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I am trying to seek out some open honest forums where intentional community is discussed. It looks there are some very informed people here who just might have some insight.

My husband and I are in our early 30's, we have kids. We are looking at community options. One thing we are looking at is moving to a rural eco-village or eco-farm. Some of the ones I am attracted to are partial income sharing or full income sharing. I have some concerns about this but it just seems like either people are so enamored with the idea of these intentional lifestyles that they do not think ahead OR that it is a taboo subject.

The subject I speak of is saving $$$ for the future.

I see income sharing on an eco-farm as a good thing in some respects. It brings a community closer when everyone is working toward the same end. But what happens if you get hurt or sick and can no longer work? I know in a perfect world your community would pick up your slack and the younger folks would care for your needs as you age but we are not living in a perfect world. Communities fall apart, people have to leave communities.

  So what then?

If you do not go into a community like this with savings what do you have to fall back on? A small stipend is not going to allow you to save much, especially if you have children to clothe and educate ( we homeschool and homeschooling is not free). I know some well known communities give you a couple hundred dollars if you leave, but obviously that will do little for you other than maybe buy you some food for a few weeks.

What happens if you leave your home and sell everything you own to move and then it does not work out? For us if we picked up and left what we have our family members would be horrified and think we were throwing away our lives, I guess their thinking permeates my own thoughts and builds my sense of insecurity.

What if the land owner or founders die? Are you left homeless and penniless?

As much as I see living in small self sustaining, ecologically sound communities as the right choice for an ailing society, I just have many concerns.

Can anyone tell me their experiences with this? Maybe give me some behind the scenes knowledge.

 
                
Posts: 44
Location: West Coast of Canada
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Given your concerns, I would suggest avoiding communities that practice full income sharing.  The term "intentional community" is used nowadays instead of "commune" precisely because there are many different types of community with many different structures and financial arrangements.  The income-sharing commune is only one type, and not necessarily the most common or the most workable.

You may wish to research different intentional community models.  One model that is common around here is a land cooperative, where all parties share in ownership of the land.  Joining such a community involves buying a share in the corporation.  Leaving it involves selling your share back to the community.  Your bank account is your own.  Even within that, there are all sorts of social arrangements.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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It is an interesting question. We are dealing with something like this with our company mechanic. He has found out that he has some very serious back issues to deal with. We are discussing that he moves into one of the plantations and first spends a lot of time resting. After that, he can check fences and pests inside the plantation. Once he recovers a little bit, riding horses is excellent for you back and he is a very good rider.

He is about 60 and that is about the end for many mechanics since the job is hard on your body. Time for him to contribute some other way.

He will receive half pay and a place to live. He advises our young mechanic, so he can still contribute with all his years of experience.

I think something that needs to be embraced is that older people have a lot of value - you just have to accommodate them. And honestly, when someone retires, they need something to do.  Many people will retire without the ability to travel or just sit around - when you think of it, people who can go anywhere and do anything have a special name - the rich. Somewhere along the way we accepted the idea that everyone should end up rich, and hopefully by the time they are 55. This is very unlikely.

A permaculture community will need those who know what they are doing, since it is more technical.
 
Seth Pogue
Posts: 81
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Hi crunchygranolamom;

You'd probably get a lot out of reading Diana Leafe Chrisianson's book "Creating a Life Together".
 
paul wheaton
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Posts: 22172
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Yes, Diana's book will be a big help.

There are a lot of communities much like what you seek.

I visited a lot of different communities over the last five years.  One was alpha farm, about a half hour west of eugene, oregon.  Everybody coming to their community got room and board and a stipend.  All of the food they wanted of any kind.  Community shared meals, hundreds of acres for projects and lots of eco stuff going on.  Alpha farm has a store in town, and they have some mail routes where the community is responsible for delivering the mail.  Everybody works 40 hours a week - on one thing or another.  There are children there.

When I was there, they had been in operation for decades.  And they had openings for more people. 

Have you been to ic.org?


 
Fred Morgan
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Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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We have been building a sustainable business for going on eight years now - and unlike many, well funded (well most of the time  ) Because we have reached a sustainable level with management, systems in place, a capital expenditures behind us - it really takes very little of my time to keep it going. It generates more than enough for us to live off - and we live very simply. We could surely take more, but we prefer to live like we do.

I said that to say this: I would think the idea behind permaculture is to set up sustainable systems that reduce the amount of work you need to do. While you are young and strong, you build up the system, when you are older, you have the luxury to not work so hard, because you shouldn't have to be trying so hard.

Just my thoughts on the subject.
 
                          
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The intentional community of in which I live, does not have a community business nor do members recieve a stipend. One way to think of the community is as a research cooperative. We all have a shared vision of created a post-consumer culture based on rural values with appropriate technology for the village scale.

We recognize that by living together we can lower our costs dramatically, while vastly improving our standard of living by being with and caring for one another.

There is a German concept called "Usufruckt" which means that one has can derive the benefits or profits from some piece of land so long as you do not destroy it. This is one of the tenants of our community. The land and many of its commonly owned tools and resources are available for common use, so long as everyone sees that you are taking care of them.

