I dunno Don - I've seen value disputes crop up in a human scale group of only two. Sooner or later someone is going to feel like they are contributing more or their contribution is worth more than someone else's. I just don't see human's being able to pull off utopian socialism over the long term. It might work in the beginning when everyone is jazzed about getting it all started and they're still waxing a bit romantic; but sooner or later "value" is going to crop back up again and it's best to have an established framework already in place to avoid major disruptions and disputes.
I'm not saying value won't be discussed and arrise as an issue. Just that any contract entered into will be abandonded as soon as real concrete circumstances dictate and that the contract (pact, system) whatever will have only a symbolic role. Everyone knows who is pulling their weight and who isn't in human scale groups. Its how they deal with it that needs a creative response and can get one in a group this small.
We have been grouped in our millions, thousands or many hundreds for so long now that we take systems to be the only hammer with which to hit the nail. In our past we were in human scale groups for a very long time. Systems then were about the same things they are now. Displays of verbal skills and power. They had a role in human scale groups but it had little to do with product and everything to do with sybolic process.
A system IMHO never solves a problem. It just diverts attention to process. In human scale groups it is not able to divert attention for long because product is so strong an imperative. If the work doesn't get done they/ you don't eat. One creative response for the shirkers might be to deny them the product of your labour. They don't work, they don't eat. Not a system not a rule a reality.
Don - I see your point and I agree with it in concept. However, everything in my anthropologic and zoologic studies points to the fact that whenever two or more entities form a community a system and process does (and must) develop in order to coordinate cooperative activities. That system and process doesn't need to be overly formal or rigid, but it does exist... and isn't purely symbolic. Some process needs to occur or you'll have individuals randomly doing what they think needs to get done in whatever way they think it should be done. There is a step in every cooperative action, no matter how subtle, where everyone agrees with the goal, a rough process to attain it, and a sorting out of roles and tasks. People who have worked and lived together a significant amount of time do this in a nanosecond because the framework has already been laid through previous endeavors... but there is still a system in place even if it is not obvious.
The problem is not specifically systems and processes, it's when they become so large and convulted that nothing can ever be accomplished. (i.e. Systemantics) This is why we must be vigilant in monitoring them so that they remain flexible and agile, and don't become beasts unto themselves.
This topic is so relevant, and your posts have been so inspiring, that I wanted to expand the topic. But not wanting to go off on a tangent, or hijack the thread, I decided that a new thread, emphasizing a specific aspect of community would be appropriate. Not to steal Sager's thunder, but the posts here are so insightful that I would be delighted if some of the thoughtful individuals here would also consider and post their reflections in the new thread, as time permits:
On Affairs of the Heart: http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/affairs-heart/18993
Perhaps our differences are only semantic. I wouldn't call it a system when a smallish number of people decide to do something one way and then those actually doing it, do it another way because of some unforseen requirement of reality. The difference could be between being confident to make the change without reference to an agreement as opposed to lacking that confidence and needing to seek approval. Perhaps its the power role of the system to sap confidence. So perhaps what I call product contains what you call informal systems.
No problem for me and not necessarily a problem for them.
Yes this can be true. But cooperative action doesn't require concensus. In a human scale group it is possible that one or more people will do any one or more thing cooperatively but without the concensus of the whole group.
Requiring concensus would be unworkable and involve long meetings (process) reducing the time for product. What is needed is the right of any member to stop an activity and the respect to consider and address the consequences of their actions for those (if any) who might be effected by the action. Going to war or even taking a single hostile act would require group concensus. Digging a new toilet probably would not.
A doctor's time isn't intrinsically worth more than a baker's, nor a farmer's worth more than the garbage collector. If we can adjust the value perception as "equal",
If I have a fence painting job that takes one hour for an inexperienced painter to finish the job and I also have a serious wound to my arm that is bleeding profusly that will take a doctor 30 minutes to stitch up, you are saying that the fence painting job has more "value" than the wound repair.
I know which job is more valuable to me and I would be willing to pay more of what ever passes for currency to get the wound fixed. Apparently , you would not.
Aha Ken, I see where you're coming from.
Ok here's my current situation. I've worked full time since I was 21 my current salary is basic twice the US median income, and with bonus and incentives three times the US median (using 2007 figures).
Now here's a simple equation about work, and pay
pay = value employer places on time x amount of time worked
Now, ultimately there's a factor at play that we tend not to think about, the amount of time worked by any one individual is finite, one day you will die and then it's done. When you look at it like this, we see that pay is directly proportional to life, you're trading some portion of your life for something.
So this leads to an interesting philosophical question, is my life worth three times the median income worker's? I don't believe so.
Also there is a second assumption in your argument. If I don't have a serious wound that needs stitching but I do have a fence that needs painting and I can't at that time, then the value to me of a doctor in zero, but the value to me of a painter is much higher. Similarly suppose you need the Doc, but he doesn't have sutures and a needle, would you still think that he's worth more than the painter?
Assuming that something has intrinsically more value that something else can be dangerous. I've said this before and I'll likely say it again, if TSHTF and you come by my homestead expecting that for a couple of Sovereigns, or Krugerands are going to buy you a weeks food you'll get short shrift. However if you have something I find of value we might be able to trade, even if that's just your time and effort doing something that's needed.
intrinsic = belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing
perceived = to regard as being such
conditional = subject to, implying, or dependent upon a condition
So, you may perceive something as having more value based on the conditions with which you are presented, but it's intrinsic value is constant. If you're hungry, the farmer and baker have more perceived value. If your house is overrun with rats and bugs because there is garbage outside your door, then the sanitation worker has more perceived value. If you're sick or injured, then a a doctor has more perceived value. The problem occurs when we all start just assuming and accepting that one person is intriniscally more valuable based on their necessity during rare occasions, because then we start "paying" them more for routine stuff out of habit and expectation even when their contribution is not dire. I would pay a doc 100 mussel shells to get stitched up if I were bleeding to death, but that doesn't mean I'd pay him 100 shells just to remove a splinter... but this is exactly what's happening in our world today and is the root of many problems.
Perhaps our differences are only semantic.
Yes, I do believe this is true. I think we see, and agree on, the same fundamental issues... just that our unique perspectives and perceptions are keeping us from totally agreeing on every aspect. Sort of like a dog and a cat arguing about the color of a butterfly
Did somebody mention dogs and cats?
We clearly have different value systems.
Value to the community is directly proportional to that which you can contribute the the community.
As an example, a master electrician would have little value to a hunter/gatherer society just as the
ability to make arrowheads from obsidian would not pay well at a computer company.
I have degrees in both mathematics and computer sciences. I worked long and hard at university
to prepare for being an asset and not a liability to society as well as my family. I also know that
in the not too distant future it probably will not be my ability solve differential equations
that will keep food on the table. It will be other skills that I have; like hunting, fishing gold mining
mechanical skills like welding, woodworking, metal working and so forth. I have spent a good
deal of time acquiring these skills
I contrast this with what I see around me. People only interested in how the local sports team
is doing, the newest Blackberry, or how many large screen TVs they have.
In my position as a high school mathematics teacher I have had many very good students that excelled
in high school and later at university and in their careers. Also, I see many "students" that do not have any sense
of delayed gratification. They want to only live in the now with no regard for what will happen
in the future. Many of them will be liabilities to society and not assets. After they leave high
school they them wonder why they can't find employment. Unfortunately, this attitude is supported by
the battalions of lawyers, sociologists,psycologists and apologists that believe all people have some
sort of intrinsic value. This is not the way nature works.
In my view the only intrinsic value we have is as fertilizer. All other value comes from what
you do with what you have. It may seem harsh but it is the truth. Gravity does not care if you
are a nice person, it does not care if did not have the same opportunities as other people.
If you trip then gravity will make you fall.
I guess that I see value more in the sense of what you can contribute instead of what you can take.
It seems to me that both fence-painters and doctors have value to society, whereas folks that live in under an umbrella of instant-gratification entitlement tend to exert a force that pulls down those around them. Which is why I avoid the latter like the plague, and try to be overt in my appreciation (in addition to their $ compensation) of the former, however humble their skill-set might be by society's standards.
