The Edward Carpenter Community (ECC) is principally a network of men bound together by shared interests and is only loosely organised. The majority of our structured activity is focussed around our weekend and week-long retreats which are the main place where men experience community life. There are usually 6 to 8 such events organised each year.
We are run entirely by volunteers and are committed to principles of grassroots decision-making. As far as is practicable, all decisions are made by the consensus of members present. Reaching consensus is not always an easy process, requiring dedication and self-discipline, but we find that for high-level decisions relating to our values and our policies, it has worked well for us for over thirty years.
Most of our major business and forward planning is conducted at our annual Autumn Gathering. This is a subsidised residential weekend open to all members. Occasional organisational discussion and consultation sessions are also held on some of our larger events.
Governance structures are minimal, and we only have a small number of taskholders who are all unpaid volunteers.
Any member of ECC can be an event organiser. We don't have a team of staff putting a programme together, so we rely on members to come forward to make the events happen. A different group of men will generally organise each event during the year. We normally invite bids from individuals or groups to run the events at our annual Autumn Gathering, though this can be done at any time of year. In each organising team, there is always at least one member who has previously organised an event, and we try to involve at least one first-time organiser as well. Organisers can bid for regular bookings at known venues, or they can approach new venues if they would like to try something different.
The Maintenance Group (MG) exists to keep the community functioning throughout the year. It is essentially a caretaker group which co-ordinates event bids, publicity, newsletters, and undertakes the legal requirements of the company Edward Carpenter Community Ltd, of which they are Directors. The group is empowered to make necessary decisions between Autumn Gatherings, and these will normally be ratified at the following gathering. The MG includes the formal roles of Company Secretary and Treasurer, and normally comprises between 3 to 5 members in all. They are usually appointed at the Autumn Gathering.
A number of additional tasks are performed by appointed members under the direction of the Maintenance Group. These currently include a website manager, newsletter editor and archivist, and the roles change from time to time depending on changing needs, and the availability of volunteers.
Taskholders, including MG members and event organisers, all work voluntarily and usually for a period of up to 3 years maximum. Funded places on our events are available for some roles in recognition of the time and work freely given. Any member can put themselves forward for any of these roles. Vacancies and offers to fill them are usually considered at the Autumn Gathering.
Further detail about how the community operates is documented in our Guidelines document, last updated in 2014. The document is a very comprehensive resource for existing members, particularly event organisers, and includes numerous appendices.
ECC Guidelines 2014 (PDF document, 57 pages, 522Kb)