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A " Free Permaculture State"  RSS feed

 
Miles Flansburg
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Posts: 3981
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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I have been making my way through the Permies Podcasts and in one, Paul mentioned that Jack, from the Survival Podcasts, and he, had been talking about a group of folks who are all moving to one part of the country to enact political change. Paul wasn’t sure of the name of the movement.

It is called the Free State Project. I have been a member since it was first being discussed on the web many years ago. The concept in a nutshell is that if a group of people with like minds, could move to a sparsely populated county, somewhere in the U.S., they would be able to live free, because they would be able to influence county politics through voting as a block. They could also run for offices and change existing laws that are anti-freedom. There was lots of discussion about where this county would be and then a vote was taken. The Free State became New Hampshire. There were many of us who would not move to New Hampshire and so The Free State Wyoming group was formed. Many people have moved to both states and each is traveling along their chosen paths to freedom.

I do not mean for this to be a political discussion. But I would like to discuss the concepts of their groups as they might be applicable to a “Free Permaculture State” Movement.

Here is where I am going with this. On this forum I read about all sorts of folks who are looking for a place to practice Permaculture. I read about people who are trying things that are not the norm. I see that our County Governments, not to mention our State and Federal Governments, have all sorts of laws that do not allow a permaculturalist to be innovative. And as Paul has mentioned many times, Monsanto now makes the rules of agriculture in the US.

It seems that the deck is stacked against any of us who want to move away from the status quo. People like Sepp Holtzer pay tons of fines every year. There are headlines about farmers going to jail. So how can we really ever make the change that needs to be made?

Now Mr. Rogers said I can make believe so here goes.

Suppose a large group of Permaculture enthusiasts found a county somewhere in the US that was already moving, politically, towards being Permie friendly, or one that was sparsely populated. It would help if there was lots of land available for hundreds of permies to get to work on. Suppose after lots of discussions, the best place for a Free Permaculture State was voted on and people began to move there. Suppose a large enough group moved to this one county and some of them where interested in running for county offices. What would happen if a county government had office holders and constituents, who were all about the free practice of Permaculture?
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I love the idea of being around like minded people.
 
Steven Johnson
Posts: 61
Location: south east mo
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I Think this could work, because it might make a good example possible. If we were allowed to show what life could be like if we cooperate, many more people would like the idea. In Mendocino county ca, there is a meeting next week to promote making permaculture legal and permitable, so that we can attract more mainstream people. Not really sure that is a great idea, but public acceptance is a good thing. It shows that Mendo county might be the place to do it.
I think the important thing to gain wide acceptance is to not have any required attendance, most of us dont like being required do things.
To that end I would like to propose a minimalist sort of cooperative idea.
We buy land together, to be held in trust for the use of members only. For a standard amount, that will have to be decided on, each person gets the right to a small, house or yard size place where they can maintain a domicile forever, without any further investment of time or money, though each would have to provide their own housing, though ideally some of the materials might come from the land.
Along with the right to keep a home there, you get the right to take part in the cooperatively administered perma cult ure projects on the land, and you specificly do not get the right to keep others who have purchased similar shares from doing things.

We are a couple, 50s and 60s who have lots of homesteading skills and are eager to join with or start a similar community right now. We have some resources and want to start soon.

For example, 10 people might each put in $30 k, with 300k, we could buy over 100 acres in some parts of mendo county if we are lucky, or it might be a bit different. Each place would be different, we would have to determine the carrying capacity of each piece separatly,

We are ready to meet with people now to discuss this. I think it can work and the key to it is everyone giving up control of the common areas, no one can block others from doing things and no one ever gets kicked out if they can follow simple and minimal rules, to be determined what those rules would be but I like the Burning man pattern. Check out their 10 principles. I will start talking about it more in my blog soon, wild goat dreams/blog might work to find me. I am pretty new at this blogging thing but I feel it is time, besides that sort of place is where we want to live.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I think that we should give each family/person a private two acres homesite for themself and they also get to "work" on the rest of the shared farm.
So with 10 families/people and 100acres. 20acres would be for homesite and the other 80 acres will be the shared farm.
I dont really see 10 families as a form of government.
I think that we would have to have close to 1000 families for it to be some sort of government and not just a business/coop/farm.
With 10,000 acres at 600/acre we would need 6million. Thats not really that much money.
We would also need quite a few tools to make the village more self-sufficient.

For a great list of tools check out these guy, its open source. http://opensourceecology.org/wiki-gvcs.php

The Global Village Construction Set

Habitat:
CEB Press, Cement Mixer, Sawmill, Bulldozer, Backhoe

Agriculture:
Tractor, Seeder, Hay Rake, Well-Drilling Rig,
Microtractor, Soil Pulverizer, Spader, Hay Cutter Trencher,
Bakery Oven, Dairy Milker, Microcombine, Baler,

Industry:
Multimachine, Ironworker, Laser Cutter, Welder, Plasma Cutter, Induction Furnace,
CNC Torch Table, Metal Roller, Rod and Wire Mill, Press Forge, Universal Rotor, Drill Press,
3D Printer, 3D Scanner, CNC Circuit Mill, Industrial Robot, Chipper, Hammermill

Energy:
Power Cube, Gasifier Burner, Solar Concentrator, Electric Motor, Generator, Hydraulic Motor, Nickel-Iron Battery,
Steam Engine, Heat Exchanger, Wind Turbine, Pelletizer, Universal Power Supply

