(Pardon our look, please - this is being actively re-worked during March-April 2022,
and feel free to share thoughts, comments, constructive criticism by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our Business Model
What is this REALLY about? We are aiming to create a template for creating a thriving community, which blends together physical and emotional wellness with aim of complete self-sustainability and minimal environmental impact. Truthfully, it is a social experiment. And we trust it will succeed, because multiple communities that have lived on past an average lifetime of an intentional community, tend to bring attention to emotional wellness and conflict resolution ahead of time, which helps navigate the challenges that threaten community's survival.
Sounds great, incredible, awesome, too good to be true, doesn't it!? Here we address how we get there.
There are two parts to our business plan. Let me begin with the one that’s in the future when we have the funds and the land.
Once we are on the land...
Just for a second, recall the Universal Income idea – that is where everyone in the society receives a fixed income, independent of their productivity. The major reason people quote “against” that idea is – it will make recipients unproductive, sponsoring their laziness.
Our community would begin with a Universal Income – type sponsorship for everyone. This popular concern about potential laziness would be addressed through the joining members committing to the agreements of the community, of which I would like to highlight: (1) continuous supported participation in physical and emotional wellness, (2) participation in community projects, (3) time banking, (4) shared resources, (5) community. Let me explain how each one of them individually will promote our members not falling into laziness.
We believe that everyone is inherently energetic and creative and productive person within their area of interest and abilities, and given necessary tools and perhaps education, guidance and emotional support. Given all these conditions as well as opportunity for physical and emotional wellness, if the person is still feeling lack of desire to create – we assume that an active support/intervention from friends, family, elders, community is needed to understand and transform that block to self-expression. These agreements are some of those tools:
(1) Human experience, as well as research, shows that when we feel great emotionally and physically, when our bodies are thriving, being fed with healthy nutritious food, when we are well-hydrated, when we have emotional support, when we participate in ways to alleviate stress, when we move body regularly – then we feel good and enjoy contributing to the betterment of ourselves and for the benefit of the greater whole. Many of us feel hopeless and depressed, and coming home from work and staying home on weekends, get lazy because we don’t see a clear and exciting way to be creative, to apply ourselves to making something exciting for us. Some of us have hobbies – and that’s a great example of finding an outlet from our daily routines into the creative world, whereby the hobby takes over the laziness times… So, the premise here is – physical wellness and emotional support are effective at shifting many out of depression and laziness, into excitement, desire and joy of contribution and creation according to our interests and abilities. And – the fact that physical and emotional wellness are so deeply woven into our community’s fabric – makes it practically unavoidable for each of us, community members, to snap out of any occasional laziness and non-productivity rather quickly.
(2) the agreement about participation in community projects gently binds everyone to work together on various occasions – which will counteract potential laziness and non-productivity.
(3) the time banking agreement, when a member joins without substantial funds, creates commitment for that member to do additional work in the community as a way of paying their way into the community. It’s worth saying here that we will strongly encourage time banking engagements from most members – and the work done in this way will also support the bonding of the community.
(4) the availability of shared resources creates a possibility for any hobbies, interests, skills to be developed and applied for the benefit of the member as well as community as a whole.
(5) the community itself, with its passive presence and active support, and with other circles of support for individuals – like adopted families and Heart Circles and Elders, will assist any non-productive individual in active exploration of the reasons for their non-productivity.
So, to summarize, in our community we support each individual to ensure they are thriving and creating for themselves and for the community. Initially we all will be functioning under the idea of Universal Income: doing what we enjoy most, and sometimes what’s needed (even if don’t enjoy it as much) – and getting a stipend for it.
This stipend/universal income will initially come out of the funds we raise, or the grants we receive when the community is being formed.
The plans is – over time, as individuals re-build their physical and emotional wellness and begin finding their niches in the community, we will begin producing food and necessary items for ourselves, as well as items for trade outside the community. Thus we will begin moving towards self-sustainability.
The timeline for this “Universal Income” stage is 2-3 years after community settles on the land. The first year will be dedicated to building out infrastructure and strategising food production systems. Second year will see expansion of infrastructure and food production areas, and perhaps first modest harvest. The third year we plan to be more settled with infrastructure and spend less time on that, and more time on self-sustainability efforts of food-sovereignty, expansion of gardens and foraging and hunting activities, aiming to harvest and provide for ourselves much of the food we need and ways to store and preserve it.
By the 4th year, we aim to begin sharing our bounty and skills for trading with the bigger world – and begin bringing in finances from the outside. At this time, some members may choose to go seek work outside more and thus also bring funding in as their “fee” in lieu of “time banking” structure. This is when the Universal Income will begin fading out in favor of Time Banking and actually creating more in the world and bringing income from outside. This may look like creating workshops or educational programs, or offering retreat or healing spaces.
By 5th year, we aim to stop relying on any donated/granted funds from the original funding, reach break-even point and begin making a little profit as a community.
Just to clarify, our community is not profit-oriented. As you see from agreements, we are self-sustainability and wellness-of-heart-and-body oriented. Any profits we bring will be for supporting and expanding infrastructure, as we envision that our model of existence will attract new members, and our community will keep expanding continuously.
That’s the plan from settling on the land and onward.
Before we land on the land...
Until then, we need funding: to get land, to sustain ourselves while we are envisioning, seeking land, aggregating people who wish to be part of our community and agree (and/or holacratically revise) below agreements, as well as enough financial support for these first 2-3 years of Universal Income for members as well as sustaining the community altogether while we all work on initial infrastructure rather than making income outside.
How do we get this funding? Here are multiple ways: - fundraising small amounts from anyone as donations to our non-profit, which transforms those donations into initial fund and ongoing-funds (like for Universal Income we speak of). This way, any individual can participate – and be part of our social experiment and creating a template for Joyful Self-Sustainable Living. We strongly prefer this method – and here is why: (1) we are not aiming to actually generate profit – so, once we become self-sustaining yet still do trade and receive money from that, we could establish a fund to pay back fully or dividends to initial investors; (2) we would love to see more of such communities – and supporting our model creates an opportunity to “pay it forward” for anyone to contribute to our success as our success will contribute to success of more of such communities, which may even become homes in the future for the people who initially support us and invest in us… you see the progression?
- accumulating together funds from initial founders
- applying for grants from government and municipalities – like, for transition towns, etc
- applying for grants from private organizations – like, for improvement of life, earth-conscious projects, etc
- fundraising big amounts from a few individuals and organizations
- getting a loan
Estimated Funding Needs:
How much initial and ongoing funding do we need?
|Pre-residential:||Costs of finding and getting land, sustaining initial founders, seeking initial members||500K-1mln (depends on land price, initial investment by founders, any grants)|
|Residential: yr 1||Building structures & gardens/pastures; sustaining food & basic life expenses of members/workers (Universal Income); paying hired labor||200K-500K (depends on # of members and quality of land and initial infrastructure there)|
|Residential: yr 2||Building structures & gardens/pastures; sustaining food & basic life expenses of members/workers (Universal Income); paying hired labor||100-350K (depends on # of members and quality of land and initial infrastructure there, and yr1 harvest)|
|Residential: yr 3||Building structures & gardens/pastures; sustaining food & basic life expenses of members/workers (less Universal Income); paying hired labor||100-350K (depends on # of members and quality of land and initial infrastructure there, and yr2 harvest)|
|Residential: yr 4||Improving food-sustainability support; creating shared resources space; minimal Universal Income; making products for trade||50-100K (depends on # of members and quality of land and initial infrastructure there, and yr3 harvest, and overall economy/trade)|
|Residential: yr 5||70% food-sovereign, no Universal Income, trading with outside world as necessary & possible.||0-30K|
Thus, by our most conservative estimates, and aiming for using land resources, earthen building materials, reduce-reuse-recycle practices, permaculture design for sustainable agriculture, hunting-and-gathering and preserving techniques, minimal reliance on technology and oil-based products, and assuming very limited financial investment from the founders – we are hoping to raise between $950K and $2.33mln. And maybe (likely!?) we’ll need even less!