If there is a fundamental disconnect in our society/jobs marketplace (between the value of someone's work and their compensation), IMO its most egregious manifestation is in certain areas where a fairly pedestrian "talent" is leveraged by mass media/mass culture -- e.g. sports bazillionaires or movie/music stars. And it seems to me those folks are going to be looking at a pretty marginal existence as the Great Unraveling continues. LeBron James' slamdunks and [shudder] Britney Spears' latest single are not going to feed or shelter anybody. In a decade some pretty young woman may wander into my community and say "I'm Lindsay Lohan -- I'm hungry!" I think my response would run along the lines of "Hm. Your name and hard day's work will get you a meal come sundown. I think we have some chickensh!t needs shoveling..."
(Apologies to folks out there that venerate LeBron, Britney, or Lindsay...and yes, certainly there are plenty of performers for whom a good case can be made for their lucrative compensation, although for every Springsteen there are 12 dozen Rihannas...)
Absent an abrupt catastrophic collapse scenario, the next decade IMO will teach people (prolly the hard way!) that either they contribute, or (as kenc put it) they're fertilizer. In an abrupt collapse, plenty of contributing-type folks will also perish. Eventually, regardless of how the unraveling goes down, everybody will either be a contributor or they'll find out what Hobbes meant by "nasty, brutish and short."
Viva -- Sager
I don't remember which thread I saw it in, but I remember seeing a post by someone who was considering "buying in" to a community in California, as I recall, and was looking for advice as to what the upside and downsides were to joining a "ready-made" community might be. Toward that end, I ran across this book, which I have not read, but might be useful for someone considering this option. I've also pasted the blurb from the promotional materials here. I hope whoever was looking finds this post, and finds it useful:
How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community
By Diana Leafe Christian
Finding community is as critical as obtaining food and shelter, since the need to belong is what makes us human. The isolation and loneliness of modern life have led many people to search for deeper connection, which has resulted in a renewed interest in intentional communities. These intentional communities or ecovillages are an appealing choice for like-minded people who seek to create a family-oriented and ecologically sustainable lifestyle -- a lifestyle they are unlikely to find anywhere else.
However, the notion of an intentional community can still be a tremendous leap for some -- deterred perhaps by a misguided vision of eking out a hardscrabble existence with little reward. In fact, successful ecovillages thrive because of the combined skills and resources of their members.
Finding Community presents a thorough overview of ecovillages and intentional communities and offers solid advice on how to research thoroughly, visit thoughtfully, evaluate intelligently and join gracefully. Useful considerations include:
• important questions to ask (of members and of yourself)
• signs of a healthy (and not-so-healthy) community
• cost of joining (and staying)
• common blunders to avoid.
Finding Community provides intriguing possibilities to readers who are seeking a more cooperative, sustainable and meaningful life.
Here's another book, from the same vendor, that seems like it might be germane to this conversation. Again, I haven't read the book, though I have ordered it:
By Kirkpatrick Sale
Size matters. And "progress", as it translates into sprawl, congestion, resource depletion, overpopulation, the decline of communities and the rise of corporate rule, is quite literally killing us. In his landmark work Human Scale, Kirkpatrick Sale details the crises facing modern society and offers real solutions, laying out ways that we can take control of every facet of our lives by building institutions, workplaces and communities that are sustainable, ecologically balanced, and responsive to the needs of the individual. As relevant today as when it was first published in 1980, this remarkable book provides a fascinating perspective on the last quarter-century of "growth" and anticipates by decades the current movement towards relocalization in response to the end of cheap oil.
IME, one of the big impediments to getting a sustainable community together is the seed money.
(My vision of community is something like: 20-50 acres of land supporting 5-10 families totaling about 10-40 people, somewhat remote but within ~45 minutes by car of a substantial town [10-50,000 people] with plentiful water, woodlots, arable land [or at least flat open space that can have sub-par soil amended to grow crops]. In addition to fairly small private cottages for the family units there are a number of common buildings -- barns, shops, storage and a largish "community center" with kitchens, schoolroom for the kids, offices, guest rooms, media/tech center, rumpus room, exercise studio, infirmary and so forth. A large party of community life focuses on the center (shared meals, meetings, yoga/Pilates/cardio classes) but everyone has their own personal cottage to which they can retire for privacy and quiet. There's *much* more detail in my head but this should suffice for the purposes of this post.)
