THE "GLOBAL ALTERNATIVE SOCIETY MOVEMENT"

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Crystal Waters operates an educational program, involving living in at the community. It has een awarded the United Nations World Habitat Ward in `1995 for its pioneering ways in demonstrating new low impact and sustainable was of living. A rammed earth and timber learning centre was opened in 2001.
The site is 259 ha;. The settlement was the first in the world to be wholly designed along Permaculture lines. The housing is in clusters, mostly constructed from earth, timber strawbale, using low energy techniques. There are composting toilets and grey water recycling. Water is supplied from the site, to houses, gardens and dams. Wildlife is abundant and forests have been replanted.

A number of small businesses are based on the site. There are community facilities, including a café, kitchen, fire brigade, community house and meeting rooms. There is visitor accommodation. A 15 minute video has recently been made summarising the settlement and its philosophy.


Crystal Waters Permaculture Village, MS 16 Maleny, Queensland 4552. Study@cystalwatlelrscollege.org.au

There are more than 300,000 gardening allotments in Britain, i.e., on public land.

M. Wale, Digging for victory, The Ecologist, 31, 2, March, 2001, p. 54.

 

"…an ecologically harmonious, steady-state society will need to offer a wide range of wholesome high quality satisfactions which will make the consumer itch look silly and irrelevant." 22 Consuming seems to be caused by cultural deprivation.

P. Self, Rolling Back the Market, New York, St. Martins, 2000.

The nurturing of vibrant local economies is the only sustainable way to generate and protect sufficiently secure livelihoods, food security,

community cohesion, political accountability, a healthy environment, and cultural diversity, which are the best remedies for poverty…

The Ecologist Report, Globalising Poverty, Sept., 2000, p. 4.

IS ORGANIC ENOUGH?: HELENA NORBERG-HODGE SAYS ORGANIC FOOD IS ALL VERY WELL BUT IF IT'S NOT LOCAL, IT'S STILL JUST PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Food and agriculture around the world is being threatened as never before by corporate agribusiness and international 'free' trade. Small, sustainable, diverse farms producing food for local communities are being wiped out; replaced by vast chemical-intensive agribusinesses producing single crops that are eventually sold via supermarket chains on the

other side of the world. Year by year the farms grow larger, the transportation distances grow longer and the retailers grow ever more powerful.

The Ecologist, 30. 7. Oct, 2000, p. 45.

The alternative, 'Localisation', insists that everything that I could be produced within a nation or region should be.

C. Hines, Localisation, " The Ecologist Report, Globalising Poverty, Sept., 2000,

 

"We are in the midst of a fundamentally new phenomenon in the modern human experience, the creation of a new civilization from the bottom up." 241.

Ordinary people are doing these things. "Most are driven more by a simple desire to create viable living spaces in the midst of a troubled world than by grand visions of planetary change." 241.

He argues that we can starve capitalism to death; p. 262

Develop local self-sufficiency 271

D. Korten, The Post-Corporate World, Kumarian, 1999.

"Thousands are forming a new generation of ‘tribes’ — small ‘intentional’ communities where people care for each other and live sustainably."

T. Hartmann, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, 1998, p. 202.

"…as resources grow scarce, mobility declines, and decentralisation occurs…a new social logic will assert itself. Fewer resources will mean that sharing and cooperation will be functional if the frugal life is to be a good and full one. With less mobility and closer communities, it will not be necessary to rely on governments so much for protection. For a person to live in a small community with the reputation of being a miser, a cheat, a spreader of malicious rumours, or a thief is strong persuasion against such behaviour. Loyalty, trustworthiness, generosity and good-heartedness are more apt to be virtues by which an individual is known, and one’s good name will be important for full participation in the community. There will be fewer opportunities for the exploitative self-centredness so characteristic of present society now. Individual responsibility will be in one’s own self-interest…Those who contribute most to the enjoyment of life will be the most honoured, rather than those who can take the most."

W. Johnson, Muddling Towards Frugality, Shambala, 1979, pp 233-234.

…self-reliant communities constitute today the only way to reverse the process of over-production and over-consumption that is the main effect of the 'growth economy' as well as the main cause of the ecological threat.

Foutopolous, T., (1997), Towards an Inclusive Democracy, London, Cassell. P. 242.

 

The origin of the word "frugal" is the Latin for fruitful or productive…suggesting "…economic conditions in which society is obliged … to make full and ‘fruitful’ use of all its resources." 12

"Small scale, labour-intensive production will be increasingly competitive with the large, centralised, manufacturing operations that evolved under conditions of cheap energy and transportation." 12.

$10 per week rise. But for the other 80%W. Johnston, Muddling Towards Frugality, Shambala, Boulder, 1978.

A study of MacDonalds found that of the $750,000 spent there in a period almost two thirds left not only the neighbourhood but the metropolitan area. contrary to conventional wisdom, every time a fast food restaurant opens, the number of jobs in the local economy actually declines.

http://www.ilsr.org/20yrhist.html

It is stated that we should "...develop model sustainble communities, in different settings around the world hat are designed around reduced consumerism, sustainability, community values, traffic-free, sylvan spaces, with fewer than 2000 people initiated by private land developers with support from and in consultation with, local government, state government, community development Non-Government Organisations, other relevant environmental, urban farming, appropriate energy NGOs."

J. C. Glenn, 1988 State of the Future; Issues and Opportunities. American Council for the United Nations University, 1988, p. 31.

"...a new global culture and consciousness has taken root..." p. 2. The change is as significant as that from agriculture to industrial society. Maybe 10% of US people have made the change.

Inglehart's World Values Survey, 1990-1991, reports a major shift underway, involving reduced confidence in hierarchy, authority, science and technology. There is more concern with subjective well-being (including meaningful work), than with material things, more concern with the environment than economic growth, more tolerant of differences.

The New York Trends Research Institute published Yearning For Balance in 1995, concluding that there is evidence of deep culture change in the US. 88% of those surveyed said protecting the environment will require big change in the way we live. 82% said most of us buy an consume far more than we need, and this is wasteful.

D. Elgin, Global Consciousness Change; Indicators of an Emerging Paradigm. Simple Living Network Inc., 1997.

 

"...millions of people, unsung heroes of a new era, are already had at work constructing the building blocks of a post corporate-post-capitalist civilisation. They are demonstrating alternatives far more attractive and viable than socialism or the failed economic models of the former Soviet Union."

D. Korten, "The post corporate world", The Ecologist, 29. 3. March/April, 1999, 219.

Gandhi argued for swadeshi or home economy, based on village communities.

Goldsmith argued in Blueprint for Survival that the goal should be "....a society made up of decentralised, self-sufficient communities, in which people work near their homes and have the opportunity of governing themselves."

The League of Real Nations has been formed to work for the ideal of "...self-governing peoples, ..."

A. Rankin, "League of Real Nations," Fourth World Review, 101-102, 2000, p. 12

 

"…despite all our gadgets, despite all our wealth…we are no more happy than our grandpa was when he was young." 4. He refers to "government for and by the rich".

Mass production and mass consumption is " leading us down the deadest of dead ends." We are forced to work far more than is necessary. 10

F. Mate, A Reasonable Life; Toward a Simpler, Secure, More Humane Existence, Albatross, 1993.

 

"Worldwide there are between 5000 and 25000 communal projects in which hundreds of thousands of people work together co-operatively.

"Today Australia has some 100 — 200 intentional communities. Most of them have between ten and thirty members…" p. 26

S. Hagmaier et al, Eurotopia, Directory of Intentional Communities and Ecovillaghes in Europe,, Okodorf, Germany, 2000.

 

"…a quiet and quite unexpected revolution in simple living is steadily transforming our society. Lowly but surely an ever growing number of people are consciously rejecting the traditional trappings of affluence."

D. Elgin, Garden of simplicity, YES, Winter 2001, p. 40.

The movement to create eco-villages is perhaps the most complete antidote to dependence on the global economy. Around the world, people are building communities that attempt to get away from the waste, pollution, competition, and violence of contemporary life. Many communities rely on renewable energy and are seeking to develop more cooperative local economies. The Global Eco-village Network links several of these communities worldwide.

H. Norberg-Hodge, "Shifting Directions" in J. Mander ~n E. Goldsmith, Eds., The Case Against the Globa1 Economy, 1996, p. 405.

"Everywhere social and economic structures are re-emerging in the midst of the market system that are spontaneously generated social protections to normatively re-embed the market..." 99

"Everywhere people are waking up to the realities of their situation in a globalising economy and are beginning to recognise that their economies' resources and socio-political participations must be regrounded in their local and regional communities." 225.

"It is no exaggeration to say that local communities everywhere are on the front lines of whit might well be characterised as World War 111." 229

"It is a contest between the competing goals of economic growth to maximise profits for absentee owners vs creating healthy communities that are good places for people to live." 230.

"All over the world people are indeed waking up to the truth about economic globalisation and are taking steps to reclaim and rebuild their local communities." 235.

From T. Schroyer, Ed., Towards a `World That Works, 1997.

 

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THE TOWN OF MALENY, (QUEENSLAND, AUST.)

The Maleny "Town Bank".

Extracts from, "People, principles and profit; Investing locally", Paul Rees, Green Connections, 2000.

Over the ensuing 16 years since its commencement Maleny Credit Union has grown and now has about 5000 members.

The Union's green and ethical features include:

• Allocating 5-10% of profits to a community grants fund. Local organisations can apply for funding for community development and

environmental projects. Projects funded include improvements to community schools and childcare, organic vegetable production and revegetation.

• Local investment policy. The credit union only lends to local people and businesses, ensuring that money invested with MCU keeps circulating within the local region.

• Developing an environmental policy and conducting regular social and environmental audits of the credit union's activities.

• Paying an eco-tax of 50 cents per ream of paper used to the local Landcare group.

• Using 100% recycled, unbleached paper products, minimising waste and recycling.

• Providing loans for projects that benefit the local community and environment. Recently, loans have been given to an eco-cosmetic company, a business building bird and bat nesting boxes and people putting photovoltaic cells on their homes to generate their own electricity.

• Helping people on low incomes, including providing loans to people on social security. Often loans for cars or small businesses can break the unemployment and poverty cycle.

• Purchasing power through Energex's Earth's Choice scheme.

\

Maleny Credit Union, mid 2000, has 5000 members, a staff of 15 and assets exceeding $13.5 million. It allocates 5-10% of profits to a community grants fund, pays an eco-tax to the local landcare group, provides loans for local ecologically and socially beneficial projects, and carries out studies of local issues. It has a non-hierarchical workplace.

Th Maleny Wastebusters employs 20 people, recycling and selling materials, appliances etc that have been thrown out.

There is a coop to help small businesses g et established.

The Up Front club is a social coop that provides a friendly place for people to eat, drink, relax and socialise. It is staffed mainly by volunteers.

There is a Community Learning Centre, an independent school.

From Green Connections, 31, Sept/Oct, 2000, p. 30.

Gandhi argued for swadeshi or home economy, based on village communities.

Goldsmith argued in Blueprint for Survival that the goal should be "....a society made up of decentralised, self-sufficient communities, in which people work near their homes and have the opportunity of governing themselves."

The League of Real Nations has been formed to work for the ideal of "...self-governing peoples, ..."

A. Rankin, "League of Real Nations," Fourth World Review, 101-102, 2000, p. 12

 

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THE TRANSITION

Schwarz and Schwarz say that the Living Lightly people they studied "...hope that the tiny islands of better living which they inhabit will provide examples which will eventually supplant the norms of unfettered global capitalism which rule us today. Their hope is not in revolution but in persuasion by example." (Schwarz and Schwarz, 1998, p. 2.)

"What is new is that small groups of Living Lightly people are now part of an articulate and increasingly purposeful global culture which promotes values that run counter to those of the mainstream." (Schwarz and Schwarz, 1998, p.2 .)

"They think the empire will eventually disintegrate...In anticipation of that collapse, islands of refuge must be prepared." (Schwarz and Schwarz, 1998, p. 3.)

Living Lightly people "...can only hope to prevail through their own example and the gradual erosion of the dominant system through local initiatives that exchange high living standards for a high quality of life." (Schwarz and Schwarz, 1998, p. 165.)

"They are in revolt against the emerging global economy and want to set up viable local alternatives.’" (Schwarz and Schwarz, 1998, p. 150.)

 

"Voluntary Simplicity is one of the top trends of the nineties. By the year 2000, fifteen percent of people in their thirties and forties...will be part of the "simplicity" market..." (Trends Research Institute, quoted in Schwarz and Schwarz, 1998, p. 10.)

"In a random survey of 800 people taken in 1995, 28 percent had down-shifted --voluntarily cut back income over the last five years...82% agreed that ‘...we buy and consume far more than we need.’. (Merck Family Fund Report, 1995, quoted in Schwarz and Schwarz, 1998, p. 11.)

Research by the Henley Centre for Forecasting, UK, found that "...one person in eight had either taken a crucial step towards downshifting or was thinking of doing so." (Schwarz and Schwarz, 1998, p. 25.)

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Notes from D. B Corbett, A Better Place to Live

Corbett has designed areas of Davis California which have become world famous alternative settlements.

Here, then, is a list of objectives I consider basic for a

wholistically designed settlement:

• to approach self-sufficiency in energy through conservation and through maximum use of solar energy, wind power, and renewable sources such as woodlots and agricultural waste

• to manage water resources efficiently. In arid regions,for example, this means to minimize the demand for well water by reducing fresh water use, recycling grey water, and landscaping for absorption of storm

drainage rather than for runoff

• to include diverse organic agricultural production for

local consumption, in order to provide high-quality

food free of dangerous chemicals, and to make use,

through land application, of such wastes as sewage

and greywater

• to maximize land use by including fruit and nut trees, vines, and vegetable gardens in landscaping of residential areas

• to reduce dependence on the automobile by encouraging foot and bicycle traffic, by providing all possible consumer services, jobs, recreation, education, and cultural opportunities within walking and cycling distance, and by general compactness of community

layout

• to further reduce people's confrontation with automobiles by reducing streets designed expressly for cars and minimizing parking spaces

• to produce as many consumer goods in the community as possible, with emphasis on goods and methods requiring little input of energy and scarce resources

• to provide useful, satisfying employment within the community for most of the residents, preferably in personalized small businesses locally owned and managed, with opportunities wherever possible for

useful and educational participation by children and youth

The pattern I think we should work toward is one of small, relatively moderate-density towns with enough distance between them to give lower density overall. Moderate density within the town would have the advantage of providing stimulating social contact and eliminating most of the need for automobiles.