Materials:
Aluminum Extractor, Bioplastic Extruder

Transportation:
Car, Truck
 
Steven Johnson
Posts: 61
Location: south east mo
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There is a lot of discussion about how many acres you need, and it is very much more complicated than that. Much needs to be considered including soil types and depth, steepness, water availability, altitude and climate, and existing plant communities. To me permaculture means fitting into the existing plant and animal communities, enhancing them with our input, and living partly off the improvements that we allow by improving soil and water retention and protecting some communities of life from being eaten by other creatures. A gaurded place, I mean, a garden, where our frail but productive plant and animal allies can live in conjunction with us.
Each site must be evaluated individually. I am tired of people saying it has to be so big and complicated, needing so many tools that it can't be done.
I am ready to start, is anyone with me?
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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If just 10% of us all moved to a low population county. This could be done.
I wounder how many people are interested in such an idea.
What counties/state would be at the fore-front of the list.
I guess we could partner up with the two free state that are already established.
Or we could start our own.
What would be the biggest factor to look for.
I know that one of them would have to be low population.
Anyone else want to add to the list
 
lyla moore
Posts: 37
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Hi Steve, S. Bengi, and Miles... I am the masses, the single mom, the young grad with loans, the retired on SS, those of us that struggle to make it from paycheck to paycheck. We don't have 30k in our back pockets to join some large idealistic group... and yet our ideals and dreams of self-sufficiency are the same. Frank Escalante and I are moving forward with our plans to start an intentional permaculture farm community in southern Colorado. We are asking each person interested in joining us to write a summary of their ideas of what they expect from this type of community as both of us are doing right now.
We are considering the 40 acres that M Wolf posted in the rockies forum as it is within our price range. As we expect to have to spend money on building up the land not spending too much on the purchase is a bonus. Raw land ready for us to sculpt and nurture. This area is sparsely populated and I feel a good place to try this venture. All Aboard please respond to gonacopo1946@hotmail.com or lylamoore56@yahoo.com
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Steven Johnson wrote:There is a lot of discussion about how many acres you need, and it is very much more complicated than that. Much needs to be considered including soil types and depth, steepness, water availability, altitude and climate, and existing plant communities. To me permaculture means fitting into the existing plant and animal communities, enhancing them with our input, and living partly off the improvements that we allow by improving soil and water retention and protecting some communities of life from being eaten by other creatures. A gaurded place, I mean, a garden, where our frail but productive plant and animal allies can live in conjunction with us.
Each site must be evaluated individually. I am tired of people saying it has to be so big and complicated, needing so many tools that it can't be done.
I am ready to start, is anyone with me?


The 2acres aka 300ft buffer zone around my house is not so just for personal food production.
In the desert it might only provide 10% of my food and according to bio-intensive I might be able to produce enough food (calories) for 4 adult male (no meat) on just 1/10acre.
The point being the 2 acres, is for my sanity, for me to pass on to my kids, for me to park 4 cars in peace, have a bonfire. throw a knife.
If I am going to spend the next 50yrs living somewhere it sound like a good idea to have wiggle room builtin vs having to fight for it later on.
Now if some people want to "lend" their 2 acres to the shared farm for a couple years, then I see nothing wrong with that.
But it should be an option not the rule.

Instead of having numerous bickering 7yrs down the line, about the direction of the share farm.
Someone could just go with the flow of the shared farm and go native/hightech/etc with their 2acres.
It would be a builtin pressure valve if you will. 7yrs down the line alot of companies, farms, marriage fail so why not nip it in the bud with a 2 acre buffer.
We are dealing with human emotions here not just a system poly-crop.

Also dont think of it as just as 2acres vs 1acre vs 13acres.
Think of it as 20% personal area, 80% shared area.
Now I am pretty sure people will have alot of ideas as to how that 80% should be divided. I have heard about using some of it to back a local currency.
Native park, road timberforest, pasture, annual farm, food forest, silvo-pasture, fish farm, aquaponics, etc.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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lyla you raise an important point.
Which leads me to this interesting idea.
What if instead of us waiting for these millions of dollars to show up we started with just a farm.
I have heard that an acre of strawberry can make can fetch $200,000 so with just 30 acres we would have enough money to buy all that land.
And if we all pooled to gather on that 30 acres and didn't take a cash pay but instead took shares into the new "town".
Then in just 1year we could buy the land and in another year we could buy the tools and in a 3rd year we would have enough money to build our house.
Obviously if we if we got 3 times as much land for the farm we could do it in just 1yr vs 3yrs.
If each person manages 2 acres, then we would only need 15 people and in 3 years we could start said township.
Now I do understand that to harvest 2 acre of strawberry we would need to buy strawberry plants, condition the soil, and have living expenses upfront.
Also the idea of just planting strawberry is very un-permaculture. Does the ends justify the means. Maybe we could do strawberry and garlic.
So can we get a group of people 15-45+ who would be willing to work for 1-3yrs with little/no pay to start this. YESS
You dont have to move you could do it on 2 acres near where you live or you could move.
Can we find 30-90 acres of land to farm for little/no money.
How much would it cost in strawberry plant
How much would it cost to "condition" the soil.

