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Non-Hierarchical Permaculture Designed Community  RSS feed

 
James Koss
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I'll start by saying that by Non-Hierarchical I don't mean a commune. There's no reason to force sharing stuff in a community, as far as I see.

I recently had the idea that a Permaculture community only requires an agreed upon design, in order to be such a community. It doesn't need a shared philosophy or ideology. As long as the design for the entire area of the community is agreed upon, which means it is to the benefit of all members, then the community would be successful, even if members were to change (themselves or their property's inner designs.)

It's true that designs and plans tend to change, sometimes even extremely so. But, it's also true that with a functional design, for the community throughout its development - which is naturally a very chaotic scenario - there would, at least, be a general guideline to refer to, when conflict arises.

I feel that this discussion is especially important, now that Paul and friends are venturing into the community zone. I understand Paul's intuition in regard to being the one in charge. Without taking responsibility for his own project, conflict and problems would take over, and it will fail, for him.

On the other hand, I don't think that one person can really be in charge of a community, simply because of the complexity of interaction between so many people. The expected behavior is delegation, which means that people chosen to act as moderators will veto everything, in Paul's name. You can see where this goes wrong, as a power struggle.

The solution I offer for discussion, is having a design that is agreed upon, by all those who wish to join the community. The design will be similar to a standard Permaculture design of a property, only it will expand over the entire land of the community, and put emphasis on how the different lots (houses) interact, while remaining independent entities. This will limit the amount of "disagreement" any one member can have, because they will be forced, by design, to make the most of the bigger design. It's a sort of limiting factor that works by drawing on the need for success of each individual.

So, in order to join the community, any new applicant will join in the discussion (verbally and visually) about the community's design, and depending on the interactions inside that discussion, it will be more apparent, whether those persons match that design or not. It will allow for a bigger picture to be evident and so reduce misunderstandings and misexpectations.

What do you think?
 
Dale Hodgins
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This is the most reasonable proposal of this type that I've seen. It's very much like how a small town or village operates where bylaws govern behavior but its nobody's business how individual families organize themselves. The big difference is that you apply to join this village.

Forced sharing is a major deterrent to joining a group for many productive people. A situation where everyone is self sufficient doesn't punish success and would not tend to attract users who want to rely heavily on group resources.
 
John Elliott
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I think you have come up with a solution that is as old as humanity. Maybe even as old as Homo erectus.

Since Homo erectus was known to have used fire to cook food, there was probably delegation of tasks; some were good at hunting, others were better at cooking. And with this division of labor come the disagreements that you are looking to minimize. So while individuals could join another tribe, maybe to find a non-relative as a mate, they had to agree to the design of that particular tribe. If they turned out to be trouble makers, well, they could be run off and they would have to try their luck with yet another tribe.

Apparently enough of their communities succeeded and prospered, or we wouldn't be here. What is more impressive is that they managed to get to their agreed-upon designs without the use of verbal language.
 
Merced Greens
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I have to say this is along the lines of what I was hoping to see manifest. A community of like minded individuals based on principles of reciprocity mutual aid and non coercion. Perhaps on par or structured on a co-operative model. A non patriarchal non hierarchical New Harmony if you like. Hope to hear your responses.

D.
California
 
Michael Drotor
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This is very similar to my plans for the Camp Exist project but there's a big flaw. That flaw is that a large percentage of people really need to be controlled. This could be all in their heads, or due to some mental deficiency, but it's a common problem with humanity. In my project, I asked that anyone that wants to join be capable of and willing to provide themselves with the basics....food, water, shelter. After a couple thousand views of my website and numerous inquiries, I haven't yet found even one person that actually has the skills and drive to pull their own weight. Everyone that's been interested knows very little about actually surviving off the grid and wants to be taught or led. Although this gives me a little hope, overall, it's kind of depressing. I thought that creating a place for people to exist would open doors for a lot of people that are existing outside of the system but want to put in roots, but so far, it looks like I'll be alone in the woods.

If people were smarter, better educated, more driven, and more honest, a community without hierarchy could thrive but I'm really afraid that westernized industrial culture has devolved humanity past the point of no return. As the Dead Kennedys once said, "We've got to rise above the need for cops and laws!" This challenge is still out there and hasn't been met yet.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I sell stuff regularly. If thousands were to look without buying, I would reexamine my product and prices. I think that this reassessment is transferable to a wide array of endeavors, including social and economic systems. It would seem that you're not attracting the right crowd or the bar has been set too high.

The people who are smarter, better educated and more driven ... may not feel that they need your help. Many will have chosen their own way and figured out how to pay for it. It may prove necessary to change entry criteria to accommodate those who have been judged ill suited.
 
Michael Drotor
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So far, no one has been "judged ill suited". Once I describe the reality of homesteading off-grid to people, it's rare that I hear back from them and when I do, the overwhelming response has been something like, "Well neat idea. Get in touch when everything's setup and I might come check it out." I think it's more that the people I'm looking for are very rare and most are likely really busy with trying to survive within the system, being distracted by technology and propaganda, and are making just enough progress on their creative endeavors to keep them on their path. I do think that once they see that a largely money free sustainable community with basic, common sense rules is out there, there will be more interest.

Back to the original topic though. I really think that a sustainable community is a holistic entity and that participants are going to have to agree about how they want to live on many levels. The community "design" has to go much deeper than the physical/agricultural/permacultural aspect of it and usually, it takes some kind of leader to unify people to this degree. I really think that humans are meant to live in tribes.
 
Amedean Messan
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Michael Drotor wrote:This is very similar to my plans for the Camp Exist project but there's a big flaw. That flaw is that a large percentage of people really need to be controlled. This could be all in their heads, or due to some mental deficiency, but it's a common problem with humanity. In my project, I asked that anyone that wants to join be capable of and willing to provide themselves with the basics....food, water, shelter. After a couple thousand views of my website and numerous inquiries, I haven't yet found even one person that actually has the skills and drive to pull their own weight. Everyone that's been interested knows very little about actually surviving off the grid and wants to be taught or led. Although this gives me a little hope, overall, it's kind of depressing. I thought that creating a place for people to exist would open doors for a lot of people that are existing outside of the system but want to put in roots, but so far, it looks like I'll be alone in the woods.

