Oct 132016
 

“We’re all mad here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

All in our different ways…

We understand that people differ from each other, not just by the way we look, but by many ways in which our brains work. This is good. I think a great strength of Humanity lays here. And I think for the communities of the future to be happier and more resilient, we need to study those differences and any dynamics they case in the relationships between people. This is something to use proactively in community building on many levels.

At the moment I am into the book “Make Your Sensitivity Work for You” by Alice Muir.


The book gives some practical advise on being a highly sensitive person – like many people are, me included. It is great that the book says there is nothing wrong with being sensitive and sensitivity comes as a part of a package of useful traits, often including also being intuitive, very perceptive, empathic, good listener, understanding, enthusiastic, interested in people, sympathetic, committed, a deep thinker, creative, imaginative, intelligent, reliable, trustworthy, good at seeing others point of view, aware of subtleties, different scenarios and consequences

Time to pat yourself on the head if you are sensitive – except that (I think) there are many shades and varieties of sensitivity with different traits and the traits themselves could be on different stages of development. But, I guess, it is a trait of modern psychology – even if nowadays they acknowledge that there is big variety within “normal”, they still fail to sort the details. I wish there would be a chapter on Jungian cognitive functions here – they are an approximation of course, but better to have one than no analysis at all.

There’s however a chapter on what could make somebody sensitive which, on the level of gut feeling, seems wrong to me. This is big profound rewiring of the brain by events, some of which are not even very traumatic. Can this really happen, especially later in life?

As far as I can understand here is an ongoing debate about nature versus nurture in us humans.  Steven Pinker fights the notion of the “blank slate” human in his book with the same name:

 

 

 

People are born a bit different to each other and, again, here lies our strength, not weakness.

An interesting perspective on the differences is in one in the Johnathan Fields’ podcast: the split between helpers and makers among us. I think it is a great observation. The source of so much struggle and guilt: “I should be helping someone, when I just want to create!” or “I should be making something while I just want to help! ”.

We all should stop beating ourselves for what we are and concentrate on how can we work together for everyone’s benefit.

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Oct 042016
 

Here’s my contribution to the debate

Many small scale experiments for a more resilient future

Now that we have an opportunity to rethink the future of agriculture, land management and the life of rural communities in Wales, let people to experiment and to find out what will work. There is no need to play havoc with all of the rural economy at once but please allow innovation and initiative on a small scale, as long as there is no clear and obvious risk to people, animals and the environment. There must be people willing to experiment, creating all sorts of new businesses, eco-villages, homesteads and seasteads, various intentional communities. Give them a good fighting chance then take evidence-based decisions, not affected by fads or overrated opinions of the most vocal of lobbies. Even then, no government should ever place all eggs in the same basket (be this sheep farming or timber). Diversity in business models and lifestyles improves the resilience of any economy just like biodiversity helps ecosystems to survive changes and hard times.

alexfarmboysmall

Why the contribution is important

Presently there are lots of things going wrong with our lives. Our towns are surrounded by countryside but people may feel very distant from it. The farmland creates backdrop to their lives but is inaccessible due to lack of footpaths, public transport and human connection to the farming community, lack of internet – and lack of interest too. This is not a healthy relationship. The people are suffering, stuck to cities and towns with ridiculously small gardens and manicured parks. People need real nature and countryside for mental and physical health. People need fresh quality food, need connection to the land and to the community. So, we need our intelligence to develop a way of living in harmony with nature, surrounded by nature everywhere where we are. I am thinking in the direction of sustainable small scale farming, food forests, “garden cities”, decentralisation, edible landscapes, living roofs and walls, passive houses, forest farming, green burial sites, silvopasture, permaculture, aquaponics, real community gardens serving real communities, etc. – whatever works. I believe human activity and flourishing could be conducted within a healthy ecosystem made of us, our stuff, wide variety of plants and animals.

I am an artist and a geographer interested in creating a prototype semi-rural intentional community (an eco-village, an eco-block or an eco-neighborhood), an ongoing experiment for a better way of living, more sufficient and efficient, closer to Nature, working with the help from newest technology. An open lab of an honest, creative and compassionate life, strong friendly community, better health and well-being. Doing research into reintroducing wildlife, into more efficient food production and waste recycling systems, into automation, working on the new ways to get energy, new building methods, new educational systems, restoring useful agricultural and building practices from the past, and so on. People of various interests and abilities creating better lives for themselves, their friends, neighbours and families, ultimately, for the whole Earth. In the world obsessed with divisions this should be a place of honest enquiry, free of prejudices and any party rhetoric.