Ok say we go the permaculture way vs the strawberry monocrop. We only make 20k per acre and it would take 150ppl vs 15. Its still doable.
Who is up for the challenge. Even if it takes 5-6 years we should start this now. Write here or PM me if you are interested.
 
lyla moore
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Point is we have the money to buy this 40 acres now. However if you have seen the land I dont believe you could grow strawberries there. It is scrub land and will take a lot of input and human energy to make it productive. Perfect for a sepp holzer experiment terracing, hugelkultur beds, ponds, etc. Frank and I are older and feel the need to start as self-sufficient a lifestyle as possible as soon as possible! The challenge is at our doorstep...who is willing to take the plunge.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3981
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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I was wondering if Diana Leafe Christian could respond to this idea?
As a follow up question. Are there any areas in the US that seem to fit into this idea? Is there an area that is already growing and has gotten past government resistance? Any large communities you have seen where people can move and find large numbers of permies?
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Another idea that just crossed my mind.
Could we find the 10,000 acres and get the exclusive right to buy (no selling or burrowing money against it, except maybe taxes) it for 10 years for a fix price.
During that 10yrs we could buy 100 acre chunks as money comes in. (profit from the farm, families move in, donations)
Each 100acre would be 1% the price of the total 10,000 acres price.


 
Cindee Karns
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I, too, would like to hear what Diane says to this. I get the whole tipping point idea, but somewhere deep down there's a principle that we need to think about: "Use and Value Diversity – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides."
 
Shodo Spring
Posts: 32
Location: Minnesota
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And I'm committed to staying in Minnesota near my grandkids (and the politics are relatively good here), inherited some money to buy a small farm, but need people. (I posted a new thread, "Zen permaculture farm" and will be watching for replies.
 
Edward Jacobs
Posts: 39
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I've been working out plans on my own to do something very much like this, and I too started with the "Free State Project" sort of mentality in mind. I would want to create a private village/town/community that exists pretty much independently of the "system" outside its borders. I'm talking about 200-300 households on a 5-10k acre property. There could be 2-5 people in each home. Anywhere between 600 and 1200 people in the village! But I am completely new to the idea of "intentional community" living. I suspect there is a (very low) limit to how many people can live together in a collectivist arrangement before it comes unglued. But this thread started with contemplating enough people to alter the political climate of a county... so large scale issues have to be worked out.

The first issue I keep worrying about is what do you do when the Zoning nazis show up and tell you that you can't have that many houses on your property? Or the cow nazis show up and tell you that you can't drink your own cow's milk? I've studied law enough to know I am prepared to fight those battles, but if 90% of the community caves in with worry and fear, there is no chance of defending yourself against ANY so-called legal action the system might bring against you. Meaning, there would need to be provision for studying law as part of everyone's duty to protect the community. But the larger the land, the safer you are because the bureaucrats aren't likely to drive 2 miles into private property just to confront you with some alleged "code violation". Especially if the driveway is gated and the No Trespass signs posted, etc. But still, what if?

Then there is the legal structure of ownership. Do all the prospective members join together and form an LLC or create a Trust? What about future members wanting to move in? Who gets designated to handle the corporation's paperwork? Who handles the collective community finances? How do you prevent them from skimming money? Is the land officially sub-divided and recorded by deed at the county recorders? This creates multiple properties and the idea of "sharing" anything becomes a 100% trust issue between the people, and like it or not people fight and disagree and get mad at each other. What if the owner dead-center in the middle gets mad and shuts down his property, thereby physically dividing the whole community? If you "subdivide" the property by internal private contract as part of the community structure, how do you resolve property disputes? With only 5 or 10 homesteads, I suspect these are not going to be too much of an issue. But if you build an actual village and people have the right to individual thought and action and independence, things get sketchy if not structured correctly. People will have significant financial investment into the project. And what happens if someone wants to move out and sell their interest in the community - if the land is not officially deeded to them, what is the likelihood of finding someone who will buy an idea that looks like land? They should be compensated for the work they put into their house, and the improvements in the property they contributed towards. How would you attach a price tag to such things? 10 years in, it will have evolved into something unexpected.

If each homestead gets only a small yard (6-8k square feet?) with a house, then you end up living elbow to elbow like the inner city. I will not live next to a nudist and I despise cigarette smoke. What if one of these moves in 100 feet away from me? I'm living out in the "country" for the peace and quiet and clean air, I don't need a stoned hippie playing bongo drums at 2am right next door. lol. And in this setting, would someone be responsible for running the dairy? Would there be some sort of record keeping to control how much milk each household gets? You can't have 600 people show up every day for dinner at the town hall! And breakfast. And lunch. And midnight snacks. People would want their own kitchen and cooking supplies. Dietary choices would run to the extremes. What about sewer and water in such a high-density living area? And what about electricity?

If you were doing a shared farming situation, who gets appointed as farm manager to ensure the master plan continues on its course? And what do you do when Bob the Slob goes home early every day when the temperature gets too hot, and when you start noticing certain people spending a LOT of time "running errands" or otherwise not sweating beside you all day in the garden toils? If there were 600+ people in the community, it would be easy to drift in the shadows but still "look busy". What about a family situation? If it is a shared lifestyle, everyone would expect everyone to contribute equally. What about babies being born and mom is doing NO work at the community level because her baby and her 2yr old take up 100% of her time? That is 3 people "not contributing", but needing more than others, so how is resources divided up? Would people in this situation be allowed to group together and decide to build a church? Would they have to buy the land for their church? Who do they buy it from? Is there enough land to allow building structures such as a church, or a general store or a restaurant or other private business venture?

Does people envision something of this size and scale being a collectivist commune, or would it be structured and allowed to grow like the towns of 1800's America? Is there private property rights, or is it a socialist type arrangement? Maybe these issues are addressed in the books written on the subject? "Start small, stay small" is a whole different creature than "start big and plan for growth."

