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podcast 396 - Jumpstarting Community  RSS feed

 
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Summary

Credit: Craig Dobbson

In this podcast Jocelyn, Fred and Paul are talking about jump starting community and reaching a critical mass of community member such that it's a self-sustaining entity. They touch back on a past podcast series where they talked about the ickyness that occurred up at the lab last year. There were some troubles with sticky locks on the gate and mice in the willow feeders. Fred explains the details of what happened in these situations and Paul and Jocelyn make observations and comments about how things could have been better handled. All in all, it seems as though the troubles up at the lab were minimal but enough of a catalyst for things to end poorly for some of the residents. Fred notes that the mice were actually taking the toilet paper from the willow wonka.

Paul begins the discussion about community by noting some of the things that have been positive factors in getting to where Wheaton labs has gotten. Of course the first thing is that they have land to call their own. This now gives them the opportunity to experiment and try new things. They talk about how many rocket mass heaters they have on the land. There's twelve of them!   WOW!  Paul also notes that there are 7 people currently living on the land. The permies.com forums are still growing as well. At the time of this recording, the forums have received 22 million page views in the last month.

There's also a couple of Kickstarter projects in the works. When they are ready, there will be many announcements.

There is still a position available for a "rental coordinator" and there's a 50% commission for all rental fees so there's some potential for the right person to make a little mountain of money if they can make that project sing. For the next few months, the commission is 80%. Know anyone? A position for an assistant instructor for the upcoming PDC is also open.

There are many challenges to building this community. For a while, they talk about building a well, and all of the struggles they've had in getting a functional well going because of lots of comedy in people's lives. They cover some points about renting structures and how that could be a serious income for the right person. That person has to be familiar with a lot of social networks, technology and emails so that they can reach a lot of folks that might want to rent a structure.

Later on, there's some discussion about how there seems to be a big difference between certain communities. Paul talks about this in relation to his knowledge about the computer coder community and the permies community. He notes that there is significantly more drama in the permies community and that it creates special challenges to building a good, stable community in the physical world, such as the one he's trying to create on Wheaton Labs. Jocelyn and Fred agree that people who are bonkers about permaculture also tend to have other curiosities in their personalities and some of those quirks can be a hindrance to community building.

They touch on the idea of symbiotic relationships between the lab residents so that everyone can make their own hours and develop their own ways of doing business, very similar to the idea that Joel Salatin came up with when he spoke about fiefdoms.

Paul also reflects on his PDC experience and how it influenced him to build community. They have a good talk about how a lot of folks attend more than one PDC just for the community experience. They want to hang out with other permaculture people and share a nice experience. Jocelyn takes a second to note that Paul is actually a pretty nice and sweet guy, once folks get to understand his patient yet boisterous personality.

They finish up by talking about how they can spruce up the different events that are coming up. Jocelyn talks about the simple act of taking a walk and learning about wild things. Paul also wishes to have guest instructors for the Peasant PDC.  There's a lot of opportunity and many different ways that you can get involved with Wheaton labs. Check it out.

Relevant Threads

Building community
Wheaton labs Main Page
Peasant PDC
Homesteader PDC ATC

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pollinator
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I have been listening to the podcasts about building community.  What an exciting opportunity!!!  I am very tempted.

I can't type much more today because of soreness but will just say this one thing:

it might help to restate _frequently_ the goal, the vision of growing the new best permaculturists, throughout the ant village year--to keep holding that vision for each person who comes there.  You can inspire people, Paul, and do inspire people, and it might help to be saying often to people, "You may not see it now, but you are future dutchesses and dukes of permaculture, you can innovate and inspire one another, and inspire and teach me."  The Ant Village community is an inspiring vision or set of visions.

More soon.

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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I realize I left out some essential context for my suggestion.

I'm assuming that in 50 years a whole lot of people (millions) will be at about the level of the world's leading experts today in terms of permaculture knowledge.  As in Geoff Lawton's analogy of the forest, the pioneer plants will have been overshadowed by overstory perennials, and so many of us will be "dukes and dutchesses of permaculture" by today's standards.

