This document serves as a proposal description, a request for funding, and an outline of our organizational model. Please feel free to contact us with questions.
Our community plan consists of the following:
Creating a residential, agricultural based eco-village. A model community that is sustainable, contributes to local agricultural diversity, is completely “off the grid”, and is an educational opportunity for all walks of life to become self sufficient and productive. The possibilities for “at risk” foster care, Chemical dependency rehab, senior living skills and care and a possible solution for low income housing are all inherent in the model. Also inherent is the possibility of complete freedom from fossil fuels and foreign and corporate fiscal control of local community.
It would be an “Organic” dynamic model; food, energy, textiles, housing. would all come from the site, grown, or contracted with a local organization of businesses to provide near site resources. Or even recycled use of waste materials that would otherwise go to landfill. Once initial construction was completed these agri-business ventures would be used to support the financial obligations of the residents, property taxes, sales taxes, insurance obligations etc. As well as commuter and traditional job opportunities in the local area. Providing work, and stability to both the village and neighboring communities.
It would use the combined construction methods of several styles of “green” architecture, most prominently the “Eco-Dome” design for housing and communal living space. A standard base model home had to be chosen to estimate costs and we were impressed with the durability, low cost, flexibility and ease of construction. All waste would be organic in nature and used to fertilize and fuel the village. Solar power, wind energy, and hydro dynamic energy from naturally occurring water supplies and rainwater, and Hydrogen gas power storage would all contribute to making it a Zero Emissions Habitat.
It would use the village model of Co-housing, joint meals, harvest functions, and as many joint opportunities for productivity as possible to keep all members of the community as active and involved with the day to day village management as possible. This model also allows for extended families to all live near one another and yet still be free to have outside jobs, tele-commute and educate themselves, and still be an active participant in the village life.
The model is based on observations of the long term success and sustainability of such communities as the Amish, Quakers, and other isolationist communities. As well as successful Native American Tribal living techniques. However, unlike those communities we would still be connected with and active participants in the world around us, through the use of technology (that is now cheaply available and we hope that one day will become more sustainable.) and through the Internet, and other forms of digital communication. It’s having the best of both worlds, the knowledge that the participants are not only striving to heal the planet, but doing so in a way that strengthens the traditional values of “community” and “family”. With a Philosophy that a “good idea is a good idea”
Decisions would be based on general consent and extensive research into implementing initiatives.
Several successful similar communities are already forming in Europe, and around the world.
Communal property and tribal living are all dependent on the cooperation of all members of the community, they are all needed. There is less likelihood of unstable living conditions, as all members would be valued for their contributions.
Initial financial concerns:
Property, cost is dependent on location, terms of sale, etc.
Site selection would determine cost. Ideally a minimum of 100 acres, with forested and natural habitat, natural water supplies or solar well potential, farm-able soil, solar and wind exposure.
Construction costs would consist of the initial living facilities at a cost of roughly $10 a square foot. (an 800 square foot standard double dome would cost approx $8,000 to construct) And upgrading any existing facilities to “green” energy efficiency. These cost would be dependent on the initial number of participants and their housing requirements.
Land and agriculture assessments, and the cost of meeting county and state zoning and permitting requirements.
Installation of “Green Energy” sources of power, the cost of solar panels and equipment, energy storage facilities, hydrogen tank storage for Hydrogen Electric, and waste management construction, Wet and dry waste composting and dehydration and transfer systems.
Veterinary considerations, facilitates to house and feed livestock as well as the cost of purchasing the livestock and seed stock to initiate the agricultural process. Food and Grain Storage for both animals and residents. As well as facilities for research and development of newer and more efficient methods of agriculture and permaculture.
Initial Funding would come from Grants and donations trying to limit the amount of “debt economics” to long term fixed interest loans, with short term payment plans. Ownership by the community corporation “free and clear” would be a priority of community fundraising efforts.
Financially it could operate as a non-profit 501(c), with a possible short term fiduciary 501c3 under another organization to speed up financial accrual of funds while project achieves it’s own non-profit independent filing status. Then possibly transferring community resources to private ownership of the joint LLC. Using the Non-profit as a continuation mechanism for education, and fund raising for establishing other sites in other communities.
Mission and Vision Statement:
We adopt these as the core of our lives together, to provide a shared direction and boundaries to our community. We will revisit these agreements every year; although they cannot be changed without the consent of all the members, it is important that we keep them fresh and connected with our organic intentions and dreams.
Purpose: What are we doing?
Our purpose is to live happily in a beautiful ecovillage: a human-scale, mixed-use community that works towards ecological, economic, cultural and spiritual sustainability.
Principles: How will we go about doing it? What values give boundaries to our freedom?
We know that we don't know it all, so we make space and time to receive guidance -- from each other, and from other aspects of the universe.
The feeling of connection, which some of us describe with the words "connection to loving source", is a feeling we seek to cultivate as the foundation of our relationships. We commit to appreciating ourselves, each other, and the world as a way to generate that feeling of connection.