A small population, on the other hand, would give the town as a whole a stronger sense of community and would allow each resident a greater voice in government. Also, since the town's land area would be limited by the need to keep everything within easy walking and bicycling distance (two to six square miles), a smaller population would mean less crowding, which would make it easier to generate enough energy, recycle wastes,

and disperse air pollution.

I think it makes a lot of sense for each community to have its own dependable supplies of water, power, and other resources, and to be producing enough food and other essential items to be able to sustain itself at a subsistence level in an emergency. It should also be producing enough other goods and services for export to equal what it imports. There is a definite advantage, however, in keeping exports and imports to a minimum. Otherwise the community will be more economically vulnerable, because it depends on the outside not only to produce the goods it imports, but also to buy the goods it hopes to export to pay for those imports. It is vulnerable to changes in both supply and demand that are entirely outside its control. 38

Turf lawns are particularly wasteful in many situation because they demand lots of water and fertilizer to keep them, attractive and healthy. In Village Homes we tried to reduce the need for individual lawns by providing a large public turf playfield for field sports, in hopes that this will encourage home owners to devote their own yards to food-producing or drought-tolerant plantings. , 95

In Village Homes we reversed the typical neighbourhood pattern by encouraging people to put their fenced private yards on the side of the house facing the street, and leave the yards on ! the other side open to a narrow common strip between the two rows of lots. The common strip is managed collectively by the homeowners on either side. People tend to do their gardening on the part of their lots facing this common strip, or, by mutual | agreement, on the common strip itself. Some groups of home-owners have developed very creative ways of integrating vegetable gardens with individual or communal patios or children's play areas. Since this is the "public" side of the houses, owners tend to keep their gardens as well maintained as people in a standard subdivision keep their front yards. In fact, they experience a very similar social pressure from their neighbours to keep these publicly visible areas neat. 95

ln Village Homes we have allowed wild cherries, Rosa rugosa, and blackberries to grow wild along some of the natural drainage channels and in other areas. Tiny orchards and vineyard here and there in residential areas. 97

It is important to realize that the urban landscape is capable of food production in economically significant quantities. In these days of large-scale mechanized agriculture, it is easy to write off a insignificant the yield of a peach tree here, two grapevines her and a half-dozen tomato plants there. But 100 peach tree scattered through a neighbourhood of 1,000 persons are as productive as 100 trees in 1 acre or orchard …and these neighbourhoods…have space for apples, pears, plums, apricots and cherries, for nuts and berries and grapes and a wide variety of fresh vegetables in season.

An important advantage neighbourhood agriculture is that it allows for a healthy ecological balance that cannot b maintained in large-scale, single-crop plantings. Since plantings o any one species are small and separate, they do not encourage pests of that species to build up a large population, and they make it harder for pests and diseases to spread. This makes it possible to avoid costly and environmentally destructive pesticides.

Large and small woodlots could be placed in and around the town for firewood production, locate so as to serve as windbreaks, and harvested and replanted on rotating basis. While the trees were growing, the woodlots would provide space for play, walking, jogging, picnics, and contemplation, and as a refuge for wildlife. It would be possible to get awa to the woods for half an hour any time, without driving great distances–or any distance at all.

In Davis, it has been proposed that the city government create biomass forest areas around and within the city, using eucalyptus, black locust, and other fast-growing species, interspersed with 1- to 20-acre organic truck farms. 97

Village Homes has 20- and 24-foot-wide streets which are city maintained. The 20-foot-wide streets are more than adequate. There is an additional 3-foot easement where no obstructions or vegetation can be more than 6 inches high. This allows emergency access and walking room. 103

Once planning and developing auto-free living really take hold, people are likely to begin to feel that their private autos a~ just more trouble than they are worth. This would make possible still further revolution in town design. We could eliminate residential streets, parking areas, and garages, with tremendous savings in construction costs and space. The foot-bicycle pat could be built just a little bit wider and more solidly to accommodate small, lightweight emergency vehicles and delivery trucks,

elderly or disabled persons could be licensed to drive small electric cars at a top speed of about seven miles per hour on these paths/ The space saved would allow the town to be still more compact making it still easier to get to the town center and the terminal.

The point of this section is to show that, although it is v difficult to get along without a car in a world designed for c rather than for people, it would be not much of a hardship to without a car in a world designed for that style of life. 103

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Corbett's list of necessary elements for a good neighbourhood community:

  1. Appropriate Scale

Kirkpatrick Sale, in his book Human Scale, presents a number of arguments that indicate that 500 people is an optimum number for a neighborhood community in order to have social harmony:

Anthropology and history both suggest, as we have seen, that humans have been able to work out most of their differences at the population levels clustering around the "magic numbers" of 500-1,000 and 5,000-10,000.

For the first, John Pfeiffer notes that anthropological literature indicates that it is when a population reaches about1,000 that "a village begins to need policing," and as we have seen, the Dinka villages, like villages in most stateless societies, hold about 500 people on average and almost never more than 1,000. (Rough figures for village sizes in some other stateless societies: 100-1,000 for the Mandavi, 50-400 for the Amba, 300-500 for the Lugbara, 200-300 for the Konkomba, 400-500 for the Tupi.) Evidently in these faceto-face societies, where every person is known to every other–and presumably every idiosyncracy, sore spot, boiling point, and the final straw–it is comparatively easy to keep the peace and comparativeiy easy to restore it once broken. Confirmation comes from the New England towns, the great majority of which were under 1,000, where harmony was the regular rule and "concord and consensus" the norm: from the Chinese villages of all periods until the most recent, with rarely more than 500 people, where traditional law of many varying kinds operated independently of dynastic decrees; from Russia, where the traditional mir, with seldom more than 600 or 700 people, was the basic peace-keeping unit for more than a millennium, each with its own~version of customary law and all without codification judicial apparatus.'

I would agree that the optimum number is 500 people or about 150 homes based on my experience living in Village Homes. It seemed there was a lack of individual diversity and resources when it was under 100 households and, as it approaches 200, it seems that the residents have more difficulty functioning as a group.

2. Boundaries

Clear boundaries make it possible for people to know where one neighbourhood ends and the next one begins. They allow the neighborhood to be grasped and appreciated as a unit. This can be done with streets, or greenbelts. The greenbelt, or open space, seems to be both a more obvious, and a more pleasant boundary than a street.

3. Land and Resources

In order to bring a community together in a meaningful way it is important that the community as a whole provide for some of its basic needs.

The traditional neighbourhood has very little to offer in terms of providing reasons for the residents to get together. Even those neighbourhoods which have a homeowners' uassociation and share a swimming pool offer little incentive. Decisions like determining the hours the pool will be available do not offer enough to create a community spirit.

Some neighbourhoods do rally together when faced with an outside threat, but once the threat is gone, the community spirit gradually dissipates. A surburban neighbourhood where we once lived was threatened with a poorly planned adjacent development. in organizing to fight the development some very pleasant side effects occurred. There were neighbourhood potluck parties, and organized games in the park. Suddenly everyone seemed to know everyone else and the neighbourhood grew warmer and felt safer. 105

But once the external threat was gone and the neighbouring property was satisfactorily developed, the parties, the fun, and the sense of togetherness gradually disappeared.

If community members have control over some land and some food production, they may develop meaningful social, relationships through working together to provide for the satisfaction of important needs. Any number of experiences with | community gardens have shown that the gardens are not only good for food; they are also good for developing a sense of community. Self-help housing projects also tend to foster group cohesiveness because of the mutual aid required by the building process.

In Village Homes, the homeowners' association owns 12 | acres of agricultural land, an apartment house site, a commercial development site, a community center site, and an acre of undeveloped land. A large number of community residents are involved in the decision-making process, sharing such activities as the planning of buildings and their management. Community get-togethers, such as planting parties and seasonal holiday l parties, are emerging and plans are being prepared for the first annual grape festival.

Having these resources allows the community to have control over the nature of the businesses leasing space in the commercial area and control of the park maintenance. It puts the decisions in the neighbourhood's hands, not in the hands of an absentee landlord or the more removed city government. It gives the neighbourhood the power to make jobs available for teenagers and to provide activities for all ages of residents. The community, with its extra land, can carry out as many projects as it feels are necessary for the well-being of the neighbourhood, such as the building of schools, arts and crafts facilities, workshops, and food-storage structures.

The traditional neighbourhood design stifles social interaction because there is no land left in reserve for neighbourhood activities. In Village Homes, residents have the opportunity to work together for mutual benefits. Home-owners have any number of reasons and opportunities to interact socially. Through time they get to know one another and they develop friendships. A sense of community with all its attached benefits begins to emerge. 106

Village Homes was designed in a way that created clusters of eight houses that, in addition to their separate lots, share a common area consisting of about 4/s to '/. acre of land. This allows small groups to accomplish even more at a community level, including sharing a common orchard, an outside entertainment area, and spaces for small children to play. While participating as a member of both the overall community of Village Homes and of a common area, I have seen that some people (10 to 20 percent) do not participate at all (yet most of these people seem to be pleased that they are a part of the neighbourhood). Sixty to 80 percent of the people participate in all community activities in varying degrees but generally are more active in common area activities; and 10 to 20 percent of the people are very active in all areas of the community. Varying levels of participation should be expected because people's needs to interact socially or to be a part of a group or to be a leader will vary. By having our town and cities broken down into the smaller neighbourhood communities, many more people who would like to have leadership roles get such an opportunity.

The degree of interaction that is stimulated by the Village Homes design does expose the inabilities of some members of the population to work together in social situations, but this becomes a benefit to these people in that it allows the opportunity for personal growth. Most of the people I have observed that have had some difficulty participating in groups have eventually grown and learned cooperative skills.

Land and resources commonly owned by a small neighbourhood group should do a lot to improve the social skills of the individual residents and lead to the development of a strong neighbourhood community that provides satisfying social experience for its residents.

4. Revenue

In order for a neighbourhood to have the ability to carry out projects it needs not only land, it also needs revenue.

. Ongoing revenue from the lease of land and buildings owned by the homeowners' association in Village Homes will allow a reduction of the financial burden on the individual and may provide for special educational arts and crafts programs, ail the recreational items in regular condominiums, and even amenities like neighbourhood health programs.

5. Security and Safety

Streets in Village Homes are narrow and they are dead-end. In this situation, the street becomes less public and more controlled because the number of persons who may legitimately use the open space is limited.

A sense of community is another important variable in the safety of a neighbourhood. Where neighbours know and care about one another, they will also act to protect their fellow residents from a suspicious stranger. Criminal researchers have discovered that neighbourhood watch programs have reduced burglaries by as much as 37 percent.

The cluster commons in Village Homes are designed using several techniques to assure that residents may exert control over adjacent open space. Homes are clustered around the common with windows that overlook the space. Residents have planned and maintained their commons, they have a vested interest in the spaces, and they have every right to protect the areas from unwanted intruders. Even the more public greenbelts are less vulnerable to vandalism than an adjacent neighbourhood park. Residents directly pay for maintenance of the greenbelts; they have played a part in hiring the gardeners; and they may have participated in planning or building a pool, play structure, or orchard. Therefore, Village residents have a direct interest in defending the open spaces around them. The space is perceived as Village territory, not public territory.

6. Privacy

We felt it necessary to provide–plenty of opportunity to satisfy the need for privacy in Village Homes. Every home has space for a fenced, private yard. Sound insulation is stressed between common-wall units ' '~~

7. Diversity

In Chapter 2, I have identified diversity as a necessary component of a well-functioning human settlement; it is just as much a necessary component of a well-functioning neighbourhood. Unfortunately, modern neighbourhoods have been growing less diverse.

To maintain the proper amount of diversity, neighbourhoods should incorporate the following:

Though all these items need not be included in every neighbourhood, it is well to remember that a more diverse neighbourhood will be more full of vitality.

Designing human environments to encourage cooperation:

it seems dear to me that, by comparison with primitive societies, our society is lacking in the quality of human relationships, primarily because we have structured it so that people can get along without much communication or cooperation. This is

| obvious in suburbs where each household owns a separate lot surrounded by a fence, and all the public facilities, shops, restaurants, offices, theatres, and schools are zoned into another part of town, so there is no necessary contact with anyone in the neighbourhood.

I think that growing up in a society that doesn't require much cooperation has kept people from developing the altruistic side of their natures. Humanity benefits when our environment encourages the development and expression of the altruistic drive, while providing positive outlets for the competitive, self-interested drive through sports and other personal achievement activities.

I have been encouraged by my participation in communication-facilitating techniques, particularly certain group workshops dealing with interpersonal communication. These sessions took various forms, but the basic idea was to put people in a situation where they would get instant, candid feedback from others on | whether or not they were dealing fairly and honestly. It was amazing how quickly and how fully most people opened up to each other in such a situation. I was very impressed to see that people who had grown up in a society that doesn't reward open communication and cooperation, or offer much opportunity to practice it, could still learn fairly quickly if given the right environment. It was this experience that later gave me confidence that people could get along, sharing community projects. There would be some initial hassles, but in the long run the interaction would increase people's self-esteem and confidence in their ability to deal with others, enhancing their potential for true friendship with their neighbours.

The importance of making our neighborhoods conducive to a spirit of cooperation and mutual support, instead of isolationism and mutual distrust, cannot be overemphasized. Our state of mind, and even our physical health, are profoundly affected by the social climate of our neighborhood environments.

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The Village Action Movement in Finland has been remarkably extensive and successful. By the early 1990s 3000 villages were involved.

RURAL REVIVAL is a reality in Finland as a result of the ideas and work

of Prof. Lauri Hautamaki and Village Action , University of Tampere,Tampere,FINLAND;Fax:+35831 157311). The program started in the 1980s with a book A Living Village - A guide to Village Action which sold 3000 copies, and a radio program which attracted

200,000 listeners. The program stresses collective action over individualism, and community pride over economic growth. Communal

facilities are built or restored, tor example one project stresses The School as the Center of Village Life; other projects stress other public

services such as postal, transportation, recreation and health. With collective action emphasizing positive attitudes and community self-reliance, villages take on the building of theatres, play grounds, parks,

craft centers and community gardens. Pride In community not only

makes the village a more dynamic place to live, but spills over Into -

economic development as businesses search for the creative work

forces which follow. By 1992 2,800 Village Communities had been

formed, and a National Village Development Festival brought some

1,000 village activists together to promote the theme "The Village and

International Relations". The program has been awarded the 1992

Right Livelihood Honorary Award.

The Institute for Local Self-reliance is a US organisation which combs the world for sustainable practices, and disseminates these via documents and networks. The staff members work with local citizens and communities to develop working models of sustainable businesses and technologies. It has worked in more than 100 cities.

