Part three of the podcast picks up with a question about what she thinks of the idea that a community functions best by finding out what the women want and giving them that? Taking a moment to decide on her response, Diana responds that she isn’t quite able to relate to the question well enough to give an intelligent answer. What she is familiar with in community isn’t divided between genders, but by interests. She goes on to qualify how there are all sorts of divisions of interest and how to allocate the resources cooperatively.
Paul adds that the question implies an expected result. He feels that the premise falls apart if you can find even one crazy person among a given gender. Diana feels it doesn’t actually take into account human nature. No two people have exactly the same wants. Because of this, she passes. Paul references having heard of communities who follow a path of Matriarchy.
The next question is from someone new to permaculture who wishes to know if there are examples of established for-profit intentional communities? The answer is a quick yes. Can communal effort be economically productive and self supportive? Yes. Examples are requested along with how a middle aged woman would find or form such a group. Several more connected questions follow prior to Diana answering.
Diana believes focus on economic viability is required in intentional communities. Can you afford the cost of land, development, lawyer fees, etc. She suggests a free PDF that can be had through request via her email. She also suggests several books she has written which may be in the local library or can be bought. It offers an outline based on both the successes and failures of other groups.
She then offers several suggestions about various ways to start your own community without buying land. There is no financing for building ICs. She doesn’t advice most borrowing options and puts heavy qualifications on the one she does suggest as a possibility. Money is also needed at the start for development. She offers a few other suggestions for how to go about making or joining such a community.
Paul tells a story about an experience he had regarding how someone he met was wanting a lifestyle change to become a work exchanger. Her resistance was fear of moving a lot, but both Paul and Diana agreed that it is highly possible to become an indefinite work exchanger. Directory.ic.org is suggested as a place to find communities in the area you want to go. Paul augments by mentioning Wwoofinternational.org as a way to find other resources that may not be on ic.org. Diana clarifies that Woof.org includes a lot of farms rather than just communities.
The next question focus’ on dividing the responsibilities. First, it was asked if there were communities interested in retirees. Diana is sure most are fine as long as your goals align. Further exploration of the questions being asked leads to a suggestion to seek out Earthhaven. Some communities have systems in place that
allow for either labor or funds to help the greater whole. Several methods of handling the situation are explained.
The following person has seen communities based around agriculture, but found them to be too hands-off and non-permaculture. None of them was self-sustaining. As generalists, they would like a way to set up a community without having to exceed their own abilities. They also want to know what happens with the elderly/incapacitated in an intentional community. The answer is that it varies
depending on the community and Diana goes into details. It is often very similar to if you owned your own home and fell into the same state. Often the community isn’t providing it for you unless they are an income sharing community. Some income sharing communities won’t accept people over a certain age for this reason, preferring members to be productive for a time before reaching old age.
Another question is about what places Diana has seen or would like to see an increase in socioeconomic diversity. Diana explains about associate memberships as rental units within a community. She also mentions non-member residents who contribute without being members at all. Work exchangers come up again. Paul brings up an example of Mark Shepherd offering a house or two for rent along with a business plan of how they will make money in a way that meshes with his permaculture operation. Paul also brings up the Gapper program he is running. Some suggestions about how to stay without first having a fully formed plan might be managed through self-support.
Paul likes the idea of a socioeconomic diversity. He’s heard of a situation where one dollar coming into a community is becomes like seven once there. Diana has a term for this circulation within a community.
The next question is regarding the structure of governing a community via sociocracy. Anyone can lead using the mentioned system thanks to it already being well tested on how to deal with situations. There is a follow-up question of the sustainability of outcomes that originate in the system. It comes down to the community meets the needs of the community before those of the individual. You can’t expect any community to fulfill all of your needs and have to look to yourself.
Diana is asked what she thinks of the Transition Town movement and what is her experience with the success of intentional communities in certain specific socioeconomic structures?
She thinks Transition Towns are one of the best things to happen on the planet. She doesn’t feel qualified to answer the second aspect of the inquiry. Anecdotally she sees the same issues and same solutions in different countries that follow different socioeconomics, so believes there is no difference. What works in one place should work in another.
The next set of questions involves at least six questions all tied to the same idea, so they are all read at first and answered after. Restricted by law and space, the person wants to know about how to work out setting up an IC. When restricted by law and zoning, it doesn’t sound like she can have everything she wants, so has to decide what matters to her. Home-sharing is suggested as a way to keep her home, create a sense of community and not violate the law. Housing co-ops are also suggested.
This means everyone co-owns the land and are given a certain amount of space within the home. Diana notes to seek if travel trailers are allowed on the land. Similarly, are ‘cultural units’ allowed that have no kitchen. Co-op law may be the only solution. Paul notes that you can make much larger houses and not violate the one structure law. He also notes there are often loopholes for agricultural workers. Diana mentions Whole Village got around this same law by building an 11 room home. While it works within the law, it is difficult to get people to join with only the one house and people wanting to buy in only if they get their own home.
The last question is about the individual/communal balance and the difference in effectiveness of the communal vs individual model. Diana thinks it is income sharing and shared ownership vs private, though this is an informal version of the world. Either can work depending on your community. Paul feels it works best if there is a little of both.
When asked if there is anything else, Diana mentions there may be a need to break the podcast into multiple sections. She makes some suggestions on what each section could be named. When Diana mentions that she needs to go onto the Permies forum to answer some questions, the conversation shifts to the nature of the apple system on the site. Paul also mentions a few other features of the site and how they influence the culture of the forum.
Credit: D. Logan