We are committed to the "many paths, one mountain" ethos: we welcome people of any spiritual path, so long as they do not require others to subscribe to their beliefs. Although these agreements are, in a sense, dogma, we want a minimum of dogma and a maximum of freedom, while we make the agreements necessary to accomplish our shared goals.
We will not discriminate against people based on age, sex, sexual preference, skin color, national origin or religion.
We will discriminate against people who are violent or abusive to our community members or to our village.
We value honesty: community members commit to speaking truthfully to one another and listening curiously for each other's truth.
We value impeccability: community members commit to making clear agreements with each other, and changing or keeping those agreements.
We commit to learning from our interactions with each other, owning our own shadow stuff and seeking to create the results we want rather than blaming ourselves and others.
We seek to benefit the ecosystems we live with, by increasing biodiversity and releasing as few pollutants as possible.
We seek to create a healthy local economy in which everyone enjoys the wealth they need to live well.
We value elders and youth, and make a space at the heart of our community for our oldest and youngest members.
We share our community with the world as a model for what is possible.
We work with natural systems, other local communities, national and international organizations in a cooperative and harmonious way that accomplishes our goals with a minimum of energy wasted on conflict.
Vision: This vision will continue to develop during the process of finding land and building the community -- it is slightly more fluid than the Purpose and Principles.
1. Community size. We imagine ultimately living in a community of about 100 adults, although that is ambitious and long-term and we accept that the number may be considerably smaller to begin with. The maximum number of adult residents will be 150. We expect to begin with a smaller initial group of residents on site, and expand from there.
2. Location. Ideally we would like to create an eco-village near Russian River, California, West Sonoma county to suit our purpose, principles, and vision. Although land costs are prohibitive, in the long term agriculture is more sustainable in this location given climate, and abundance of natural habitat. The ability to achieve the project “anywhere” would also contribute to it’s long term goal of creating sustainable community on a human scale regardless of location.
3. Site. We intend to live close to a rail/public bus link, and within 1 hour's travel of a reasonably large city for the sake of earning our keep. We imagine the site will be one with existing buildings and out-buildings, ie a farm, etc. We would like to be able to build new buildings on the site of a sustainable and carbon-neutral nature. We intend for the site to be a compact village-centre development alongside working farm land and wilderness areas. We must have room for gardening and planting trees. We must have water on-site, either as easily accessible ground-water and/or as a stream. We must have a village-centre site that will not be flooded by heavy rain or rising sea levels.
4. Economy. We intend to create a secure community subsistence economy, for example growing food, managing woodland, maintaining our tools and machinery, producing energy, dealing with waste... This doesn't mean we all have to be farmers, but it would mean each community member putting in an agreed number of hours each week, and learning skills that could end up maintaining the community in apocalypse or hard times. (2 - 8 hours per week? )
We also intend to grow a (booming) market economy. The skills and desires of community members will shape this; current community interests include: a healing arts centre, a birthing centre, a school, a rentable meeting hall and guest rooms, arts / artisanal crafts, 'net based work and commuting to nearby urban centers.
The subsistence economy exists to support the whole community; the market economy is more individualistic and each community member will ultimately be responsible for creating their own wealth of this type. However, both are needed for the long-term health of the village. If an initial group of investors puts money down to purchase and develop the land, we intend to provide those investors with a profit.
5. Governance. We use consensus decision-making structures, perhaps with a board or council that delegates authority to groups and individuals. This allows everyone to have their say, but also gets things done quickly without getting bogged down in having the whole group discuss every aspect of every decision, eg what colour to paint the barn. Privately run businesses operating on site may have to make agreements with the community, eg rent, available space, etc, but they will not be run by the community.
6. Legal structure. We imagine a company such as an LLP (limited liability partnership), with one voting share owned by each adult community member, would own the freehold common land and buildings. In addition to this voting share in the LLP, members may purchase leasehold properties from the LLP. This means that members can own or rent their private dwellings, and that these dwellings can be bought and sold on the open market as long as leasehold requirements are met. There will be some sort of filtering process for people wishing to become village members. The over-all organization could function as a public non-profit 501c, and also function similar to a Land Trust, the organizational structure of the legal entity would have to be determined by legal analysis of council and joint agreement of the community.
7. Culture/society. Community rules / norms will be decided upon by consensus as the village grows. We expect to eat together on a regular basis; to provide childcare together; to welcome nudity in some areas, such as a community hot-tub; to have regular community-building get-togethers, etc. We want to live a life where we can have private space but lots of chances to hang out on the porch with neighbours and kids; where kids are nurtured and safe, seniors and the elderly active and respected, everyone in it together, no hierarchy by sex, integration of generations. We are interested in shared home-schooling of the community's kids, but even if we get this organized it will not be compulsory. We intend to have a 'barn-raising' culture, whereby the community comes together in a spirit of fun if a big project needs to be achieved or if someone needs help, eg building a new dwelling.
