I have often thought that a modern commune-type community could really work. It could be an apartment building with large communal space. A small working farm with kitchen gardens etc, decided upon by the residents. Each person has their own apartment, so separate private space, yet groups have large spaces for gathering, maybe with a court-yard and gardens for good weather etc. It would be amazing to have that many hands to butcher and wrap meat and for canning the tons of tomatoes each year.
Everyone would vote on issues and pay towards the upkeep of the grounds etc based on their rent. The less rent, the more work each person would have to contribute. The more rent, the less work etc. Bartering would be open between residents. Someone can watch anothers child for something else, say cleaning their apartment, in return.
The grounds can be kept up by residents for a decrease in rents paid, if no one wants to shovel snow, they vote and the money to hire outside help is paid by all equally.
I think it would be a good idea, my husband thought it would be a joke. I think privacy is important. I would not be able to stand being in the same house with a person who was emotional or angry all the time. I'm just too sensitive to the energies of other people. It would be great to divide the work of a house/farm among other people, and especially the cooking!! But at the end of the day I need a private place to be, away from people, that is very important to me.
However the work to be done would be more pleasurable with people around to help and commune with.
Most of the benefits of living together like that have already been mentioned, here are some others.
You wind up doing fewer things you don't want to do. The person who enjoys plumbing is the one who fixes the sink, the computer guy keeps the internet running and helps people with computer problems, the masseuse can fix your shoulder (which you torqued while fixing the sink). Or if you are great at plumbing, but don't want to do it (or have a torqued shoulder), you can sit in a chair with a glass of lemonade explaining to someone else how to do it.
"inhouse prices" - if you have to pay someone else in the house to do something, they give you a preferred rate - they know how much / little money you have, and they don't have to leave home to make money.
'Shared surplus' - we have an institution called 'the red barrel' - its on the front porch - you put clothes, books, whatever that you don't want in it - anything that is still "good" or "useable". Our neighbors contribute too. You 'go shopping' there and get lots of great stuff free. Every week or two the remainders go to Goodwill.
Great equipment - commercial stoves and a lot of top notch kitchen equipment - nothing else would last under the kind of use we give it (smile). The collection of tools among all the residents is unbelievable - of course not everyone will lend every tool to everybody (smile). Similarly the collection of clothing is amazing - the women especially share clothing - and costumes for Halloween & parties.
Scale of projects you can do is greater - the Halloween party you can throw with 20 helpers is amazing - if you have six people doing decorations .... and no one does more than they want to do.
You learn how to get along with other people. "If you fill a bag with pebbles, they rub the edges off each other", especially when 'getting along with each other' is part of the group agreement and philosophy.
Have you ever experience an impasse with the 'one no vote' where ONE person could hijack an important decision?
I experienced the Mariposa IC not far from there and LOVED IT!
I do like people who are trying to establish new lifestyles for a more natural,free and happy life. I believe this dream will become true. and for me it has become true. Hope more and more people will pay attention and we are looking forward to exchange the experience with global communities.
Best wishes to all!
Ken Peavey wrote: Exclusion, secrecy, and dominance, while sometimes necessary, are no way to promote the spirit of someone you will be living and working with every day.
We might want to keep in mind that there is a distinct difference (proven through biochemical, physical and psychological studies) between extroverts and introverts.
Extroverts feel energized from being with other people.
Introverts feel energized from being alone.
These basic, unchangeable differences should be kept in mind when building a community. Just like in a garden, having a diversity of input helps the whole thing thrive. Developing a community society which only rewards Introverts or Extroverts and throws all other types out would be akin to growing a monocrop. A society which grows (and thrives) will be flexible enough for many types and supply most of/all their requirements.
I like the MBTI for personality typing, you can read more about it here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbti#Four_dichotomies
The mother and her boyfriend lived in one bedroom upstairs and the two kids lived in the other bedroom. Downstairs, one couple shared a bedroom created out of a closet sized space in the stairway hall and the large basement room was partially closed off into two separate sleeping spaces with lots of living room space left around the fireplace as a common area. The upstairs living room was also a common area.
