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intentional community and the "hippy" stereotype  RSS feed

 
Christian Huble
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Hey all,

I wanted to get a conversation going about intentional community and the "hippy" stereotype. I am a youngin, 22, and a product of the internet, instant gratification, and consumerism. But I am also a very open-minded individual, highly spiritual and attune with nature, and generally pretty progressive. I live in the woods and I've had my fair share of smudgesticks and crystals.

However, I am starting an ecovillage and have always been pursuing tribal traditions and intentional community. But everywhere I look, the sustainable movement wreaks of patchoulie!!!

It's my opinion that in order to reach the next generation, especially in a consumer-brainwashed society that throws around labels like "treehugger" left and right, we need to make progressive steps towards expressing the practical princibles of permaculture in a modern light. This next generation does not want to sing koombiya, they want to watch youtube!

Pickin up what I'm throwin' down? Let's discuss.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I am very wary of the campfire crowd. Nothing against campfires. My issue is with stated intent vs actual results. I would rather deal with people who speak standard English. A whole lot of positive "feel good" words strung together does not instill confidence. For me it raises red flags. It's even worse if quasi religious language is used on someone who has no interest in the spiritual path of most others. I was helping with a concrete pour, an hour ago. We didn't rake with intention and trust that the universe would bless our gathering. We raked to a certain height on the form boards and double checked measurements. One person was in charge. A committee might let the material harden during meetings.
 
Rebecca Norman
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That's why I like the Permies forums -- minimal "woo-woo" and what there is is easy enough to avoid.
 
Judith Browning
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I think this is how stereotypes are perpetuated...not by those being stereotyped but by those on the outside identifying whole groups of folks by one liners....of course there's nothing wrong with campfires, the song kumbya or patchouli...or hugging trees for that matter
I think it might be more helpful to talk about the sort of personality/person that one would want in an intentional community rather than ruling out certain behaviors, songs and essential oils......

Edited a bunch for clarity....
 
Dale Hodgins
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No matter what "type" we want to avoid, there will be times when we must deal with those less perfect than ourselves. Sometimes, behavior can be modified to suit the task at hand. My mother used to bring up religious stuff and mention the TV preacher, Peter Youngren. I would immediately kneel on the floor and bow toward the ground while yelling "Peter" in a very shrill voice, with arms flailing. This put an end to the "Peter" talk... This was in my house. I wanted my kids to see proselytizing of this sort as unacceptable and comedic fodder.

There are plenty of other things that my mother was allowed to do. She could show the kids how to bake, tell them stories about me or dead relatives, or discuss politics. I always kept an ear open, since fantastic stories involving supernatural beings could creep into every subject.

The kids grew up quite normal and are now capable of making their own choices.

So, it is possible to accommodate those who are vastly different and difficult. It does require some work.

Many people will have issues that bug the hell out of you. There needs to be clear rules about when and where certain topics are allowed.
.............
Imagine that someone has an odd sexual thing going on. Society has rules which limit time, place and with whom.

Never at work, only in your own home, stop when asked to, no kids, etc.
.............
If the same sort of constraints are applied to other unwelcome behavior, we can all get along fine.
 
leila hamaya
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exclusion and exile, "divide and conquer", and alienation, are some of the sharpest tools of domination culture...these forced to fit conclusions and stereotypes assist in that.

inclusion and belonging, "strength through diversity", and tolerance are simple, yet surprisingly powerful tools of the truly radical. it really could be the most revolutionary thing one can do - learn to get along and work together with people, AS IS.

also stereotypes fade as one gets older...that might be a bold statement, maybe not always true...but it is what i mean. when people are young and trying to find their place, those stereotypes and self identity are big issues.


ideally if and when a person matures, these stereotypes, and especially stereotyping themselves, seems more and more ridiculous the older one gets. people just seem like people, mixed up, flawed, and beautiful, at the same time, it becomes easier to see through the masks people wear. and people drop whatever masks they might have been wearing as they age and get to know themselves and other people better... and become more authentic.

