For a long time I realized that the problem with moving is that you leave people behind. I want my people with me always. Ok, not in my house, but on my street, in my community. I want to gather all my loved ones from everywhere they’ve flown and pack them up with me and take them with me when I go. Yes, it’s true; I want to start a commune. Not the kind of commune where everyone lives in the same big house and wears patchwork clothes and shower irregularly and stink of patchouli (I hate the smell of patchouli) and eats only tofu and sleeps with each other. Not like that. That just sounds icky. Well, I guess the patchwork clothes do sound kinda cool… NO! Not that. Something different.
I’ve been thinking about it. I want to buy a big piece of land somewhere. Somewhere with mountains. Maybe New Mexico. Maybe Oregon. Maybe Washington. And I want people to buy in. Not every resident would have to invest a significant chunk of money, but I would want the majority of people living there to have bought in. Because I don’t want Kristin and I to become petty dictators (and we would, oh how we would, give us some power and we would go MAD with it) but because I would want the people living there to be invested in it. Something holding them there so that if things got difficult they couldn’t just walk away. And when I say buy in, I don’t mean that people would give the commune all their money and worldly possessions, I mean, that they would contribute a set sum either in one payment at the beginning, or on a payment schedule – like buying a house. But I also don’t mean that people would buy individual plots of land and own individual houses, but that they would buy into something like a corporation or coop – the land and the buildings owned jointly by the group as a whole – the individual residences put into trust or some such. Hopefully the people invited to participate wouldn’t only be there because they put money in it… but, still, as much as I hate it, money’s important. Plus, with more people than just Kristin and I contributing to the cost of the land, the whole enterprise would be debt-free that much sooner.
Ok, so people invest. And we begin building. I envision something like a tiny town, a hamlet, with a community center – kitchen, great room, rec room, craft room, guest rooms – and individual residences circled around it. I imagine small private gardens and larger community gardens and vegetable plots and a fish pond and a playground. I imagine animals: pets, goats, horses, chickens, turkeys – I’m not sure about geese, though, geese are mean – maybe a sty of pigs. But mostly I see people and an aesthetic. I see people whose skills and strengths complement each other, who love each other and the community they’re creating, who believe in consensus and cooperation and dialogue. Every time I meet someone new I think about how they would fit into my future commune. I joke about it, but still I do it. So far I’ve got a very diverse group of people and talents in mind. I’ve got computer geeks and technophiles and teachers and chefs and carpenters and mechanics and designers and animal lovers and engineers and gardeners and musicians and writers. And, of course, I’ve got therapists to help us talk though problems (ha ha).
I can see us all together, building something beautiful. Something coherent and patchworky. Something green and sustainable. I want the commune built of straw bales and bamboo and recycled materials. A (in Portland) has been talking about ways we could use wind and solar energy to power the commune, and how we could harness methane from composting toilets. I want our gardens to be organic and our livestock to be organic and hormone/antibiotic free. Though I don’t fool myself that the commune could be completely self-sustaining, eventually I want us to grow all our own produce (or at least 90%) and meat and dairy (I’m still on the lookout for a butcher). I figure that once we have to raise and butcher our own meat, even though the commune won’t be completely vegetarian, our meat consumption will be far lower than it would be if we were buying meat. I would like to provide opportunities and support for people who would prefer to work on the commune as well as support for people who would prefer to work jobs in the larger community around the commune.
Are any of you surprised about how much of a dreamer and idealist I truly am?
This vision I’ve had has always been relegated to a distant and hazy future. Something Kristin and I talk about in context of winning the lottery or what we’d do if the world were a perfect place. But I’ve been giving it more thought. Maybe it doesn’t need to start so big or be so far in the future. Something like what I want is complex and would have to grow slowly and organically. It would take a lot of time and a lot of planning and work. So why not get started sooner rather than later? I’m thinking that maybe, after we’re both done with school and have better jobs, maybe we can start looking around for some land. Maybe in 5-6 years we can get a group of friends together and buy the land and get started in a smaller way. I’m inspired by the tantalizing hints Bri’s been dropping about the possibility that they and some friends might be getting together to buy and renovate apartment building. Maybe it’s possible.
Anybody want in?