Two days ago, I sent an email to the Vancouver Permaculture group on Meetup.com wherein I asked if there was anyone who was interested in starting up a cohousing community based on permaculture principles. I received a lot of responses. There are architects, real estate investors, people who have thought of starting a project like this one, and permaculturists.
The vision: I did not anticipate so much interest in this project that we will be developing together, so when you send me an email, I will keep your email in confidence and then send out a follow up email in a few days. Then, we will meet and get to know each other while developing this vision together. Some have asked about the location and we can work on that together. From the cohousing projects I have seen in Vancouver, for my future lifestyle, they are still outside what is affordable and sustainable. My personal (read as "starting") vision has about 5-6 acres of farmable land surrounding our residences to lease to aspiring organic farmers, about 4000+ sq.ft. of common space, a shared workshop, and some space for our friends with RVs or tiny houses when they come to visit. Anyhow, that's just a preliminary plan that spurred me to send out the initial email. If I'm off my rocker, then let's be off the rockers together.
It looks like I have a lot of research to do and am asking for advice regarding where to start since I am short on time (and listening to Paul's podcasts, I realize that time is precious for all of us):
(a) I am hoping to start with looking for existing cohousing and ecovillages and visiting them, asking them about what works and what does not work for them, and why they chose that location.
(b) Is anyone willing to mentor or be an advisor for this section of the project? (I am an analytical chemist, so a teensy bit out of my league)
(c) General thoughts and guidance anyone can provide (e.g., pitfalls and hardships I should be aware of) is welcome.
Whether you are a Great Oak or a Green Shoot, I welcome your responses!
http://www.ic.org is the best place to find existing communities. The directory is a bit on the clunky side, but this site is the primary place where people go to list their communities, both existing and planned. Go this this page http://www.ic.org/directory/intentional-communities-by-country/ , scroll down to Canada, and you'll find four listings in BC, one in british columbia, and five in British Columbia (like I said, clunky :/)
I'm probably in a similar place as you in terms of planning and development, though my particular project is not permaculture centric. The primary problem I've observed over the past few years of digging is that finding committed people with the time and money, who are interested in the same geographic area, and who have at least a similar vision are difficult to find. I think the primary reason Paul was able to get his community successfully started is he first created a large community of similarly minded people in the virtual world. If you were to compare boots on the ground to forum membership, I suspect the difference in numbers is staggering. That same large virtual community also contributed greatly to the success of his Kickstarter campaigns, which at least to some degree contributed to the finances which enable acquisition of the property.
The "must read" book on intentional community is Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian. You'll also find some good articles on the ic.org site.
Thanks, John. I have already started my research on the IC website. I know it's not the easiest to navigate, that is for certain. Paul exemplifies the uber-permaculture principle, cultivating for the long run. I have to make it over to Montana and share some of my homebrews with him one day.
I wonder how many others are in a similar position as we are, planning and developing, and it would be great if we could share ideas and the obstacles we are encountering along the path. If we were to look at it from a Venn diagram, ideally, we are looking at the intersection of committed + time + money + location + vision ... and yeah, it will be difficult, not impossible, though. I come from a pragmatic background and was just reminded tonight how much I am viewing this idea from an analytical perspective. It works great from a scientific standpoint, but when building a community, it may not be ideal.
Please let me know what your project is like, John.
Been there. Done that. Went back for more. But this time, I took this tiny ad with me: