Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose time has come?

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1234
Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose time has come?

This thread was prompted by a tongue-in-cheek comment Davos made in the Daily Digest commentary to the effect that CM.com'ers might get together and buy one of the islands Greece may be selling. While I don't think that everyone up and moving to an island in the Med is a terribly practical scenario, Davos' comment got me to seriously thinking about what would be viable.

With all due respect to the many site regulars who I know disagree with me, I don't think the "survivalist strategy" has very much merit. People who are stocking up with a 20 year supply of dried food to weather whatever storm might be coming are in my humble opinion not being completely realistic about the risks they would face in a real crisis. As someone pointed out in another thread, in a really serious "chaos situation", bad guys with guns will come into your house and take whatever they want, whether you like it or not. Having firearms yourself is not a sufficient defense in my opinion, because better-armed people who are more willing to take your life indiscriminately than you are willing to take theirs pose a threat you can't overcome.

Following CM's example by moving to a rural place where everyone knows their neighbors and a strong sense of community exists is certainly a good start. But as the situation devolves further, I wonder if there's a logical next step: Intentional communities of like-minded people who get together and acquire land in a sustainability-friendly region with a pre-meditated plan for how exactly they will weather any potential storm together. As CM has said repeatedly, nobody is likely to get through what may be coming alone, and communities will have to navigate the coming storm together. That sounds great, but if you're the one doing all the preparing and your neighbors are just "waiting for the recession to end", your supplies are going to end up shared with them and they're not going to have much to offer in return. But if like-minded people formed a physical community together, they could support one another.

This may seem far-fetched but I don't think it is. Already we see libertarians moving to New Hampshire en masse because they believe that if they all go to one state they will be able to dominate that state's political process with their views. (Apologies to those involved if I got the details of that movement wrong; my point is simply that people can and do move their lives to live in places where others see things the way they do).

The notion of an entire town being dominated by people who share a view of sustainability in a potential future world where neither state nor federal government can be relied upon to provide any meaningful services seems quite appealing to me. A year ago I would have said "Impossible! You could never find enough people willing to come together and move their lives and families to the same place!". But I think maybe such a radical idea's time will come.

I just thought I'd post this and see what people thought. Perhaps this is just a hair-brained rambling idea, I don't know. What do you think?

Erik

deggleton's picture
deggleton
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 250
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

Work on rapid development of local economies is probably more important than getting away with likeminded people.  A system for deploying strengths and meeting needs is better than whatever some potentially irrelevant agreements about issues can create and sustain.

See also threads concerning quality of life, positive visions of the future and Transition Towns.

Ken C's picture
Ken C
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 13 2009
Posts: 753
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

Erik,

 

I think that this approach might be a workable idea if you could get a critical mass of people to join in such a plan.

It may be that many people are in the same situation as me regarding moving to a new place. If it were only me that had to to move then I would go tomorrow. However, I am currently the "Lone Ranger" in my family when it comes to sensing the things may get a whole lot  worse. Given that I can't/won't leave without my taking wife and close family I am doing what I can to prepare in place. My "hope" is that wife will see the light before the SHTF big time and we can make plans for a better and more sustainable future for our grandchildren. For now wife, daughter, son-in-law believe that the recession will end and all will be "normal" again. I suspect that  I am not alone in this having this difficulty.

Even Dr. M. stated that the reason he chose Massachusetts over somewhere else was "family, family and family".

Anyway, I do hope that you are successful in attracting  some interest in this idea. It may be that I am succesful in getting my close family to understand the situation and if/when that happens I too would be interested. Do keep us up to date on how this goes.

Ken

 

ao's picture
ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2009
Posts: 2220
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...
ErikTownsend wrote:

With all due respect to the many site regulars who I know disagree with me, I don't think the "survivalist strategy" has very much merit. People who are stocking up with a 20 year supply of dried food to weather whatever storm might be coming are in my humble opinion not being completely realistic about the risks they would face in a real crisis. As someone pointed out in another thread, in a really serious "chaos situation", bad guys with guns will come into your house and take whatever they want, whether you like it or not. Having firearms yourself is not a sufficient defense in my opinion, because better-armed people who are more willing to take your life indiscriminately than you are willing to take theirs pose a threat you can't overcome.

