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Building a Community  RSS feed

Petr Jelínek
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_____Hey, people.
_____What I want to do is to share my vision with you, to see if there are any people interested. What I want to do is to make my dreams come true... For that, however, I need... Maybe it is exactly You, who I need. And maybe I am who you need for your dreams to happen. Because nothing is really one-sided...
_____So... Let's begin. And let's do it with defining what I call my vision. Or maybe not... Suddenly I have a problem here... You see, I don't want you to think that I expect what I describe as my vision to immediately emerge into existence, no, it will probably be quite a journey, it will take some years and it will possibly start in a fashion similar to many such projects, but when this seed is finished sprouting and ready to bloom... That's where my vision is. So, now that we are on the same page... Let me explain.
_____First off, what I want to do... What I want to participate in, is building a community. A working community that will grow to house maybe a few dozen people in one village, where people are mutually beneficial to each other. Where consensus, compassion and trust are the law and where no one's left behind. I want this community to be healthy, wholesome and as self-sufficient as humanly possible on all levels. On social level, on agricultural level, on crafting level, on the level of building and construction, on the level of electricity and technology used. I want as much of this technology to be self-maintained and to be possible to be replicated by the community. And rule of the thumb says, if it doesn't contain semiconductors, you can do it. One way or the other.
_____My vision is community behaving and living as a COMMUNITY. No separated families, who live on different hills or across the valley from each other, that all grow their own food, supply their own water and electricity if they have means to get them, no relying on the "mainstream civilization" for many important things, like clothes, building materials, pottery and dishes, etcetera... These things I want to abolish one by one. As many of them as possible in circumstances that will come.
_____In community I see, everyone does what they do best, when it is needed. The guys and girls who know their way around farming? Let them do it, maybe help them if you want or if they need a hand. If they focus on their job, they will produce the food in bigger quantity AND quality, then if each member of the community had to do it for themselves and they will do the job they enjoy. And of course, they can switch their position with someone else whenever needed, it's all about communication and nothing's set in stone. The guys and girls who are natural with machines and metal and overall "do-it-yourself" pros, let hem handle repairs and crafting of the tools, machine maintenance, etcetera. They will fix your farming tools whenever needed, because it is you, who is bringing them fresh produce every day... Or maybe it is you, who is fixing their shoes on demand, tailoring their clothes, or weaving the cloths from which those are made. Or maybe you are the one who is always there to help, or the one with broad and useful knowledge. Maybe it is your wisdom, intelligence, humor or other social qualities, that you contribute with. In such a community, everyone can focus on what they like to do and what they do best, which is the good thing about modern society, while they still benefit from natural lifestyle. Human is a pack animal, a tribal one... And this is a tribal life.
_____However, this doesn't mean, that such a community needs only specialists, not at all. It needs a big group of "general" people, who are... Well, the typical off-grid people. They are prepared to do whatever is needed, they want to work with nature and help, although they have no area of expertise, like a professional blacksmith, tailor or builder would have for example. But when in such community like this, these people aren't required to do EVERYTHING for themselves, they just do what they feel like, they do it with passion and it is enough, because they are not alone.
_____Then there is a smaller group of specialists that such community requires. Farmers with experience or (self)education on the subject. There is no room to experiment. What would happen, if most of the first harvest was lost due to the lack of experience? It would put a huge nail in the coffin of the community, many people would possibly leave. A bad things, that. (On the topic of farming... It might be a good idea to make and use ORMUS for farming. I have heard positive feedback from many independent people all over the internet, so I intend to buy some and try it. For those, who don't know what I am talking about... Here are some links: )
_____Next are various types of craftsmen. I am not saying all of these must be represented by individual persons, what I mean is that these skills must be present in some people. The more the better, of course, but that improves over time as people learn from each other and as "general" people help the "specialists". So, some examples of skills that are good to have: Woodworking, carpentering, carving and foresting / metalworking, blacksmithing and machining / weaving, tailoring and shoemaking / pottery and glassblowing / basket-making / paper-making / chemistry, herbalism, natural pigments knowledge / masonry and building / electrician would be necessary too and the list goes on...
_____Now, there is group of specialists, that is right between "technical" and "social" skills. For one, medics and healers of all sorts belong here... And I have just touched a very important topic so let me elaborate further. It's a fact that I am all for alternative medicine from natural remedies and fasting to healing with sound or energy. "Let thy food be thy medicine." Is what I believe the most. However, if community is to be really self-sufficient... If community is to be self-sufficient, It needs a standard medical knowledge too. Because one thing our doctors are good at fixing are injuries and wounds. If anyone is to break a limb, cut themselves deeply or stab/impale themselves on something, I want them to receive the best help. Well, one doesn't need a doctor for this, just someone with appropriate medical knowledge and some basic equipment, that can mostly be made and sterilized by community, like bandages, braces, ...
