Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wealth is not Property

Svetlana Jovanović
[Guest post by Ellen, a long-time reader of this blog that I've only just heard from recently. She makes a valid point, one I couldn't have made better myself. It makes me happy that a woman is making it, although that doesn't make it any less incendiary (for some people).]

Thank you for your series on Communities that Abide. I have been looking for a summation of successful and proven strategies for communities for some time. Reading your checklist was something of an “Aha!” moment.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What comes first?

Lua de Proverbia
Without exception, all communities that abide have a unique and specific ideology, or faith, or set of principles, which they accept unquestioningly, and which they attempt to practice to the greatest extent possible. I decided to use the term “ideology” because it is the most neutral term and gets us away from discussing the intricacies of religion versus other types of ideology. It may be argued that all ideologies possess an element of faith. Even faith in science is still just faith: the scientist believes that the truth is discoverable through experiment rather than, say, revelation, and, as is usually the case with ideology, it is pointless to argue either way. One either accepts it, and passes, or does not, and flunks out. If you join a community, you either accept its ideology, or you don't join.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How (not) to organize a community

[This post first appeared in October of 2010 and met with a mixed reaction. Some people found it painful to hear that resilience and sustainability are often little more than middle-class hobbies, while the overwhelming trend throughout the world is toward a different kind of steady state, one characterized by something called durable disorder. However painful, the point stands.]

Dire predictions made by authoritative figures can provide the impetus to attempt great things: establish community gardens and farmer's markets, lobby for improved public transportation, bike lanes and sidewalks, promote ride-sharing initiatives, weatherize existing homes and impose more stringent construction standards for new ones, construct of windmill farms and install solar panels on public buildings, promote the use of composting toilets and high-efficiency lighting and so on.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Communities that Abide—Part V: An Example of Success

Pete Ryan
Last week's post featured an extended excerpt from Peter Kropotkin, who counted off the main reasons of failure among communist groups: communal living, small size, and separatism from the wider world. Yes, an anarchist worker cooperative of a few dozen members that relocates into the American wilderness, shuns the world, and tries to make a go of it is likely to fail: the members will fall out with each other and live out Sartre's dictum that “hell is other people”; they will lose their young people who will flee to seek new experiences elsewhere; they will either become enslaved by a “big brother” or become “utterly depersonalized.” Give up the thoughts of farming and of complete self-sufficiency and zero in on the concept of gardening in close proximity to a city that can offer a stimulating environment, a market for the produce and opportunities for the children as they grow up. Keep in mind, says Kropotkin, who you are: you are not “monks and hermits of old” but industrial labor that wants to get out from under the heel of the capitalists and the rentier class.