Possible income sources afterwards:
- Production and trade of cheeses, apple cider vinegar, foraging foods (mushrooms, ramps, acorn flour, whatever is abundant on the land)
Do YOU feel inspired by this vision? We would love to have you onboard, in whichever way you are able to support us: in spirit, in word, in finances, in volunteering! You could support us by:
- JOINing OUR COMMUNITY!? :D
- donating into our Initial Fund, which will transmute your donation into the Universal Income we discuss above
- sharing our vision with potential members
- advocating our vision to potential investors
- volunteering in administrative tasks and/or finding land and/or at our work-parties helping us build out our initial spaces and gardens
References & Inspirations:
- Kelly, Penny. Robes. ISBN: 0963293427
- Megre, Vladimir. Anastassia. and other books in series Ringing Cedars
- Holacracy is a way we assign roles and conduct our meetings. Being aware that it takes some getting used to, we offer education in it, and take meetings at a slower pace.
- Reduce, Re-use, Recycle philosophy - we actively and consciously try to use as little as we possibly need. We've reduced our trash to nearly none.
- Multi-Cultural means we actively introduce ourselves to other cultures, their beliefs, traditions, literature, languages, cuisines. Sometimes we learn first-hand from people who have participated or witnessed that culture, other times we learn because someone dedicated themselves to presenting on it, or because someone had curiosity to prepare something (say, a dish) from that culture.
- Multi-spiritual means that we share a multitude of spiritual (and religious) practices, choosing to co-exist and support each other in those beliefs. Some practices, like meditation, are shared among many - and in those cases, we actually encourage all to participate, to create an even bigger cohesion among us all. There is also lots of energy and power when meditation is shared by a large group - so we try to encourage that. Same applies to toning/chanting, kirtan, drumming.
- Multi-Generationality - for every elder there is a child. This is actually deeply woven into our agreement "Adopted Family".
- Adopted Family - we shift beyond our blood families and create wider networks by adopting two other people, who frequently are not our blood family, into our Family. We thus get to expand our intimacy circle. Sometimes these directly become Heart circles (see below).
- Active Learning - independent of age, everybody commits to learning something every 3-6 months, and then shares what they learnt, with the rest of the community. Some people do not agree to this, and instead enter into a facilitated debate abut why this rule may or may not be of benefit for them. That's still learning! :)
- Celebrating - we celebrate passionately, with shared meals, extra elegance, songs, music, fire, games, laughter, connection. Celebration is very important to us, and some of us actually create new reasons for celebrations. If the community likes this reason, and sometimes the ritual/ceremony that the creator proposed, we adopt the celebration cause into our regular cycle! We adopted this tradition from Aborigines peoples.
- Pet Policy Apparently it's one of the top issues in communities - disagreements about pets. So, here is our agreement :) Here is what everyone in the community agrees to at this time: "I care deeply about my neighbors and their peace of mind. And, I care about pets. I would agree that there would be communal pets that a few of us, by choice, co-own."
- Enhancing another's life frequently enhances my own life.
- I honor myself, and I honor everyone else equally. I strive towards seeing the good in each.
- 'Living with Less' philosophy - we are not blindly rejecting everything of the industrialized society, rather we consciously choose what to bring into our community that will be of benefit yet will not spoil us nor our habitat.
- Create Beauty - each person actively creates beautiful things on a regular basis. The intention with this agreement is the feeling of belonging and contribution to the beauty in the world, both of which feel great!
- Diversity of Opinions - we have regular, frequently facilitated, discussions and debates about topics which may be polarizing. It is intended to keep the minds open and flexible, and the range of opinions in our community rather diverse. We also value the ability to remain in good connection while also having opposite opinions sometimes - it is part of our Emotional Healing principles in our community.
- Active Conflict Resolution using NVC and similar tools. Thus, every new member is trained in NVC,
and everyone regularly participates in workshops and refresher events. More experienced people, when voted in, serve
as potential mediators in the community - they can be called upon by anyone in the community to assist in creating peace and
clarity with anyone else. Once asked to assist in the matter, and if no conflict of interest arises, the designated mediator will
schedule a meeting between disagreeing people within the following week, with follow-up meetings as needed. We frequently keep
Elders in the loop of all mediations in the community, sometimes they choose to follow up with participants to ensure the
harmony and good-will were restored.
When there is a conflict going on, the people are given more time to address it and can be excused from other, frequntly business or administrative or hands-on-projects' tasks.
