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So, here's my thought-

I know a great many folks who have dreamed about living off the land, and even living in small communes. When communal living was brought up in the thread "taking paganism back to basics," it made me wonder just how hard it would be to create such a commune, eco village, etc.

What are the potential pitfalls of the communal lifestyle, for the individual and for the whole?

-Who would own the land? One person who will divide it up according to need? The group as a whole? The individual who works the land?

-What could the focus of the commune be?

-Could tradespeople be included who did not work the land? What trades would be most beneficial? What place would artists have? If land is distributed instead of purchased individually, and their trade is not for agricultural purposes, would they be allotted the same amount of land as everyone else, would they have a small house of their own in a more clumped section of town, perhaps behind a shop? Or would they have essentially an apartment of their own, and a work area in a Great Hall or shop district?

-Would there be community events?

-How would decision-making be conducted? Everyone has a vote, or elected representatives?

-What ratios would be needed for food production, electricity generation and maintenance (solar panels, wind turbines), blacksmiths, etc?

-What happens (again, if living space is distributed instead of individually bought) as the community grows, through reproduction or inclusion?

-If land is owned by the individual, what happens as time goes by and multiple families move away?

Just off the top of my head. I'm probably showing my lack of experience, having always lived in very urban settings, but dreamed of something less... manic. Any input would be appreciated!

 

Thanks.

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Ooh, I love this topic.  Originally this is what I wanted to do, but too many of my friends who were gonna come with me ended up with kids before we made it out here.  I'm gonna throw in my 2 cents though.  For ownership, if you were talking about a true commune where people come and go and whatnot, it would seem to make sense to me for many reasons (not the least of which is liability) that the land should be owned by an LLC, the officers of which would be the primary or original members.  They could be changed as the group changes, if necessary.  As for tradespeople or others who produce goods but don't necessarily "work the land" and whatnot,  I would think "community hours" would be a good way to deal with that.  Everyone has to work a certain number of hours per week (or every household) for the betterment of the community in whatever capacity they are able.   You wouldn't want to waste the skills of a master carpenter on harvesting tomatoes, ya know?  Excess goods and produce could be sold, the proceeds going into a master account that is used for community upkeep.   For decision making...  I think true democracy would be awesome, everyone gets a vote on every issue.  Silent ballots.  For power production, I think with the exception of community buildings that everyone should be responsible for their own power, as some people may choose to live without it, while other people may be power hungry.  Let them handle their own business in that respect.   If you do the true communal living thing where everyone shares a building or buildings for living space...  well.  I wouldn't be keen on that so I wouldn't comment.  There are still communal places in this country.  If you're interested maybe you should contact some of them and see what things they have tried and what has worked best for them.  I know there is one not far from where I live near Arroyo Hondo, but I can't remember the name of the community.  If I come across it, I'll let you know though. 

I know of two ecovillage websites you can check out to see how they do things. One is called Dancing Rabbit and the other is Earthaven.

 

http://www.dancingrabbit.org/

http://www.earthaven.org/

 

You can check out the websites to see how each community is organized but I know Earthaven requires $4,200 per adult to join. Then you can either join another member's site or pay your own site fee. A full site is $21,000 and that's for up to 4 adults and any children.

The trick with communal living is you have to work out a system so that everyone's rights are respected. I would imagine you could have a community garden that everyone would work and then each person could have their own individual gardens if they choose. I'm with Mike that each person would need to be responsible for their own energy production.

I think a democratic form would be best that way everyone gets a say in decisions that affect the group. As for the land, what I had thought about would be to actually sell parcels of land but with provisions that whatever is built on it has to be with sustainable materials. Perhaps include a provision that the land would be leased until building is complete and then make the sale final. I like Mike's idea about the LLC though. The types of buildings that would be acceptable would include cob, strawbale, earthbag, earthships, adobe, cordwood, etc.

Unlike the communities we live in today, infinite growth would not be possible. If additional land could be purchased then the community could grow. Let's say you start out with 200 acres. That sounds like a lot but when you start bringing in people and animals, there's only so much that can be sustained. You would have to figure out how many adults could be supported and allow some extra for kids. Whatever number you come up with you would have to stick to.

Something else to think about is creating a village economy. This doesn't necessarily mean using money as we know it, but some way of "paying" for services that is accepted within the group. That way if something happens to our current economy the village can still function within its own confines. 

You had asked about community events and I think that's the best part. Anytime you put a group of people together there will be celebrations. I'm sure there would be the standard ones to mark significant life events like births, weddings, anniversaries, etc. Then of course you have the end of harvest celebrations to admire all the hard work everyone has done. And if nothing else I'm sure there would be something to mark the start of Spring as everyone gets ready for another growing season. This doesn't count other events such as building parties where everyone gets together to help a neighbor complete a project.

