Whatever the initial building costs of our proposed community project might be, they will inevitably become affordable if that community is structured to sustainably meet all its members’ essential needs by inhouse resident employment and regional entrepreneurial engagement.
This is so, because any community whose buildings, land and lifeways merge to internally provide shelter, water, food, energy, biowaste regeneration, access to education and self-governance, while deriving additional income from its region, would long outlast its final mortgage payment. After that, it’s all profit.
Today, it is technically possible to design, build and manage such fundamentally self-reliant neighborhood-level communities. The resident members of such communities could meet all the essential human needs that all humans willing to work have a right to expect. And they could meet such needs by themselves within the physical limits of their communities, using only their minds, hearts, backs and a good internet connection.
The author of this work lives in a community that does not meet that rigorous standard, although all the components of it are present to some degree. And I do not doubt that we could achieve internal self-reliance if the need arose. But our ecovillage, like most others, was conceived and built by gainfully employed or comfortably pensioned folks, who did not need to have economic self-reliance built into the community design to assure their wellbeing. However, there are others in this world, whose numbers are increasing, who are not so favored. This work tries to address their needs by extrapolating from our experience.
This work addresses the employment and living needs of folks whose world of work increasingly lacks the job options of my generation. It is written for families who may well discover that life within a maximally autonomous community becomes a reasonable option as, over time, automation diminishes their and their children’s employment options and as wealth continues to percolate upward in society.
My study has persuaded me that the automation of human tasks, increasingly accelerated by artificial Intelligence, while not yet generally problematic, will inexorably shrink the pool of family sustainable employment. I have gradually come to think that some radically autonomous form of community might become a credible life option for automation-displaced families. I think it is prudent to have such employment-rich community options in place, since the task competence of machines over humans must only increase.
It is this conviction that persuaded me to develop this website to address technological unemployment.
We make the case that there is always one fallback job that could survive the worst predations of technological unemployment. It is the job of sustaining families through organized community labor. We will suggest that a public policy to design and build affordable, self-reliant communities is an appropriate tool to calm our Earth’s sea of economic change and to protect its economic refugees, whether at home or across the world.
The components of this work are organized in a three-digit format that I have found useful in identifying specific entries. The main sections are:
100s) A big picture overview of the proposal and its place within the broad historical tradition of community life on Earth.
200s) An outline of some enduring ethical, economic, political and environmental needs in human life we seek to address.
300s) An examination of the Work Groups and their Tasks. These constitute the governance structures and functions of a resident-owned and managed community.
400s) A look at entrepreneurial teams through which such a community can further its security by engaging in outside work within its regional economy.
500s) A review of currently available examples of human, fabricated and agricultural components some combination of which could be accessed to design, build and manage self-reliant communities.
There is a universal component of human life that has permitted us to survive on Earth. It is so fundamental that we hardly notice it. It is as ubiquitous as the air we breathe and as foundational as gravity. It is our need to live in communities in order to survive. Each of our historically primal types of survival communities--as hunter-gatherers, pastoralist or sedentary farmers--shared one essential attribute. They were able to feed kith and kin by working together in communities whose modest size permitted their members to readily comprehend and fulfill their necessary roles in achieving that end.
Over the last 12 thousand years the sedentary agricultural village became vastly dominant among these traditional lifeways of human survival. Even as trade on land and sea permitted the emergence of towns and states, the farming village remained the dominant lifeway for all but a minority of humanity. Because it could go on feeding its members across generations, the farming village has endured and replicated. It has survived the outrages of empire builders, tax collectors, nomadic incursions, wanderings of displaced peoples, ethnic conflicts and both gradual and sudden assaults from nature. That is, until the era of industrialized modernity.
In the last couple of centuries, throughout the industrialized world, the self-reliant farming village has been mostly replaced by the emergence, attractions and compulsions of novel corporate and centralizing state entities. These have gradually insinuated their influence upon the individual citizen, making his and his family’s survival dependent upon adherence to their economic and political patterns. This trend toward individual dependence on corporate and state power has been cushioned to some extent by retaining elements of earlier lifeways--a nuclear remnant of the extended family, religious congregations and other civic associations.
One striking outcome of this last human transition under an industrial state regime is that the human population has expanded vastly. However, this escalating fulfillment of the Abrahamic injunction to be fruitful and multiply and to fill and subdue the earth, has also threatened to transform sacred intent into demonic disintegration. Too often working individuals and families are tossed about by the ever-shifting waves of a globalized economy. Their capacity to earn a family-sustainable living within that economy is threatened by the automation of heretofore human tasks.
Over the last couple of centuries an irreversible flood of task-automating knowledge has liberated more folks from poverty, more quickly, than has any other movement in history. But that same movement has recently, and at an escalating pace, diminished the pool of dependable, family-sustaining employment and increased inequality, while compromising the environment. Rigorous, cost-basis decision making within an intensely competitive global marketplace can literally compel a firm to move jobs to low-wage countries, leaving empty factories and full unemployment lines.
This is a globally induced tragedy that can be ameliorated locally. The self-reliant community response we propose echoes those of other times. Humans have formed or joined Archipelagos of refuge in the midst of social trauma throughout history. Some examples that come to mind are Benedictine worker-monk Monasteries in a disintegrating Roman world, Christian dissenter communities escaping chronic religious persecution in post Reformation Europe, Kibbutzim sanctuaries of self-reliance from pogrom-ridden Europe, Civilian Conservation Job Corps in depression-era America or the U.S. military for any number of young folks looking for a way out of poverty at home.
To any who might question the feasibility of the options we propose, I would point to America in 1942. Within months America transformed itself into a wartime economy that was able to train, house and deploy men and women over the entire globe, as well as to continue supplying food, weapons, munitions and transport to Britain and the Soviet Union. It's a question of will and direction, not capacity.
When customized with the technical adjuncts of modernity, village level communities could become maximally autonomous in shelter, energy, water, food, bio-waste recovery, existential employment, access to education and governance.
Such communities could embody cohousing governance experience with efficient building construction and affordable financing. This combination could transform portions of the current welfare state network into local self-reliant communities (SRCs) whose members would sustain themselves.
We propose a SRC as one species among government and market solutions, to address an automation-driven, shrinking pool of family-sustaining employment, and other problems—both long-standing and novel—of nature, nurture and national neglect.
Families and individuals, marginalized for whatever reason, could employ themselves in directly providing for their community’s wellbeing. Moreover, they could glean additional income by participating in their regional marketplace within entrepreneurial teams that parallel their inhouse work groups.
Such teams would engage their marketplace from a position of strength, because the livelihood of their families would never be existentially dependent, only enhanced, by their work outside the community.
For families who are willing to live and work in community, an SRC could provide the assured continuity of a meaningful life in performing that most fundamental of all human jobs—providing for current loved ones and neighbors and for the next generation. Technology would be yoked to the labor of life.
The number of families that are optimally advantaged within the personally intensive culture of cohousing may not necessarily correspond precisely with the optimal number of families necessary to achieve maximal autonomy.
A minimum number of families needed to serve an infrastructure able to provide essential food and utilities would be set by its technical requirements and geographical setting. Optimally, some portion of the membership would be drawing income from outside the community either as individuals or as members of entrepreneurial teams.
Beyond these labor and income criteria, the optimal number of families depends on one’s comfort level with extended family-type friendships and commitments. These vary among individuals. For some gregarious folks, the optimal size might approach a hundred families. Our experience in community is that most folks seem to feel that a community of thirty to forty families is probably right.
One way to work around these individual differences is to have multiple neighborhoods in a common village. This works rather well in my community, EcoVillage at Ithaca—where a hundred families are grouped into three distinct neighborhoods. While each of these manages the concerns of most aspects of their shared life, other common interests seem to lend themselves to attention at the village level.
The critical point for our purposes is that the community be large enough to ensure maximal autonomy. And that means being indefinitely, self-sufficient in shelter, energy, water, food, access to education, bio-waste recycling, employment and governance.
Creating the engineering, residential and agricultural infrastructure of such communities is technically feasible. Socially, there are decades of co-housing and ecovillage working experience to draw upon--as well as that of village life throughout most of human history.
In 1942, the Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter, coined the term creative destruction. He describes it as the "process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."
From the perspective of any family in America or across the world that is dependent on the marketplace for their wellbeing, it is the ruinous, not the inventive aspect of “creative destruction” that will, I believe, capture their attention and stoke their fears for the future of their kith and kin. They may sense a gradual process of decline in the prospects of their children and grandchildren, compared with their own life experience. They may notice new pockets of family destabilization, dislocation and, in some locations, yes, even destruction.
A public policy to mass-produce affordable, maximally self-reliant communities across America as an alternative to current affordable housing projects and unemployment payments could absorb the shock of these displacements permanently. Cash unemployment benefits are transient, whereas the tenure of a resident’s employment in his community’s self-reliance would be permanent. Once an employment challenged individual or family chose to make a home in a maximally autonomous community, they need never again experience the nagging fear and shame of being dependent on others for the wellbeing of their loved ones.
To support the feasibility this remedial policy, this work will display an inventory of the human, agricultural and fabricated components, some combination of which, would be necessary to design, build and grow affordable, maximally autonomous, neighborhood-level communities. Communities that are existentially self-reliant, regardless of their regional economy.
A SRC public policy would meet some of the basic needs whose fulfillment are the stuff of political demands. Any politician should be aware that ultimately both domestic and international stability depend on the level of security felt within families across the world. Migrants do not risk becoming outlawed low-wage workers in alien countries, nor do they join militias to divvy up the limited wealth of corrupt regimes because they are bored at home. It is the instability of those homes that makes them outcasts and outlaws. And this reality should be a warning to what could happen if the stability of American families becomes threatened by a shrinking job pool.
Without programs to put authority over their livelihood within the grasp of all families, the Earth’s cruel archipelago of chronically underemployed and underpaid workers, recently exposed by the COVID epidemic, will remain unchallenged. Whether within their home countries, or more desperately, as remittance paying immigrants, these folks can be cut adrift without redress. This practice of life-withering displacement heightens our view that a minimum global civic morality would point to advancing a self-reliant communities project. This option could be started in America and then, once proof of concept was established, it could become a solid plank in foreign policy as well.
It is our view that unless politicians advocate for and build such permanently self-reliant ecovillage communities, this antidote for familial insecurity and inequality will remain permanently stunted. For it will not be accessible to folks of modest and low income--who constitute most of humanity.
The policy we propose of advancing the formation of Affordable, Self-Reliant Communities, SRCs, would address the enduring needs of families within the human community that are willing to work and manage the daily affairs of their kith and kin together. Achieving maximal community self-reliance requires and provides prideful work that heals both humans and the land within which they dwell.
The communities we promote would adopt the personally intense, self-managing, neighborhood-level culture of cohousing (see https://www.cohousing.org/). In addition, SRCs would be growing their own food, harvesting their own water and energy, and exploiting the vast educational assets online for themselves and their descendants.
These family managed communities would be affordable because they would be built to be mass replicable, thereby permitting economies of scale.
They would be employment-rich because they would be built, maintained and managed, by future resident members whose skill sets can also derive income from their hinterland.
They would be maximally autonomous because those resident families would actually secure their own shelter, energy, water, food, bio-waste recovery, access to online education and governance.
They would be safe harbors whose level of autonomy would assure that the existential security of kith and kin remained within their families’ control, regardless of the roiling sea of economic change beyond their borders.
The job of sustaining families in self-reliant communities is the one family-sustainable job that could not be eliminated by artificial intelligence enhanced automation.
There are a number government venues that might be seconded to create and administer Self-Reliant Community projects. The US Army Corps of Engineers has provided living quarters, water and energy for generations of GI’s. These are quintessential community tasks. Moreover, both emergency and routine Civil Works projects are part of its mission. The significant point is that none of this kind of work is new to America’s organizational structure.
That said, I think that the optimal way to advance this policy would be to reconstitute the Depression Era Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) with an exclusive focus on building SRCs across the country. During the 1930s the CCC New Deal work relief program, provided young men with work that a Depression economy denied them. Today, a refocused CCC, a Community Conservation Corps, could provide all young folks willing to enlist with robust work that will increasingly be denied to them within a relentlessly automating economy.
This new CCC could provide work for both its enlistees and for the American families who would benefit from the output of their government service. While there would be a limited number of jobs within the CCC’s enlisted ranks, their mission, the design and building of self-reliant, residential farming communities could create manifold job options indefinitely. For the lifeways of these communities would provide dignified employment for any number of Americans willing to live and work together.
Moreover, if future residents were integrated within the building phase, working under the direction of CCC Cadre, a deep incentive to learn and to build competently would be inherent among them. It would certainly not be lost on such resident worker participants that their newly acquired skills might be parlayed into income-earning employment in their community’s hinterland.
The radical element of the Self-Reliant Community is that a survival level of employment would be inherent in the design of the community. A credible level of self-reliance requires lots of routine jobs. It requires the jobs necessary to maintain the community’s shelter, their energy, water and food resources, the return of their bio-waste into soil, their access to online education and the management of their community.