So -- seed money. I have all kinds of vision but not enough capital to get such a ball rolling. I guess it'd need about $500k minimum? (say $10k/acre for 20 acres, leaving $300k to get the common buildings and a few cottages rolling, assuming plenty of sweat equity to keep construction costs to a bare minimum...) If my numbers are off so be it, but the real point is even if my wife & I sold our house and parlayed every last asset into cash we'd be WELL short of half a million $US. And most of the like-minded folks I know are not rolling in capital, either.
But a thought occurred to me this morning. My wife and I have Pilates studio in Westchester County (just N of NYC) and most of our clients there are in the wealthy-to-quite-wealthy range (there are a few family names you'd recognize). And a number of them (we discuss world events but I do not bring my innermost thoughts to work with me) are dancing around the edge of awareness vis-a-vis the potential of SHTF.
What if: we were able to collect a few families that were willing to pony up, say, minimum $20k/person (so, 4-member family = $80k) for a share (cottage big enough for their family) in The Community Project (TCP). Say we get 4 families with 13 people total = $260k in seed money to get the ball rolling? That's enough to buy the land and start in with construction.
Yes, I know, hard sell when you've just got a mental brochure and a piece of land in mind. And there would have to be lawyerly doings extraordinaire to set up the legal entity under which families buy "partnerships" or "shares" of the project and so forth. Who would have control / what's the mechanism / etc. would all have to satisfy everybody. It'd be a gigantic undertaking just getting to the place of having the particulars worked out such that folks would be secure in buying in. But we'd be able to marry the capital on their end to the foresight and people-ready-to-work on our end and make it happen.
We get to start making the vision come to pass. They get the security of knowing their family has a sustainable place to go if things really go South. And I suppose if that doesn't come to pass, they could sell out their interest in the community to somebody from our circle here in the Hud Valley that wants in.
So: I post this merely to brainstorm, but also to present My Grand Idea for lancing, puncturing, ridicule, cat-calling and the throwing of rotten veggies (don't worry, I'll compost it all ). Or, if this inspires thoughts related to the subject, let me know that, too.
Great day in the morning it's gorgeous outside. Gotta go hang laundry on the line.
(I'm cross-posting this to the Affairs of the Heart thread, too...)
Here's a dream I had back in August 2001. I present it here merely to observe that (a) our dreams often contain useable "action plans" and (b) I've been dreaming about this future & jonesing on community for a good long while now.
"Dream Journal -- August 2001 -- 'Adelphoi'
In this dream I am walking through a lightly-wooded area. There is clearly a habitation of some sort up ahead as I can hear the various sounds of human life -- children shouting and laughing, a hammer pounding away on something, a dog barking and so forth. Eventually, the woods end and I emerge into a clearing perhaps 200 yards across. There are stables off to my left and several outbuildings/sheds. At the center of the clearing is a large 2-story building. Sure enough, a group of a half-dozen kids is playing tag, running all over the place. A man in his mid-forties is up on the roof of one of the outbuildings working on the shingles. A shepherd/collie mutt is racing hither and yon with the children, barking excitedly.
I stride forward towards the central house and am met on the porch by a woman in her late twenties/early thirties. She smiles warmly at me but does not speak and simply leads me into the house and shows me around. There is a large kitchen and dining-room that seats perhaps thirty or so people. Adults in the kitchen are hard at work making what looks like dinner. They cutting up vegetables that my guide makes clear have been grown on the surrounding land. The dining-room is decorated with the artwork of children. Adjacent is a classroom-looking space with dry-erase boards and projection/AV equipment. Down the hall from there is an den/library with "Shhh!" signs hung up. There are locker-room-type shower/changing facilities and an adjacent laundry. My guide leads me up the stairs at the rear of the structure.
On the second floor are offices and a few guest rooms. We go out onto a veranda and in the distance my guide points out the vegetable gardens (several acres' worth) in the distance. There are also buildings for livestock and, interestingly, a baseball diamond.