Is small-scale and decentralised production less efficient?

Sale argues that about 2/3 of the items we need can be produces most economically, even in conventional dollar-accounting terms, on a small scale.

K. Sale, Human Scale, 1980, p. 405.

Note that many things are produced in big centralised factories because this maximises the control of the corporation, not because it minimises dollar costs per unit.

The required alternative is basically the anarchist way:

"...anarchists feel that all authority and coercion must be rejected... (they) reject hierarchical forms of organisation, and support organisational forms in which all people have an equal say based on voluntary mutual interests.'

"...organisations should be non-hierarchical and membership should be voluntary..."

Large scale issues would be dealt with by small groups organised in their workplaces but sending delegates to committees making decisions about the wider issues. The Job of delegate would be rotated; not a permanent official position.

Parliamentary institutions are rejected; the individual abdicates his responsibility and sovereignty by handing over power to a representative. As soon as this is done decisions can be made over which citizens have little control. Voting is a betrayal of freedom (i.e., voting to elect full-time professional polititians.)

They are opposed to t-he existence of a state. States oppress individuals. Revolutions typically "...result in the development of a bureaucratic, professional, managerial class who take over and rule in their own interest, with the ultimate aim of maintaining their own power.

What is Anarchism? Black Star, 1, 3.

Essential themes in anarchism:

- Humans are good, not evil, aggressive or competitive.

- Humans are social, not prone to harm others.

- Authority in any form stultifies the individual. It is not good for a human to give or take orders.

- Social change must be mass-based and spontaneous, as distinct from being organised from above by political parties, unions or leaders.

- Industrial society is bad. Machines warp the human spirit, regardless of whether capitalists or workers own them.

"Anarchism", in ' International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences

 

A NEW RADICAL SOCIAL MOVEMENT

The last decade in Australia and other advanced capitalist countries has witnessed the emergence of a new social movement, one which is in deep conflict with the core organising values of the dominant culture. The movement has its origins in a Marxist critique of the existing social order, but goes beyond it to propose a concrete blueprint for a post-industrial, post-capitalist society.

The blueprint basically affirms a model of community socialism. Fundamentally this entails collective ownership, control and planning of the means of production and distribution. Yet it also implies a system in which the economic and service institutions grow from the smaller governing units in the society (be they communes. neighbourhoods or regions), and are responsive to the needs of these smaller units and under their direct control. In addition it assumes a lowering of per-capita consumption in line with ecological considerations and a fabric of social relationships underlined by an ethic of cooperation.

T. Zubrycki, "Deschooling as a political movement . . . ", in A. Smith and D. Crossley, Eds., The Way Out, 1975, p. 120.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that a rapidly growing body of opinion recognises that community-based economic development offers the only feasible, sustainable alternative to the highly centralised, life diminishing system that now dominates and threatens the livelihood of people in both rich and poor countries. Many of the human, environmental and resource use problems of the big, inhuman system can be resolved by making it smaller, more human- – scale, and under local control. There is now a substantial network of organisations on both sides of the Atlantic working on ways of making communities, urban and rural, more self-reliant, encouraging local production for local use, experimenting with a variety of forms of ownership capable of serving different economic and social purposes, exploring communities' capacities for self-development, for forming new trading relationships, generating income and accumulating capital.

McRobie, "Towards a New Sector", New :Economics

 

Clarke quotes a report on 116 people living in low-energy ways in 12 urban U.S. communes. Compared with ordinary houses of the same space (900 sq. ft. and 2.6 people per house) there were 40% less natural gas use, 82% less electricity use and 36% less petrol use. There were only 1/4 of the appliances per person.

W. Clarke, Energy for Survival, 1975, pp.193-4.

 

The need for alternative legal systems:

We tend to have procedures which let conflicts grow, then settle them very expensively in the courts, using highly paid professionals. We need more arrangements that can deal with conflicts earlier, in local settings. Societies typically have many such arrangements and procedures; we have let ours decay. Once the local priest, policeman or others in the tribe or village were able to intervene or be consulted before a dispute became serious.

Recently there have been initiatives outside the court system, such as small claims tribunals, conflict mediation centres, Community Justice Centres, Family Conciliation Centres, and the Neighbourhood Mediation Centres in Victoria.

Note that only a tiny minority of disputes ever go through the courts; most legal proceedings commenced do not end up in court perhaps only 5 do.

The court system takes control of a dispute out of the hands of the parties involved. It is preferable to have mediating systems which help disputing parties work out their own problem.

The main virtue of these alternatives seems to be that they can get away from the adversarial situation; it is possible to focus on finding a win-win solution, and on defusing anger and desire to beat the other.

D. Bryson, "Conflict, Law and the Alternatives, Community, no. 11, 1987?.

Security: In conventional society the quest for wealth and power is can be seen as striving for security (among other things); we feel that in order to be able to cope with losses or disasters the more wealth we have accumulated the better. This is made worse by the fact that we are all on our own; you have to build your own security as an individual or nuclear family,

The alternative of course is more collective living; the best source of security against adversity is a close community or tribe with lots of familiar caring people who will help you out if necessary.

Broadcasting:

Most radio and TV stations could be small local ones, concentrating on local news and issues. Most of the programs could be made by local people, in their spare time, not by professionals. For example if you and your friends get an interesting idea, or want to make a statement, you should be able to go down to the local studio and tape something, perhaps using advisory services available there.

 

Retribalisation is necessary. "We have been socialised to live essentially private lives, within impersonal worlds." Retribalisation will be difficult. "In our culture we do not know what it means and we therefore have so much to learn from other cultures which have long experience of village/tribal living."

"What is necessary for community sustainability has been largely known for centuries. Most of the planet's citizens live in villages..."

P. Cock, Sustaining the alternative culture, Social Alternatives, 4, 4, 1985.

For myself, I see no other solution (political, economic) to the problems of man than the formation of small responsible communities involved in permaculture and appropriate technology, for both individual and competitive enterprise and 'free' energy have failed us. Society is in a mess; obesity in the west is balanced by famine in the third world. Petrol is running out, and yet freeways are still being built. Against such universal insanity the only response is to gather together a few friends and commence to build the alternative, on a philosophy of individual responsibility for community survival.

I believe that the days of centralized power are numbered, and that a re-tribalization of society is an inevitable if painful process.

B. Mollison, Permaculture II, 1979, p. 142

"The Fourth World is the world of the human scale. It is a world in which authority for all decisions stems from the base uni of society -- the village. We now know that monster forms of centralised government based on the presumed authority of individual voters does not work. The individual is too small in relation to the whole. It is the local neighbourhood which is the true locus of citizen concern and which is the true locus of citizen power. There must be some large structures in society but these need to be controlled and ordained by village councils, otherwise the giant centra government rides roughshod over private citizen liberties and envelops him in an over-mighty bureaucratic complex. All power to the village! "

From the Fourth World Movements Fourth World News. 26, Nov-Dec, 1983.

The "Fourth World" movement sees bigness as the main problem; we have organised our social systems into units that are far too large and centralised.

"... our global affairs are out of control. Human beings have certain basic needs of food, clothing and shelter to be provided for within a framework of peace and freedom. Despite all the advances in knowledge of modern times these things are as far from realisation as they have ever been; the forces which dominate our lives are not ensuring their availability, they are in fact doing much to prevent it. We believe our failure to control these forces springs from the simple but largely unacknowledged fact that our political and social institutions are too large to be susceptible to control by anybody; hence our conviction that if we are ever to attain peace, prosperity or any other desirable social objective then our political and economic institutions must be reduced to a size which enables such a control to be exercised.

"... in a world of hundreds of small nations, each of which numbers no more than six or seven million, and which in turn is subdivided into numerous small, localised and empowered village or urban communities running their own local affairs without interference from national governments, we believe the common sense and humanity of ordinary people will be far more fully able to reject war, resource waste, ecological despoilation and other evils than monster mega-nations dominated by mass political military and commercial interests. A localised, human scale of government is the only means by which, (for example in the city states of renaissance Europe), humankind has every achieved such social fulfilment and aesthetic splendour as it has ever known.

Peter Cock, Environmental Science lecturer at Monash University, "For the last decade I have written largely as an advocate for community based lifestyles; the necessity to struggle for the creation of an anarchistic vision of a society that consists of a multiplicity of diverse and cohesive small communities, with the city as a cluster of villages using micro-technology to provide the economic base for such a societal transformation. I have argued that co-operative villages are an a essential requisite to facilitate intra-personal transformations and environmental sensitivity..."

Sustaining the alternative culture, Social Alternatives, 4, 4, 1985, p. 12.

We do not need countries; nations will cease to exist. To some extent Switzerland indicates the structure we want; small communities are the centre of most activities and administration, with a relatively less important federation of provinces forming the "nation".

 

AN ALTERNATIVE SYSTEM

What is the alternative? Is there another way we can organize tools and processes to meet our needs? I believe that in principle there is another system of technology. This would be characterized by what I will call 'community self reliance'. A self reliant community is one that aims to provide for its own needs, under its own management, using as far as possible local resources.

In a self reliant community people value their freedom to create their own lifestyle higher than the affluence of the present system. For the poor who live at the margins of the system and who do not share in its affluence, self reliance offers the only hope of relief. Self reliance is the practice of active lifestyles: growing food, building, making music. In such a community people enjoy the familiar interaction with neighbours, the mutual help, the contact with nature and earth. They prefer the activity of walking or cycling to the possession of the power and speed of the car. As Illich puts it: "There, the guitar is valued over the record, the library over the schoolroom, the backyard garden over the supermarket selection''.

A self- reliant system of production would be in sharp contrast with the present system in a number of ways. Firstly, both production and political power would be dispersed rather than centralized. Wherever possible, goods would be produced locally where they are required, by the people who need them, rather than transported from the large city to the small town or from one part of the world to another. In this way all of the people in a community could take part in the work of providing for their own needs. In the workplace the people would jointly make the decisions about their production and would manage their own work. In

this way, work becomes meaningful, a creative expression of ourselves.

It is true that not all local needs could be met by local production. Some surplus would have to be produced for outside trade in order to import items that could not be produced locally. Also some large organizations would remain, for example the state rail transport system. However, even here, much of the work could be done by smaller, semi-autonomous groups within the larger body. Self reliance implies the preference for the smaller scale wherever possible.

The present system continually tends to standardize technologies, to eliminate a variety of existing technologies in favour of a narrower range of new ones, more efficient for large scale operation. In contrast, self reliance opens up alternatives, welcoming richness and variety. Each community chooses its own unique lifestyle and chooses the technology appropriate to its own needs.

Another important contrast between the two systems is in the matter of growth. With self reliance there would no longer be any aim of continually expanding production. Of course people would continue to use natural resources, techniques and tools to facilitate human activities, meet needs, and develop a culture. However the pursuit of growth without limits, that characterises the present system, would be abondoned. There would be a limit to the demands on the material and energy resources of the earth and the impact on the biosphere. Self reliance implies a culture in which we are satisfied with a certain level of material possessions, a level which may differ somewhat from one community to another, buta level at which we declare: enough.

A self reliant economy is an economy of equity. All people would have access to the resources they need for their survival and well-being. They would all be able to participate effectively in making the decisions in their workplace and community. It would also be a sustainable economy, in harmony with nature and capable of continuing into the future.

Maryborough has a mud brick schoolroom, built by teachers and students; a mud brick restaurant, beautifully constructed by a local group led by an expert builder; and a mud brick community house, built by residents of a Housing Commission neighbourhood and other volunteers. The Maryborough Energy Research Foundation, together with a Nepalese architect and many volunteers, have constructed a mud brick domed house, based on a Middle Eastern design - a possible model for future design in Nepal.

Once the community has determined what items are to be produced for local use and for export, it should be possible to determine the work tasks necessary to produce these items. These tasks could then be divided up among the people according to their skills and preferences. In this system of community self reliance the problem of unemployment need not arise.

G. Lacey, "Technology for self-reliance", Engineering: Can it be Socially Responsible?, 1984,

 

Trends Research Institute of New York has identified the Voluntary Simplicity movement as among the chief trends of the nineties. Its practitioners consist of the ecologically minded and of escapees from the

stress and nullity of the consumer society.

In order to protect their economic interests, countries go to war–military war as well as economic war. Gandhi said, "People have to live in village communities and simple homes rather than desire to live in palaces."

Millions of people will never be able to live at peace with each other if they are constantly fighting for a higher living standard.

We cannot have real peace in the world if we look at each other's countries as sources for raw materials or as markets for finished industrial goods. The seeds of war are sown with economic greed. If we analyze the causes of war throughout history, we find that the pursuit of economic expansion consistently leads to military adventures. "There is enough for everybody's need, but not enough for anybody's greed," said Gandhi. Swadeshi is thus a prerequisite for peace.

S. K umar, "Gandhi's Swadeshi", in J. Mander and E. Goldsmith, The Case ~ ainst the Global Economy, 1996, p. 421

 

We must encourage local activity rather than urban centralization. Everything must be done to return life and vigor to the small towns and villages throughout our nations.

J. Goldsmith, "The winners and the losers", in J. Mander and and E. Goldsmith, The Case Against the Global Economy, 1966,

Jefferson also considered that self-governing communities should be self-sufficient, or at least that they should produce their own food, shelter, and clothes. This was essential in order to foster the honesty, industry, and perseverance on which democracy must be built (Kemmis I990). Mahatma Gandhi fully agreed. The principle of Swadeshi, which was critical to his philosophy, meant deriving one's resources from one's own area rather than importing them from elsewhere. r

E. Goldsmith, "The last word", in J. Mander and E. Goldsmith, The Case Against the Global Economy, 1966.

I am convinced that self-reliant participatory development is the only foundation for true development - human, economic, political and social. It is a slow and difficult process - one totally dependent on men and women themselves, assisted by those who are willing to live and work among them.

. S. Burkey, People First, Zed Books, 1993, xii.

This is a rural community in France that has been functioning for 50 years along Gandhian lines. They strive for very simple lifestyles and ways. There are 20 members. No machine tools. Their own school. Their own store. No money used in the community. The community decides what is to be spent on things like medical treatment. Their own bakery, Washing by hand. Most of the buildings made by the members, restoring an old stone village. Electricity used only for the flour mill. One phone. They spin their own wool. There is a 2-3 acre garden site, and a 300 acre grain area. A common room. An important principle is "bread labour"; all must do a share of the production of necessities. Tolstoy and Gandhi stressed the importance of this for avoiding oppression. They are opposed to machine production, especially mass production. They use craft production methods. Art is important. The most important purpose of work is to enrich the worker. They oppose modern government, seeing it as a means of violence. They are for government without compulsion. No individual or group should have power power over another. Decisions are by consensus. There is a coordinator for each area of work. These have no privileges attached, and the positions are rotated. If someone does something against the rules they are expected to take on a penance, whether others know or not. If some one else sees the fault they are expected to talk to the defaulter. If this does not lead to change in the defaulter's behaviour then the accuser takes on a penance. (A Gandhian strategy. )

M. Shepard, The Community of the Arc, Ariata, California, Simple Productions, 1990.

 

THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS 1NSTITUTE

This agency helps towns in the U.S. to raise their self-sufficiency, and thus to increase their survival prospects.