 
Christian Huble
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Hm, some interesting perspectives. I agree that acceptance (i prefer this to "tolerance," which to me has negative connotations) is the first step into equality. By no means am I bashing anyone, and most of my friends would consider me more "hippy" than anything else.

It's true that my very mention of all this is somewhat alienating, and that it really shouldn't matter what people think. All I am saying is that I run into a lot of resistance when even mentioning words like "eco" and "intentional community." Most of my friends assume I am starting a cult. But much of what was mentioned was accurate. Combating such hesitation in folks by bending your own standards or painting a certain picture defeats the purpose of trying to explain ourselves and get people to accept where we are coming from.

Nobody should change who they are, and I'd rather be labelled a hippy than a consumer (which is what I REALLY am...) but I am still looking to blend traditional, naturalist values with a more modern attitude.

 
alex wiz
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The modern attitude is to mindlesly destroy and consume because we " have the right to."

As for convincing mainstream people to accept what you are doing, good luck. Some will be open minded and some will think you are mental. If they are not willing to learn then you are wasting your time talkong to them.

Mainstream is concerned with whats "cool" which typically involves sex appeal and indulging in pleasures that profit large coorporations
 
alex wiz
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I find it ironic that you think colorado is not full of people who would love to sit by the campfire and sing. Go to crested butte for a day.

Of course today there are plenty of f,,,,d up people but that is humanity in general.

"100% true" mentally stable hippies are the ideal for living in eco community. They are anti violence, love nature, promote respect for all living things, generally thoughtful, compassionate etc. Of course, there are many posers out there and far fewer "true" hippies.
 
alex wiz
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I offered my help and email to you in another thread. You never replied. It would be wise to recognize a good opportunity when you have one. The people you seek are not easy to find.
 
Elizabeth Rose
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We meditate. We sing to our plants. We vortex our biofertilizer.

And check out our website. This (we believe) is the emerging face of permaculture.

http://www.integratedacres.com/
 
Dave DeNard
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Hi christian. Where are you starting this community?
 
Chadwick Holmes
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I know many hippies, my father was a protester at Kent state back in the day. I think what you are referring to is what I call posers, meaning one who is not so must pose to appear as if. Most of the real hippies I know you could talk to for a week and you would never know the difference. They do not need to say the rediculous things that you are bothered by to prove that they are simply because they are self driven and don't need you to support their hippieism.

So, real hippies, good folks

Gen X hippies, yes that is what we is, good folk

Posers, need to prove something through their speech and knowledge, but good folks at a distance, or in a loud venue

This is how I would break it down, also there are posers that are in buissness and trades as well, however these tend to word everything in a way to be sure that you know that they are very important far more important than you.......these are the folks I could do without out of all the groups discussed,

 
Mick Fisch
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I learned a long time ago that "Folks is Folks". World wide we are mostly just flawed, imperfect individuals trying to live up to our ideals. The truth is, labels are fairly ineffective. On different days and times I might be a Jerk, a storyteller, a musician, a hard worker, a lazy bum, a teacher or a seeker. we all fill multiple rolls, have multiple labels, belong to multiple groups and each role and group puts different demands on us. The classic example for me is a kid getting punched in school. School rules are "Don't respond, tell a teacher" never noticed that rule to be very effective. Kid rules are "Don't tell the teacher, punch the kid back". Which rule you choose to obey in the moment depends on a lot of variables.

The reason I mention this is that what is most important is what our overarching set of rules are, our internal "rules about rules". I have no problem at all with folks I think of as "hippies", they are mostly good folks in my experience. I do have a problem with what I think of as druggies, but there is at least a bit overlap in the two groups. When does an occasional toke become excessive? I don't know, but I know when I see it. Similarly, I have no problem with Christians (claim to be on myself), but I do have a problem with controlling, judgmental types who insist I conform to their view of what's right. Once again the there is at least a bit of overlap in the two groups.

