self-sufficiency vs. community-sufficiency

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ellebeaux, Nov 24, 2005.

  1. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    I was just reading Paranoid's post about the pros and cons of being self-sufficient. More and more, I'm coming to the conclusion that we can NEVER be truly self-sufficient. So we need to start thinking more of making our communities 'sufficient'.

    Economically, we are not able to afford all the equipment or land to meet our needs, i.e. expensive farm equipment to cultivate feed, manufacture solar energy equipment etc. So we need to start thinking about division of labor and how we can build local networks that support us in our common goals.

    Am I way off-base here? I think the Amish are a great example of a community working towards 'self-sufficient' goals. How can we develop new types of communities to support our goals on a regional and national basis?
     
  2. mom2girls

    mom2girls mom2girls

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    This is exactly how I feel to. We have small children and would love to live amongst other couples with young children, with the same values around the land and farming.
     

  3. Paranoid

    Paranoid Homebrewed Happiness

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    yeah, i think the only way for it to be totally viable would be for a community. but that opens such a big can of worms, not only for the current people that go into the community eyes wide open, but the next generation will probably throw a monkey-wrench into the works.

    i'm a hermit at heart i guess, but i think if anything really bad happened, no matter what lifestyle i chose i'd have to get with a community for anything long term, like TEOTWAWKI SHTF. I just think anything like that would be unlikely. not impossible nor even improbable, just unlikely.
     
  4. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    Yep, I agree. The Amish have the right ideas! There's nothing like pooling your resources to get big jobs done, etc. One of our neighbors raises honey bees, we raise chickens and hay, and have acres upon acres of firewood, another has milk goats, another has a small dairy farm, a couple have horses, others raise beef.
     
  5. cindyc

    cindyc Well-Known Member

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    ...my heart and soul exactly. Three families down here are looking at doing just that. ...building an intentional christian community that pools our resources as you suggest, and has as our dominant reason for being together, to serve the poor. We intend to build an extra house for one poor/homeless family to use at a time. (...too long to explain here.) We call it the hope house. We are at least a year away from even buying the land. All of us are still getting out of debt ourselves.

    This is not a communist community, everyone has ownership of their own things, and participation in/benefit from community gardens, livestock and other ventures is completely voluntary. Many will keep thier 9-5 jobs.

    This is definately in line with what we are trying to do. Yep, we think you are on to something down here in TN.
     
  6. highlands

    highlands Well-Known Member

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    I don't think we can be 100% self-sufficient at the current technological level but I do believe that it is a very good idea to be able to provide all of the essencials for yourself for some long period of time. (Pick your favorite: three days, a week, a month, six months, a year, ten years...) This is basic disaster preparedness.

    Additionally it is best to buy local as much as possible. When possible you want to support your neighbors, your local community, keep money local, jobs local, etc. This isn't always possible so expand your local as needed to the state level, region, country, hemisphere, planet, star system... :)
     
  7. boxwoods

    boxwoods Well-Known Member

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  8. cindyc

    cindyc Well-Known Member

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    Take a look at this idea and see what you think.

    http://ecotown.conforums.com

    Boxwood, this is very exciting! We are not crazy after all (...er umm, at least not any crazier than anyone else. Nice to know we three families here in TN are feeling the same things that others are feeling about community and self-sufficiency being a pair of gloves meant to be worn together in some cases.)
     
  9. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    THe "Mother Earth News" started a community long time ago. Don't know what ever happened to it. I quit reading after John Shuttleworth made his millions and sol out :flame:
     
  10. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    everybody seems to have the same idea here. to live like the amish. Love the land, live off the land, work with our hands, and share resouces. so why hasnt anyone mentioned getting a bunch of us together in one community in one state, and doing it? I think someone should start a thread, collect input, and we all(those that want the hard lifestyle)should consider this. seriously. We could vote on a state, see if there are enough people willing to move, discuss property ownership vs. communal property, find out what expertise everyone has to determine who would supply what services, ETC
     
  11. BrahmaMama

    BrahmaMama Well-Known Member

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    Here's my input (for what's it's worth) I seem to be getting blown out of the water lately...

    Living in a commune situation is to me IDEALLY a beautiful thing... However, & I STRESS it's not my intention to burst any bubbles here... Just my reasearch and study of human nature is speaking... BUT... are you not worried about the following problems???

    There's always a person who trys to take the reins and makes everything miserable for everyone!

    There's always someone who is super lazy and dosen't do their fair share of the work etc.

    Then there's money troubles, it's not always sunshine and roses!!!

    Trust me here, if it were all so beautifull, I'd be the first person to jump on the band wagon, but the discovery of "human nature" has turned me into a female hermit for a reason.
     
