Sunflowervillager's Blog

Growing into community

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.


Satellite Housing part 2 June 3, 2009

Filed under: community structure,satellite housing — Saera @ 2:51 pm

I want to detail what I’ve dubbed “satellite housing” and the reasons for it. Satellite housing means that there is a central house/building which houses most of the useful indoor space for the village, and small personal dwellings for sleeping and privacy. This situation allows for a lower investment per capita of appliances, plumbing, heating, developed permanent space building supplies, and resource pressures than conventional housing. It also brings people into frequent contact and ensures that people are not isolated.

This situation allows for a lower investment per capita of appliances, plumbing, heating, developed permanent space, building supplies, and resource pressures than conventional housing. It also brings people into frequent contact and ensures that people are not isolated. It also allowes for individual expression and practice of a variety of alternative architecture.

The “main” house must include a kitchen and dining space large enough to support the community, and for self-sufficiency purposes. It ought to have a drying room (for herbs, vegetables, etc), space for canning, a cellar for food storage, at least one large freezer, bread making space, plenty of room for chopping, sufficient stove space, perhaps 8-12 burners.

There will be a library composed of books collected by villagers. Ideally most books will be shared, but it is understandable if a few books are kept personal. The library should be a place where a variety of academic activity occurs. Computers could be located nearby- close enough for practicality, but far enough or closed off enough so that sound could be utilized without being distracting – perhaps a room for computers and another space for films. Actually, it might be more efficient to have a theatre space in the dining hall – perhaps have comfier chairs to bring in for that.

Besides the kitchen, really one of the most important aspects of the main house will be the dorms. Dorms will provide housing for villagers who don’t want to hor have not yet constructed their own dwellings, new members, part time members, guests, and visitors. Everyone in the village is expected to work. Kathy was asking if there were any member requirements. I told her that it wouldn’t be based on income or religion or anything like that. A willingness to work is all that’s required. That being said, this will not be a tourist or vacation spot. Anyone who comes, whether potential member or guest or visitor will be asked to work or leave. No paying guests. Even the elderly or infirm have something to contribute, according to their ability. Dorms will be very simple: bed, nightstand, closet/bureau, that kind of thing. Probably multiple occupancy for visitors and guests, and then depending on room and other factors, members and part-time members may be able to have their own dorm.

Donna and Kathy wanted to know about internal governance. I told them that while I have on a few ideas about ways that could work, based on the research I have done thus far, I am reluctant to dictate such a thing, because any form of governance works best when the people choose it themselves. They are more likely to abide by what they’ve chosen and up hold it with others. I shall also not be surprised if it varies with time. My own feeling is that some form of council works best, if those people are held accountable and are still required to do significant amounts of other work, including continued involvement in food growth and preparation.

At any rate, governance should not decide everything. Those who are particularly knowledgeable in a field, especially those vital to the haleness/wellbeing ove the village must be given the ability to carry out their work effectively, so long as it abides by the central principles of the village. The “governance” and “work-leaders” (ie knowledgeable people in various production areas utilized in the village) should collaborate to asses the needs and priorities of the viillage and appropriately divide labor, energy, and resources. Perhaps a delegation of governance and work leaders could report to “task coordinators”. These coordinators givern information from governance and work leaders, could come up with the labor/resources plan on a daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, and annual basis. Every night, the coordinators could post a labor-needs list for the next day. The list could be divided into daily, primary, and secondary tasks, and people could sign up for them on a first – come, first – serve basis. Of course some jobs, such as milking goats, are better done by the same individual every day. That individual would simply be automatically listed next to the task as one of theirs for the day.


Satellite Housing June 1, 2009

Filed under: community structure,satellite housing — Saera @ 1:31 am

Today I had the pleasure of discussing ideas about the village with Kathy and Donna. They both asked some wonderful questions and shared some of their thoughts and experiences. I hope to recapture some of the clarity that I gained from that conversation here and further explicate the vision.

I was asked if I could boil it down to a couple of things. I was surprised to discover that almost everything else seems to come from subsidiarity and inter-reliance, along with self-sufficiency. The other principles I wrote about further show how those things function.

I also realized that I haven’t written here about “satellite housing”. Basically, the idea is to have a central building containing a large kitchen, workspace, a library, etc. It’s a waste to have a full kitchen for everyone, excess of so many things that aren’t used all the time, or that are, but would be much more efficient if people concentrated the effort. And having things in a shared space keeps people closer. There could also be dorms in the central building for people who can’t be at the village full-time or for guests.

However, I also realize that people need some private space. So people could have very small dwellings throughout the area… and I mean small.

I have been informed by Shad that I’m not terribly coherent at the moment. Therefore I shall continue about satellite housing later.