_____What, however, belongs to this group too, is variety of knowledge in fields like... Geology (searching for and identifying the right mineral resources), biology, zoology and insectology, botany, electrical engineering, metallurgy... Whatever. These aren't a "must-have" at all, of course, but many kinds of academical knowledge might be put to a good use and people in our society study these things, so there's a possibility, that community might benefit from such knowledge.
_____Now for the social skills. And that's a group where I belong for the most part. I am good at thinking things through, offering useful perspectives and knowledge, designing things, organizing people and things and just... Making things work with whatever is available. Well, I just can't find the right words now... However, me coming up with this project and writing this thread makes it quite clear what I mean. My place is being at the heart of community, I am to be it's soul. Being the spiritual person I am, I can offer help and counseling with issues of life and I can do the mediating when conflict arises. And then there are my artistic tendencies. Now, I do want to engage in physical work, help with building, farming, whatever... But it's not my "specialization", it's not what I do best.
_____By describing myself for a bit here, I summarized what belongs to the social skills pretty well. These people are needed as much as skilled workers. They work as a glue of the community, as it's lifeblood, as source of entertainment and spiritual life. I know that "one-hundred-percent-practically-oriented" people might laugh at this, but a community is something entirely different than living on your own, bartering with your neighbours when you feel the need. Entirely. The mechanical, physical or "practical" things become much more easier, but the social integrity of such community might be a new issue, I am not blind to this. I do not expect a few dozen people to just meet up and click together like perfect pieces of some lost puzzle. It takes time to adjust to each other and our social interactions are the way by which we personally develop. Issues arise and need to be dealt with and hostility or ignorance aren't the right ways to do it. And of course, communities need people who can come up with interesting entertainment and engaging or motivating things to do. A community is not just a "I-do-this-you-do-that-the-end" type of mechanical machine, no, it's an organism and humans are cells. And our biggest community on Earth, even though unconscious in this day and age, is humankind. It's a living entity of it's own and right now, it is full of cancerous tumours. So, what I want to do, is to start building a healthy tissue. For that I need other cells.
_____These are just bare bones of my vision (and it's up to you and me to build it's flesh), so I want to keep it simple, but there are still some things to cover. One of them is technology. That means, what would the community have an access to and how certain things would be done. And in certain way, it's something like a baseline or a starting point for development and research. Continual use, maintenance, repairs and remaking of certain technology, items and equipment will inevitably lead to progress. Progress in a way the technology should have taken, a way in balance and synergy with nature.
_____The first big point of tech. is energy generation. Big... More of a massive point. It is the difference between advanced civilization and more or less primitive one, it is what makes everything easier, it is what allows us not to use flames fueled by wood or coal as an energy source. Contrary to what you might expect, solar-panels and wind-turbines are low on my list. And standard solar-panels are THE last thing I want to use. Not only are they are unreliable and weak as an energy source, they are NOT sustainable. Not because sun will go somewhere in close future, but because panels will. They are completely based on high-tech semiconductors and so is the advanced regulation they need, I guess. That means, community that I am talking about cannot ever maintain them. There's no way to build them. Being dependent on standard solar-panels for energy is just the same as being dependent on grid-energy, in the end. If big corporations won't build them for you, you have no energy. Now, wind-turbines are a bit better, they can be maintained in easier way, they are stronger, but still, plenty of issues there. (location dependent, unreliable, may be damaged, ...) From traditional perspective... Water-turbines are the best you can get. Although to make solar energy justice, it can be put to a good use. Stirling motor with strong focusing lens is interesting for example. And I have heard about thermal-solar panels too, that use solar energy to run a turbine that makes electricity, now that's much better concept, than semiconductor solar panels.
_____But that's not what I am talking about. Before delving deeper into these things, I will research (and encourage you to do so, too) the sh*t out of free energy. If any of those things works, I want to use it. Green energy in high quantity on demand. One can always settle for subpar solution later and this possibility is too good to just pass. This is one of the reasons I want to get some people and research and plan together first, before starting anything major. I want to get the best of it and I won't settle for half-assed solutions before doing thorough research and testing. (A hydrogen might be an possible way of powering the stuff. All I know is, that high-frequency pulses are said by some to people to be extremely effective at breaking down the water. I don't know how safe it is (pulsating electricity around hydrogen, ughhh...), I don't know many things about it, but it might just be possible, because any material has a resonating frequency, on which it is easily manipulated or behaves in special way. Hydrogen generation and converting regular combustion engines to run on hydrogen are two thing worth looking into, in my opinion.)
_____The next thing I am currently looking into is building. And I possibly have a cheap and effective way to do it. I am talking about geopolymers here, about making "artificial stone" / concrete from natural materials in an easy way (that is, if given land offers the right resources). Here are some links on this topic, continue the research from there if you feel like it:

(the most important ones to check out are third, fourth, fifth link)

_____Anyway that's just one way of doing it that I like and might be helpful in certain cases. Cob structures, as a guy I am already in contact with have suggested, are quite nice and ease to make and work with too.
_____So, now for the technology in more general terms. It is quite simple. Such a community would need means, equipment and knowledge to maintain all it's technology to be self-sufficient. So, only simple and replicable technology can be relied on. Of course, obtaining the raw or processed metals would be only possible through purchase or salvaging (I don't think deep mining is part of the plan ), but I would like to see independence from any further industrial processing as the community grows. One good link about machines:    even though I had little time to get really deep into this site, I have seen some interesting stuff there. Well-worth checking out.)
_____But there is more... It's not "just" tech. it's "how will we do things?". What will be used for weaving cloths? Will flax, hemp or cotton-plants be grown? How will food be stored? What about water? Hygiene and cleaning? (Here I suggest soap nuts, a great thing they are. But of course, plant based soaps can be made too) A village layout and construction plan? Producing surplus to trade it for money or hard to get resources? What about making high-quality hand made items for export? There is demand for those as much as there is a demand for organic food. Transportation? Knowledge preservation and archiving? Education?
_____One last thing I want and need to go into before ending this... Philosophy. The way of life. The road I travel... I encourage everyone to live the way they want, to be as much themselves as they can. However, communities need to be tied together by certain ideas, beliefs and perspectives. I encourage people very much different from me, to make their own communities, while those similar to come closer. So... I am raw vegan. And while I don't condemn meat eating, I would like for killing to stay outside this community. Animals are our equals in my eyes and I don't want to see them suffer. I hold no hate or grudge, condemn no one... Hate breeds hate, suffering breeds suffering. Killer suffers as much as victim does. I am not part of any religion and I don't believe in any objective morality, at the same time however, I am a spiritual person, as I have already stated. God is in everyone, and everyone and everything is one of the gods faces. That much I will say for my perspective. I have no problem with religions, though, if they are kept on personal level. Organized religion on the other hand is the root of (not only) last two thousand years of darkness and suffering and most todays prejudices and discriminations. I expect money to be used only on the outer side of the community, when purchasing what cannot be made, gathered or harvested. I want inside to be a place for abundance, where there is enough for everyone in each moment. And I too expect everyone to behave in a peaceful fashion. No voting and forcing the minority to conform, no division into sides, no bosses and subordinates. Consensus, trust and openness above all. And I feel to need to stress the TRUST part. That means... When there is a decision to be made and others clearly know more about the issue than you do... Trust them. Conflicts arise, because one fears the others are incompetent and something bad will happen... There are always good intentions at the source, always. So... Trust, talk, be open and flow...
_____Anyway, that's about as far as I want to go right now. What I want from anyone, who is resonating with this project, is help with planning. I want people to get together and form a community here on the internet first, offering useful info, researching stuff, contacting other people and building clear and strong foundations to build upon. I know it's overwhelming, I know it's hard to imagine... But our minds aren't made to see how things will work out, they are made to see "the-Now". If you want this to happen, just believe it and do what you feel is right.