In 200 years we'll all have a basic knowledge of plants, systems, and self-sustainanance, community, health, and shelter, and about the knowledge that an indigenous person had in the past plus access to all of what we humans have amassed (via the internet).

Then the question becomes, starting with the people who've become "awesome" in 50 years, how did they get there? or, better still, starting with the world you want to see in 200 years, how did the next 7 generations get there?  Then work backward.

Or maybe the goal is different, and then the question changes.  In the amazing PDC experience you had, Paul, you weren't with the people who aleady know everything, but with people who were passionate and starting their journey.  So the function of "creating the situation of having extremely passionate people to connect with" could be served by a host of different elements.  What elements will best serve that function?

You're doing good thinking about this, and learning from things that didn't work, but I don't think this is your _best_ thinking.  When you're really at your best, it's at a higher level, and you have the "being on fire" feeling.

I think it's worth brainstorming a host of different elements that could serve the function you want, and getting more clear about the several functions you're looking at.

--a template for [materially self-sufficient, sustainable] community that can be rubber-stamped around the world
--to incubate the future "best permaculturists"
--to create a space where the best permaculturists can come together and inspire one another
--to eat three meals a day with like-minded people who are passionate about this, and not feel alone in it
--to make back some of your expenses
--to attract people who are making an investment, and protect yourself from people who are only looking to take or to destroy
--...?

These aren't all the same goal.  They may be all servable by one element, but not necessarily.

Diana Leafe Christian makes it clear that it's often a boondoggle to have the land first and try to "build it and they will come."  But it can be done.  However, it's best to be clear why you're doing each step you're doing.  Having the land serves a number of functions, not just creating the rubber-stampable community.

re-thinking this doesn't mean you have to can any of your current elements, but it might open up new possibilities that are more doable, less problem-ridden, more fun, more energizing...who knows.  As you said, the only sure way to get nothing is not to try it.  So, that's my two cents, take at least a half hour to do some deliberate thinking about and reexamining these aspects of your design that seem, to me anyway, to have been left unexamined.  There's probably thinking processes you use as an engineer that work for you, or permaculture thinking tools, whatever tools you use should help.  But this is a leverage point I'm seeing.

Maybe it's all clear in your mind, but I see a number of inconsistencies in your thinking in the podcast, and passions pointing in slightly different directions, and it seems that clarity on that front would open up a lot more flow of energy.  

Again, it's just my two cents, take what you like and leave the rest.
 
pollinator
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After listening to the podcast I have a question about the rental reservation system.

Has the web platform reservation system been chosen?  If it has not been chosen, we have experience in this.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Thoughts a little clearer now.

Let's say you had a community of neighbors who were die-hard permies.  Willie Smits, Erica and Ernie, Joel Salatin, Marjorie Wildcraft.  You have your cattle expert, your bee expert, your mushroom expert, etc.  How do you relate to them? what communication process do you use to keep everyone in touch, to have the group's energy be as much as possible, more than the sum of its parts? how do you apportion resources? how do you ensure that you each get your heart satisfied as well as getting projects done? how do you balance decentralization and connection?  

Then, another question--damn you, Paul, you've sucked all the best permaculturists in the world right out of the world and into Montana!  wtf? what are the rest of us supposed to do?  how can we have the permacultural goodness you've got going on in surplus over there distribute throughout the world?

And how does all of this further one of your stated goals of accomplishing the most Sepp units?

Third question--what does it mean to accomplish many Sepp units--is it measured in innovations? calories provided sustainably? person's educated? persons inspired to change their lifestyle? ...?  there are a lot of things a Sepp Holzer can Holz, which of them is the most important to you when you think of accomplishing many Sepp units?  
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Is it really "jumpstarting community" or is it more "capturing flows"?
 
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“Houdini Lock Lube” is the best stuff for locks.
 
Yeast devil! Back to the oven that baked you! And take this tiny ad too:
Wild Homesteading - Work with nature to grow food and start/build your homestead
https://permies.com/t/96779/Wild-Homesteading-Work-nature-grow
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