Erik,

I think you may be thinking that a "survivalist" strategy is also an isolationist strategy.  That may or may not be the case.  The success of such a strategy obviously depends on the context of the situation.  If you are pretty much alone in a high risk urban area, I would be in some agreement with you.  If you live in a rural area where everyone knows everyone else and your neighbors and community include many like minded individuals, the probability of "success" of such a strategy greatly increases.  I know my personal motivation, my family's motivation, and my neighbors' motivation for protecting our lives and properties is significantly higher than that of anyone who may attempt to deprive us of  what is essential for our continued existence.  Survival strategies implemented in conjunction with your neighbors and communities can be very effective.  Bad guys with guns die as easily as anyone else.  While they may be criminals, most of them are not fools.  They will choose "soft" targets over "hard" targets every day of the week.  From any individual level to a national level, history is rife with examples of outgunned but determined forces overcoming or resisting numerically superior odds.  The Finnish Winter War is just one example.

I'm not necessarily advocating this approach but here's an example of community involving a coalition of citizens and government to afford local protection in the event of an emergency situation.

http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/lousiana-sheriff-larry-deen-forms-operation-exodus-paramilitary-group/19385750

Such an organization is quite obviously a double-edged sword and I find it alarming that a sheriff's organization has 50 cal. machine guns at its disposal.  Nevertheless, it's a sign of the times that such organizations are coming into existence.

 

ao's picture
ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2009
Posts: 2220
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

My apologies for taking the thread off my the main theme.

I personally like the idea of a like minded community on a Greek island.  Most like minded communities have failed, however, since being like minded is rarely sufficient "cement" to bind them together for longer durations.  What has cemented successful likeminded communities together, however, is identification with a higher moral authority as opposed to any political or lifestyle belief.  The Amish, the Mormons in Utah, and the Jews in Israel are a few that come to mind but I'm sure there are others.  I realize that the above communities are not homogeneous and have their problems but any time you get two or more human beings together, they will have their problems.  Part of what life is about is working out those problems. 

 

signalfire's picture
signalfire
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 18 2009
Posts: 34
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

I spent a year in an 'intentional community' and they're not always what they are cracked up to be.  It was a mix of very social (as in extrovert and needy) older women, a few men who all wanted to be 'the boss', too many unsupervised or badly supervised children, and the original organizers who were all aging and losing control of the whole dream.  As new people came in, they had layers of cliques and friendships already established to negotiate, a bunch of pre-agreed upon rules to adhere to, and were really only welcomed if they 'fit in' to the pre-existing dynamics. Which seemed to change daily. And god forbid if you should want privacy or time alone. It was seen as 'antisocial'.

I think you would find that the more people you try to get together in a coherent tribe, the less coherent it all becomes. People are too dynamic and too different in their expectations. A rule by 'consensus' usually ends up being default to the loudest mouth in the group.  Like what we see now in the bigger picture, the bullies end up running things and the pacifists back down.

While I also do not think survivalism (as in store food, water and wait) is really the answer, if things REALLY hit the fan, how long before there's actually a die off? A few weeks? Months? Civilization is way past overshoot. We're all on a train that's going over a crevasse on broken tracks.

Crash's picture
Crash
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 26 2008
Posts: 171
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

It is clearly not possible for everyone to go off and build new intentional communities. It seems to me we need to intentionalise our existing communities. This is what the Transition movement is about. but thats all on another thread...

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 11 2009
Posts: 2236
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

As anyone who's spent any time here knows, 'community' is my big crusade.  I've been pounding away at it for about 4 years in general, and nearly 1 year in the sense of a 'lifeboat' type intentional community.  IME it's a quixotic undertaking, definitely extremely difficult to manage (assuming you can actually get one together) and may in the long run be nigh-unto impossible.

