yes, in the archives there are threads discussing this from different aspects. i would guess that the average person thinks an intentional community is something that people on the fringes of society indulge in to separate themselves from the "establishment" for various reasons...political, religious, etc.
but i think their are a lot of communities that are not much different from condo and co-op groups...usually a little more socially oriented than most of them. it seems odd to me that it is so difficult for us to form or join a community.
in a community there is some form of sharing resources which condos and co-ops do on a more limited basis. i think the diferences with intentional community and more common living arrangements are more a matter of degree, but possible we aren't commonly understood.
This post was modified from its original form on 03 Jan, 17:54
i'm reposting this, because it seems to have disappeared in previous post which i now deleted. this is a cohousing situation:
makes me want to go find a nice cohousing community!
THE FARM has been around for a long time and evolved:
"i can't see joining a community to escape the world in an exclusive enclave. we need to reach out to neighbors and the larger community."
I agree totally. My version of IC is at the household level, people helping each other to make life easier in the sharing of resources. So many of us have more way than we need even if we live a simple life, most people I know (including me) live in a house way bigger than they need, it seems so much of the space is used to store more stuff than we need. We expend so much energy and time maintaining and keeping secure our very separate lives and possessions.
The first IC we all live in is our local community, if we can't make it work there I doubt we can make it work at a smaller level. I've gotten invitations from survivalist types, I've asked them about their IC and their interactions with their local community, too often the response is that their IC is just the two of them and has been that way for years in spite of actively seeking others. They have hardly any working relationships in local community, it's a red flag for me.
Perhaps I'm spoiled and unaware of how it is in other communities. I've lived in this valley since '76, right from the beginning people were helping each other out, most of those were hippie types who were getting established here, we helped each other build our homes and with other DIY projects. As we've gotten older and settled into lives where most of the big projects are completed there is less of that, but the network of reciprocity is still out there. I'm a rather introverted person who isn't constantly out in the community but I still find help when it's needed and offer it to those that indicate a need. When I was adding an earth bermed addition to my house a couple years ago and getting ready to pour a slab it only took a brief mention of what I was doing in conversation with a group of friends at farmers market and I had more free help than I needed. When I needed to lift a heavy beam in place on the same project a friend stopped by. A friend is thinking of putting up a little 10X12 living structure on his land this summer, he has the labor for free to put up the shell in one weekend. There is much giving away of surplus garden and orchard produce here. When someone's equipment breaks down there is sharing of equipment. If you need a garden tilled up you can call a friend down the road who has a rotovator on his tractor. I was thinking of putting in a shower made of ferocement, I called a friend I ahdn't seen in a couple years who is knowledgeable about this, he offered equipment to do this, I went with a one piece fiberglass shower.
And sometimes money figures in. The price of cherries was horrible last year, a few of us went to a friend's organic orchard to selective pick, we got paid by the lug which worked out to about $4/per but he got a premium price at the shed which paid for his growing costs. I'm buying 200 strawberry plants at $13.50/100 from a friend who is buying several thousand, also getting some $2/plant raspberries from another buying in quantity. There is a community garden in the valley, a farmer ripped out his orchard because he could no longer make a living, all he asks is that those growing there help him pay property tax which is cheaply done due to the large number of people growing there. I'm networking with friends talking about how we can help each other if times get hard, I know others are doing the same in their network of friends, all these networks overlap. Who knows how it will play out in the future but I have faith because even now I see and have participated in people helping people when get into a difficult situation.
All this is nothing unusual, it's just what people do for each other.
A conversation I thought unusual occurred at farmers market, it was the end of the season, things were slow, vendors and customers were just standing around talking about the economy. People were saying that things could get really bad in the future and in order to get by we will have to learn to help each other. In this mix of people was a real estate agent, a christian fundamentalist, a few back to the land types, a doctor, and a hardware store owner.
Opinions are just that, we've all got them. Personally I like hearing people's opinions, it's a way of sharing life experiences and how they shaped our lives. Even if there is judgment attached to people's opinions it doesn't bother me and I don't get bent out of shape about it unless it is presented on the barrel of a gun, what people say is really about themselves but there may be something in it that may be useful.
Michelle, I didn't think you were trying to push anything on us, and so what if you were or any of us are, we are free to listen and take in what works for us and reject what doesn't, there is nothing wrong on either side of this.
We all act based on our level of concern or need, in my opinion the important thing is that we do some sort of action, it's the experimentation with life that presents new options. The things we might call mistakes are also very important to share, they might not be a mistake for someone else or in looking at the so called mistake we might find a unique solution in it. Grandmother Reed was a wise woman.
Mine is far from the ideal one that many of us dream about, it's probably much like one's elsewhere. I guess the point I was trying to make is that within regular communities, among our network of friends and acquaintances, we can create something slightly resembling the IC we seek. It's not something hard and fast, perhaps often it's just something we have to place a lot of faith and imagination in, but we do create working relationships that are functional though often not fully appreciated particularly when we are looking off in the distance to an ideal we may have.
My own neighborhood; I'm surrounded on 3 sides by a 40 acre cherry orchard, they use chemical sprays but as they told the workers, "don't let that drift onto Marti's place otherwise he'll be owning the farm". For 3 weeks during the summer we get to listen to cherry cannons during daylight hours, it's like a shotgun blast every 30 seconds, it's used to scare birds away. But I get along fine with these conservative christian fundamentalist people, I've worked for them in the past so we know each other quite well. The third side of the property overlooks the valley, across the road and below the bank and mostly out of sight is two small houses. I have no idea who lives in one. The other is lived in by someone my age who I've been acquainted with for over 30 years. Nice enough guy but maybe I talk with him once every few years, last time was August when a pine tree on his property got struck by lightning and started a fire and I went over to see if I could help, we had a nice conversation while we waited for the fire department to show up. Kitty corner from my place a small McMansion is going up on former orchard land, it's being built by the owners who are in the construction business. Over a year ago I introduced myself to them when they started building and we talked for a half hour, it's been my only contact.
People here in the rural areas tend to leave each other alone.
I have to travel 1 1/2 miles to visit the two closest people I consider good friends.
Glenn, on fruit trees. I can't remember if there are commercial orchards in your area, in places where there are there are often ordinances about abandoned fruit trees that host pests, even organic farmers hate them and will report them so that the owners take them out or take care of them. When my neighbor pulled out the apple orchard and planted cherries I cut down my cherries when his started to come into production because I wasn't taking care of them and they had worms. In compensation for doing this my neighbor told me I could help myself to as many of his cherries that I wanted, I get my cherries and apples from a friend up the road who grows organically. Abandoned trees have become a big problem here with so many orchards going bankrupt. Even when the trees are ripped out and burnt they sucker up from the roots and after a few years start harboring insects that spread. Those suckered trees have to be managed or else the county does it and charges the land owner.
It is Obvious Those Neighbours Will Continue to Run over your right's if you do not Stop them;
They Bought a house without a proper survey; Attempted to teke Advers Posetion of Part of your land;
Forcing you to pay for a Survey;
Which at very least they should have paid Half of;
Then Further Incroaching on your Property and Rights...
For Your Sake For the Sake of The Other Neighbours You SHOULD Address These Issues;
First With a Polite Registered letter;
Then if nothing is done;
By Contacting the Appropriate Authorities;
You Could Even Offer to Workwith them towards them getting a variance for the Barn; As Long as They Complied with the Other Issues and Paid for the Survey;
AS I am Sure that it would be Cheaper than rebuilding a barn;
That part would Need to be carefully worded to avoid accusations of extortion
Thanks Rod, I believe your information is all very accurate. When I had to have the survey done I talked to my other neighbor who said he was happy to pay for half of the cost for the survey that was between our lots, though we both knew where the boundary was. In the end, however, I didn't want to bother him with paying for part of the cost when he and his wife had not caused the problem.
The saddest thing the other neighbor did was cut a beautifull cherry that was in what had been a cow pasture, when he had plenty of room to move the house. I also felt bad that I never had an opportunity to explain to him how he could have taken advantage of passive solar energy had he put his garage on my side to the north, instead of on the south side of house where he has no windows, while it would have been just as close to the road, but I now think he would not have heeded my suggestion.
I also think that I could force him to take down his barn were I to refuse to agree to a variance. I used to be on the planning board and know the rules.
On the other hand I do not want a war, and actually had thoughts similar to Rosemary's when he and his family had just built the house. I felt like I should bring over some cookies and say welcome, but I am not much of a baker.
It is troubling to me that I cannot or do not do more to build up community. I also live in a town that overall does not want new comers, espeically not lower income ones, and this too I find troubling.
I know rules are often meant to protect people from each other, or to protect nature, but more often they seem to serve large corporations or other types of greed.
I am not a great record keeper, and would have a heck of a time just digging up the bill for my survey a few years ago. I also think I would have a tough time proving he painted spots on some of my trees, or even said my pet cemetary or well wasn't on my land. Part of that goes back to the late farmer I was friendly enough wtih and even did a little work for late in his life. He had a lot of acreage, but a mistaken notion of at least one boundary, so I do not entirely blame my new neighbor for being screwed up about the boundary, though the tape survey he did with his builder brother-in-law was rediculos.
The brother-in-law also has a bunch of excavation equipment and literally spent months picking away at what had already been a very nice old dairy pasture. This type of stuff really bothers me -- picking away at things while wasting tons of fossil fuels, only have a monotonous useless huge lawn to dump chemicals on, so maybe those semtiments were a bad attitude from the start and biased me against the new neighbor....I should still bring over some cookies.
One last thing I do not understand. Had I been wrong about the boundary and put stakes in his lawn or whatever, I would have later admitted I had been wrong and apologize. I think some people just think problems will go away if the ignore them, but not the people who contribute things to this site. My impression here is we are proactive and try to get things done, including for ourselves. I am willing to take responsibility for the consequences of what I do, and just wish more people would.
As to the rules, I hate to admit I do not feel bad about ignoring them to some extent. When I built my barn entirely out of used material, I just took my site plan and sketched in the barn on it well enough away from my other boundary. I did not survey things and actually locate it to the dot. But I did pull a permit.
Another thing I never did in over 30 years was get an occupancy permit. I could care less, but follow the tradition of carpentry in the way I learned it, also through a lot of personal experience so that I engineer things and build them so they will last, but do not worry about all the rules.
On the other hand I was required to have an engineer give me a septic plan designi. A few years after using it it failed. Then I did not turn to the town or some other engineer to get scalped again. I picked up some pipes and stone in my pickup and fixed it by myself with no permit, and it has worked perfectly for 29 years ever since.
I also think I could have gotten another couple of people in my general neighborhood to give me a hand, and the last thing they would have said is, Glenn how can we help you when you have not posted a permit.
It is not that I am against permits. I am fine with mechanisms for safety and human welfare. But I also trust myself about some things, as well as some other people.
I have a very low income, so I have somehow escaped getting the new remodler's license, which is supposed to take my $100 bucks to cover the costs of shoddy contractors. Not one of my customers have asked if I have the new license (though I have a builder's license) and not one has worried that I do not have a million dollars of insurance lately. If they are concerned then they will not hire me, but if they do, they do not have to pay for an extra set of insurance if I have to provide it in addition to their homeowner's ins. Instead I charge them less. What is often the nicest is sometimes they work with me on their projects.
A bit of interesting community interaction took place in my town on Equinox day. Motivated I'm sure by the government grant money, the town is developing a sustainability element to add to it's comprehensive plan, yesterday agriculture was discussed. I went thinking that this might be fluff stuff but hoped to be able to do some networking. It turned out serious subjects were discussed, some on the city council are worried about the national economy and how a crashing in that will roll on down to state and local economies, plus worries about increasing costs of energy and how that will impact the food we now eat that too often comes from across the country or the world. Among the goals established were evaluating how well the valley can feed it's self with locally grown food and trying to encourage protection of our remaining farmland. Also a goal of encouraging more local food production in the near future which also includes a relaxing of laws limiting people being able to turn their lawns into gardens if they wish. Lots of many good solid points discussed, I was amazed to see this being talked about at a city government level, so often those of us that are concerned about the future are blown off by many people as extremists. I got to do some networking with new people, also talked with people I hadn't seen in a long time.
And I got out of the meeting in time to see the Top Dog Parade. Some photos here.
Some info and photos of the community garden.
One of my house mates likes to hang out in Portland OR. She was telling me of an interesting apartment complex built in the early 60s for upwardly mobiles. It became part of a changing neighborhoods, and deteriorated under the various types of clients. In '07 a couple from Sweden bought the complex and transformed it into a Kailash ecovillage.
"Kailash Ecovillage is a 32-unit apartment complex located on a large, urban site in the inner SE part of Portland, Oregon. Besides the one-bedroom apartments, each with their own separate storage spaces, the facilities consist of a shared laundry and mail room, recycling and composting areas, and garden room. Additionally, a community room has been remodeled that offers space for community gatherings including ongoing monthly vegan potlucks and informational meetings. Residents and neighbors interested in gardening can take advantage of the on site community garden.
The goal of the ecovillage is to create a sustainable, eco-friendly community committed to providing a sustainable, ecological and safe living environment for all residents. It nurtures and fosters the well-being of the individual as well as the members of the greater community.
Unlike many cohousing communities, Kailash Ecovillage uses a rental model. This allows individuals with lower income and those without prior housing ownership to participate in a sustainable community. As not all residents are able to afford their own private unit, and we have occasional shorter-stay visitors, we now offer a hostel style dormitory accommodation. (There is a minimum of one week stay.)"
I wish you well, MIchele, although I am afraid I may be writing this too late. I also apreciate the questions about the Worcester Energy Barnraisers. We are a part time IC, if I can say that, in that we come together to do volunteer work and enjoy meeting new members of the larger community while sharing weatherization skills. The main reward I see is that we feel good about what we are doing, as opposed to the idea people only act out of self interest -- the dogma of western economic theory.
People could argue my self-interest is in feeling good, but a lobotomy could make me feel good all of the time. A a constant state feeling good may not be worth much more than anything else, though this too could fit in with economic theory in terms of marginal gains. In other words I may love a piece of apple pie, but by the third one it may not be as rewarding, maybe not even the second one.
I think I have already shared the barn raisers web site, but her it is again.
http://www.energybarnraising.org/ There may be a picture of me on my knees when I had just been insulating the back of an attic door and installing a threshold with a gasket under it to keep in the heat.
I also like Craig's comments, expecting we will have to become more self sufficient like Marti tends to be, at the same time forging relationships with people around us locally (as opposed to just buying things from distant lands when we will have less and less money) will become more important. Therefore we will need to put some thought into getting along with people to mutual advantage, face to face.
I apologize for not posting things in recent weeks, but I have been traveling to the mid Atlantic region a couple of times to give some presentations about the Worcester (MA) energy barn raisers, and also did some work of building an insulated box around some disappearing stairs for a frined in DE who wants to stop wasting so much energy in her house.
If anyone wants to see the presentation, with pictures I gave, with someone else's help, I would be glad to email an attachement of the powerpoint slides to you, but I will need your regular email if you have another one, since I do not know how to do it from here. The one I use the most often is email@example.com so you are welcome to ask me to send it to you from there. You can also email there from your care-2 email. I just happen to be inept at using this system.
The following was an invitation I was sent recently. If anyone reading it is from the western MA region, go on the tour if you like.
>>>EMAIL INVITATION – PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY <<<
TOGETHER ON THE LAND
Options for Ecological Living in Community
MULTI-SITE GROUP TOUR
9am-5pm Saturday June 12th, 2010
Franklin County, MA
$20 per ticket, discounts & scholarships available
FIND OUT MORE & REGISTER ONLINE AT VCLT.ORG
No internet access? Call Megan at 413-624-5128 to register.
Join us for a tour of ecological living options in Franklin County. We'll visit homes and farms that have tested different models for community living, such as community land trusts, co-ops, co-housing, and more. Meet other people interested in community building and see new places!
Throughout the Pioneer Valley there are numerous models for how to create communities that balance affordability, ecology and community connections. No one model has all the answers – but they all offer tremendous insights and for some, may be the answer you are looking for today.
This tour focuses on concrete examples of sustainable community living right here in Franklin County. Tour stops will include:
- Cooperatively owned homes (Pioneer Co-op of Franklin County – Greenfield);
- Homes on community land trust land (Valley Community Land Trust – Wendell);
- A small co-housing development (Salmon Falls Land Association – Shelburne Falls);
- A conserved working farm (Seeds of Solidarity Farm – Orange); and
- “In-town” green housing (Zero Energy private residence – Montague)
The goal of this tour is to connect people with organizations an