The basic reason for reconstituting a CCC work relief program is that increasing numbers of Americans are being gradually crowded out of a shrinking pool of family-sustainable jobs. A Community Conservation Corps would provide some enduring career options for its enlistees, while simultaneously producing employment rich communities for indefinite numbers of economically challenged families.
Creating these intensely local farm communities with the requisite diversity of flora and fauna necessary to maintain human existence, would be a fitting rebirth of the conservation effort of the original CCC.
Much like our armed services, the Community Conservation Corps could provide young men and women just out of high school with their first exposure to the world of work. The American Military does a masterful job of training its own. In my day, after basic training, recruits were sent to their “2nd Eight” weeks of training. This channeled young men mostly just out of high school with little work experience into specialized schools where they learned all the skills it takes to maintain barracks life--from cooks, to company clerks, supply clerks or medics, as well as conventional military skills.
We believe that the urgency of relentless, technology-induced unemployment and the need to restore an Earth compromised by our unbridled global economy would be optimally remedied by a refocused CCC.
However, it is also possible the entrepreneurial heft of capitalism might click in at some point. If a refocused CCC provided proof of concept and public support rose to support it, then developers would likely follow. In all probability, they would build upscale, but if they maintain the rigor of maximal autonomy, it would be no bad thing for the planet.
While a refocused CCC, using smart technology could create and fill affordable, self-reliant communities, some form of limited equity ownership within the finished communities would be necessary to ensure that affordability endures across subsequent generations of residents. (see LEHC- Limited Equity Housing Cooperative in section 500-370T for more detail)
Under this form of tenure, members would purchase shares in the community with specific tenancy rights at below market cost. This initial modest cost of tenancy would be balanced by the contractual proviso of accepting limits on the resale price of those shares.
Residents who leave the community would recover their original investment plus the interest that has accrued to it. This modest return, or limited equity, on investment if built into the tenure, would protect the community from the speculative nature of the real estate market.
The enduring work of sustaining the fabric of community life, could become a source of income generating employment outside of it. If organized into Entrepreneurial Teams, member residents with skills acquired inhouse would be attractive to folks living in conventional communities who often have to hire such talent. Having readily marketable skills to meet needs that are common in conventional society would provide some measure of economic leverage within that ambient market economy.
We feel that filling the core human need to protect one’s kith and kin in an automating economy whose pool of family-sustainable employment is withering can be best served in community. But that community will always find itself in an ambient society enmeshed in a global economy. It would be careless to fail to engage that economy to augment the community’s income.
A self-reliant community that permits unbowed citizens to directly transform their mental, emotional and physical labor into the well-being of their community would be prepared to meet that larger world with an unmatched level of security.
There is already an Ecovillage movement that combines cohousing routines with various levels of farming and land regeneration. Their decades of experience can be mined for insights and practical advice. However, there is within this already-robust, global archipelago a specter that haunts many of us. It is affordability--or more precisely, the lack of it.
What I gleaned from participation in a multi-year process of designing and building a community is that affordability is undermined in several ways.
First, the costs in the design phase will rise to the extent that the design is one-off, having to accommodate the interests, tastes and income levels of many. Affordability means different things to different people.
Second, design repetition would eliminate most such costs after the first exemplar. No second project, no design savings.
Third, to the extent that variety in design is necessary, this will result in the need to shift of labor from one pattern of tasks to another in the build phase. This increases time on project and correlated costs of labor.
Finally, if there is no intention to replicate the project, other economies of scale will be absent. Good supply sources and lessons learned will not be transferred to a next project.
If from the outset there is one design that is repeated over and over, both the original design and the labor costs will fall as both mind and muscle memory dominate the process.
This SRC model differs from today’s ecovillages in its focus on affordability-driven, publicly sponsored design and mass-replication. Today’s ecovillages have solidly middle-class origins and have been designed and built from the bottom up into unique communities. Member savings and other transferable assets permit the extra costs that such unique designs entail. Families who are economically challenged by technological unemployment do not have such resources. And their numbers will only increase going forward.
However, they could learn by building and then thrive by living within an enterprising ecovillage, designed and built under the direction of a publicly sponsored Community Conservation Corp.
Any economically challenged worker-family or individual willing to share responsibility could thrive in such a community. However, it would first have to be designed, financed and built--optimally under the aegis of a Community Conservation Corps that directed and trained future residents as part of its mission.
For this reason, it is our view that mass-producing radically sustainable and affordable Self-Reliant Communities as a public policy is necessary and is a task worthy of America’s talents. This work is offered as one tool in that larger project.
To ensure that SRCs would have residents with the skills necessary to maintain the physical infrastructure, like plumbing, wiring and air conditioning, we propose that future resident-owners should be integrated as craft apprentices within the construction phase of any SRC building project, whether public or private
After construction, work groups would perform their respective tasks, but would also be responsible for transferring their skills to new members. This is a time-honored practice within the military, because it works. Within an SRC, a robust level of competence would percolate throughout the living community and across generations. All Work Groups would not only provide goods and services but also train their coworkers and successors. Again, this hearkens back to ancient village life in which each new generation is seamlessly raised to succeed their elders. The difference, of course, is that through the internet, SRC education, while it is serving local resident needs will be cosmopolitan in scope.
Also, as mentioned above, skills honed by residents in-house might be parlayed into regional income earned by individuals or by community enterprise teams. Such outside income would be necessary to pay for goods and services that cannot be provided inhouse.
The community bylaws should stipulate an equal allocation of the necessary community work hours among residents. This means the budget for supplying all goods and services for the entire community would be divided by the number of adult members and that each such member would be responsible for an equal number of work hours. While this would fulfill the responsibilities of each adult member, my experience of living in community is that folks often do extra work for the community, frequently working creatively in novel areas.
On the other hand, any member who fulfills his or her allotted work hours would be free pursue private income from whatever market source they could access. This would permit individuals or families to pursue unique goals and career options that may not be critically relevant to the community.
Residents would be encouraged to find their own equilibrium between inhouse community work hours and entrepreneurial marketplace work hours. The former would be directly involved in the providing goods and services to community residents. Residents in the latter category would be organized into Entrepreneurial Teams (described in the 400s section).
All income derived from the latter would flow into the coffers of the community to meet costs for goods and services that could not be supplied inhouse. The constant goal, of course, would be to reduce the latter to a minimum.
Both types of work would be accounted in equal value work hours. This means that in community accounting, each hour of each member's life has equal value. If the community is to endure, all life must be equally valued. It is the global failure to honor this value that makes SRCs necessary in the first instance.
The self-reliant community described here seeks to extend the reach of maximal autonomy in shelter, water, food and energy to keep its kith and kin alive and together. A careful reader might point out that that has been a characteristic of most village life throughout history, albeit ever hostage to dominant regional political and military minorities.
What distinguishes the SRC village is that spiritually it escapes both the tyranny and the parochialism of this past. Beyond providing for life’s nutritional essentials internally and locally, it would be organized to harvest vast general educational resources and to acquire specific skills globally online. It would forage locally within the earth of its region and globally within the university of its world.
While never again existentially hostage to the intermittent thrashings of a globalized economy, educationally it would be competent to harvest across the globalized university of the internet at will. We are, for example, communicating our SRC proposal on quintessential global tool--the internet.
A Self-Reliant Neighborhood is not unlike the human who is reading these words. You are an organism of flesh and blood that weaves a meaningful life within a web of significant relationships. The Self-Reliant Community spins its own web of significant relationships and weaves its own meaning within clusters of natural, fabricated and social components.
The meaning of an SRC’s life radiates from the intensely cooperative multi-family, shared work culture that is the backbone of existing cohousing communities. This worker family culture begins with members who have intentionally chosen to labor together at reclaiming the strength and wisdom of extended-family lifeways while sharing vital resources.
A core value of an SRC for its members is the easy confidence of living within shouting distance of folks who have our backs not only in the routine provisioning of life’s essentials, but in the depth and variety of experience that a community provides.
So far, it is the souls of a minority of the economically stable folks who have created ecovillages in robust economies. They have, for the most part, been motivated by passion for community and the environment.
Our candid goal is to meet the requirements of a much larger number of marginalized folks whose souls are currently motivated by fear—the fear of gradually losing or having already lost control over their family’s fate.
In our times, a former path out of poverty through worker-level jobs in business and industry is vanishing apace. Employment statistics can be deceiving. We hold that it is also the quality of a life’s options that matters. There have been, after all, diverse forms of full employment throughout most of history--peasants confined to manors, slaves on plantations, in workhouses or in prisons, galleys, gulags and concentration camps. Full employment, but often shamefully so.
The Affordable Self-Reliant Community is one possible way forward for folks who suffer from the withering fear that they are permanently hostage to forces beyond their control. It is our hope and conviction that the regenerative infrastructure of an SRC can help heal the souls of the many.
There is an enduring set of nutritional, housing and employment requirements that can be meaningfully addressed by a variety of private and public initiatives. The one we outlined here, an Affordable Self-Reliant Community, has a singular advantage over most others. Its solution re-anchors families in a historically dominant form of local self-reliance—in a pattern of life that predated the modern industrial system that has gradually undermined its viability.
An SRC recovers that earlier pattern of local autonomy, while augmenting it with the considerable enrichments of modernity and eliminating traditional patterns of subservience.
The SRC’s formula is simple. Humans use the tools of modernity, and some ancient ones, to transform sun, air, water, soil and bio-waste into food. It re-integrates humans into the local physiology of nature and even heals some of the wounds we have inflicted on long-suffering Earth during the last phase of industrialism.
The following groups might prosper in an SRC:
1) worker families displaced by our automation-driven, global supply-chain economy—now intensified by artificial intelligence.
2) groups whose communities must be rebuilt after the climate-change-induced natural disasters.
3) groups chronically depreciated by historical cruelties and cultural betrayal.
4) individuals and families disillusioned by chronic political negligence and a failure of cultural imagination.
To provide safe harbor for refugees of nature, nurture and neglect we advocate further seeding the emerging global Ecovillage Archipelago with Affordable Self-Reliant Communities (ASRCs), islands of radical resilience, to shadow the growth of our global supply-chain economy.
In the following sections we will look at chronic ethical, economic, political and environmental requirements that can be partially met by making the Affordable Self-Reliant Community a practical option.
Unequal access to family-sustaining employment caused by automation is creating new economic want atop traditional chronic challenges of discrimination. Both employment issues and the habitual trials of nature, nurture and neglect can be meaningfully addressed by public policy driven SRCs.
Families of moderate and low-income have a chronic problem for which membership in an SRC is one possible solution. That problem is the lack of a predictable safety net during periods of automation-induced, unemployment or underemployment.
Unlike solidly established middle class citizens, a growing number of folks are finding that the physical integrity of their family life is threatened by an unpredictable and diminishing pool of family-sustaining employment.
They are haunted by unpalatable options:
--to dislocate or disperse family members to find work
--to move to less safe or healthy dwellings
--to disrupt adult social networks
--to uproot kids from friendships and schools
--to experience the emotional disorientation of not being able to provide for kith and kin through work.
--to consider a criminal option to provide for their families
Intended or not, concentrated wealth finances the relentlessly automating, technical changes behind these disruptions. The few, while personally immunized by wealth, are financially involved in the dark side of the otherwise laudable outcome of reducing the cost of producing goods and services. That dark side is a reduced pool of dependable, family-sustaining employment. This is true nationally and globally as the export of jobs to low wage countries and the desperate emigration from some of those same countries attests.
Ethically, it seems not much of a reach to provide all humans with option of being able to protect their families by means of predictable, enduring work. For the purposes of this book, “protect” means able to robustly provide life’s necessities. “Predictable” means under their own control. “Enduring” means embedded in sustainable, natural processes.
We propose that this be accomplished, not by despoiling the few, but by providing economically displaced families with the option of living in self-reliant communities whose destiny they can control through work in a manner analogous to how the few control their destinies through concentrated wealth.
This book tries to bring together information on a mix of autonomy-inducing components, some combination of which, could be marshalled to provide community level self-reliance for families anytime, anywhere. We regard having the option of surviving through work in such a community as an ethically minimal response within an inherently inequitable world.
The rise of long-distance marriage Article on families separated by financial compulsion.
A program that meets the requirements of displaced worker families could, of course, also serve other challenged groups as well. These might include the chronically homeless, ethnically or sexually penalized minorities, unemployed or underemployed parolees, disabled veterans or civilians, at-risk young folks, orphaned or abused children, refugees from natural disasters, war or persecution, recovering 12-step folks in search of more community, and in a general way all who have been marginalized by nature, nurture, or national neglect.
Such folks often find a way forward in faith communities whose ethical injunctions include compassion. Our own experience is that empathy among folks in cohousing and ecovillage communities is as intense as that found within faith groups. Our experience is that a village culture is an unproblematic ethical graft for folks of any spiritual tradition.