Then she leads me back into the house, down the hallway and pauses outside a door and gestures me past her into the room. I walk by her, and turn left. In the room in front of me a 60-ish woman is sitting on the windowsill outlined by the late-afternoon sun. When I enter she is gazing out the window, but turns her head towards me and -- her head in silhouette and wearing a halo of the sun's white disk -- says clearly "Adelphoi."
When I awoke I was very excited by this dream. It had such a depth of waking reality to it, and the community I had toured a sense of purpose, peace and satisfaction. I researched "Adelphoi" and it is a Greek word referring to a faith community, specifically a group of Christians living together as a community. While I eschew any particular organized religion, I have been yearning for a place in an intentional community of like-minded people -- people living a spiritual and conscious life.
Since moving to New Paltz last Summer, my wife and I have been seeking out Good People and Community -- and we have had success. However, this dream takes the idea to an entirely different level. A group of perhaps 10 families living on a large-ish chunk of land together; each family has a simple bungalow/cabin/cottage in which they have the bare necessities (sleeping quarters, toilet); a larger central building encompasses most of the indoor life of the community -- meals prepared and served/schooling of children/"entertainments" such as television and "communications" like internet and so forth/infirmary/business offices/guests rooms -- are all located in the main central buildings. The members of the community have a complementary set of skills: physician, teacher, animal husbandry, farming, managing the business end of things, techie ("computer husbandry"? ), carpentry/plumbing/electrician, and not leastly healing arts (massage, acupuncture, Pilates, herbs/aromas/nutrition et al.). "
I don't want to sound offensive (you're a way cool dude, and we have similar ideas on many things) but your building costs are thinking inside the box. 300k for common buildings is a LOT, if you have wood and are prepared to put in the effort you could probably get that down to $20k for all the building shells, add in renewable energy and you're probably looking at $100k for all of them. It will cost $300k if you stay conventional, but where's the fun in that.
Consider cordwood masonry, cheap if you have plenty of wood, just needs some effort making the wood cords and mud, use quicklime on the outside and poof, with some effort you got a building for next to nothing. You could also do this with straw bale, same principle, but with straw not cordwood, mud the outside, lime wash, done again. Rammed Earth is also possible, but a bit more expensive, for the concrete slabs used for the walls. All of these have been used effectively, and generally have quite a few advantages, since they have continuous walls, they have fewer overall drafts, which conventional stick built buildings will have unless you use SIP's.
Just provoking the thinking process
I don't want to sound offensive (you're a way cool dude, and we have similar ideas on many things) but your building costs are thinking inside the box. 300k for common buildings is a LOT, if you have wood and are prepared to put in the effort you could probably get that down to $20k for all the building shells, add in renewable energy and you're probably looking at $100k for all of them. It will cost $300k if you stay conventional, but where's the fun in that
I'm only too happy to have somebody point out that it can be done for less! My numbers are completely pulled outta thin air and I have no experience in building costs or materials prices.
In my perfect world, all the buildings are non-conventional / passive solar / wonders of progressive design and thinking. And again, in the perfect sitch you have to clear the lots to build and that wood goes straight into an on-site milling process for those needs. Rammed earth, straw bale, heck I want a geodesic dome made out of solar panels!
Part of the plan would be to model the process to others nearby, so trying the different methods and fathoming the pros/cons would be of value not only to ourselves but those that follow our lead. Which, given enough pre-Fan time, will hopefully be a lot of folks.
And I love that about you, brah!
Probably not too many dissenting views on the desired end state of a multiple family community - assuming that is what folks decide is the best way to handle whatever degree of SHTF is coming.
You can get the "community" sense seed planted by planning and executing a food storage preparation day similar to what Chris and Becca did and discussed at Lowesville.
We are having our kickoff planning meeting with 6 families this weekend. We are going to figure out what each family is going to order (how much grain, rice, legumes, whatever) and for what time frame (3 months, 6 months, 1 yr). Once we know the amount of "stuff" we are going to figure out how many storage buckets, mylar bags, dessicant and O2 absorber packs we need to store it all. Then we send in one big order, take advantage of the reduced cost for large orders.
Once all the stuff gets here, we have another work day planned to sort everything, seal it up. Then off we go. I would expect that when neighbors see what's going on, at least a few will ask what's going on. Maybe we pick up a few more families, maybe not. but we definitely got something crossed off our action list and have solidified the 6 family community we built.