 
Pj Maddox
Posts: 14
Location: Middle Georgia
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Some time ago I saw an article about small towns giving away land for settling there.
So when I started reading this thread, I looked up some info. Here is what I found

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/10/19/click-here-for-free-land-five-places-where-land-is-free/

This one, I copied, looks good:


(4) Marne, Iowa is giving away what appears to be attractive-looking lots with well-established trees -- either that or someone went a little crazy with Photo Shop. The town, settled in 1875, has 149 residents -- down from the original 617. The city of Marne's website features the winners of the apple pie baking contest, as well as a call for a community prayer for a resident deployed to Iraq and the news that someone's nephew from Australia was visiting. You New Yorkers are just lining up, aren't you?

It has a small enough population that a group could very easily control the government fairly soon.

A lot of the FREE land places want a recipient to build a house within 24 months. But the real problem with those is that you need to have a contract with a contractor.

Good Luck you guys.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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you need to have a contract with a contractor


That quote brings out the cynic in me. LOL
The contractor probably owns the land...

"I'll give you a $4,000 building lot if you hire me to build a $50,000 house on it."

A former governor of the Virgin Islands donated the land to build the new airport in St Thomas.
And then his family's excavator business charged millions to make it suitable for use.

 
Jonathan Brandt
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Interesting idea and I think it would work for a place like Marne, Iowa. I think it's also equally viable for like-minded permies to reach out to the others in their existing communities and work together to bring more awareness to the wonderful ways of food sovereignty and resilience. It happened in Willits CA before a large influx of people. The momentum generated attracted more permies.
I think it's more worthwhile to make changes in communities all over the country that to try to isolate and insulate in a remote corner of land. That is what groundswell is all about. When enough people all over the country become aware of and connected to each other, we will have lots of power. This starts by making connections and reaching OUT to transform neighbors and make small lasting changes in the community where you are. There are plenty of folks on this forum that are too isolationist. What's the result of that? You will be isolated from bad AND from good.
 
Dave Turpin
Posts: 112
Location: Groton, CT
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Edward Jacobs wrote:I'm talking about 200-300 households on a 5-10k acre property.


So between 726 and 2178 square feet per household including growing room? Can you say "imminent cannibalism"?
 
Edward Jacobs
Posts: 39
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Dave Turpin wrote:
Edward Jacobs wrote:I'm talking about 200-300 households on a 5-10k acre property.


So between 726 and 2178 square feet per household including growing room? Can you say "imminent cannibalism"?


That's 5,000 - 10,000 acres. 300 households at 5 acres apiece would only take 1500 of it.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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(All figures below will assume 1000 families)

With each family getting 2 private acres, they will provide all their daily food needs from that (milk, breakfast, lunch, etc).
Each family will have no expectation to get money from the farm or forced to work on the farm.
If the farm does make money then each family will get 1/2 of 1000th and for families that work they get the remainder of what is left.

If we go with above idea of the 45 families work really hard to buy the land and move in then the other 955 families will have to pay to get in.
Once we reach the 1000 family limit no other family will be allowed to move in.
The other 955 families can pay X amount of cash and/or they can work on the farm for X amount of hours.
Each family would be required to work on 8 acres of shared farmland for the 1st three yrs. (setting up the food forest, earthworks, planting/selling veggies, ponds). Obviously they will also be "forced" to work on their own 2 private acres to survive too. (house+energy system+foodforest)

With the 2 acre buffer everyone should have enough space between them and the next family (nudist, guitar player, knife throwing)

The original families will have to set up a master plan for the entire 10,000 acres. (they could hire someone).
They will have to figure out where ponds will go vs timberland vs silvo-pasture vs food forest etc.
Any changes after that to be voted on.

As to who will be the point person for sheep, fishing, timberland, etc. I will just be who ever asks for it 1st. (this need some improvement)
If no one ask for it then it just stays and nature will find a balance.
If every1 have their own foodforest then there will be less people trying to beg/steal apples.
Also we could look at what each person has done with their own private 2 acres(resume) and we could nominate them and then vote on them for a winner, to be the head sheep/fish/timber/etc person.

How will we stop the finance guy from stealing money from the shared farm, after I worked so hard for the last "5yrs"
We will just have make all transaction view-able to the families online/on paper.

Hopefully the shared farm will have enough money in the "bank" after a few years to help fund other sister towns/projects.

Each 2acres will be deeded and sell able. The shared farm would have the 1st right to buy it back if we have money saved up.
Maybe even for a set price adjusted to inflated. The pricethe family bought it for +3% per year?
All the families private 2acres will be surrounded by shared farmland. (No trespass).

With a town that big we are going to need school/police/clinic/firefighter/church/car mechanic/clothing store/etc
These should all be run off families private two acre. As private business. It could be free, volunteer, paid.
We could have a 4 acre for a town center or something for quasi-monopolies like police/high school/clinic/firefighter/etc.










 
Diana Leafe Christian
author
Posts: 45
Location: Earthaven Ecovillage, North Carolina; Ecovillages newsletter http://wwwEcovillageNews.org
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Hello Wyomiles and others who've responded to the thread, "A 'Free Permaculture State',"

I'm sitting here practically weeping with frustration reading what various folks have written in this thread. Frustration, because I'm reading things that aren't true, aren't likely to become true, and express the same kind of terminal naiveté that makes 90% of all community start-ups crash and burn and fail. Frustration tied to my concerns that you won't realize your community dreams if you believe the well-meaning but grossly mistaken advice in these posts.