- Accountability Process is highly valued in our community as a way of personal growth and of joyful contribution to the community. Many times, no official process is necessary as we enjoy taking responsibility and delivering on it. When extrnal accountability reminder is needed, every person is empowered and encouraged to use NVC in a private or semi-private setting to communicate the accountability issue. If the conversation that follows does not prove effective, the person's family and/or Heart Circle are involved. If that's still ineffective, Elders are involved. Throughout this time, the person is actively working with physical wellness practitioners to support their spiritual and emotional wellness (which is how we perceive and value accountability and personal responsibility) through their physical wellness support and good nutrition that our community enjoys from our gardens and farming.
- Gratitude Practice is an essential part of our daily lives, as we cultivate and share what we feel grateful for multiple times a day, often in circles and before meals. We adopted this practice from Native American tradition.
- Curiosity Practice is cultivated to un-program us from making assumptions and judgments. We actively ask questions, and respect the answers given (which sometimes are more like "None of your business" or "I don't want to share with you").
- Positive Regard Practice refers to each of our commitment to believe in and assume caring and positive intent of everyone within the community. Thus, when something undesirable, unpleasant happens - rather than blaming that person, we assume they acted so because they had a good reason to. We then implement our Curiosity Practice and keep positive regard of this person. If they indeed acted without regard for their negative impact on others and other things - we practice reconciliation and active forgiveness until we feel trusting and able to maintain positive regard of this person again.
- Nature - we actively and consciously work with nature rather than against it. What this means keeps evolving as we keep discovering new ways to cooperate with it. The underlying premise of this statement is - being conscious and trying to minimize our impact on the nature in all possible ways, and having public discussions when there is a big conflict of interest between impact on the community and impact on the nature (like, something nature-conscious may be costing much more than our budget allows).
- SubstancesGenerally, we don’t have alcohol or smoking or other drugs in public places. It is not prohibited or anything – rather, it is a shared belief in living consciously and joyfully over leaning on various substances to enhance our well-being – experiencing community and life and joy with sober minds and hearts. Often, this serves also a purpose of noticing who may be feeling less creative for some time. Having said all that, conscious use of herbal medicines is present.
These alternative ways of economics enable us to admit members who do not necessarily have substantial inital funds to contribute to this community - we may extend them credit in time bank, for example, so they commit to work-off their share, in addition to various shared projects on the land and all of us would generally participate in.
Time Banking - reference timebanks.org
Gift Economy - reference C. Eisenstein
We trust that alternative medicines, a number of which have stood the test of time, are valuable. We use alternative medicine knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Herbalism, Naturopathy, Aromatherapy, Lymph drainage therapy, Food as medicine, and more. We have already on premises, and invite into our community, practitioners of various modalities - who work in conjunction with each other to assist every single member of the community in optimizing their health.
We have identified (and keep growing as needed) a variety of self-reliant practices that are considered univerally to be 'health- promoting'. These include:
- fasting for 18-24hours once a week - usually we skip Saturday breakfast and lunch, and during that time actually do something engaging that would also help some of us get distracted from feeling hungry. We focus on hydration during that time. And if someone is really hungry - they help themselves to a light snack... Fasting is a fantastic way to cleanse ourselves and promote long-term health.
- regular movement (stretching/yoga a few times a week, martial arts/Qi Gong a few times a week, etc)
- regular massage - we have a group of people who are massagists, supporting this mission, among our residents and neighbors
- advanced dental practices based on research - in some circles dentistry is considered the most important aspect of health, and we take it seriously enough to dedicate more time to it daily
- laughter is the best medicine, and we make sure we have enough of it by participating in "The Tribe of Hilarous Laughter" performances, in addition to actively learning and practicing playfulness daily.
Not everyone does everything on this list. But most of us do most things.
And, these are very intentionally built into our daily routines - so that they become our life-style, rather than a temporary fix - which is often the case in our industrial society.
And, consider: when you want to start running as a new year's resolution, for example - is it not much easier when there is another friend to do it with and to help keep us accountable? It is easier, it's more fun, studies show we are a lot more likely to achieve our goals. So, imagine yourself in a community of people, most of whom run regularly - so you always have a buddy to run with! And, it's not something that you must adjust your busy schedule for - it is part of your schedule from the start! Wouldn't that make running an easy and even fun thing for you to do!? That's what we are aiming for - living healthy habits without feeling like they are a chore, but rather consciously choosing them for their fun and benefit and connectedness with others in the community.
