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Tyler Ludens
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One interesting phenomenon I've noticed is how many people get land hoping to share it, but so often other people don't want to share land, they want their own land.  So there are many, many "intentional communities" which never grow beyond the initial family who purchased the land, and many, many people who want land but can't afford to buy it.  How to solve this problem?  How can we get these people together?

 
Travis Johnson
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For me it is all about liability and not an unwillingness to share.

When I bought the family farm off my parents a few years ago, my late-grandmother's house came with it. Upon her passing we used the money from her things, money found all through the house, and in accounts to renovate the kitchen and bathroom of this old farm house. The thing was, we all have houses so no one needed it even though for old farmhouses, this one was in really great shape. In Maine, the worse thing you can do to a home is try and keep it, yet refrain from heating it...there is just a litany of reasons why, but I won't get into that right now, just trust me, its not good. BUT this is also Maine, and a house is very expensive to heat, especially an old farmhouse. So it sat vacant with no heat.

The thing of it is, its an ideal location, as we live in the Permiculture Capital of the world, and the house sits across the road on its own 30 acre plot. Due to a road being between my house and my grandmother's, I had no interest in dong anything over there except maybe some logging some day, but the fields, outbuildings and whatnot would have been ideal for a micro-farm. Its just a pain to try and run sheep across the road, and with the vast majority of my land on this side of the road, I had no short-term plans for it at all. I would never sell it; I am a 9th generational sheep farmer, but someone without land could enjoy a piece of the good life, in a decent house, in a decent area, with pre-built outbuildings and a few acres...why not?

But the laws in Maine are really biased.

If someone has kids, you will NEVER get them out no matter how much they miss the rent payment. And there are a host of other laws that really make the liability for the owner so strict that it is just not worth it. Last year a land owner got 90 days in jail for a fire code violation and it was not even deliberate. A neighbor nearly had the same issue when squatters left a smudge pot gong in the dead of winter and aphexiated the entire family. It is just not worth it. But don't get me wrong, it grieved me to see hundreds of people posting on here..."any one have a place" and I am thinking, "yep, sure do, an ideal location", but can not say anything because the liability is so high that I just can't risk losing everything else I got to help someone out I don't know and trust well enough.

So to me, that is what needs to change. If the liability was a lot lower, then I am sure many people like me with a few houses kicking around would be more willing to share. Not the way the laws are written now though.

(This story does have a happy ending. When I needed a farm sitter for our Missions Trip to Moldova, I called my friend and sheep shearer to see if she could do it, my late-Grandmother's house ultimately came up, and now she is moving into that and doing Permiculture stuff. I don't mean Homesteading stuff either, Permie stuff and yes far more radical then me. I don't care, as I said I got enough work to do on this side of the road. It is perfect for her and I am glad it is being used again. It really worked out well).
 
Tyler Ludens
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In spite of potential liability problems, there are a TON of people who want to share, who have actually started an intentional community - but they can't get people to join!  That's what the conundrum is - the people with the land and the people who need/want land aren't getting together.

 
Travis Johnson
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I do not see a conundrum at all in this, because I think you are comparing apples to oranges, but using very vague terms in doing so.

The problem is not that people with intentional communities have land to share and that people looking for land are not getting together; its that the TYPE of land...intentional communities...are NOT the type of land the people are looking for. It is a supply and demand issue, not what I would consider a true conundrum. It is the equivalent of saying, "this guy has a scrap yard, and the guy with the metal detector needs to get together!" Well not if it is a aluminum scrap yard! Steel, aluminum, cast iron, and stainless steel are all metals, but have vast different properties. An intentional community is a TYPE of property...a type of land.

But there are many ways to change this supply and demand issue; that is getting more people to consider intentional communities as a solution to their land-less problem. Through education, an intentional community could slowly change the perception of land seekers, or they could specifically market their community to a particular personality type, or make themselves stand out in a saturated market. Maybe an intentional community could tap into the small house movement, or the owners try and embrace beginner farmers by accepting they are providing a intermediate tenure and not a long-term one. I don't have all the answers here, I am merely brain-storming for the good of all.

BUT don't think I am saying one thing against intentional communities, I am not. It was not my lot in life to be in one, I am a next-generational farmer and as such I have never lived in one, but I do go to church, and know varied personality types cause issues. I still love people, and am compassionate, sympathetic and empathetic to them no matter the structure they are in (church or intentional community), but it can be challenging sometimes.

