I am here to share news of a coming together, of the creation of a vibrant community, so that you will take part in creating communities of your own.
First, I am simply one part of many moving parts that came together to create our community. Some would say I played a pivotal role, as a founder, but I feel that my role was like any role similar to building a house. Like an electrician, or plumber, I played my part…I was more the person who drew the picture of the house, and perhaps poured the foundation…the rest of the ‘house’ was built by many, many other hands.
Can you see your community? Can you hear your community? Can you see the children there, playing with neighbours children, can you see the kids going ahead of time to the potlucks, only to not eat a thing at the table because they are too busy playing with the other neighbourhood kids? Can you see them biking up and down the dirt roads, harvesting whatever wild fruit happens to be in season? Or bringing in a container of fruit that we might make their favourite jelly for them?
I was a middle-class skateboarding artist kid. I was not good at fulfilling a stellar academic career my parents funded. I had no idea what I was doing in my life…blithely ignorant. But, there was a seed, a spark of something inside me, that was on fire to determine why I was on the planet. Was there something I could do that was amazing, but simply forgot what it was? Then, in the fall of 1993, I read a book that not only gave me the spiritual underpinnings for the rest of my life, but was the first book of it’s kind to suggest any practical changes in my life: did I know how to plant a seed and watch it grow into food on my plate? Did I know how happy I would be building my home in a place where the water still runs free? Did I know how to preserve food, cultivate a garden, save seeds? To be sovereign on a small piece of land? No I did not, but yes, now I knew I wanted it fervently…because I was shown that somehow there was a spiritual opportunity in creating a life of peace in the forgotten rural areas of my country. Later I have learned that we should not all abandon our urban centres and all run to the country, but some of us may feel the call to leave because we must create something new for humanity, and then share it. That is my work.
Some of us here will help form the body of the community, adding our energy to one that has begun, and this is JUST as important as the calling to found the community. But my story is about the founding of a community, because that is what I know. Here is my most essential offering. What are the parts of the recipe that I feel were necessary to create community? Desiring it. Waking up everyday and wanting it. Thinking about it. Dreaming about it. Okay, so where were all these people going to live in this community? Under my roof? No. A stone’s throw from my door? No, that didn’t work…too much drama. On 2.5 acre parcels? Yes, this number was just about right. Not to big, not too small. You could love it all. You could grow a big garden, have room to dream, keep some animals, have a bit of forest to hide in, pee in the bushes without being seen. So we needed land. 100 acres in our rural area of the country was affordable.
If you want community, go to where it is that you want it to be. Live there, meet the neighbours, start to learn about a place…build your home there first. Your home will be the seed of your community. It will show the newcomers the dream turned real on a micro-scale. A loving home, where peace flourishes, is an important cornerstone, an offering to the rest of the unfolding process. When newcomers come to visit, to see if they want to move there, you can offer them an invitation to break bread, sleep the night, walk through your orchard…they can start to see what they want in their own lives by seeing it in yours. By now you have purchased land, hook or by crook, to share with others. We knew a few things from the start: We will never sell land to newcomers…it must be freely given. This act of sharing land that was once locked into the idea of commodification is a critical detail for our success. It means that the widest diversity of people, of different economic backgrounds, could access land, land they should never have to open their wallets to live on ANYWAY. What a revolting image to think we have to open our wallets to make a place for our bodies to sleep at night. Shouldn’t access to land be as natural and free as the animals who live around us access their homes?
Everyone, anyone, is invited here. NO FILTERS. This is not a membership-based community, where some are allowed in and others not. All are welcomed. Some were afraid of this, but this we held steadfast from the start…and now we have the most resilient community I could dream for this forgotten dirt road. It is growing quickly, six new families just this year. Now people are buying land around the Land Share and enlivening it further afield. In 10 years we have multiplied from 2 to 20 households, over 45 people, many children…and it is picking up speed.
At least for the 13 lots of the Land Share, there was one request made to all interested participants: wait one-year in the area before building on the land. Wait and learn about the place, experience the seasons, the black flies, the 6 months of winter…wait and see if this is the place. This ‘rule’ was not for our benefit, but to help create a transition time to engage with the land. It is not a perfect ‘rule’ and could easily be jettisoned, but represents a membrane, like that of a cell-wall…it is flexible, and can be passed through, but it is there. Do with it as you like, but it has been accepted here, and many people appreciate the year wait condition to access free land.
That’s it. Our secret sauce. No guru. No by-laws. Yes, there are technical details, but they are far less compelling and important to the unfolding of this community…people are getting on with it. We share the burden equally of land taxes. We meet once a month to discuss community direction and organization. We are building houses, barns, mini-festivals…it is busy here. We have a one-room school house which is often considered the heart of the community. A shared kitchen, bathing, and laundry facility is there, too, which helps newcomers have some level of convenience when first arriving.
Anyway, I wanted to briefly share this reality with you, those of you who resonate with them. Thank you for allowing me to share with you. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with you about any further details of this topic. Thanks.