I have been dreaming & planning a sustainable village in my head for years and I thought it might be good to put my ideas out into the world and get some feedback. This is what I've got so far:
Vision: To build a sustainable community that is connected to the larger society while remaining resilient in the face of challenges from a changing world. The community would not strive for permaculture perfection, just progress and improvement over the current model with the ability to adapt. It would be built incrementally following a traditional development pattern (walkable & mixed use). It would be sustained by local production and commercial activities including organic agriculture, light manufacturing, and tourism. It would provide a modest but comfortable and stable lifestyle for residents. It would serve as an example for other communities on how to develop in a more sustainable way.
Location: Upper midwest US (MN, WI, ND, SD or MT) within an hour's drive of a decent sized city. I am originally from this region, and it is my belief that as climate change continues, this area will remain habitable due to access to water and fertile soils. I would like to be within a short drive of a city because the business model involves tourism & special events.
Legal/Financial Structure: L3C (Low Profit Limited Liability Company). The land, buildings and business operations would be owned by the company. There would be no shareholders, and initial funding would come from low-interest loans, Program Related Investments from charitable foundations, and donations. The community would be sustained & grow through profitable business ventures. The company would be managed by a board of employees, and profits would either be reinvested or paid out as bonuses to employees.
Building Phase 1: Seasonal Eco Resort & Events Venue. We would start with a "glamping" style resort of canvas tents, with a bathhouse and a semi-permanent event tent on a concrete pad. Guests would enjoy simple amenities such as a sauna, walking trails, outdoor games & fire pits. We would rent out the property as a whole for weddings, family reunions, and other special events. For dates that we have not rented the whole property we would make individual tents available on Airbnb or similar platform. We would have a small dormitory for seasonal employees and would also have an area where employees could park campers or tiny houses. We would begin to establish perennial crops such as fruit and nut trees, as well as foliage and flowers for cutting.
Building Phase 2: Year-round Resort & Events Venue. Begin building permanent year-round buildings including a small hotel or hostel, bar/restaurant, grocery & gift shop, and housing rented at a reasonable rate to employees. Expand amenities (such as a pool, yoga studio, gym, library). Ramp up production of fresh produce and flowers including annuals to be used in the restaurant, catered events, and sold in the shop. Themed retreats such as yoga, meditation, organic farming, floral design, writing, etc would attract year-round guests. Also host special events & festivals to attract day-trippers to the property.
Building Phase 3: Village Development. After about 5-10 years of developing the resort, I would like to open up the village to outside investors. The L3C would continue to operate the original businesses & employee housing, but other businesses and residents would add to the village. I am not sure if this would be done by selling plots of land or doing long-term leases. This would probably depend on local laws and whether or not we incorporated as a town. But we would do a dense style of development with no street parking. There would be a large parking lot for visitors on the edge of the development and residents could choose to park on their own property or in the visitor lot (or have no car at all!) Instead of strict zoning laws we would have rules about building height & size, as well as waste/pollution and sound restrictions. Owners would be free to choose the best use for their property, as long as it was within the parameters. The traditional model of living & having a business on the same property would be encouraged. Chain stores/restaurants and national corporations would be discouraged through additional fees/tax on non-local ownership.
I dream about this village because I realize that the mainstream Western lifestyle is totally unsustainable, but I do not want to be a homesteader or prepper. I don't want to be isolated, away from society, I just want to be part of a community that will not fall to pieces if the power goes out or the global economy crashes or the shipments from China stop coming.
I welcome any feedback that you all have! I think the biggest hurdle to getting this started would be local zoning/building codes which are just not designed for dense, mixed-use development. If anyone has a suggestion of a county in the upper midwest that might allow this type of development please let me know!