My memories of the times was my enjoyment of the house company, having small kids and cats and dogs around.
Most of us did our own cooking in our separate groups. But we often shared food and sometimes had gathered meals; ie, thanksgiving and the like.
When imagining a family or tribal setting, I like the getaway spaces such as lofts, private areas, tree houses, etc, and several common spaces as well. I'm both an introvert and an extrovert. Too much of one or the other, for too long a time, can begin to drain me. It of course depends on whether you are getting energy or not or need rest.
As a single,older - in age- guy, I miss the community. Not having any kids or animals of my own, I miss that too. I like smart conversation and the synergy that can come out of that. The opportunity to have someone interested in a game sounds good too. The meal thing can be really great as well as field trips together, Ha!
We're looking at multigenerational close-to-each other living with several branches of the family, rather than all in the same house. So far the grandkids (my kids) love easy access to their grandparents, who love being able to send them home when they're done spoiling them!
It seemed to work for them. But it sort of fell apart with the baby boomer generation. One thing I learned from old relatives was that there were many benifits that came from living together. However, there were also a number of responsiblities that also came with living together. It was the baby boomers who did not want those responsiblities but wanted the benifits that caused things to fall apart
There were always some relatives that could not fit in and left on their own or were asked to leave. It seemed very important for family to know what was expected of them. I guess you would say they had very clear rules of behavior and what was expected from each member of the group family who wished to live there.
I will admit in our current environment of just one or two children there would be some major advantages of having a larger number of mixed ages for children to growup with.
There would also be advantages for older members who can live on their own so long as they have some assistance.
A group helping to raise children could also make it easier for women who want a family but still need to devote alot of time to their career.
In the situation I described back in college, we had a strong and vibrant social program. While impromptu parties and keggers were common, plenty of the guys were intently focused on their own goals and spent much of their time studying, applying for jobs, and furthering their educational and occupational goals. Even these hardcore guys needed a break now and then. The Social Committee added formal structure to a seemingly feral group. As an example:
Perhaps the largest planned event of the year. Held in the fall. Starts at 3 PM, ends at 3 AM. Find a date, have a good time, get away from your desk. At all times we put our best foot forward.
The guys on the Social Committee take care of setting up tables, ordering supplies, arranging busses/reservations/tickets, and putting together a series of events for the evening.
3-5 PM Cocktails
Semi Formal in the main house first floor for Undergrads and Graduate members of the fraternity, their guests, as well as faculty at the college, neighbors and dignitaries.
A greeter at the door welcomes guests and announces their arrival. A bar is set up to serve cocktails, a table offers light appetizers. Someone played the piano.
Dinner at a local restaurant, entree selected ahead of time. We board busses and shuttle to the destination. Usually a 3 course dinner service with a selection of prime rib, chicken, or seafood. I recall Shrimp Cocktail being popular, with mousse for dessert. Following dinner the President of our Fraternity would introduce a couple of guest speakers. I recall the Dean of the University, Mayor of Troy, and a couple of our own grads.
An adventure was planned.
Between dinner and the event time was allowed to change out of our wardrobe if necessary. One year we all went on a hayride and enjoyed a bonfire. Another year we boarded a ship and cruised the Hudson River.
This was a less formal event as lots of folks were dropping out from a long day of socializing. The bar was open, a buffet table was available with entrees and snacks. A champagne fountain flowed endlessly. Lots of talking, singing and fellowship.
A late spring afternoon and evening affair beginning at a nearby state park beside the lake. Volleyball, BBQ, egg toss, 3 legged race, picnicing, with friends, families and parents invited.
Late afternoon involved a semi-formal cocktail gathering at the house. Tours of the campus and house for families and guests. Lots of picture taking.
Evening saw an open bar with music and dancing. For some guys looking at graduation, this is the last organized event they will enjoy as a brotherhood before moving on. The photo albums come out.
Grad V Undergrad Hockey Game
A mid-winter tradition going on for decades. You might bring a date to this one.
