Sunflowervillager's Blog

Growing into community

Misnomered Communities October 28, 2009

Filed under: economy,land trust,landlessness.,social investment — Saera @ 1:28 pm

I want to address some problems that exist with some current types of intentional communities.

An ecovillage is a community based on the premise that we can counter the environmentally damaging effects of modern lifestyles by developing a physical community which uses little to no oil generated energy, recycles, and integrates other strategies for reducing footprint. This sounds wonderful, but there are some major problems with the idea as it is practiced in reality. One is that practically any neighborhood can call itself an ecovillage or a “green” community if it is using something seen or portrayed as “green”. I have seen advertisements promoting gated communities which require organic or “green” lawncare, recycling, and have energy efficient housing. Certainly, this is an improvement on conventional gated communities and on suburbian design in general. However, this is a small bandage that is really an attempt to allow things to continue pretty much as as they have, without requiring any real significant changes or sacrifices to lifestyle. I’ll start with an easy example: these lawns could be cared for with certified organic businesses. But that does not begin to even think about addressing the problems of excessive land use/misuse for individual houses. It does not say anything about biodiversity or the huge environmental impact caused by gas run lawnmowers. It does not provide for rainfall dispersal and watershed preservation, and it could still be rare to have a commons.

But the greatest flaw of these types of communities is their exclusiveness. And this is not just a trait of “green” gated neighborhoods…. it persists through the design of many intentional communities. Recently on the community bulletin board at work, there was an advertisement for a “Solar Village” with “generous income requirements”. This was $68,000 for one person! It is understandable that since these communities, often newly built, and with expensive features and technologies, need some way to pay for the land, the buildings, materials, and services. However, requiring that level guarantees that, while the community will be financially stable, it will also tend strongly to exclude the following people: many blue-collar workers, young people, blacks, latinos, asians, the handicapped, poorer artists and artisans, small-scale farmers, activists, non-profit workers, and students. Excluding these groups from a community constitutes a huge flaw. Some of these groups, such as activists, artists, farmers, students, and young people represent groups which have very high potential to be vibrant, active, and innovative.But excluding any population of people from a system called “sustainable” is problematic. If only the wealthy can afford “sustainble” lifestyles, what happens to the poor people? Since there is a huge population of poor relative to wealthy, we will not have truly sustainable systems unless they account for everyone. That is to say, if some groups have access to solar power and other forms of renewable energy, but the poor can only rely on coal, oil, and other non-renewable energy sources, then we are not building a future which is truly sustainable. This type of use and abuse of the term “sustainability” makes it into a form of status and propagation of problematic forms of organizing society.

 

Vanishing Fog October 26, 2009

Filed under: land,landlessness.,redetermination — Saera @ 7:13 am
Tags: , ,

It’s 2:30 am. Since I went to bed on time for once, this means that I slept about 2 hours and have been fooling around on the computer for half an hour. I’ve been struggling with existential anxiety a lot this semester. I have been chanting a lot more and I feel like my vision is clearing. I’ve said before that this blog isn’t so much about the details of my personal life. So why am I writing about this here? Because I am seeing my path clearer, I am working on multiple ends

I wrote a bit recently about the conundrum of whether to become landed first or to break dependency on employ. I am starting to think that it makes sense to work on it from both ends simultaneously, however I can. There is no reason not to go for a land trust and a village and a worker/producer co-op. These things all go hand in hand as part of the diverse economy. There is an opportunity that I have been informed about to make a leap from my current job into an existing co-op. I will be hoping and chanting for it. But I am also able to take a step back and realize that even if I do not obtain this particular transition, a cooperative work environment is not out of reach. I can apply for others in the area, and I can start one more… as long as jobs the current system continue to exist, there will be a place for worker co-ops to develop.

I am not a victim. I do not have to see myself as trapped or overwhelmed or having odds stacked against me. I only need to act and to believe and to persevere.

 

Landlessness and wage-bonds September 23, 2009

Filed under: economy,land,landlessness.,marx,organization,risk,slavery,wage — Saera @ 4:09 am

Long week… already, catching up from being sick
not just from school, but that, yes, always that, doing what I can, and communicating like crazy, to profs, TAs, SGI people.
Still not caught up with myself. Got to do some dishes after finishing homework tonight, and yeah, I said *got* to and meant it. Thank goodness Daniel did the laundry. We’re both running hard and doing all we can, and our lives are becoming ever more gargantuan.