I do believe that there are fundamental truths in the spiritual, just like in the physical realm. If you want to do something dangerous in the physical realm, I don't generally feel that it's any of my business as long as you aren't impacting me or mine or likely to cause some innocent to suffer. As a decent human being I'll try to warn you if you are behaving like an idiot, but I've found over the years that usually such warnings are neither appreciated or heeded and must be delivered carefully to avoid creating hard feelings. In the spiritual realm I think the same rules apply.

Benjamin Franklin had a good idea about partnerships. He didn't think they worked that well, but if your were going to form one, he advised writing out the rules, responsibilities and penalties in full, clearly defined, and agreed on and signed by both sides at the very beginning of the arrangement. Otherwise you will enter into a partnership with each of you having slightly different ideas about how things are going to work. Kind of sounds like my wife and I when we got married. We quickly realized our two views of how it was going to work were only about 90% in agreement. We still working on it 34 years later with 9 kids, so I guess with good will even lack of up front organization can be survived. But there were only two of us, the more people, the harder it is.

In most communities the unspoken rules are the rules you really have to keep.

An intentional community needs to have a very well thought out set of rules, and the unspoken rules should be included so that everyone can decide they are willing to abide by them up front. There should also be an agreement on some things that are nobody else's business also. The second might be at least as important as the first. I strongly believe in community, but I also think that there is a point at which the community needs to keep it's nose out of my business (assuming I haven't broken any of the community rules).

 
Tyler Ludens
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Mick Fisch wrote:
An intentional community needs to have a very well thought out set of rules, and the unspoken rules should be included so that everyone can decide they are willing to abide by them up front. There should also be an agreement on some things that are nobody else's business also. The second might be at least as important as the first.


Reawakening this thread to talk about rules. I'm not good at coming up with lists of rules, so I would love to see examples of very well thought out sets of rules, and how unspoken rules are included. For instance a rule like "Don't be a hippy" is tremendously vague, in my opinion. My own personal rules "Don't be a jerk" and "Don't be an idiot" aren't helpful to others.

Can folks give examples of rules they feel apply to nearly any intentional community, as well as specific rules you feel are important to you personally?

 
Casie Becker
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Don't expect someone to understand what you want from them unless you state it explicitly. If you didn't tell them you needed or wanted something, you have no grounds to resent them not providing it.

On that I particularly wish would be more commonly taught to girls and women : Controlling your own time, attention, good will, and effort is not an attack or imposition on society. You don't have to explain yourself or apologize. You ARE entitled to say NO.
 
Devin Lavign
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Can folks give examples of rules they feel apply to nearly any intentional community, as well as specific rules you feel are important to you personally?


Here are a few I have thought of in the past.

What I feel is likely the most important and first rule, do not do anything to the land that might have permanent consequences until running it by others. A council or what ever you set up to have big decisions worked through.

If you get into a disagreement with a fellow member, seek neutral arbitration early rather than later. Yes try to work out differences yourselves, but if something seems to have little movement rather than letting frustration build between people seek a neutral party to help work through the issue.

Be aware of other's personal space, and treat it with respect. IE don't go wandering through other people's yards, or encroaching upon them with your stuff. This also includes noise, and how your noise might travel into other's space. Be it an engine noise, or music, or whatever.

Daily or weekly meetings where scheduling and sharing of activities and plans can be made is a good policy to have. This can help a community organize as some times a plan for something might conflict with someone else's plan to do something. Or it can be helpful time to ask for help to do activities that require more labor to achieve. As well as it becomes a bonding ritual where you hear what is going to happen in other parts of the community and feel more part of the whole rather than just one little piece inside a mystery of other activity.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Devin Lavign wrote:
If you get into a disagreement with a fellow member, seek neutral arbitration early rather than later. Yes try to work out differences yourselves, but if something seems to have little movement rather than letting frustration build between people seek a neutral party to help work through the issue.


This seems challenging within a small community. How does one define "neutral"?