If people were smarter, better educated, more driven, and more honest, a community without hierarchy could thrive but I'm really afraid that westernized industrial culture has devolved humanity past the point of no return. As the Dead Kennedys once said, "We've got to rise above the need for cops and laws!" This challenge is still out there and hasn't been met yet.


From my experiences I have to agree. It is far more idealistic than practical to expect a self-ruled community to guide itself to its best interests. This requires a natural drive and selflessness that people just are not commonly equipped with. If I were to use an analogy that comes to mind, its like digging in a coal mine expecting shovel fulls of diamonds. Many people out there who want to give these communities a try at might not be ideal psychologically for this sort of thing. Its a very tough call this subject....
 
James Koss
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I suspect that the social issue raised here, which is as important as the technical issue this thread started with, is something similar to: build a good car, make roads, and have people get drunk and kill themselves and others. In other words, the technology is solid, but it's not socially practical.

If people were smarter, better educated, more driven, and more honest, a community without hierarchy could thrive but...


How we choose to design our community will decide the social aspect. Just as green parks make for more social communities. Accordingly, Michael, have you considered finding people who want to get involved in the designing of the community? So, that newcomers don't feel that they are joining you, as their leader, but that they are joining you, as a co-founder.

It may seem uncomfortable, but a lot of people take interest in starting-up such a community, and after making a good starter situation, will move away happily, and let others join those later stages. This is how our preferences balance out, eventually. It's true for tribes, as well. I remember watching a video about the case of the Earthship housing guy, and how all the people he started with moved along, but eventually a later-joining group stayed, and now are raising their children there, in their small community (south central USA.)

Tribes are familial societies that continuously create and use, without regard to who creates and who uses (because it's all "in the family.") Just as younger members will want to create and move along, older members will enjoy staying and taking care of an existing place.

What I'm saying is that when we make a community, we can't really choose who lives there with us. What we choose is the function of the community, itself, and that draws the appropriate people, at relevant periods of time.
 
Michael Drotor
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The idea about the design of the community attracting the appropriate members is an excellent one and something that I have tried to do with my project. Since it's directed at artists, musicians, and inventors and will be a pretty primitive camp in a remote area, I'd hoped that it would attract creative types that like to and know how to exist off-grid. So far, there has only been interest from people that are currently living in cities, working 9-5 jobs, and dreaming of a better life. It's likely that the people that I'm trying to reach are just difficult to reach so I haven't lost hope. Just pointing out an early trend in applicants.

As far as me being the leader of my project goes, I'm simply standing in at that position until someone else proves that they're up to taking over or the group proves that it can function without the need for a leader. With permaculture systems being so sensitive to input, I think it's really important to have a project manager until the systems are established and the community is familiar with them. I've seen projects with no clear leader and they usually end up looking more like dumps than a communities. Anyone that helps with my project will definitely be involved in the design process if they want to be but in the beginning at least, I'm going to retain veto power.

I've met Mike Reynolds and a few people that have worked with him and any personal differences that may have arisen within that group aside, a big reason that the earthship project is successful is because of his clear vision, tenacity, and leadership. If he just handed out the books, and let people move into the gravel pit and go wild, it's highly likely that there would be no Greater World community today.

Any successful tribe or community does choose who lives with them. Those that don't fit in are commonly forced to conform or they are exiled. This is one of the reasons why tribes worked for so long. The rule was cooperate or get out. When members of a community can't choose their neighbors and have no way to encourage cooperation like in big cities, the communities frequently fall apart or are overtaken by crime and poverty. While a world with no leaders and self directing projects seems really beautiful to me, I really don't think that humanity in general will be ready for this for quite a while.
 
James Koss
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So, on the one hand you're trying to reach independent people, while on the other hand you want to be their leader and manage them with veto power? You do see how those two things don't match. Like, at all. :=D

Any successful tribe or community does choose who lives with them.


I was about to wait for other responses, until I saw this. You must study Anthropology! This is just utterly wrong. People leave tribes for various reasons, but it's almost non-existent (as in documented, for generations) that anyone would be kicked out of a tribe. Being actually kicked out is similar to a death sentence, in tribal society. It just doesn't happen over disagreements about lifestyle. I have seen, documented, gays in tribes being accepted. It's not uncommon to have a shaman as part of the tribe, who lives very differently and slightly apart from his tribe, but still accepted as a member. Through many papers, articles and videos, I have yet to see someone who was simply kicked out.

Only in the age of the city do people have the ability to disconnect from their family and survive comfortably, not to mention with company. Obviously, this would be irrelevant to a permaculture village in its' design, because otherwise, you need cities for such villages to work. That wouldn't be sustainable.

...a big reason that the earthship project is successful is because of his clear vision, tenacity, and leadership.


The Earthship project is surely successful, because of Mike's effort, no doubt. I have seen his documentary. However, when he describes the people who live with him, he doesn't ascribe the results to himself. He doesn't seem to be aware of the factors at work, socially.
 
Merced Greens
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As in nature there is strength in diversity, albeit in cooperative symbiotic relationships. I think this idea of building a community should be no different. In physiology can you find the leader cell in a muscle? Those cells that come together as tissues and later as organs, muscles, and body systems are united through interdependence and function. In forming a community there should most definitely be some form of guiding principles perhaps a charter as with the Rochdale Cooperative (see weblink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochdale_Principles ). Permaculture to me represents the reawakening of the universal indigenous spirit and the cultivation of abundance.

D.
California
 
Michael Drotor
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Assaf Koss wrote:So, on the one hand you're trying to reach independent people, while on the other hand you want to be their leader and manage them with veto power? You do see how those two things don't match. Like, at all. :=D

Any successful tribe or community does choose who lives with them.


I was about to wait for other responses, until I saw this. You must study Anthropology! This is just utterly wrong. People leave tribes for various reasons, but it's almost non-existent (as in documented, for generations) that anyone would be kicked out of a tribe. Being actually kicked out is similar to a death sentence, in tribal society. It just doesn't happen over disagreements about lifestyle. I have seen, documented, gays in tribes being accepted. It's not uncommon to have a shaman as part of the tribe, who lives very differently and slightly apart from his tribe, but still accepted as a member. Through many papers, articles and videos, I have yet to see someone who was simply kicked out.

Only in the age of the city do people have the ability to disconnect from their family and survive comfortably, not to mention with company. Obviously, this would be irrelevant to a permaculture village in its' design, because otherwise, you need cities for such villages to work. That wouldn't be sustainable.

...a big reason that the earthship project is successful is because of his clear vision, tenacity, and leadership.


The Earthship project is surely successful, because of Mike's effort, no doubt. I have seen his documentary. However, when he describes the people who live with him, he doesn't ascribe the results to himself. He doesn't seem to be aware of the factors at work, socially.


It happens frequently so I'm not surprised, but you have misread me. I said that I wanted to retain veto power in the beginning and this veto power would only apply to the project design and membership, not to anyone's individual living habits. This measure of control is just to make sure the permaculture design and construction process goes smoothly and a core group that gets along can be established quickly. It's a fact that most projects happen quicker and easier when there is a clear leader. This has been demonstrated to me throughout my life. Once the systems are flourishing and the community is stable, there should be no need for leadership at all. The permaculture system itself will become the leader.

You're right about it being rare that people are kicked out of tribes but since that possibility is there, people tend to shape up. Since primitive tribes become and stay so relatively uniform, that leads me to believe that the possibility of being exiled is enough to whip people into shape. Because of that, it's extremely rare that there is a disagreement about lifestyle. When starting a new community compromised of people from all kinds of different lifestyles, someone is going to have to set a precedent and a basic structure for the tribe to follow in the future. If everyone was born into the tribe, again, this leadership might not be necessary long term.

Seeing a documentary is one thing, working with someone is something else. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Reynolds is well aware of what he brought to that project. He doesn't need to ascribe the results to himself because it's blatantly obvious that if he didn't stay strong with his vision that the project would likely have dissolved years ago.

To Merced,

I liked your reference to the leader cell in the muscle. I think that we should be modeling everything after nature and that was a great reference. If we dig deep into that reference, we can see that each cell has a leader inside it that is the exact same leader as all of the other cells. It's called DNA. To translate this into a group of people, the DNA is a clear, shared vision. This internal leader keeps the group organized and cooperating. But what can that muscle do without the brain that controls it? Nothing. So in a community, the brain could be the leader that sets the group into motion or action. When a community is new, there needs to be some kind of leader to program that DNA into the community and be the brain to set the community into action, but once the community is established, the DNA is present in the members and the permaculture system itself becomes the motivation, in essence removing the need for an external leader. It all follows the path of nature well.
 
Merced Greens
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I think that the establishment of an initial charter which would begin to define the share vision. Also once formed legislating through democratic means could help promote shared power and ownership of the en devour. Indeed there will be need of a transitional leadership type role but another important role would be that of a facilitator [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facilitator]. Both whose understanding of design is exemplary but also takes into account the ideas and opinions of other members.
 
Michael Drotor
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I looked at the wiki for facilitator and I would equate that definition with that of a good leader so maybe I should start using the correct terminology.
 
Edward Jacobs
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Assaf Koss wrote:
The solution I offer for discussion, is having a design that is agreed upon, by all those who wish to join the community.


I think one major aspect to consider is the initiation of a community project. If there is no community, then how do you wrangle a herd of people into the commitment and discussion stage for discussing the design? On the other hand, if you do have an existing community, then newcomers who want input on the design will be highly disruptive to all that has been accomplished. Another issue is that if a guy has a certain amount of land, and wants to be the "founder" and start a community on HIS land, you will have the difficulty of a guy not wanting to give up control to the hoard that is moving into HIS space and using HIS resources.

The model I envision would be a small group of Founders who hash out a basic plan, then pitch the idea to private *investors and prospective residents simultaneously. The investors would want to know there is significant interest. The prospective residents would need to know this project will be funded and will become a reality. Residents would have to "purchase" their land in some fashion (lifetime lease, control rights over a designated piece of land by way of contract, ownership shares in an LLC or Trust, etc.), and those combined purchase prices should pay for most (if not all) of the real estate for the community. This process of selling all the resident spots will be slow, and might straggle out 2-5 years, so you get investors to front the whole amount needed to launch it properly and buy the land and build the infrastructure. The investor gets paid as each homestead gets sold, the community launches essentially debt free, and everyone focuses on getting their own stuff in order. The hope is that "if you build it, they will come". People want a "sure thing", a functioning project, security to know they aren't going to buy in and have the thing go bankrupt.

[* private investors are NOT "loaning" you money! You are not seeking a bank loan, or getting trapped in the debt slavery system with interest and monthly payments! Investors are buying in, and taking an ownership interest until they are bought out by way of residents buying in. Investors get paid as the money comes in. NO clause for foreclosure if a monthly payment cannot be made, etc.]


On the leadership issue: There is a big difference between a "leader" and a "ruler". Perhaps make sure the Leader is actually an office filled by someone (or a group of 3-5 someones) selected by the residents from among the residents. The holders of this office should be easily replaced. And never convey "power" to this office. Replace anyone who shows any signs of wanting to be a Ruler. The Leadership office should remain an administrative function, merely a point of contact so outsiders have a face and a name to deal with, and residents have a contact person who "knows what's going on" so problems, issues, and discussions can be brought to a central place. Someone to handle coordination of projects and ideas and handle paperwork and project a unified vision and goal.

I think if a person actually "owned" a piece of land in the community, and were fully and completely responsible for building their own house and developing their own homestead, you would automatically attract only the right kind of people. Having private property in this manner leads to an automatic respect for other people's rights and autonomy/independence. Exchanges between people are then voluntary, and a free market based on fair exchange can develop to everyone's benefit. I think this leads to supporting the original posters main point:

The design will be similar to a standard Permaculture design of a property, only it will expand over the entire land of the community, and put emphasis on how the different lots (houses) interact, while remaining independent entities.


If a guy can buy an acre for under $5k, and roll in with an $800 RV he bought off craigslist, you have achieved affordability and an instant functional population. Recycle the old RV's as people build, and sell them to new incoming residents.

Call the residents "Stewards" and show them how their land interacts with their neighbor's land in the grand Permaculture Design for the whole community, and set the interaction rules accordingly..