We reserved the hockey arena for our own use for a few hours and ITS ON. The undergrads have the advantage of youth. The grads have experience and much better equipment. Regardless of who wins, everyone goes home together for a large time. Cigars on the porch, music in the basement, food on the first floor. Captain of the losing team usually suffers dishonor such as an ice bucket (with lots of food coloring) being dumped on his head when he gets to the entrance steps.
These events are successful year after year. Tradition is part of the reason. Putting on a suit and behaving yourself adds an air of dignity. Having a date marked on a calendar gives everyone something to look forward to. Getting on a bus and going somewhere together identifies everyone as part of that group. For some of these guys, going to the store is a road trip. These events get them out of town and add memories. These events promote bonding, alleviate the daily stress of studying, taking tests, writing papers, and making the grade. It's a chance to unwind, let off some steam, and get away from it all, if only for a day.
cairn paul wrote:20 people living in a house would be impossible ...
cairn paul wrote:then you were lucky
Interesting. So this moved from absolute fact of "impossible" to being entirely possible within a few hours.
I think the important thing is that there are thousands of examples of 20 people under one roof working out. And while that is a rich and interesting topic, it seems to be off-topic from the function of this thread: what are all of the upsides?
Ken Peavey wrote:
Getting back to Paul's OP, 100 benefits to 20 people sharing a home:
1 Save Money
2 Sense of Community
3 Better stuff
4 Better food
5 Shared Responsibilities
6 Collective labor reduces individual labor
8 More skills available
9 More ideas
10 Project completion
12 Emotional support
13 Reduced burden
14 Human insurance
16 Efficient utilization of space
17 diverse demographic profile
18 Delegated responsibilities
20 Hired staff
21 Meal service
22 Routine chores are scheduled
23 Reduced housekeeping workload
25 Social events
26 Hierarchical command structure
27 Compartmental decision making
28 Generalized participatory policy development
29 Reduced per capita infrastructure
30 Personal and social development, particularly in youths
32 Enhanced access to resources
34 Individuality is promoted
37 Enhanced creativity
38 Emergency Assistance
40 Reduced redundancy
42 Energy efficiency
43 Minimal footprint
45 Someone to share with/from/among
46 Opportunity for personal development
47 Fun, positive interaction
48 Personal enrichment (using the definition of joy, not cash)
49 Self empowerment
50 Greater control of our own destiny
51 Reduced struggle
52 Money and making ends meet is removed as an obstacle
53 Everyone is on the same team
54 Abundant food
55 Better food prices
56 Better food preparation
57 HOT TUB
58 Development of basic skills (Jocelyn Campbell: Make note!)
59 Development of organization and management skills
60 2 ovens
61 Commercial kitchen
62 Life long friends
63 Trust is promoted
64 Shared homecare costs
65 Looking after each other
66 Better decision making
68 Mutual respect
69 Common theme
70 Central focus
71 Uplifting connections
72 Energizing interaction
73 Efficient resource allocation
74 Reduced waste
75 Many hands make light work
77 More enjoyable work environment
78 You wind up doing fewer things you don't want to do.
79 Division of labor
80 In-house opportunity
81 Shared surplus
82 Great equipment
83 Greater scale of projects
84 Harmony and Wonder
85 more natural lifestyle
86 More freedom
87 More happiness
88 The group is greater than the sum of the individuals
89 Enjoyment of company, kids, and pets
90 Getaway spaces
91 Smart conversation
92 Recreation partners
93 Field trips
94 Extensive support (physical and emotional) system is already in place
95 High standards of housekeeping, sanitation, nutrition, and food handling
96 Advantages for all age groups
97 Tremendous advantages for non-nuclear families
98 Planned social events
99 Establishing and carrying on traditions
I'll stop there to leave room for more.
What's your #100?
cairn paul wrote:20 people living in a house would be impossible, we'd need a huge house to start with, then there would be arguments, petty squabbles, to say nothing of disease which would rage through a household of such proximity.
Perhaps I am misunderstanding your post, but I want to point out that the Oakland Morehouse , which typically has between 15 and 25 residents, has been a successful communal house ("intentional community") since 1968, so not impossible, in fact proven possible and successful.