My friend Paul, the site host, asked me to post things and respond to posts in this forum on permies.com this week. It's for the promotion he's doing on my book (Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities. It came out in 2003, New Society Publishers. You can see more about it here: http://www.dianaleafechristian.org/creating.html )

And I'm honored to be asked, and would of course do practically anything Paul asked me to. (Have you met him? Amazing guy.)

But what's so frustrating is that people are writing just as if starting a human settlement was a matter of buying land and doing a Permaculture design on it and then voila! intentional community, Permaculture-style.

Or the idea that if a large enough group of owners bought a large enough property and had a locked gate with a no trespassing sign, they'd somehow be immune from the negative consequences of violating county zoning regulations. Or that people just need to find a sparsely populated county and then they could do whatever they wanted to, re building codes, zoning regulations, or state health regulations. Or that the important things to figure out are how many people might get together how much money to buy how much land with how many building sites with how much land for each site.

Or that creating a successful intententional community, ecovillage, eco-settlement or whatever -- one in which people cooperate in healthy and productive ways, have mutually beneficial relationships with neighbors, and are safe from being shut down by the county -- is a matter of buying land, enough land, land in the right place.

Excuse me, but in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

When I do workshops on how to start successful new communities, I start by saying it involves basically three things: (1) good project management (this includes legal, financial, and land-purchase topics) (2) ways to create "community glue" (working together, solving problems together, shared meals, playing music, drumming, dancing, singing, playing frisbee, soccer, volleyball, chess, checkers, poker, parties, plays, skits -- everything involving doing things together that helps people feel a sense of "us.") (3) good process and communication skills (which means talking to each other in better ways than people do in mainstream, not-community culture).

I draw this in a circle with three thirds, like a peace sign. I write each of these things in each third, then put in each of them the individual topics, like "Clear, thorough membership process" (which goes in the "Good Project Management" third.)

In the center of the circle I draw a smaller circle that's part of each third. It's blank. I fill it in with the words "Effective self-governance & decision-making." (By the way, the method I recommend is Sociocracy, also called Dynamic Governance, not consensus.)

Then I give people a 15-page handout, "The 19 Steps: How People Typically Start a Successful Ecovillage or Intentional Community." If you'd like this handout, let me know and I'll send it to you. diana~at~ic.org

They read the handout, discuss it, then play the Timeline Game with it. This is 97 cards in random order on two or three long narrow tables that go the length of the room. Each card represents a different step, phase, task, activity, etc. of each of the "19 Steps." These 97 things include one-time tasks, ongoing tasks, ongoing processes, one-time research projects, ongoing projects, etc.

One end of the table says "start." The other says "finish." Their job is to replicate the reality of creating a successful new community but in a game simulation in the workshop room. First, they put the cards in the order down the table that an actual forming community group would really do these things. They can make parallel rows, since many of the things people do to start a community happen simultaneously. Second, they need to decide together how they're going to do this, how they're going to decide, who's going to do what. And how they'll decide when the game is finished, when they have the cards in the right order. So they're practicing both form and content. What they decide, how they decide.

Here's some sample cards about the topic in this thread: Decide site criteria for your land. Create land-search committee. Research zoning regulations in your desired counties. Research costs of applying for a zoning variance, if needed. Research financing sources for land purchase and development. Create down-payment fund. Create land-development fund. Create land-payment fund. Research possible legal entities for co-owning land together. Choose and get lawyer to create legal entity for co-owning land together. Research various aspects of land feasibility as part of pre-purchase contract. Buy land. Celebrate buying land. Hire Permaculture designer to do intentional community site plan for your land.

Well, there are still 84 cards, with equally specific steps in many other areas, not just land.

Who the heck am I to presume to give advice to these workshop participants -- and to you -- about all this?

I spent several years observing the landscape of intentional communities that were trying to get started in the US in the 1990s. Ninety percent failed. Usually they failed in conflict and heartbreak, and also sometimes in lawsuits. Ten percent actually got up and running. I wanted to know why. So I observed the landscape of those that succeeded and those that failed. I didn't want to know what they believed, their theories. I wanted to know what they did. Their practical, replicable actions.

Like good Permaculture designers, who design a landscape that goes along with how nature actually works, the founders of the 10% successful communities designed their communities to go along with how human nature actually works. Like successful Permies who reduce excess labor and increase yield (of water, fertile soil, heat, food, etc.), these folks reduced excess conflict and increased their yield of good project management skills, good "creating community glue" skills, and good will, well-being, cooperation, collaboration. Because they went along with human nature, not against it. So I followed them around, watched what they did -- observing the landscape -- and wrote it down.

A few more things. Intentional communities are embedded in the wider culture and subject to its laws and regulations, like it or not. The idea that you can go so far out in the country that no county officials will know about you is a myth. It's New Age naivté. It's magical thinking. Flying under the radar will work only if the group is really small and innocuous and doesn't piss off any neighbors. If the group ends up having someone move next door to them (which they can't control) who is an outrageous sociopath or otherwise emotionally volatile and irrational, they'll eventually piss him off whether they mean to or not. And in retaliation for his real or imagined slights, the neighbor turns you into the county, whose guys have to respond to complaints, even if they'd rather continue turning a blind eye.

The worst place for zoning regulations being enforced, relentlessly, is California, Oregon, and Washington, and on the other side, Massachusetts and it's neighbors. The thing to do is not to try to fool counties. The thing to do is shop for counties that have no zoning regulations at all. You'll find them in central and eastern Tennessee, most of Missouri, parts of western North Carolina. I live in an ecovillage in a county with no zoning here in North Carolina, and that's on purpose. Our founders searched for a no-zoning county to buy land in.