 
James Koss
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I'm seeing a trend in how people respond to my approach, and I feel for you. It is reasonable to want to minimize risks in such a tasking venture. I am aware that I come from a more researching (less personal) perspective, while some of you are actually doing these things live, and I appreciate your being test-subjects for all of us.

I have visited many small communities and feel strongly about non-local input sources. Be it people or "nature," non-local inputs can be almost a net-gain, when taken into consideration. Putting too many controls over the environment leads to critical loss in non-local inputs. We see evidence to the success of this approach in Permaculture design, when the reduction of immediate control ("leadership") is exchanged with incentives ("order by design.")

Contrarily, it seems to me that many people make the mistake of assuming that control equals success. I suspect that pretty much every person on permies.com chooses to join the discussion, because we are looking for an escape from state and social controls in our own lives. Permaculture aims for locality, while states and societies aim for wide-spread generalization. They negate each other. I suggest, strongly, that telling people what to do (or not to do), results in less productivity and less satisfaction from all participants.

The conclusion that can be derived from this is that our entire social effort should be in the design of our spaces, and not in the regulation of our fellow people. When the design of the space is correct, then the social factor will respond accordingly. If people are "misbehaving," then the conclusion should be that the design is lacking and should be changed.

A nice example that comes to mind is when a construction artist that uses wood and paper volunteered in a church, in Japan. After a great earthquake, many families were left homeless, and were evacuated into the local church. To improve their quality of stay, he made paper partitions between the families. With the added privacy there was less friction and conflict between the evacuees. Photo:
https://architizercdn.s3.amazonaws.com/thumbnails-PRODUCTION/6f/a9/6fa96d2e5619e78c3ff5a736a2e85b99.jpg

Merced Greens, thanks for sharing the Rochdale Principles. I'll check them out, now. Seems interesting.
 
Nick Kitchener
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A non hierarchical "village" may work, I guess...

The friction in this situation I see would be around the varying "ethical" points of view, especially around permacultural practice.

Unless you only accept people who are just like you, then you will have some who want to use heavy equipment to build infrastructure, while others want to raise and eat animals, while others don't want either of that.

The problem then is if you have a homogeneous group of people via your selection process, you limit your options (you have a mono crop of people).

I think that diversity is important, but organisations are usually destroyed from within, and it's these ideological issues that are typically the cause.

It's a big problem, and I doubt anyone has the right answer.
 
Merced Greens
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found this vid on permies.com and had to share this as it is applicable to the thread. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dllnDZ6cndw. Responses sought?
 
Amedean Messan
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The reason the embedded video would not work is because of the "https:" where the fix is to simply remove the "s". Thanks for the video.

 
James Koss
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Merced Greens wrote:found this vid on permies.com and had to share this as it is applicable to the thread. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dllnDZ6cndw. Responses sought?


An hour and a half is quite a bunch. Could you say how it relates to this thread? Maybe even link to a timed position in the video? (Right click on the video for the timed position option.)

I'm not saying that I won't watch it entirely, myself, but I do realize that not everyone feels comfortable with doing so.

EDIT: Just finished watching it. While I do have some commentary about it, I don't feel that any of it is relevant to this thread. Michael Pilarski talks about his experience from a personal viewpoint, but he doesn't actually go into discussion about practicalities. I feel that he generalizes too much, to actually get anything of value from this talk. I'm sure that a lot can be extracted from him in person, though.

On a side note, I'd like to clarify that this thread is about living in a community that pre-designs itself according to Permaculture principles, in order to be both functional (as pre-defined by the designers) and adaptable to those conditions that are beyond our control (including personalities.)
 
Edward Jacobs
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Nick Kitchener wrote:
The friction in this situation I see would be around the varying "ethical" points of view, especially around permacultural practice.

Unless you only accept people who are just like you, then you will have some who want to use heavy equipment to build infrastructure, while others want to raise and eat animals, while others don't want either of that.


Nick, I think you are describing the exact reason why a leader always emerges in a group. As Michael points out, the vast number of people DO NOT want to participate in the decision and building phase - i.e. they want to be led. If you try to have the entire community come together and agree on all design aspects of the overall community, you have the classic "too many chefs in the kitchen" crisis. If a small group works out the overall design, then people who want to join know up front what is going on, and can decide if the design "violates their ethics" to the point of making it a deal breaker for them. I imagine most people would be ok with a lot of variations, as long as they have enough of their own space and the freedom to "do it their way" in their own space.

If the leader doesn't become a ruler, you won't have friction from people resisting the control-freak.

If the people purchase their space, then they can't be kicked out (absent extreme cause). Therefore you would preserve/encourage autonomy, diversity, and freedom of individual thought and beliefs. Everyone has to learn to tolerate differences of opinion, and learn to not be obnoxious and pushy with their own beliefs. You'll have occasional friction between individuals, but everyone gets to grow up and work it out because "the kickout game" is not an option. This will also help prevent a leader from trying to become a ruler.

I think once the community is established, the "leadership" should be divested of any power to MAKE rules or design changes.

Assaf Koss wrote: I suspect that pretty much every person on permies.com chooses to join the discussion, because we are looking for an escape from state and social controls in our own lives. Permaculture aims for locality, while states and societies aim for wide-spread generalization. They negate each other. I suggest, strongly, that telling people what to do (or not to do), results in less productivity and less satisfaction from all participants.

The conclusion that can be derived from this is that our entire social effort should be in the design of our spaces, and not in the regulation of our fellow people.


I'm very much in agreement with your approach, Assaf. I suspect I'm not communicating very well, though.

 
Andrew Scott
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Assaf Koss wrote:
Any successful tribe or community does choose who lives with them.

I was about to wait for other responses, until I saw this. You must study Anthropology! This is just utterly wrong. People leave tribes for various reasons, but it's almost non-existent (as in documented, for generations) that anyone would be kicked out of a tribe. Being actually kicked out is similar to a death sentence, in tribal society.