Our policy has been to have every person be in a situation like Fred Morgan; having their own independent business from which to earn income put into a communal pot. We have a set amount of money due per month for the basics, and any money you want to add on top of that goes toward specific projects that you want to see move forward and that hopefully move the community mission forward. Any over-the-top projects that people have are always at the discretion of our board of  directors.

The intention for adopting this policy is to mitigate some of the problems with having a community business.  That we want each person to be independently resilient and economically viable parts of the entire community. Only in this way can the community have the resilience necessary to last for generations.

I could go on and on, but I will stop there for now.
 
Fred Morgan
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Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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pipicus wrote:
The intentional community of in which I live, does not have a community business nor do members recieve a stipend. One way to think of the community is as a research cooperative. We all have a shared vision of created a post-consumer culture based on rural values with appropriate technology for the village scale.

We recognize that by living together we can lower our costs dramatically, while vastly improving our standard of living by being with and caring for one another.

There is a German concept called "Usufruckt" which means that one has can derive the benefits or profits from some piece of land so long as you do not destroy it. This is one of the tenants of our community. The land and many of its commonly owned tools and resources are available for common use, so long as everyone sees that you are taking care of them.

Our policy has been to have every person be in a situation like Fred Morgan; having their own independent business from which to earn income put into a communal pot. We have a set amount of money due per month for the basics, and any money you want to add on top of that goes toward specific projects that you want to see move forward and that hopefully move the community mission forward. Any over-the-top projects that people have are always at the discretion of our board of  directors.

The intention for adopting this policy is to mitigate some of the problems with having a community business.  That we want each person to be independently resilient and economically viable parts of the entire community. Only in this way can the community have the resilience necessary to last for generations.

I could go on and on, but I will stop there for now.



This sounds like a very healthy way to do it - you don't eat the seed corn, and yet each person gets to be rewarded for their hard work.  This reminds me in a way the way a flat-rate mechanic shop works - the large tools are owned by the shop and are used by all and all are very careful to take care of them. Each person owns their own tools and receive a percentage of the earnings based on what they do. Quality is enforced by management so that all (in theory) benefit from this perception of quality - and of course, the front office handles recruitment of clients / work.

Hmmm, it might be a way for us to move forward when we are no longer here (i.e. dead) to oversee things.
 
                                              
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Fred Morgan wrote:
It is an interesting question. We are dealing with something like this with our company mechanic. He has found out that he has some very serious back issues to deal with. We are discussing that he moves into one of the plantations and first spends a lot of time resting. After that, he can check fences and pests inside the plantation. Once he recovers a little bit, riding horses is excellent for you back and he is a very good rider.

He is about 60 and that is about the end for many mechanics since the job is hard on your body. Time for him to contribute some other way.

He will receive half pay and a place to live. He advises our young mechanic, so he can still contribute with all his years of experience.

I think something that needs to be embraced is that older people have a lot of value - you just have to accommodate them. And honestly, when someone retires, they need something to do.  Many people will retire without the ability to travel or just sit around - when you think of it, people who can go anywhere and do anything have a special name - the rich. Somewhere along the way we accepted the idea that everyone should end up rich, and hopefully by the time they are 55. This is very unlikely.

A permaculture community will need those who know what they are doing, since it is more technical.



This is spoken beautifully! I agree that there is a place and duty for everyone, old and young....that's what community is all about. My husband and I are hoping to get a grant by the end of the summer to begin an eco-village made of cob houses. To learn more, check out my blog at
butterflyemoon.blogspot.com
 
            
Posts: 77
Location: Northport, Wash.
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You may want to seek out a community where you actually have an ownership interest in the community.  This would be one that is set up as a for profit entity instead of a non profit.
Our little community is owned by an LLC.  Every member has an ownership interest in what the community owns.  If a member leaves, they get back what they have invested in their "capital account".  You don't really earn any interest on what you invest, but at least you can get your original investment back.
Some of the communities I looked at in the past that used this sort of entity also had provisions for individual home ownership.  The LLC still owned the home and the land, but the member got a lifetime lease that could be sold or transferred, or inherited.  Most times a cap was set on how much could be earned from the sale of a lease, to keep things affordable.
The LLC model allows what basically amounts to shared income, much like a commune, where the LLC earns the money, expenses are deducted, and the members share in what is left over as income.
We chose this route as we felt it more fair to each member.  After all, as you allude to in your post, why would someone want to put years of effort into a community, then decide to leave, and have nothing to show for it other than a place to live for a space of time.
It boils down to what you want out of a community.  We wanted the community, but we also wanted to be building more than just a place to live.
You could also look into starting a community similar to what I am describing here, and you add whatever you want into the by laws that suits you, so long as your state allows it.  The good thing is, even in an LLC, you can have things like a community health insurance plan that is paid for in pre-tax dollars, set up retirement funds that you administer yourself, etc. 
It is still a community, you just all have an equal share in the actual value of it.
 
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