I was talking to a colleague about (re)building communities, forming new communities and bringing people together in general - both in the cities and in rural places. When the topic landed on rural ecovillages, intentional communities and whatever else one would label these communities as, the conversation naturally flowed to what skills would be beneficial to bring to the roundtable.
Before I write down the list, there's a general disclaimer: I might not have found all the skills necessary. Further the skills will be put into three stages or categories - depending on the size of the community (the self-sufficiency of the community). These are all practical skills and for the most parts the list contains little to no creative arts. If the community was a organism, the bones would be these practical skills, fleshed out by the creative arts and it's lifeblood - the beings within it.
With that being said, there's a rather big fraction of the community 'labelled' laborers, this should not be misunderstood as doing Grunt's work, but should be thought of as an apprentice, a student or a learner. Because any of these practical skills shouldn't be monopolized to a single individual. I am of the opinion all of us, no matter what position we are in, should be ready to teach, to learn and to develop ourselves.
I purposefully skipped child- and elderlycare, because this is an ideal community of people (healthy, strong, ablebodied) - but it is up to the individual community to accommodate resources for these services based on the demographics (example: if the community decides to get income from having an elderly home within a beautiful forest garden - a larger emphasis had to be put on elderly care).
With all that being said, what skill do you think is the most useful, did I miss any?
Bonus question: What is the best characteristics to bring to a community?
Perhaps related to the grower/farmer would be forager, ie. one who knows how to identify, harvest, and use the vast array of wild edibles already naturally growing in a region. With knowledge comes a supply of food that could be more stable than that which agriculture offers, likely with less work involved too.
I would think the best characteristic to bring to an intentional community is a dedicated intentional community spirit. Mutual respect and mutual considerations are vital.
I think a lot of grief is easily avoidable. While it may not always go well to treat each other's stuff like our own... hahaha... what can work when going into someone else's space and especially a community space, is observing how each individual treats their stuff and even then ask - don't assume. It might be ok for someone to throw their stuff on the floor or walk through a room with muddy boots, but not ok if someone else does.
Recently I read in a forum here about cleaning and cooking with several people living in close quarters compounded by numerous other people coming in and out constantly. People don't always realize when they might have been inconsiderate because each individual naturally has an idea of what is acceptable.
Some people don't say when something disturbs them in an effort to be polite, or avoid implying someone else is less than polite. That doesn't always go well. Possibly less so in an intentional community. Yes, people need to speak up before tension builds, but it isn't always so simple and definitely not easy for everyone. And discomfort with difficulty speaking up also deserves respect.
It is likely that most of us might be inherently hypervigilant about what is personally important. In an intentional community, it could be safely assumed that commonly shared things require the most attention and consistent care by everyone.
An example comes to mind. When I was about 13, my Dad commuted 135 miles every 3.5 days between a military base and the farm. Shortly after we moved there in early spring, I was all over the property (168 acres) collecting dried flowers and non-flowers. Where to put it? Garage looked good. I took all Dad's tools off the walls and laid them down in the sand (this was a big tractor garage) in order of how they were arranged on the wall. Good job. Used twine to string up dozens of small bundles on the walls and rafters. Perfect. Dad comes home a day or so later. Asked why his tools are in the sand. I took him to the garage and showed him all the flowers drying. He asked how long I thought it might take to get those tools cleaned up and back on the wall? I said maybe a few weeks. He asked if I could speed that up. I said I don't think so but I would check every day to see how dry they were. He went inside without another word. Minutes later Mom came out and started taking flowers down and said I better start getting those tools cleaned and back on the walls. Oooooooh. Then I better understood the funny look on Dad's face.
(Ha. Once my sister got into my box of embroidery thread that had been neatly sorted and bundled. It looked like a cat had played with it. So I put stink bait in one of her shoes.)
when your young I suggest you take advantage of every education opportunity you can get from working with habitat for humanity crew to attending night school at local vo tech to learn practical useful skills.
just couple/few short generations ago when most of the families in the US lived on family farms, homesteaders had to be able to be skilled in many many areas from animal husbandry to being mechanics, builders, canners, basket and box makers
An honest clear-eyed educated care for the community and it's future. Ditto for you own personal issues. Where you're coming from, where you think you're going, how you're going to know if you get there, what your values are and how important they are.
Top tier practical political skills. Politicians embody a very complex skill that facilitates the common effort. We need honest and really good ones desperately. It's an impossible job.
Crisis management. Regular management, also.
Honesty, manners, courtesy. The smarts to be able to actually see and consider the well being of others and a habit of doing so.
A deep understanding, experience and willingness to get along with people in a group.
Good work habits.
Everything else can be acquired given good community spirit. Not the "great people to get stoned with, they're all so nice" type, but the "I respect that SOB and with his help we might make this work" type of spirit.
Broadly speaking, most all technical stuff, any craft, any "practical" stuff can be found or created or done w/out. The stuff we think of as "man's work". Any woman can do it and a lot of children. <GG> The stuff I listed first, you mostly just pray for and wing it.
The farmer and the maintenance man are really important. Someone needs to know how to fix things when they're broken. Someone also needs to know how to build things that need to be built.
I think once food and infrastructure are well established and maintained and a community has been set up, health care professionals are important too. I don't know the limits of ic health care- how much can a doctor or a nurse do at home?
A doctor or a nurse or even a veterinarian would help keep peole healthy, but in the long term, people will need health care that a doctor can't provide at home. People will need medicines that herbs can't replace. What happens when someone needs emergency surgery after an accident? Someone breaks their leg and needs to have it adjusted. Can a doctor do that at home? Antibiotics and painkillers can be necessary at times. A health insurance provider would be necessary in the long term, and this would mean spending a lot of money for people to be insured. So someone that makes money for the community would be equally important.
In reality, every position can be argued to be equally important in the mosaic that is community.