Self-sufficiency is our ultimate goal - localized, "know thy producer"-type living. And, we know full-well that it's nearly unachievable in modern global world (at least until sh!t hits the fan or solar flare burns all our electronics ;) ), where we can indeed obtain many things that we don't have access to the raw materials of. For example, here in Vermont - I can never achieve self-sufficiency in coffee or green tea or tea tree oil; these are the items that either I have to live without, or obtain them by trade. So, we accept such realities of life for the time being - AND, we strive to minimize the number of such items in our lives as we figure out how we can make the items that we can make.
We keep expanding the things we do create for ourselves, such as
- growing our own plant foods and medicinal herbs
- growing animals for dairy and animal protein for those of us, who choose to partake
- farming in what we know as regenerative restorative rotational ways, implementing principles of permaculture, minimal tilling, crop rotation, poly-crop cultures, etc
- making our own fabrics by growing specific fiberous plants (cotton, flax for linen, nettles), and utilizing manual machines for weaving the threads
- creating our own pottery and utensils
- processing hides for tanning to make clothes and shoes and bags
- preserving and transforming foods: kraut, cheeses, preservations for winter, root cellar, old-school meat preservation practices, etc
Every individual that joins our community sets an intent for being here. These include intent for joy, passion, excitement and other life-enriching goals. Our community is “intentional” because these intents are being actively pursued, lived, reviewed, revised, renewed.
Our Elders play an important role in this – they may be perceived as life coaches and psychologists by some. However, all of the community shares the responsibility for each individual member’s following their intent – if not actively engaging with it, then at least naming a serious deviation from it if they observe that to be the case.
When we enter the community, we each get some training in identifying and managing emotions, needs and conflicts, which empower us to handle many situations lovingly and compassionately.
There is no expectation of anyone being jolly all the time. At the same time, the intent of each individual who consciously joined is to create more joy, passion and excitement in their lives, and get community support in creating that, both from individual members and from Elders. Based on that agreement, the community, usually in the face of the Elders and the heart circle, feels invited to respectfully get involved into the members’ lives if the agreed-upon intent is perceived to not be lived up to.
Leading up to or following this involvement, the individual may choose to isolate themselves for awhile, whether within the community or elsewhere. They may also choose to leave and disassociate from the community altogether at any time – in that case they would discuss their intent with the heart circle, then the Elders and then declare this at the next Gathering: going through these three groups ensures that they are not escaping themselves and are indeed better off elsewhere. Some people have done so, for various reasons.
If the community is feeling unwelcoming of someone who chooses to remain here, they are encouraged to work on getting clarity regarding the situation and sometimes stay with one of the Elders, to work through re-integration into the group. We are very open and welcoming of anyone, especially when they are actively seeking emotional support – that is an integral part of the Intent of our intentional community. Emotional well-being is of highest value for us, and assistance is always available when asked for.
Elders are a group of people that the community trusts. They don’t have specific responsibilities assigned to each, but as a group they ensure that the intent of the community is being lived, and when it is not – they work with the community to re-align with it. They discuss with each other, and with any interested member, matters that they are working on, for example, a member who is stuck in depression, or a deep sickness of another. They try as much as possible to keep discussions public and transparent. If any questions of power struggle arise, this is brought up to the whole group and is discussed. If it remains unresolved, which is decided by anonymous votes of the group, the Elder may be asked to step down, until they choose to apply to be an Elder again and they are voted in by the whole community. Of course, any issues are cleared out by then.
We each have a heart circle – a circle of people, who we choose over the period of being in the community, who we feel we resonate with and would like to be deeper friends with. We then make it a priority, sometimes in a more structured way, to connect with them regularly, for personal connection, but also for the sake of the community we want to ensure that everyone is doing well and feel joy and excitement in life. If something feels off, we work with it, either by ourselves, or get guidance from one of the Elders. We invest deeply into these connections, ensuring to create time and opportunities regularly to bond.
Sometimes heart circles contract as relationships fade – that is very accepted, and once discussed and agreed upon and communicated to Elders, the expectation of a deeper connection is lifted.
Over time, many heart circles grow as, by working and living together, deeper bonds form. When two members agree to be in each other’s heart circle, that is commit to having a deep connection and check in on each other, this is communicated to Elders, not for approval, but for their awareness.