First of all, I'm not saying you are wrong, but the anthropology is not quite so simple. The following numbers are from a 2006 paper, Social networks and information: Non-“utilitarian” mobility among hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherers often coalesce in bands of 25-30 individuals. These bands are quite self-organizing and regularly undergo changes in "membership". These smaller nodes tend to be nested in (or around) larger bands of 475-570 individuals. The regular range of each individual remaining within a particular small band is ~28km, with a total regular range of ~128km when fissioning between small bands in the larger group. This can easily expand outward another level in the context of regional bands, up to an individual's capable range of 925km. While this paper is heavy on mathification and models, the 2010 work by Marlowe tells a similar story among the Hadza.

While there is some communication between bands at all levels, the unit of banishment is functionally limited to smallest group size. It is quite easy for an individual to be forced out of the small group and be perfectly fine. Of course, there are counter-examples in which bands are more isolated, and "tribal peoples" is a broad classification, but we can't really say that banishment = death is the norm.

I can't get the visualization to show inline, so I have attached it.
hg-ranging.jpg
[Thumbnail for hg-ranging.jpg]
 
Andrew Scott
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John Elliott wrote:I think you have come up with a solution that is as old as humanity. Maybe even as old as Homo erectus.
Since Homo erectus was known to have used fire to cook food, there was probably delegation of tasks; some were good at hunting, others were better at cooking. And with this division of labor come the disagreements that you are looking to minimize.


My reading of the anthropology is that division of labor comes much later. Indeed, division of labor does seed social problems. It likely leads to domestication of animals, land and women (and everyone else), and eventually "property rights" and the state, but this is generally attributed to agriculture and pastoralism, not fire.
 
Andrew Scott
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Assaf Koss wrote:
Contrarily, it seems to me that many people make the mistake of assuming that control equals success. ...we are looking for an escape from state and social controls in our own lives. Permaculture aims for locality, while states and societies aim for wide-spread generalization. They negate each other. I suggest, strongly, that telling people what to do (or not to do), results in less productivity and less satisfaction from all participants.

The conclusion that can be derived from this is that our entire social effort should be in the design of our spaces, and not in the regulation of our fellow people. When the design of the space is correct, then the social factor will respond accordingly. If people are "misbehaving," then the conclusion should be that the design is lacking and should be changed.


This is well put, and I agree. Do you think that the content of the design is more or less important than the buy-in from all participants? Your original post seemed to imply the latter is more important.
 
James Koss
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Edward Jacobs wrote:
If the leader doesn't become a ruler, you won't have friction from people resisting the control-freak.


I feel we have a strong need to properly define both Leader and Ruler. As far as I can see, there isn't a leader who is not, when push comes to shove, a ruler - or, otherwise, not a leader at all. In other words, if the leader doesn't have a veto (ruling power) in the group, then they aren't a leader. If they do, then they rule the group. That's why I don't think there's any leeway in this: We either rule people or we don't.


Andrew Scott wrote:
...the anthropology is not quite so simple.


I completely agree with the information you reference. I disagree with your conclusion, though. From the learning I've had about tribal people, the dominant reason for most people leaving their tribe is marriage. It seems to be the common rule among tribal people that marriage is best done inter-tribal. A second, much less common reason, is when a person chooses to leave their tribe, or a tribe splits completely. Naturally, this is not a violent solution, but rather a peaceful one. It's a hard choice to make, but it isn't a punishment.

On the other hand, if a person is actually kicked out, only for a dreadful offense, then the cause of their being kicked out will be revealed to all near-by tribes, who will, in turn, not want to accept the offender, either. So, any person or group who choose to use force, will not be able to hide their misdeed from the other nearing tribes. Eventually, sanctions will apply, which naturally turn into tribal wars.

Andrew Scott wrote:
Do you think that the content of the design is more or less important than the buy-in from all participants?


I wonder if you've put emphasis on either the material meaning or the emotional meaning of "buy-in."

This is a misunderstanding. To "buy-in" you must have a "seller." This is not the case in this thread. The first person or people to create the design, for the village, should not be willing to change anything 'big' in their design, for the sake of making a "sell." The design should, in the first place, be both reflective of what the creators wish, and attractive to the people they wish to draw into their village. The design reflects the creators' lifestyle, which should not be expected to majorly change, for the sake of company.

For example, as a negation, if I were to start a village that is designed to mostly grow rice - then I should not be expecting to attract wheat lovers. So, If I do actually love wheat and bread, and wish to have similar people in my village (major crop does mean a lot.... I suffered from eating only rice in Asia haha), then my design should focus on wheat and bread making. Naturally, those who sustain themselves mostly from rice, and feel ill when regularly eating bread, will not want to live with me.

Andrew Scott wrote:
Indeed, division of labor does seed social problems.


I both agree and hate having division of labor. Having others utterly dependent on me and being stuck with one profession just ain't fun.
 
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I present to you a visual that experimentally explains how I view this thread:



I suspect that a village design that addresses the above, will be relatively successful, at any given time.
 
leila hamaya
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Assaf Koss wrote:So, on the one hand you're trying to reach independent people, while on the other hand you want to be their leader and manage them with veto power? You do see how those two things don't match. Like, at all. :=D

Any successful tribe or community does choose who lives with them.


I was about to wait for other responses, until I saw this. You must study Anthropology! This is just utterly wrong. People leave tribes for various reasons, but it's almost non-existent (as in documented, for generations) that anyone would be kicked out of a tribe. Being actually kicked out is similar to a death sentence, in tribal society. It just doesn't happen over disagreements about lifestyle. I have seen, documented, gays in tribes being accepted. It's not uncommon to have a shaman as part of the tribe, who lives very differently and slightly apart from his tribe, but still accepted as a member. Through many papers, articles and videos, I have yet to see someone who was simply kicked out.