 
Devin Lavign
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Devin Lavign wrote:
If you get into a disagreement with a fellow member, seek neutral arbitration early rather than later. Yes try to work out differences yourselves, but if something seems to have little movement rather than letting frustration build between people seek a neutral party to help work through the issue.


This seems challenging within a small community. How does one define "neutral"?



Well defining that would be something the community would need to do ahead of time, but generally I would think someone who is not directly involved. The key would be having a 3rd party to moderate and make sure both side are truly hearing eachother rather than just waiting for their time to speak.
 
Mick Fisch
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Can folks give examples of rules they feel apply to nearly any intentional community, as well as specific rules you feel are important to you personally?


Clearly defined rules for the community would probably focus on things that either involve common resources or have the risk of spilling over into the common resources (example "dude, sunbathe naked in the backyard, not next to the road. I don't want to see that"). It may sound like I am a nazi. I don't think so, I have an intrinsic dislike of rules, but unless you want life to be a non-ending game of CalvinBall, rules are required when many hairless apes start interacting together. (for those who aren't familiar with the comic strip "Calvin" the only rule in Calvinball is that the rules are in constant flux, changing whenever any player makes up a change or new rule).

A list of community rules might look like something from a condo association, but one populated by preppers. off the top of my head it might include things like:

1. Noise pollution issues (maybe noise levels above a certain dB level after 9:00pm at night). Of course, if no one complains there's no problem, if all your neighbors are at the party everything is cool. Given enough space, this might not be a problem.

2. Common resource use. (i.e.Prior to starting grazing a new animal on the commons, you need to get approval from the committee who maintains it so we don't overgraze the commons), maybe also equitable usage rules (i.e.no one else was grazing animals on the common, so you were able to graze more than your share, but now they want to start, so you need to thin out your large herd). Another possibility is cutting wood on common land or maybe irrigation rights.

3. Common resource responsibilities. (This may change over time as the community had common projects (either new or maintenance) with a seasonal or annual requirement to either donate labor or money (enabling the hiring of some who have more time and less money) to perform work on common resources. My grandpa said when he was a boy all the men and boys in the community would take one week in the spring to maintain and repair the dam that gave them all irrigation water. He remembered as a fun time.

4. Some control of possibly intrusive new species (i.e. review and approval of new species to introduced, including an overview of how you propose to limit escape into the broader ecosystem). Also included here might be things turning your part of the property into a chemical dump.

5. How you enforce rules (i.e. warnings, fines, loss of property). (what do you do if someone just says "To hell with you all, I'm going to do what I want"). In extreme cases you might need to buy them out, force them to sell, you come up with some other options.)

6. You may include a statement of public mores. examples might include allowing or banning things like public nudity, sex in public, public intoxication, illegal drug use (this might be required to prevent seizure of property in the event someone is arrested for distribution). Our 'common decency' is not common to everyone. A clear statement would prevent misunderstandings. I love the idea of people being able to join a community they identify with. If you want a born again christian village or a GLBT village or a GLBT born again christian village, it doesn't matter to me, just make it clear. Once you have it clearly defined, your applicants will in large part sort themselves.

7. Methodology for changing the rules (YES, the dreaded rules about rules clause), because your community and it's members needs over time will evolve.

geoff lawton talked once about a permaculture community that was successful and within a few years became a defacto retirement community because everyone wanted to live there and retirees could outbid the young folks. It turned into a real estate investors market. His suggested fix if you wanted to maintain the full age span (which I personally think is healthy for a community) was to make them sell at a fixed price so that a successful community isn't all bought up by investors. Another way of approaching it would be to all sell out, take the money and build another, better community somewhere else. I don't know what your community might want and am only suggesting the above as a jumping off point.

