Intentional Community in Greenfield, MA

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calaurel's picture
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Joined: Dec 31 2008
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Intentional Community in Greenfield, MA

Hi Folks,

     I met Maya recently at a gathering in Greenfield. She is needing to make some quick decisions about land that she's been trying to develop as intentional community. I offered to post her writing about her vision here. I don't know anything about her project and I don't want to take up space on Chris's site with conversation, so please contact her directly with any inquiries. 

What follows is her writing:

Maya Apfelbaum


What the World Needs Now:


This 23 acre old estate and its hilltop placement isstunning and so is the vision that we have developed and held for this place’sbest use for the last few years. Our vision was timely before Obama’sInauguration, but is even timelier now. The world needs to see this visionhappen and we’re calling on you to help make it happen! Please read thissynopsis of our ideas and their situational context and then please see thelist of ways you could help to shape and actualize the potential here on thelast page. Thanks, in advance.



Create an outstanding and timely eco-village here in thissmall urban, ex-industrial, increasingly green town of Greenfield, MA and makeit a model for living a more sustainable, balanced, economically andemotionally smart lifestyle. Look at the heart of human existence and the needfor a sense of stability, love, creativity, adventure, learning, individualityand connection. Use our resources, minds, hearts, bodies and imagination tohelp create opportunities for those human needs to be responded to well here,and as part of the larger creative economyefforts to rejuvenate this region. Bring our eco-village alive with color,expression, communication and innovations that inspire and enrich the cultureof Greenfield and the surrounding Pioneer Valley communities.

In other words, we aim to develop one of the firstintentionally arts-integrated, solar and alterative energy living and learningcenters in the world right here. Hereis: just 1 mile from downtown Greenfield with its NorthEastSustainable Energy Association (NESEA) headquarters; the well-reputedGreenfield Community College (GCC) with its Green Job Training programs; thesuccessful Greenfields Market Food Coop and other good local service providersand businesses such as the Library, P.O. and YMCA. Here is: Greenfield, the once official seat of governmentfor Franklin County, the most economically challenged county in MA., yet fullof wonderful human and natural resources such as the Connecticut, Deerfield andother rivers; good agricultural land and organic farms; the Pioneer Valley’srich culture and history, and easy access to the world class Five CollegesPrograms. Here is: about 2 to 4hrs. of travel time from larger cities such as Boston, MA; Burlington, VT;Keene, NH; and NYC, NY.

We see about 30 (and on upward to 50 legally allowed)units of zero-energy, conservation-minded village homes of varying sizes beingbuilt here for peoples with a range of lifestyles and income levels. They willbe for everything from single parent families to nuclear families to coophouses for groups of people, to individual private apartments. We may well beable to do cluster housing, thus using energy more efficiently; and keepingmore open space available. The houses may be individually owned, but the landand the community center(s), workshop, performance, meeting and conference spaces we envision will be owned cooperatively.

Altogether we will place an emphasis on sustainability,equitability and democratic or consensus decision-making processes rather thanon profit making, consumerism, and power-over hierarchal decision-makingmodels. We will benefit by sharing the development, ownership and operation ofmany aspects of the physical plant and its maintenance as well as the land withits intended organic gardens and orchards. We will work together to conceive,design and share good workshop, studio, exhibit and performance space; office,classroom and conference spaces and guest facilities, other publicly usedspaces such as a community center and kitchen. 

We will work out systems to share tools and equipment ofvarious kinds (for ex. possibly transportation items such as cars, bikes,mopeds and office tools such as High Speed Internet services and high qualityprinting and copying machines). And, by cultivating an atmosphere ofcreativity, cross-fertilization and diversity, communication and collaboration,we will nurture innovative ideas and their useful application. We will supportthe gifts each person has to offer to the community and vice versa.

In other words, people from all walks of life andbackgrounds; artists of all mediums, builders, tech experts, scientists,inventors, teachers, healers, athletes, businesses owners, parents, children,farmers, laborers, and others, will benefit here from the sum of the partsbeing greater than the parts alone. Also, though independence, individualityand privacy will be deeply respected and valued, life here will also encouragethis eco-village’s members to gain or hone skills in co-creating and sharing;and we envision that these gifts will also flow outward radiating circles, tobenefit the larger community.

“Lupinwood”is the name of this amazing place as it stands now:

4 buildings and a gorgeous in-ground pool on the upper 10 acre part of the 23 Southwest facing acreproperty; and no buildings, an old logging road and potential building andagricultural space on the remaining 13 acres (when its young forest is more cleared).

The four existing buildings include the elegant 1890’s Main Mansion and old funky cool Carriage House, and the more modern 1990’s“Pool House Cabino” and “Garage Apartment.” The Main House, where we live, has5 to 6 large bedrooms; 5 fireplaces; 5 bathrooms; 1.5 kitchens; endless dining,living, socializing, and workshop spaces; and plenty of potential office ordormitory space. It has the most beautiful stone porch I have ever seen,overlooking the valley and providing one good sunrise and sunset experienceafter another. It has fancy old stone and woodwork, beautiful hardwood floorsand windows. It’s a gem but also a monster; a serious candidate for majorretrofitting and renovation to make it energy efficient and more accommodatingfor various purposes.

