It was April 26th 1994 when Michael Reynolds dream of a Greater World was registered. First, a handful of friends getting together to live in peace and harmony, the creative genius that went into each structure became a beacon of hope for a brand new possible future.
Next came all those willing volunteers who were attracted by the innovation and wanted to learn and spread this new found knowledge back to their own communities and yet many, once experiencing the magic of this area, never quite could leave.
The last and most important ingredient were actual landowners, people like you and me who invested directly into the concept, the dream. Those of us who came here to live the life we had advocated for so long out in the “real” world, now taking the leap of faith to make that dream come true. The original treatise still perfectly describes the vision held by many, even though time and progress has led to new avenues, adventures, new awareness and new technologies. The words written then still reflect in many ways some part of the vision each one of us came here to experience.
We now have 66 individual landowners, on 102 total parcels with 60 actual dwellings and 35 owned lots, and the capacity for 16 more owners to purchase Reynolds currently empty lots. These groups have all joined together and encompass who we now are. Sixty Six people from all walks of life, all levels of society, all types, and all generations, all of who are the Greater World Community.
The last 25 years our care has been in the hands of the developer and as is written in the treatise, “The Association shall exist for a period of twenty five years."
At the January Board meeting it was announced that this auspicious date was coming soon. Because this date also indicated the end of the term legally stipulated by the GWLUA’s Treatise, it was necessary for the Board to decide how they were going to move forward since the treatise stated quite clearly,
“The Association may be renewed thereafter under then similar statutory provisions as now pertain upon the written consent of seventy-five percent of its then members in good standing.”
There was a small group of landowners that remained after this Board meeting to discuss what had been then “tabled” by the Board as an unnecessary topic to be discussed at that time. Most of us were confused by this because if not before the expiration of the community, when? We had questions as to why the Board would not be responsive to making sure there was a smooth transition between the first 25 years and what should be a fabulous second 25 years. A vote was necessary. The direction in the Treatise was specifically to take a community vote to explore the possibility of how we as land owners wanted to proceed. We were seeing the importance of making sure the next 25 years were structured to keep the majority happy. We also felt it was important to get more of the community involved since it was apparent the current Board had no intentions of bringing this up at that time.
Through the next two months before the new Board meeting, we worked on educating ourselves. We put effort toward discovering what our rights were as a community, the ramifications of incorporating, and the possibility of restructuring the community into a more fair and cohesive unit. We were also aware of the situation surrounding the common lands and that Mike Reynolds had surveyed, deeded and was finally ready to turn those lands over to the community; however we were not set up legally to own property as a group.
These were very serious considerations and at the next Board meeting we had organized and prepared statements to be read into the minutes, and even put up signs through the community making sure everyone knew how important the meeting was and inviting more landowners to come. As part of this community, we wanted to help bring these important issues to light and make sure everyone was aware that there were legal issues at stake. We were very encouraged and thankful that the Board meeting was more populated than I had seen any meetings in the past.
We fully expected the Board to listen, since we were the homeowners that these Board members were supposed to be representing. Unfortunately any information we attempted to share was shut down once again as not important. It was difficult to grasp why the responsible members of our community were unwilling to even speak about a situation that was of grave importance. The GWLUA was expiring in a matter of weeks and we needed to get things set for the transition of power that legally must happen. However the Boards perspective was “Business as usual” and unfortunately they pushed their weight around a bit illustrating that they were even perturbed that these issues were being spoken of and that so many community members had shown up to disrupt their flow. This left many of us feeling that they simply did not care; first about the opinion of the community and secondly they didn’t even seem aware that the GWLUA was expiring and would be expired by their next scheduled Board meeting. The agenda was once again tabled.
The questions remained, if the GWLUA expired, why would the Board feel they had a right to even call the next meeting? If the GWLUA expired, why would the Board members feel they had a right to spend the monies in our HOA account? If the GWLUA expired, didn’t they expire with it, having made no effort to be legitimately reinstated?