Of late I've been mulling other options.  One that I'm chewing on pretty hard these days is simply getting your 'like-minded' individuals/families together and buying properties that are in a fairly tight geographic proximity to one another (as opposed to buying 50 acres of land and building a village-type thing [or buying a farm, say, that has lots of buildings on it already -- some of which could be converted to residential use]) -- maybe say 3-4-5 houses within a mile or so of a given point.  Call it a Distributed Village.  <smile>

This way, you're at most a 20-minute walk (or 3-minute bike ride) from your the most distant member of your 'community'.  You can still garden/raise livestock as a collective effort and are close enough to lean on each other in a crisis (assuming we don't have total sudden collapse with the usual assortment of Mutant Zombie Biker gangs).  You can share equipment (pickup truck, snow blowers/plows, gardening or landscaping equipment, create a "tool library", and so forth) and other expenses (maybe every family doesn't need 2 cars?).  And everybody still has their own residence so the introverts can get space and so on.  I suppose in the event of a full collapse you'd have a Emergency Plan where everybody ends up at the biggest house together for safety's sake.  

Anyhow, ya'll get the idea.  This Distributed Village idea actually has some traction with those folks among our social circle who see the need for cooperative living but balk at the full-on "livin together on a big parcel of land" concept.  

Just my (ever-evolving) dream...

Viva -- Sager

Romans12.2's picture
Romans12.2
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 14 2009
Posts: 227
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

Sager thanks for your post, I love your dream.  My family would be best suited for this same type of arrangement.  Most people we know are waiting out this "bad recession"....not in any way interested in thinking of an alternative town or group think.  You are already fortunate just to have like minded people in your life. 

Signalfires experience would be my greatest fear. As Christians our first choice would be to find other believers to share our lives with, but I'm starting to see a vision of a different future....  As I spend time on this and other sites looking for strength and new ideas, I'm learning a lot about how "the other side thinks". 

Before I became aware of the coming crash, I was pretty intolerant to all things liberal.  The more I learn about the people who have an awareness of what is coming, the more I believe that in the end the people left standing, the remnant, will be made up of two very different types of people. 

These people will have to learn to come together.  The differences will become meaningless when faced with feeding their children, protecting their property.  Will anti-gun and anti-capitalism and homophobic mean anything if you need to work together to grow the food or dig the well? Will it matter if the fallen government of our past has ever plotted to hurt our people willingly or will the new authority thats to take it's place be the only argument worth having? I offer that the chosen people of God will also need the Godless, and we will all simply become more tolerant of each other.

I think the new towns/communities will bring right and left together in a painfull yet absolutely perfect way.  And I can't wait to learn more from people that I've been raised to disregard.

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 11 2009
Posts: 2236
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

Now that is a beautiful post, Romans.  In the last year (maybe longer) I've come to grips with many folks that in the past I've never had any truck with.  Ex-military, gun-positive, hunting-types.  Not that I've avoided or scorned them in the past, but my life up until recently has just been lived in a different vein.  

It has, however, been utterly refreshing and heartening to discover that the stereotypes about the peeps I'm getting to know are just as inaccurate (by and large) as the stereotypes they've heard about "folks like me".  

Like me?  Hm.  Longhaired, world-wandering, NYC/SF-living live-and-let-live types.  Funny how being all holistic-living leads me eventually back around to the lifestyle of my (*very* old-school) Iowa (farmer) grandparents:  live close to the land, the best food is the food you grow yourself, D.I.Y., take care of those around you and they'll take care of you.  I'm most definitely more "out there" than any in my IA family are.  And I'm most definitely their grandson (and proud to be so).  And in their way I know they respect me, too.

So yes, learning to learn from those we were raised/taught to disregard.  IMO, in this dynamic will be our strength and resilience.  Because indeed we will need each other -- and all people of goodwill -- to make it work.

Thanks for your words, Romans.  To the journey ahead!

Magnify! -- Sager

 

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2008
Posts: 1258
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

 And would thee allow us who have big hearts and  large families in ?   We who have a little lower IQ  but can  work our butts off ?

     It still sounds like a town  or even an extended family to me .    Takes  people with different gifts and talents  to make things work .  Not everyone can know and be gifted in every area .The  things that will  destroy a place and split it in two are pride, greed,  and non -unity .  Those that grumble and complain but do nothing to help the situation .    There will always be disputes because no two people see things exactly the same.  I think  we even struggle within our own self , so why would we even think we could totally agree on all points ?  It seems there is something in us that needs to feel  we have worth and belong to a group , sometime we measure our own  worth by tearing down others , by judging their parenting  skills , their leadership qualities , their ability to contribute to the cause ... what ever that may be .   

