10/14/2004

2015 Jeannette, Mireille and Hamadi

January 15, 2015 Jeannette, Mireille and Hamadi prepare the Gathering Place, the central building of their lakeside village. They begin to welcome the worldwide Network guests who are finding their way from cabins and tents scattered among the expanse of natural pine and fir. These 800 acres, once destined for clear-cutting, are now home to a solar-powered, organically-integrated center where Network partners come for face-to-face encounters. Each guest belongs to a partner community (voluntary group, family, corporation) that shares Network goals of using technology to create self-sustaining communities in impoverished areas of the world. During tonight's gathering, participants will organize themselves into interest groups and for the next two days they will share their learnings and explore emergent new ideas. A Sabbath break will follow, giving time for personal prayer and contemplation, experience of the natural beauty of the environment and informal creative engagement with the ideas that have emerged. On the following two days the most promising ideas and those areas needing more broad collaboration will be identified and discussed. Responsibilities for the dissemination of information to worldwide Partners will be agreed upon.

(Flashback to 15 years ago: three women sit before a large screen television in a Silicon Valley suburb, watching the sunrise time after time from island to village to city on the dawning day of a new millenium. The awe produced by this day of 24 dawns was mixed with the thought that had preoccupied them for the previous few months: “we have enough, but there is more”. They had become friends during their student days at Gonzaga University often chatting together after the reflective Sunday evening liturgies. Highly skilled in their technological fields, each had been thrust into the Internet millionaire’s club with the sale of stock in the companies they had created. On January 1, 2000 the three young women sat sipping cappuccinos and wondering aloud, what next? That had been "The day of the Call" as they usually referred to it. By the end of the millenium's first week they had begun the process of creating a trust fund for a new venture, had searched out an environmentally threatened locale and had made an offer for the land that could not be refused. The first “partners” were invited: the group of women, Catholic Sisters who had opened their home to them as students, providing a place for spiritual search and offering some elder insights.)

“The Sisters still pray for and with us and lead a retreat at the Gathering Place once every year. They call the Network a “convent without canons” and refer to us as ‘our NetNuns.’ The truth is that God continues to be the driving force in our commitment and the sisters’ sharing has helped us through a few rough spots." At present 65 Partner groups around the world represent 570 committed persons; 23 women have made a long-term commitment and maintain the links from various sites. 360 self-sustaining communities are strongly or loosely connected as Network partners.

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