As for the issue, ultimately it is a supply and demand issue, with the owners wanting extra help to progress and share what land they have been granted with, thus ballooning the supply side. But due to perception; whether due to parents growing up in them in the late 60's, or hearing about personality conflicts on forums, the demand side of things is suppressed. Change that and the dynamics of this specific land market will change.
 
r ranson
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Is this the question? - If someone has extra land they want to share and/or start a community, how do they go about finding people who wand and/or need land?  What do they need to supply to get people to join?

If I was in a situation to join an intentional community (and I might be one day), the biggest concern I would have is the loss of autonomy.  I want to be useful to the community in my own way and the others to respect my place in it.

So for example, if my contribution was to take care of the goats, I wouldn't want people 'helping' because maybe they think the goat is too skinny, so they feed it something that gives it bloat and then kills it.  Then they blame me because the goat looked too skinny, when actually the goat was overweight for her condition and their 'helping' wasn't helping at all.  (this is the number one loss of livestock in my experience - people 'helping' without asking first).  If I live in a community, I need to know people trust me to do my job.  In exchange, I want them to trust that I will ask for help when I need it (I will).  In exchange for that, I want to be able to trust others to do what they do and to trust them to ask for help when they need it.  That's a lot of trust going around. 

I also want a little bit of privacy, a home and a kitchen garden.  I'm an introvert and constant social interaction is too draining a thought.
I can't imagine there being a community that would have me, but if there was, (and I was at a place where I wanted to join one) I wouldn't know where to find it. 


Thinking about it some more, there seem to be two aspects to this:  How to get the word out and how to set up the community in a way that attracts the kind of person you want. 
I wish I knew the answer.  Whatever it is, this is going to be interesting to hear what people have to say.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Mainly I started this thread on behalf of the people who have land who are looking for people who don't have land but want it.  The people who don't have land say they want land but can't afford it, the people with land are offering it, but it seems like people are not taking them up on it.  Even more people are buying land with the intention of sharing it (someone posted this just recently) but there's all this land still going unclaimed.  Even Paul I think is still offering free land and may not have all the people he wants on his place (not 100% sure of this).

If people keep buying land with the intention of sharing it, and people are still wanting land but not being able to afford it - how do we get these people together?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tyler Ludens wrote:If people keep buying land with the intention of sharing it, and people are still wanting land but not being able to afford it - how do we get these people together?


My strategy is to add value to the community. People see what I do and like it. They ask me to steward their land. I get way more offers to be steward over land than I have strength or inclination to do well at it. I could hire help, but that's not my style.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I think that is an excellent strategy, Joseph.  And I think, from my own point of view, that is what I would want to offer as a land-haver.  I would want to demonstrate that the land can produce sufficient surplus to support another family, or additional families.  If it can't produce a surplus, how can I be looking for "surplus" people to inhabit it?  That's my own position, not saying this is what other land-havers should do.  I would want someone to be able to come here and be able to produce enough for themselves and even surplus to sell.  Otherwise, what value am I offering?  Just a place to camp?  I'm not happy with that idea, at this time.

I think it is also difficult to attract people if there is not housing already available.  Except everyone wants a beautiful cob house...

 
r ranson
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I think housing would be important to some people and not to others.   Some people like shared housing, others want to be a bit more private and have detached dwellings.  Some people want it already in place and ready to move in, others don't mind roughing it for a few months while they build their own.

For me, the most vital things are year 'round access to potable water, some place to cook, and non-petroleum based cooking fuel.  I have the skills to cook on an open fire, but would probably want to build a clay cookstove relatively soon after arrival as it saves on food.  I could see building a yurt to live in, and using that frame later on to create a more permanent housing.

My friend, when she was looking for landshare and/or community, a house was very important to her.  But more important than that was housing, fencing and water for her animals.  She doesn't mind hauling water up to an hour away for household use, but wanted animal water easily available.  Cooking she can take or leave as she fully expected to buy pre-cooked meals for the first few months while she settled in.

What does that mean for the landowner?  I'm not sure.  I like to imagine it means that there may be someone out there just perfect for your land.  It's just a matter of finding them... and now we're back to the original question.  How do we find them?