  12. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    those are serious concerns that would have to be dealt with. My dad, brother, and I share a lot of tools, expences, land, and resources. I like it, but there will be those who take advantage, and there would have to be a way to deal with them
     
  13. ellebeaux

    ellebeaux Well-Known Member

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    I'm with you, sister! I guess everytime I see someone post about communal living and shared property, red flags go up in my mind. Especially when they say they will be sole owners of the property and have final say on the rules, building codes etc. I have lived in intentional communities. When they work, they are truly awesome, when they don't, utter misery.

    I'm not thinking about something like that but more along the lines of getting a critical mass together and being more of a voice in our own communities. That's why I've been listing jobs and properties I see in my area that I think would interest other homesteaders.

    What Michiganfarmer is suggesting has been a long-term project for Libertarians - there are others on the board that can post with more knowledge about that. I think there's something to that. How can we on the board right now support other HT'ers in our area? I'm seeing more and more people post who are from the central Virginia area. There's lots of people in the Ozarks, Minnesota and the UP. Maybe we are too spread out but maybe there are things we can do together.

    It looks like Boxwoods is way ahead of me on this idea - maybe we can use his forum to further discuss these ideas? Or link it to HT somehow? Any suggestions? Essentially, what we are proposing is nothing more or less revolutionary than the first colonists did. And they succeeded!

    cindyc- your hope house sounds like such a gift of the heart. You are really walking the walk. I look forward to hearing more about your community plans. Maybe you could also post listings for good properties or job prospects in your area to attract other HT'ers.

    What other existing communities actively support this lifestyle through flexibility in building codes, alternative energy, etc?
     
  14. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I may be wrong about this, but I would not think there would be that much success.

    as most persons would probably not want the control of the community, (this is why most of your are trying to home sted),
    simply that is what society is a self sufficient community, and now it has expanded to a global reach,

    granted I have may skills and abilities, to do things, but one of the reasons I choose to be self employed and work on my farm is that I really do not like working for others, and dealing with there ideas and problems. yes at times I still have to bring in some extra money.

    but example, say there are a dozen or so family's even have there own farmsteads, but the guy who is the fix it guy needs some extra money so he takes off and works for a neighbor down the road and is not getting things done on the communal place, the tractor is not running, and the crops are in need of cultivation, who is responsible, who fixes the tractor, is the single mother required to produce the same as the family with 4 teen age kids, that are able to help with the work, if your separate do you make deals for cheaper sales to the others, like my milk goats milk, or my beef, do you use cash or communal dollars, if I can sell my beef for 20% more on the open market why would I want to dis count it to my neighbor,

    now in some areas like milk sales (which are restricted in many states), and the processing of meat, I could see that they could be worked around and things helped, in a communal type setting,

    but in a sense what is the difference by living near a small community that is all ready in existence, if there are few family's that want to "share" the goat milk or the meat processing, but even the amish are in need of out side supplies, they need salt, kerosene, raw supplies, windmills, pumps, pipe, hardware, tools, kitchen supplies, and etc,

    LOOK IN Lehmans catalog,

    maybe I am missing something,

    one of the problems is that probably the "founders" of the community would be workers, but what happens if you get a bunch of slackers join in, even tho when they join they appear to be the best quality of individuals you would ever want,
    Who is/are the leaders, those who have the biggest places or the most to add, or to equality elected,
    What happens if some one wants to take there part and leave, or stops working on the joint venture items,
    Do you sell shares?
    What happens when there is a finical debt?

    then you have the where aspect of setting up the system,

    and then you will probably have religious differences, that will tear at the community, in small community religion can be very divisive.

    one of the reasons the Amish probably succeed is because there Religion is the basics of the community,

    If some one could lay out a apparently workable system please post it, i would like to hear the ideas,
     
  15. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Guess this idea wont get far. Already tearing inot those mean and nasty ones that don't even exist yet.
    Seems to me they use to have something called the "small town" that worked pretty well till the GIMEE GIMEE CHEAP CHEAP people started running things
    :confused: :confused:
     
  16. reluctantpatriot

    reluctantpatriot I am good without god.

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    The idea of a self-reliant/self-sufficient community works well in theory, and it did work in the past when there was the threat of certain death without cooperation (North American and Austrailian colonies) or there was a strong cohesion due to religion/philosophy (Quakers, Puritans, Mormons, Amish, Mennonites) that is the structure of the colony/community.

    In our modern world the theory breaks down due to the vast individuality of people now, even within the same belief system and community. While it is still possible, the probability of one existing without major problems is very low. I'm not saying not to try, rather be aware that it will take a significant amount of work for a community.

    However, for self-reliant/self-sufficient homesteaders, perhaps living on privately owned land near each other in an area, but basically functioning independently, would be better. The idea would be more about living as one sees fit, but having friends nearby if needed. Each homestead and family or individual lives and does what interests them and if they want to exchange goods and services with their friends, they will. If they want to sell it on the local market instead, so be it.

    To be honest, I think the independent spirit of most homesteaders would break a community if everyone had to live within confines of a communal arrangement.
     