Sometimes, when we feel someone is feeling or expressing (or not expressing) a deeper unease, we may choose to address those with that person, privately or with Elder’s presence.
The person who is feeling uneasy, unexcited for an extended period of time usually attempts to resolve feeling down with the members of their heart circle, usually one on one. If they remain stuck, they are then advised to work with one of the Elders on exploring their blockage, sometimes if they choose to – they can relocate to that Elder’s space and stay with them however long they want.
It all is by choice of whoever is involved, and nothing external is kept in secret, while personal and intimate things remain within the circle of involved.
Having said that, if the rest of the community feels it to be necessary, they may choose to bring up the events or feelings at Gatherings or individually to Elders or other members.
We have an agenda sheet for an open public discussion hanging in our community kitchen, with 4 items on it, and anyone is welcome to write in anything they wish to discuss. When all 4 items fill up, we hold a gathering. It happens to be once every few weeks, although some times more and other times less often. Before the meeting, whoever is the ‘author’ of each item is invited to make a small write-up – a headline – of what they want to talk about. Sometimes they keep it secret, simply filling in the blank in the agenda sheet with something silly – we are very welcoming of that, as long as they are going past the silliness at the actual meeting. It is also encouraged to note if there is a need for special public to be present: if the matter is very important for the whole community, then to note that, or there is a desire for specific individuals to be present is another example. Usually, if all of community is desirable, then the protagonist mentions the matter to one of the Elders for agreement and possibly sooner discussion. If specific people are desirable, they are expected to show up and the meeting is scheduled around their availability.
During gatherings, we usually have a mediator, most often one of the Elders, who ensures that the discussion is prolific. If any conclusion is arrived at, usually they take note of it and publicize it later on. They also ensure the event does not last too long so as to keep everyone engaged.
Not everyone shows up, as mentioned, unless requested otherwise.
Usually, we each take care of lunch for ourselves, unless there is a communal project or otherwise a prior agreement to share lunch has been made.
In winter months, when it gets dark earlier, we make hot chocolate or tea in a communal kitchen, so that everyone has a chance to relax and warm up after their day.
Dinner is a duty we share, as usually it is more organized and has more people and kids joining than breakfasts. Some nights some of us make dinner, other nights we clean up, and yet other nights we are off duty. These tasks are also flexible – if we don’t intend on having dinner, or if we are too much in my zone to get distracted by a longer duty, one of the neighbors generally has no problem stepping in - it all evens out over time, and does not create problems of inequality or resentment.
None of the meals is mandatory to have in the community space or join for altogether, however, it is encouraged – and most people generally join, especially during dinner time.
After dinner, some people return to their spaces, others go for walks together. Usually, a small group remains in the community house near the fire. If the group is big enough, or if there is enough energy circulating, a game would start. We have some board games, most of them self-made based on the games we have learnt before. Usually in these cases it gets loud, and more people hear and return to the community house to join in the fun. Other nights, there is a group, larger or smaller, just sitting silently around the fire, or sharing quietly, sometimes planning the next day or another project. On some nights, someone plays some music on the piano in the corner or one of the instruments we share. If someone creates an initiative and weather permits, we have fire outside. These also may be quiet, or may get roudy – especially if a bunch of us feel the energy of a drum circle, and there are dancers in the group.
During certain periods of the year we have more outdoor work in the community. Our community garden and food forest are one such place. Alternatively, someone may be working on their project and requiring an extra pair of hands. Sometimes we have a common project going on that takes a certain number of days in a row to complete – building a cob structure, for example. We try to make these into work parties and invite people from our bigger community to join.
We have shared resources. What that means is, things like woodworking shop, tools, a tractor, for example, are paid for from common funds and are shared by all members. Some tools are private – certain members have some very specific tools that they use regularly, and they chose to own them. That said, usually everyone is rather open about sharing those as well, especially if you explain what your project is; sometimes they even volunteer to help, whether from concern about proper use of the tools or from personal interest in the project – depending on the situation.
Other shared resources are the common areas of the community, including community house and area around it, co-op operations, etc.