Only in the age of the city do people have the ability to disconnect from their family and survive comfortably, not to mention with company. Obviously, this would be irrelevant to a permaculture village in its' design, because otherwise, you need cities for such villages to work. That wouldn't be sustainable.


i love it when someone has already said what i was just about to write, and probably said it better !
well since i am here typing, perhaps i will add my two cents here anyway.

the memes of exile, exclusion, elitism, and all the choice and control this assumes are relatively new memes.... which came with the take over of dominator cultures, and colonialism. it's not that the tribes of old CHOSE not to have these memes, they were just completely foreign and not even thought of....sort of unthinkable to exile and exclude others. i think it did, extremely rarely, happen, but this was only in very extreme circumstances when a member would do something so horrible that exile seemed the only solution.

sorry if it offends anyone here, that is not my intent, but i am truly over the weird idea that one should have the right to be able to choose one's neighbors, and the elitism that is apparent in many community projects.

i am all for the creation of community projects that recognize self sovereignty and independance of its members, and without central dominating leaders/owners. imo this is what should be everywhere, with different places having different flavors, and people being drawn together based on natural affinity and attraction, NOT SAMENESS, with *spirit* working out some of the details to draw people together.

instead of people being drawn together out of desperation, or for monetary reasons, in unhealthy co dependancies, or whatever else...i think people need BOTH community and autonomy...a good balance of these things. because everything is so weird with how nearly impossible it is to buy land, afford to live, etc and etc, this makes this much more difficult to have that kind of community, and tends to make the heirarchy stuff worse, yet seeming somehow better than the alternatives of 9-5 and rentals and whatever else. if there were the conditions to make it so, if land were reasonably priced or more fairly distributed, i think we would- naturally without planning -move into that kind of community where autonomy and community were more balanced, and people were drawn to live together in real community, based on natural affinity and the mysterious movements of the spirit.

i also reject the persistant idea that people need to be controlled, cannot handle themselves without being told what to do, whatever other implication which indicate a lack of trust. i reject the idea that hierarchies are normal and healthy, inevitable or whatever other assumptions those of us socialized in these master/slave dynamics seem to think.

i am not trying to suggest that this would be perfect, or peaceful all the time, or whatever else...especially considering the way we are socialized and taught at this moment of the whirl...but all the control and landlording people doesnt make it that way either.

of course, that's IF, IF, IF, and its not this way currently. we have to live here as is, so....

========================================================================================

*edit* to add random and totally off topic factoid that i find extremely interesting: you mention that gay people were accepted by tribes and also mention shamans- its an odd fact that many gay people were shamans, it was considered one of the early indications that a person was to become the shaman of a tribe. both same sex attraction, androgyny, and an early development of extreme sexuality, sensuality, extreme sexual play in children- these were some of the signs of a shaman to be, who was also considered to be a third sex- they werent held to the same male or female roles as the other tribes people.
sorry for the off topicness, but i find this extremely fascinating....
 
James Koss
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leila hamaya wrote:i love it when someone has already said what i was just about to write, and probably said it better !


Thanks! I relate to your perspective, too, not surprisingly.

I gave this idea more thought and decided to write, in my blog, about an example of designing for a vegan village! How exciting! Obviously, this is a limited notion, but I feel that my three paragraphs still share some really good ideas about approaching village design:
http://www.assafkoss.com/2013/10/how-to-design-vegan-village.html#veganvillage

I hope it adds to the discussion.
 
Andrew Scott
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Assaf Koss wrote:
I completely agree with the information you reference. I disagree with your conclusion, though. From the learning I've had about tribal people, the dominant reason for most people leaving their tribe is marriage. It seems to be the common rule among tribal people that marriage is best done inter-tribal. A second, much less common reason, is when a person chooses to leave their tribe, or a tribe splits completely. Naturally, this is not a violent solution, but rather a peaceful one. It's a hard choice to make, but it isn't a punishment.

On the other hand, if a person is actually kicked out, only for a dreadful offense, then the cause of their being kicked out will be revealed to all near-by tribes, who will, in turn, not want to accept the offender, either. So, any person or group who choose to use force, will not be able to hide their misdeed from the other nearing tribes. Eventually, sanctions will apply, which naturally turn into tribal wars.


I didn't draw any conclusions above. My hope was simply to introduce the notion of a "tribe" as a fluid group rather than a reified entity with a fixed membership. I don't care about being wrong or right about the anthropology, and am only offering additional perspectives which may be helpful to integrate into your thinking.

Among hunter-gatherers, which tend to be highly egalitarian, tribe membership is highly fluid. Among farmers, which tend to be highly hierarchical, tribe membership is more fixed. To my mind this notion of fluidity is a key point of distinction if we are attempting to model non-hierarchical systems based on anthropology.

The notion of tribal people leaving a group for marriage is true to a point, but the way you've framed it may be confusing if we impose our concept of "marriage" on the discussion. Among the Hadza, for instance, a "marriage" begins when a couple moves into the same sleeping quarters (which is mobile, and itself moves about every 8 weeks). The marriage is just as easily dissolved by either partner moving out. Again, we see the concept of fluidity highly functioning among non-hierarchical (egalitarian) peoples. Others have spoken about this opting-in and opting-out principle as frontier or something like a tea kettle. When there is a pressure relief valve, problems between individuals and groups tend to 1) resolve themselves, and 2) place a check on upstarts within a group attempting to amass political power.

Perhaps it would be helpful to focus the discussion around Woodburn's concepts of delayed-return and immediate-return societies, or alternatively sedentary vs. non-sedentary "tribal" peoples. Your claim about disagreements naturally turning into wars relates to these differences (as well as the definition of "war"), and is less true when dealing with certain types of foraging practices than with others.

Assaf Koss wrote:
I wonder if you've put emphasis on either the material meaning or the emotional meaning of "buy-in."

This is a misunderstanding. To "buy-in" you must have a "seller." This is not the case in this thread. The first person or people to create the design, for the village, should not be willing to change anything 'big' in their design, for the sake of making a "sell." The design should, in the first place, be both reflective of what the creators wish, and attractive to the people they wish to draw into their village. The design reflects the creators' lifestyle, which should not be expected to majorly change, for the sake of company.

For example, as a negation, if I were to start a village that is designed to mostly grow rice - then I should not be expecting to attract wheat lovers. So, If I do actually love wheat and bread, and wish to have similar people in my village (major crop does mean a lot.... I suffered from eating only rice in Asia haha), then my design should focus on wheat and bread making. Naturally, those who sustain themselves mostly from rice, and feel ill when regularly eating bread, will not want to live with me.


Yes, I chose my language poorly, and I can see how that introduced a significant degree of confusion. I did not mean "buy-in" in the sense of exchange of capital/currency, but in the colloquial sense of emotional/intellectual commitment to a goal or idea.