I could go on and on about theother buildings, the land, the town and the context as I perceive it after 4.5years of volunteering here, but the main thing I want to say is we do nothave much time left. We need you now. We; John Bailey, currently the sole owner of this estate,myself and the 4 other adults still living here will likely soon enter into theforeclosure process that has been lurking around the edges of our crisissituation for months. This plus many other factors, such as certainconservative politics, difficult zoning laws, and the uniqueness of thisproperty, have made it hard for us to either fully rent out this place -- orconvert it for other revenue-producing purposes such as a Bed & Breakfast.We can’t collect enough rent to cover the costs. The enormity of helpingmaintain and run this place, while also trying to figure out how to “growit” is intense and overwhelming, but theinherent potential here hard to deny or abandon. If and when Foreclosureproceedings go into full action (any day now), we will have even less hope androom to do much, and in fact may have to let go and move on. 

 However, right now we dohave a few real options:  We could work on a ShortSale to specificbuyers -- people who might support this place to go in the direction for whichwe have striven. Maybe you, a friend of yours, or a non-profit (or group ofnon-profits) you know could be one of those players? We could also get a CoopGroup together super expediently to buy via a Short Sale here. A Short Sale would enable any of these buyers to purchase partsor the entirety of this amazing place for a very low price.

 We could also subdivide andsell parts of this place separately and get cash with which to sustain the restof this project. For instance, we could sell a package of the mansion, poolhouse cabin and 5 acres combined for the reasonable price of about $650, 000.00and in turn that sale would help finance the larger village concept with theremaining buildings and on the remaining land. We could turn the mansion and other existingbuildings into condos if we had enough interested parties all lined up at once.Finally, we could combine parts of these above options to make an appropriatecreative deal. We will discuss more specific information on the processes,timelines, and costs involved in these options if you are interested.


Lupinwood = Lupin +  wood:


Lupine or Lupin is the usually purplish, bluish orpinkish many blossomed flower.

In the story,“Miss Rumphius”, the main character Alice grows up to love and sow lupines allover the valley where she lives, and thus fulfills the mission given her by herwise grandfather to “do something to make the world more beautiful.” (MissRumphius, Barbara Cooney, c 1982, PuffinBooks, 40 West 23rd St., NY, NY, 10010) I believe that “Making theworld more beautiful” is a radical and integral part of what is needed in themovement for restorative cultural change and intentional community building; anapproach more practical and necessary that we currently can imagine.

Lupine also means the Wolf; regarded as the teacher, leader,pathfinder “of new ideas who returns to the clan to teach and share medicine.”Wolf “medicine” synthesizes a sense of strong individualism with a strong senseof belonging to and caring for one;s family, clan, and community in NativeAmerican Teachings. (Pg. 97, Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams and David Carson, c. St. Martin’s Press, 175thAve. NY, N.Y. 10010)

We can honor these deeper meanings of the name here. Thisplace was built with international banking money and likely arms and shoemanufacturing money by the wealthy Peabody family. Mr. George Peabody, uncle ofMr. Charles Peabody (who married a Greenfield woman and had this house built),was not just a shrewd and successful self-educated banker, but also the firstmodern philanthropist, giving millions of dollars away to the first knownpublic housing and education causes without attaching a religious or politicalagenda or doctrine to those gifts. Let us take the best of this (thephilanthropy’s generosity and focus) and turn around the worst of it (thelikely sources of income and heavy accumulation of wealth) so that we canprovide good affordable housing, honor the land and develop ways to sustainlife here with a balance of old and new ways of work, invention, love, rest andplay.

This is the time for theflowering of human kind. The Maya call it the age of Itza and astrologers callit “The Age of Aquarius.” Others such as Ethowah Cherokee teacher and TibetanBuddhist, Dhyani Ywahoo call it the time for the blossoming of  “the Age of  Flowers.” (Mana Cards, The Power of Hawaiian Wisdom, Catherine Kalama Becker, PH.D. & DoyaNardin,  c 1998 Radiance NetworkInc., Hilo, Hawai’I).

It could be the time forthe end of human kind if we do not reverse global warming, war, exploitation,economic injustice, pollution, genetic mutation and large-scale corporateownership. Or,it could be the turning point, poignant and raw and full of promise for afurthering of human kind and human kindness; a time we could still work to seehumans as ever evolving, resourceful, spirited, vital, compassionate lovingbeings, and in balance with themselves, each-other, the planet and its otherlife forms.

It’s a tall order, and on short notice, but its worth it.Come out of the woodwork, come out of the silence and unify with us to makethis a YES WE CAN and YES WE SHALL (overcome)…Do the work we want to see forthe world here locally and open the way here and now.  Once again, please call us and we will share more info. withyou such as the costs, time line, & relevant laws associated with thisproject.

5 Main Ways to help:


1)    Sendus personal support donations or create a benefit for us so we can keep doingto work we have been doing (unpaid) for these 4/5 years here: researching,advocating, meeting, planning and doing outreach and upkeep. etc..

2)    Giftus with legal, banking, maintenance, real estate or other free or pro-bonoservices.

3)    Buyparts or all of the upper property or help form a group to turn it into condosor buy it as a coop group. Partner with us in making these ideas viable. Do itnow.

4)    Put usin touch with philanthropists and organizations whom might likely support ourideas or other similar eco-village, co-housing or land preservation visions,and who might well invest time, money and resources here.

5)    Supportus emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. We’ve worked hard and long atthis; and are worn, but keep trying to move forward. Keep aiming high.


We’ve let go of lots else in our lives for the sake oftrying to realize the main vision here (and are also quite open to it beingadjusted) & would love support on any of these levels, or in ways not yetimagined or named. Surprise us.


Please contact me. Thanks!


Maya Apfelbaum;

M.A. Arts, Ecology and Community Building, LesleyUniversity.

Director, Performer, Artist and Educator.


Hm. (413) 774-7322, Cell (978) 339-3101



172 Highland Ave.

Greenfield, MA.




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