Proposal for an Environmentally Sustainable Community

Experiencing love, honoring commitments, and respecting nature is what life is all about. Mainstream society does not support these ecologically sustainable values. Our dream is to join or establish an intentional community of like-minded people living together, working together, and sharing the joys of life.

We believe in environment over technology, simplicity over convenience, and health over pleasure. Technology, convenience, and pleasure all have their place in our lives, however we believe that they should be in the service of living simply in healthy balance with our environment, the earth.

Our mission is to make a true, sustainable alternative to mainstream society available to all interested people. In real terms, this means that the community must be both fully capitalized (no mortgage) and no more than 30 miles outside of an urban center (at the end of a light rail or bus line, or even within bicycling distance would be ideal).

In our proposed community, members of the sustainable family will live together in an appropriately sized common house on a good-sized piece of land (50+ acres).

Our primary work will be keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table, but in quite literal terms. We will (ourselves, with our own hands) design, construct, and maintain a passive solar common house to our mutually agreed-upon specification for group sustainable family living. We will (ourselves, with our own hands) plan and implement sustainable non-GMO, organic, vegetable-only agriculture for our complete year-round sustenance. The plan includes the generation of all our own solar/wind/hydro power, and doing without a lot of things that we mutually decide are unnecessary and/or unsustainable (planet-unfriendly).

As such, we will not have to go outside the community to work or secure basic resources like food and power.

If any of us did decide to go outside the community for whatever reason (or let the outside in), we would do so therefore not because we had to out of necessity, but with the intention of building community with the outside world and interacting with the planet in some positive way.

One happy result is that the labor of all the family members will be valued in a more equitable manner. Members will feel comfortable performing multiple types of labor, sharing work, or rotating jobs over time. At the very least, as Gandhi suggested, nobody should be above cleaning the toilet. This way, we can avoid valuing different people's labor as more or less important.

Socially, we believe that the myth of the "American Dream" is in part reproduced through the idea of the nuclear family, which has proved itself to be unsustainable. Although we do not have "the solution" or some dogmatic idea of what should replace the nuclear family, we do have a few general ideas.

We ourselves would like to bring one or two children into this world once we have created a healthy environment for them to thrive. Our proposed maximum is 1 child per adult for ZPG (zero population growth) reasons. We believe that we should want to model ZPG in our community, since excessive human population is one of the main factors in our obese ecological footprint.

The old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" seems truer today than ever, and when both parents are working 60+ hours a week, the global village takes over. Through television, internet, shopping malls, and our factory-model system of universal education created during the industrial revolution, our contemporary society reproduces the status quo and the US way of life in our children.

What we want to do is create a more meaningful local family village to take back a good portion of the reproductive labor of raising children and create with them a more sustainable relationship with the planet, with each other, and hopefully with the goal of raising consciousness and expanding this sustainable vision in mainstream society.

Part of the way to do this, we think, is to pool resources and create economies of scale by reducing our overhead relative to nuclear family living. By sharing work, income, space, and vision, we can reduce the amount of hours spent putting bread on the table and a roof over our heads in order that we may spend more time raising children, building community, and enjoying life.

In order to live together and achieve these benefits, we will have to put aside ideas and expectations that we currently associate with nuclear family living and the myth of the "American Dream." Men will not be the dominant power in the community. Women will not be the sole providers of reproductive labor (raising children). Individual ownership is a concept that may need to be re-evaluated. Decision-making by consensus will incorporate all members of the community and may take more time and energy, yielding the immeasurable benefit that the rights and responsibilities as well as the abilities and limitations of all members have been addressed, and therefore all members are contributing fully to the shared vision of the community.

Our ideal family village welcomes people who challenge the dominant culture in a variety of ways: Queer folks, people of color, non-monogamous (or polyamorous) people, vegans, naturists, artists, and activists of all types will be welcome additions to our community.

It will be hard work to shift from an individual-centered lifestyle to a planet- and community-centered lifestyle, but we think it is vital and necessary for the survival of our spirit, our culture, and our world.

We know that a lot of you have trouble imagining being able to acquire a piece of property outright. However, if we got enough people together, and we all sold our cars, we should be able to buy an adequate piece of property with money left over for material capitalization and a small fixed-rate investment to pay for property taxes. This plan conveniently kills two birds with one stone by eliminating our ability to use cars and removing any need to have them. (Maybe we should keep one or two for outreach purposes and unavoidable travel.)

If we own the land outright, then all we need to do is provide for ourselves the basic necessities: Water, Food, Shelter, and Culture. Fortunately, we can provide these things for ourselves, within limits. For example, unless we settle in a really tropical area, we will have to do without bananas. But hey, are we combatting globalization, or aren't we?

The idea of moving out into the countryside has its appeal. However, we believe that severing our ties with the mainstream altogether would be selfish and unresponsible, because we have a responsibility to model and share our way of life and thereby teach by example, the most powerful form of teaching.

We are two high school teachers. We are both 33 years old and have a cat and a small dog (20 lbs.) in our current family. We are financially secure and own a home in Santa Cruz, California.

We are currently seeking interested people for our community. You must enjoy making what you eat, cleaning your own mess, and spending all that time you used to waste (sitting on the freeway, kowtowing to your boss, and drooling over the latest consumer product) with the other like-minded people who live here, doing what comes naturally.


The originators of this proposal are no longer together, but elements of their vision may help to inspire future efforts by others.