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Summary of Minutes:
Reclaiming Retreat November 7-9, 1997

Table of Contents

Core Values, Principles of Unity
Mission Statement
Lines of Communication/Decision-Making
Other Decisions
Next Meetings

(Summary by Starhawk, approved by Rose May Dance and Marian Doub)

Our recent retreat was a momentous and productive culmination to the work of restructuring that we began over a year ago. Below are a summary of the decisions we made. A full set of minutes will be available on our web page by December 1, and can be sent out in hardcopy to anyone who requests them.

The retreat began with a discussion of major changes that have happened in and around Reclaiming in the last year or two, and with reports from charettes.

Core Values, Principles of Unity

We spent Saturday working on our statement of core values, working with drafts from two charettes, the small groups that met over the last few months to work out a spectrum of proposals for structure and core values. Two charettes had considered core values and written statements: one was by Anne Hill, Beverly and Starhawk, and one by Rose, Patti and Marian. Drawing from this work, we wrote a statement we entitled "Reclaiming Principles of Unity", (attached hereto) and Sunday afternoon we reached consensus to adopt it. The Principles of Unity have been sent out in a separate post to appropriate email lists, and will be published in the magazine and put on the web site.

Mission Statement

The charette done by Madrone, Jody and Ivory Fly had worked on Reclaiming's Mission statement. A small group worked on rewriting the statement which for many years has been in the back of the newsletter/magazine. They made a small but important revision to the old mission statement. Sunday we reached consensus to adopt this Statement and it has been sent out and will be published along with the Principles of Unity.

Reclaiming is a community of women and men working to unify spirit and politics. Our vision is rooted in the religion and magic of the Goddess — the Immanent Life Force. We see our work as teaching and making magic — the art of empowering ourselves and each other. In our classes, workshops, and public rituals, we train our voices, bodies, energy, intuition, and minds. We use the skills we learn to deepen our strength, both as individuals and as community, to voice our concerns about the world in which we live, and bring to birth a vision of a new culture.


Sunday's discussion focused on Reclaiming's structure. We looked at a proposed structure from the Beverly/Anne Hill/Starhawk charette and heard challenges and problems articulated by the Macha/Laura/Tami/Talia charette. We broke into small groups to come up with new structures, and after much discussion reached consensus upon a new structure for Reclaiming. Our diagram will be sent out in hard copy to all who were active and on-leave members of the collective prior to Sunday, to others who request it, and will be posted on our web page (see below).

Following is my (Starhawk's) attempt to describe it verbally:

CONSENSUS: We dissolve the group known as the Reclaiming Collective, and in its place we adopt the following structure, which will remain in place for a year and a day before major changes are made to it:

  1. Draw a circle. This represents the Wheel, a decision-making body made up of representatives from the cells. Its areas of responsibility include policy-making, allocation of money and resources, approval of new cells, prioritizing, resource development, core values and structural changes, new directions, holding the identity of the group and its "product" name, trouble-shooting; and mentoring of new members. Each cell will have proportional representation - at least one representative on the Wheel, and larger cells will have two. The Wheel will meet at least four times a year, and we suggest one of those meetings be a retreat. Meetings will follow a regular, pre-scheduled rhythm (i.e., the first Tuesday after the cross-quarter date, or the last Sunday of every third month) determined by the Wheel, so that representatives can plan far ahead.
  1. Representatives/Spokespersons will be chosen by the cells, according to the following criteria:
    1. They must have worked in the cell for at least a year and a day. (An exception would be made in the case of new cells.)
    2. They must continue to be actively involved in the work of the cell and attend meetings.
    3. They must be committed to attend meetings of the Wheel, missing no more than one out of four, and to finding a prepared substitute representative if they must miss a meeting, and to report back to their cells.

Representatives will rotate on an annual basis, but the terms will be somewhat longer or shorter for the first year or two so that rotations can be staggered and continuity of experience be kept. Two representatives will not rotate: the Financial Officer as one representative of the Administrative Cell, and the Spider (described below.)

  1. Inside the circle draw a triangle. This represents the Triad or Triumvirate - three members of the Wheel who are empowered to make ongoing running decisions between meetings, or to refer such decisions to the Wheel. They will each serve for a term of a year, again with staggered rotation.
  1. Inside the triangle draw a small dot with eight legs. This represents the Spider, a paid administrative position who will be a central focus of communication. The Spider would keep office hours, would be the keeper of the complete schedule of all meetings, events, etc., and would keep and maintain archives and a database/hard copy manual of policies and decisions made by the Wheel and by cells. The Advisory Council (see below) is charged with working out a clear plan for hiring, supervising and paying the Spider before someone is chosen and empowered to fill this role. Reclaiming will do a formal hiring search, circulating a job description and taking applications, in order to choose the Spider. The Spider will be hired, at least for the first year and a day, as an independent contractor. The Spider's placement in the center of the diagram indicates only her/his connection to lines of communication - not to any extra authority or decision-making power for the group.
  1. Around the Wheel, draw thirteen circles. These represent the Cells of Northern California Reclaiming, who do the actual work of our organization. Each cell is autonomous in the area of its work - for example, the Magazine Cell can decide whether ads go in the back or throughout. The Ritual Planning Cell can decide when to schedule rituals. Cells are currently in a process of self-definition, which we continue to support.