Lots of things I want to write about – my connect/disconnect to Marx, marxism, labor. My passion for Upton Sinclair. Thinking about economy and organization of labor. Reconsidering my approaches.

There are two bandages that hold us in thrall, physically in this society.

(I know there are others, many others, in spiritual, intellectual, other areas, I know, know too that they are all interconnected, but I have a PoinT here… that is to say, there are two bondages)

There are two bondages: Being, still, after milennia, the landless peasantry, the land ripped away from us (ill-ly)legally….( we, the working class, the producers, the makers of vitals or the chain of people who get them from the makers to You, consumer.) In short: we rent, we do not own our castles, our abodes where we may at last have our Say. I rent, so I do not define my own space, except on the surface, my trappings, my coverings, things I bring every place I live to remind-pretend that this is not someone else’s. I doubt again that I will grow corn next spring or summer, and who knows if/when ever I’ll get that cat door. Because it is not something I really have a say over. So, the bondage that I rent, that I am landless, like every lowest class. And there abounds the myth that there is not class in *America. So, the idea, the revolutionistic desire that once again, we should have an abode, for us, not for the profit of another, but a place to finally hang our hat at the end of the day and not worry whether the second bondage threatens us in the security of our sleep.

The second bondage: to work filling the pockets of others to bursting, and not being able to tell whether we fill ours just enough to eat, to sedate ourselves a little into acceptance, or whether we are actually benefiting from the arrangement, making progress towards freedom from the first bondage or following dreams or saving the world or merely having a fulfilling occupation. Yes, that second bondage is, (and I *will* be so bold as to thank Marx for this line) the slavery of wage…. that endless work that we too often cannot tell what happens to, who it benefits, if it is what we are told it is. Is this the best we have to offer? Too many inconsistencies, and always this cycle of how much do we risk to speak up to appease our angry sense of justice , how much do we live with in order that we may attempt to someway, somehow, accomplish our nobler ends? The means ARE connected, invariably to the ends. There must be better means, or our ends are sure to haunt us as tainted. To which solution, then do I dare?

I don’t know yet… again, more research, more dialogue, more experimentation and self-delving.

Again, and more. A few snippets of new connections, fresh determination, I leave here tonight. There is certainly more whirling around, but tomorrow has, again, many demands.

 

The State Street Peeps August 25, 2009

In order for this blog to be an effective tool, I also need to be taking action outside it. That will happen soon, in a very structured way, due to school. In the meantime, and hopefully even as that gets going again, I want to make sure I am taking the kind of action each day that gives me something meaningful to write about here. It’s not that I’m doing nothing, but a lot of what I have been doing lately is related to either my personal relationships or my Buddhist activities. That is good stuff, but that isn’t what this blog is about. Of course it’s all interconnected, but I’m working on a specific thing here.

One thing I guess that has been developing gradually worth mentioning is the community of the house I live in. I thought maybe I’d posted this already, but I skimmed through previous posts and didn’t see anything. There are 4 apartments in the house, and everyone who lives here is really cool. Everyone seems to be interested in food and the outdoors and being cool neighbors. There is also a general consensus that bikes are at least as respect worthy as cars, if not more so. There have been some potlucks for just hanging out… we hosted one, the girl next to us hosted one, and the people on the second floor have had several. We are musicians and students and grocery store workers and gardeners and philosophers and talkers and doers. In the foyer as you come inside, there is a community monthly calender and it has all sorts of awesome events and notes and drawings. Sammy watched our cat while we were gone, and now we’re watching hers while she’s gone. We bump into each other in the driveway or stairwell or sidewalk or garden/backyard and talk about food or religion or work or society or whatever. It’s not all the time, and it’s not in your face. It’s relaxed and develops when someone wants to do something or communicates. I’m so glad I live here, because it has a little of the feel that I’d like the village to have. Unlike most places I’ve lived since moving out of my parent’s house, *all* my neighbors are friendly and interactive and utterly unbitchy. The last place I lived I think had the willingness, to an extent, but people ended up keeping to themselves for the most part, even though we always talked about more. Here, we knock on each others doors, and we do stuff, we don’t just talk about it. I’m delighted to live in a place with a real garden (even if I didn’t make it), and one step closer to that village vibe.