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"Also as I looked at the various figures, plus and minus, I felt ‘that is not very much’; and that it is time we all started thinking in millions of pounds. To think Abundance. Do you feel that is being foolish and unreal? It is not, it is the way it works in this spiritual life." Eileen Caddy, date unknown, full letter here on the lovely COIF site.
There is really rather a lot of news. See below for some of it (on the options negotiations, financing and THA).
It has been a delight working with Terry to get to a map and (options) deal in principle, but of course none of that is landed until the FF Board approves. (They are meeting today and tomorrow so send positive visualisations). There isn't much point [EDIT: now allowed: click here uploading the map] until we have full official agreement but what we have been looking at is all of the FF Park assets going to community (EF), apart from the Holiday Park and the west central area (where the original caravan, sanctuary, original garden, and old community centre site are, essentially a triangle down towards the entrance on that side of the runway, the main road and the road from the stop sign to ClarePoint). That's where FF can focus on their educational campus and charitable purpose rather than running a massive site with a tiny staff.
I have been focused on getting a price that sets the community and FF (i.e. the Whole) up for success and that is fair based on the actual value now, as opposed to some inflated and speculative value based on major development the community doesn't want. I think we are getting there. There are constraints on both sides of course - FF needs to make a certain amount of money to ensure longer-time financial viability and the SLF will only pay a certain amount, and we can't kick off our community-led, community-owned future with a big millstone of debt around our neck, so that's the circle I have been trying to square.
The point is to get everything in one, unified, community set of hands, and then do genuine community planning, in a holistic, optimised and strategic way over the site. That way we will have a proper Common Vision sourced from the members, applied to the district, rather than fragmented projects, coming from specific interests, without a sensible site-wide holistic plan, a plan that whole local community actually backs. That is the quickest way to regeneration and effective unified planning.
STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK & LOCAL PLACE PLAN
Having seen CAL's strategic framework and knowing that FF will generously gift that to community to use as we like, with no strings attached, and FF will not be submitting to Moray Council, which I see as a very helpful gesture - I feel a real sense of optimism and coming together to start off the community's vision between all parties. FF is gifting the work to the Local Place Plan Group who in turn understand that their new plan will be about creating optionality for us, the community, not about maximising development for the sake of it, which is a change of direction and client (in the same way the options move land control and ultimately ownership, over to the community, via EF).
One of CAL's big topics was the convoluted complexity of ownership and decision-making here with all the fragmentation. That one of the major reasons for EF in my mind - and that complexity is about to be radically simplified through the FF-EF transfer and through the hard and good work the governance group has been doing.
EVERYONE CAN HELP - INCLUDING THE ORGANISATIONS
I hear some misplaced fears - so for clarity - any other organisations that have suitable proposals and projects that properly fit in the community-developed Common Vision and community-led plan, rather than fragmented interests, will be warmly welcomed. They will simply be fitting their projects and skills into helping the good of the whole: things like a new CC; nature and biodiversity enhancement and restoration; affordable housing and attracting the young; fixing infrastructure and rapidly deteriorating assets; continuing to care for the elderly, etc. Each person and organisation will have their specialist skill-set to help. It just makes sense to have the village own the village, and decide what to do over the village, and will of course help FF out with its difficult financial situation in so doing.
On Cluny - I have offered to lend FF money, secured on Cluny, and will give EF an option to buy-it at cost, should FF take the loan and then fail to repay. That way if FF doesn't repay, Cluny stays in the community (if community wants).
CULLERNE (FF & TITLEHOLDERS)
On Cullerne - I just offered the same (as on Cluny) when I found out about Titleholders' exposure to FF's difficulties repaying its large debt to them. If FF needs extra, above and beyond a Cluny loan, so it can repay THA straight away - I have offered to lend (secured, with an option then to EF, at cost, so Cullerne would stay in community, if FF failed to repay). I also suggested to FF's leaders that FF protect its own community members and residents by offering Cullerne as a security for the debt, to THA. Either way FF keeps Cullerne if it repays but it keeps Cullerne in community and titleholders protected if FF failed to repay. It seems another win-win-win and the right thing to do.
FF TEAMWORK & GOODWILL
On a personal note, I have been seeing and experiencing FF through positive eyes, and enjoyed recent excellent team work with Terry on the options deal over Xmas, New Year, to date; and Ann/FF in LPPWG being very generous with the CAL work. Still, I don't think it is right for the largest landowner to not pay its HOCO fees for well over a year I believe, with that debt supposed to be ring-fenced and "banked" for THA, and then FF not pay it back when it is called for.100+ titleholders will all have to pick up the costs if FF doesn't repay (e.g. for the recent expensive road works). That is how I understand the situation from THA and, if that is how it is, it is just seems wrong to me not to immediately secure that loan as a gesture of basic respect to 100+ community members, which would align with all the other positive things FF has recently been doing and keep their reputation positive. Not Common Ground to burden your debt on others! Probably not smart from an OSCR liability point of view either.
NOTHING CERTAIN YET
All of the above (apart from our subscriptions link - please sign up here!) is in development and not signed-off on, but I like to communicate and stay in transparency with you all, I think it helps to quash rumours. Of course if the options deal doesn't come through in the next few days, all bets are off, which would be a shame given the nine months of work that has gone into getting us to this point!
Visualising the highest and "Letting Go, Letting God".