First, let me start with a little background. I just turned 40 today. I have a 10 year old daughter and two aging parents, both of whom are still working (for the moment). I have no debt and a decent nest-egg that I want to use to build a permaculture homestead (aka a doomstead) in a rural area of VT, ME, or western MA.
Last summer I took a transition town training course with the intention of trying to get something started here in my hometown in the suburban Boston area. I have not been able to find any other transition initiators here, and so my efforts are at a dead-end.
I am currently living in a house that my parents own, that probably would need $100K or more to "harden" into a doomplex, and then I would be left with less than 1/4 an acre to play with. I am using the land to experiment just to keep myself busy. I have two long raised beds in the front with tomatoes and asparagus, and beds in the back that aren't doing so well (Maybe because it's on concrete). The concrete is there because there used to be an above-ground pool. Because of the circular layout, I've just ordered a geodesic greenhouse to replace the beds and hope to improve my results, and gain some attention from the neighbors.
I also recently took some of my extra beds and established a garden for one of the yuppie neighbors. So I'm trying to diplomatically plant the seeds, but it's moving at a glacial pace.
After a 7 month stint on unemployment, I finally got another job as a programmer in the area, so at least for now, I've got my cash-flow under control. In the future, that may not be the case. Once my parents are retired and the responsibility to support them is on my shoulders, I don't see a way to avoid liquidating the house to support their retirement. Once I have to move, I see no alternative but to head out to the boonies where the parcels are bigger and the land is cheaper. First and foremost I want to stay out of debt. So I will not be pursuing the suburban dream after my stay here is done. But I may be "stuck" here for the remainder of my daughter's childhood as far as I know. So I can't be on-site with any rural property right now. Even if I could, I've made the determination that my daughter and I, with or without my parents in tow, would be incapable of maintaining a homestead by ourselves. We really will need a few more able bodied souls in the lifeboat with us.
I've considered ecovillages but they seem like nothing so much as green condominiums. I want a greater degree of control of the house construction and the landscaping.
No matter what, I don't want to leave this until the last moment. It takes a long time to build soil and for trees to grow into maturity.
So I'm going to try this "doomplex" idea and see what kind of response I get.
I have been nursing a nest-egg. It's large enough to bankroll about 5-10 acres in rural New England, and maybe barely enough to cobble together a straw bale home from scratch. But as long as I'm still working in the Boston area, I can't relocate to the doomstead. Even if I could, I just don't think I can hack it with just me and my daughter. So if I'm gonna bug-out to the doomstead, it has to be a group effort.
That's where you come in. Here are the various "types" that I think will work.
ORGANIC FARMERS WITH LAND TO SPARE
Let's say you already own a rural farm. If you're willing to subdivide a 5 acre patch for me, I will establish the permaculture homestead there. Of course, most of it will be just design and initial plantings. I can't be there to tend it that much for now, but the upside is, you can just use it as part of your agricultural operation. So until I'm actually living there, any food produced by the food forest is yours to sell. Ideally you should own your land and not plan to sell it to anyone else. I have to look at the combination of your farm and my homestead as one unit, facing doom together.
CASH-POOR DOOMERS WITH BIG DREAMS
Let's say you want a doomstead, but you don't have the money. You don't have any debts, either. You're willing to put in the sweat equity, however. You are also unencumbered and are therefore ready and willing to establish a beach-head on the land (living the usual isolated existence that naysayers like Toby Hemenway warn doomers about) until TSHTF and I join you.
PEOPLE LIKE ME
Let's say you are like me. You have no debt, and money in the bank or a valuable asset (like a house) that you plan to liquidate in favor of doomstead preps. I'd consider something like a 50/50 partnership on land. By pooling resources, it will be possible to hire contractors to do a lot of the work so neither of us would have to be on-site fulltime.
Other than organic farmers, the maximum size of your party should be 5. That would be self, spouse, one child, and two parents, or some other combination. This can be adjusted up or down depending on the lot size. The ideal would be 1 acre per person, so if we're going to be crammed into 5 acres, then it's going to be a tough sell with up to 9 people. But this is a starting guideline.
QUICK COMPATIBILITY TEST
In all cases, I'm going to have to go about this the way someone would go dating. I need to see if we can stand each other's company. Ideology is important as is a common vision of the future. Establishing a partnership carries with it risks that contracts are designed to protect via exit clauses. If we're dealing with TEOTWAWKI down the road then neither of us can afford the other party flaking out and leaving the other person holding the bag. If you don't see the stakes that high, then you're probably incompatible. I feel that going forward everybody should be moving their chess pieces into position and there simply is no time for hitting dead-ends or beating retreats.
If you've read my blog for any length of time you'd know that I've become very particular about which way of thinking and acting lends itself towards better outcomes and which are counter-productive or morally suspect. Watching my shows also gives you a vision of the complex way in which I think about these issues. I'm looking for people who skew more towards the secular humanist or the new-age granola side of things. More Joanna Macy and less Alex Jones and Derrick Jensen.
If you've gotten this far and you think you're a good candidate, email me at this new gmail address I created. Let's get to know each other.
Have you looked at the exsisting communities in Western Mass and eastern NY? How about those in VT, NH, Maine? there are a number of nice communities all across New England. www.ic.org is a good place to start.
A timing clock, fuse wire, high explosives and a tiny ad:
BWB second printing, pre-order dealio (poor man's poll)