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The Community Buy Out in short

First circulated by NFA in August 2023

Dear Community Member and Park Resident,

This letter is a short briefing on what is happening with the “CBO” that you may have heard about.

The Findhorn Foundation (FF) is proposing to sell a significant amount of its land, buildings and infrastructure (“assets”) to reduce its footprint to a level that is financially sustainable for its relaunch as a new, much smaller, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).

Watching the FF sell houses, bit by bit, to private individuals to cover its monthly losses, some of us have been strongly advocating FF leaders (CEO, Terry Gilbey; Chair, Mark Anderson; Trustees: Kathy Tyler, Francine Rietberg, Nicola Coombe) to sell those assets, in one go, to us, the community as a whole.

We believe that is the best way to preserve our community, rather than selling off in a fragmented way to private individuals or a for-profit developer. It also helps FF with a lump sum.

Bit by bit sales prevent any possibility of a holistic Park-wide, financially viable, community-led, plan over the whole site, which truly incorporates the community’s wishes. They would further fragment community land ownership, making the possibility of (re)building community benefit buildings even harder than it already is, or worse, be focused on for-profit ambitions.

In effect, it would leave us as a glorified elder housing estate, removing the possibility of a vibrant, innovative, world demonstration site.

A community-owned and led not-for-profit plan, on the other hand, if it owns enough of the site, will be able to make money on some bits to subsidise building community benefit buildings such as a new CC; Children and Family buildings; affordable housing in general, for young people/families, and elderly and care suitable buildings and make sure nature is preserved (and listened to in the process).

Luckily, FF seems to have agreed with this analysis and is negotiating to sell to community!

Community-led development focuses on a vision that comes from the community, bringing in the 300+ person intelligence & needs of all of us, as well as wider spiritual intelligence, into what happens. The community owning the bulk of the assets, will give us the best chance to do ecologically sensitive, spiritually and nature informed, moderate and appropriate development.

This is a radical (and radically positive in my view!) departure from the current system where there is no democratic oversight, ownership or leadership over the land the community resides on. To achieve this, and to benefit from the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) money that is available for CBO projects, Ecovillage Findhorn Community Benefit Society has been set up to buy the assets FF is willing to sell.

We/you (residents) are eligible for a community share (non-profit share) to get your democratic vote. Non-residents also get a voice and bye-laws are being set up to make sure they do get heard. A share empowers each member over the decisions that affect us, on our (future) community assets, so that those assets can be managed for the benefit of the community, by the community.

The price for a share is a symbolic pound. If you can’t afford a pound a donor will cover it. The idea is that this is fully inclusive and independent of means. Whether you are a renter, a mobile home-owner or a titleholder, with 6 months of residency, your say is equal to anyone else’s.

The more who have joined, the easier it will be to show FF that the community wants to and is ready to own its own land and manage its own destiny. It also helps win the SLF money.

So, please join up, and get your vote!

Rupert D, NFA CBO Coordinator, August 2023
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