Thousands of communities are searching for ways to develop a thriving economy while preserving the things they value most–a desirable community and a healthy environment. Their questions and innovations are the foundation of Rocky Mountains Institute's Economic Renewal Program.

Many communities around the country are finding new answers for economic development as they begin to ask new questions such as: How do we make the best use of what we have to create sound and prosperous communities?" By expanding the goal of economic development to include environmental and social well-being, local people are building sustainable economies.

The Economic Renewal Program brings the insight of enterprising communities and individuals to your town and helps local residents forge community well-being and self-reliance in the midst of global economic uncertainty and environmental crises. With the Program's tools, training and collaborative techniques, your community can find new answers to new questions and create economic development strategies that cultivate, rather than decimate, the potential of nature and humanity.

Community Innovations Demonstrate the Four Principles of Economic Renewal

1 Plug the Leaks

  1. Support existing busines

3 Encourage new local enterprise.

4. Recruit compatible business

To help more communities discover new options and take charge of their future, Rocky Mountain Institute has taken what it has learned from innovative communities and put it into a series of casebooks and workbooks. These books are based on fundamental components of local economies–business opportunities, food and agriculture, energv, and water–and provide residents w ith assessment techniques and case studies specific to those areas.

Economic Renewal casebooks contain numerous examples of how communities have taken a new, integrated approach to economic development. Their success stories demonstrate the four principles of Economic Renewal.

Economic Renewal workbooks include easy-to-use worksheets and sample meeting agendas to assist local people in their inventory of economic conditions and development of altenatives. Used alone or supplemented by training seminars, the workbooks guide communities through a community meeting process, in which residents ask new questions of economic development and contribute their knowledge and experience to the creation of new answers.

The Economic Renewal Program offers a path to sustainable development that starts with the community's vision of its preferred future and leads to implementation of economic renewal projects. Along the way, residents assess local economic conditions, apply principles of local self-relance, and consider and evaluate proposed projects

Rockv Mountain Institute,Economic Renewal Program 1739 Snowmass Creek Road Snowmass, Colorado 81654-

 

Ananda Mnagar; A New Model for Development

In one of the most backward, neglected districts of the world, an area of high illiteracy, much starvation, where chronic diseases such as leprosy are still rampant, where there is no electricity, where the agriculture is almost non-productive being on arid, non-irrigated lands and where there is no industrial development whatsoever, a unique 'city' is rising, like a phoenix from the ashes.

It is called Ananda Nagar (City of Bliss). A vast, comprehensive and integrated development covering some 1lO square kilometers. It will be nothing like the sick artificial urban ecosystems that cover huge areas of our earth, that completely obliterate the normal cycles of nature, where the only species that can survive are increasingly sick humans and a few highly adaptable species like flies, cockroaches and rats. Ananda Nagar will provide an ideal model of a totally new type of garden city, a model not only for the burning problems of India, but for the entire world. Here all the elements of creation - land and water, plants, animals and humans- will enhance each other's existence. With its systematic techniques of water harvesting, forestation and wildlife management, appropriate scientific technology and industries, progressive agriculture, an array of educational and relief projects, its many research centres and its deep spiritual focus, Ananda Nagar exemplifies a harmonious tapestry of life.

Prout News, 16 Feb., 1989.

…dams will have intensive plantation along the catchment areas to check the flow of silt into the reservoirs. Tall tress with fibrous roots, such as tamarind, margosa and banyan, are being planted along the riverbanks to hold the water during the rains. Wildlife sanctuaries and children's parks which surround these dams.

Each of the 400 ponds or lakes will be embedded in a lush network of water plants, slope plants, rim plants, boundary plants and wall plants.

23 Agricultural Research Centres being established to search out how to maximally utilize the vast untapped wealth of plant resources on earth. Plant germplasm and seeds from all parts of the world are being collected for research on cross-breeding to evolve new varieties of plants P

An education and self help outreach program for local villages, working in I conjunction with the model farms projects which will provided farmers with seeds and seedlings.

COOPERATING FOR INDUSTRIAL SELFSUFFICIENCY

The goal of industrial development is to make Ananda Nagar a model self-reliant rural community producing not only its own food but also its own clothes, medicines, toiletries, utensils, fertilizer, paper, building materials, etc by fully utilizing the local resources and agricultural production. Ananda Nagar's numerous research I centres are developing technological innovations that can, for example, produce 'cloth from banana fibers and cement from rice bran; and they will not only revitalize traditional and indigenous techniques but | also do research on more sophisticated technologies like electronics and solar energy.

Its industrial development scheme which includes more that sixty factories, is based on the following principles:

* Achieving 100% employment of local people

* Maximum utilization of locally available raw materials

* Non-importation of finished materials that could be locally produced

* Gearing production for local utilization as a first priority

* Establishing industries with cooperative management

Technical and business education of local people is a key factor for success in industrial development. For nearly a decade, Ananda Nagar's Institute of Technology has been imparting technical training to bright students from the most economically backward sections of the society, providing skills to rural and tribal youth, and organizing programmes for the transfer of technology to the surrounding villages. Thus Ananda Nagar is able to produce a supply of competent technicians to direct the industrial development, and also provide a practical challenge for the students it trains.

Ananda Nagar is taking a leading role in optimising biogas technology by installing' 23 new biogas plants throughout the complex, including one large 45 meter biogas plant (the biggest in Northern India) attached to the dairy farm with 175 cattle. Solar energy is also being used extensively, providing energy for irrigation pumps. indoor and str eet lighting .

The Urban Cooperative Block.

 

For four centuries the world's rich and diverse cultures were variously

plundered, exploited, disrupted, marginalised or totally obliterated by the soldiers, missionaries, traders, administrators, and settlers of the colonising powers. One fifth of the world's population now controls and uses three- quarters of the world's resources. That is the Overdeveloped World, where consumption so far exceeds any reasonable definition of human need as to have become socially pathological. The United States, for example, with six per cent of the world's population consumes one half of the world's income. This is the outstanding moral issue of our time, upon which so much else turns and which has the same origins as the ecological crisis with which it is intimately connected.

Even most anti-colonial revolutionaries have assumed that the former

colonies must become 'modern', 'developing' countries, hastening to wipe out historical injustice by catching up with the former colonisers.

Hundreds of millions of people aspire to the ownership of a television set,

to the glitter of urban life, to a Western-style education, to a prestigious job in the local bureaucracy. This is progress. What other goals could there be? Yet this is a sad and threadbare fantasy. For the whole world's exploding . The scale of Third World exploitation and disempowerment, from the military and economic to- the cultural and psychological, is immense. The gross and readily observable fact is that most Third World countries are systems for the often ruthless exploitation of the peasants and labourers who constitute d the overwhelming majority of the population (one half of the population of the Third World is landless). The main beneficiaries are transnational companies, which have developed and distorted these economies for the low-cost mass production of a small number of foodstuffs, minerals and raw materials needed to sustain the affluent societies. Many Third World countries are dependent on just two or three basic export commodities.

Some Third World governments are little more than well rewarded (and well armed) agents for the exploitation of their own people. Those which have sought greater autonomy, self-reliance and social justice (like Cuba, Ghana, Nicaragua and Tanzania) have been blocked or defeated by a crushing combination of adverse circumstances, including deliberate coercion and destabilisation.

The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute reported a steep increase in Third World destitution in the 1980s, and claims that almost a quarter of humanity are now unable to satisfy basic food, clothing and shelter needs. Africa is particularly badly hit, being the only continent to show an annual increase in infant and child deaths.

K. J ones, Beyond Optimism, Caarpenter, 1993, pp. 30-31.

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The Community Capital Bank begun in New York in January 1991. After just one year in operation, the CCB reported l that more than SOO institutional and indi vidual nation-wide depositors had deposited $10million. Fifteen community development related loans of between $25,000 and $450,000 had been made, either for affordable housing, small business or non-profit groups.


Community Capital Bank, 111 Livingston St, Brooklyn, New York.

 

The Fourth World is the name of a movement for the establishment of small scale communities. It publishes the Fourth World Review; The World of small nations, small communities and …

Global affairs are showing numerous signs of being out of control; wars, economic upheavals, a population crisis, the ferocious rundown of finite resources and the mounting intensity of the current ecological dangers are erupting despite our intentions…

The Fourth World believes this general global crisis is due to the fact that we have allowed our political and economic institutions to become too big and too centralised; as a result they are now beyond the effective control of the general citizen body in most countries.

Its concern is to restore the powers of direct self-rule of villages and urban wards and to ensure that all forms of power stem from their representatives to larger bodies.

 

New Options tor America: The Second AmericAn Experiment Has Begun Mark Satin (Washington DC). Foreword by Marilyn Ferguson. Fresno CA: California State U Presa (Maple and Shaw Avenues; 209/278-7082), April 199l/25lp/s9.95pb.

Selected articles by Satin from his unique New Options newsletter (begun in 1984 as successor to his Renewal newsletter) that seeks a decentralist, ecological, and globally responsible society beyond economic growth, the welfare state, and being the world’s policeman.

________________________F

The new Quaker Economics and Environment Network (QUEEN) will support members' efforts in lifestyle changes, education, campaigning and work to combat world poverty and environmental degradation. Details

from Philip Peirce (Friends House, Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ).

-----------------------------

In Greentield U.S. a group drew up a "People Pages", directory of skills and products available in the county. The exercise gave the Greenfielders a sense of their wealth which they had lost sight of amidst all the messages about problems and poverty. Morale started to snowball.

A "Kids' Dreams" project revealed that what the town's young people wanted most was a skateboard park. They built one, with little assistance from adults. A father and daughter started planting marigolds through town; a crumbling gas station was replaced with a "mini-parK' and the owner of the local grocery store printed all his bags with a message: "If you can think of anything which could be done to improve the community using locally available resources, go ahead and do it and phone this number ...."

Many of the projects in that first year didn't have much economic impact, Ed said, but they gave people confidence. People who hadn't done much in the past turned out to be born leaders.

A year after Jeff's visit, the citizens voted 72 percent in favour of a bond issue to be used to build a new high school. And in 1989 the newly

formed Antique Preservation Association opened an aircraft museum. With volunteer help, the old hotel was refurbished and reopened; a couple of bed-and-breakfasts were , also started up. Wednesday night socials on the courthouse lawn were revived, and a farmers' market started to take advantage of the crowds.

M. Holland, Harvesting hope in Greenfield Iowa', In Context',33, 1992, p. 23.

WASHINGTON GOES ON PROMOTING FREE TRADE and seeing the

future of America in the markets of Japan and Europe. But a growing grassroots movement sees the future of the United States in self-reliance and home town development. Leading one grassroots action the Town Meeting Initiative of the of the Peace Economy Project (Thorhurst

Road, Falmouth ME 04105 USA; (207)781-3947). At least 10 states

have joined Main,

-____________________________

There are many conventional developments, such as credit unions, that can be focused on the development of self-sufficient local economies, although at present many of these are not. Many only aim at enabling some more people to survive in the existing economy, but they are moves in a direction that enables the building of a radically localised economy.

Community-based change is fast becoming the key to America’s future. More and more, local communities across the country are mobilizing

their own resources in sustainable and creative ways to meet the needs of their members. From affordable housing and neighbou rhood enterprises

to recreation and recycling, communities are finding that the best way to seek change is to organize. These initially scattered efforts have grown

into a nationwide movement that is fundamentally reshaping American society. What we are seeing is the early stage of a large-scale shift

toward a society that is more authentically democratic, ecologically sound, and economically just.

The burgeoning preference in America for community-based approaches to change stems partly from the public's disillusionment with the

nation's central institutions. There has also been are discovery of the virtues of a back-to-basics life style centered on creating healthful communities.

This change in perspective is a clean departure from the American habit of looking to public policy, social services, and the market system for

solutions to endemic problems like homelessness, unemployment, and pollution. Citizens all over are realizing that they must take the lead in ad

dressing these problems instead of waiting for the country's leaders to take the initiative.

Some communities have responded to the ecology movement by collectively abandoning the consumption sickness of advanced industrial soci ety for a modest, more sustainable lifestyle. Some have etched whole eco-villages into large modern cities.

In many cases, communities have been more effective in meeting

their own needs–at lower cost–than any government or private-sector service provider.

.We are convinced that community-based change strategies will proliferate quietly while the corruption and breakdown at the core of American society continue.

R. Young and G. Power, Self-sustaining Communities, In Context, 33, 1992, p. 12 .

,. What we must do instead is look at the resources of our areas and see how they can be used to meet our communities' vital needs directly rather than via the conventional, indirect, produce-for-someone-else-and-buy-one's-requirements-in route.

R. Douthwaite, Short Circuit, Resurgence, 1996, p. ~ 34

 

Simon Fairlie: LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT: Jon Carpenter. 1996, 159pp, pbk, f 10.

Subtitled "Planning and People in a Sustainable Countryside", this is another exciting contribution to local people-centred development. Having lived for nine years in a self-built wooden shack on a small-holding in France, earning his living from agricultural work and building, the author found on his return to England that he wasn't allowed to live that way here. He argues that, instead of excluding people from residing and working in rural areas, planners should look favourably on proposals for low impact, environmentally benign homes and workplaces in the open countryside. This could help to reinvigorate the land based economy, create a richer and more diverse rural environment, and facilitate the provision of self-built affordable housing. "Low impact development is a social contract, whereby people are given an opportunity to live

in the country in return for providing environmental benefits.

 

We need to see that it is because the neighbourhood has been disempowered that we are in the throes of a crisis at all; no neighbourhood in its right mind would dream of allowing its economic surplus to '

be drained away by chain stores, chain banks and insurance agents or presumptive forms of centralised location and mass policies in relation to health, law and order, education or social welfare, or in the gratuitous forms of abuse implicit in mass social policies of any kind.

The empowered, vital, responsible creative, decision-making, resource-command neighbourhood is not some sentimental pipe dream to be dismissed as being irrelevant to serious radical striving; it is the key to any genuine social advance. It is the fundamental building block of any genuinely stable, healthy social order, without which all other striving is peripheral and so often inconsequential.

Editorial, The Fourth World Review, 80, 1997, p. 3.

GREEN POLITICS MEANS: A politics and economics of sufficiency, as opposed to limitless and never-ending growth and consumption. – -

D. Pradney, Green Party Problems, Fourth World Reviev;,

96, 1993, p. 16.

"...we believe that the small community should be the basic unit of society and that each; community: should be as self-sufficient and self-regarding as possible. . . "

Quoted from Blueprint for Survival, The Ecologist

1985 p. 66. ~ SanFranisco, Sierra

The Values' 1972 election manifesto, Blueprint for New Zealand was a series of quality-of-life statements punctuated by headings such as Technology, Industrial Relations, Fostering Community, and Environment. The opening pages stressed the necessity for Zero I Economic Growth (ZEG) and Zero Population Growth (ZPG), objectives which constituted the public profile of the Values Party.

____________________________

. A modern organization that has unconsciously adopted some of the features of a craft guild is the Briarpatch in San Francisco, an informal network of small businesspeople who, as their by-laws state, 'are in business primarily to serve people' rather than to become rich. Significantly, the word 'serve' is underlined in the original.

R. Douthwaite, ShortCircuit, 1995, p. 345. .

Belonging to a guild was connected with a complex of emotions which a man shared with other members: pride in his guild whose reputation and authority he would jealously defend, participation in meetings and general decisions, assertion of his dignity as a fully fledged burgher vis-a-vis the town patricians and the nobles, and a feeling of superiority vis-a-vis the unorganized craftsmen, the apprentices, pupils, servants - the common people of the town. A master craftsman sought and found in his work not simply a source of material prosperity: his work gave him satisfaction in itself. Hence his work and his product could be a means of achieving artistic pleasure. Perfection in a craft was handed down from generation to generation, forming a tradition of excellence and pushing the productive and the artistic possibilities of the craft to their utmost limits. A craft was a skill, and a skill was artistry. The free work of a master craftsman within a guild was a means of asserting his human personality and heightening his social awareness.

Right livelihood empowers you to do what you are really good at and love to do, involves you with the outside world in a compassionate way, aims for non-destructiveness, and integrates work and personal life.

People who seek right livelihood are involving themselves in reducing consumption, conserving natural resources, cutting down pollution, eating more simply and nutritiously, opposing nuclear war, bringing more spirituality into their lives and developing personal support networks to help each other do these things. They find that their lives are more in balance, more centered, more simple, clear and focused. They are no longer strung out in that cycle of material consumption which is so meaningless all by itself.

Briars define themselves as people who:(1) have an insatiable curiosity about the way the world works; (2) seek to do the work they love and make a living at it;(3) believe it is more important to provide the highest-quality product or service than to get rich;

R. Douthwaite, Short Circuit, 1995, 345.

Recipe for a happy family

In his final book entitled Island, Aldous Huxley portrays his vision of a utopian society.

"How many homes does a Palanese child have?"

"About twenty on the average. "

"Twenty? My God! "

"We all belong," Susila explained, "to a MAC - a Mutual Adoption Club. Every MAC consists of anything from fifteen to twenty-five assorted couples. Newly-elected brides and bridegrooms, old-timers with growing children, grandparents and great-grandparents– everybody in the club adopts everyone else. Besides our own blood relations, we all have our quota of deputy mothers, deputy fathers, deputy aunts and uncles, deputy brothers and sisters, deputy babies and toddlers and teenagers. "

__________________________________________

How can we reverse the devastating effects of development on the Third World, and indeed on the industrialised countries themselves?

The answer is that we need to return to low energy, low resource, low pollution societies–and very quickly. Such societies must necessarily conduct their economic and indeed their, political affairs on a very much smaller scale than is today the trend, which means catering to very much smaller markets. The correct unit for economic activity is clearly the family and to a lesser extent the community. It is only in this way that economic activities can satisfy social, religious and ecological needs–not ; merely narrow economic ones as is necessarily the case when | they are fulfilled by corporations. Since humans, during 95% of their tenancy on this planet, have lived in tribal societies that conducted their economic activities in precisely this way, it seems clear that we must derive our inspiration from that experience.

My colleague Nicholas Hildyard and I studied traditional irrigation systems and wrote about them in The Social and Environmental Effect of Large Dams. Our research into the ways traditional 5 peoples conducted their affairs showed us that in general they | are difficult to improve on. This is clearly the case with their 1: agricultural and horticultural and indeed pastoral practices in general. The literature on this subject is enormous and all of it tends to confirm this thesis.

E. Goldsmith, "Biospheric ethics", in E. Goldsmith et al., The Future of Progress, London, Green Books, 1995,

He held up the plate he was eating from. :"The potatoes come from that field to the west,'' he said pointing, "the cabbage to the east. The barley and the hops of this beer grew closer to the horizon, and when the wind is ' right, you can smell the pigs that made the wursts. America will become even more ugly because you can't see where your food is grown. The secret of the beauty of Europe is the ring of small farms that circle every village and city."

G. Bentryn, "Feeding the soul", In Context, 42.

A 1992 Gallup survey found that '4 million (more than half) of adult Americans gave over 20 billion hours of voluntary work to various causes. If measured in dollar terms, that would be worth $176 billion.

Local communities organise for themselves–creating a third force that flourishes independent market place and the public sector. There are almost 1.5 million non-profit organisations in the US whose primary goal is to provide a service or advance a cause.

ERA Bulleltin, MAY, 1996.

The City
Farm Movement is particularly strong in the UK where there are hundreds of city farms, some quite small in size, producing food within the cities They are linked by membership of a UK city farm federation.

The Lismore Challenge Farm in northern NSW is an intensively farmed qone hectare urban site. Challenge farm will eventually supplement its fresh organically grown vegetable and herb produce with fruit and chicken products. The farm provides socially meaningful livelihoods to the Challenge Foundation's disabled clientele.

____________________________________________

An ecological society is radically democratic. Social power has to be exercised through a network of localities and freely associated small producers. Such measures as are essential to coordinate the activities of

society as a whole are to be delegated from below.

J. Kovel, "Ecological Marxism and dialelctic, Capital Nature Socialism, 6.4,Dec. 1995.

__________________________________________________

After our basic material needs are fulfilled through the provision of basic goods and services like food, housing and health, we should be free from the dictates of fashion and the consumer culture. This means more time for leisure, recreation, reading and spiritual development.

What I am proposing as an appropriate lifestyle is nothing extraordinary. It is just returning to a simple way of living, to a harmonious relationship of humans to nature, to our fellow humans, and to ourselves.

M. Idris, "The Third World; ~ Crisis of Development", in E. Goldsmith et al., Eds., The Future of Progress, London Green Books, 1995, p. 120.

The need for self-sufficient economies:

The appropriate organizational form for the ecological era is likely to be a multilevel system of nested economies with the household as

the basic economic unit, up through successive geographical aggregations to localities, districts, nations, and regions .Embodying the principle of intrinsic responsibility, each level would seek to function, to the extent that it is reasonably able, as an integrated self-reliant, self-managing political, economic, and ecological community. Starting from the base unit, each system level would seek to achieve the optimal feasible ecological self-reliance, especially in meeting basic needs.

To compensate for imbalances in environmental service endowments, units at each level would engage in selective exchanges with

other units within their cluster–keeping those exchanges as balanced

as possible. Households would engage in exchanges with house

holds in their locality, localities with other localities in their district,

and so on. The smaller the system unit, the greater the need for ex

change. Thus, a substantial amount of the economic activity of house

holds would necessarily involve external exchange. Although many

households might grow some of their own food, it would be rare for a

household to be self-sufficient. Community eco-economies would be

somewhat more self-reliant, and so on, with regions being nearly wholly

self-reliant.

Organizing to meet economic needs as close to the local level as

feasible would enable the application of the principle of subsidiarity–

which maintains that governance authority and responsibility should

be vested in the smallest, most local unit possible. This would make it

possible to maintain a market system in which market power is balanced

with political power at each level. Local firms would enjoy a natural

advantage, and there would be less long-haul movement of people and

goods.

Less trade and greater local self-reliance may mean less consumer

choice. In the Northern climates, we would eat winter or preserved

vegetables and would put apples rather than bananas on our cereal.

People in forested areas would construct their houses of wood, and

those in hot, dry climates would build houses of earthen materials.

Some prices might be higher. Overall, the sacrifices would be small

compared with the prospects of greater economic security, caring

communities in which people can walk the streets at night without fear,

improved environmental quality, the survival of our species, and the

creation of new evolutionary potentials.

The principles of the Ecological Revolution lead toward a global sys

tem of local economies that distributes both power and responsibility, creates places for people, encourages the nurturing of life in all its

diversity, and limits the opportunity for one group to externalize the

social and environmental costs of its consumption onto others. Instead

of forcing localities into international competition as a condition of

their survival, a localized global system encourages self-reliance in

meeting local needs.

D. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World, 1995, pp. 273-275.

 

"There is a broad consensus among alternative thinkers that the sustainable economy must feature economic decentralisation and local accountability based on the division of the global economy into a System. of inter-related, relatively ecologically self-reliant local economies functioning within a supportive, democratically managed international economic system.

D. Korten 28, Sustainable Development Nov. 1991.

"Advocates of a post-industrial world order…have postulated that the basic unit of such an order should be the decentralised, democratic, self-sufficient rural community."

R.Hart, Forest Gardening, 1991, p... 143.

What we wa nt is "...the Jeffersonian polity of relatively small, intimate, locally autonomous and self-governing communities rooted in the land...and affiliated at the federal level only a relatively few clearly defined purposes."

W. Olphus, Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity, San Francisco, Freeman, 1992, p. 303.

A growing body of opinion now recognises that community-based development offers the only feasible, sustainable alternative to the highly centralised, life diminishing system that now dominates and threatens the livelihood of people in all countries.

International Permaculture Journal, 48l, Sept., 1993, p. 35.

Town councils should therefore try to make available or lease land near the town, preferably within bicycling distance, where the jobless and others can grow and make useful products and do other useful things; where children and adults learn to care for animals and plants and learn useful skills.

W. Hoogendijk, The Economic Revolution, 1991, p. 131.

Members share a belief in the importance of cooperation, equality, and non-violence They feel that they offer people a real alternative to a competitive and consumption-oriented world. Twin Oaks sees itself developing a model social system which includes solutions to problems of land use, food production, energy conservation, industrialization, and technology. They believe that their communal economic system creates true equality among people, encourages cooperation and sharing, and reduces expenses, so that members can "live lightly on the earth." This is accomplished through a highly structured and somewhat bureaucratic system of "labour credits."

The community is located in Louisa, Virginia on four hundred acres of land, and has sixty adult members and fifteen children. Members are a diverse group of people with individual orientations varying from the utopian to the spiritual to the pragmatic. When new members join Twin Oaks, they are expected to share the resources they bring with them, except fo r personal items that fit into their room. Members are allowed to keep resources outside the community but are not to benefit personally from their use while in the community, for example, by using the interest on their savings. They are encouraged to loan any savings to the community and are repaid when they leave. After ten years, members must donate everything to the community. If tools or cars are brought to the community, they are shared with everyone, so as to not cause envy and to maintain a sense of equality.

Because of Twin Oaks' communal system, members can live on an average of about $3,000 a year each, which would be below poverty level outside the community, but which is actually quite comfortable for them, with many middle-class amenities. In addition to having their food, rent, and basic necessities covered`, each member is provided with-a small spending allowance (currently $35/month) for travel and entertainment. Each member also gets at least 2 and 1/2 weeks of vacation a year, and the average member works overtime and actually takes about seven weeks.

Twin Oaks currently produces about 60% of its own food: vegetables, dairy products, meat, fruit, and some grains. It sees itself developing self-sufficiency, not as an isolationist move, but as a further development of its economic security, a major goal of the community.

Twin Oaks supports itself mainly through hand-crafted hammocks and chairs which it produces and markets with its sister community, East Wind in Missouri, but there are also smaller industries which produce some income: editing, book indexing, publications, lecturing, and construction. Each member works an average of forty to fifty hours per week, which includes domestic and income-producing labor. A labor system has been set up so that the work can be organized and shared more equitably, and labor credits are assigned to various jobs. There is a planner manager system of government, and managers cover all area

community life that need supervision. There are dozens of jobs as managers and anyone who so desires can be one. Managers and planners get no special privileges for their jobs.

There is a large amount of freedom to choose the work a member would like to do. Kat Kinkade, one of the founders of Twin Oaks, comments on the advantages of group living. A lot of small responsibilities that fall on private householders go away naturally when one operates in a group. Car repair, for example; balancing the checkbook; laundry; plumbing. All of these things have to be done, but in a fair-sized group, there is someone who likes doing them.

A strong effort has been made in the community to open work areas that might not be easily accessible outside the community to men and women, such as executive work or heavy: labor for women, child care for men.

It seems a wonder, somehow miraculous, that in this age of speciali-zation, there is a whole little world where English majors become furniture designers, pre-med students turn into solar engineers and erstwhile hippies assume management.

All members are encouraged to explain their work to any other member who desires to learn it, and there is a Iot of job rotation in the community. Although not always contributing to maximum efficiency in getting the work done, this policy has n very educational for members, as Warren notes.

Part of the attraction of being at Twin Oaks, after spending six years working in the same factory, was that we worked our own businesses. . . I learned a whole lot there. The few years I was there felt equal to 15 years of living outside the community. At Twin Oaks I got exposure to a variety of people and views, and an opportunity to try all different types of work; to see what management is like and what being a bureaucrat is about, and trying out all the different roles that people can play. It was a really broadening experience for me.

It is important to Twin Oaks that members find challenging desirable work. Work is not just seen as a means to an end. Members try to make it an enjoyable part of their lives.

The hammock shop has been an ideal laboratory for the creative development of humanely oriented conditions in a worker-controlled

industry. . . there is an atmosphere of trust–no time clocks, no sign in sheets, no ten-minute coffee breaks, no time limits on lunch hours. The weaver reports the actual time worked on co's labour credit sheet according to an honour system. No matter how nervous the sales people or production manager may be about filling a big order on the production date requested by the customer, none of them would dream of pushing the workers into a speed-up.

The integration of work and play is a key factor in community life, and the line between the two is often hard to discern. A11 work is given equal value, and this has had quite an impact on members, as Ingrid Komar explains.

The knowledge that one hour of honest work, say...at picking com. . . was valued as highly as solar research or teaching math to the children...was profound. To my amazement, cleaning bathrooms became an act of love. Experiencing the reality of egalitarianism qualitatively different from merely reading economic theory or a utopian novel.

Builders of the Dawn,117-119.

But if, out of an ideal, deep within that job - whatever it is - is nourishing. It need not even be the sort of work you might naturally choose. When, fundraising for a charity, I worked under rain-lashed canvas nineteen hours a day at double speed, cooking, serving, washing up in an atmosphere of mud, crowds, noise and discomfort, it was nevertheless an exhilarating experience. When customers came to the back of our food tent and told us that our queues were the longest, our food, service, atmosphere the best on the nightmarishly vast festival site I could answer from the bottom of my heart: I couldn't do this for money. Were the work governed by pecuniary arrangements, I am sure I would have already come to blows with my employers. It was exhausting, but none the less more nourishing than stressful. Why? Because our work was giving service - and was appreciated only secondarily it was for money, and that also for the benefit of others. Our work was inspired by an ideal, and this was sensed by our customers. Instead of the aggressive scenes that all the other caterers experienced, we received unsolicited praise which gave us new strength when we were wilting with exhaustion. Approaching work as gift, we received in return nourishment.

C. Day, Building with Heart, Green Books, 1990, p. 79.

Work in the alternative society.

The governing principle of economic life in a minimal, frugal steady state would b "right livelihood" (Schumacher 1973-, pp. 50-58). That is, honest work from which one can derive satisfaction (not simply a wage), a sense working in community with and for one's fellow men, and an opportunity develop one's native talents for the benefit of self and others are just important as income sufficient for a decent and dignified material existence This view of economics does not reject productivity or technology in itself but it does demand that the value and dignity of human labor be restored an that the economy be run "as if people mattered." Following these prescriptions would inevitably promote small-scale, self-sufficient, virtually self administering, locally oriented and controlled enterprise dependent on simple, inexpensive, labor-intensive means of production that are ecological appropriate–all of which should put individuals back in charge of their own economic destiny and produce a frugal economy compatible with the min imal polity described above. ,

W. Olphus, Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity, San Francisco, 1992, p. 242.

 

. Today's problems will eventually be solved by recognizing that local production for local consumption–using local resources, under the guidance and control of local communities, and rejecting local and regional cultures and traditions within the limits of nature–is a far more successful direction than the currently promoted, clearly utopian, globally centralized, expansionist model. Local economies are far more likely to produce stable and satisfied communities and to protect nature than any system based on a theoretically constant expansion of production and consumption and the eternal movement of commodities across thousands of miles of land and sea.

This does not mean that all trade is undesirable; only that its role must be limited to providing those things that cannot be provided locally. ~

J. Mander and E. Goldsmith, Eds. The Case Against the Globa1 Economy, 1996, p. 391.

"… the new communitv of Lightmoor in Shropsire, the 'garden city of the twentv-first century re-invention of the ideas of Ebenezer Howard. Here, on twenty-three acres of land to the south of Telford ynew town, twelve households will combine part-time or freelance 'outside' jobs - teaching, bricklaying, computer programming - with home-based horticulture, husbandry and rural crafts, and also with backyard high-technology industry: computer software, for example. Lightmoor will be cooperatively run, designed and built by its residents, its housing incorporating energy-saving and recycling technology. Ultimately, it will form one of several electronic hamlets arranged in clusters on a 250-acre site.

Lightmoor, a collection of level-headed people dissatisfied with urban life, may serve as a symbol of a potential rural renaissance, a distillation of thousands of unco-ordinated and apparently unconnected initiatives and aspirations. Behind it, for example, lie the dozens of communes, co-operatives and radical social ventures which, particularly since the 19'0s, have sought to revive communal identity through a new relationship with nature. Many perished, but a surprising number remain and prosper, united in Britain, for example, by the Alternative Communities Movement and the Communes Network, earning a living from farming, visitors, light industry al crafts. They range from avowedly New Age bodies like Findhorn in northern Scotland, where animisn has sprung new roots and found a new international audience, through looser networks of ecologically conscious crofters and peasants like Scoraig or Tintern, to more socially…

The city of Portland Oregon has 1000 public bicycles available on the streets for anyone to use. They are simple, one speed, and easy to repair. They are yellow. Few would want to steal them, especially as they are easily identified. This is a sensible, low cost way of enabling more transport by bicyle, reducing road congestion and various costs to the city.

An important strategy for the development of new local economies is to work with an existing town rather than try to develop an entire new eco-village. This means advantage can be taken of the existing infrastructure, systems, networks etc; these do not have to be built from scratch.

 

There are 200 trees known to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and put it into the soil, via their roots.

Australian aborigines used the seeds of 20 special orf wattle as a staple food. These are of high food value; with fat and carbohydrate content higher than wheat or rice; 17-25% protein, 5-16% fat and 30-40% carbohydrates.

Mayan gardens have up to 74 species of useful plants in their one-hectare plots.

Protein from plant leaves; a concentrate is easily made by pulping leaves from almost any non-toxic plant, extracting the juice, boiling it and extracting the curd from the whey. The resulting high protein green crumbly cake can be added to drinks, flour, cakes and biscuits, stews or soups. Only 20 grams of this will provide daily protein needs for a person. Programs for supply of leaf concentrate are operating in various Third World countries, using mostly easily grown plants such as clover, alfalfa, cowpeas. FYF, 37 Great Guildford St., London SE1, E5 UK 071- 4018794. Also, Leaf For Life, 128 Owsley Ave, Lexington KY 40502, USA 606) 266-5337.

The town of Bingara, Australia, has 100 orange trees planted in the streets, for public use. The fruit is not taken until it is ripe.

Australia All Over, ABC Radio,27th June, 1993.

American Community Development Loan Funds have more than $700 million, and have given more than $2 billion in loans.

Urban Ecologist, Fall 1993, p. 18.

The Movement for Middle England is for regional development. It is for the re-empowerment of ordinary people. Europe should be made up of small regions, small nations, in place of centralised imperial nation-states. There should be participatory government at all levels, in place of the fraud of elections. Community should be rebuilt.

There are a number of historical examples of societies that demonstrate the viability of direct democratic governance, even though they limited suffrage to adult males. These include the Greek city-state of Athens during the reign of Pericles, colonial New England town meetings, and the medieval Italian communes in cities like Florence, Venice, Bologna, Genoa and Milan. Especially noteworthy is the Republic of Raetia, now the Swiss canton of Graubunden. From1524 until Napoleon forced its unification with Switzerland in 1799, the mountain peasants of Raetia governed themselves in village communes employing techniques of face-to-face democracy, having fought off attempts by kings, nobles, and churchmen to impose the kind of feudal or ecclesiastic controls common elsewhere in Europe. In Raetia, power was so firmly vested in the communes that office-seekers openly tried to buy elections and nobody cared, because everyone knew the offices did nothing important. The Raetians probably invented the referendum and used it often to aggregate the will of the communes and make policy at the national level (thereby demonstrating that local, self-governing communities can work together in larger bodies, even when the fastest means of communication is a horse and rider).

Direct democratic practices thrive in the modern world too, often in forms that are directly relevant to sustainability issues. For example:
Annual open town meetings are still the preferred form of government in most New England towns, ranging from alowof68 percent of Rhode Island towns to 97 percent of Maine towns. Attendance varies, depending on town size and the urgency of the issues, from 1 percent to 90 percent. Citizen committees, which study issues and present reports to the townspeople, help keep the quality of debate and decision high.
Watershed councils in Oregon and elsewhere in the United States bring together ordinary citizens to deliberate on land-use and salmon preservation issues and to resolve resource management disputes

Yes,. Winter, 2001, p. 53.

.. The value of labor power and the conditions of the genera population are everywhere under attack, with real wages falling, living deteriorating conditions and the gap between rich and poor growing throughout the globe. '

The Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) for the UK … shows that between 1976 and 1996 sustainable economic welfare declined by 25% although conventional economic growth (GDP) rose by 44%.

SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC WELFARE IN THE US 1959-1996 (February 1998,42pp £12 from'14EF- see page 14) by Tim Jackson, Nlc Marks and colleagues a the Centre for Environmental Strategy, Surrey University .

The demand for garden plots is increasing. With one l million already in existence, the waiting list for allotments in Greater London alone is estimated by the Civic Trust at lO 000, and nationally stands at 100 000. Germany has more than 500 000, with 35 000 each in Switzerland and Sweden. ln the UK, the movement is backed by the National Federation of City Farms. This organisation, funded by the Department of the Environment, offers a valuable support and advisory service helping groups secure land and start programs of social benefit.

Scottish money ! A SCOTLAND-wide alternative currency aimed at boosting local trade without using the cash economy has been launched by Rural Forum Scotland.

They are hoping that a range of organisations from individuals to local authorities and businesses will soon be trading in SOCs. One SOC is worth one pound, and membership is open initially to anyone in Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Stirlingshire. ,
Rural Forum, Highland House, St Catherine's Road, Perth PH1 1 5RK (Tel) 01738 634565, (Fax)

Gandhi believed "I should use only things that are produced by immediate neighbours.'' A major reason for this is because it reinforces bonds, dependence and gratitude, which are important for community. 40

The principle structural change that he (Gandhi) stressed was decentralisation of economic decision making and reconstructing the small village economy h as an essentially self sufficient and self governing eonomic unit. 78

R./Diwan and M. Lutz, Essays in Gandhian Economics., Gandhian Peace Foundation, 1985.>br>


Each village of about five thousand, made up of town houses, apartments, and single family dwellings, has its own elementary school, small shops and a cafe, all laid out in what Tapiola's planners call 'perambulatory distances' meaning comfortable for a mother to push her baby in a stroller, to buy the family's daily milk, butter, vegetables, bread and fish.

An industrial center with varied non-polluting small plants is hidden in the woods. Here the central heating plant produces heat, hot water and electricity for every home. Seven out often townspeople walk to work. There is nothing garish or jerry-built about Tapiola. Wolf Von Eckhardt marvelled at the way "it seems to grow out of the rocks and trees . . . as though it had always been there."

Or for a less industrial version we can look to some of Italy's medieval mountain towns, whose inhabitants successfully lived together and cultivated the land in the valleys below. Some of these towns are still socially fulfilling and physically selfsufficient to an astounding degree. Most food—meat, vegetables, fruits, wine and cheeses—are locally made and grown; most professionals and tradesmen tend a vegetable garden, a vineyard, and some olive trees on the side; many things are still made by local craftsmen, from furniture and cabinetry to barrels, baskets, windows, tools and doors; much entertainment is local, festivals and theater largely featuring participants of each little town; and much of the travel is local—to nearby creeks and mountains and the local hot-spring spas.

New towns could be built on old deserted sites, or even on new ones. They should not be the random lifeless suburbs that we have so thoughtlessly created, but self contained vital towns, based on Tapiola, Finland's human-centered town of forest and greenery. It was built with no other purpose than to provide its inhabitants a fulfilling place to work, live, and raise children.
Tapiola's town center has a plaza and a fountain where there was an old quarry. It is the cultural heart of a three village community, holding a theater and concert hall, a library, an art gallery, a youth center, a pool, a gymnsium and a high school.
Its surrounding three villages—within pleasant walking distance—separated from the town and each other by parkland, are reached by peaceful walkways …

F. Matte, A Reasonable Life, 1993, . 226.


MAINE'.S ALTERNATIVE MOVEMENT is 1,500 groups strong, according to the new issue of Maine Alternative Yellow and Green Pages, #4 (INVERT, P.O. Box 776, Monroe, ME W951, U.S.A.; $6). Editor Larry Dansinger not only chronicles the alternative and transformative movements in Maine but also fills in the gaps with meetings he himself facilitates. As well as the usual Peace Action, Organic Farms, Women's organizations, Alternative Economics, Healing, Environmental, and other subheadings, this issue adds a section of 100 "green businesses."
----------
There are estimated to be more than 7000 multiple occupancy residents in Australia, on more than 300 properties, with an average of 9 to 12 houses on each.

Global Ecovillage Newsletter, 1997.

Neighbourhoods contracting to maintain their own parks and streets.

The mayor of Indianapolis, Stephen Goldsmith, has publicly embraced the outlines of a radical proposal developed at the Indiana University School of Public Affairs called 'municipal federalism'. It allows for the voluntary establishment of neighbourhood councils to make decisions now made in city hall. Neighbourhoods would have the right to contract with the city to maintain their own parks and sweep their own side streets and sidewalks.

Holiday Park, located in an upper middle class neighbourhood, had degenerated to the point where drug dealers and male prostitutes set up a permanent shop there. Community residents were afraid to go anywhere near the park. Neighbours, fed up with the situation, received permission to take over the park and proceeded to raise $300,000 in private donations for new equipment, a security guard and better upkeep. The former drug-infested park is now filled with picnicking families on weekends.
N. Albery and M. Mezey, Reinventing Society, 1994'

Every child, by the time he leaves elementary school, should know first hand—not from bloody video!—how to grow his own food, raise chickens, and cook them, so that when this crack-a joke, house-of-gadgets of a society crumbles, and the last investment banker lies dead of starvation in front of an empty deli, he can be happily whistling in the fields with his little hoe.

F. Matte, A Reasonable Life, 1993.

All you need to do is sign the "The Mortgage," the repaying of which will take you all your life. The price? $200,000 which, through a whimsical sleight-of-hand called interest, becomes $600,000 by the time you die.


Remarkable that we gratefully slave away at mostly numbing, demeaning jobs for thirty years, paying off some thrown-together shack that any two of us could have built much better in six months, doing enjoyable, commonsense work like measuring, cutting, and banging in some nails.

When we were first married, Candace and I built a small house with our own hands. It was cedar inside and out, decks, skylights, oak floors, fireplace; all the comforts of home. Its size was humble, 500 square feet, but it had a living room, dining room, den, fully equipped kitchen, an airy loft-bedroom and of course a bath. It was as cozy a place as you could want. We built it in three months and it could have been even less had we not made the design so complex, hauled the material with a beat-up Porsche, and built in the dead of winter. Nevertheless, three months sufficed—with no previous experience and it turned out nice enough to be written up in magazines and cost a grand total of—appliances induded— $3000. Now granted this was twenty years ago, so let's double that for inflation to $6000; triple its size to give us room to swing the cat, $18,000; throw in a bit for extras and ease of figuring—and make it $20,000 even. And, to build the bigger house at a calm, leisurely pace, let us quadruple the time required to a year.

Now, compare this home-made house and the one you bought for $600,000. Simply subtracting $20,000 from $600,000 will give us a difference of $580,000. As for time, a $20,000 mortgage paid back at a similar monthly rate would be paid off in less than a year. Combine this with the year it took to build, and you have a difference of twenty-eight years. Now, no matter how forgiving a Christian you are, you will have to admit that you have been gypped out of an enormous pile of money, and that someone has picked your pocket of the best third of your life.

Here is a quotation from The Simple Home written by an Am4erican, Charles Keeler, in 1904:
Home making is one of the sacred tasks of life, for the home is the family temple . . . The building of the home should be an event of profound importance. It should be with men as it is with birds, the culminating event after courtship and marriage, upon which all the loving thought and energy of the bridal pair is bestowed.

Keeler goes on to describe the generation of the sort of 'home' that most Americans apparently did live in in his day
In the effort to change our lifestyles for the better the quality of the home we live in is more important than anything else. If we live in boring and unsatisfying dwellings ('all made out of ticky-tacky' as the song has it) we will not be contented, no matter how much money we have. We will be constantly trying to divert ourselves with this or that new gadget, electronic or otherwise; we will always be giving way to the urge to 'jump in the car', or 'hop on a 'plane'- to rush off somewhere hoping to find that which we cannot find at home. Such anodynes do not make us happy. They can never be more than substitutes for the real thing we lack: a good, beautiful and loving home. A home in which we can revive the lost art of hospitality, a home where true culture, real conviviality, real fun, solid comfort and, above all, real civilization, can be had.

My belief is that much of the restlessness of contemporary humankind - the endless searching for we know not what which is so corrosive to our planet - stems from the fact that we do not have satisfying homes. And homes cannot be made in factories, nor by computers or machines: they must be - like communion wine - 'the work of human hands'. The most creative thing that anybody can do in this world is to make a home. I have heard a woman say: 'I am only a housewife!' Only a housewife! If she had said: 'I am only Prime Minister,' I would have commiserated with her. As it was she had the most creative and certainly the most important job on Earth.

No doubt the home-maker is more important than the house. I have seen real homes created in the most boring of council houses, or even in shacks. Just after the Second World War I spent several days as a guest in one of the 'native' shanty towns that had grown up, illegally, to the west of Johannesburg in South Africa. The 'house' I stayed in had been built out of flattened petrol cans. The narrow alleys to the front and the back of it were filthy, the sanitary arrangements were appalling, the building was bloody cold at night and roasting hot in the day; but it was a real home. The walls inside were hung all over with bright coloured cloths, and with pictures, mostly cut out of magazines, the furniture, knocked up from old packing cases, was adequate, lively children ran in and out, and

if there were not enough chairs for them there were always enough adult laps, people were constantly dropping in, and talking and laughing, and singing, and playing tunes on a mouth organ, and arguing, and smiling. You do not need a mansion to create a home.

J. Seymour, Changing Lifestyles, 1991, 79-

Remodeling our sprawling suburbs will be almost painless. Having half of the land paved for the car is an insult to humanity. And the omnipresence of cars dashing down grids of streets precludes relaxed human contact. So why not eliminate traffic from all main streets and let them use the side streets only? We can then convert every block into a hamlet. In front of our homes we can tear up the pavement and plant a village green, dig a pond, have wheat fields, woods and orchards; places where our children can safely roam, neighbours gather, chickens peck. Our driveways and garages would no longer be needed. Half of the one-way side streets would be for communal parking, so the garages could become greenhouses, or Mom and Pop butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Our driveways will be barnyards. Then as we walk to and from our cars through our village every day, we could get to meet our neighbours, become friends, become civilized social communities again.


F. Matte,A Reasonable Life, Norton, 1993, p. 129.

Gifts, giving...

When anthropologist Bronislawl Malinowski studied the Trobriand Islanders in the western Pacific, he was stunned to discover that ritual gifts such as shell necklaces made a steady progression around an archipelago of islands over the course of10 years. People "owned" the cherished gift object for a year or two, but were socially obliged to pass it on. This is the same sentiment that apprentices feel after leaving theirmasters—an obligation to honour the gift that was freely given to themby passing it along to deserving successors. Several fairy tales—as well as a biblical parable—warn that a gift that is hoarded loses its generative powers, withers, and dies. One of the most vivid case studies comparing the performance of market and gift economies is Richard Titmuss's examination of British and American blood banks in the 1 960s. Drawing upon extensive empirical data, Titmuss concluded that commercial blood systems generally produce blood supplies of less safety, purity, and potency than volunteer systems; are more hazardous to the health of donors; and over the long run produce greater shortages of blood. What can possibly account for these counter-intuitive deviations from market theory, which holds that the price system produces the most efficient outcomes and highest quality product? It turns out that the introduction of money into the blood transaction encourages doctors to skirt prescribed safety rules and tends to attract more drug addicts, alcoholics, prisoners, and derelicts than altruistic appeals do. According to Titmuss, Britain's National Blood Transfusion Service "has allowed and encouraged sentiments of altruism, reciprocity, and societal duty to express themselves; to be made explicit and identifiable in measurable patterns of behavior by allsocial groups and classes." In this context, the gift economy regime is not simply "nice. " It is actually more
efficient, cheaper, and safer.

Yes, Summer 2001, p.35.

 

Alternative economic ideas.

When anthropologist Bronislawl Malinowski studied theTrobriand Islanders in the western Pacific, he was stunned to discover that ritual gifts such as shell necklaces made a steady progression around an archipelago of islands over the course of 10 years. People "owned" the cherished gift object for a year or two, but were socially obliged to pass it
on. This is the same sentiment that apprentices feel after leaving their masters—an obligation to honor the gift that was freely given to them bypassing it along to deserving successors. Several fairy tales—as well as a biblical parable—warn that a gift that is hoarded loses its generative powers, withers, and dies.


One of the most vivid case studies comparing the performance of market and gift economies is Richard Titmuss's examination of British and American blood banks in the 1 960s. Drawing upon extensive empirical data, Titmuss concluded that commercial blood systems generallyproduce blood supplies of less safety, purity, and potency than volunteer systems; are more hazardous to the health of donors; and over the long run produce greater shortages of blood.
What can possibly account for these couner intuitive deviations from market theory, which holds that the price system produces the most efficient outcomes and highest quality product? It turns out that the introduction of money into the blood transaction encourages doctors to skirt prescribed safety rules and tends to attract more drug addicts, alcoholics,
prisoners, and derelicts than altruistic appeals do.


According to Titmuss, Britain's National Blood Transfusion Service "has allowed and encouraged sentiments of altruism, reciprocity, and societal duty toexpress themselves; to be made explicit and identifiable in measurable patterns of behavior by all social groups and classes." In this context, the gift economy regime is not simply "nice. " It is actually more efficient, cheaper, and safer.

In Dore, source not recorded.

 


No one should ever work!


Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.


That doesn't mean we have to stop doing things. It does mean creating a new way of life based on play; in other words, a ludic revolution. By "play" I mean also festivity, creativity, conviviality, commensality, and maybe even art.
Curiously—or maybe not—all the old ideologies are conservative because they believe in work. Liberals say we should end employment discrimination. I say we should end employment. Conservatives support right-to-work laws. I support the right to be lazy. Leftists favour full employment. Like the surrealists— except that I'm not kidding — I favour full unemployment…


My minimum definition of work is forced labour.


People who are regimented all their lives, handed to work from school and bracketed by the family in the beginning and the nursing home in the end, are habituated to hierarchy and psychologically enslaved. Their aptitude for autonomy is so atrophied that their fear of freedom is among their few rationally grounded phobias. Their obedience training at work carries over into the families they start, thus reproducing the system in more ways than one, and into politics, culture and everything else. Once you drain the vitality from people at work, they'll likely submit to hierarchy and expertise in everything. They're used to it.

Play is just the opposite. Play is always voluntary. What might otherwise be play is work if it's forced.
Playing and giving are closely related; they share an aristocratic disdain for results.
According to Lafargue, a fourth of the French peasants' l' calendar was devoted to Sundays and holidays, and Chayanov's figures from villages in Czarist Russia— hardly a progressive society—likewise show a fourth or fifth of peasants' days devoted to repose. Controlling for productivity, we are obviously far behind these backward societies.
The anthropologist Marshall Sahlins surveyed the data on contemporary hunter-gatherers in an article entitled "The Original Affluent Society." Sahlins concluded that "hunters and gatherers work less than we do; and, rather than a continuous travail, the food quest is intermittent, leisure abundant, and there is a greater amount of sleep in the daytime per capita per year than in any other condition of society." They worked an average of four hours a day, assuming they were "working" at all. Their "labour," as it appears to us, was skilled labour that exercised their physical and intellectual capacities; unskilled labour on any large scale, as Sahlins says, is impossible except under industrialism.

If these objections to work, informed by the love of liberty, fail to persuade, there are others that we cannot disregard. Work is hazardous to our health. In fact, work is mass murder. More than 6,000 workers are killed annually in this country on the job; over two )million are injured on the job every year.

It is now possible to abolish work and; replace it, insofar as it serves useful purposes, with a multitude of new kinds of free activities. …we have to cut down massively on the amount of work being done. At present most work is useless or worse and we should simply get rid of it. On the other hand—and I think this is the crux of the matter and the revolutionary new departure—we have to take what useful work remains and transform it into a pleasing variety of game-like and craft-like pastimes, indistinguishable from other pleasurable pastimes except that they happen to yield useful end-products.
Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just 5 percent of the work then being done would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing, ,, and shelter. Theirs was only an educated guess but the :, main point is quite clear: directly or indirectly, most work serves the unproductive purposes of commerce -~ or social control…
What I really want to see is work turned into play…

Art should be abolished as a specialized department catering to an elite audience, and its qualities of beauty and creation restored to the integral life from which they were stolen by work.

Workers of the world... RELAX!
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The community gardens emerged in a realm that the market had written off as worthless. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the New York City real estate market had abandoned hundreds of buildings and city lots as unprofitable. Investors stopped paying taxes on the sites, and the City became the legal owner of some 11,000 non-taxable vacant lots. Many became rubble strewn magnets for trash, junked cars, drug dealing, and prostitution, with predictable effects on neighbourhoods.
Distressed at this deterioration, a group of self-styled "green guerillas" began to assert control over the sites. "We cut fences open with wire cutters and took sledge hammers to side walks to plant trees," said Tom Fox, an early activist. Soon, the City of New York began formally to allow residents to use the sites as community gardens, with the understanding that the property might eventually be sold.

In the Lower East Side and Harlem, Coney Island and Brooklyn, neighbourhoods came together to clean up the discarded tires and trash, and plant dogwood trees and vegetable gardens. Over time, hundreds of cool, green oases in the asphalt cityscape emerged— places that helped local communities see themselves as communities. Families would gather in some gardens for baptisms, birthday parties, and weddings. Other gardens were sites of poetry readings and performances, mentoring programs and organic gardening classes.

Over 800 community gardens sprang up throughout the five boroughs, and with them, an economic and social revival of the neighborhoods.

Perhaps most importantly, the gardens gave neighborhood residents a chance to govern a segment of their lives. A city bureaucracy was not needed to "administer" the sites; self-selected neighborhood groups shouldered the burden, and the sites became organic expressions and possessions of their communities.

D. Bollier, "The Cornucopia of the commons", .YES! A Journal of Positive Futures, Summer 2001.


Tomales Bay Institute works to establish the idea of the commons in American public life and debate. It is dedicated to celebrating, protecting, and, where suitable, capturing the economic value of the commons for those who inhabit it. PO Box 427, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956,415/663 8560,jonrowe@earthlink.net


The Trust for Public Land works with landowners, government agencies, and community groups to create urban parks, gardens, greenways, and riverways; build livable communities by setting aside open space in the path of growth; conserve land for watershed protection, scenic beauty, and close-to-home recreation; safeguard the character of communities by preserving historic landmarks and landscapes. since 1972, TPL has helped protea more than 1.2 million acres in 45 stares. (See page 34 for a story on rhe Trust s critical role in saving dozens of New York City's community gardens.)
116 New Montgomery,4th Floor San Francisco, CA 9410415/495-4014, www.tpl.org

Gift economics.


It is not widely appreciated that much of the power and creativity of scientific inquiry stems from a gift economy. While researchers are of course dependent upon grants and other sources of money, historically their work has not been shaped by market pressures. The organizing principle of scientific research has been gift-giving relationships with other members of the scholarly community. A scientist's achievements are measured by recognition in academic societies and journals, and the naming of discoveries. Papers submitted to scientific journals are considered "contributions."


There is a presumption that work will be openly shared and scrutinized, and that everyone will be free to build on a communal body of scientific work.


The gift economy is now under siege as never before. As Jennifer Washhurn and Exal Press have shown in their Atlantic Monthly article on the "kept university, "corporate money is introducing new proprietary controls over the creation and dissemination of knowledge.

Yes, Summer 2001. 37.



Camphill Ballytobin; in the words of the brochure of the Camphill Communities in Ireland, "was established as a therapeutic farm for children with multiple disabilities and disturbances. Many of the children are autistic or psychotic and most have been deprived of a healthy family life. In the wholesome setting of a small farm, the children live in large, family-centered houses and are taught with a mixture of classroom work, art, individual therapies, and craft."

C.W. and J. C. Pratt, Dream of a ridiculous Man, Yes, Summer 2001, p. 52.

THE KIBBUTZ



Kibbutzim form an integrated alternate society within the more general Israeli capitalist framework. The kibbutz movement (Hebrew for 'Communal Settlement') was commenced in 1910 at Kibbutz Degania at the southern end of the Lake of Galilee. Kibbutzim grew from the strongly socialist ideology of pioneer Jewish settlers dedicated to mutual aid and social justice. They are a socioeconomic system based on principles of joint ownership of property, equality and cooperation in production, consumption and education; they seek to fulfil the idea 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'. They are a home and way of life for those who choose this lifestyle.


After many difficulties and hardships, Kibbutzim have become thriving communities which played a dominant role in establishing and developing the state. Today there are 270 Kibbutzim with an approximate population of 125,000 (= 2.7 % of the population of the State). The early preoccupation of pioneers with agriculture provided a high level of self-sufficiency and was a means of regenerating; exhausted, often malarial, land. The average population is between 500/600 with 300/400 adult members. The Kibbutzim are also strong local defence units and are clustered around border or desert areas. Living conditions are very good. The whole settlement is laid out in a garden setting, often approaching the beauty of National Gardens. They have small but modern home units, children's houses, amenity blocks, recreational, cultural and industrial sectors. Fields, orchards and fish ponds are located around the perimeter.