Whether it’s a request for half cup of sugar, for someone to ”tell my kid to come home for dinner” or for a ride to a doctor’s appointment, a community member can be confident of a response--often multiple response. Indeed, it is necessary in community for request emails to be followed with “request met” follow ups to limit the communication traffic.
My community tends to readily adopt any custom that enriches community life—regardless of its origin. That said, a particular religious group might choose to adopt and adapt the SRC option to serve its unique traditions.
Whatever a potential resident’s personal challenge or spiritual background may be, the sense of becoming a directly, significant player within the weave of a community’s life is a powerful healer of souls.
Expanding the security of one’s family to embrace that of an entire community is what sets membership in a Self-Reliant Community apart living in a conventional neighborhood. What may have befallen one’s isolated family in the past need never be repeated when the kin of blood are expanded to embrace the kith of community.
One’s ethical reach is extended as the focus of care expands. One becomes part of an extended family whose fate looks you in the eye whenever you line up for a community meal. The works of your hands and your mind spread into a community making all things under the Sun somewhat less vain.
Beyond meeting the needs of challenged individuals and families, the attractive force of shared community living appeals to and has incorporated more than a few comfortably middle-class families within the Ecovillage Archipelago already.
Some folks report their reason for joining community life as having felt ethically compromised by their compelled inclusion within an unjust or environmentally destructive economic system. Such folks are probably the vast majority within today’s ecovillage movement, forming the cadre for its current bottom-up, member-driven model of community formation.
Many have also been disturbingly moved by their nation’s and the world’s failure to address long-standing social and economic disparities. The capacity of the owners of concentrated wealth to shift the information agenda of media from economic inequality to cultural grievance issues like crime and immigration troubles them. (see Wealth and Power- The Economist Jul 21st 2018: Concentrated wealth leads to concentrated power).
They have come to regard their participation in community life as an appropriate karmic response to finding themselves unwilling participants in our collective ethical failures.
Many brood over the inability of folks of moderate and low income to be able to join their communities. I suspect many such families, or their children, would be willing to join and provide experiential leadership in an SRC that would be economically accessible to all. One does not have to be marginalized to seek a more ethically robust way of life and to be ready to transform kith into kin in community.
Each family within an SRC would secure an essential level of economic security by its commitment to and integration within the work life of that community. And the life of the community would be secured through its regenerative immersion in the biological cycles of life on Earth.
Being anchored in community and nature permits every hour of one’s work life to directly contribute not only to securing the economic wellbeing of one’s family and of one’s community for generations to come, but to healing the more vast economy of life on Earth. A developer-driven, technically robust, but austere, infrastructure design could extend this depth of economic security and agency to the many.
An array of jobs that directly secure the wholesome existence of the SRC is baked into the design of that community. Inhouse employment directly transforms a member’s labor into their own and their community’s well-being.
However, this would in no way preclude access to finding work from beyond the community. On the contrary, with essential family security assured inhouse, resident members would be free to choose among a wider range of work options. As a retiree with a modest pension, I can attest to expansion of work options basic security provides. What is now only true for retirees becomes the norm in SRC.
Community members could hone new skills doing inhouse jobs and accessing online education which they might then use to cherry pick part or full-time regional employment, rather than settling for erstwhile Hobbesian options.
A family’s profile of employment might vary over time on a spectrum between full in-house and full market employment. But nowhere on that spectrum would the physical integrity of a family’s life be put in jeopardy by forces beyond its control.
Cost cutting through minimalist and replicable design for SRCs is critical to serving the largest number of economically challenged humans. Adopting that minimalist perspective and using as many open-source elements as possible in design and construction are first steps.
Design costs are one development expense that need not be replicated. Once proof of concept has been established in a maximally self-reliant prototype, soft costs are reduced to copying files and filling out forms.
Those of us who have been involved in the member-driven design of a community’s infrastructure can testify to the extra costs inherent in creating a one-off design to accommodate the input tastes of many stakeholders. Unique designs just cost more.
Replicability has been the design element by which access to most, if not all, technical innovations have eventually trickled down the social layers.
Absent the lower costs derived from smart design, construction and mass replication, those who really do need a permanent economic floor beneath their feet will remain hostage to forces that have reduced their prospects already.
As important as individual expressions of beauty is in human life, there will be time enough for the members of a mature community economy to satisfy it.
An SRCs existential self-reliance means that local economic wellbeing can be secured wherever there is human need, human commitment and sufficient land. A community’s location could be deeply rural or in the heart of a hollowed-out city like Detroit.
The size of the project would depend on the relative emphasis its design allocates to aquaponic and/or open field farm components. Urban locations and longer winters might shift its dimensions toward the former, rural and shorter ones toward the latter.
In any case, the salient feature of being maximally autonomous, combined with the ubiquity of the web, means that decisions with respect to location would not be burdened by many of the constraints of earlier eras.
Because power, water and sewage recovery are internal to the community no connections to regional grids would be necessary. Road access to schools and market jobs would endure, but advanced planning for in-house enterprise projects and the possibilities of home schooling would affect their importance as well.
Maximally autonomous communities would simply provide a wide range of novel economic options--location flexibility being one.
Once a community is established, the costs of building it begin to be defrayed by continuous wealth creation that is imbedded in the life of the community itself.
The annual growth of wealth in the food production and distribution repeats indefinitely--indefinitely eliminating one’s grocery bill. The constant access to tutorial services inhouse leaves cash in the wallets of parents . As does the community provision of childcare and home repair. Further income is derived as Entrepreneurial Team find work in the community’s region.
Add up all the wealth created as cash that is not spent, year after year and it is obvious that the original construction cost of a SRC is naught but the cost of a sapling that grows to become a tree laden with wealth. Repetition, it is oft noted, is the mother of learning. In community it is the mother of wealth creation.
Even if at the outset the dwellings of a project are affordably built and priced, any rules that permitted market-rate resale, would gradually undermine enduring affordability.
Both condominium and market-rate coop resale rules would fail to preserve indefinite access to affordable housing as membership changes over time.
The preservation of affordability across generation would require some form of limited-equity housing tenure. Moreover, if a government agency, the Community Conservation Corps was financing the building costs to address the needs of families challenged by technological unemployment, limiting equity would be necessary to continuously meet that end. If market speculation were allowed, the residents of the first generation would be the last benefit.
The Self-Reliant Community option that we advocate for is meant to be affordable indefinitely. To be a safe harbor for the generations to come. For AI-induced, automation will not relent. Firms will do what they must to compete and their workforces will shrink in tandem.
It is the author’s direct experience as a member of an ecovillage neighborhood that was committed in its planning to affordability, but whose tenure is based on the real estate market. As folks moved out, they were compelled by the going rates of in their region to maximized the value of their dwellings to meet them. This ballooning of home prices under a market-rate regime, means that gradually residency in our community is restricted to the affluent.
Provide worker families with a sustainable, self-reliant foundation and they will provide for their kith and kind permanently without further aid.
If there’s a political case to be made for advantaging business survival rates in hard times, in spite of their penchant for job-cutting, there should be one for the worker family survival they put on the street as well. Think of it as a robust application of the oft touted call for “equality of opportunity”, only this time between business and worker families.
The assumption in propping up business interests is that they will in time recover their footing and provide for themselves without further aid. The same assumption works for aiding displaced workers to regain their footing--permanently-- in self-reliant communities.
The analysis of Thomas Piketty in Capital in the 21st Century points out that economic, social and political stability would require that the accumulations of wealth be somehow redistributed, while he doubts its political feasibility.
The Economist’s October 2014 Special Report on The World Economy, Ryan Avent suggests that the exponentially growing virtuosity of the “digital revolution” will require governments to provide “workers with more of a cushion against the painful effects of that creative destruction.”
Our political argument for a SRC Policy is that a one-time redistribution of wealth that is sufficient to finance an affordable SRC represents providing a hook and line for catching fish indefinitely, over occasionally handing out a Friday night meal ticket for a fish dinner. The latter being the current politically disparaged form of welfare.
In an affordable SRC, human energy is directed through a sequence of production processes in which every output is also an input within an endlessly recurring circle of life. Once that circle of nature, work and tools starts turning, the external costs of energy, water, most food, waste recovery and shelter are mostly off the table. Also, the collaborative disciplines and routines of self-governance and work can be extrapolated into income-producing enterprise teams.
There is an economic wisdom embodied in naturally replenishing biological circles that predated the fast-forward evolution of technical innovation. We suggest there is also a political wisdom embodied within those processes. A community that re-integrates itself into that ancient cycle of life will replenish itself indefinitely and still be able to skim the cream from the technical evolution.
Corporate lobbyists have wielded a financially dominant whip hand in persuading governments to rescue their bosses from unanticipated market shocks, some of which were consequences of their own management policies. We don’t argue against such rescues. For these bailouts also involve the fate of lots of worker families.
However, a basic level of equity would require similar treatment for individuals and families who have found themselves caught in the tide of market forces beyond their control. The automation that companies must employ to survive is a process that will, absent radical political intervention, continue to reduce family-sustainable, employment options.
If the subsidized rescue of car companies and powerful banks is an appropriate public policy, then a similar policy to foster self-reliant, worker family communities for those left partially or completely unemployed in their wake would not be amiss.
Think of it as low-income housing with a regenerative difference. Unlike typical housing projects, a Self-Reliant Community would virtually eliminate the need for additional support in utilities, food and employment. Residents will be providing these for themselves.
We feel that building affordable SRCs as a public policy is a dignified path to restoring a once and future middle-class status to those who have lost it and to advance it for those who have heretofore been denied it.
All political factions claim to support both hard work and equality of opportunity in accessing jobs in the marketplace. Within existing cohousing and ecovillage neighborhoods there is already a deeply ingrained culture of community wide work and personal responsibility.
In an affordable SRC, the added commitment to achieving maximum autonomy in providing shelter, power, water and food for kith and kin could only strengthen that work ethos.
Communities whose core culture is anchored in work, equality of responsibility and enduring family stability can credibly challenge the political shtick cynically sermonized by some. And it should easily win over others who sincerely want to avoid a permanent underclass dependent on the state.
This culture of work and responsibility within the existing ecovillage archipelago already exists and can stand up to any political rhetoric.
Because the increase of automation enhanced by artificial intelligence is driven by the incentive of reducing the cost of goods and services and thus increasing competitive advantage, it will continue—inexorably.
Yet, nations will still have the responsibility to regularly update their “safety-net” programs to bridge evolving gaps between diminished wages in a shallower employment pool and the goods and services worker families still require.
A government SRC Policy could transfer responsibility for this “safety net” directly to some of its citizens by a one-time subsidization in creating affordable Self-Reliant Communities for them. Those willing to share work in community could opt into such communities in place of receiving a variety of support programs.
To the extent that governments seeded their nations with SRCs they would be reducing the range of their responsivities by essentially transferring many of them to citizens willing to assume them. Members would become responsible for their own housing, food, energy and former public services like water and sewage.
Progressives accurately assert that unregulated Global Capitalism accelerates wealth inequalities within all societies and displaces many from access to just levels of remuneration for their labor. If democratic stability is to be preserved or enhanced and a minimum of economic justice ensured, then some form of wealth redistribution is essential.
Those thoughtful and principled Conservatives who recognize the problem, nevertheless, rightly indicate that any project of redistribution will only have enduring societal value to the extent that it does not encourage permanent dependence and protects economic growth while encouraging recipients to find work.
First off, providing market-displaced citizens with the work of building their own government-financed SRCs in collaboration with a Community Conservation Corps would be “workfare” rather than “welfare”. And this should be a politically neutral option because it both provides the “welfare” benefits in the tangible form of shelter, water, energy and food that should satisfy progressives while assuring conservatives that, for these citizens at least, there will be no repeat “doles”.
In the CSA the identity of worker and recipient also makes the work of self-reliance, unlike make-work schemes, uniquely meaningful. The identity of one’s work with the direct provision of goods and services for one’s family and community instills a personal incentive and a self-enforcing work discipline that Conservatives espouse and a form of economic justice that Progressives champion. If you doubt this, walk through middle class neighborhoods on the week end and watch folks recreationally, y re-creating their homes and gardens.
Moreover, the Internet provides serious levels of general education and market-skills training which would be advanced by an SRC Work Group. This form of governance that includes employment, study and the provision of utilities and food is powerfully synergistic.
A public policy supporting the creation of Affordable Self-Reliant Communities for folks willing to live and work together should bridge the championed values espoused by almost all politicians, if we are to believe what comes out of their mouths.
Self-reliance is an American value espoused across all political hues. So is voluntary cooperation of citizens in support of one another. We submit that there is nothing more self-reliant and cooperative than a maximally autonomous community taking care of its own and willing to share its experience with others.
Anyone with experience in the cohousing or ecovillage communities will note that they are proud of their achievement in living and are natural proselytizers of their way of life. One would be at some pain to find that spirit in government subsidized low-income projects.
Ancient extended family values are currently being recovered and enhanced in cohousing communities where folks are mutually supportive in their work lives and in providing for the next generation.
