L'Avenir d'Auroville, aka l'Av d'Av – pronounced ‘lovedove' – is the new Auroville Township Planning and Development Research Organisation.
Joint efforts pay off. This was demonstrated in autumn last year, when members of the Auroville Planning and Development Council (APDC) and of Auroville's Future decided to explore the possibility of forming one planning and development body. Both groups acknowledged that they had been working at cross purposes at the cost of Auroville's development. The APDC, in consequence, had ceased functioning from October 1st.
Auroville Vision 2012, an unofficial group of individuals, was asked to facilitate the process to create a new Planning and Development organization for Auroville. This implied conducting discussions with Aurovilians who over the years have been engaged in various aspects of planning work, in order to assess the human resources and optimal structure and determine the process agreements for Auroville's planning. That work took more than four months.
In its final report to the community, Vision 2012 reported on “months of work, struggle and sharing” and on the attempts of those involved “to overcome mistrust, polarized positions and the lack of belief that it could be different.” Though quite a few participants were not able to overcome their mistrust and dropped out at various points along the way, a core group persisted.
In January this year the core group proposed a new organisational structure, called L'Avenir d'Auroville (the name given by The Mother to Auroville's first planning body) with as sub-name ‘The Auroville Township Planning and Development Research Organisation.' The new body would have as its task the planning, developing and constructing of the Auroville Township and the planning and developing of its socio-economic fabric. The organisation was spelled out in details. L'Avenir d'Auroville would have nine areas of work, each managed by a competent coordinator. Together, the nine coordinators would comprise the management team. A citizens' body made up of concerned residents would be formed to do in-depth reviews of development proposals. The new body would be committed to communication, and feedback would be integrated for the best end result possible.
The proposal was subject to questioning in two general meetings before, on February 19th, it was discussed in a meeting of the Residents' Assembly. The Residents' Assembly approved the proposal subject to two conditions: that it would have the right to approve the coordinators and that L'Avenir d'Auroville would submit major planning and development decisions for approval to the Residents' Assembly. The core group heaved a sigh of relief.
But it was too early to rejoice. It proved difficult to find team leaders. More core group members dropped out making accusations of foul play, or that some of the proposed individuals were not competent or it was all ‘old hat' – meaning that they suspected that there would be no real change. When finally a team was proposed to a Residents' Assembly meeting on April 16th, the team failed to obtain approval.
The meeting then proceeded to vote on the acceptability of the proposed individuals. But the outcome was challenged by both the Auroville Council and the Working Committee, which, after studying the process of the Residents' Assembly meeting, concluded that the evaluation of support to individual members “was not organized perfectly and hence it is not possible to defend the decisions supposedly taken as decisions of the Resident Assembly.” The Council and Working Committee then recommended a different proposal.
Angry outbursts followed, particularly from those who considered that they had been elected. Finally two members each of the Council, the Working Committee and of the proposed planning team sat together for a long afternoon. Focusing on ‘what shall we do next?' they hammered out a proposal. The following day, in a full meeting of all three groups, this proposal was accepted with minor modifications and published in the News and Notes, the weekly newsletter.
A novelty in the way l'Avenir d'Auroville will function is that the meetings of its coordinators will be open to the public. This is a historic first (for Auroville!) To prevent misunderstandings and coordinate activities, monthly meetings between the Council, the Working Committee and the coordinators have been scheduled. And the groups agreed that the Working Committee and Auroville Council will evolve a fair workable system to resolve appeals against decisions of working groups, including those of L'Avenir d'Auroville.
Joint efforts have, indeed, paid off. And one other major point was gained from the process: all agree that the functioning and method of decision making of the Residents' Assembly has to be finalised. The Working Committee has promised to submit a proposal to the Residents' Assembly soon.