  

 Even in a family the size of ours we miss even one person when they are gone or down a few days with a sickness . It is like losing and eye or an arm .    Yes everyone can be replaced but you  just find a groove where everyone has a place and is glad to feel validated .. to know they count and are needed.   You know even the old have wisdom and laps to comfort the young ones .. they have the unconditional love .

I would start with a list of why you are living where you are ,   .... the pluses and the minus .Know your own gifts and weakness and  of those who are near you .Open your hearts , your homes , the friendships will come and your communities will develop .  

strabes's picture
strabes
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 7 2009
Posts: 1032
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

Erik, yes I think the time has come but I still haven't figured where to do what you're talking about because trying to find a community haven within a culture of empire seems impossible.  Doug Casey's idea in Argentina is odd...as if a few rich guys sitting in a cigar lounge will be a viable community.  A guy in Panama is trying to do the same thing for less rich folks, but again, middle class people running from empire who have no idea how to do community or sustainable living doesn't sound like it will work.  There's no way to join the Amish or any other tight community because, well, then it wouldn't be a tight community. And what people have said here about intentional communties seems accurate.

I have thought that joining a community where a large institution provides a purpose for the community could work.  Like a college teaching 3E stuff.  The institution would then create community but keep it "distributed" to use Sager's word.  I think communities like this have formed around colleges in VT, WA, OR...

 

 

clmtqm's picture
clmtqm
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 8 2010
Posts: 1
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

First of all, I am so glad to have found this website, as I have known/felt from educating myself that this crash is coming, and rarely if ever meet anyone to talk to who see's the big picture; so, I've been feeling alone, and really wanting this connection. I am very interested in finding like minded people who are interested in pooling our resources together and creating a sustainable community.  I have located a few on-line simply by googling them, but they are out of the USA.  Still there are co-housing communities spread throughout the United States which I think could offer a great deal of useful information as well. I currently live in El Dorado County, Ca. aka "The Foothills" to the Sierra Nevada. Thank's!

r's picture
r
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 2 2008
Posts: 262
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

If there is a "revolution" in this country it will succeed only from the ground up in small towns where like-minded people can get together and democratically vote out the status quo and vote in a sustainability platform.  With the government hierarchy bankrupt the town will look after its own defense and pool resources, etc.  And the old government hierarchy will effectively cease to exist.  Just a thought...

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2008
Posts: 1258
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

 How much time and energy does it take to start these communities from scratch?   How many meetings  etc.   I have not read the book  and right now do not feel that I have enough time to seek  such out .  I suppose  If the Shit Totally hits the fan  there will be absolutely no other choice  and people will seek each other out . But for right now  who has the time to teach those who are just starting  and those that are still sitting on the fence with one leg still on the side of hoping it will all just fix itself and be OK .      I  guess I am being negative here and of course  these things should not be deterrents  to give it a try .  The next generations will depend upon these  but boy do those kiddos  not like to put in the work and give up the entertainment  to get it done .

deggleton's picture
deggleton
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 250
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...
Full Moon wrote:

 How much time and energy does it take to start these communities from scratch?   How many meetings  etc.   I have not read the book  and right now do not feel that I have enough time to seek  such out .  I suppose  If the Shit Totally hits the fan  there will be absolutely no other choice  and people will seek each other out . But for right now  who has the time to teach those who are just starting  and those that are still sitting on the fence with one leg still on the side of hoping it will all just fix itself and be OK .      I  guess I am being negative here and of course  these things should not be deterrents  to give it a try .

I salute you for the acknowledgement of negativity, and applaud the questions and points that preceeded it.

Starting anything from scratch now, with people unusually stressed, isn't likely to produce something robust, that works for many.  That's why emigrating to where we are in space and time is so right.  What's in place, including people, unbuilt givens (what remains of them) and what's built, can be repurposed and revivified much faster than what doesn't exist can be materialized.

How and what we think about people is really important to all this.  In that regard, I recommend Stephen Covey's The 8th Habit to all.  It shows how we can stop expecting little of ourselves and others, despite all the historic evidence we can find and exchange that seems to justify the practice.

auntiegrav's picture
auntiegrav
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 8 2010
Posts: 5
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...