It should be remembered that extended families with multi-generational overlapping of responsibilities was the norm until quite recently in human history. The Cohousing-Ecovillage model provides the means for re-forging those extended family ties and values while augmenting them with the assets of a technical advance.
For instance, while folks who live in community may from time to time complain of too much email, they know that the array of committed involvement, that is their community’s reason for being, is vastly enhanced by that bit of technology.
Critics of welfare programs often advocate for recipients performing some work--any work--for that assistance. This mantra is touted almost as a necessary punishment for daring to find a family-sustainable employment.
For folks willing to become members of a Self-Reliant Community, the state can forget their punitive make-work projects for real work projects. In building and maintaining SRCs, folks would provide their own community’s “welfare” through their own work--and do so indefinitely.
Commitment to community work is already a given in cohousing and ecovillage cultures and would be so for every member of an SRC. In truth, pride in the work of creating and recreating their own communities is inherent in that culture’s attractiveness.
The Economist Jul 21st 2018: Concentrated wealth leads to concentrated power examines the corruption of information and political agendas by concentrated wealth in some detail. It argues that the influence of concentrated wealth has been able to successfully misdirect and channel information concerning economic inequality into immigration and sovereignty issues.
Beyond using their wealth to buy political influence directly through exorbitant campaign contributions, they finance politically focused “think” tanks and buy media outlets.
Their corruption consists in combining these methods in order to shape “negative agenda power” to define which problems are worthy of attention. Economic inequality is displaced with visceral appeals to issues of crime, immigration and diminished national sovereignty.
Restoring lost economic stability of worker families in SRCs would be a permanent response to the inequitable distribution of national wealth such families created over generations. That success might outshout “negative agendas” with economically empowering ones.
In our time, many global farming practices are degrading the ground they till while drastically displacing erstwhile worker families. Among these practices are excessive use of water, runoff pollution from chemical additives, failure to recover bio-waste nutrients through composting, failure to use rainwater catchment of buildings, multiplication of unnecessary food miles and a general alienation from natural local flows among air, water, land and artifacts.
To the extent that local communities can learn to maximally meet their needs within their physical perimeters, they will regenerate their home ground and reduce their draw upon the rest of Earth. Maximal local food autonomy requires a regenerative, circular metabolism in which every community sustaining output is transformed into a community enriching input.
Transforming the outputs of human consumption from being waste into becoming value-added inputs in the natural circle of life is a regenerative circle that an SRC embodies. The following are some environment regenerating processes.
About 40% of Earth’s land surface is deforested, biodegraded farmland that consumes 70% of global water available. Aquaponic techniques can produce ten acres of polyculture produce and fish for each of seasonal farm acre while using only one tenth or their water.
Aquaponic water regenerates as it circulates. On exiting fish tanks, detritus-rich “wastewater” fertilizes plants that in turn reciprocate by cleaning it before returning to fish tanks.
Such systems are in commercial use at this time and could readily become inhouse entrepreneurial assets to derive income from the region,
The manufacture of fertilizers, along with current farming practices, food transport and refrigeration accounts for about 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, these fertilizers cause nitrogen and phosphorus contamination of groundwater, rivers and lakes.
In a SRC, consumption of food scraps by livestock, routine composting, and both anaerobic and Black Soldier Fly (see section 560) bio- digestion of human waste can replace phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers with nutrient rich slurry for fields and protein-rich larvae for fish and fowl.
Buildings can be designed to harvest water and solar energy. Water can be shunted, stored and processed for human consumption, to nourish the soil in open-field farming or a provide a home for fish within aquaponic systems. Solar energy can be harvested from roof tops and stored in batteries for protracted use.
In short, buildings can become fabricated denizens of the environment, trained to eat their own mortgages.
Today, while 1 in every 7 people in the world suffers from hunger, 1 in every 3 pounds of food is wasted in storage, during transport and by the undisciplined disposal of scraps. An SRC’s farm-to-table-to farm biological cycle eliminates this waste completely by obeying nature’s instruction that any perceived “waste” is actually some other critter’s food .
The remains from cooking and meals are recycled within the community’s perimeter through its routines of composting and anaerobic and Black Soldier Fly reprocessing. Farm-to-Table-to Farm processing completes a natural circle of matter and energy that makes local land richer with use.
The circulation of energy, water, food and recoverable waste within a community splices its members into the naturally regenerative web of life on Earth. Life on Earth heals its own breaches, if permitted to do so. And it will heal us if we learn to immerse ourselves within it.
Nourished by the sun and rain, matter and energy flows through an SRC in biological circles within circles, and trains us to live within natural limits. The place we call home is woven into the natural order of things.
The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report indicates that mitigating, not avoiding, catastrophic climate events would require transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”
The flight of refugees from inundated coastal floodplains is one such climatic event. In time, it will become evident that for most such climate refugees there is no going home. For such refugees, and other outcasts of nature, nurture and national neglect, living without meaningful work in camps is a demoralizing dead end.
If these same folks rather become trained up and engaged in the building and management of their own self-reliant communities, they could recover their lives and dignity. And having acquired the skills of self-reliance, many of them might become cadre for training up the next lot to be displaced.
If it is argued that such massive community building has no precedent, I suggest 1942 America as one. In that year America transformed itself in months into a wartime economy that was able to train, house and deploy men and women over the entire globe, as well as supplying food, weapons, munitions and transport to Britain and the Soviet Union. It's a question of will and direction, not capacity.
Even today, in the name of National Defense, countries all over the world take raw recruits, teach them how to live and work together and, fairly rapidly, make them competent NCO’s.
A national commitment to Environmental Defense within a Community Conservation Corps could direct these same young folks to more constructive and enduring projects, and in so doing, might even go some way to preventing the kind of social dislocations that lead to war in the first place.
As Pogo so aptly said, “We have met the enemy and he is us”. Time to take ourselves on.
In our times, an Ecovillage Archipelago of sustainable communities is emerging across the world. The Work Groups we describe in this section are based on personal experience in planning, building, living in and maintaining a neighborhood in one of them--Ecovillage at Ithaca (EVI). EVI grew over decades from the bottom up by members intimately involved in its design and building processes. However, in common with other such communities, it never aspired to existential autonomy and never required the full array of tasks we will discuss. By contrast, the complement of Work Groups and tasks we examine in this section are specifically designed to achieve maximal economic autonomy.
Work Groups are the SRC’s vital organs. Their collective mandate is to ensure maximal self-reliance, such that no member or family need ever be involuntarily displaced for economic reasons.
During the planning and building phases, a temporary Implementation Work Group would embody the overall SRC vision in forming an array of permanent Work Groups who would provide for the community after building. Optimally the training involved in this process would occur under the direction of a Community Conservation Corps. The Work Groups that would emerge during this period are Education, Administration, Building and Energy, Grounds, Farm and Shared Life.
Once the community is up and running effectively, delegates from each of these would form a permanent Coordination WG which would take over any outstanding tasks from Implementation.
Individual WGs are defined by their tasks which should be updated to meet novel challenges and should be posted in real time. Tasks are implemented by establishing regular routines, maintaining necessary tools, training new workers and teasing out maximum efficiency in getting the job done at the lowest possible costs for its residents in time and capital.
Decisions on the nature and performance of tasks are sorted out in Work Group Meetings. These meetings adhere to the Meeting Facilitation Guidelines that may be found below in an Addendum. Significant among these guidelines are mutual respect and transparency.
In meetings, members respect one another as peers in deciding how to accomplish their tasks. While no individual can block a decision arbitrarily, neither can a Work Group arbitrarily block any members from advancing his or her views.
Transparency is assured by using an email system that alerts all residents to all upcoming meetings or all Work Groups. Particular notice is given of any upcoming policy decisions so that residents can study them and, if they wish, attend meetings to present their views. All community members will have internet access to the Minutes of all meetings shortly upon their conclusion. We think that transparency delayed is transparency denied.
The particular set of Work Groups presented here, although based on our experience, should not be considered as cast in bronze. We had to provide some organizational scaffolding upon which to display the worklife of the community. Other arrangements of work groups are possible.
The tasks themselves, however, are derived directly from those commonly used in ecovillage life at this time and they are quite necessary, however they may be arrayed among Work Groups. These tasks really only need be fine-tuned to meet the stringent goal of autonomy outlined here.
Routine tasks are necessary weaves in the tapestry of community life. Every meeting’s agenda item settled, every floor mopped, plot of grass cut, strip of garden weeded, chicken securely cooped up in the evening, child mentored, community meal prepared, cart repaired, surface stained or painted, porch swept, or snowbound pathway shoveled--all these are necessary weave in that living tapestry of community.
Regardless of the nature of the task done, there is one critical value inherent in each and every weave that stiches a community together. It is that each member’s hour of work is equally valued and credited in community accounting.
Ethically and practically, an SRC would, as in current cohousing and ecovillage practice, adhere to the principle that within the community all human life is equally valuable. While talents vary, the passage of an hour of time in each person’s life imposes the same charge against their passage on this Earth. All humans are equal in that no moment of their life, once spent—for good or ill, in pain or in joy—can ever be retrieved.
However, an hour spent in ensuring the endurance of one’s kith and kin beyond one’s own life endows it with a kind of immortality. Conscious moments, if shared, will endure throughout the generations, as our many wakeful lives overlap indefinitely.
We hold this fact of life to be of sufficient weight to value all hours spent at work as equal. We hold that all work hours spent on community tasks must be counted and credited as of equal value in community accounting.
As we consider our own experience of community life and the culture of cohousing that informs it, we would say that this view of the equal value of all work is a salient feature of our culture. We suspect that without it the richness of that life would fade precipitously.
The Implementation WG is a transitional team. It would be composed of committed future residents who are trained to grasp the whole project--all of the human, digital and fabricated components of their future community. They must be conversant with all the tasks will define each of the permanent Work Groups: Education, Administration, Building & Energy, Grounds, Farming, and Shared Life.
Their main job is to recruit and organize future residents into the permanent Work Groups. They will assist the latter in establishing the job routines necessary to carry out the tasks that define them.
Their goal is to make their role superfluous as the permanent Work Groups establish their own authority within the community. As soon as these Work Groups are established and their internal roles filled, Implementation WG will morph into a permanent Coordination Group.
--Finalize Founding Documents in collaboration with future residents. It is during this process that future residents will be able to match their interests and talents to the future needs of the community. During this initial sorting the accent will be on filling jobs with existing talent while pointing out that adjustments can be made when the community is well established.
--Establish a web-accessible community Archive.
It would be designed to contain not only the Founding Documents, but the Minutes and Policy Decisions of each of the Work Group going forward. When the Education Work Group is established, the task of maintaining this Archive will be transferred to it. (see Education WG for details)
--Establish and maintain a web-accessible Group, Task & Worker Roster. This roster would list all community tasks, their parent Work Groups and the residents currently responsible to perform them. When the Administration WG is established, this task will be transferred to it.
--Assist Work Groups in establishing their task routines.
--Assist Work Groups in filling WG roles of Group Leader, Secretary, Meeting Facilitator and Coordination Group Delegate
--When the permanent Work Groups are formed and elect delegates to form the Coordination WG, the Implementation WG will hand over any ongoing tasks to it, its mandate having been fulfilled.
Once the Work Groups that have been established by the Implementation WG, their respective tasks defined, and their Group roles filled, each WG will select a delegate to represent them within a Coordination WG.
The Coordination Work Group thus established would then replace the Implementation WG by “coordinating” the work of the primary Work Groups as necessary. Going forward, it will mainly act a forum for the various Work Groups to keep abreast what the rest of the community is doing. It will rarely create policy but will arbitrate overlapping Work Group responsibilities when called upon.
--Select Leader, Secretary and Facilitator. These will be rotated among the representatives of the primary Work Groups.
--Confirm that each essential community task has a WG that is primarily responsible for its routine completion, if the Implementation WG has not already done so.
--Elect a Board of Directors, if such is necessary by law. In general the oversight functions of a conventional BOD will be accomplished by the Coordination Group itself and its financial responsibilities by the Administration WG.
--Plan and Facilitate all Full Community meetings as follows:
1) Prepare any issues or policy proposals that Founding Documents require to be decided by the full Community.
2) Send notifications of full meetings that include complete agendas, decisions to be taken, legal requirements for quorum, if necessary, and the option of submitting proxy.
3) Facilitate meeting and archive all documents relating to it while making sure that the Educational WG has copies for its Archivist.
--Respond to issues brought to it from the other Work Groups
--Consider task changes within and among the Work Groups as requested.
--When called upon to do so, the Coordination WG is tasked to resolve gaps or overlaps in the community’s provision of goods and services to the members.
The Education Work Group is tasked to archive all WG Meetings and Policies and to maintain a robust online library of educational material.
The latter should help residents of all ages find whatever information they require. The library would evolve to focus on recurring areas of community interest, like K-12 tutoring, skill sets relevant to the tasks of the Work Groups, or market-oriented ones. The community itself would also generate original works that are worth keeping.
Both in-house archives and web-based resources will be monitored and updated. While each Work Group will maintain a set of its own records, they will forward their meeting minutes to the Education Work Group for filing in a central archive accessible to the entire community online.
All community technical and farming documentation will be archived with the Education WG as well. The WG would make an effort to transform community-relevant information into lesson plans for home schooling (if desired) or for Self-Reliance Seminar Entrepreneurial Programs (see section 410).
Archiving Core Legal Documents
-- Founding Documents
-- Certificate of Incorporation
-- Proprietary Lease
-- Record of Proportional value of dwellings for accounting
-- Technical and Farming Documentation
Maintaining Meeting Formats & Guidelines
--Augmented Meeting format (see Addendum)
Archiving Work Group Records
--Archive digital backups of Meeting Minutes of all Groups.
--Archive any policy changes
--Confer with WG Secretaries and/or minutes-takers as necessary.
--Assist members in finding Meeting or Policy information when requested
--Routinely inspect archives to reduce unnecessary duplication, to recover missing or damaged files and to verify accuracy of online and external hard drive copies.
--Upon receipt of Minutes from WGs, send their Digest portion to all members, if the group has not already done so. That Digest will include the following self-explanatory items:
*Date and Name of Work Group meeting
*Any Policy Decisions?
*Next Meeting: Date, Time, Location and Agenda items
*What we Want the Community to Know from this Meeting
Maintain academic, technical & market-oriented digital library
The Education WG would regularly search out and organize online teaching websites and programs in all subject areas. The goal would be to provide members of all ages with a variety of effective, online learning sources. See section 520, Multiple Subject Online Sources, for example.
Maintain voluntary mentoring list for K-12 subject and market skills
Establish a regular routine for canvassing members on their willingness to mentor children in K-12 subjects and adults in marketplace skill acquisition. Promote mentor use and improvement of digital library.
Maintain community intranet
Decide on the devices and routines of communication among SRC members. An email listserv of member residents will play a prominent part in communication.
Assist members in the use of the SRC intranet.
Maintain community’s public website
Collaborate with Shared Life WG in maintaining Common House and Training Center
Create curriculum for Self-Reliance Seminars
A SRC could use its own community as a sort of living curriculum when conducting seminars advancing the value and feasibility lifeway. Speakers would be members of the various work groups. This book would be part of the curriculum. It could be sent out in advance of the seminar in a Word Format that participants could download.
The Administration WG is responsible for stability in accounting and employment. It will ensure equity and accuracy in all community financial transactions.
Relatedly, it seeks to maintain an equitable and profitable allotment of employment among maintenance, farming and enterprise tasks, while encouraging individual employment in the market as well.
To have the cash necessary to purchase those products that the community can’t produce, requires that some resident members bring revenue into the community from work outside of it.
Maintain an equal value work quota for all adult residents based on the current needs of the community.
The passage of each hour of every human life is unalterable. No hour of any person’s life is longer than another’s. Time lays the same toll on each of us. This perspective persuades us that every hour spent in community work be so valued in community accounting.
In this context, the Administration WG would create and adjust as needed a standard work week requirement for all adult residents. It would be measured in equivalent work hours. This means that all work hours spent in the service of the community are considered to have equal value--from the cerebral to the physically grubby.
This weekly quota of work would be derived by apportioning among adult residents the total amount of time required to meet the weekly needs of the community. The quota would be reset over time as efficiency improves and/or new good and services are added to the community.
Whatever the quota of work, it would apply to all equally. This is regardless of whether the work is performed within inhouse Work Groups, within Entrepreneurial Teams deployed in the region using community resources or as individuals working in the marketplace using their own resources.
Because this latter form of work is a real option, as well as being advantageous to the community’s cash flow, the Administration WG would need to devise a credible cash equivalent for the equal value work hour. This would permit folks who worked with their own talents and resources outside the community to meet their weekly quota with cash.
The balance between inhouse and marketplace portions of a member’s work week might vary from time to time depending on community needs and regional employment options.
Filling the established quota of work would entitle residents to their portions of community supplied goods and services. Where they worked would be irrelevant.
Our experience of community life is that folks often work beyond the established quota. As in family life, this is a matter of one’s personal commitment to the community. If by so doing, they reduce the work load on others, then that simply reinforces the unity and sense of security within the community.
Provide monthly statement to each member family
The Administration WG would provide each resident family an accounting statement measured in equal value work hours translated into their current cash equivalent.
Family statements will indicate debits in goods and services, work hour cash credits and a net balance. Members who work outside the community using their own resources either part-time or full-time and incur a work hour deficit, would pay in the current cash the time deficit.
Such work hour deficits paid in cash are important to the community. Although the community aims at maximal self-reliance, many goods and services that the community requires cannot be furnished inhouse.
Necessary purchases from the region will require cash income earned in the marketplace. It is highly desirable for the community to earn that income either through entrepreneurial teams using community resources or from individual members using their own.
Statements would enumerate specific goods and services provided by community
These include some basic goods and services that are relatively constant from month to month as well as other discretionary ones.
This would include a regular amount of fresh and preserved food. Each family would negotiate with the community CSA to determine the amount of prepared and unprepared food their family requires for a month. They would receive and be invoiced in work hour cash equivalents for this amount each month.
This would include the use of a dwelling whose monthly rent would be calculated in work hours per month based on its community-defined proportion of the entire community mortgage and property taxes. Every effort would be made to reduce and eliminate the outstanding mortgage. Property taxes should be adjusted down to reflect the community elimination of power, water and sewer lines and for land regeneration that the community provides.
Other discretionary goods and services
If a family choose to sign up for Community meals, there would be a charge for that. And the purchase of extra food from the CSA would be a charge.
However, all receipts from the community would be calculated in work hour cash equivalents. Work hours of equal cash value are the common currency of the community.
Ensure all monthly financial obligations are met.
The Administration WG would pay off all the usual suspects--mortgages, taxes and insurance. However, as noted before, every effort should be made to pay down and eliminate or reduce these costs.
Prepare all tax-related documents for residents
The Administration WG would provide all the necessary legal documents to residents for their tax filings.
Manage equitable work distribution among members
The Administration WG should collaborate with the Coordination WG and the various other specialized Work Groups to match resident interests and talents with the needs of the community.
Maximize cash income from marketplace sources
Maximal self-reliance will never mean total self-reliance because important goods and services—think coffee, computers, internet access and health care—cannot be provided totally in-house.
Acquiring such necessary and life-enhancing products and services requires that some resident members bring revenue into the community from work outside of it, while depending on the work of their brothers and sisters for their utilities and food. A member might work totally outside, totally inside or in a hybrid schedule somewhere in between.
The economic viability of the community will depend on maximizing cash revenues from individual or entrepreneurial engagement within the regional marketplace or beyond. Community members should be encouraged to find work regionally to provide the goods and services their community cannot provide in-house.
The Building & Utilities WG is responsible for maintaining the common house, family dwellings, animal shelters and workshops, as well as the energy and water storage facilities. It would store hand tools and larger equipment and establish routines for their maintenance and use by members.
It would also monitor the construction technologies that underlie the buildings and infrastructure of the community with an eye to the future. It would adopt, when and if feasible, more efficient devices and techniques both for maintenance and any new construction.
Also, it would communicate any changes in routines to the Education WG for their inclusion in lesson plans for Self-Reliance Seminars.
The following list is an overview of essential tasks of Buildings and Utilities WG. More detail can be found in the 440 Home Repair Service section and the 540 Building and Utilities Tools section.
--Maintenance of Buildings
--Ensure new building legal compliance
--Establish Intranet and Internet security and maintenance
--Maintain energy harvesting equipment
--Maintain heating and cooling systems
The Grounds WG is responsible for the maintenance of land that is not farm-dedicated. It is responsible for maintenance of all paths and roads, the drainage of rain and snow runoff and the protection of any underground water and power lines.
Maintain lawns, play spaces and woodland
Cut grass so that it just stays in place--gradually transforming itself into soil. For tallish, stalky plants that need to be cleared near paths or as leavings from gardens, creating a berm along paths works well. Such berms become homes for countless small critters. We think of them as long-term compost rows.
Maintain roads & paths
The basic task is keeping these transitable in the winter by removing snow and putting melt or grit on ice patches to prevent accidents.
Maintain routines for non-agricultural grounds
These would include maintaining plantings in common areas and grass mowing.
Maintain conduits involved in the transfer, treatment, storage and distribution of water
Store equipment documentation
Maintain & replace equipment as needed
Perform equipment maintenance & repair:
Manage the ongoing upkeep of road, path and lawn equipment by establishing maintenance routines to be followed when using it. In the case of major repairs, making judgement calls about whether repair or replacement is the most cost-effective choice.
Perform proactive equipment oversight:
Monitor the condition and usefulness of current mix of equipment to ensure that it is sufficient to meet the needs of the community, that it is durable and reliable and is being operated safely and correctly.
The Farm WG monitors and manages all assets and routines of food production. These include the food plants, bushes, trees, fish, fowl, bio-waste, compost, ground water, shelters, hand tools and the work routines that integrate them.
Much of the Farm WG’s effort involves letting the gifts of nature—sun, rain, air, critters, bio-waste and soil--with its legion of microorganisms—pursue their own inherent ends.
But a great deal also consists in actively monitoring and scheduling human integration within these natural flows. If done mindfully, these integrated circles of life will not only preserve but also regenerate the piece of troubled Earth a community chooses for its home.
Here’s a rough summary of the natural flows within an SRC:
--Photons, CO2 and water perform the dance of photosynthesis to ultimately produce sugars, fats and proteins at the heart of life on earth
--Solar and wind energy is stored in batteries to provide any heat, electrical energy for tools, and transportation involved with farming.
--Rainwater is accumulated in cisterns to provide fish, fowl, plants and humans with the fluids they require each day.
--We humans add our bio-“waste” to food scraps that can regenerate along two paths: One feeds Black Soldier Fly larvae to provide food for fish and fowl; the other feeds microorganisms in anaerobic bio-digesters to provide methane gas for cooking and a nutrient rich slurry fertilizer for the open fields.
--Fowl are grown in farm lots to eat agricultural pests, consume some of our food scraps and to provide eggs and meat for community members.
--Larvae-fed fish are grown in aquaponics tanks to provide another protein-rich food.
--Water enriched by fish detritus is transferred to aquaponically grown plants which cleanse it before returning it to their aquatic cousins.
--Fruits and vegetables are grown in aquaponics systems and in open field farms to feed the SRN members and assure the community’s essential nutritional autonomy indefinitely
Establish and assign work routines for all food operations from planting to preserving
Anaerobically transform community generated bio-waste into gas energy and fertilizer slurry
Anaerobic bio digester equipment is used to transform human fecal, urine and food scrap bio-waste into methane gas and seasonal garden fertilizer slurry.
Specific tasks follow:
Collect & add human and animal bio-waste to bio digester
Collect & add food scraps and plant bio-waste
Manage methane gas storage equipment
Manage fertilizer slurry transfer to seasonal garden
Use Black Soldier Fly Larvae (GSFL) to biologically transform community generated bio-waste into food for fish and fowl
Collect & add human and animal bio-waste to BSFL bin
Collect & add food scraps and plant bio-waste to BSFL bin
Collect larvae as food for aquaponics fish tanks and seasonal garden fowl
Manage a BSF Larvae Rearing Unit
Determine amount of larvae sufficient to meet the farm demands
Compost table leavings into soil
Build a series of compost bins
Add brown leaves of fall to table scraps in first bin
Aerate bins regularly and add water as necessary.
Transfer compost from input bin when full
Transfer contents of each bin
Transfer finished compost to Garden area
Manage aquaponics farm operation
All aquaponics components are designed and managed both for community nutrition but also with an eye to increasing community income through enterprise teams.
The following are its basic components:
1) Fish Tanks. Pools in which fish grow, reproduce and provide nutrient rich water for plants. Suspended solid waste is filtered out before entering the plant support apparatus.
2) Enriched Water. The fluid medium from which plant roots obtain both plant water and nutrients.
3) Plant support apparatus. These are biologically inert vessels that support plants and fix their location as the water medium feeds them.
The three main types are Raft, NFT and Gravel Filled:
--the Raft plant support type (aka Float, Deep Flow, Deep Water) inserts plants on foam rafts that floats atop water. The volume of water disperses the fish waste to the plants, cleaning the water in the process before its return to fish.
--the Nutrient Film Technique plant support type inserts the plants in holes on the top side of long PVC pipes. These are slightly tilted so that a thin film of water entering the top end slowly passes through the roots of plants to be collected at the bottom. The water flow provides the plants with nutrients and oxygen.
--the Gravel Bed plant support type inserts the plants into some inorganic media like gravel or perlite. The fish enriched water is periodically flooded into the bed whose gravel filters the water and supports the plants.