What we need is relaxing of planing permissions and other regulations for experimental / alternative communities, eco-villages, or self-built houses; we need land and we need grants. It is vitally important that public money won’t go to some smoke screen / green wash projects for clever bureaucrats but to real people building real future. There also should not be any exploitation of vulnerable and gullible “volunteers”, like in some modern social enterprises. People who will be living and working in those future communities are also the best candidates for building them.

The wast green spaces of Wales are treasures. We have a chance to make them also different to all other rural parts of the world in being a magnet for innovation and future-friendly experiment, brain-and skill- gain rather than drain, place for openness and cooperation, honest work for common good.

 

If you are interested in participating, please join the New Good Town project athttp://goodnewtown.uk/ and our Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/groups/goodnewtown/

by AlexandraCook on October 04, 2016 at 11:27AM

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Sep 072016
 

It seems that things more likely to happen in cities, but the countryside and nature heal and give inspiration. What if the future manage to merge both? What if we learn to live among proper woods, seas, meadows, streams and mountains yet be able to participate in interesting conversations, attend live concerts and generally be with like minded people with ease?

This could happen either through virtual reality, or through some new form of very fast and cheap travel. Individual flying machines?

The third option is to always settle near like minded people and move when you feel the need to join the new circle.

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Jul 202016
 

Good New Town (ecovillage) Manifesto ideas

http://www.facebook.com/groups/goodnewtown/

The purpose of the community is creating a better way of living, more sufficient and efficient, closer to Nature, and with the help from newest technologies. Living a honest, creative and compassionate life, building a strong community, improving health and wellbeing. Making edible landscapes and wildlife habitats. Learning. Finding true calling. Creating better lives for ourselves, our friends, neighbors and families, for the whole Earth.