I would expect this first effort to be the core of any group we end up moving out into the country with should it come to that.
One more thing, check out the following link to GrowingPower.org - they are up in Milwaukee and they raise enough food for 10,000 on 2 acres. They have an amazing hydroponics set up as well as chickens, goats, ducks, turkeys and fish. For my $500K I'm sure you could come up with a scaled down version that would support 10 families.
I agree that the use of onsite and local materials will save you a lot of cash if you have the sweat equity to make it happen. Trees that need to be cleared get turned into building materials. Dirt excavated for cellars and such become earthen plasters and cob. Heck, you can even cut the turf from the building footprint and put it on the roof. Waste not, want not!
I'm not a big fan of stick built homes. I've built a few in my day and they are IMO a failure by design. You're essentially trading performance and durability for speed and ease of construction. You end up using twice as much materials to compensate for the use of convenient standard sizes of dimensional lumber, and then even more to get the performance and efficiency up to snuff. It wastes money and wastes resources.
Monolithic walls just give you more bang for your buck... if done properly they are extremely durable and weather tight, have high thermal mass and good insulation, and you can get more with less. Cordwood masonry, straw bale, wattle & daub, cob, Earthship, and partially/fully subterranian all have better performance than stick built. SIPs and ICFs, while more expensive, have excellent performance and are really fast & easy to put together. Even traditional timber frame and post & beam save mateiral and labor in the end because the skeletal members are solid and minimally processed. If you have an onsite milling operation, it's much more efficient to square up a tree to an 8x8 post or beam that will hold massive weight and forces (i.e. large spans) than dink around with 2x dimensional lumber that dictates 16" oc studs whether they are needed for structural integrity or not. Personally, I think timber frame/post & beam skeleton from onsite trees with a monolithic wall system from onsite materials is the best of both worlds!
Another way to save some cash is to look at land that hasn't been subdivided into tiny parcels yet. A big chunk of acreage usually costs less per acre than trying to buy up several smaller parcels... sometimes the difference in cost per acre can be substantial. With that in mind, I also think your acreage is a little small for that many people, especially if you plan to have a sustainable woodlot and any livestock bigger than chickens. I definitely wouldn't drop below an acre a person, and would probably stick with at least 2 just in case there are any additions to the community's family. You could probably get an undivided parcel of 100 acres for roughly the same price as two 20 acre plots. Buy in bulk, get a discount :) (and the property taxes are likely to be lower, too)
I think the investor idea could work if you already had in mind the type of people you wanted to live and work with. But I think it's going to be a hard sell until you get something down on paper. A prospectus with a general plan and some sketches of your envisioned layout would do wonders. You might even want to put in some pics of a few properties that you had in mind. Anything you can do to make this seem more concrete and tangible will aid in your endeavors. And don't limit yourself just to folks who want to buy in and live there... think about suppliers, researchers and media who might want to grant you some cash in exchange for using their stuff, letting them document your growth etc... it's smarmy-feeling, but sometimes working the system can pay off. For example, I fully intend to take advantage of the free seeds [OP & Heirloom] and soil amendments [Organic] offered by the state school's cooperative extension in exchange for a few hours of my time to write up a research report on them. You might be amazed at the people who would be willing to grant you money, labor, equipment, expertise, etc just to further their knowledge and causes!
This is a great "startup" idea. Getting peoples' feet wet in a very practical and non-threatening way (as opposed to, say, organizing a gun club or something). Thanks man! And I'll check out growingpower, too.
Monolithic walls just give you more bang for your buck... if done properly they are extremely durable and weather tight, have high thermal mass and good insulation, and you can get more with less. Cordwood masonry, straw bale, wattle & daub, cob, Earthship, and partially/fully subterranian all have better performance than stick built.
Another way to save some cash is to look at land that hasn't been subdivided into tiny parcels yet.
it's smarmy-feeling, but sometimes working the system can pay off. For example, I fully intend to take advantage of the free seeds [OP & Heirloom] and soil amendments [Organic] offered by the state school's cooperative extension in exchange for a few hours of my time to write up a research report on them. You might be amazed at the people who would be willing to grant you money, labor, equipment, expertise, etc just to further their knowledge and causes!