There could be more that I am not remembering now. Simply speaking, if you want to use something and it is available, then you will mostly be able to. And if it is not available – we discuss whether we want to obtain it or not. Sometimes something specific is available in the wider community, and we can use it given permission. People here encourage creative and self-expressing projects, and try to support them to the best of their ability.
Food & Goods Co-op
We have a food co-op, which lets us trade items amongst each other in a centralized location, as well as get commercial items cheaper as we order directly from wholesalers and often producers themselves, cutting out the wholesalers and retailers and the margins they make.
Reflections from the Future
As you can imagine, it was difficult at first for those of us, who were creating this new way - we were giving up a lot of our habits that made life comfortable at the time, presumably for a better life, but really for the unknown. That way, though, we created a model, a template - and now you know better what you are giving up some of the comforts for, because we tested it out before you, for you. We've shown that "quality of life" is not merely a bullet point in a job description that never lives up to itself, but an achievable way of living - prioritizing quality of life, prioritizing Joy and all its components, for the whole and for individual equally. That's our way of living, and we began by very consciously breaking our patterns and creating new ones - and creating support systems for these new ones, counting on this support system to assist us in persisting with these new habits, using accountability and camaraderie and "shared misery", if you wish, in stronger-attachment circumstances...
We chose these principles, among many others, to live by. Everyone joining agrees to the ones they agree to, and creates statements of disagreement and proposals to the ones they disagree with, and we hold a meeting discussion. I enjoy those - because it's like a celebration: we are all together, knowing there is disagreement, so are being super loving and caring towards each other in other ways... Here are some of them:
(*) The medical idea that you wish not rely on pharma and instead rely on local assistance along various alternative medicine principles to the degree you choose to, and with any support you need. And if it does not help - then knowing you have lived a worthy joyful connected life - at least while you have lived with us you did! You did your best shot at "the best life I could have had" - because it was both balanced and fun and felt good and delicious to have lived. So, you will die joyful - whenever you would die. Meanwhile, you would live with us a conscious life - a conscious of our continuous evolution and of our desire to consciously evolve towards the "best" (for me - that is most conscious and most joyful) world possible. Consider, for example, what is the "best" world for you? In a few words... That is, what are your top 3 priorities? Top 1 priority in the new world how you wish to see our world in the best light.
(*) Weekly dance together (most of us)
(*) Weekly fast together (most of us)
(*) Weekly music creation together (a bunch of us)
(*) Weekly potluck (many of us)
(*) Monthly presentation day, where a few people present what they've learnt in the last 3 to 6 months. Since everyone in our community must be learning something at any point (that’s one of our Core Agreements), there are always people presenting, and everyone of any age in the community gets to present every 3-6 months. Children, for example, present to elders and other adults - and thus educate them. And elders, for example, present to kids and everyone - and THUS educate them. Everyone gets to educate everyone else. We try to have everyone attend these every time.
(*) Take only what you need. This is one of the Core Agreements as well - the principle of Enough.
(*) Laughter is a medicine. Compassionate laughter is the best medicine.
(*) BEAUTY is an aspect of everyday life. Each one of us creates a beautiful something every day. We create beauty in big and small ways - it is very intentional, and we remind each other to do that. It can be anything: from sewing a beautiful dress for some, to decorating meal beautifully for others, to performing a beautiful dance for dancers at times, to whatever anyone can think of. We've had very creative beautiful things and experiences! :)))
(*) Eat what we produce to at least 70% of our diet. We began by aiming to know the actual person who made the foods that we consumed, and really the things that we used in daily life, like tools, clothes, foods we didn’t' have, pottery.
(*) We chose holocracy as a model.
(*) We began living in circle shape villages, and our design began with a snowflake. It would always have a center square park in the center - it would be a circle shape, and people would live around it, some people would live a little further in the side streets, and soon enough, not far away another circle would begin shaping.
I specifically live in a 6-house village, for example. We have a round central park that is for walking and connecting in the central gazebo. We all have water from earth there, and when we gather - we taste the water to see how we like it, how clean it is. Our aim to keep the water delicious.
(*) The medical/health choices, like the healing centers in Czechoslovakia - there is a regimen you are prescribed when you come, and you are strongly upheld and encouraged to do this regimen, and are supported to the degree you desire.
(*) Back to living in circles and in harmony... We create harmony within and without. Our goal is Joy, our path towards Joy lays through the towns of Harmony, Trust, Compassion, Beauty and others - all components, all really trying to live up to Joy and as much in harmony with it as possible, as they are actively aspiring towards Joy. You see? Joy is the center, and that's here I live too. And we, the Joyful, respect and celebrate each o of other villages, and the new ones that got formed and keep on forming.
All of this to say that cultivation and progress of inner consciousness in humanity to me is of utmost priority, and I see technology as disruptive, and unhelpful, and even detrimental to the goal I strive towards: inner cultivation of our pure hearts.
We have a continuous walking street/path that goes uninterrupted, diagonally, through center of the village. Village is shaped as a circle - all villages around me are. People kept coming, and when one circle of houses was complete, the next people to come started another circle.
Later, new people coming began to start new circles/villages even when one was incomplete. That created less diversity inside circles as people got to choose which circle to belong to. That was good, and at times, created more polarization too, between some village circles. To us, that means harmony was distorted. So we recognized that, and began asking newly-arriving people to continue completing circles before building new ones. And they therefore do not have the power to decide who moves in next, but they do get to choose where and how big their circle would be, by choosing where the center of their village circle would be and how far they would build their home from it, thus setting the radius to the circle. That's why some villages are small and others are quite large. Still, we are all connected by one walking road.
(*) In the beginning we would play games. The one I remember was "Who will buy less today!". Another one was sharing one beautifulness with someone else every day.
Reflections from the Future. My day
I am living in a community with shared resources and minimum if any money circulation.
I have my own piece of property where I get to do what I want and host whoever I want.
On most days I wake up early to prepare breakfast meal for our community, and whoever would like – comes to share it, either in our communal space or to take with them.
Every day I meditate after I prepare food for others and before having my own breakfast. Sometimes I meditate before preparing – I find my mind struggling to stop thinking about the meal though, so this does not happen often.
By 10am I complete in the kitchen with my and others’ breakfasts, and am ready to start my day. Usually, I go back to my space and work on something exciting. What that is depends on the day, season, mood, other projects. Some days I write. Some days I design and engineer structures inside my “Playhouse” and outside of it. Some days I dedicate to outdoors – being in the garden, for example, or going hiking. Some days I help out in school or kindergarden – my schedule with them is flexible and is on as-needed basis. Some days I get online and do research. Some days I go into town, because I need to or because I want to. There are periods when community projects are going on and we get to work together - I enjoy volunteering if I have nothing pressing or very exciting going on.
I enjoy being in my space. It is a spacious living room with big windows that let in sun. I have my desk and my books here, so I am able to study and write. I also have a special “Magic dresser” with my various potions, medicines, tinctures, salves and other medicinal preparations. It also has small batches of foods that I prepare there, usually something fermented, like kombucha or sour kraut or wine. I experiment with fermenting things and share my results with the community and get their feedback. Some members are more open and adventurous to trying new things. What recipes I am able to replicate successfully a few times, and that get thumbs up from multiple members, I make a bulk of, and we serve these at meals, and sometimes sell in our co-op and farmers’ market.
When there are bigger projects go on, I sometimes help hands-on, and other times help in the kitchen as there is a bigger community to cook for. Usually, we have enough volunteers from wider community who prefer cooking over outdoor hands-on labor, which saves me the kitchen duty. I enjoy both, as with each comes a different type of bonding and meditation.
Sometimes I go back to the community kitchen to have lunch. Other times, I skip lunch or have it in my space.
After lunch, I tend to switch my tasks and locations, unless I am deeply engrained into something. Sometimes I get into the zone with what I am doing, like drawing or writing or engineering, that I choose to keep going. Usually, those prove to be long satisfying days, and I sleep very well after them.
Later in the day, if I am unoccupied, I may go help with kids or some other community tasks. That is also a good time to go for a walk and connect with someone deeper, if such opportunity arises.
In the evenings, I sometimes help preparing dinner.
I enjoy cooking for a group of people things that I would like to cook – keeping suggestions in mind. These are mindful meals, with good nutrition, organic and local ingredients, simple and soft on palate, with a sauce or two on the side for flavoring. They consist of a few dishes, which are prepared fresh in the morning, with the consideration for the weather, the food available, dietary preferences and the types of work that people who will be eating are intending on doing.