  1. The community as a whole should stay away from all dogmas, political, religious, social, dietary, ecological, spiritual, etc. This should be firmly placed in our constitution to prevent future take-overs by any individuals. The community needs to be build by friendly, honest, diverse people (with many different opinions of their own), open to many ideas and experiments and ready to do the hard work involved. The main criteria in choosing the common course of actions should be “Does it work for us?” and “Is it beneficial for people and the environment on both the small and on the big scale, now and in many possible futures?” but not “This is what our kind of people normally do”. We should try to show an example of better co-existence, devoid of name-calling, smear campaigns, plotting and bullying.
  2. We will respect freedom of expression and freedom of speech. Expressing an opinion, unpopular with the others, should not be considered an offense and should not be feared by anyone. Everybody should be willing to listen, to try to understand and to learn from each other. To stay together we need to learn to be patient, compassionate, rational, open minded and objective. Everybody should have the right to express their opinion even if they don’t have a loud voice. No idea affecting the community should be ratified without scrutiny.
  3. Cooperation should be built into the community structure. For people wanting to live a completely hermetic life there’s no reason to join an ecovillage! Yet we all have our need for privacy, for a room of our own and a (small) secret garden. We all also have different requirements for social life, some needing company more than others. There should be plenty of sharing, various common spaces and tools which would save everybody on buying their own. There should be regular working meetings in various sub-groups and plenty of recreational (optional) get-togethers. The aim is to fight isolation and loneliness at the same time as providing privacy, all in balance.
  4. We don’t know what the future brings. The community should be built flexible and capable of existing in different circumstances: technological boom, economic collapse, increasing population, decreasing population, trade, self sufficiency, etc. We should work together developing a number of efficiently working systems of energy, food, social dynamics, etc – with backup plans too.
  5. This is going to be a living experiment, a living lab, a prototype, and its achievements need to be shared with the world. Everybody will decide how open they are going to be, but there should be enough information to attract visitors, (investors?), prospective new members and sponsors. We will need accurate, scientific publications and presentations about our progress, and proper research conducted. The research on the site could be about community forming, nutrition, exercise, wellbeing, reintroducing wildlife, food production and waste recycling systems, automation, developing creativity, solar panels and other ways to get power, new building methods, new educational systems, restoring some ancient agricultural practices, and so on.
  6. This should not be an isolationist “town”. It needs to be connected to the world in many ways, especially benefiting from new ideas and radiating our own ideas in return.
  7. We should affirm that all of us have talents, and all in a different way. We can’t build the stable community without variety. Some will be better at generating new ideas, other at developing efficient methods of work, etc, there always will be people more skilled at particular crafts and activities, working on different schedules, people with different physical abilities. Everybody is a conglomerate of several strengths, developing at different paces. We should respect this and help everybody to contribute in the best way. We also should keep in mind that the speed and ability of adaptation to any new circumstances vary significantly among us.
  8. Exposure to nature is very important to our wellbeing. This includes fresh air, fresh food, plenty of space to walk, work and play, low levels of light pollution and noise pollution. Yet the location should be within a good public transport network, easy to visit for car free people (who could also be a significant part of the ecovillage’s population).
  9. We need to develop a yearly calendar of celebrations and special rituals, acceptable to people of various views, celebrating Nature and seasons, creativity, friendship, stages of life, cooperation, curiosity, love, work, connection to the world, to lives and achievements of people before us. This is essential for building a strong community with good emotional connections.
  10. New members should be accepted after a trial period of time, on the base of loving the project and willing to cooperate, to help, to learn, to listen, to work hard. If people feel they do not belong anymore, it should be easy for them to leave. Eviction would be the last measure for people absolutely refusing to cooperate. There should be a well thought voting system for various issues, for example people get evicted after 5 warnings each issued by more than 70 per cent of the members.
  11. We should work on a “unschooling” education system, without forgetting that some kids need much more structure and authority than others. All of them need a lot of space and time to play outside!
  12. There should be a very clear, transparent financial record for the community funds, everybody should be aware where grant and donation money are going to. Inviting volunteers should be done tactfully, carefully, without exploitation. Prospective members should start as volunteers. People dreaming of creating they own intentional communities should be encouraged. As for others, they need to be asked regularly if they still interested to help, making sure there’s no exploitation of vulnerable people, who often are reluctant to say “no”. If volunteer activity contributes to any financial gain, either for community of for its members, everybody should be aware of this. Ideally, I would rather see cooperation than volunteering, where people clearly gain for their efforts be it knowledge, enjoyment, food, accommodation or money.
  13. It would help people if they feel more in charge of their lives and connected with their neighbours. They hopefully will live in a community knowing and valuing their talents. The production of (at least) significant part of food, energy and water will be happening all around them. The culture of sharing, helping and listening will be encouraged. People will be able to say their word in any important local matter. All this should give the sense of belonging, security and responsibility. There should be less clutter in homes as people know there always will be some community safety net. There will be lots of exchanges with similar experimental communities around the world too.
  14. There hopefully will be many opportunities for work, both inside and outside the “village”. The inside part could include: growing food and other crops, creating surplus electricity, accommodation, hosting events, research, teaching, arts and crafts… Outside jobs could be anything either done within commuting distance or online. Every person/family should be able to decide what suits them best. There could be a system when everybody works certain amount of hours for the community, still doing whatever they love, for example, web design, plumbing, animal care, working in the community shop, counseling, etc, to get free electricity, fuel, childcare, food and water, access to shared tools and facilities, e.g. workshops, gym, library, sauna. This should be a fair, very efficient and transparent system.
  15. The building should be made durable, healthy (for people and environment) and with greatest possible variety plus ability to personalize them later, so people escape feeling of being a part of a caged hens installation with everybody living in identical houses. There should not be such thing as unused monoculture lawns, but playing fields, playgrounds, spaces for gathering and resting, meadows, pastures. Roof should be green, or used for solar panels, or flat, used as rooms when the weather permits. Trees and bushes around houses should bear fruit (they also provide blossom in the spring!), nuts, firewood, branches for basket making or be useful for people and wildlife in some other way. Multiple use of space would be among our values, as well as zero waste and working with nature rather than against it.
  16. Like any community, we would benefit from being a good mixture of people of all ages.
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Sep 152015
 

We need to think carefully what to grow in our eco-village in order to obtain maximum of healthy nutriens spending minimum time and effort. This is what was traditionally planted in autumn in some temperate and subtropical regions.

This is what crop plants Nan K. Chase recomends, presumable for North America: Parsley, Coriander, Radishes, Greens (Spinach, chard, kale and lettuce), Horseradish, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Chives, Onions, Leeks and Garlic.systems

Please keep in mind that we all differ in what food is better for us. Some have allergies, others can’t stand too much acidity, etc. Some edible vegetables could become toxic if used too much, for example rhubarb contains a bit of poisonous oxalic acid.

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Sep 142015
 

A family can’t be, as they start and split, kids grow up and move, partners unfortunately outlive each other. Some people just want to stay single. There should be a recognizable community all people could belong if they wished. Workplaces change, more and more people work from home. Yet everybody needs to live somewhere.isolation1

I think to feed the hunger of belonging, all places of living should have real active neighbourhood communities, so nobody feels isolated and not cared for.

This may not necessary be called an ecovillage but still should exist. It won’t happen overnight. We all need to get used to the idea of being friends to our neighbours and moving into a neighbourhood, into an intentional community, not just buying an affordable house, – as a step towards a happier future.

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