You might say I am being unreasonable and that your village wouldn't need such rules. I sincerely hope you are right. Given the right group at the start, your chances improve a lot. Even so, I've seen seemingly solid people come apart and change completely when confronted with a shattering life event like a divorce or a mental illness. We need to help each other, but there is a limit to how much crap we should put up with, even from a suffering friend (self preservation kicks in at some point). My experience has been that any group of any real size eventually includes a real problem child (sometimes it's their fault, they are the truck, other times they are the bug on the windshield and something else is the truck). For those who aren't willing to or can't adjust their actions, there needs to be a solution. I am less about forcing everyone to obey a certain set of rules and more about letting people with different lifestyles get away from each other. No one should have to suffer with living next to a neighbor they are at war with because their basic life rules are so different.

Such rules would need to be discussed and drawn up over time before starting project. I assume each community would have differences in their rules. I think that is well and good. I assume there will probably be an evolution over time also. (A rule that seemed good on paper doesn't work in reality, or a group of young couples might find that they want to adjust some of their rules once they have a bunch of young tricycle motors running around underfoot).
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks, these are some helpful things to think about!

 
Mick Fisch
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This seems challenging within a small community. How does one define "neutral"?


It may not be possible to find a truly neutral party, but there is usually someone in the community who both sides are willing to trust as being able and willing to seek the best, fairest solution the the problem. If the two sides can't get to that point, then the govt. courts get involved and everyone looses.

Many communities have either a formal court internal to their community (Amish, muslim, orthodox jews) or an informal court (both sides go together to the priest or minister) see that they will go to before the govt. courts to try to seek a solution based on their particular communities rules. All of the groups I named are religious based. What this means, practically speaking, is they have a common world view, recognized, (usually) respected leaders and a common set of rules everyone agrees to work under.

Permaculturists have not had time to evolve a truly common world view or a common set of community rules (other than 'don't ruin the land and don't be a jerk'. Such rules would have to be defined by the community they were in (going back to that word that I see as needed, but distasteful just the same, RULES).

I love the idea of a permaculture community, but this is really just one in a long line of utopian society dreams. (Permaculture has a better practical handle on how to live on the land, I don't see it having a better handle on how to live with each other). Historically, Utopian societies generally run aground within a few years on the rough reality reef of human contrariness, lust, greed, laziness and stupidity. The ones that do work are generally small, religious based and usually involve a lot of (at least symbolic) blood relatives. A few survive and often then are destroyed by the surrounding communities because in working so closely together, they in many ways remove themselves from the larger economy and so reduce the income of the powers that be.

My dad told me once "You know, God ain't an american." While obviously correct, I think there is something deeply profound in that statement (if you're not american, substitute your own nationality or religion). Just because 'everyone' right here and now says that this is how something should be, doesn't mean that 'everyone' is correct.

If we look at societies around the world, there are certain rules that appear over and over, pretty much everywhere. (C.S. Lewis in the "Abolition of Man" calls it the Tao). These rules should be included in a new communities rules if possible, because they work. People have been trying to live together for thousands of years (you could view the attempts as a lot of long term social experiments). In the areas they are in agreement, there is probably a reason. We seem to think we are more evolved, wiser than older societies. We aren't, and it shows a shocking ignorance and presumption to think otherwise. It reminds me of when I was in my late teens and was so much smarter than my parents.

Another thing mentioned in "The Abolition of Man" is that rules without a real belief, religion or philosophy behind them are simply manipulative. (in the book's example, a roman father telling his son that fighting and possibly dying for the glory of Rome was a wonderful thing (whether we agree or not) was telling his son something he truly believed and could be compared to an older bird flapping in front of a younger bird to help teach him to fly. A politician telling a young man what a great thing it is to fight and possibly die for his country because it will further the politicians career is simply predatory, manipulative and in the bird comparison is now a chicken farmer, managing and harvesting meat). (No insult meant to chicken farmers).

We need to be sincere in developing our rules and either be able to explain the real reasons or we need to seek those who need no explanations because the reasons are automatically obvious to them. I don't believe a single set of rules will work, because permaculture is a big tent with a wide variety of people in it.



 
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