Some specific tasks follow:
Monitor & regulate temperature & quality of water in fish tanks
Monitor circuit of water from the fish tank, through plant medium, & back to tank
Harvest and process fish
Harvest and process vegetables and fruit
Maintain grow light routines
Manage seasonal farm operation
Seasonal farming is open air farming that includes plant and animal products and bio-waste in a circle of transfers that regenerates the soil.
The following are some of its tasks:
Maintain Fences, Barns, Sheds, Bins and Chicken Coops,
Maintain Swales, Plant beds, Berms and Drip irrigation components
Maintain a chicken tractor coop and rotate it according to schedule
Maintain composting routines
Manage Biochar production
Manage full-year greenhouse routines
Manage plant and animal husbandry and harvesting
Update “Seasonal Garden Tasks & Times” document
Update Plant Bed Rotation document for each year
Correlate larvae requests with BSF operation
Liaison water needs with Building and Grounds WG
Harvest and preserve food from both seasonal and aquaponic farms
The Shared Life WG monitors neighborhood’s kitchen and dining areas, community meeting spaces and community customs. These are centered on the Common House and its kitchen. Their overall effort is “to make a house a home”.
And while the process of doing so can be rewarding and joyful, it is also relentlessly complicated. Finding creative ways to soften sharp elbows and egos is part of the game. So also, is encouraging quieter members to find their voices and speak their minds. It is often the case that “still water runs deep”.
Food and festive occasions are essential to this process, but they don’t just happen. Folks have to work at growing the customs that will sustain intense effort when the going gets tough.
Establish and maintain routines for inhouse safety and for emergency responses to crime
Support customs and facilitate regular community events as they evolve
Create and post routines for use of kitchen and dining areas
Manage children’s Community House room and outside play scape
Create and post routines for guest room use
Create and post routines for laundry room use
Manage scheduling and preparation of community meals
Determine resident numbers and food preferences for each meal
This involves establishing online sites to post upcoming meals, menus and routines for families to sign up and indicate preferences. The site would also indicate cut-off date for each meal to permit cooks adequate amounts of time to plan and prepare meals that match number of respondents.
Report member/family meal fees to Administration WG
Choose and prepare menus
This would include providing alternatives of basic menu items to accommodate resident food restrictions and preferences,
Stock routine cooking supplies
Coordinate food needs with Farm WG
Schedule cooks and assistants
Schedule dish crews and dining area clean up
Report kitchen-related maintenance issues with Building WG
Launder kitchen and dining cloth items
Maintain hospitality features in the common house (coffee, tea etc.)
Establish guidelines for domestic pet animals
Monitor and update a bulletin board
Develop membership guidelines and mentor potential or new residents
Self-reliance within a community means that many of the goods and most of the services that folks in the conventional world purchase will be provided by members in-house.
Those same every-day goods and services are needed by folks everywhere. Community members, accustomed to teamwork inhouse and possessing the requisite tools, can fill those needs in their surrounding region by forming income-earning entrepreneurial teams.
In general, SRN members' primary job is to meet the requirements of their own community. But beyond addressing this priority, there is every reason to use home-honed skills to earn income from their region.
As noted earlier it will be essential to earn income from outside the community to purchase what cannot be provided in-house. Think mortgage payments, internet connection, property taxes, health insurance, paint, lumber, caulk, coffee and condiments.
Seen in this light, entrepreneurial teams move the community beyond existential self-reliance toward a mutually beneficial symbiosis with the conventional market.
Some such regional interests that could be served follow.
The Community could hold Self-Reliance Seminars in the Common House and Education Center. This would be the first structure built and it might CCC Cadre and future resident, worker-members during construction.
All of the Center’s interior and exterior components (insulation, plumbing, heating, electrical, photovoltaic, wind turbines) would be partially exposed to display their composition and functions. It would be built in close proximity to the community’s, indoor aquaponics and bio-waste recovery systems and the seasonal farm.
These essential components of self-reliance would reveal their functional roles in providing maximal autonomy—a sort of transparent 3-D textbook of how it is achieved.
After construction, the Common House and Education Center would provide the community with its kitchen and dining area, that could double as an after-school homework and mentoring center. It is also the natural setting for holding SRC Seminars. The setting would permit an intuitive grasp of all the elements of self-reliance.
Of course, we understand that not all folks are willing or able to live in community. And yet many thoughtful middle-class families would like to contribute to global resilience by reducing their grid dependence and nurturing the space around their homes into sustainability. Such folks might well be attracted to the purely technical and biological components of self-reliance in the hope of integrating them into their lives.
The Education WG would regularly monitor online teaching programs in all subject areas. The goal would be to provide community members of all ages with effective learning options that match their learning needs throughout life.
Once an Education WG assembles a credible archive of online assets that would be honed by mentoring the members of their own extended family, then further extending that practice into the marketplace might be a natural extension.
While some of the Administrative WG’s accounting routines are specific and unique to community life, they must also keep track of the more conventional financial transactions. Suffice to say that accounting within a community requires a serious amount of math savvy and software skills. These are skills that are in demand in the conventional world.
The providers of these inhouse accounting services could become the nucleus of a small accounting business that would increase community income from the region.
The multiple skill sets required to wire, plumb, paint and generally maintain dwellings and agricultural-related structures would be learned by future residents during the building phases as part of any SRC project.
Ensuring that a reliable cadre of future residents acquired the skills necessary to maintain the property post-construction would have to be an integral component of the project. Ideally, this training would occur working within a modern Federal CCC.
Once learned these skills could be marketed by entrepreneurial teams or by individuals.
Landscaping a community’s grounds and farm plots requires appropriate tools and serious amount of labor. What is regularly done at home can be marketed in the region.
Once the Farm and Shared Life WGs become adept at growing food and providing meals for their own members, it would be a short step to prepare extra meals to package and sell in the regional market as well.
There is a robust market for prepared meals made with fresh produce and meat, either using the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model or in direct contracts with restaurants and grocery stores.
Life in community is made meaningful by laboring together in Work Groups for shared ends. This is true in existing Cohousing and Ecovillage projects already. And it would also be the case in maximally Self-Reliant Communities. But the effectiveness of all Work Groups depends on having tools to hand to pursue those ends.
We use the term “tools” expansively to indicate the structures, grounds, farmland, large equipment, hand-tools, as well as the documentation and meeting routines that Work Groups use in providing for the well-being of their community.
For instance, a spreadsheet that displays a schedule of the tasks involved in seasonal farming or a cogent article concerning these routines are both tools. But so are the Black Soldier Fly bins, the fishponds, the plants, the open fields, the chicken coops and the rakes, hoes and tractors needed to transform words into food.
Our entries are presented in a sequence that replicates the numerical identifiers we used for work groups (the 300s), with the addition of a capital T, for Tool.
The reason why I have not inserted the tools in the earlier sections they reference is that my selection of the most relevant tools has altered in the process of writing and may well do so in the course of future study. Also, an adequate description of some of these tools has required that they be somewhat extensive. To maintain a coherent flow among the components of this work, I thought it best to gather them at the end of the document.
Some of the tools will remain current while others change as time and technology advance. The former endures because they have a decent track record within long established communities. Other tools dealing with fabricated structures and farming practices are rather more subject to technological innovation. They will surely be the elements of this work that will be most frequently revised.
Many of the tools displayed here are ancestral. Their essential content deals with recording information and governance. A Roman consul or Mediaeval abbot would find little that was revolutionary. However, with the discussion of others, the reader is advised have a search engine close to hand. For although, for instance, the cultivation of food crops displays practices that are ancient, these topics have been insinuated recently with innovations like aquaponics and Black Soldier Fly cultivation that are evolving and thus expanding farming options across the globe.
The following are the current list of tools grouped according to human needs and the work required to fulfill those needs.
Because the Coordination Work Group is composed of representatives of all work groups and these all use this meeting tool, I have elected to place the presentation of the Augmented Meeting Format here.
Augmented Meeting Format
The format presented here has stood the test of time. That said, like many other community tools we offer here, it might best be considered as a starting point.
I was part of the process by which it was created. We started with a model from another community, but let it evolve to meet our unique views, especially on the value of transparency. The “Red Digest” portion turned out to be quite useful and popular. Yet it emerged, almost accidentally, when someone pointed out that the size of some meeting minutes made his eyes gloss over. Why not precede them, it was suggested, with a prominent (hence red colored) digest that would provide members with the critical information in a nutshell. And so, it was done.
Communities are various and evolve over time. Formats like this one are designed to serve, not to rule. They should always be modified to better serve the community.
This Augmented Agenda Format is composed around a set of headings. We recommend that Secretaries cut and paste these headings as the first step in preparing for each meeting. A modified version can also serve when sending out an email announcing the meeting. This communication should be sent out well in advance of the meeting. It is helpful for folks who will be attending meetings to be able to see its contours in advance. The author has found it helpful to download the headings and then add few empty spaces between them for notes.
The headings we suggest are as follows:
TITLE OF MEETING
DIGEST of MEETING
Any Policy Decisions?
What we Want the Community to Know from this Meeting
Next Meeting: Date, Time, Location and Agenda items
Full notes follow:
AGENDA for MEETING
GROUP NAME, Date, Location
Attendance: (provisional before meeting, changed to actual during it)
OPENING ROUND (wake-up question unrelated to the content of the meeting that goes “around” the circle of the members attending. Every effort should be made to form a circle, rather than a front podium with a set of rows)
Announcements that affect this meeting?
Meeting Agreements (decorum for all meetings)
Agenda-building for this meeting?
AGENDA ITEMS Members discuss each agenda item in turn, When finished with each item, the Notetaker reads a discrete summary of how the group disposed of the agenda item. The Group then does a round till all agree that the wording correctly states what occurred.
When there is an agreement on the wording, the Notetaker inserts it in the Red Digest under What we Want Community to Know from this Meeting.
If the group has approved a new decision that alters earlier policies, it should also be inserted under Any Policy Decisions?
Next Meeting Date, Time & Agenda Items (these would be added to the Red Digest)
A Round on process, satisfaction, work momentum
Send Red Digest portion of Augmented Meeting Minutes to entire membership.
DOCUMENTS RELEVANT to THIS MEETING (There could be none or they could be quite extensive. They should be included with the email announcing the meeting.)
Augmented Meeting Format Headings Explained in Detail
TITLE OF MEETING
This section is confined to two items only: the date in the format “2018 0704” (for the fourth of July 2018), followed by the name of the Group in CAPITALS, preceded by a dash or some other symbol
It would look like:
2018 0704 -COORDINATION WG.
These conventions make the document easy to find years after it has been filed away and memories have grown dim. It permits documents of record to have a uniform chronological sequence that is easy to understand and follow using the augment and collapse functions found in using Word in Outline mode. The dash (-) placed without a space before the name of the Work Group permits its unique designation. Using this trick, when searching it is possible to access all the meetings of that Work Group in one sweep. Without it the search will pull up include any use of the term across any number of documents.
DIGEST of MEETING-
This section will have four sub-headings as follows:
Any Policy Decisions?
Prior to the actual meeting, any potential Policy Decisions will be sketched out here with as much detail as is necessary to permit the membership to know how the change might affect their life in community. Notice of such will be sent out with the meeting announcement.
Then, during the meeting, the new or adapted former policy will achieve its finalized wording by means of a consent round of the Core members. “Core” members are residents who actually belong to that Work Group as opposed to some other residents who have opted to attend the meeting for whatever reason. The Core members have voting power, the visitor members have the power of persuasion only. However, all attendees are included in all discussion rounds and so have ample opportunity to influence the outcome of any point under discussion.
If the policy is extensive, its changes would be summarized, and the actual new policy would be included in the “DOCUMENTS RELEVANT TO THIS MEETING” section.
Next Meeting: Date, Time, Location and Agenda items
This simply states the obvious administrative details. The Agenda items are provisional and will be finalized in the next Augmented Meeting Format announcement.
What we Want the Community to Know from this Meeting
During the discussion of each agenda item, each Digest statement would be modified by the presenter to reflect what is actually happening in the meeting. Finally, there would be a round of the members to verify that the statement actually does reflect what happened in the meeting with respect to that agenda item. The note taker then records the final statement, and the facilitator takes up the next item.
The note-taker does not improvise this entry in the minutes. He is merely typing the decision of the wording confirmed by the members.
This preliminary “consenting to the Minutes” of Agenda Items gradually after each item is finished, means that the “Any Policy Decisions” and “Want the Community to Know” sections are definitively settled and can be sent out to the residents immediately after the meeting.
By clearly stating in this portion of the Digest how an Agenda Item was actually disposed of, in real time, by the members who discussed it and who just consented to wording reflecting their actions, is in our view, the optimal way to assure timeliness and transparency.
Full notes follow:
This simply notes that we are finished stating the essence of what the meeting accomplished. If the reader wants more detail, then read on. But the reader may know that the things he or she needs to know have just been stated clearly.
AGENDA for MEETING
Under this title we suggest the following sequence of information:
GROUP NAME, Location, Date
Date (in format “2018 0704” for easy chronological stacking)
Attendance: (provisional before meeting, changed to actual during it)
This is an opportunity to wake everyone up by asking them a silly or profound question. “What’s the dumbest thing you’ve done in the last month?” “If you had one hour to live, what would you say to someone you care about?”