Yes.

No one is secure if their neighbor is hungry.

Food, tools, and talk to your neighbors. If you move, move someplace where people are used to living without money. Bring your muscles with you and anything you can contribute.

sjmvideo's picture
sjmvideo
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 2 2010
Posts: 34
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...
SagerXX wrote:

...

Of late I've been mulling other options.  One that I'm chewing on pretty hard these days is simply getting your 'like-minded' individuals/families together and buying properties that are in a fairly tight geographic proximity to one another (as opposed to buying 50 acres of land and building a village-type thing [or buying a farm, say, that has lots of buildings on it already -- some of which could be converted to residential use]) -- maybe say 3-4-5 houses within a mile or so of a given point.  Call it a Distributed Village.  <smile>

... 

Anyhow, ya'll get the idea.  This Distributed Village idea actually has some traction with those folks among our social circle who see the need for cooperative living but balk at the full-on "livin together on a big parcel of land" concept.  

Just my (ever-evolving) dream...

Viva -- Sager

Great idea Sager. About 10 years ago in Boulder CO, there was a group that had a similar idea. They called it the "Neighborhood Eco-Village" the idea was to find something like a cul-de-sac on some open space and slowly buy out the houses one by one. Never made it past the idea stage as far as I know. Of course getting everyone on the street to either join or sell out would have been a problem. Given the economic status of those with the ideas, and the value of property adjacent to open space in Boulder it had a low probability in the first place.

S

sjmvideo's picture
sjmvideo
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 2 2010
Posts: 34
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...
Full Moon wrote:

 How much time and energy does it take to start these communities from scratch?   How many meetings  etc.   I have not read the book  and right now do not feel that I have enough time to seek  such out .  I suppose  If the Shit Totally hits the fan  there will be absolutely no other choice  and people will seek each other out . But for right now  who has the time to teach those who are just starting  and those that are still sitting on the fence with one leg still on the side of hoping it will all just fix itself and be OK .      I  guess I am being negative here and of course  these things should not be deterrents  to give it a try .  The next generations will depend upon these  but boy do those kiddos  not like to put in the work and give up the entertainment  to get it done .

It takes a lot of time. How many meetings? Well there are interest meetings, information meetings, organizing meetings, and once you have a core group of people together there are ongoing meetings to keep the community working. Think about it, part of the reason we are in our current eco/political mess (greater societal factors aside) is because we are too busy to be taking the time to learn and meet with our community members to get things done. Let someone else take care of our children, protect our property, grow our food, decide about the landscaping at our condo, etc.

If you don't have the time to search out an existing community, you are not going to have any time for "starting from scratch." Should you want to check out existing communities I can recommend 2 web sites:

Global Ecovillage Network

Communities Directory Online

Both are global directories of intentional communities of every type. You can search their databases and get additional information about communities. Many communities are listed as in formation. There are all kinds from large farming groups with hundreds of acres of land to single families with only a couple of acres where you could build your own house next to theirs.

I would love to find one of those communities that would work for both me and my wife. (She's just started to wake up, and it's pretty depressing for her right now.) But in the mean time I have started to associate with my local Transition Town movement. It is kinda following Sagar's distributed community model right now. This particular group covers 3 adjacent towns in Colorado. Their focus is on using the Grange building in one town for a community garden and meeting space. We are spread pretty far apart. It's a 20 minute car ride from my house to the Grange. Not very practical once there's no gas for my car. But in the mean time I can start to learn more skills and meet more "like enough" minded people.

I found this Transition group through a Crash Course offering that they posted on CM.com. You can search the web for Transition Town [your town or state here] and see if there is a group near your area.

S

deggleton's picture
deggleton
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 250
Re: Intentional "Sustainability Communities": An idea whose ...
sjmvideo wrote:

I found this Transition group through a Crash Course offering that they posted on CM.com. You can search the web for Transition Town [your town or state here] and see if there is a group near your area.

Or find and click on your state in the list on this page:  http://transitionus.ning.com/notes/index/show?noteKey=Transition_U.S._Activities_%26_Resources

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments