I've been subscribing to several IC (intentional communities, fka communes) Yahoo groups for years and I've gotten quite a bit of interesting news, but I've also seen a LOT of abuse (especially of women) and repetitive discussions.
Some members are the survivalist/militia types and most are primarily concerned with their own and their families' survival when the expected "collapse" occurs.
Not surprisingly, very few ICs have actually been established. Discussions on anything important (politics, guns, abortion, etc.) are usually prohibited because they are not constructive and often escalate. But why would you want to move in with someone you know nothing about?
To me it's about a LOT more than surviving and I want to be around people who are at least somewhat like minded.
You won't even find ONE person you agree with on everything. Just look at the about 50% divorce rate. Imagine 5 or 10 people buying property together and moving into the same house, how can it possibly work unless they know each other extremely well?
The other day Sadie definitely hit a nerve when she posted at a group about wanting to establish an IC for abused women and children. I'd post a link, but the messages are only accessible to members.
Some responses were along the line that you HAVE to include men, women, children, gays, lesbians, transsexuals, nudists, etc. in your IC to be able to survive and that it was discriminating to choose who you live with. The discussion motivated me to think about what I am looking for.
I'm huge on privacy and the RIGHT to exclude people from my living area based on MY criteria, whatever they are.
I don't know of any discrimination laws that apply to people renting out rooms or sharing a house and I hope it will stay that way.
I resent that people want to tell me who I'll look at when I wake up in the morning (or afternoon). Is it really so outrageous that I don't want to see anyone and especially no man (other than a good friend) for at least an hour?
I actually got my old neighbor a prepaid cell phone so he would call before visiting and I was FURIOUS when he showed up one morning to bring something by and waited around for half an hour until I finally got up.
I truly enjoy diversity and loved living in San Francisco.
But at the end of the day, I had MY house and I lived with people *** I *** felt comfortable with. I've never lived anywhere as white and retired as now and I miss color and languages a lot.
I'd like to see communities with individual homes for people to do their own thing, yet working on community projects and sharing resources and knowledge.
I could even live in a camper again or in a cabin. I just need a bed, small kitchen area, bathroom and space for the notebook and a few file boxes. For a couple years I lived in my truck camper and loved it. But I didn't have to work, the notebook was mostly to moderate my credit forums and to hold the thousands of pictures I took.
In 2000 I got a place initially intended to park occasionally, recharge batteries and catch up on business in the Arizona high desert between Grand Canyon West (Skywalk) and Lake Mead.
In 2006 I bought a lot with more privacy, I started to build and decided to stay off the grid.
I love it here, the solitude, the silence, the sunsets, the desert, building my little addition with adobe bricks, doing all kinds of COOL stuff. But building by myself IS hard and what if I don't wake up one morning? Who will let my dog out?
The people in my neighborhood (within a couple miles) are mostly retired, watching TV and gossiping, and there's some white trash ... They formed a water co-op because everybody NEEDS water. There are some religious activities I'm not interested in and that's it.
I learned so much I'd LIKE to share, but I just have very few interests in common with the people around here.
Why isn't there a community where Sadie can have her IC and women and children can feel safe and her neighbors 1/2 mile down the road are the nudist IC or the gay men IC or a family or my hermit place or WHATEVER?
We work together on projects and share information, tools and equipment and then we go home into our private space and do our own thing.
Most people WANT a job and the rural areas where land is cheap don't have jobs.
For starters, my idea of survival is NOT needing a job.
I think a thriving community requires at least a thousand people, a kindergarten and SCHOOL, emergency services and security, the community needs to be OPEN, share their experiences and philosophies on the web, members and especially kids should TRAVEL and see the world and learn to appreciate diversity by experience.
Much of what I see in IC and homesteading groups is this yearning for the exact opposite, the "simple" life, no tech, home schooling ... And I would not at all object to people living in my community in THEIR house on their land living that way (Amish, whatever) as long as nobody gets hurt. I just don't want to live WITH them.
I don't think my desire for privacy and MY lifestyle conflicts in any way with living in a tolerant diverse thriving community.
I've read about a community in Ecuador that actually interested me a lot, but they owned all the land and to be able to buy property you had to live there for a few months, of course fill out an application and it's very CLOSED.
I would prefer an OPEN environment without restrictions and association dues and mixed in with people who already live there. In my area it's checkerboard residential/BLM with the residential lots a little over an acre and there are larger parcels in undeveloped areas up towards the canyon without power/phone.
I'm the only house on my side of the dirt road (a mile), but a few blocks up it's a lot denser with occupied houses every few lots. Tons of lots are for sale. There's electric and DSL and areas like this have to be throughout the US.
An open community is an opportunity to create awareness and change people without even trying. If they see how you can grow great tasting food without chemical fertilizers and pesticides and save a lot of money, a few would start a garden or participate in a community garden.
Unlike most people who only want to ensure their own survival, I'd like almost EVERYBODY to survive and be able to live in liberty and pursue happiness.
I realize that a few people can't change the world, but I'm sick and tired of people TALKING about changing the world (like the Zeitgeist movement) and I think it would be a lot more effective to SHOW the world how a few thousand people can thrive in an open democratic community based on freedom, tolerance and compassion.
And that this has not been accomplished in the world's "greatest country" with 300 million people and unlimited opportunities leaves me wondering whether it's possible.
Damanhur is one notable exception and I was truly inspired by the book Damanhur: The Story of the Extraordinary Italian Artistic And Spiritual Community by Jeff Merrifield ($21.55 at DeepDiscount) -- my almost ideal community, but I'd like to have my own cabin to sleep/work.
The book describes in great detail the obstacles they've overcome, having their temples (built without permits) legalized, local and Vatican hostility towards the "cult", the fights within the community and how they worked through it. If you want more than just food, water and shelter, that's the book to read.
The temples are fascinating and I wonder if spirituality is required for a community's long term survival (30 years, almost 1000 members).
The tree orchestra and their inventions are so inspiring, ultimate coolness. Their school and that they take care of the old members instead of shipping them off to nursing homes is exactly what I'd like to see in a community.
They grow organic food, raise farm animals humanely, have a store and their own currency (Credito) and encourage small business and frequent job changes (get out of the rut!), but don't allow factories.
People treat each other as HUMAN BEINGS.
They live in "nucleos", homes with 10 to 30 people who are responsible for their finances, basically independent ICs.
And they are NOT a closed community, but invite visitors and even successfully run for city counsel in nearby towns. It's not a Jonestown type community nor is it religious, but it's spiritual. I'd check Damanhur out if I didn't have to fly.
So I'm hoping that it is possible to find like minded and tolerant people in America willing to help each other in a community where everybody owns or rents their own home and to provide a space for people to post what THEY are looking for and share resources.
Unfortunately, the current economic crisis does not make for good timing as most people are broke, financing is almost impossible to obtain and grants are scarce. We'll see what happens.