If this is your first time here…

…or if you want more information about this site:  On the upper right corner are three lines that connect you to the blog’s sidebar.  Click on it and on the top is a sign that says PAGES and underneath that is a link labeled “Welcome!”  There’s a lot of information about this blog on that page.

And under the sign PAGES is a list of CATEGORIES which you can use to find more information on a particular community, project (under the heading Projects), or subject (at the end of the list, under the heading, What Else).

If this is your first time here…

Le Manoir: Our Vision

from le Manoir website

Le Manoir is an income sharing intentional community in Quebec. It supplies shelter (one shared house) and healthy and responsible food (mainly grown on site) to its members. It offers its members a different social environment to experiment new ways to live together and to develop their full potential, while having an impact on their extended community.

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The vision we have for le Manoir community is a balance of the following 5 principles:

Group life: synergy between self and us

The glue that sticks the group together is the commitment each of us takes toward the others, mutual aid, sharing and cooperation, all of which builds human relationship based on trust.

In concrete terms, it is realized through:

  • A community of 12 to 30 members. We wish to keep a small scale group, in order to nourish the relation that links members to each other. In the meantime, it is enough people to bring diversity of ideas and interests.
  • We all live in one shared collective house. Each of us has his/her own bedroom, but that proximity favors meeting the others. We eat together at almost every lunch and dinner. We share spaces, tools and objects, dreams and time, energy and competences, happiness and sorrow. That is what brings us so close to each other.
  • We desire to co-create, to seek together. On the one hand, each one commits to the other, the community supports us, we embrace conflict and we create the space to resolve it. In the core of all conflict resolution, we place the respect for each other, gratefulness, and trust that each person does he or her best. On the other hand, we are there to help, encourage, comfort, and laugh our life with each other. We share the purpose to feel useful, and to care for each other in our personal paths.
  • Safer space: Le Manoir intentional community has an anti-oppression goal. Work is done in order for the members and the people visiting to feel secure, to find support and allies, and to create a space where we can look at oppression questions. Different mechanisms may be put in place to deal with these, while paying close attention to their effects.
  • We have a furnished tool box to facilitate communication and the maintenance of healthy and honest relations. For example, all our members are trained in Non-Violent Communication. Moreover, we regularly have empathy circles, validation or feedback circles, or restorative circles. People who request support in their conflict resolution process may find it with another member, a mediation committee, or a qualified person external to the group.
  • Silliness, joy, playfulness, celebration and gratitude: We believe that these are essential conditions to be ALIVE! A sparkling and colorful time-space is looked after through games, music, dance, creative nights or celebrating mornings, adventure or cocooning, planned parties or spontaneous activities. We recognize life abundance and nurture the balance that allows our group to evolve in a healthy and inspiring world. Vive la vie!

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Social Justice

Our definition of social justice is the opportunity for every person to blossom and access their full potentialities. All human beings have the same rights, and this equality in rights has to be followed by practical equality in order for each person to participate to the world they want to create in an equal way, respecting their strengths and interests. We consider the fight against inequalities, the condemnation of discrimination in any form, the refusal of exploitation by one another, as integrated and coherent part of the process toward that ideal.

In concrete terms, it is illustrated by:

  • A participative and non-hierarchical decision making process. The goal is to favor equal power distribution among the members, self-management and shared responsibilities. Our toolbox include consensus and sociocracy (consent). We share with anarchists self-management practices and direct democracy. Ya Basta!
  • Income sharing by all members of the community. We define ourselves as anti-capitalists since we question private property and appropriation of profits by the governing class: this is the source of inequalities in our society.
  • We recognize “one worked hour as one hour of work” as a basic concept. It is inspired by a feminist and egalitarian vision because, among other things, it includes invisible work (dish washing, cooking, caring). Each member’s contribution is done in hours, not in cash. This tends to avoid power imbalances related to economic capital.
  • Social and political activism in the larger community (family, road, village, province, state, country, world). The choice to live in an intentional community doesn’t seek to create a little universe cut off from the rest of the world, a little paradise remote from human decadence. It is a political tool, a collective strength, a think tank and a team of militants ready to go into action to preserve nature and social justice. This can take multiple forms such as:  critical analysis of current events, participation in protests, street theater, civil disobedience actions, letters of opinion, etc.

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Nature (respect and relationship)

We consider it our responsibility, as inhabitants of this unique and improbable planet, to protect and highlight its very distinctive character. As such, we aim not only to have a light ecological footprint, but to make sure the trace we leave contributes to proliferation of vitality, in all its beauty and diversity. The way of life we want to share is one that nourishes the relationship with nature we have as human being, and we consider the choice of living together as a way to apply more respectful practices to environment.

In concrete terms, you can see that through:

  • The fact that our community is located in a quebec country region. Nowadays, agricultural fields are lost, transformed into luxurious secondary residencies for young retired people who import their suburban vision to the way villages are developed. To build our community there, and bring a different model, aims to counter these tendencies. We want to live closer to nature (country/forests) in order to keep alive our connection with her, and not only for the beauty of its landscape.
  • We adopt a fashion style that’s very “retro”: simplicity! We desire to diminish our ecological footprint. To us, it means opting for “less goods, more connections”. It means we question our “real needs”.  It means to seek to make, exchange, find, share what we need. It means to choose the sustainable option.
  • We raise animals for their role in the growing cycle of our vegetables. We compost our organic wastes, we use only composting toilets, we integrate our water consumption into its natural cycle, because we want our lifestyle to reintegrate to its environment and its cycle. We are inspired by permaculture principles, we integrate into our practices analyses of our environmental footprint, 3RV rules and “convivial decrease”.
  • We favor ecological construction and renovation. This includes reflection on the necessity to build, on the size of the rooms in line with our needs, on choices of materials that considers available onsite resources and the social and environmental impact of their exploitation, usage and end of life, and choices of construction methods that imply traditional or democratic/participative techniques.

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Autonomy (collective)

For us, autonomy means the freedom to choose. Our conception of freedom is intimately related to the principle of responsibility, and to the one of “power of oneself”: independence, sovereignty, auto-determination, self-sufficiency, self-governance. The autonomy we are talking about here is a group autonomy, and it refers to our collective capacity to choose our way of life.

It is illustrated in concrete terms in different areas:

  • Food autonomy: We produce and transform a great part of what we eat. We garden in an organic way, gather fruits and mushrooms, we fish, hunt and trap. We buy as little processed food as we can. We don’t aim to produce absolutely all we eat, so we exchange our goods and services with local producers that share our values.
  • Energy autonomy: We want to radically change our way of life in order to diminish our energy consumption. The simple fact of living together works toward that aim. We wish our main residence to be off the grid, in order to promote the most ecological source of power: the negawatt! We want to use various technologies to take advantage of renewable, free and accessible resources. In the medium term, we wish to be fossil fuel free.
  • Economic autonomy: We run one or many businesses that generate revenues. We collectively own the means of production. It allows members to work inside the community. We are not employees anymore: we become workers again. Moreover, a self-managed business brings diversity of work in the community that broadens the range of experience and competences of its members. Unlike an anonymous job, our business, based on our values, contributes to building the world we wish to live in.
  • Financial autonomy: We prefer to borrow small loans from friends and family than to contract bank loans.
  • Ideologic autonomy. Our community is secular, which means that we consider that spirituality or religion choice is a personal one.

 

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Openness

We consider openness is an essential quality to develop a long-term sustainable community. Our aim is to have an impact on people and larger communities, promoting collective practices and ways to live and think that favor social justice and protection of nature. Thus, opening ourselves to others, ideas, differences, share and enhance our perspectives with new ones, as long as getting involved, appears to us to be the way to go.

Our openness materializes itself through:

  • We set up links with our broad community. We participate in what is in place, we get integrated, we “volunteer”. We want to create partnerships with groups and organisations on certain subjects. We want to serve the society and thus, our immediate community. We offer goods and services. Our community is open to the world because we throw ourselves into it.
  • We greet visitors. We want our initiative to be known. We want other people to see/know how people live in an income sharing intentional community. We organise activities open to the public. We share tools, knowledge, competences and allow our neighbours to use the resources we have. Our community is open to the world because it allows each person to get involved and benefit from it.
  • We want to allow each interested person to get involved into our project to the extent they are willing to. To reflect the diversity of possible collaboration types, and define rights and responsibility for each, we identify various types of “members”.

 

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Le Manoir: Our Vision

Twin Oaks Turns Fifty!

Twin Oaks, in Virginia, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this weekend.  Here are some pictures from the festivities.

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Skylar paints picnic table in preparation for the 50th. 
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Nina does repair work in Llano kitchen. 
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Skylar replaces light switch and outlet covers. 
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Christian repairs the ZK deck. 
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Connor photographing a turtle on the path to the party.  Photo Credit:  GPaul Blundell
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Steve/Esteban TO photographing party goers.  Photo Credit: GPaul Blundell
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Rudy, a founder, speaks.  Photo Credit: Aurora DeMarco
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At the Open Mike.  Photo Credit: Aurora DeMarco
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Aaron taking the anniversary group photo perched atop a tractor’s front end.  Photo Credit: GPaul Blundell
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Group photo for the 50th.  Photo Credit: Aaron Cohen

 

Twin Oaks Turns Fifty!

The Common Unity Project – Spring/Summer 2017

by sweetgum

We have taken some leaps this year towards our goal of a permaculture food forest and perennial plant nursery, thanks to a generous donation from The Cassandra Trust. What we are designing and building here on our property, we hope to be able to teach, inspire, and supply the means to do elsewhere.

Step One: Water.

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Since we live without ties to the grid or water lines, and we chose to build our home in a sandy field relatively far from the river, ponds was our chosen method of water catchment and storage.   We have one pond that was dug in 2015 and has been supplying our water needs since, supplemented by the tank that catches rain from the roof of the earthship.

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Last year we upgraded with a solar powered pump that pumps water from the pond to a tank on the hill supplying gravity fed water for the garden.

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Now this year we dug a pond next to the tank, to supply water for the hugelbeds we planted in the fall. The hugelkultur is on contour around the hill and will be flood irrigated via a swale above it. So far even without the swale, the trees and shrubs we’ve planted below the hugelkultur seem to be doing well (those that survived the winter anyway), as well as the annual crops we planted on top.

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The pond, being on top of a hill, won’t hold water right away, but the excavator operator, Taylor, smeared the sub-soil with a heavier clay content up on the sides to facilitate sealing. The next step for us is to get pigs and have them live in the pond until fall. Pigs are great pond sealers, they stomp and compact the ground, and love to wallow in the muck. The idea is to keep running water into the bottom of the pond, which alone helps bring the finer clay particles to the surface, and start a small pond that will expand as the pigs seal it. So far we have the electric fence charger and poles in the ground, now we just need a pig shelter and some pigs.

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Next came a lower pond, or crater garden, between the chickens and the bees. This was a naturally low lying area that held water in the early spring. Water slowly trickled in as it was being dug, and now it is about half-full. The peninsula in the middle was our compromise for a duck island, since we would like to have ducks live there in the future. We will watch and observe it over the year as we build up the soil around it for future gardens.

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TCUP17SS14And last but not least, a shallow well. We stuck a ten foot culvert, drilled with holes in the bottom 6 feet, in a hole by the pond and piled gravel around it. It was a battle to get the pipe in and the gravel around before the silt caved in, but we did a fair job and so far its holding water three feet from the top. We will pump it out until the water runs clear, and hopefully it will be a source of future drinking water and winter irrigation.

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Greenhouses:

This year we constructed two greenhouses in the field, as well as a mini-one attached to the cabin on the hill. They will act as nurseries for propagated plants and winter storage for perennials. We also get to grow some heat loving crops like tomatoes and peppers in them now 🙂

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Another greenhouse project that is close to home for us, the earthship in Sik-e-Dakh (Glen Vowell) is finally done.

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The project has gone from a deconstruction zone of the old hall, to a one month long dusty tire pounding party, to a more traditional construction workplace with roofing and painting, to cob and plaster fest.

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The greenhouse is now complete with grow beds planted with tomatoes and peppers. Much thanks to Caylin Holland for all his hard work on the project, as well as all the volunteers from Sik-e-Dakh and elsewhere who helped out. It is certainly a beautiful greenhouse built for generations to come.

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The Common Unity Project – Spring/Summer 2017

Living Energy Farm at Home and Around the World

from the March – April 2017 Newsletter

Lots of New People at LEF

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Paula in our new workshop

 

We have lots of good energy at LEF these days. Connor is making great progress on our our new you-pick berry operation and horticultural food growing. Gilgamesh is finishing out the new shop, which is now one of the most popular spots on site. How did we ever live without it?

 

Misha is working on finishing out our main house. Deanna has brought our first bee hives to the farm and is setting up an herb garden next to the kitchen. We have been joined by Paula, who is taking care of our new crew of ducks. Bobby has been instrumental in getting the woodgas tractor running again. Eddie has built something that looks a lot like a solar boiler.

 

Dan and Erica have moved into Magnolia House (1 mile away from LEF) with their kids Jesse and Mason. They hope to move to LEF later in the year.

 

The LEF kids — Rosa, Nika, Sunnelin and Olan — are doing great.

 

 

 Living Energy Global Initiative–Taking LEF Around the World

 

Life is very full at Living Energy Farm these days. We are working on a model of sustainable living that we hope can spread around the world. As we mentioned in the last newsletter, we had plans to use our package of sustainable technologies to support lighting and water pumping in a small hospital in Kenya.  We were relying on support from some of the staff of other NGOs to travel there and provide information.  Unfortunately, there are more people at risk of famine right now than at any time in the last 60 years. The African NGOs have their hands full. They have not been able to work with us on our project. Such is the ongoing price of climate change. We wish them good progress in their work.

 

In the meantime, we have been networking with people and organizations that might help move this idea forward. Eddie, our technical intern at LEF, just left to return to Pittsburgh. He hopes to build an LEF-style community there. We have also had a couple of meetings with the New Community Project in Harrisonburg, VA. They have put together an amazing community of people around a neighborhood of houses that offer both an ecological vision and hospitality for people trying to get on their feet. We have a plan to take their main community house off-grid using the LEF approach. We will work on design and funding in the coming months, and begin work on reconfiguring their community house later this year or next.
Tom Benevento is one of the lead organizers of the New Community project (Vine and Fig) in Harrisonburg. He has also done support work for sustainable development projects in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. He will be traveling down there next winter. We will probably send someone to travel with him and assess the options for setting up LEF-style communities in the Dominican Republic.  We have friends in Nicaragua with whom are discussing the possibility of setting up similar communities there.

 

Millions of people around the world do not have access to electricity, or farm traction. The integrated village renewable energy systems we have at LEF are, we hope, both sustainable and economically viable.  As we spread this model, we intend to advocate an ideology that holds the Earth as sacred. We hope that our model, once more people understand it, will be able to spread on its own.

 

Do you have friends in non-industrial countries? We are looking for people who have connections in communities where establishing LEF-style energy systems would be welcome. Such communities would need to have a sufficient level of social organization to be able to take advantage of energy supplies that tie numerous households together. Do you want to help us spread this model? Please talk to us.