We feel that private space is very important, but that shared space helps save a lot of redundancy.
I recently watched your Keynote address in San Diego with your 72 "bricks", Paul. I have to say that I'm 98% aligned with everything you said. When you got to the part about living under one roof, my wife, who watched it with me, turned to look at me and said, "he sounds like you!".
The cool thing about this idea is that it doesn't have to wait until you have an acreage to implement. We can take existing 4,000 sq.ft. homes and turn them into group homes. I've been keeping my eye on Zillow.com for 5+ BR houses in our target metro areas. I can't think of a better way to transition from conventional "paycheck job in the city" type living to the rural permaculture lifestyle than to get a 6 BR home on 2+ acres, and move in 10 adults and their kids (the "master suite" found in these kinds of homes can be turned into a "children's suite"). The biggest barrier to this is that many municipalities have occupancy restrictions which prohibit too many unrelated adults from living together in a "single family dwelling".
With that kind of communal lifestyle, you can live in a $600,000 house, with nice furniture and features, a little bit of land (usually these are found in low-density residential zones, with lots of land). Use toby hemenway's book as a guide to get some PC going on your bit of land... everyone can keep their day jobs, and one or two can stay at home to watch kids. Chores are divvied up, so no one feels overwhelmed with cooking every day. Instead of paying $1500/month in mortgage, each couple (or double-occupancy unit) pays $300/month.
Instead of having 10 cars (one per adult), you might have 4 or 5, and do more carpooling. That also saves money in car loans, insurance, and fuel costs.
Food and household items can be purchased in bulk. You likely won't be able to feed 10 adults plus children on 2.5 acres of land, but you can buy shares of produce from a local organic CSA, which is a nice step forward. Many CSAs are also offering pastured eggs and meat, as well. An aquaponics set-up on your property would be a highly-efficient use of space, and provide proteins. If it's insulated right, it can also provide some produce even in winter. Set up a solar food dehydrator to dry excess produce from the CSA season, and store it away for winter. If you have hunters/fishers in the house, some local game can also help supplement. Mmmmm... venison!
Neighbors might get antsy about the traffic and noise. The "department of making you sad" might claim you're over-taxing the sewer system. A septic system may actually not be able to handle the waste from that many people, so some sort of composting toilet system might be needed to be installed "on the sly". So there are some other things to work out.
One more thing, I know you're not too much into the "cult" aspect of "permaculture", but having the aegis of religion can help with some aspects of zoning laws. If your permaculture eco-village is classified as a "religious institution", it has the benefit of RLUIPA to help side-step zoning and planning boards. Even that 4,000 square foot suburban house could be classified as a "monastery" for your "cult", which might include "communal living" as a basic "article of faith".
Oh, and with the suburban group home idea, the group can take its savings and put it into buying the larger acreage at a later time. It's a perfect transition strategy for people wanting to unplug from the global political-economic nuthouse.
Psychologically and organizationally, the optimal unit size for a cohesive group is around 9 individuals, with a spread of about 6-12... 15 tops.
Beyond that, people tend to self-divide into factions.
I would recommend looking at 8-12 under one roof, rather than 20. Finding existing housing with 5-6 BR is also much more likely (if you limit your search to "single family houses").
One of the biggest standout pros to me on a farm scenario is freedom. We all come from varying backgrounds of stability, but I imagine many of us have had extended chapters of free drifting and travel. Once you begin creating a farm, especially once you become responsible for year round animals, you have to pretty much be there almost every day. This isn't bad but can feel a bit limiting from a previous free lifestyle. The involvement of more people allows for travel weeks or months for any of the team, and I think this would be a huge benefit for sustainability on the personal level.
- a very clear to understand 'to-do-list' which applies to all members, everyone has their chores, and takes the responsability for their chores;
- very good communication between all members of the group; if something goes wrong it has to be spoken out without fear, but still 'being nice';
- a personal private space to be alone (when needed) for every person in the group.
Those three are the most important to me. My 'personal private space' doesn't need to be large in size, but I need it for a considerable amount of time!