Monday, December 1, 2014

Building Urban Communities

I've been talking a lot about the communities that I've visited in Louisa County and in Rutledge and northeastern Missouri.  In my last post (Four R Communities) I also mentioned other communities like East Wind and Earthaven and The Farm.  And last year (right up until this summer) I was involved in a project to create a farm-based community in upstate New York.  All this could give the impression that the most important communities, or all the egalitarian communities, or any 'four R' community, would have to be a rural community.

And it's true that, by and large, most of these communities are rural, but that doesn't mean there can't be urban egalitarian communities or even Four R communities.

I've written about this issue before in my post on Issues in Community: Urban and/or Rural (9/29/13).  I mentioned there that I helped start an egalitarian community (an urban commune, if you will) in the Boston area in the 1990s, that lasted five years.  I also mentioned that there were two urban communes in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, the Emma Goldman Finishing School and the Midden.  (It now looks like there's also a new Community in Dialogue in the FEC that's in Portland, Oregon.)  And I mentioned the Los Angeles Eco-Village as an example of an urban ecovillage.

I know that the Midden and the Los Angeles Eco-Village are trying to live in a way that's sustainable, if not restorative/regenerative/robust/and/resilient.  There's no question that this is more difficult to do in an urban setting than a rural one.  At the same time it may be more important to do, as more and more people live in the cities and less and less live out in the country.

I also want to point out two very important examples (not communities, but to show things that communities could do) of 4R living in city settings.  In Holyoke, Massachusetts, some permaculture folks (two couples) bought a house with a tenth of an acre backyard which they turned into a flourishing edible urban garden that they have named 'Paradise Lot'.  Looking at their website,  it looks like the latest thing that they're up to is building a bioshelter to grow 'subtropical plants'.  (I've written a post that talks about Bioshelters--8/15/14.) Another example of what you can do in an urban environment is Colin Beavan, who calls himself 'No Impact Man', who tried to live as 'eco-effectively' as he could in the middle of Manhattan. He wrote a book about it and then there was a movie made about the experiment.

All this is not simply theoretical for me.  I am just about to spend a little over a week at Ganas, a thirty-five year old community on Staten Island, in New York City.  Hopefully my next post will be about life there.

And starting in the new year I will be returning to Twin Oaks and Acorn to be part of the Point A project, an attempt to create urban income-sharing communities ('communes') along the East Coast of the US, starting with Washington, DC, and New York City.  Part of my reason for going to Ganas is to understand the situation in NYC.

Last year I was involved with a group trying to create a farm based community in upstate New York.  This coming year I hope to be involved with starting urban communes.  To me it's all part of the same plan.  We need to live differently--as I've been saying since my first year on this blog, Simply, Equally, Communally, and Sustainably (see my post on SECS, 9/22/08), and more importantly, as I've been saying recently, a way that is Restorative, Regenerative, Robust, and Resilient.  It doesn't matter if it's in the country or the city, creating communities that model this way of living is what's important to me.

Quote of the Day: "Our project is social transformation and that means changing people and how they relate to each other.  Currently and increasingly the people and their relations are mostly in the city.  ...  What matters is that we're being taken care of and that so is everyone else.  Liberty, equality, community.  By basing our economy on equal access to resources rather than equal distribution of resources we celebrate and support differences and eliminate a lot of paperwork on our way to our post-scarcity utopia." - from the Point A website

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