Field Trip – Saturday, April 1 – California Institute for Earth Architecture
Learning about super adobe construction – building sustainably in the desert! See Events Below
Arizona Community Land Trust

March 2017 Newsletter

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ― Wendell Berry

Feature Article

Creating Community – How Do We Live Together?

At the March 7th members meeting we began talking about tiny house communities. Tiny houses are growing in popularity as people realize that they need to reduce their footprint on the planet and lower their consumption patterns. One of the challenges of tiny houses, though, is they can bring about a sense of isolation when they stand alone on a property. We are a species that thrives when we are able to balance our need for alone time with our need for social interaction, along with our interaction with the natural world.
Our exploration of community touched on three different aspects:
  • Environmental Responsibility
  • Community Interaction
  • Relationship with the Larger Community

Recently, in writing a short description of the Community Land Trust model, I recalled a quote from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac: “We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” This is a profound shift in our relationship with the Earth, moving us from private owners of land to community stewards. With this shift in consciousness, we look to incorporate environmentally sustainable/regenerative practices in our site plan, building materials, and the physical functioning of the community. Permaculture practices and a sharing of resources help to lighten the strain we place on the planet.

How do we bring intention into our community relationships? Most of the community we experience in the world is not community of choice. It is community of circumstance. Yet, people yearn for conscious connection with one another. We spend so much time in isolation, often in front of screens or navigating the vast network of roadways we have created alone in our vehicles. Creating community with small private living spaces combined with community interaction spaces (large kitchen and dining area; meeting room; library; recreational spaces; community gardens; and more) is one way of enhancing conscious connection.

Bringing intention is also about making commitments. How do we consciously want to be with and relate to one another? The Golden Rule, found in many faith traditions, offers a beginning: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” M Scott Peck in his classic, The Road Less Traveled, defines love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” When this love becomes the essence of our commitment, community builds a network of mutual support for the elimination of self-limiting concepts and guilt; and fosters gratitude and forgiveness.

For those of you who like to delve more deeply into the subject of community, M Scott Peck wrote another beautiful volume entitled The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace. He also created a nonprofit to help people understand and work together to form community, The Foundation for Community Encouragement. If you explore further, you will likely discover that what you thought you were experiencing as community is what Peck refers to as pseudo-community, the beginning stage of community development. Additional stages include: Chaos, Emptiness, and True Community.

The last aspect we touched on in our discussion was the relationship between the intentional community and the larger community in which it resides. We do not stand alone. Many of our basic needs are met through our interaction with the larger community around us. Here we have an opportunity to look at what we can give to our local community beyond providing a safe and healthy place for people to live. Our gift may come through individuals who have grown strong enough to serve in positions of local governance. Perhaps our gift takes more of a nonprofit contribution: growing healthy food to give to people in need; mentoring youth; offering educational programs; etc.

Another way of contributing to the larger community is through establishing a business or cottage industry. This gives residents a means of livelihood and supports the local economy. A business could take the form of a worker owned co-op, again strengthening the community building aspect of working together.

This discussion will continue at our members meeting scheduled for the 1st Saturday in June (June 3rd). Please join us and help to create the vision!

Richard Starling


AzCLT Member Profile – Who’s Involved in AzCLT

Gwen Relf

Gwendolyn E. Relf, CEO/Executive Director of the Rehoboth Community Development Corporation (RCDC) has 25+ years organizing and developing activities for at-risk youth and young women in religious organizations and the community. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. She has additional courses towards her Masters Degree and Certification in the Nonprofit Leadership Management Program at Arizona State University. Gwen is married to Pastor Wesley Relf, Senior Pastor and Founder of Rehoboth Saints Center. She is the mother of 4 children and grand-mother of one grandson. Prior to taking a leap of faith into the non-profit sector, Gwendolyn worked as an Office/HR Manager for Cintas First Aid & Safety in Tempe, AZ from November 1989-March 2003. Since leaving the private sector, she has become the Co-Founder and CEO of the Rehoboth Community Development Corporation, a faith-based non-profit organization in which the mission is to increase social and economic justice, demonstrate compassion, and combat poverty in partnership with low and moderate income people in Maricopa County and West Phoenix, in particular.

Gwendolyn is also the founder of Daughters of Destiny Ministry – a class for teenage and young mothers that provides mentoring and teaches self-sufficiency, independent living skills, personal and career development. She served as President of the Arizona Jurisdictional Church of God In Christ, Young Women’s Christian Council and Women’s Ministry Director for Rehoboth Saints Center. In addition, Gwendolyn serves as a member City of Phoenix Faith Based Initiatives Workgroup, PASSAGE Transitions Coalition of Maricopa County Committee; and was recently appointed to the City of Phoenix West Phoenix Revitalization Community Advisory Board in November 2009 and JP Morgan Chase National Community Advisory Board, January 2010. As part of her passion to promote economic and social justice, in April 2007, Gwen launched the Canyon Corridor Neighborhood Alliance to develop visioning and planning strategies that will help to improve the quality of life for residents in the Canyon Corridor Community (boundaries of I-17 & Missouri, South to Indian School, and West to 35th Ave).


Received Bank of America’s Local Heroes award, November 2006;

Received the Arizona Community Action Association “Heart in Hand Award”, honored by the City of Phoenix Human Services Department, May 2007;

Selected by City of Phoenix Managers and City Councilman Johnson and Stanton to represent faith community in Washington DC to lobby for Congress for the City of Phoenix’s fair share of federal dollars, July 2007;

Selected to Co-chair (w/ husband, Wesley) Summit on “Foster Youth Aging-out of Care” for Governors office – State of Arizona, conference date: October 3, 2007;

Received Religious Leadership of Year Award, honored by the City of Phoenix Human Services Department, December 2007;

Appointed to serve on the West Phoenix Revitalization Community Advisory Board by Mayor Phil Gordon, November 2009

Appointed to serve on the JP Morgan Chase Bank Community Advisory Board, January 2010

Gwen is learning more about the value of the Community Land Trust model in creating perpetual affordability. With the member based CLT owning the land under affordable housing, first, the price of the land is removed from the cost of the home; and second, a long term inheritable/renewable lease restricts the resale value of the home. This resale formula sets the selling price at cost + improvements + appreciation of the building – depreciation. The speculative value of the land due to its location is removed from the equation and creates a permanently affordable living space!


Coming Events

To be held at the Quaker Meeting House, 1702 E Glendale Ave, Phoenix 85020
   (unless otherwise noted)


April 1, 2017 – Saturday, all day: Trip to California Institute of Earth Architecture ( This will be an opportunity to explore Super Adobe construction at their 1st Saturday of the month open house in Hesperia, CA. There is no cost but, participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation (carpooling encouraged). Potluck lunch is also an option.

May 6, 2017 – Saturday, 4 – 6 pm: Urban Collective Gardening. Many Community Gardens fail. In Phoenix/Maricopa County there are many reasons: the land to grow on is not secure; 115 degree temperatures in the summer time; people leave the area; and more. The community land trust model addresses the land security issue; and the collective gardening model addresses the human challenges. For a look at a good example, see the Urban Farm Collective in Portland, OR (

June 3, 2017 – Saturday, 4 – 6 pm: Continuing the discussion of Tiny Houses and Community. Read the feature article above and come with your ideas and imagination!

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

-Robert Swann, father of the Community Land Trust Model

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Arizona Community Land Trust · 1702 E Glendale Avenue · Phoenix, AZ - Arizona 85020 · USA

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