managers have successfully worked with groups for several years. They can guide you in establishing time-tested procedures related to facilities management, rentals, and hospitality services.
Zoning & compliance specialist
It’s best to find these professionals as local to you as possible. Even when distant, they can guide you in working with local municipalities to change or adapt regulations. If they aren’t familiar with your area, they can at least help you know what questions to ask.
It’s best to find these professionals local to you, familiar with the climate and regional plants. Hiring one after property purchase but before planning the layout of your community. This strategy will help you avoid mistakes and make the most of your natural assets.
For mundane ongoing advice, many state universities employ a master gardener who is available at no cost to consult. They have regional knowledge to diagnose diseases and pests. Search for “extension service” along with your state’s name.
It’s best to find these professionals local to you. Locals will be familiar with the best green building materials for your climate and familiar with local regulations.
Sanitation & water systems
It’s best to find these professionals local to you, familiar with specific offices and regulations.
Animal husbandry specialist
If you can’t find these professionals local to you, or willing to travel, you might find local farmers or community garden coordinators willing to act as consultants.