8. Spirituality. We welcome village members of any creed, so long as they subscribe to an inclusive 'many paths, one mountain' ethos, respecting other people's spiritual processes. We would like members to be willing to commit to telling the truth to other villagers and to commit to learning from their interactions with each other. We are looking for villagers to be more committed to learning and creating positive outcomes for themselves and the whole community, than to being right or making others wrong (particularly when shadow stuff comes up and it's crunch time). Our ideas about spiritual sustainability mostly revolve around the ideas that people need to be committed to personal learning and growth, and to seeing all relationships (including with Earth) as opportunities for learning. Part of this practice is appreciating, loving, or "holding in the highest regard" both one's self and others.
9. Ecology. Basically we would like the creation of our village to benefit the local and global environment overall. We are interested in learning about and using new and established ways to, for example, maximise bio-diversity, minimise CO2 production, minimise wastage, etc.
10. Architecture and Infrastructure. Currently, we intend to purchase land with a few buildings already on it. If possible. Long-term, we intend to expand the existing structures, and build enough new structures to provide workshop, gathering, office, and all the other village-centre spaces members require. We also intend to build a cluster of high-density dwellings in the village centre, and perhaps a few other clusters of buildings, with a wide diversity of green building styles according to the tastes and resources of the people building the homes. The site will have a permaculture master-plan developed in consultation with all the members. Some members are committed to incorporating sacred geometry into the design of common buildings and aspects of the site design. We will seek to provide broadband internet, locally-generated electricity, high-quality water, sewage disposal and heating of some kind to all the homes and common buildings, mostly through building-scale, rather than community-scale, infrastructure.
Why this needs to happen:
The opportunity for Sonoma County merchants and government to benefit from increased tourist and agricultural revenue, hand made durable goods sales, and the overall positive effect it would have on the local economy would help to increase it’s long term financial and social sustainability. The local governments would benefit from a thriving local self sufficient economy giving it more financial freedom to focus on large scale community issues like health care and education. We also have a strong suspicion that this would also cut down on the number of violent crimes and those social issues requiring increased police and law enforcement resources. Which are also a key concern for local and state governments who are financially hurting for resources. We would value a long term study on the effects socially.
Initially we suspect there will be push-back from Construction, corporate energy and waste management, and the real estate sectors both politically and economically.
We would hope that our venture would give the local construction and real estate markets an untapped resource. Co-housing real estate can be just as lucrative and rewarding as traditional home sales, not to mention the possibilities for demolishing and renewing existing failing properties with more green and sustainable architecture. The same would benefit the construction industry if it was willing to learn new methods and design methodologies that make it more durable, using less costly materials and focusing on the rewards that come from quality of workmanship. Not everyone can or wants to build their home. And even people living on smaller properties that can’t fully agriculturally support themselves would benefit from innovative home design and also drive the local food and service markets. We would also be willing to sell excess power to city, county or state agencies. However we would prefer not to contract with large corporate energy providers.
Sonoma County pride’s itself on it’s commitment to “Green Living” and local community agriculture. We believe it would be a welcome addition to the general economic and agricultural diversity and strength of the county and the State. Not to mention a possible stabilizing social impact that would benefit every member of the greater Sonoma County community. It would give low income, elderly, disabled and at-risk post-foster care individuals an opportunity to become viable members of a functioning and healthy society.
With the state of global fossil fuel markets, unstable international governments and limited state and federal funding available, this seems only the logical course of action to maintain our independence from foreign and corporate control, maintain a healthy and balanced society, and increase our value and self worth as individuals in a society that is only now learning the value of diversity and the wisdom of multiplicity. And ultimately it fulfills the basic freedoms of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness”
Other sources of income, and fundraising that would need to occur:
There are several individuals in the global entertainment and creative communities that could be tapped as investors or endorsers of financing:
Bjork , who has not only been a global innovator, but also has a deep concern for the environment. She is currently operating several successful co-op business models and would be a valuable contributor.
Gwyneth Paltrow & Camerson Diaz: Act Green: "unite to conserve energy and reduce our reliance on oil."
Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998 to promote environmental issues, drives a hybrid car, currently writing and producing a feature length documentary on global warming called "11th Hour".
The Jane Goodall Institute: Purpose to advance the power of individuals to take informed and compassionate action to improve the environment of all living things
Woody Harrelson: "transforming the world together." This is a guy that is inspiring, focuses on biodiesel, getting off the grid, organic & overall good green-ness.
Daryl Hannah: arrested in June 2006 for staging a 23-day tree sit-in during a bid to preserve an urban community garden in Los Angeles, traveled across America in 2005 in a biofuel car, home is entirely off-grid. dh love life: a video blog focused on green topics
Willie Nelson: singer, co-partner in the Willie Nelson Biodiesel Company.
Other global green investors that have an interest in marketing, such as solar and wind corporations, academic institutions wanting to do field studies and Federal Grants.
The more support we get, the more we can accomplish together.
In conclusion, thank you for taking your time. which is the most precious of resources.
Thank you for reading this and considering our proposal.
We hope that you will contact us with questions.
We wish you a good day.
(needs a Website:)