CONSENSUS: Cells are empowered to communicate with and work with each other as desired and needed. These lines of communication and relationship are not reflected on the diagram.

Following is the list of cells and the number of representatives each is entitled to on the Wheel:

Draw a bubble that includes the three Teachers' Cells. They are encouraged to meet together at least once a year in a Teachers' Caucus for the purpose of ongoing training, development of classes and programs, and policy-making.

  1. Next, in a different color, draw a circle toward the outside of the circle of cells. This represents the Advisory Council.

CONSENSUS: We now create an Advisory Council which for a year and a day will consist of members of the "current collective" (active and on-leave members of the Reclaiming Collective prior to Sunday, November 9, 1997), each having the right, but not being required to be on it. This Council is charged with defining core values, criteria for its future membership, and deciding how it will work in the suggested areas of ethical accountability, mediation, conflict resolution, thealogy, ordination, vision, mission, etc. It is also charged with implementation of the new structure and is accountable to the Wheel.

In discussion, our vision of what the Advisory Council will ultimately include Elders, however we will define them, and community members.

  1. Outside and to the right of the Administrative Cell, draw several wavy cloud forms. These represent groups or projects that are not formal cells of Northern California Reclaiming, but which use our resources, in particular, our 501C3 number and/or our insurance. We listed:

CONSENSUS: We institute a moratorium on any new extra projects using our 501C3 until the new structure is created with clear policies defined. This is the kind of decision that the Wheel is empowered to work out before the expiration of a year and a day.

There was also discussion of whether or not some of the political projects should be linked into a Social Action Cell. This is a possibility that can be further explored, but for now, since it does not yet exist, we did not diagram it.

  1. Draw a circle around the whole picture. This represents the Greater Community, from which we come and whom we ultimately serve.


  1. Draw lines in a color of your choice from each cell to the Wheel, and from the Advisory Council to the Wheel. These stand for representation and decision-making power. Obviously, representation includes communication and accountability.
    1. Draw lines in another color from the cloud forms to the Administrative Cell. This represents expected, mandatory communication and accountability (at least in so far as we are responsible by virtue of the use of our 501C3) but not representation.
    2. Draw a dotted line from the Advisory Council around the circle of cells, with a dotted line to each. This represents optional communication - that the Advisory Council is available to Cells for advice, help, history, and mediation. Concerns were expressed that we need guidelines in place for conflict resolution within cells, and that the Advisory Council not become a "court" or a means of interpersonal manipulation.
    3. Draw lines of another color from the cells, the Advisory Council, the Wheel, the Greater Community and the clouds to the Spider. Use the same color to draw lines between the Ecell, the Magazine and the Administrative Cells (Events Line) to the Greater Community. These represent information sharing, news of events, scheduling, etc. Our intention is that people need only post information to one place to reach the Magazine, Web Page and Events Line, our three permanent sources of information for the greater community. Currently the Ecell is serving this function - when the Spider is in place that might change or the Spider might continue to delegate this job to the Ecell.

We are aware that we cannot represent all forms of communication in a diagram - and that much communication will always go on among and between all these parts.

The Bylaws will be changed to reflect these changes in structure. Vibra and Macha have volunteered to do this within a year and a day.

Star and Rose will articulate the structure in words that now exists in graphic form.

ECell will communicate new structure to all cells: all three Teachers Cells; all three Ritual Planning Cells; Ecell; Inside Cell, Samhain Cell, Administrative Cell; Magazine Cell; and Special Projects Cell.

Agreed: Star will send the Reclaiming Principles of Unity to the Ecell to be posted to the Restructuring list and other appropriate lists and to the Magazine. She will also take them to the Austin meeting of the Witch Camp web.


The Reclaiming Collective is no more. Long live Reclaiming!


Rose and Vibra will replace the outgoing members of the Triad. Rose will serve for a year, Vibra for six months with option to renew. The Triad will decide the following matters: charge card, storage space.


Advisory Council will have its first meeting Tuesday, January 13, 1997, gather at 7:00 p.m., start at 7:30.

CELLS TAKE NOTE: The Wheel will have its first meeting on Tuesday, January 27, 1997 at 7:00 p.m. CELLS please choose representatives by that date!

Date: November 11, 1997


Rose May Dance M. Macha NightMare
Vibra Willow Judy Foster
Beverly Frederick Patti Martin
Jody Logan Madrone
Laura Kemp
Cybele/Suzette Rochat
(on leave of absence)

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