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Jamie Silva
Posts: 4
Location: Austin, TX
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My husband and I have come back to this site again and again for the amazing information and stories that fill us with hope that our dreams can be realized too. We have been planning a seemingly impossible venture for quite some time now, but have been struggling with how to start, whether there would be enough people interested to get it started and help it continue to run smoothly, and how to overcome the initial financial obstacles.

After all this time, it just now occurred to us (face palm, we know) that this is probably the best place to come to to explain our vision without the opposition or blank stares we are faced with when trying to talk to others who still consider off-grid living, intentional communities, and "all that hippie stuff" to be foolish and a waste of our time.

We have been planning this out for the better part of 9 months and need some direction to continue the forward momentum.

Our dream is an intentional community that not only helps those who wish to escape the 9-5, plugged into the system life, but also those in desperate need of help. We want our community to help homeless veterans as well as indigent families and to help start/maintain an animal rescue center that would support homeless cats and dogs as well as retired livestock.

We plan on the community being vegan as it seems the best way to keep costs down and it fits with our personal choices/beliefs as well. We have been learning all sorts of ways to make pretty much anything a meat-lover could want with veggies though and Eric is an amazing chef with 10+ years experience behind him so that helps too!

We have located cheap land that is able to be leased to own, which fits with our budget, although they did say they really only want one structure built on the land until it is paid off. The good news is that there are absolutely no zoning laws where we are looking, so it makes what we would like to do much easier than having to work around regulations and fees.

The bad news is it is basically a desert climate with some tracts having more vegetation than others, although we have been looking into desert terraforming and it apparently is not as difficult as we believed it would be. We also are looking into constructing several greenhouses dedicated to vertical farming to help provide year round food as well.

We are wanting to have water delivery and a cistern (and hopefully reverse osmosis filter) to begin with and are looking into purchasing an atmospheric water generator as soon as the company we decided on begins production next year.

We would like to have an off-grid community and animal rescue center, but we realize this may be difficult in the beginning with limited funds so we are trying to find tracts close to power if necessary.

For bathroom needs, we are trying to decide between outhouses and composting toilets. We have also considered a septic system, but we aren't really sure which would be most cost effective, least harmful to the environment, and have the least amount of upkeep needed.

We have located a couple of options regarding housing and building structures that hopefully will be the most cost effective for starting out. We've been looking into shipping container homes and arched cabins specifically (sectioned off into 10'X20' Tiny Homes, as well as larger community areas), but have also researched many others in our quest to find the best solution.

We are looking at tracts that are near small towns with the basics: gas station, post office, grocery store, and in some cases a school.

We will ask that everyone contribute to helping in some way with either the community itself or the animal rescue center. Cooking, cleaning, building, teaching, grooming... there are many many ways to contribute.

Regarding income, we hope to have internet set up for remote work. We also would like to ask those who may be artistically inclined in one way or another to work on art projects that might be sold/traded and provide a small percentage to go back to the community and towards care of the animals.

We would love for the community to eventually be as money-free as possible, but unfortunately this is a bit hard at the moment.

Regarding schooling, it will probably be homeschooling/unschooling at least to start, with the possibility of an "education center" developed later on. If near a small town with a school, that could be an option as well.

We would like to partner with other communities and possibly organizations to help share resources as well as obtain donated materials, animal feed, etc to make money as unnecessary as possible.

We are also hoping to partner with retired medical professionals and/or last year students for veterinary care and emergency care for our residents. We would like to stick with natural medicine/remedies as much as possible though.

I hope we've covered everything, but please feel free to ask questions! We would really appreciate feedback and hopefully some direction going forward. We would love to partner up with anyone willing to help make our dream a reality.

We have a business plan with a lot more details from when we were considering going for nonprofit status (before a friend pointed out that we probably wouldn't qualify) and would be more than willing to share with anyone wanting more detailed information than we've been able to provide here.

Thanks for reading!

Love and light,

Jamie and Eric
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Jamie Silva wrote: we have been looking into desert terraforming and it apparently is not as difficult as we believed it would be.


It is quite difficult!  It is a challenge to find a tract with just the right topography and large enough to provide sufficient watershed to redirect to growing areas, without accidentally locating in a flood zone.

http://www.independent.com/news/2010/oct/06/flash-flood-quail-springs/

Yours is a very, very ambitious vision.  If you have not done so, I can't recommend strongly enough that you read the book Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian, which examines how some intentional communities succeed and why most fail.

 
Jamie Silva
Posts: 4
Location: Austin, TX
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I suppose we've just found people who made it look easy then! (or at least easier than we were imagining it to be)   
  
  
   


We looked into the area and still believe it to be the best bet. The specific tracts we have been looking into and the adjacent plots to them are not in a floodplain. This is the info for the county the land is located in as well:


Descr.                                          Count              Quintile
Floods 1960-2010                           12                    Mid-Bottom
Hurricane Impacts 1960-2010            1                   Mid-Bottom
Hurricane/TS/D Tracts 1842-2010       2                   Mid- Bottom
Thunderstorm Winds 1960-2010        17                  Bottom
Tornados 1960-2010                        1                    Bottom
Hail 1960-2010                                10                  Mid-Bottom
Lightning 1960-2010                          2                  Mid-Bottom
Extreme Drought 1960-2010              0                  Bottom
Extreme Heat 1960-2010                   2                  Middle
Winter Storms 1960-2010                 19                 Middle
Wildfire 2005-2009                            1                  Bottom

And we will definitely be looking into that book, thank you!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Which county is it, can I ask?