Zoning regulations aren't building codes; these are separate. Zoning has to do with how many houses can be on how many acres; how many unrelated adults can live in one house; how far any buildings are from the property line, etc. Whether or not you need sidewalks, street lights, what sizes your internal homesite or leased lots are. Building codes are about whether or not you can use cob, or non-loadbearing strawbale, etc. Things like roof-water catchment (illegal in Western states), composting toilets, constructed wetlands, etc. are usually regulated by the health department of the state, not the county.

Community founders need to know the laws about these things well in the counties they're interested in -- BEFORE they buy the property.

Well, I've been ranting on this soapbox so long I'm reminding myself of Paul. So instead of only leaving it here in response to Wyomiles' kind request that I comment on this thread, I'll also post it separately. Hope you'all don't mind.

Diana
 
Lynn Jacobs
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Location: At home with my soulmate <3 Living in a hot dry place.
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S Bengi wrote:With a town that big we are going to need school/police/clinic/firefighter/church/car mechanic/clothing store/etc
These should all be run off families private two acre. As private business. It could be free, volunteer, paid.
We could have a 4 acre for a town center or something for quasi-monopolies like police/high school/clinic/firefighter/etc.


I can NOT believe there are people here who think you'd have to have a police department?! Or a school? If you don't want to educate your own children, then you get together with any other parents who don't wish to educate their children either, and you either work out who will drive their children into the closest town, or you hire your own teacher. No school building needed, with the inevitable assistants, secretary, etc. and bureaucracy that would follow.

This thread was started by someone interested in the FREE STATE movement! Free to live without government control and regulations. Free to be responsible for our own lives. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having the property be private, fenced and gated, with No Trespassing signs posted.

And have you ever lived on 2 acres? I have. It's not enough. Not enough to give you privacy from your neighbors. Not enough to give you enough land to garden and have all the animals you might want to have, and be as self-sufficient as possible. Five acres is a bare minimum, IMO.

Families NEED their own space, and they need to be responsible for themselves. There is never a problem with two or more individuals/families deciding to cooperate on a specific venture (orchard, chicken raising, pig slaughtering, barn-raising, etc.), but there should never be an expectation or requirement to participate in a community activity or garden or whatnot. If people choose to not participate, then it's very likely they won't have people volunteering to assist them, but that is their choice to make. The only thing I can currently think of that should be mandatory is assisting in the event of a fire; everyone gets in on the bucket brigade, so to speak.

I think there should be a community area, several acres set aside to be used as a park, gathering area, etc. Buildings could be erected, or not. If someone wants the grass mowed they can take a turn. But a community garden where people are required to work and get a portion of the food and/or profits? Nope, I just don't see that working.

But yes, businesses are run privately on your own land. Barter, trade, however you want to do it. But it's primarily for the community. I wouldn't want to start a town and have just anyone driving through.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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I can just imagine your frustration watching a newbie like me, who has only been thinking about this for 3 days or so, fumbling around in the dark.
I am just glad that people like you are around. Someone with decades of experience to share. Love your list of 97. It makes so much sense.

To me the biggest function of the "town" would be to get involve in county politics and vote in permaculture ordinances.
The idea is not to build a commune or even a farming town. But if that where to happen it would be even better
If after 7yrs all 1,000 families in the "town" owns 4 cars and drive to work at a coal mining plant. That is still success.
Because new comers to the county would now have the option of going full permaculture if they want.
The second function of the town would be to raise money to fund other such towns/counties.
If we have to bring in "outsider"/woofer/immigrants to harvest the shared farm that is ok.
We will used the profit to open up another pocket of freedom.
Obviously, if we could keep the community glued them all of this would be more pleasant, and profitable.
However in this "town" community failure is plan. While everyone energy is high for the 1st 3 yrs, we build.
And then once 90% of the people leave this commune mentality. Its accepted and then 10% takes over the farming, 100 families is still pretty big.
The other 90% can work just 10+ hr a week outside the town to cover basic expenses, move to live in a different country.
Get a regular 60hrs job to save up money start their own private farm/commue/pay for grandma surgery.

I must say I am really loving your 97 task that you have.
Most of these below are just guesses, not even a 5% answer, a 1st iteration, that need refinement.

Decide site criteria for your land.
10,000+/- acres (town size) ~$600/acre (cheap), 30+ inches of rain. (irrigation, roof catchment), mineral/water/oil rights. far away from mining activities.
Create land-search committee.
There is only 4 people commenting, so we are not at the committee stage, but is something that would have to be done
http://www.landwatch.com/default.aspx?ct=r&type=CTRY,United+States&px=12000000&r.PSIZ=8000%2c&pg=3
With this much land, I know that most of them is unlisted, and that it will involve alot of "cold calling"
Research zoning regulations in your desired counties.
Roof catchment right, sub-dividing/selling 20% of farmland, 100yr lease with housing for 1000 "farm worker", composting toilet, building with alternative material.
Research costs of applying for a zoning variance, if needed.
I dont even know of anyone who have ever done this. What line item costs are normal?
Research financing sources for land purchase and development.
LOL so far all I have heard is the strawberry idea.
Paying 18k cash, loans, donation, selling future farm good. Lease with option to buy.
Create down-payment fund.
The money would have to held in some kind of escrow until it reaches a critical mass.
Create land-development fund.
Same as the previous two, it could be funded with profits from annual crop, part of the buy in cost, donations, loans. Each family would have to develop 2 private acres +8 shared farm acres
Create land-payment fund.
Same as above
Research possible legal entities for co-owning land together.
The land would be in a land trust/non-profit, the farming operation in regular LLC
Each family would buy or lease (no cost to renew 100yr lease) 2 private from the land trust.
Each family would get 1/2 of 1000th of the farm LLC profit and the ones who farm would get the other 1/2 of the profit,shared between them.
If at 1st there is only 45 outstanding shares/family then the company would keep the profit for the 955 share which would then get distributed back to the working family.
Choose and get lawyer to create legal entity for co-owning land together.
That one is a must with a 1000 member
Research various aspects of land feasibility as part of pre-purchase contract. Buy land.
Was it a dumpland,is the well water polluted, is it home to a swarm of africanized killer honey bee, we need a much longer list of what to look for.
Celebrate buying land.
We will have to build in alot of celebration and recognition to buildup group dynamics
Hire Permaculture designer to do intentional community site plan for your land.
After spending so many millions this is makes so much sense.
 