Thanks plickety! There's a buncha groovy ideas in here -- saving cut sod for the roof, for one!
I would love to have south-facing structures built into the side of a hill w/passive solar using stone/ceramic floors (whatever's the best for thermal mass) -- the windows (the whole S wall would be windows) would admit light in winter and be shaded (by tree foliage) in summer, and so forth.
Yes, one big honkin' parcel, ideally. And one that has lowlands, hillside, and hilltop for microclimactic diversity w/in the land's range.
Huh. Hadn't even thought of the 'working the system' ideas. You're one clever cat, yo!
I think the investor idea could work if you already had in mind the type of people you wanted to live and work with. But I think it's going to be a hard sell until you get something down on paper. A prospectus with a general plan and some sketches of your envisioned layout would do wonders. You might even want to put in some pics of a few properties that you had in mind. Anything you can do to make this seem more concrete and tangible will aid in your endeavors. And don't limit yourself just to folks who want to buy in and live there... think about suppliers, researchers and media who might want to grant you some cash in exchange for using their stuff, letting them document your growth etc...
The quote above leads me to think I should --
Simply begin to act as if I already have the money/investors required for TCP (The Community Project).
Just begin planning and so forth. Start on paper -- size ranges, # of families, possible general areas/locations (as opposed to actually shopping land parcels -- I think that'd wait until down the road a bit). Write a prospectus. Write a vision statement. Do a business plan. And keep the antennae out for quivers in the web.
It'd get me out of the "can't really make a plan cuz the money ain't there" type of thinking.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Glad to have inspired you -- "if you build it, they will come" even if it's only a straw man on a piece of paper for now. I'm not even trying to start a community, and I drew up our homestead prospectus last summer and have been adding, deleting and modifying it for over a year now... it really makes you stop and think things through and you can see how things are related so much better with a few diagrams. If I hadn't fleshed out each system, I'd probably have underestimated my power requirements because I would have forgotten about the water pumps (the well pump, the storage/pressure pumps, the irrigation pumps). That would have been a big Oooops!
I'm a "just jump in" girl by nature, but experience has taught me that you need a semi-solid idea of what you're doing before you start or else you spend twice as long (or longer!) designing and fixing stuff as you go. Even just sticking in a summary paragraph about some future thing that you might do makes sure that you don't find yourself unable to later.
Passive solar design is awesome... but keep in mind that the application of the its tenets are very climate specific. don't set up a system that has so much thermal mass and so much solar gain through the windows that you bake in the summer and freeze in the winter as your heat escapes out the glass. Gotta remember that thermal mass can "radiate" cold just as easily as warmth. That's one reason why it's not recommended in AK, once it gets cold it takes forever to warm up and will suck any heat you can generate right out of the room until it does..... brrrrrrrrrr! Properly positioned eaves and overhangs will probably do you more consistent protection than relying on foliage from trees for shade, you just have to figure out your solar angles throughout the year. (I have a problem with trees near the house ever since half of one crushed the corner of my bedroom one stormy night)
I followed a trail of breadcrumbs pointed out to me by joe2baba, and came upon this (from the Wikipedia entry for Dr. Scott Peck):
"The meaning of true community
Peck describes what he considers to be the most salient characteristics of a true community:
I don't have any pithy analysis at this point, but I'll be chewing it over as I go through my day. And as always, I'm happy to hear what other folks have to say about it.
Nothing to dissagree with there. Shame not more is said regarding size limitations and absense of systemisation (process vs product) particually in respect of workable concensus. Perhaps the first point might be broken out into at least two.
Much better language than I could come up with. Maybe the start of a good vision?
Permaculture and community building in Overtown (north Miami, FL). Skip to the 6:20 mark for their work in permaculture.
Hey gang --
Had a fine evening this past Wednesday. A subgroup of my men's circle evidently gets together informally each Wednesday night to cook and hang out. Seems like it's mostly just a fine way to pass an evening but deeper work than simply hanging out also goes on. (Seems to me that these days if you're sapient and concerned then it's almost more work to avoid grappling with all the issues we face than it is to engage the issues with those around you that care and try to figure out what the heck our responses are...)
