The Evergreen Land Trust Association holds cooperative houses, farms, and forestlands in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. As members of the Association, we live on or nearby the properties that are entrusted to our care, and govern the organization democratically.
We view land not as a commodity to be sold on the open market for profit, but as a common resource to steward for future generations. We know that resource depletion and housing affordability are becoming serious problems. The Evergreen Land Trust Association is one small part of a growing effort to find viable and ethical solutions.
On this website you will find information about who we are, and why we believe land trusts are an important tool for keeping land accessible and bountiful. We thank you for your interest, and invite you to browse here for ideas and tools that may be useful to you.
How does the trust work?
What is Evergreen Land Trust's model?
All of the properties of the Evergreen Land Trust (ELT) are legally held in trust, with charitable purposes defined in a trust agreement and use agreement. Through the use agreement, ELT delegates the responsibility for management of the property to the people who live there. When you live on an ELT property, you agree to act cooperatively with others as an intentional community. You commit to the purposes and responsibilities outlined in the use agreement, and make decisions by consensus for how you will steward the property together. Learning to share rural land, or an urban house, is part of what makes ELT unique.
How do intentional communities get along?
Conflicts can happen anywhere, even when people with common values live in communities that are designed to have a high level of social cohesion and teamwork. People who want to work cooperatively and live in a communal setting choose our properties and this lifestyle. That doesn’t mean conflicts will not arise from time-to-time, because each person has unique needs, preferences, and visions for the future. So how do people living in intentional communities prevent or resolve conflicts? Governing policies and guidance from a board of directors can help.
Policies provide guidance.
Evergreen Land Trust has a set of policies that are designed to help reduce the risk of conflict. The policies also ensure the sustainability of the trust and protect the property for future generations. ELT policies outline property acquisition, stewardship, membership, administration, finance, loans, taxes and insurance and donations/grants/fundraising.
Because ELT communities are all different — small and large, rural and urban — each community also creates its own agreements for how they will work together. If you are exploring one of our trust properties, ask to see a copy of its community agreements.
The work of the board.
The ELT board is elected each year by the membership, and generally includes representatives from each community and members at large. The size of the board varies between 15-18 members. The board’s responsibility is to establish policies and ensure that each community upholds its use agreement and improves the property for future generations.
The ELT board, for the most part, does not get involved in the day-to-day decision making of the communities. If conflicts happen in a community, the members and residents are responsible for managing the conflict and seeking professional mediation and arbitration services as needed.
However, if the board has reason to believe that a community is failing to uphold its use agreement, and is not caring for the property adequately and cooperatively, the board will step in and do everything in its power to ensure that the legal and financial risks associated with one property of the trust do not cause unacceptable legal or financial risk to the Evergreen Land Trust, the ELT board, or any other properties or members.
You can learn more about Evergreen Land Trust’s policies and board of directors here. Still have questions? Contact us!