Kk Murphy
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Rich response Diana, thank you!

I'm one member of a group that has been working in the past year to pull out all our big dreams, visions, ideas etc. regarding community, farming, permaculture out of our heads and hearts and dig into the very good, real, damn hard work of co-creating. We've been at it for 12 months and more and more layers continue to reveal themselves waiting for our processing, communication, decisions, time, energy and attention. Though we are creating community within the group at the same time as researching land we have yet to purchase land. We've been sorely tempted by a couple of properties so far but realize that we may well have another year of internal processing to do before we're ready for that step. Diana's book has been a godsend of a resource. It's by far the most informative book available on the subject of creating intentional community with lots of practical data on communities that have been successful. For anyone considering sharing land with other folks I highly recommend a study of this book.

On another note, I live in Oregon and in our processing have learned lots about zoning, local ordinances etc. We do have it pretty strict here originally to protect farmland which means there's now lots of farmland close to urban areas - a good thing. But in conversation with city planners, county commissioners, etc. there's also much more openness to wanting to make farming accessible to new farmers than I would have thought - including open discussion in my county about how to allow for multiple families to live on one piece of property - not legal for most ag. land right now in OR. Planners are recognizing that farmers in our area are not making a living that's easily transferable to the next generation. It's a heck of alot of work to farm on your own and less and less profitable. In my area in addition to the strict zoning land is very expensive - a tough sell to new farmers. Planners are starting to recognize that something's gotta give eventually. All this is to say that if you happen to be in a difficult state zoning wise but are highly connected to the area (as i am) there may be some room to make your voice heard and do some good on both county and state levels that could hugely impact sustainable community and farming creating.

Good creating to you all! Grateful to have this community to learn with and from!
Karen
 
Andrew James
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Be careful.

You better announce your intentions in a public forum; local newspaper.

If you bring in people who have guns, you could receive the Waco treatment. Permaculture will be labeled a cult and you'll get ATF'ed. Especially with oncoming gun restrictions and Monsatans efforts to demonize and criminalize farmers.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Thanks for all of the great replies so far folks. I feel like I may have to explain a little more about what I was thinking.

I guess I am more on the side of the fence of private property ownership vs. shared. I see community as a sort of subdivision, without all of the rules that come with subdivisions. But with all of the benifits of having neighbors who are permies. For instance , I know that there are large ranches that have been subdivided in southern Colorado. Where a group of people could buy 1 to 40 acres each , live as neighbors, helping each other build and yet not have to worry about who owns what. I understand that there are always going to be neighbors who do not like what they see and are willing to run to the authorities to stop what they do not like and that is where the second piece comes in below.

I am not sure that the part about people running for office at the county level was understood. To me this would change a lot of the interference that most folks are getting when they try to be inovative. Again, if there were county commissioners, county assessors, county sheriff and a county attorny who were open to or even practitioners of permaculture priciples then a county could actually modify, or do away with, the current laws to be more open to permicultural innovation. Neighbors who do not like permaculture would have a harder time getting help from the authorities when they do not like chickens or swales or wofaties.

I want a place where I can have my space to do what I want without worriing that someone is gonna call the cops on me. It seems that people should have learned not to tattle on each other in kindergarten. I want my neighbors to know that I am not going to create a waste stream that will affect them or their land. I want them to know that I will help them and they can help me, that we can get together as freinds. But I also want to be able to have time to myself and that will be OK with my neighbors too. I want a place where everyone understands and practices the zero aggression principle.

So I want to know if there are places in the US that are already like this?
 
Judith Browning
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@ Wyomiles, there are large areas in the Ozarks like that. Our neighbors don't care what we do and that is what keeps me from complaining when the burning plastic smell blows this way every couple months or so. They are good people and someday I'll have the right opportunity to suggest an alternative to burning garbage. There are a lot of like minded (to us), back to the land folks in this county but we live in harmony with a diverse set of neighbors. The area has absorbed the back to the landers as well as more recent retired republicans and many anywhere in between. I always think of something Bill Moyers said...that he learned more from folks he disagreed with...I think we have had more of a positive influence on the world by integrating here than if we had had a separate "community" and we have learned a lot also. But then I really think people are more tolerant than we think especially one on one. I think when groups are named (and I recognize that I did that in this post!) and set apart something changes in how folks look at that group and then stereotypes run rampant.

EDIT: but at the same time we are semi-actively looking for someone to trade a few acres of our land to for work on our projects here. And in that case we are definitely looking for like minded folks.
 
Chuck Williams
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Good point Judith. It's better to let permaculture practices germinate nationwide than to gerrymander them into three counties. If one talks to one's neighbors about something intelligent that saves or makes money they will likely be receptive to the idea, particularly if one does it without coming off as a hippie or a hermit.
 