I got invited to join the gathering since the group (plus myself) has a Thing we're trying to put together and it's more interesting and enjoyable to do it in person over home-cooked food (and a beer) than it is via e-mail. We started hammering out some common thoughts about the Thing but the convo wandered amusingly and edifyingly.
(We had a bonus attendee with us -- the guy teaches at an institution in NYC [you probably know it's name] and they are preparing to build a new "showcase" facility in Manhattan but first they have to demolish the old one. Not only is it bizarre to be knocking down what is evidently an adequate facility [according to this fellow] in this economic environment but the institution is not even attempting to salvage what sounds like hundreds of 1000s/millions of dollars worth of fixtures and equipment. They are knocking down the current structure with all sorts of valuable items inside. Mystifying. Why not even salvage the items for distribution elsewhere if the institution doesn't want them?...Does this culture have a sickness or what?)
Overall, we had a fine time chewing stuff over (incl. our food I guess [smile]) and it was time well-spent whether or not we advanced our cause (which we did).
Mostly I guess I just wanted to post re the ongoing development of the community up here in New Paltz and perhaps as a l'il side question: what sort of events/venues do you guys find most useful/fruitful when you're doing the work of community building? Small groups? Large groups? Cooking/having a beer like we did? Or straight up "committee meeting" type things? Or whatever other thoughts people have about the process...
I am one member of an 8-man group...
...Outdoors, we build a fire and sit around it in those collapsable field chairs. We say our various prayers or make offerings to denote that we're taking time out of mundane life to address the concerns of our spirits (or soul, or heart, or psyche, or whatever you want to call it).
And we just talk for about 3 hours (6-9 p.m., usually). Everyone has to check in one way or another, even if it's just to say they don't have much to say (although usually everyone has plenty to discuss).
It takes dedication, it takes valuable time (we alternate hosting and some of the other guys live nearly an hour away -- so it's a 5-hour time commitment). But anything worth building does. And these will be some of the people I'll feel comfortable relying on in the years to come when things *really* change.
Is anybody else out there doing anything like this? Either in a men's group or mixed?
VIVA -- Sager
We had a group, it was the "Scout dads" so to speak. There was a cohort of about 6-8 guys who's sons were all cub scouts together. We would either all camp together, and sit by the fire or have a "guy's night out". We would have some activity besides the scout meetings where we would share.
We weren't as organized as your group Sager, but it was interesting how similar the socioeconomic backgrounds of our group was. I say was because, as the boys got older, they have begun to camp by themselves and the group (of fathers) fell apart. Now that the boys are Boy Scouts, the fathers don't all don't go to the meetings. There still is this feeling of belonging between the fathers, but it has fallen to the way-side.
Time to get back to making the group.
P.S. Ya know, I really hate to say it, but, the Boy Scouts kind of holds all these things up as virtiues. At least our sons are learning community and belonging.
Hm...dunno why you'd 'hate to say it'...many different groups foster community and/or civic-minded citizenship (on the local level -- IMO on the national political level 'community building' seems to consist of wearing a flag pin on one's lapel and paying lip service to virtues). I was a scout in my day (interesting how different scouting activities are depending on whether you're doing it in VA [Camporees at Gettysburg] or SoCal [camping on the beach at San Onofre and surfing] -- but as you say the virtues are the same wherever you go), and my parents for decades were deeply involved in the Presbyterian church (mom taught the children's music program, dad was a deacon and then an elder for ages -- all unpaid volunteer work of course). And while my personal outlook probably varies from the 'norm' at the Knights of Columbus (or whatever group) I can certainly value their dedication to the commonweal (as they see it) and their willingness to spend valuable personal time reaching out in order to make their community a better place.
I think the coming times will help re-illuminate What Really Matters in such a way that when we act collectively and in a relatively altruistic way (instead of "I'm gettin' mine" being the paramount value) the differences that currently act as stumbling blocks will be exposed for what they really are: tiny little ant-hills.
Weird being home on a Monday (had a strange confluence of events in my work sked so I'm off). But that lawn needs cutting and the garden needs weedin'....off I go.
Thanks for jumping in, RNCarl!
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