Sunflowervillager's Blog

Growing into community

Walden Two Notes August 7, 2011

Filed under: community structure — Saera @ 2:23 pm

Notes I had made while reading Walden Two

Chapter 8, beginning p 52: Labor Credit System

inefficiency of stores &  competitive business

Bellamy: Looking Backward


Conceptions of Intentional Communities July 18, 2011

Filed under: community structure,existing communities,values — Saera @ 11:30 pm

Just had a great conversation with K.R. about intentional communities (IC). We talked about what we think one is, how I came to realize that this was my big interest, and the place where she is about to be interning/living, which some define as an intentional community and others don’t. Apparently there are those who really want it to be an IC and then there are a few, more powerful people, who seem to be mainly interested in the space for running programs. This is the sort of thing that makes me wish SVI was all ready to go, because it shows me that my work really is needed.

I’m thankful to L.O. for the time she took to read over what I have of the founding docs so far. Her editing is always so helpful. So I’m polishing away at that.

I’m about halfway through Walden Two. So far my favorite parts are the section on how work is managed and the part on how children are taught to deal with obstacles. The part on work management is very interesting because it is one of the aspects of the book that comes across very clearly in the way that the Twin Oaks community was able to actualize the concepts of Planners, Managers, and work-credits. Of course many ICs have developed some kind of labor system, but Twin Oaks has long been my favorite example. Although I disagree with some parts of the system of child-raising in the book, I do appreciate how there is an effort to teach children how to deal with obstacles as a growing opportunity rather than a frustration, annoyance, or cause for jealousy. Overall, I think the book is interesting and definitely has some valuable thoughts. However I also see it as strongly influenced by being written in the period immediately after WWII, when science, the scientific method, and scientific approaches were supposed to solve so many of our problems. In some ways, Skinner (the author) seems to try too hard to make Walden Two an absolutely “scientifically” run community. While there is value in the ways science has allowed for the improvement of life, it is not a virtue in itself, but a tool or an asset. The most important values for a community lie elsewhere. Although Skinner has alluded to some of them, so far he has not been explicit.


Walden Two and Founding Documents July 15, 2011

Filed under: community structure,existing communities — Saera @ 9:21 pm

I picked up Walden Two by B.F. Skinner again the other day. When I started reading it, I only got a little past the introduction, but I have more appreciation for it right now. The existing community which I most admire, Twin Oaks, used this book as inspiration when it got started, and I am curious to see what I think. So far I don’t have any major objections to the material although I’m not sure how much of it I would personally prioritize in a community.

Over the course of this past week, I have also been working on developing some founding documents for the Sunflower Village Initiative. Some of it is derived from posts here and from some other writings. I am working on a piece to explain the essence of what this Initiative is, and I am also working on some By-laws. I have also been thinking about what a really effective board will be like.


Productive in the World July 7, 2011

I went to DELA (Don’t Eat Lunch Alone) in Springfield for the first time. I found out about it through the Pioneer Valley Local First group on Linkedin. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, Don’t Eat Lunch Alone is the idea that lunch can be used as valuable networking time. This group brings together people to discuss ideas relating to business and employment. I found the discussion interesting and I met some people who I think will be helpful with the Sunflower Village Initiative, so I’m glad I went and I’m likely to go again.

I also went to the Forbes Library and wandered around until I realized what I wanted to look at: Treehouse architecture. I found two books, one of which I know I’ve seen before used and desperately want to buy but can’t. So I read that until the library closed. After  picking up my partner from work, we came home and I grabbed a quick dinner of canned soup and grilled cheese, then left again. I went to a volunteer training for Habitat for Humanity. Now I can volunteer on sites for them, not just stuff envelopes. 😀 I’m really excited about the non-profit skills I’m going to learn from them, in addition to house-building skills.


New Perspectives May 19, 2011

Filed under: community structure,solidarity — Saera @ 1:41 am

I’m back from India. You can read about some of the things I did there at my other blog, There is a lot more to say about what I saw and experienced and learned while on my study abroad program. A lot of things gave me new thoughts and ideas about the Sunflower Village Initiative, including the physical layout and economic organization of villages, the importance of common lands, and, surprisingly, a lot of new thoughts about the expression of class amongst Americans.

While I was cavorting about Rajasthan, board member Katie G took the Grassroots Community Development at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She seems to have learned a lot about Solidarity and community and changing things on a community level. Discussing other things that have happened while we’ve been apart, we realize that we really need a day or so to get on the same page about SVI again. We also agree that in some ways we need to start from the beginning again and lay a deeper foundation. Hopefully that will happen in the next week or so, and then we can take some fresh steps forward.


The Board December 14, 2010

Filed under: community structure — Saera @ 7:56 am

I just wanted to report that the Sunflower Village Initiative isn’t dead. It’s more alive than ever! This fall, five people joined me to form a board of directors: Arianna, Jasmina, Katie, Malcolm, and Daniel. We’ve had three meetings, and we’re currently working on polishing our Mission statement, and our goal is to become an official non-profit sometime in 2011!

As a non-profit, the Sunflower Village Initiative will be aimed at developing intentional communities to become subsidiarity, sustainable, and solidarity based, and helping individuals gain access to these communities. This itself won’t directly become the organization that makes a village with me – but it will probably be the parent organization.


Satellite Experiment March 9, 2010

Filed under: community structure — Saera @ 10:26 pm

Alright, after clearing up my thoughts yesterday, I really want to write what I originally meant to get down.

On Saturday, I while I was chanting, I was struggling a bit. I had some difficulties in organization last week, and I was feeling a bit frustrated with the fact that I hadn’t done anything directly connected to the Sunflower Village Initiative for awhile. But I want to clarify, this was a joyful kind of struggling and it wasn’t agonistic at all.  I have felt at times that while I love the idea I have for the structures of the village, I am not sure how to bring that vision to fruition. Things came together rather suddenly. I realized that a great way to move my ideas forward is to take one aspect of what I am trying to do and attempt it on a slightly smaller, more feasible scale. So the thought is to take the Satellite model (see earlier posts) of organizing the village and test it out, over the course of at least one summer. I would organize a group of 10-20 people. I would like to see if a local farmer might be able to accommodate us. I have one in mind, but if he would rather not participate, I can imagine the “Happy Valley” providing someone who would. This group of people would come to the farm for the summer. A central area would be designated for cooking, socializing, and projects. Perhaps this area should have a wood platform to prevent mud. Tents would be used primarily for sleep and private time. The work day would be spent doing farmwork under the direction of the farmer. This would work well with the idea of having specialist directors of village labours. It would also serve to provide compensation to the farmer for the use of space. The main objective of the experiment would be as a preliminary test of the function of a satellite dwelling arrangement. Ideally, the experiment would be repeated in a consecutive season, ideally with most of the same people. One of the challenges involved is finding funding and other resources needed to allow people to participate. This is needed to counter the hindrance presented by peoples’ need to continue to pay rent, bills, and to take hiatus from other activities. More research must be done on the exact costs for dwellings, impact for a potential farmer-participant, the kinds of support needed for participants, and how to keep the project cohesive.