Assaf Koss wrote:
I both agree and hate having division of labor. Having others utterly dependent on me and being stuck with one profession just ain't fun.


There also seems to be a psychological burden associated with relying on specialists for our survival and well-being. Even though they do not provide all of their own subsistence on a daily basis, hunter-gatherers individually have the skills that make them capable of subsisting without a complex economic system. Knowing this, even if filed to the back of one's mind, seems to confer a boost of happiness.
 
Andrew Scott
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Assaf Koss wrote:I present to you a visual that experimentally explains how I view this thread:



I suspect that a village design that addresses the above, will be relatively successful, at any given time.


Can you explain that image a little? It's a bit nebulous to me. Perhaps it would be easier to understand if it was mapped to permaculture zones, but maybe not. Have you attempted to filter your ideas through Mollison's ideas in Chapter 14 of the Designer's Manual?
 
James Koss
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Andrew Scott wrote:Others have spoken about this opting-in and opting-out principle as frontier or something like a tea kettle. When there is a pressure relief valve, problems between individuals and groups tend to 1) resolve themselves, and 2) place a check on upstarts within a group attempting to amass political power.


I'm glad that we mostly agree. Specifically, this social pressure issue is probably the most important. It's good that you mention it, so specifically. I might not have been explicit enough, for this idea to be as evident as it should be.

Andrew Scott wrote:Can you explain that image a little?


Let's see, chapter 14... THE STRATEGIES OF AN ALTERNATIVE GLOBAL NATION. *Takes a minute to recollect*

I'm going to assume that I have been strongly influenced by Bill's ideas, with that chapter included. I do remember reading it and finding some of the ideas very relevant. Even brilliant, although not completely renovating.

The major point of my illustration, if you take anything from it at all, is that a village can be designed for rather specific purposes and needs, and that it is a very worthwhile pursuit to do so, in our age. A lot of the Permaculture ideas, technically and socially, are experimental to us. That's why a village that is designed with experimentation in mind, both for technicalities and for people, will be more able to cope with our ever changing modern trends.

In other words, for Paul and others to actually start a "village", it's a good idea to have a plan that answers the big issues, not only of water, food and shelter, but of how people interact in such new villages. I'm sure we could actually make a short list of the bigger issues people have with each other in such villages, today. Then, we could answer those issues with items in the design.

For example, people fight over privacy. Adding a specifically public building, tavern style, allows people like Paul to physically demonstrate, when they are available to others; only when he is in the tavern. Otherwise, it should be known that he wants his privacy and not to be bothered for nothing less than an emergency.
 
Andrew Scott
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Assaf Koss wrote:For example, people fight over privacy. Adding a specifically public building, tavern style, allows people like Paul to physically demonstrate, when they are available to others; only when he is in the tavern. Otherwise, it should be known that he wants his privacy and not to be bothered for nothing less than an emergency.


To what extent do you think privacy is a concern for humans rather than a concern for capitalism (monism, etc.)? Again, using commonalities among non-sedentary hunter-gatherers as a way to filter out our cultural biases, we see that privacy is largely limited to sex itself. I would suggest that the notion of privacy is one of the cops in our heads rather than something that tracks to a fundamental component of human nature. Drawing from ethology, privacy might be thought of as an emergent behavior that manifests among caged animals, but not the animals in their wild ecologies.

Translating that into practical terms, it seems more in tune with permaculture to have more shared spaces. In particular, it seems like a waste of resources for each individual "home" to have a separate kitchen, workshop, et cetera. Mollison, Peter Bane, and others envision villages that look pretty much like medieval farming villages, with atomized households replicating and isolating, rather than stacking functions like cooking, eating, and working--which are fundamentally social activities.

My current thinking is that sleeping quarters should be separate and private, but most other functions warrant deeper critiques and redesigns than the village model offers. If we're going to design non-hierarchical permaculture systems, it seems problematic to start with a hierarchical agricultural template.
 
wayne stephen
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The plan you are promoting of having the design of the general grounds be made in committee and then the individual plots be up to the individuals seems like a form of gated community or condominium set-up .Except with the members involved in the planning of the commons and then given more leeway in their own endeavours. Are the members going to privately own their plots and collectively own the common grounds? Or is the village itself collectively owned ? After the initial design is in place and a system fails or does not perform up to par , who will redesign or modify the original plan ? Are you going to have by-laws as in a neighborhood association or condo association ? Who will enforce those by-laws ? Can a married couple have joint ownership ? What happens in divorce ? Rights of inheritance ? How would you arrange the fee payment system for the upkeep of the common grounds ? The Municipal property Taxes ? Don't forget about Caesar . If the community owns collectively or privately the local property taxes will rise according to the value of the infrastructure - homes - built . So , if collectively owned but each with design rights to their homes - does neighbor #1 with a $5000 Oehler home owe the same portion as neighbor #2 with $50,000 passive solar adobe chalet ? Who will delegate and collect the property taxes for the common grounds ? What if someone wants out after a few years , can they sell to just anyone ? Private ownership includes the right of transference . If the ownership is collective - who decides the next tenants ?
 
wayne stephen
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Please take this with a grain of salt but this thread is exactly what the minutes to the design committees meetings will look like in transcript . You might need to supply the Secretary with a brandy or two . Wayne Stephens Rules of Order : The Secretary gets brandy !
 
James Koss
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Andrew Scott wrote:My current thinking is that sleeping quarters should be...


Well, personally I feel that privacy is a basic human need, and not something we're trained to believe we need. I know we need companionship, as well, but that doesn't mean we don't need our bits of time (or spans of time) alone. I know I'd like my privacy, regardless of why I want it. I also know that sharing a kitchen is not for everyone, so it doesn't really matter how "logical" it is, to do so. It's a matter of personal choice.

And that's the point. We all want to try and live differently. I don't propose one specific design for everyone. I propose a way of designing, which draws from Permaculture, that lets individuals and individual groups design the village of their wishes. Designing in a way that doesn't take common human conflicts into account, is bound to be a miserable experience.

wayne stephen wrote:Don't forget about Caesar.


I love your array of practical questions. I have a feeling you've dealt with this sort of thing, quite a lot.