These will vary with the size and formality of the meeting.
Announcements that affect the meeting.
These might include verifying the meeting roles (facilitator, minute taker, vibes watcher, timekeeper, agenda item presenters), stating the closing time for meeting, reminding all to speak loudly and face audience, getting volunteers for after meeting clean up.
Meeting Agreements (Decorum at meetings) for example:
--Begin and end on time
--Maintain a compassionate atmosphere
--Listen respectfully without interruptions or side conversations
--Take risks and support risk takers
--Seek to understand others’ perspectives
--Be willing to change your mind
Encourage all voices
Speak your own thoughts
Agenda-building for this meeting?
Acceptance onto the Agenda of an item that might need immediate attention.
This section will list the Agenda Items of the meeting in sequence indicating approximate time for each.
Prior to the meeting, each presenter of an agenda item would briefly state in this section what it is that he or she wants to convey to the gathering.
Each presenter of an agenda item is responsible for the testing any technical aspects of his or her presentation in advance of the meeting.
Finally, after each agenda item is complete, the Presenter will state for the record what the meeting has accomplished with respect to that item. The Presenter will call a round to confirm each member’s assent that the Presenter’s summary is accurate. When this is assured, the Notetaker will include it in the Red Digest in What we Want Community to Know from this Meeting and in Any Policy Decisions? (if such decisions have been made).
--Next Meeting Agenda Items (these would be added to the Digest)
--One Unrecorded Round that elicits comments on how well the members followed governance process? Are they satisfied with the outcomes? How is the overall momentum of Work Group business? This is unrecorded to encourage candor among folks who need and want to work together effectively to meet their responsibilities.
--Facilitator asks if there are any last modifications to the Red Digest before sending it in an email to members.
--Press the Send Button to convey copy of Red Digest to entire membership.
DOCUMENTS RELEVANT to MEETING
Any documents needed by presenters to clarify agenda items go here. All such documents would follow in the order of their related agenda item. Their content would be collapsible under “Show Level” headings in Word Outline mode that would identify their content in a few words.
As long as the Secretary preparing the Augmented Meeting document and the readers preparing for the meeting use the “Show level” mode of Word and the “Expand” and “Collapse” buttons in the Outlining tab, vast amounts of information can be neatly tucked into the document. Yes, it takes a bit of learning, but at the end of the day all the information needed for an effective meeting is available in one document.
Augmented Meeting Format Pros and Cons
--Combining all relevant information in one email solves the “I didn’t get that document’s email” problem”. By front-loading the work of the meeting and putting all the relevant information in one and only one email, it would not be necessary to send multiple emails or for the Facilitator or Presenters to bring lots of paper to the meeting. Everyone would know that they have one place to go to get their information for the meeting. It would, of course, mean that the Secretary, Leader and Facilitator for any meeting might have to collaborate sooner to get the Augmented Agenda out there in a timely fashion---perhaps, three full days or more before any given meeting. But that would be no bad thing, I think. I suspect it would make meetings flow faster. It would mean there would be no significant surprises. A provisional Digest and copious supporting notes are up front in one place. It’s a bit like going into an exam with a cheat sheet.
--After the Augmented Meeting Agenda email has been sent, the bulk of the responsibility would shift to the individual group members to read it and compose any “clarifying questions or concerns” in advance. If a clarifying question or concern is asked and the answer is already in the Meeting Agenda email’s Documents relevant to Meeting section, the presenter need not improvise. He should indicate that the information is in the Augmented Agenda email for future reference and then quote from that document. The repetition of this reply may over time encourage meeting participants to read all the relevant documents in advance.
--Having the Augmented Meeting Agenda email sent in advance permits the notetaker to focus on essentials during the meeting. The notetaker’s main job at the meeting will be to copy the Digest statements as modified by the presenter and/or facilitator during the discussion and finalized by a round of “what just happened in this meeting concerning this agenda item”. Because the quality of notetakers vary, making certain that a handful of critical information is finalized at the meeting, assures that the essentials not only become a matter of record but that they are immediately available to the entire community.
--Using quick rounds at the end of each agenda item educates members on their value in eliminating any misunderstanding and keeping members focused during the meeting. Repeatedly asking “what did we just decide about this agenda item” reminds meeting members that they will be called upon to respond. Particularly in long meetings, it is easy find one’s attention drifting. Quick rounds to verify each agenda item helps to remind members of their ongoing role as co-shapers of their community’s future.
--Timely transparency is assured by sending off the Red Digest as the last official act of each meeting. It reinforces the Work Group members’ part in a bond of trust that unites the community. By making the Red Digest a universal community practice that bond is universally reinforced.
--By making the final summary of each agenda item dependent on the concerted input of all, the undue influence of dominant personalities is reduced. And presenters might be inclined to take more care in composing clear and distinct formulations in their documents and provisional Digest summaries rather than counting on their powers of persuasion.
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Common House and Education Center
The Common House and Education Center would ideally be the first structure within the project. It would contain a bunkhouse section for resident trainees during construction and weekend visitors after completion of project.
Post construction, this center would serve as the community Common House performing traditional functions of community kitchen, dining room, office space, library and meeting rooms.
In addition, the Center’s utility components (plumbing, heating, batteries, electrical circuits and gauges) would be exposed within the rooms whenever safety permits rather than hidden behind walls. Rooftop devices would be accessible on flat roof or from catwalks. An actual section of an external wall would be displayed. All this is to facilitate learning what the actual fabrications behind self-reliance look like.
The Center would have a large open kitchen/study/dining room with the bunkhouse rooms and baths flanking it on either side or a second level. The main space should be easily convertible from daily use as dining room into lecture/demonstration hall. And it would serve as an after-school homework and mentoring center.
The Center would be located in close proximity to the community’s aquaponic, bio-waste to resource facilities, seasonal farm lots and outbuildings for animal and plant cultivation. The ensemble would combine working examples of all the tools of autonomy in a single location. These would be the concrete teaching tools readily available to reinforce spoken or written presentations.
The Center and its associated facilities and spaces would be created as a sort of transparent 3-D textbook of how maximal autonomy can be achieved. Its purpose is to educate generations of residents in the essential tasks of the community Work Groups and as a community Outreach Seminar Center—an income-producing Community Enterprise.
The latter’s curriculum could demonstrate natural circles embodying:
--Solar, wind and earth energy harvesting and storage
--BSF and anaerobic bio-waste generation of larvae and nutrient slurry for fish, fowl and plants
--Food preservation, preparation and marketing.
The Common House/Education Center would permit community members to intuitively grasp the elements of their own self-reliance and would ensure that certain members always possessed the critical skill sets their community requires.
This article is a comprehensive survey by Christopher Mims (Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2018) of recent developments in 3-D printed construction.
He compares 3D construction to a handful of discoveries, like the bicycle, the steam engine or glass that, once understood, quickly become universally transformative.
He enumerates examples of this process:
--The government of Dubai has set a goal of 3-D printing 25% of every new building by 2030.
--Prototype single-family dwellings have been 3-D-printed in China, Italy, Russia—and Texas.
--Arup, a construction engineering giant in Europe, is testing a variety of such “additive manufacturing” technologies, in materials ranging from concrete to stainless steel.
The author predicts that although new, “the way the technology could potentially save energy, materials and time—the more it starts to feel like an idea that just might work.”
He points to experiments, born of hope in this technology, that are emerging in both the richest and the poorest parts of the world.
Dwellings, 3D Printed: ICON
ICON is an Austin-based construction technologies company dedicated to revolutionizing homebuilding and making dignified housing the standard for people throughout the world.
Using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, ICON is solving a plurality of problems in the contemporary building industry with their breakthrough technologies. In their own words:
Why is 3D printing the most appropriate technology for addressing affordability and building performance in construction?
Conventional construction is slow, fragmented, wasteful, and has poor thermal properties which increase energy use, increase operating costs, and decrease comfort. Also, conventional materials like drywall and particle board are some of the least resilient materials ever invented.
By contrast, 3D printing offers the following:
2. Lack of manual labor
3. Concrete is a well understood, affordable, resilient material
4. Concrete has a high thermal mass (comfort & energy efficiency)
5. 3D Printing produces a continuous, unbroken thermal envelope (comfort & energy efficiency)
6. Replaces multiple systems of the home in one technology (foundation, structure, insulation, interior & exterior sheathing, moisture barrier, finished surfaces, etc.)
7. Near zero waste
8. Tremendous design freedom (curves and slopes are no more challenging or expensive than straight, plumb lines).
Dwellings, 3-D Printing an End to Homelessness Time Magazine
ICON Vulcan 3-D printer
Earlier this year, Texas startup ICON turned heads after building a 350-sq.-ft. dwelling in 48 hours from start to finish. It’s not-so-secret weapon: the Vulcan 3-D printer, a groundbreaking machine that erects the basic structure of a home, layer by layer, from concrete—at a fraction of the material and labor costs of traditional methods.
ICON, which spent nine months developing Vulcan, has raised $9 million to improve its functionality, aiming to print a 2,000-sq.-ft. house in just 24 hours.
ICON is also working with New Story, a housing nonprofit focused on Latin America and the Caribbean, to bring Vulcan to regions in need of cheap, durable housing solutions. But eventually CEO Jason Ballard envisions a future in which anyone can build a custom abode. “This isn’t science fiction,” he says. —Eli Meixler
Dwellings, 3D Printed: New Story Homes for the homeless
New Story, a non-profit (see Crazy Until It’s Not), is making a
determined effort to demonstrate how the shelter needs of a billion folks around the world could be met. They are doing it one community at a time.
Their audacity seems to be born an effort to meet the shelter needs of challenged groups by collaborating with them while using emergent 3D Home printing technology.
In their own words: “The challenge we face is monumental; there are more than a billion people across the globe living without safe shelter. To make a dent in that number, our ability to scale up has to change”.
Here are some of the insights they bring to this project:
--Housing stability and resilient communities are essential for changing society.
--Technology is a force multiplier—hence 3D printing construction.
--Creating change should be an open-source pursuit.
--Achieving audacious goals requires a diverse ecosystem of partners.
--Hypotheses and beliefs must be data-tested and data-influenced.
--Design must be participatory—requiring input from resident community.
--Building must be participatory—using local skills and training up as necessary.
Construction practices reform: Welcome to Your 3-D Printed Home
WSJ’s The Future of Everything notes that the “construction industry has remained essentially unchanged since the invention of the nail gun.” It describes how construction labor shortages, the time and cost -consuming layering of trades at building sites and a dearth of innovation can be overcome. It looks a how automation, prefabrication and technical innovations like drones and 3D printing can reduce costs and time in the building process.
Buildings, 3D Printed: Sunconomy Ecovillage Video on Facebook
NOTE: This 3-D builder’s model was so interesting that I contacted him by phone. Alas, he did not have the backing to move forward with this project. So here there is an established builder with a model close to that suggested in this book, but without the financial backing to put flesh on its bones.
That is the core hurdle that any such proposal must also overcome, if folks of modest and low income are to have this option in the face of employment-diminishing automation. All that said Sunconomy's vision is worth studying. So, I include it here.
This model has all the components of this website’s concept of a Self-Reliant Community (sirno.org), except perhaps for cohousing governance and management routines. It includes educational and enterprise projects within it.
If employment within the latter and the community’s routine maintenance jobs were targeted on the marginally employed within the community, this model would certainly go far addressing some of the socially debilitating effects of increasing automation.
If 3D Printing construction is used in this 110-unit project, its cost profile would provide a credible measure since stick and brick costs of building similar communities are known.
Sunconomy’s website describes geopolymer concrete components within the model that are:
--Affordable due to faster construction with less waste
--Strong enough to withstand 220 MPH winds
--Net Zero energy use with LED lighting, high efficiency heat pump and appliances
--Rainwater catchment enabled
--Healthy interior with natural materials
--Smart design with IoT (Internet of Things) in home automation and security standard
--Able to achieve lower insurance costs due to design and materials that significantly lower risk of major hazards such as fire or roof damage.
Buildings, compact dwelling: Minka MAGIC Model House
The Minka-type model is a minimalist dwelling, whose compactness and single level design serves the purpose not only of affordability, but also of accessibility and the preservation of its resident’s personal energy and safety.
Construction begins with building a platform composed of prefabricated floor boxes. The platform is anchored to screw pilings that transfer the dwelling’s load securely down to the requisite depth of earth.
Then, a precisely spaced sequence of inverted U-shaped “portal frames” composed of plywood are attached. These are fitted into the stabilized floor and the spaces thereby created are infilled with pre-manufactured wall and roof panels or “boxes”. These boxes are pre-designed to meet specific loadbearing, surface-type, insulation and special use requirements.
One special-use wall box is the Utility Wall which combines in one accessible panel the major electrical components and the water intake, heating, distribution and drain channels.
While the Minka’s current price per square foot ratio may appear unspectacular, the packing of life-targeted and security-enhancing design into each of those feet may alter this judgment.
Also, in response to questions, Dr. Bill Thomas, the initiator of this design, made two points that are relevant to the Affordable, Self-Reliant Neighborhood Option offered on this website:
First, if consistent large numbers of a stock models were ordered, the economies of scale would lower costs.
Second, and most relevant to our focus on low-income and/or marginally employed future residents, he is confident these could be trained in fairly short order to build their own dwellings. Also, such skill sets, once mastered, would not only bring down their own building costs, but might form the basis of another SRC Enterprise Team whose income is essential to provide goods and services the community cannot provide in-house.
Kitchens, private and shared
In a SRC, each household unit has a kitchen to permit families the intimacy and privacy that home meals traditionally provide. However, regular potluck common meals and/or community-run meal hours with a consistent menu can simultaneously free up time for busy families and create a relaxed venue for strengthening broader community ties.
Passive House website: Passipedia
This website is a mostly free source that explains how enduring energy savings in heating and cooling can be permanently embodied in the construction of a building.
Whether you want a little information or need a great deal, this site will provide. On its opening page it has a remarkably clear and concise 90 second video explaining the Passive House construction concept. Although, it does provide a good deal of information without charge, it does go commercial at various choke points, sending you to a page that invites you to pay a membership fee for more access.
Since our related website, sirno.org, is designed to keep costs to a minimum, we suggest you do a google or wiki shift on the term that presents the choke point in your search. So far, we have found this a workable option.
Anaerobic Bio-Waste graphic building tutorial: Biogas System Tutorial
This is straightforward video from Solar CITIES IBC that walks one through the building of a bio digestor step by step in a way that provides a visual grasp of what the parts actually do in the process of bio-digesting.
Anaerobic Bio-Waste recovery company: SimGas
SimGas designs, produces and installs biogas systems for households in Africa and Asia. These systems produce clean gas energy and organic fertilizer: two valuable assets to increase income while saving life, nature, money and time.
Moreover, their product is scalable to the number of families using it. This website provides concise information with minimal words and helpful graphics.
Anaerobic Bio-Waste recovery device: Homebiogas 2.0
This product is a single home anaerobic bio digester. The website uses hyperlinked pictures and videos to address the questions most folks might have.
Its special value for any designer of an SRC is in displaying proof of the concept that transforming food scraps and fecal waste into usable gas and fertilizer is feasible even at the single unit level.
A heat pump always relocates heat from one space that gets cooler to another that gets warmer. During the heating season, heat pumps move heat from the cool outdoors into your warm house and during the cooling season, a heat pump moves heat from your cool house into the warm outdoors.
Because it doesn’t generate new heat to condition space with warmth (or cold) it does so at about a quarter of the cost of conventional heating and cooling appliances.
The relationship between the indoors to be heated and its outside environment is analogous to the kitchen that is warmed by the heat extracted from the interior of a refrigerator.
Promethean Systems Used in energy compromised rural settings.
Promethean YouTube Their technology enables food suppliers to reliably store and preserve perishable food items—such as milk, fruits and vegetables—without the need for expensive diesel-powered generators.
Buildings: 3D Printed Buildings Are a Twist on Ancient Construction Techniques
This is an 8-page Technical Bulletin that summarizes and explains the components of Aquaponic Systems. It is followed by references, including videos.
One thorough and illustrative video is Aquaponics-An Integrated Fish and Plant Production System. It details the processes involved with some helpful 3D graphics of how the parts are connected viewed from different angles.
Aquaponics Webinar: Aquaponics: How to Do It Yourself!
This is a high-graphics, minimal-words webinar that covers almost all aspects of Aquaponics. It is not comprehensive, but a starting point from which to branch off and pursue content it alludes to with minimal explanation. Helpful to make you aware of what you need to research further.
Aquaponics YouTube Ted Talk: Charlie Price – Getting More out of Less
This is a graphic twenty-minute talk that draws multiple processes—photovoltaics, direct sunlight, biomass production for heat--into the Aquaponics food production.
Importantly, it includes the discussion of Black Soldier Fly cultivation of grubs for fish and fowl. BSF processes transform all forms of bio-waste into BSF larvae, thus integrating the need to deal with human bio-waste directly into a process of food production.
Finally, it describes the conversion of a modest vacant store into a miniature urban food farm that displays most of the components of a closed loop agricultural system.
Aquaponic Vertical Farming: New ways to make vertical farming stack up
The Economist makes the case for Vertical Farming becoming a mainstream component of agriculture:
--Technology turns vertical-farming operations into “plant factories”.
--No photon is wasted
--Hydroponics water recycling means that the only water lost within the system is that which becomes part of living plants.
--Multiple-tier construction means that growth area per ground surface footprint is only limited by the vertical dimension of the food factory
--iPhone applications can control colors and brightness of light-emitting diodes (LEDS), the temperature, humidity, ventilation and the hydroponic nutrient-rich water amounts for the plant trays.
--These “weather” conditions can be tailored to the maximal growth profiles of specific plants
--No need for pesticides, because no soil
--Electricity costs can be reduced by using only spectrum colors that plants need when they are developmentally required
--Plant varieties discarded as not feasible for intensive, open-air, farming systems can be resurrected within controlled environments of vertical farming
Currently vertical farming could not feed the world, however the technology is evolving and becoming more efficient.
Black Soldier Fly (BSF) Abstract on public health value of using BSF larvae to transform human fecal waste
This abstract advocates for the use of BSFL to provide a solution for the health problems associated with poor sanitation and inadequate human waste management in developing countries.
BSF document: Black Soldier Fly Bio-waste Processing: A Step by Step Guide
This is a 110-page pdf file that provides the information that its title implies.
Composting, Nature’s Way to Recycle
Unfortunately, this two-page composting hand out was taken offline. Fortunately, I liked it so much that I summarized its contents.
What is composting?
The biological breakdown of organic matter by a managed process. Decomposition that occurs all around us in nature can be controlled by human intervention to produce a high-quality soil amendment. A compost pile is a managed microbial farm for recycling nutrients from organic wastes. Understanding the process is important to manage it well.
Environmental Benefits of Compost
*Reduces contributions to the municipal waste stream.
*Reduces or eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
*Conserves water by reducing irrigation needs.
*Sequesters atmospheric carbon dioxide in soil as stable humus.
*Binds with pollutants, preventing them from running off into the groundwater
Soil Benefits of Compost
*Increases populations of earthworms and other beneficial creatures (in the soil)
*Promotes a healthy microbial population
*Improves soil structure
*Improves soil aeration and water retention.
*Helps to form soil aggregates
*Slowly releases macronutrients
*Increases nutrient-holding capacity
*Increases nutrient availability
*Moderates pH levels
*Suppresses soil-borne pests and diseases
*Ties up heavy metals
Mesophilic Phase (69 F to 113 F)—Initially, mesophilic bacteria and fungi-those organisms that thrive in moderate heat—reign. As they break down sugars, they give off heat, which will cause the temperature of the compost pile to rise.
Thermophilic Phase (113 F and up)—Thermophilic organisms takeover and break down proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates like cellulose. If the pile reaches 130 F or above, pathogens and weed seeds are killed. Eventually, the organisms that thrive at these temperatures deplete their food sources. Decomposition slows, and the temperature of the pile begins to drop.
Curing Phase—Decomposition slows. During this phase, mesophilic organisms, including actinomycetes, which give compost its earthy smell—take over again, continuing the slow decomposition of lignin and other tough compounds. Compost may be ready to use anywhere from two weeks to six months after this final temperature drop.
Composting pdf: Food Web of the Compost Pile
Single page graphic that describes the succession of creatures that transform organic residues into rich soil.
Seasonal Garden Tasks and Times (Available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org)
This document is based on the climate of lower Michigan and would have to be adapted for different regions. It was inspired by the notes of a truly great CSA Farmer, named Annie, who was always fun to work with.
The document outlines a seasonal planting year in a chronological outline by seasons and months arrayed vertically from December through November.
It outlines flat planting, pricking out, soil planting and harvesting specific plants in greenhouse and in open fields.
We hope the broad December through November sweep will permit a grasp of the needs of the entire year in brief read. It is easy to get lost in the minutiae of current work.
Open Field and Greenhouse Beds (Available upon request to email@example.com)
This document arrays plants in rotation bed groups for open field farming: Leaf beds, Root beds, Fruit beds, and Legume-recovery beds.
This is followed by the Leaf and Root Greenhouse beds.
Individual plants belonging to each bed are then arrayed, chronologically from left to right in a sequence of tasks from seed flats to harvesting
This document is based on the climate of lower Michigan and would have to be adapted for different regions.
And again, it is inspired by Farmer Annie, a fine friend, mentor and spinner of wisdom.
Permaculture Website: Deep Green Permaculture
This source provides a serious theoretical overview of how permaculture uses the cunning of the natural world to maximize produce while minimizing labor (Permaculture Design Principles).
It then shifts gears, displaying hands on instructions and information for all aspects of farming (DIY Instructions & Reference sections).
This source offers an optimal display of just enough text and word-sparing graphics to convey a usable amount of information.
We think this is the optimal point of entry for understanding the intensely rich social component that cohousing brings to any Self-Reliant Community. Cohousing is a successful and growing lifeway around the world.
If you discount the assumption that each family will be able to provide its own income sources independently, the personal dynamics it reveals are identical to those we propose for a SRC.
Cohousing Professionals webpage: Cohousing Professionals
Architects, development consultants, builders and marketers who address the specific needs of cohousing communities are among the professionals this website seeks to influence. They will already be accustomed to working with folks who understand the value of community.
What we will need to discover is whether they can adjust their visions to produce truly affordable communities by extending their tool kits and designs to build maximally autonomous communities.
Cohousing professionals are natural points of entry for investigating the potential for building truly Self-Reliant Communities.
LEHC- Limited Equity Housing Cooperative: Limited Equity Housing Cooperative
In their own words:
A limited equity housing cooperative is a residential development owned and managed by a democratically governed, nonprofit cooperative corporation, such as a tenants’ union.
Potential Impact LEHCs have proven their ability to support long-term residential stability for nearly a half-century in the United States. In New York City, where an overwhelming share of LEHCs exists, they have been an essential element of the city’s affordable housing economy.
That would be true in many more cities if LEHCs can overcome the promotion of individual homeownership as the American mainstream ideal.
Like other forms of community-controlled housing, the ultimate impact of LEHCs is defined by the effort that stakeholders—including local policymakers, financial institutions, and housing advocates—put into using the LEHC model to create inclusive communities accessible to people of all means.
This tenants’ union (or similar organization) is composed of members of the LEHC, which usually owns the property through a blanket mortgage covering all of the units.
As indicated in the name, an LEHC limits the amount of equity a member can earn upon resale of their unit (and membership share) in order to preserve the cooperative’s affordability for future generations.
Employment Records: Inhouse, Entrepreneurial and Individual
The Administrative WG would maintain regular Employment Records of the three distinct types of employment whose equilibrium would be necessary to ensure the community’s economic stability.
These are work
-performed by the Work Groups that directly provides goods and services for the community,
-marketplace work performed by Entrepreneurial Teams and
-marketplace work performed by residents on their own initiative.
While these are three distinct types of employment, it is conceivable, and even probable, that a member could shift from one to another or work part time in two or all three of them.
Adherence to community goals of affordability and inclusiveness might suggest that members recently marginalized by market shifts could at first work more hours inhouse or in entrepreneurial teams.
However, the overall economic health of the community would also be enhanced by individuals whose market-earned income is traded for community goods and services.
For that reason, a robust Education WG that would include internet access to acquiring skills the market requires are an essential feature of community life.
Shared Life website: Communities Magazine
In their own words:
“We believe that community is an essential building block for creating a cooperative and sustainable world.
The structures and wisdom of community are both a means and an end to meeting the needs of all people and the planet, and must be available, understood, appreciated, and developed.
We envision cooperative communities of all kinds working together to meet these needs.”
Time and Talents software
This is software from a web community called hOurworld. It could be used to manage the exchange of community work hours for community goods and services. Time and Talents is a free software package that was designed for folks who want to exchange equally-valued hours of work. If used within a SRC it could work as follows:
All members of a SRC work in-house at the job of providing goods and services to the community, outside in the region or in some balance between the two. T&T software would focus on the inhouse work.
A glance at the list of types of service exchanged (see Hour Exchange Handbook below) makes is clear that any of the services given or received within a SRC could be included in this software.
Each member would input the service hours he or she worked into the T&T software, indicating the related Work Group.
The Administration Work Group would calculate in hours each month all three types of services (general, discretionary and dwelling specific) for each household.
Each month inhouse work hours related to services received by one’s household would balance, exceed or not reach them. If the latter the T&T deficit would pass this information to an Administration WG member for invoicing.
Hour Exchange Handbook Summary of how the time exchange is used in Portland, Maine
Quick Start Guide for hOurworld: powered by Time and Talents