These are just some of my ideas on communal living so I hope it helps!

This topic has always been interesting to me. I agree with being democracy. How living arrangements would be set up would be based on the space and individual preference. Prehaps some type of apartment building where everyone is separate but still together. As for power I think the entire community should be responsibility for shared/community buildings personal buildings should be personal choice. My fiance and I have discussed this on a smaller scale. We considered buying a property that is big enough for two or three families. The property would either have an apartment building or space for individual houses. Some members may work off the property. Those that don't will have animals, gardens, and children to care for. It is hard to find people who have compatible personalities. We almost made a go of it with a cousin's family but her husband's personality clashed with...well everyone. We have been considering it again but are still looking for land. If it ever works out I'll be sure to share with everyone.

 

Blessed Be,

 

Michelle

 

Having lived in several communes and several other communal situations, I think that decisions made by consensus are far more humane than those made by "democratic" one person, one vote methods. Being out-voted by one person cannot happen with consensus decision-making. everyone gets to be happy with whatever decision is made and no one person can ever determine what is decided.

As far as personal space and "sustainable" buildings, you are just opening a can of worms with deciding what is allowed or how to understand the idea of personal space. Some of the folks might be happiest sleeping in a heap. I know that I always liked it, but others want to feel that their space is sacred. you need to allow for a range of practices in both space needs or requirements and what people want to live in. cordwood is often mortared together, but making cement is one of the most energy intensive building materials. polyurethane foal may be the best insulator, but it has a huge petro-chemical footprint. building out of things that will rot, of go back to the soil without poisoning it makes sense, but in practice, you may need to find some middle ground for comfort, safety and longevity.

I have seen many communal situations succeed, but the most likely way of doing so is to be drawn together for a specific reason. Finding several people willing to be committed to the same goals is not challenging enough, you also have to find folks who are willing to give more than they receive and tolerate others who they may never be able to escape fully. as much as I might say this is hard to do, I have seen it done with style and panache', so i would encourage everyone to try it at least once in their lives!

Blessed Be and namaste', Tony

I've always wanted to do this. However all the communities I find are so expensive. I know of a company recomended by Rivenfae Wolf that sales parcels of land, but I don't know if it would be good for community living.

I know this was started back in Feb. but I just now found it. :)

This is an interesting topic. Bear and I have discussed this from time to time. It is something that we have considered doing, but you have raised alot of the same questions we had/have. We have thought about doing something on a smaller scale. Alot of the ideas given here are good ones and some we had not thought of. I'm sorry to say that I don't have any at this time to offer.

One suggestion I do have is to contact an Amish community to see how they handle things and get some ideas.

Wow, this has peaked my interest in this idea again.

Well, as an update I guess, one of the original people who was going to come out here with me has shown up.  We gave her a motorhome to live in for now, and have decided to do a communal house where there is a shared kitchen space and two private living rooms coming off of it, leading to private bedrooms and baths.  This way (since we're totally off-grid) we can share the most energy consumptive items (fridge, freezer, well pump)  and still have private living space.  Not exactly a commune, but still somewhat communal.  Thought I would share.  =)
Make sure that everyone involved *living there* is in agreement on who does what/when etc.  I suggest having a sort of contract written up and posted with signatures of everyone involved.  That way someone cannot start complaining about another person doing this or that in the group rooms (ex. kitchen) and who does or helps with the cleaning and when (sort of illness/injury or emergency of coarse).  Its a hassel but when u get several people living together someone is gonna get one someones nerves eventually and it will cause tension and issues later.  Believe ME.  I currently share a house with my sister, her family (hubby and 2 kids) and my mother.  And my sister is in the process of looking for a new house (after 4 years and OTHER issues as well) and about to screw mom and me over royally.

Thorngrove check out my post over at "Getting back to basics". I have answered a few of your questions there and would be more then happy to discuss ideas and the like here as well.

 

Tannim

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlMDckgqU30   ....... Practical Tools to Grow an Intentional Community

pretty amazing stuff; i had been hoping to get something eventually going in iowa but so far no go ...

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/green_magickal_iowa

Kavya, that is a great price on the land! Have you checked into building codes for the area? If not, that may be one thing you want to check into before committing to a purchase. We are fortunate in that we live out in the county and our county does not require building permits if you are not in city limits.


If you are interested in communities you might want to check out Episodes 46 and 47 from my podcast The Pagan Homesteader. They are both interviews I did with two people that live at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Ma'ikwe (Episode 47) is also an educator about community living and how to get one started. I would love to hear how things progress for you so keep us posted!

Greetings Kavya,

  

    Was wondering what area the land is in. I used to live up that way years ago and would love to return.

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