It's obvious that it is impossible to design for every problem or disagreement. My "Vegan Village" example, linked above, shows exactly that. We can try to design for our ideal, but we can't expect our ideal to simply come true. The idea here is to ask those tough questions, similar to your own list, and then see what we can answer with the design, and to what extend it actually answers the issue.

For example, the whole point of the Private Experimental (private property) section, in this design, is that people are different. Especially, in a new modern village that may draw people globally. On one hand, we don't want a fellow villager to do things we consider "bad" or "wrong", but on the other hand, we don't want to take responsibility for their screw-ups. If someone makes a big mistake in taking care of their own house, then first and foremost it is their own problem, and not ours. If the house is "common property", then the mistake of one person is the trouble of everyone, and that's not smart. This encourages lynching!

On a more positive note, I do think it is possible to strongly influence the house designs in a village, with the village design, in advanced. Just consider a village that is designed for cheap Oehler houses compared to one that is designed for expensive buildings. I'm sure we can find several very fundamental differences. In my mind, a person who's going to spend so much on their own castle, is not going to be happy, living in a village that is designed frugally. Just think about it.

Anyway, the only way a village can function, after it is populated, is by social trickery. Magic and the sort. That's how people behave. The pre-designed village can help tackle those conflicts, but it sure ain't going to "force" people to do or not do anything. It's only going to encourage or discourage certain behaviors, that's all. That's as much as we can expect out of people.

"I wonder how it is that people's philosophies have come to spin faster than the changing seasons." - Masanobu Fukuoka


Are my responses not encouraging?

I really want to point out that my illustration should be used as a reference for anyone who is actually designing a village. I'm not reinventing the Permaculture method of design, here. I only want to create a smart reference that helps designers check against the common issues new villages encounter. And I want your help in creating this reference!

"Have we designed a public place for gathering?
Have we designed our common lands to handle the nonsense people are going to do there, such as campfires?
Have we designed a parking area for concentrated visitation days?
Do we want a shared library?
Is the village designed to protect the inhabitants' privacy from unexpected guests?
Is the village designed to be safe for children?
Do we prefer a village that is designed to not allow any big vehicles inside?"

Those sort of questions that a reference can help put in perspective in an organized fashion.
 
wayne stephen
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Assaf - I can appreciate the concept that design will help guide the overall actions within the community . Can you explain how this village will be owned ? You said it will not be communal , so I assume some aspects of it are privately held . If lots and homes are privately held , how are the commons , taverns , library , temple , orchard , lake , etc. held ? Any way you do it someone will have to purchase and hold the land in deed . If you do not use the instruments of ownership already present in society such as those used in condominiums or planned gated communities what will you replace them with ? I am trying to see how this plan , once designed , runs without heirarchy .
 
James Koss
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wayne stephen wrote:I am trying to see how this plan , once designed , runs without heirarchy .


This plan starts without hierarchy, and encourages less hierarchy during the running, but it does not guarantee that the village remain completely anarchistic.

I am not suggesting or discussing, in this thread, any method, other than the existing method of law, for handling disputes under contract, or otherwise.

The creation process, however, which I do want to discuss here, could look like so. The community is formed by having consensus over the design and costs of the village. During the creation process, and before the purchase and construction part, there is no liability. In this way, we guarantee the best start for all members, after the creation and purchase of land, or membership. The design becomes an actual contract, similar to a verbal contract, only with actual illustrations, interpreted by the Permaculture method.

In other words, I suggest using the Permaculture design as a binding contract - with options for changes.

This brought me back into my first post in this thread, which really is the important meaning of this discussion. However, I do feel that the reference illustration of four-tier categorization (Wild, Stable, Private Experimental, [Common] Experimental) could help a lot, in this process, just to understand the personal meaning each design part has, on each member of the community. The original Permaculture design process assumes equality (non-hierarchy), which is not what we have in the strict case of a village.

I hope I responded to your question in a relevant way. I'm aware that this idea is still not material, and may feel ambiguous, at the moment. That's exactly why I'm enjoying this discussion.
 
James Koss
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^ By the way, notice that in this way, the more strict we make the village design, the harder it will be to make changes, later on. So, a more open and experimental community, would aim for a very flexible design, and maybe even several optional designs to choose from, as entire systems.
 
Andrew Scott
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Assaf Koss wrote:Well, personally I feel that privacy is a basic human need, and not something we're trained to believe we need. I know we need companionship, as well, but that doesn't mean we don't need our bits of time (or spans of time) alone. I know I'd like my privacy, regardless of why I want it. I also know that sharing a kitchen is not for everyone, so it doesn't really matter how "logical" it is, to do so. It's a matter of personal choice.

And that's the point. We all want to try and live differently. I don't propose one specific design for everyone. I propose a way of designing, which draws from Permaculture, that lets individuals and individual groups design the village of their wishes. Designing in a way that doesn't take common human conflicts into account, is bound to be a miserable experience.


I think this highlights a problem with many attempts at creating non-hierarchical communities. Individuals bring their assumptions from lifelong indoctrination in a hierarchical dominator culture, and combine them with a desire to live in a non-hierarchical egalitarian way, but reject the depth to which hierarchy is embedded in the cultural specifics, and the extent to which the culturally affected wants perpetuate the culture's hierarchical means. The very idea that wants are elevated above functional examples is part of the mythology of control culture. What evidence is required to challenge whether our personal wants are real or wants manufactured by spectacular culture? It would seem that data pulled from those outside our culture is the only check. Yet, when we have good data from the anthro, it's subverted to our wants, which may very well be the system's wants rather than our true wants. Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness is instructive as to the cognitive biases that alienate our wants (means) from the desired result.

Failing to take human conflict into account is bound to lead to miserable experiences, agreed. It's likely that failing to learn from the deep cultural ways indigenous peoples (and, as a backup, anthropology) rely on when trying to model the benefits of their lifeways is also a path to miserable experiences. the answer seems much more complicated than permaculture and consensus.

Two (open acces / gift / free) sources I would invite those wishing to check their cultural biases in the creating non-hierarchical communities:
1) Play as a Foundation of Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence by Peter Gray, Ph.D.
2) The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein
 
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