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onyxhealer [userpic]
by onyxhealer (onyxhealer)
at March 31st, 2006 (08:04 am)
current mood: awake

1) Why did you join this community?
I created this community as a result of the growing realization I was having that the majority of my friends had, if not the same dream, a very similar one to the one that I did... and everyone seemed to be feeling isolated, like they were the only one. I wanted to bring people together to share ideas and stuff like that.
2)What initially sparked your interest in living closer to the land and/or ecologically sustainable communities?
Ever since I was young I've loved nature, being out in it, connecting with it, etc. I've also had an interest in doing right by the environment from a young age... at first this sprang out of common sense but it didn't take long for it to become intertwined with the growing love I felt for the natural world around us. I read an article about Earthships when I was nine (a form of eco-housing involving recycled materials and the sort of technologies like solar power and so forth that enable one to live off the grid) and I thought it was the coolest idea. I never forgot it, even though I never heard or did anything else about it until I was in my early twenties. As far as the community thing goes... well, as I've grown older I've realized what a wonderful thing it is to live close to your friends (many of my friends are far away). I've also realized that it's much easier to accomplish certain goals and dreams when you work with others, as opposed to working alone. Then of course, you also get the joy of being able to work with your friends to help them accomplish their dreams too! Always a plus! :)

3) Describe your ideal community and/or living situation in regards to the interests of this online community. How is it structured? How does it support itself? What do you really love about it, and why is it your ideal? Take some time with this one if you feel like it- it's in some ways the heart of the questionnaire.
Well, we live on this lovely piece of land that is green and healthy and everyone likes. I could be agreeable to lots of different types of eco-housing, depending on what other people want, but I would want something that is as self-sufficient and as in harmony with the environment as possible. Whether this means solar or wind power, creative things to do with water and plumbing, recycled building materials (some of which insulate better than the standard ones do, but that's another story), or... whatever- is less important to me than knowing that we've settled on a workable plan that is good for the environment and for us in every way possible. Honestly, I'd like to incorporate as many of those green building strategies as is feasible- I have a kind of "the more the merrier" sense about it all. On an aesthetic note, I'm particularly partial to hobbit-hole type structures, but that is by no means an absolute either. I'm open to all sorts of stuff, although I would want it to look nice... I like curvy lines in architecture, bubbles and domes and - well - things that look like a natural part of the surroundings, instead of looking like a cubic stacking block that a careless toddler dropped on the ground and forgot about.
We have community structures for the use of all in accordance with what the members of the community want- a place to have rituals, perhaps, and/or a place to relax and have fun... they're maintained in one way or another by everyone, in accordance with their skills and abilities.
How is it structured? Again, I'm open to many different ideas here, but I think it's important that everyone who lives here has a voice in the decisions that affect us all. Ideally, a consensus-based process would be great... but I guess if that can't work we could fall back on mediation and/or democracy. The one thing I wouldn't want is for any one person to "run the show." That tends to end badly for all involved. It seems wise to keep certain things at least partially separate, like finances and property, which is why I like the cluster of houses or apartments idea- that way we all get our own space and our own sense of security, which seems a little more stable in case there are difficulties with any one person, either interpersonal or financial. (Forgive the long sentences, I'm kind of writing this down as I think of it.)
I think part of the way the community could support itself is by some form of agriculture, maybe growing apples or herbs or something like that... I have a personal dream of starting a herbal center someday, a place that taught classes and did consultations and sold herbs... so perhaps that personal dream could tie in well with the community's dream. I know that that's certainly a way I could contribute, in time.
The thing I love about is- well there's just so much! Where can I start? Being near my friends, being able to visit whenever we want while still having our own space... being out in a place where there's lots and lots of trees, having a sense of community, being able to coordinate events far easier than if everyone is so far-flung across the region... and last but of course not least, the knowledge that I'm living in a way that is healthy for the Earth.

4)What would you say your greatest challenges are in terms of obstacles keeping you from achieving this dream? If you joined this community and have achieved your dream, congratulations! Tell instead about what your greatest challenges were, and how you overcame them. (This way you can be an inspiration to the rest of us! ;) )
Like everyone else, my biggest obstacle is probably money - given that I can't drive (at least as things stand now), have some other health issues that impair my ability to work, and only have a high school degree (although I'm thinking of going back to school- more on that in my personal journal)- my income potential is not good at present. I'm working on changing that and we'll see how that pans out, but money is definitely the big thing for me as well.

5) Discuss some issues people face in building such a community that are unique to life in New England. If you can't think of any, or you don't think there are any, just say so and (for the latter at least) say why you feel that way.

It's cold here. Technologies that work for building eco-friendly housing in Arizona (which seems to be where most of said housing in this country is located) just won't work here. We face a lot of building challenges in that it is a normal thing for temperatures to hit twenty below, for us to be buffeted with multiple feet of snow in the winter and high, damp humidity in the summer. We would need to adapt existing techniques to our own climate- because let's face it, something that will keep a house warm during a breezy Arizona winter night might not work for February in New England. The other thing about New England is that the land values are comparatively high here. It's expensive to buy land in this area of the country. I've read about some areas of the country where you can easily buy the average house for $16,000. We all know that unless the house is a fifty-year old trailer with a six-foot-wide hole in the roof, that doesn't happen here. Prices for land are high. I think this is partially reflected in that nearly every person here listed money as their biggest obstacle.