We are looking for a more traditional rural upbringing for our two children. We want them to grow up with a deeper understanding of the natural world and their place in it. However, we also want them to have some kind of formalized education too. How do you see the educational needs of children being met by the community?
Our desire to address the self-reliance of individuals and our community applies to education as much as it does to food. One of the key goals of the community was to have enough people and diversity and economies of scale that we can realistically meet our needs. With fifty families, and the ability to attract young couples there will most likely be around 50 school aged children. We believe this is a viable size for a small school, whether it is run on traditional lines, home schooling or a mix of both. Mainly what we need is a commitment to supporting these children, and so far everyone involved has expressed a strong desire to be part of this process. We believe the educational facilities and program will be one of the first things to be developed and will be a strong part of our ‘community glue’
I’ve seen and lived in several communities around the world, all of which have difficulties with interpersonal relationships and conflict resolution. Mainly I see this as due to the fact that people are people, and the dynamics in a community group are susceptible to the problems of social conflicts, which are made more intense in a close community environment. What makes you think this community will be any different?
All communities have their ‘dynamics’ – as you say, “people are people”. If we look at traditional communities they all have ways of managing these dynamics, and our community will be no different there. As people go from living in ‘laisse faire’ suburbs to ‘intentional’ communities there is bound to be some friction and a period of adjustment – we simply can’t expect anything else. What matters is our ability to consciously design systems that will support the transition to what we value, and having enough people who are committed to working at the change. If we look around at intentional communities around the world there are lots of different strategies for addressing this issue. Some are more successful than others and are worth imitating, which is what we are doing. We have copied management systems that are successful, rather than those that don’t bear results we value. Some of the strategies that we trust will support us well are:-
- Having representative trustees, and consultation with members, for our governance structure.
- Avoiding anything to do with consensus rules, but nevertheless working to build consensus within our culture. Consensus is something that is born out of shared emotional experience and interdependence, not ideology. i.e. it is a verb not a noun.
- Embracing leadership roles at all levels within our community. Leadership based on support, that is freely given and can be withdrawn.
- Avoiding organising ‘communal’ activities, preferring to work with the natural pattern of economies based on individuals, families and extended families, and encouraging co-operative/communal activities that arise out of peoples desire to embrace them.
- Studying and observing other intentional communities and seeing what works, and what doesn’t.
- Supporting activities that build ‘social glue’ (interdependence) e.g. schools, marae, music, art, ritual etc
- Choosing people who we believe have enough ‘emotional’ strength and commitment to contribute to our success
- Having some thresholds to joining our community, and making it easy and fair to leave if desired.
Our sense of the context, in which the question has been asked, is that those communities where it is easy for people to ‘drift’ into and out of (during one’s personal search) are often those with the most ‘laisse faire’ attitudes, and tend to have adopted governance and management strategies that while appealing on an ideological level, don’t usually address the common emotional patterns and needs of social human beings (especially families).
How will power be provided?
At the moment the trust does not intend to reticulate electricity into the housing clusters, we do not intend to connect the clusters to the main grid, while there is limited amount of electricity coming on site and used in the Koanga facilities and village workshops.
most of us are setting simple solar systems, it is possible that in the future we wilol reticulate (our own) electricity, that would take someone researching and leading a project showing that it nis a viable solution.
In the time of building process (which will probably take several years for the different settlers), what kind of common infrastructure (toilets, showers, kitchen) is then possible to use?
One of the first things to happen during the village development is setting up ablution blocks (toilet, showers, laundry) in a central point. We also assume that people will bring their own accommodation e.g. caravans, yurts, and put those on their section, next to the building site – allows for the building to happen at the same time, and live there during the building process, it seems that most people prefer setting up simple facilities on their sites, that allows for a bit of privacy when desired and development of the site. we are putting togethyer temporary communal meeting areas and kitchen facilities in the clusters.
There are benefits to be had from pooling resources and not duplicating in each house things like washing machines and cars. What facilities will be provided by the community? Cohousing examples I’ve read about have provided things such as a common meeting room with kitchen and eating facilities and sometimes a common office /internet facility, crèche, workshop and shared vehicles.
The community will be designed with several housing clusters and a main centralized community area. In the main community area we will develop a community meeting and cooking/dining facility, education facilities, food processing facilities, an office/communications center, a workshop with building and mechanical equipment, plus vehicles for common use.
The clusters will have less common facilities, and this will be largely set by the desires of the cluster residents.
There is internet reticulated to each section, and we aim to develop a car co-op soon.