 
Jamie Silva
Posts: 4
Location: Austin, TX
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Sure! Hudspeth County TX
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
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Woo, that is one harsh zone!  Average 13 inches of rainfall.  Less in drought.  I've found it super challenging to grow things even here with our average of 28 inches (don't believe websites which claim we get 40 inches per year, they are lying).
 
Jamie Silva
Posts: 4
Location: Austin, TX
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Yeah, it is going to be a bit tough I'm sure. What methods are you finding work the best? We've been looking into different methods, but haven't settled on the best solution yet. There are actually some youtube videos of people who actually bought up land in the area where we are looking in West Texas (or at least reasonably close) and they have had some luck getting some things to grow, especially focusing on native plants to the area.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
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Here's a permie neighbor to the north:  https://permies.com/t/47297/Gaines-County-Texas-Greening-part

The most helpful resources I've found are Brad Lancaster's website, videos and books, especially Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Volume 2: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

From my own experiences and large failures I've learned that the most important thing to keep in mind are the basics of permaculture design in this order 1. Water 2. Access 3. Structures.  The water harvesting needs to be designed first of all and at least some of it installed before moving on to roads, buildings, and gardens, or a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money might be wasted. 

 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 746
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
11
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Echoing Tyler Ludens in advocating the work of Brad Lancaster. To steal a critical quote from him-

Plant your water first.

Regarding the terra-forming, you'll need to concentrate *enough* water for your plants of choice without creating erosion conditions or bogs.

The sooner you can get some form of canopy over your soil, the better. If that means starting with otherwise undesireable tough and hardy trees then so be it. In the short term any annual that will grow can help shade the soil and get the microbial life going.

I highly advise against purchasing any grafted perennials until you have some well-hydrated [but not water-logged, that's a critical distinction that requires careful planning] and life-filled soil ready to put them in, otherwise you're gambling on the weather for the survival of that investment.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3981
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
166
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Howdy Jamie, welcome to permies! I am looking forward to seeing your progress.

Here is a thread from one of your neighbors, I believe, that you might find interesting ?

https://permies.com/t/53448/Potatoes-Corn-Beans-water#445921
 
Dan Grubbs
Posts: 524
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
28
books chicken dog forest garden goat trees
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Reach out to Summer Majors in Texas who has done this in some way already.  Here's her FB profile so you can directly communicate with her: https://www.facebook.com/summer.hogan.77
 
Kim Goodwin
Posts: 47
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I think people have given a lot of good tips above.  Something I don't see mentioned, that I'd just add to Tyler Ludens' reading recommendation (Diana Leaf Christian's books) - is a series of articles in Communities Magazine a few years ago...you know what I'll just find the link.

Here you go.  This is a really great series of debate articles between Diana Leaf Christian and other communities faciliators.  http://www.ic.org/busting-the-myth-that-consensus-with-unanimity-is-good-for-communities/

In this series, DLC explains something she discovered after years of working with ICs.  It seems that community-seekers can be divided into roughly two groups, with some crossover:


1. People who want to live in community primarily for lifestyle choice purposes. 

2. Community-seekers who's primary drive is to develop close relationships with a group of people, to become like a family.  In one of his podcasts, I think Paul W. described this as (in different words) people who are looking for a type of group counseling experience.

Though I'm sure there is a spectrum here, when you are on opposite ends of it, the expectations, perspectives, and needs of people are very different.  It helps to read the entire set of articles and then the concept becomes very clear.  It's very interesting, too, because on the surface the seekers can seem very similar. But when it comes to decision-making, these differences became more apparent and lead to friction.  It's so important to understand, as much as possible, where a person is coming from.  Explains a lot.

Hope that's useful, and good luck in your project!
 
James Everett
Posts: 94
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
3
dog greening the desert trees
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Here's a permie neighbor to the north:  https://permies.com/t/47297/Gaines-County-Texas-Greening-part

The most helpful resources I've found are Brad Lancaster's website, videos and books, especially Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Volume 2: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

From my own experiences and large failures I've learned that the most important thing to keep in mind are the basics of permaculture design in this order 1. Water 2. Access 3. Structures.  The water harvesting needs to be designed first of all and at least some of it installed before moving on to roads, buildings, and gardens, or a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money might be wasted. 



I am up around the corner here in Gaines county and the part I am working on more with out having to pump water up from my well is working on ways to keep water on my land longer

I started last year moving dirt around by shovel to start to see how things will start looking with just basic water holding mainly from the rains and this video shows what it did over the year.  You can see the difference in the grasses that were affected by the water retention and just a short distance out how the grasses stayed smaller due to lack of water in the most recent youtube video on my post.  I am going to expand more on to this this year and going to try and get some equipment some time but most of what I do is with shovel, pick ax and wheel barrel.  I do have other videos just shows a tour of my land and how caliche it is.  over all still new to this and just getting out and doing something is showing some good results.  Either case a lot of it comes down to water and me bringing in as much organic matter to get things started.

 
this is supposed to be a surprise, but it smells like a tiny ad:
Systems of Beekeeping Course - Winterization Now Available
https://permies.com/t/69572/Systems-Beekeeping-Winterization
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