Karen Crane
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What happened to the movement in NH that
wanted to have people move there to get blocks of
people voting on measures and to move the laws to more freedom?
Have not heard anything about them for many years.
also there is an area in NM where I have 4 acres
there has no building codes and has many homesteaders.
Do what you wnat it seems.
Would be a perfect place for this kind of a movement to start.
Lots of "cheap" land available. Everyone could own their own land,
and co operate with each other on projects and voting blocks.
Anyone interested?
 
Miles Flansburg
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Karen, The free state project in New Hampshire is alive and well and there is another group settling in Wyoming. Both can be found through a web search for "free state".

Is there a web site for the area in NM where you have property?
 
Karen Crane
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Sorry to say I dont know of a website. I tried to find something on
the internet but mostly it was people selling land at high prices.
It is a very large area that was split into one acre lots a long
time ago but the developers seemed to go under and all the
lots are just sitting there. they can be gotten quite cheaply.
Property taxes are only about $24 a year.
My thought was that if a group of people bought up a bunch of lots,
adjacant to each other it could be develped into a beautiful area.
Everyone would own their own lot and home which they
could build any way they want as there are no restrictions.
Lots of opportunity to have whatever kinds of ventures you want.
Pleanty of places to sell whatever you grow or make.
Plenty of oprtunity to do co op ventures.
Plenty of opportunity to make a difference in local politics.
 
Miles Flansburg
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So how would I find this subdivision? Does it have a name? Where is it located? Towns nearby etc.
 
lyla moore
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Hi Miles, Karen, We also would be interested in this. Frank, William, me and several others are meeting at the Earthship headquarters outside of Taos, NM on March 21st thru the 23rd. This is the first meeting of our permaculture farm group. We will be discussing legal formation, mission statement, and location,location, location?!!!
 
Karen Crane
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Thought I had already left a reply to the question of where it is, ETC.
The area is called Rio Grande Estates and it is near Belen,NM.
There is still lots of land available there. No restrictions. Lots of homesteaders in the area.
Each person could have their own acre ( or more) and build their own home ( of whatever they want)
and then as a group they could buy more acres for group growing / projects or whatever.
I had seen prices there ranging from $11,000 an acre but recently the bottom has
dropped out there and I have seen lots as low as $1,000 ac acre. There are also ways to get it
for less. think lots could be done there.
 
lyla moore
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Belen 137 toxic waste sites!
 
Miles Flansburg
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Lyla, do you all have a location picked out or still looking?
 
lyla moore
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Hi Miles
We are still looking, no such place as perfect, just trying to locate not too close to active nuclear plant or toxic waste sites. Wow! there are so many and when you find cheap land its usually near one or the other. We will be checking out some 10 acre parcels in northern NM, several in northeastern AZ, along with a few in southern CO. Be glad to let you know if we find anything.
Lyla
 
John Polk
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When thinking about that sub-division with 1 acre plots, I thought of another alternative.

Say 10 people/families bought 10 of those plots, but leapfrogged, leaving a vacant plot between each.

Then you get together with your western neighbor and buy the lot in between.
The two of you determine how that buffer is to be developed.
It would become a melding of two methods/styles.

Then you do the same with your eastern neighbor.

This would mean each person would pay for 2 lots - one full, and two halves.
Except the guys on the end.
They could take this option either as a way to get involved for a smaller investment, or to buy the entire 'outside' plot, thus giving themselves 2½ acres - 2 of their own, and a 1 acre communal buffer with one neighbor

This would allow each family an acre for their privacy to develop as they best envision it.
Their neighboring lots would be communal plots with their immediate neighbor.
Individuality, plus community.

In the long run, this would build great community, while still allowing everybody to maintain their individuality.
Most communes fail, in part because we all have our own individuality, which often gets stepped on by the commune at large.

This could be a great learning tool for future generations. Rather than 10 case studies to compare, there would be 19, with the 9 lots in between serving as combinations of two approaches.

If this system proved successful, new people moving into the area would have a wonderful example of how permaculture is a viable path to follow. Even if they did not follow the path completely, many elements and principals would be incorporated in their designs.

EDITED to add: In today's tough real estate market, if the land owner saw an opportunity to sell 19, 20, or 21 lots all at once like this, you could probably negotiate a much sweeter deal, than 1 person could by buying a single acre. Food for thought.



 
Linda Sefcik
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Location: Central Oklahoma
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I have posted an idea about ghost towns in another thread.

Points:
1. Like it or not, you will not live long with a lot of people without rules... guidelines... civil community law enforcement.
People disagree. People have their own ideas. People argue about property, etc.
Government... is kind of like a contract by which everyone lives.
The difference is... rather than anarchy... you find what you can agree on, and be willing to compromise or change.
Or... live alone.

2. What will narrow such a search for such a community or free state -- would be:

toxic water and land -- a basic existing government that is open to change and not ruled by corporations
To me... this means... no oil money controlling the state... and no pipelines going through it.

Such a community would want to be far enough upstream that toxic rivers and streams from sewage treatment
and chemical farming methods wouldn't intrude on the effort to maintain a clean continuing community.

I've found a couple of maps that might help narrow down a suitable starting point.



aquifer-contamination.JPG
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oil-wells-per-county-2.JPG
[Thumbnail for oil-wells-per-county-2.JPG]
arsenic-map.JPG
[Thumbnail for arsenic-map.JPG]
 
No. No. No. No. Changed my mind. Wanna come down. To see this tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
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