Workers commute the relatively short distance on foot or by bicycle. Policies and decisions are made democratically in an assembly of all members. They elect officers, authorise the different budgets and approve membership applications. Functions such as education, housing, finance, health, production planning and cultural activities are directed by elected committees within their budgets. All the means of production are communally owned. With 2.7 % of the population of Israel they produce 35 % of Israel's farm production and 8 % of the manufactured goods. They are at the forefront of training in productivity methods.

Commitment to work is an integral part of kibbutz ideology. All work is equally valued. All jobs, both administrative and menial, are rotated regularly, perhaps every two or three years. Key personnel in industry are elected by the plant workers.
The activities on Kibbutzim are: agriculture and fisheries (26.7 %); industry and quarries (23.7 %); tourism and commerce (8.65 %); community services (16.7 %); personnel services (17.1 %); transportation and communication (6.3 %); building (1.1 %).

Education at kindergarten and primary levels is provided within each kibbutz and it develops in parallel, with education about the processes and activities of everyday life. Education is related to the practical needs and interests of the members and children grow up with well-integrated attitudes to work' culture, and recreation. According to kibbutz choice it may provide art galleries or orchestras around special skills. Some of these are undertaken at high professional and national level. Children become very versatile, with their natural talents and capacities well developed. They are highly socially supportive, with a good level of concern for their kibbutz and their country. From personal observation they seem to be cooperative, intelligent and tough. (Local tradition now labels these children as 'Sabras' - Hebrew for 'prickly pear', because
they are prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside).Holidays, historical festivals, local celebrations of weddings etc. with energetic singing and dancing, are planned by the kibbutz for the whole community. This brings social cohesion which is not easily found in fragmented urban life. Over their history these kibbutzim have become increasingly industrialised. Very often industries develop from the special skills of one or a few members orlocal resources. Industry now comprises about two thirds of kibbutz production. 18,400 kibbutz members were employed in industrial production in 1990/1. The value of industrial goods exported was $ 697 million.


Bill Latona, A New World Order, Minerva, 2000, pp 157-9.


More accurately, as Marshall Sahlins has explained at length, we lived then in the original affluent society—affluent because all our wants were easily satisfied. Wants can be satisfied in two ways: by producing much or by desiring little. Nowadays we have great difficulty in understanding those times because our wants have become excessive, even insatiable, while our means to satisfy them have remained limited. The resultant 'economic' problem—as we now call it—is a typically modern Western one. Its origins contrast sharply with ancient approaches such as oriental Zen. These alternative approaches propose that since our genuine material needs are few, they can be easily satisfied. If this is true, then any society able to satisfy these needs can enjoy perceived plenty, even on a low material standard of living. If so, as hunter-gatherers we were perhaps affluent after all. . . .

The anthropologist Colin M. Turnbull substantiates this by pointing out that conflicts among contemporary hunter-gatherers are solved by non-violent submission, often accompanied by a simple agreement to part
company rather than allow the argument to cross the threshold of violence.

It must be in mind however that our survival as a species for a million years or more had depended totally on cohesion. A willing acceptance of hierarchy and expectation of loyalty would have been long embedded in our psyche.


P. Rivers, Stolen Future, 1988., 39-41.


THE GLOBAL ECO-VILLAGE NETWORK.

GEN was founded in 1995 to facilitate development of sustainable communities around the world. There are now thousands orf member communities.

"…eco-villages are places where people practise alternatives to the current destructive trends in consumerist society…"
The Italian eco-village Damanhur has 500 members. Some have only 5 members.

In 2000 GEN was given UN consultative status.

GEN has commenced an "Ecovillage Tourism" project, organising visits and stays at ecovillages. (See ecovillagetravels@gen-europe.org, or www.Ecovillage-Travels. Org


Extracts from the GEN White Paper, Summer 2000.



"…market forces do not provide satisfying conditions except to a very small minority of the world’s wealthiest citizens." (Conditions in the Th ird World are very unsatisfactory, and have been steadily declining for 20 years.
"The possibility of achieving an equitable world at the developed world’s current level of resources consumption is a physical impossibility. There are simply not enough resources to go around…current production and consumption patterns are unsustainable. This inequitable and unecological future is inherently unstable; a catastrophe waiting to happen.
"We the citizens of the world need an uplifting common vision…a new dream to succeed our current one which has become a nightmare for far too many…It must replace our collective endless grasping for more material things…This new global vision must be built upon a foundation of equitability and sustainability.

The Global Ecovillage Network is a worldwide grassroots NGO which is already carrying out a strategy for this kind of planetary transformation.

The GEN strategy: "We need living models."

======================

" Village Republics of India -- A Global Lesson in Governance",
AgBioIndia Mailing List27 September 2002.

 

the new village republics of India. Andwhat does a village republic mean? The story says: "In these villages,residents control their natural resources -- forest, land, minerals and water sources. They have also formed effective institutions to manage these resources. They plan, execute and resolve all affairs inside the village.


Government officials and programmes are accepted only when the Gram Sabha (village assembly) approves them. In many such villages, the forest department, the police and other officials are just restricted to executing programmes chalked out in village meetings."


A conservative estimate shows that close to 1,500 villages have declaredthemselves village republics. Everywhere the desire for self-rule comes from the threat to livelihood.


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THE SECOND INDEPENDENCE Down to Earth Aug 31, 2002. By Richard Mahapatra with Prabhanjan Verma, Nidhi Jamwal and Kazimuddin Ahmed.


"My idea of village swaraj is that it is a complete republic... The government of the village will be conducted by a panchayat of five persons annually elected by the adult villagers... this panchayat will be the legislature, judiciary and executive combined... Here there is perfect democracy based on individual freedom."

 

MAHATMA GANDHI,
'Question Box', Harijan, July 26, 1942


Kamyapeta's second independence is, in fact, a realization of Mahatma Gandhi's cherished dream of gram swaraj (village republic). "In these villages, natural resources and their equitable distribution form the core of governance," says Bhagwan Majhi, a leader of Kucheipadar village in Rayagada, which has declared self-rule. Many of these villages have chalked out their development road map. Due to direct intervention of the gram sabha, many villages have evolved innovative solutions to local problems.

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Government; (source not recorded.)


There are a number of historical examples of societies that demonstrate the viability of direct democratic governance, even though they limited suffrage to adult males. These include the Greek city-state of Athens during the reign of Pericles, colonial New England town meetings, and the medieval Italian communes in cities like Florence, Venice, Bologna, Genoa and Milan. Especially noteworthy is the Republic of Raetia, now the Swiss canton of Graubunden. From 1524 until Napoleon forced its unification with Switzerland in 1799, the mountain peasants of Raetia governed themselves in village communes employing techniques of face-to-face democracy, having fought off attempts by kings, nobles, and churchmen to impose the kind of feudal or ecclesiastic controls common elsewhere in Europe. In Raetia, power was so firmly vested in the communes that office-seekers openly tried to buy elections and nobody cared, because everyone knew the offices did nothing important. The Raetians probably invented the referendum and used it often to aggregate the will of the communes and make policy at the national level (thereby demonstrating that local, self-governing communities can work together in larger bodies, even when the fastest means of communication is a horse and rider).

Direct democratic practices thrive in the modern world too, often in forms that are directly relevant to sustainability issues. For example: Annual open town meetings are still the preferred form of government in most New England towns, ranging from about 68 percent of Rhode Island towns to 97 percent of Maine towns. Attendance varies, depending on town size and the urgency of the issues, from 1 percent to 90 percent. Citizen committees, which study issues and present reports to the townspeople, help keep the quality of debate and decision high.

Watershed councils in Oregon and elsewhere in the United States bring together ordinary citizens to deliberate on land-use and salmon preservation issues and to resolve resource management disputes

As the state has sought to reduce costs to capital, company taxation and personal taxation have fallen. Cuts in welfare and other redistributional expenditure such as public health and education have followed directly from reductions in revenue-raising capacity.

(Source not recorded.)


… we can look to some of Italy's medieval mountain towns, whose inhabitants successfully lived together and cultivated the land in the valleys below. Some of these towns are still socially fulfilling and physically self-suffcient to an astounding degree. Most food—meat, vegetables, fruits, wine and cheeses—are locally made and grown; most professionals and tradesmen tend a vegetable garden, a vineyard, and some olive trees on the side; many things are still made by local craftsmen, from furniture and cabinetry to barrels, baskets, windows, tools and doors; much entertainment is local, festivals and theatre largely featuring participants of each little town; and much of the travel is local—to nearby creeks and mountains and the local hot-spring spas.

New towns could be built on old deserted sites, or even on new ones. They should not be the random lifeless suburbs that we have so thoughtlessly created, but self contained vital towns, based on Tapiola, Finland's human-centered town of forest and greenery. It was built with no other purpose than to provide its inhabitants a fulfilling place to work, live, and raise children.


Tapiola's town center has a plaza and a fountain where there was an old quarry. It is the cultural heart of a three village community, holding a theater and concert hall, a library, an art gallery, a youth center, a pool, a gymnsium and a high school.

Its surrounding three villages—within pleasant walking istance—separated from the town and each other by parkland, are reached by peaceful walkways that cars and…
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Neighbourhoods contracting to run local facilities:


The mayor of Indianapolis, Stephen Goldsmith, has publicly embraced the outlines of a radical proposal developed at the Indiana University School of Public Affairs called 'municipal federalism'. It allows for the voluntary establishment of neighbourhood councils to make decisions now made in city hall. Neighbourhoods would have the right to contract with the city to maintain their own parks and sweep their own side streets and sidewalks.


Holiday Park, located in an upper middle class neighbourhood, had degenerated to the point where drug dealers and male prostitutes set up a permanent shop there. Community residents were afraid to go anywhere near the park. Neighbours, fed up with the situation, received perrnission to take over the park and proceeded to raise $300,000 in private donations for new equipment, a security guard and better upkeep. The former drug-infested park is now filled with picnicking families on weekends.

N. Albery and M. Mezey, Reinventing Society, 1994.

When we were first married, Candace and I built a small house with our own hands. It was cedar inside and out, decks, skylights, oak floors, fireplace; all the comforts of home. Its size was humble, 500 square feet, but it had a living room, dining room, den, fully equipped kitchen, an airy loft-bedroom and of course a bath. It was as cozy a place as you could want. We built it in three months and it could have been even less had we not made the design so complex, hauled the material with a beat-up Porsche, and built in the dead of winter. Nevertheless, three months sufficed—with no previous experience~ and it turned out nice enough to be written up in magazines and cost a grand total of—appliances induded— $3000. Now granted this was twenty years ago, so let's double that for inflation to $6000; triple its size to give us room to swing the cat, $18,000; throw in a bit for extras and ease of figuring—and make it $20,000 even. And, to build the bigger house at a calm, leisurely pace, let us quadruple the time required to a year.


Now, compare this home-made house and the one you bought for $600,000. Simply subtracting $20,000 from $600,000 will give us a difference of $580,000. As for time, a $20,000 mortgage paid back at a similar monthly rate would be paid off in less than a year. Combine this with the year it took to build, and you have a difference of twenty-eight years. Now, no matter how forgiving a Christian you are, you will have to admit that you have been gypped out of an enormous pile of money, and that someone has picked your pocket of the best third of your life.


A quotation from The Simple Home written by an American, Charles Keeler, in 1904:Home making is one of the sacred tasks of life, for the home is the family temple . . . The building of the home should be an event of profound importance. It should be with men as it is with birds, the culminating event after courtship and marriage, upon which all the loving thought and energy of the bridal pair is bestowed.


Keeler goes on to describe the generation of the sort of 'home' that most Americans apparently did live in his day:
In the effort to change our lifestyles for the better the quality of the home we live in is more important than anything else. If we live in boring and unsatisfying dwellings ('all made out of ticky-tacky' as the song has it) we will not be contented, no matter how much money we have. We will be constantly trying to divert ourselves with this or that new gadget, electronic or otherwise; we will always be giving way to the urge to 'jump in the car', or 'hop on a 'plane'- to rush off somewhere hoping to find that which we cannot find at home. Such anodynes do not make us happy. They can never be more than substitutes for the real thing we lack: a good, beautiful and loving home. A home in which we can revive the lost art of hospitality, a home where true culture, real conviviality, real fun, solid comfort and, above all, real civilization, can be had.
My belief is that much of the restlessness of contemporary humankind - the endless searching for we know not what which is so corrosive to our planet - stems from the fact that we do not have satisfying homes. And homes cannot be made in factories, nor by computers or machines: they must be - like communion wine - 'the work of human hands'. The most creative thing that anybody can do in this world is to make a home. I have heard a woman say: 'I am only a housewife!' Only a housewife! If she had said: 'I am only Prime Minister,' I would have commiserated with her. As it was she had the most creative and certainly the most important job on Earth.

No doubt the home-maker is more important than the house. I have seen real homes created in the most boring of council houses, or even in shacks. Just after the Second World War I spent several days as a guest in one of the 'native' shanty towns that had grown up, illegally, to the west of Johannesburg in South Africa. The 'house' I stayed in had been built out of flattened petrol cans. The narrow alleys to the front and the back of it were filthy, the sanitary arrangements were appalling, the building was bloody cold at night and roasting hot in the day; but it was a real home. The walls inside were hung all over with bright coloured cloths, and with pictures, mostly cut out of magazines, the furniture, knocked up from old packing cases, was adequate, lively children ran in and out, and if there were not enough chairs for them there were always enough adult laps, people were constantly dropping in, and talking and laughing, and singing, and playing tunes on a mouth organ, and arguing, and smiling. You do not need a mansion to create a home.
Remarkable that we gratefully slave away at mostly numbing, demeaning jobs for thirty years, paying off some thrown-together shack that any two of us could have built much better in six months, doing enjoyable, commonsense work like measuring, cutting, and banging in some nails.
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Remodeling our sprawling suburbs will be almost painless. Having half of the land paved for the car is an insult to humanity. And the omnipresence of cars dashing down grids of streets precludes relaxed human contact. So why not eliminate traffic from all main streets and let them use the side streets only? We can then convert every block into a hamlet. In front of our homes we can tear up the pavement and plant a village green, dig a pond, have wheat fields, woods and orchards; places where our children can safely roam, neighbours gather, chickens peck. Our driveways and garages would no longer be needed. Half of the one-way side streets would be for communal parking, so the garages could become greenhouses, or Mom and Pop butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Our driveways will be barnyards. Then as we walk to and from our cars through our village every day, we could get to meet our neighbours, become friends, become civilized social communities again.

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"The Australian Community Gardens Network's excellent website (www.magna.com.au/~pacedge/gardens)


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SOURCES ON ALTERNATIVES:

YES; A JOURNAL OF POSITIVE FUTURES, , P.O. Box 10818 Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.