 

 

Article about LEF at the Atlantic Online Magazine
Article about LEF in The Central Virginian
LEF on CNN
Cville weekly in Charlottesville VA
First video on youtube
Second video on youtube
Video on vimeo
Living Energy Farm is a project to build a demonstration farm, community, and education center in Louisa County that uses no fossil fuels. For more information see our website or contact us at livingenergyfarm@gmail.com or Living Energy Farm, 1022 Bibb Store Rd, Louisa VA, 23093. Donations to the Living Energy Farm Education Fund are tax deductible and can be made via our website.
Living Energy Farm at Home and Around the World

More Pictures from the Compersia Community

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The beautiful roses of Tomorrowland, our old house.

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Mere moments before Ash disappeared into the ductwork. A lot of cat food had fallen into the vent.

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Meren and Julian fuel up for the Women’s March.

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It’s amazing what a grocery store will throw out. Amazing and delicious.

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A communard’s ransom in avocados rescued from the waste stream.

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Steve and Trotsky, the newest cat to join our commune, compete for the title of “Fuzziest Communard”.

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Pax tries unsuccessfully to name our new house at a naming party at our house warming party.

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The real way we fund our commune.

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While living in the nation’s capital has its drawbacks, it makes attending protests and marches super convenient.

 

 

More Pictures from the Compersia Community

A Diversity of Communities

by Raven

Last week, we published a piece on two income sharing systems called “Allowance Versus Box of Money” (which I’ve also heard called Dual and Unitary income sharing systems). Although I thought it was a really interesting article, I had a couple of difficulties with it.

One was that it seemed to claim that all income sharing came in “in two broad flavors”. I know of a couple of communities in dialogue in the FEC (the Possibility Alliance/Stillwater Sanctuary and Rainforest Lab) that are exploring using a gift economy exchange system, which involves neither an allowance or a box of money. The article also suggested that the box of money approach was the “more radical solution”. As someone who helped create an income sharing community, I found the allowance method an elegant solution to what we were trying to achieve. Instead of trying to figure out which is the ‘more radical’ approach, I think that it’s useful to know that there are at least three different ways to share income–probably more. (I heard someone talk about ‘punk income sharing’ where it’s not hard to share income if there isn’t any to share.)

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I think one of the main reasons for creating new communes, is (as I also heard someone say) to create ‘new flavors’ of communal living. This is why there are five different income sharing communities in Louisa County, VA.

I think it’s important that there are many options for income sharing, that some communes are high structure (say Twin Oaks) and some communes are low Diverse3structure (say Acorn), that there are communities that approach a middle class lifestyle and communities (like Living Energy Farm and the Stillwater Sanctuary) that are already preparing for life beyond fossil fuels. I’ve heard some folks talking recently about communities of people of color. I’m not threatened by this, any more than I’m threatened by women’s communities. And as much as I’m an advocate for egalitarian, income sharing communities, I’m well aware and even happy that this is only a small percentage of all the communities out there–there are co-operative houses, cohousing communities, ecovillages, hybrid communities of all kinds, and many varieties of spiritual communities, to name the most common ones in the Communities Directory.

Again, we’re creating more options for people, not less. And I’m well aware that not everyone wants to live in community. The point is that I think there should be all kinds of communities (and particularly income sharing communities) for those that are looking for them, because different people will do better in different communities, just like the ‘box of money’ approach will work better for some communities, and the ‘allowance’ approach for others, and using a ‘gift economy’ for still others.

As David from las Indias said, in an article on diversity that we published a year ago, “The kind of diversity many of you are concerned about … will come by itself, but probably not to every community, but to the network we must build together.” While diversity within communities is important, I think diversity among communities is crucial.

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A Diversity of Communities

Ira Wallace: A Seed With A Story

from the Acorn Community Blog  May 1, 2017

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Ira Wallace: A Seed With A Story