  17. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think community exists- the world- and its unit of exchange- money- works pretty well. I see we might want smaller autonomous communities. We can vote with our dollars (or pounds sterling) or our democratic votes to improve that: ask our state or local laws to permit or encourage smaller farms and businesses for more local production food and other goods. Spend our money on local goods and food. A good first step I recognize from this board might be to try to ease sales of small scale dairies' goods with lower certififcation costs etc but I understnad the milk board's power and incentives.

    Freecycle is forming communities, the internet has formed OUR community- we just want a more proximate geographically one. For me- with my dream situ of having a few acres and a small McMansion surrounded by a few organic farms which will grow all I ever want to eat and maybe let me work for them once in a while- I can (thanks to thoughts provoked by this thread) see I should hunt for an organic directory when I move such as is available here in UK so I can at least know of all the organic farms I can shop from nearby. Also imagine if we buy a large farm having somene come in and farm it for me but as we've covered in hired help threads if they're worth anything they'll already have their own farms... There is a young lad we lived next to in Germany who wants to be a farmer- maybe he could start on ours?
     
  18. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    This has all been attempted before, just do some research. Look at the homestead community started in Crossville,TN which was started by the US govt. look into communes like Eastwind, they survive only because of capitalism and the fact they have the outside world to throw the ones they don't want into.
     
  19. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ya ought to see what a house cost out there nowdays. You live there if you always lived there or your one of the "upitty ups" Stop by Grannys antiques someday if you want the whole story. That old women in there knows everything about it. Pretty cool lady.
     
  20. cindyc

    cindyc Well-Known Member

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    Hey guys,
    Here is what the three families in TN are working toward. We are all spending this year getting out of debt first. It is more than I can share in an email, but here is the "jist". For us, we decided that we want a homestead so that we are not at risk from the "ownership lie" ever again, but more than that we want a community of homesteaders who are committed to serving the poor. Now that I have been there, I no longer care if helping one poor family is "jousting with windmills" and not really solving the issue of poverty. I am more concerned about the one family I have influence on today, because I have been that family (along with dh and 5 kids). There are two ways to deal with poverty, from the perspective of someone who has been there. They are 1) increase income (which is the way we always try to deal with things in "the system") and 2) to decrease need. (Which no one is addressing in this culture). A community of homesteaders (who own their own stuff, and share thier skills in teaching) could bring someone along in the skills needed to sustain themselves while they are figuring out the income thing. It gives them the dignity of work and the power to impact their own situation. It means maybe whatever job they can get will actually benefit them. (I won't bother to explain, but if you've been in the system, you know what I mean.) We want to build an EXTRA bale house, called the Hope House for families in financial duress to come and defrag from the pain of the experience they have been in. There they can do honest work, live off the land of the community. When we are starting out, hope house will be a place where people building in the community (we will have house raisings like the Amish, so it won't be a 5 year process for the shell at least) can live until their own mini-farm is ready. More and more I see the need for something like this. In my own town 1500 people are about to lose their jobs.
    We are not buiding a communist community. I have come to believe that self sufficient living that allows you to keep more of what you make because you have reduced your need is just a different form of capitalism. I choose to live on less, and I choose to help people with what I make in partnership with others, but I still own my own stuff, and live my own life. In my "dream" participation in community is voluntary. You benefit from the community in direct proportion to what you put into it, but no one makes you put anything into it at all. Bulk buying brings power to the capitalist system. A community of people could use the system to their advantage. In my dream, the process of working together in the community without debt actually builds wealth for a purpose. People are able to keep their jobs if they want to. They just don't have much to spend their money on after a while. We want to help people, to build a wholesome place to live and leave for our kids if they choose to keep it, and to leave an inheritance for them. It should be theoretically possible. The Amish and the Mennonites do it all the time. The thing is, you can't have everything. You either work hard at local sustainable living for yourself, and/or build a group of people to buy what you need at wholesale or less, or continue to work a million hours a week to buy at retail. Very few will ever get ahead doing the last of those options. My theory is that combining options 1 and 2 could be of great benefit to a community of people, and free them up to be able to make a difference. It would also make it easier to live in an environmentally responsible way. We would call ourselves hyper-capitalists. Our goal would be to use a neutral system as a force for good.
    We may be crazy. This may have all been tried before. But at this moment, that is the plan. If it doesn't work, everybody has their own homestead, can crawl back into hermit mode, and scrap the whole thing pretty easily I guess.
    Cindyc
    PS Hey, it's out there now. Besides human nature, give me the drawbacks. Now is the time to address them, not when we are in the thick of it. I want to hear it, I do. It should be said that as of right now, this is a community of christians. Whether we would open this up to others would be a group decision, but I am open to it.
    PSS Another thing we are doing is interviewing people who are in such communities about what works and what doesn't as we learn and talk about how things will be structured. Might as well learn from other people's mistakes.