 
Tyler Ludens
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I think I'm gradually developing a plausible plan for the future.  If my husband kicks the bucket before I do, I think I would try sharing the house with a person, couple, or small family.  Maybe set it up as a rental for super cheap, just to make the paperwork more normal.  They could eventually put up a yurt or tiny (mobile) house - unfortunately due to deed restrictions, permanent small housing is not feasible.  Plenty of land for any growing experiments.  Lots of opportunity for improvement.  And pass it on to them when I croak.

 
Joseph Johnson
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When I first got a good look of my property and realized just how large it was, I decided to try and find people to share it with me. We were going out into the desert with nothing but a dream and what we believed was enough money to get us off to a good start. I was offering a few acres and help in building a house for anybody that shared our dream and could abide by a few simple rules. No Drugs. Its not a junkyard. All construction had to be natural. No chemicals. Out side of that, I envisioned everyone taking some small task, care for the chickens or help with the garden or help in the kitchen. This way no body had a "full-time" job and could plent of personal time to pursue personal interests. I thought if everyone got together for two days a week to work on building infrastructure we could slowly pull things together. We brought in buildings to serve as temporary housing and solar power. I learned a few things too lol. Temporary is ALWAYS longer than you think. Enough money is subjective. (We spent $20,000 in 3 weeks) And People seem to fear the desert. I still have not had anyone take me up on the offer and the few replies I did get led me to believe people tend to want all the hard work done for them before they would even consider it. It was that search that ultimately led me here to permies.com. and while we are physically alone out here in the desert, we are never more than a mouse click away some of the greatest people in the permiculture world. Maybe that is the true intentional community. We were looking for someone to help turn our little dirt patch around and we found them, they just came in a slightly different format lol. I would still love to find others to share our land with. We did add a new member to the group though when my sister found love across the valley and the saturday after Thanksgiving I got a new brother-in-law. I am starting to think it is more that people get the idea of homesteading and permaculture and start looking for land to share and then realize that there is a lot more work involved than they first imagined. Some of us figure that out and say "Damn the torpedos...." and others just give up and head back to the dock. Just my thoughts on the matter.....
 
Travis Johnson
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:My strategy is to add value to the community. People see what I do and like it. They ask me to steward their land. I get way more offers to be steward over land than I have strength or inclination to do well at it. I could hire help, but that's not my style.


Interesting, I am in the same situation. Sometimes this goes beyond just using their land, but wanting me to outright buy their land, having that; in-farming, in better hands, sort of warm fuzzy feeling they would get by the sale, but I don't feel right about it. I already own several acres that I do not feel is in 100% production. Morally I feel I need to get my land base up to 100% production before I even look at any more land base, and of course there is always the issue of taxes; Maine has one of the highest in the nation.
 
Peter Ellis
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When I look at intentional communities, it seems to me that the problem is always in "community".  Who will own the property, the community, or an individual?  Who makes the rules, the community, or an individual? How are rules made?  How are decisions made? These social constructs are the essence of community, and where a sufficient number of people can come to a consensus about these elements, we find successful intentional communities.

It's not about land, but about commonality of purpose, goals and ideals. The land is the easy part.  Finding people you can live and work with is much harder.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Peter Ellis wrote:
It's not about land, but about commonality of purpose, goals and ideals. The land is the easy part.  Finding people you can live and work with is much harder.


That's why I think it is probably a major error to buy land first and then try to form a community.  Yet people do it continually. 
 
George Lafayette
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Peter Ellis wrote:When I look at intentional communities, it seems to me that the problem is always in "community".  Who will own the property, the community, or an individual?  Who makes the rules, the community, or an individual? How are rules made?  How are decisions made? These social constructs are the essence of community, and where a sufficient number of people can come to a consensus about these elements, we find successful intentional communities.

It's not about land, but about commonality of purpose, goals and ideals. The land is the easy part.  Finding people you can live and work with is much harder.


I completely agree.

What I see on the internet is mostly people who want to start communities, I see far fewer people who want to join communities.

And they often focus on how they want to build their buildings, heat their homes, raise their crops. They don't focus on how they want to "get along" with each other, and they don't seem to know what the failure rate for new communities is.  Having lived in intentional communities for over 16 years, it seems to me that those people are focused on the easy problems.

The group I live in now has been living together successfully for almost 48 years. The really hard stuff is the people stuff.  
 
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