A one on one conversation was opened with Michael Reynolds early on and although there was a sharing of information, many of you received odd emails from MR through the Board earlier this year that were instigated because we were asking question in the background. Mike shared his feelings and opinions in these emails and our concerns were also shared. Although there was no meeting of minds, Mike agreed that if the community wished to incorporate he would not be opposed. This gave us his permission to reach out to others so this could be an educated choice made by the community. Many of you responded to the emails, asking questions and becoming involved. This was a very good indication that perhaps more of us would be willing to come together to build a better Greater World.
A Q&A was set up for the community to ask questions and it was to be a general forum outside of the Board to allow for distribution of the facts in the situation. Because we had done the research we had access to those facts and wanted to share them. Once again, unfortunately, the Board stepped in and did their best to keep this information from coming to light by inviting the Asphalt Company to come speak at the Q&A that was organized to specifically address the necessary coming incorporation. The Asphalt situation had already been decided and there was no possibility of changing what was already set, however the first hour and half of the two hour Q&A was given over to this dead subject. The last minutes of this meeting left most that attended with more questions than answers and left the group of us ultimately amazed that the Board was once again attempting to keep the community from hearing our voices.
The next Board meeting was scheduled in June at which time the Board would have been officially defunct and expired for over a month. Even though there was a very small group of people who were aware of the facts and still showed up to this Board meeting, they were able to voice their concerns and were much more aggressive in the inquiries as to what would be done. The Board however had closed their ears and these community members were shut down and watched as the Board continued to do “business as usual” even after being told the GWLUA had expired. And once again the next Board meeting was set by a group of peoples whose legal authority over the GWLUA had expired with the GWLUA. These people still refuse to accept the facts.
The one pressing issue it seemed was getting the Board to accept this information and although we tried for months, there just didn’t seem to be a way to get through to them and the situation had become tense because of the legalities. The only real answer we could get from Mike or the Board was to wait for the lawsuit to finish and let the Judge decide.
In a last ditch effort to get past this seemingly impossible hurdle, Mike Reynolds and the Board were petitioned legally through email to produce documents that proved GWLUA had somehow been renewed and indeed had not expired. As community members each one of us have this right to know what our Board is doing at any time and although some things are not public, asking for the production of the certificate, letter, or document showing that at some time in the past the ORIGINAL TREATISE had been amended, changing the expiration date, fell well within our rights.
This was the point in which everything changed and Mike Reynolds himself sent to the community with the express permission of the Board, the Judge’s ruling. We had been told numerous times that the Judge would decide and here before our eyes was the letter from the Judge to Mike, but dated from two years ago.
For the last two years Mike Reynolds has been aware through the Judge that there were several things he could do OUTSIDE OF COURT to help rectify or at the very least, minimize his damages in the coming judgement. The Judge even offers to be available to assist in the settlement discussions yet; MR chose to NOT follow the prescribed path by the Judge. Even though he had told us all that he too was waiting for the Judge, he had already received word that was not passed along to the community and only now is coming to light.
We are very thankful this information can now be shared with the community so you too can see that this situation is happening, it is dire and it deserves our attention.
We strongly urge you to read this letter from Judge McElroy as it speaks in part directly to the community and urges the community itself to be aware and understand what is happening;
“…a community of respected members of the association needs to review the existing records, obtain independent legal advice and put the association’s affairs to rights”
“Responsible members of the association and Mr. Reynolds need to figure out a resolution for this problem”
“…the Court remains available to assist the parties enter into a settlement discussions to resolve or at least come up with a structure to resolve these long standing issues that involve not just the litigants to the suit but all those involved in this development.”
It has become increasingly obvious that the past Board members refuse to face facts and the possibility that it is time to step down, since they were unwilling to step into the future and build a new entity. It seems that they and Mike Reynolds hope to simply wash over this entire agenda and continue, in their own words, “business as usual”.
However we feel there is something better, something that Mike must have envisioned 25 years ago when this fabulous project started. We hope you will consider joining with us and help make decisions, create new possibilities and open the Greater World Community to living the next 25 years in harmony with Earthship Biotecture, but separate and internally controlled by landowners who respect each other as equals
Ours is a Greater World