_____And now, after you have read this... Let me tell you where we are right now with this project, what do we have.
_____I have been contacted by a person, who with her husband owns up and running farm in Qacha's Nek, Lesotho. They want to transform this farm, make it off-grid and sustainable, they want to build a community, where people can be happy.
_____Here it is described by their own words:

"Ok so s I said my “farm” is 55 hectors.  Its flat and needs some tress, which I hope to start planting soon.  It has a strong bore hole that is on a main water vein. There is another bore hole on the farm, but it needs a pump. There is currently electricity on the farm, in all the houses, flats, garages and shed.   There are 3 one bedroom flats, 2 two bedroom flats, 1 five bedroom house, a huge ‘lapa’ with a pub, 2 toilets and a kitchen. There is a big sparkling 10m x 5m fibre glass swimming pool as well.  Then there are 2 big sheds on the property, 3 double garages, 2 big reservoirs, a small dam and 8 rooms, which were used for the workers on the farm, and 2 big store rooms.    I have planted quite a few fruit trees on the farm , apples, oranges, peaches, apricots, lemons, plums and pears. I have a hedge of raspberry’s .  There is also a beautiful big vegetable garden that is under shade cloth as the climate can be quite harsh.. what I mean is the summers are beautiful and warm, the winters do bring frost and snow. 

We have all the raw material we need, from clay, stone, river sand, forests etc. The farm soil is mostly clay. I have a compost heap that I use to fertilize the garden.   Our climate is really awesome, for 6 months of the year its warm and beautiful, ( betw 20-38 degrees, so growing any vegetable etcs are absolutely fine. For the other 6 months it’s a mix…2-3 months are Autumn, not cold, but some evenings can be rather chilly.  The 3 months, winter,  are really cold in the early morning and late afternoon/evening, (betw -14 and 7 degrees). With these cold temperatures come frost, this is why the veggie garden has to be covered.  But the days are warm and amazing.  It snows every year in Matatiele, and the snow fall on average will be about 20-50cm thick. The climate is dry no humidity at all, as we are about 3500-4000 above sea level.  The farm is situated about  40 km from the Qacha’s nek boarder, Lesthoto.  The little town , Matatiele ,  does have all the necessary hardware’s, supermarkets etc. It is also extremely safe here.   What I was thinking is getting the farm totally self-sufficient,  going totally off grid. I have a few animals, milking cows, chickens, goats, and some sheep.  I would like to see my farm turned into a community where everyone is happy, contributing, working and most of all sharing and having loads of laughs.  I thought of people having their own little ‘different shops’ and selling their goods or bartering, whatever.  Basically I am up to anything that can not only help people become self-sufficient but I want to see people happy and loving live…NO STRESS J.  So basically it is a really beautiful established farm, that need to be turned into an off the grid farm.  There is a railway line, non-operational,  that divides the farm into 2 sections, and I have a jeep that i thought would be nice turn into a ‘train jeep’… as the train tracks go straight into the town. Being a herbalist I make all my own meds and oils, cannabis oil incl, so I grow all my own herbs for this.  Thinking now there really isn’t all that must work to do….except getting the farm off the grid and turning it into what we want."

_____So here it is. A great opportunity for people dedicated to self-sustainable off-grid living. If anyone resonates with this, just post a comment here. We intend to start a Google+ group as soon, as we get enough people for it to be worth it and as soon as that happens we will be making a website for this project, so that things are stated loud and clear for everyone to refer to. So far, there are three of us (active).
_____ So, if you want to help... Do what I just did here... Do what you can. All I could do, was to make a single spark. Are you a tinder? Will there be a fire?
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6676
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Lesotho is completely landlocked within South Africa. 40% of the population lives below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day. Non Africans are very few. There has been a mass exodus of non Africans from farms all over southern Africa, due to threats, violence, murder, arson, vandalism and general lawlessness. I suppose there's some chance that this corner of Lesotho is safe but in the long run, this seems unlikely. Many large farms are managed like a fortress, complete with machine gun toting security forces.
Petr Jelínek
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_____Interesting. The first three sentences said nothing new to me, that's what I have read about this country, etc... But the rest... This is the first time I read that Lesotho is in similar violent disorder like many other african countries. I guess it is to be expected and I would kinda expect it in the past, but now I just didn't want to be biased against countries I know nothing about based on some generalizations and my (shallow) research so far showed me peaceful country.
_____Well, thanks for mentioning this, it certainly makes me more wary. I will look into this, ask about it and if necessary look for another place to settle. No machine-guns for me...
All of life is a constant education - Eleanor Roosevelt. Tiny ad:
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