If you have land and want community?

What advice do you have for those who own a home and land in the country, and want community but aren’t eager to move and aren’t sure we’d succeed at starting a community? We own 17 acres with our home and a cabin in southern Indiana, and there seem to be a number of listings on the communities directory in a similar situation; just a family wanting to start something on their land.

I’m sure ownership issues are part of it; not many people want to put in work building up homes on someone else’s land that they don’t have rights to. Would putting the land in some kind of land trust be the solution?

Finding the right people is also a challenge, there aren’t that many community seekers anyway and there are so many things you’d like to have in common with those you start a community with. Also people that think outside the box enough to do this are less likely to fit into the common cultural categories.


Yes, kind of a chicken/egg situation. I wonder about the best way of going about it, too. Aside from starting with the local community, I was thinking long the lines of finding ways to attract people to a piece of property - like offering space to writers or artists to work on a temporary basis. That way common areas could be developed, and independent space could be established.

I haven’t bought any property yet, I’m still in conceptual mode :slight_smile: but I’m wondering how the seed germinates, too.


Hey Folks, I’ve got quite a bit of experience with this at this point. Feel free to reach out to set a time to chat, too much to write about :slight_smile:


Recently, I started the course on legal entity with Clifford Pauli after hearing him in interview with Rebecca.

That seemed very helpful way to resolve the problem of owning land together.

I find that it removed obstacles that were not removed by reading Diana Leafe Christian: Creating A Life Together

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Hi @DoeValley , letting you know that I just added the tags “property”, “resources”, and “founder” to your topic! We’re trying to keep this forum pretty organized, so if you can add relevant tags to your future topics, we’d appreciate that participation. You can learn more about adding tags in our Getting Started document!


I thought the following link might be helpful for fellow communitarians. I got bored & happened upon it.

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I just listened to that interview again and took lots of notes. I have been thinking for the past few weeks about this concept and I was very relieved to hear this episode. So the class has been very helpful, hmm. I wish I could sign up but it is already in session :pensive: Is there a book or anything out there? Not sure I can wait until September for the next class​:nerd_face:

Hi Cecile! I’d love to connect but don’t have DM privileges yet. If you could email me at jonathan.dean@compass.com that would be great. Looking forward to chatting!

Hey DoeValley! I’d love to connect! I am the community designer for a large online community that is always looking for unique spaces around the world to call home. Please send me an email at jonathan.dean@compass.com and we can connect! :slight_smile:

Hi. I’d love to talk if you are open.

I have some thoughts on the issue of who to invite to a community. If you are trying to form a subset of people, I’d make sure they at least aspire to skillful disagreement. That will limit the number of people you can attract by 90% I’d guess. A different approach is to limit the intimacy in your community – just have good neighbors who cooperate around what they need to with agreements and physical structures (e.g., privacy and public). I have a lot of experience in psychology and living in cohousing. If you are interested in those thoughts, you can go here: https://oneplanetthriving.com/2015/05/social-technologies/

I’m always happy to talk about this stuff more. The above link has articles on top lessons I’ve learned living in a community, who to invite, thoughts about skillful disagreement, a review of Ostrom’s 8 principles for effectively managing a commons, a summary of Bill Mollison’s permaculture manual chapter on social technology, etc.

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Thank you DoeValley for the question, we are in a similar situation in South Africa. dmac22, thank you for a bunch of useful resources on your linked page. We’ve had a year’s delay to handover of the land title (and at this point hoping it will even happen) so our process of establishing a community is much delayed - it did not even feel possible to start inviting people to show interest since we could not offer certainty.
However the idea of inviting in artists to come and spend time here, to start creating some community foundations and frankly infuse the space with some fresh creativity seems a great one. Could be other kinds of volunteers/contributors, too. Whether or not they may have any long term intentions. Thanks all!

Hi, we’ve kind of been in that same situation. I have no advice for you but I would like to follow along and see what we can pull out of this conversation too.

Oh actually, we were looking into land leases to solve the “ownership” thing. The hard bit is convincing people that a land lease is basically the same thing as owning. We have land (no house) in the Mid Hudson Valley, NY. We want probably no more than 5 families living here together, each in our own houses. So far we have found one friend who is building something like a hobbit house and started the land lease process with, and we build a small barn for the RV we use to live in.

Finding people is really tough, I wasn’t sure if it was because we’re in New York… There are a lot of community conversations but not much “action”. While a lot want to live in community, we haven’t found many doers.

Well I have contemplated this many times. I really feel the the land issue is important yes. To get around that the land owner must also be in charge. The most important is that his ownership of the land and equity is secure enough to want to take the next steps. Land owner’s must also know that with out the land its all just talk. So to have land security is #1. and you need to proove this to potential investors. You may also sell shares but hey if someone is building on your lot and it is small its easy for them to pick it up and leave if that becomes an issue. The next thing to consider is that those willing to jump in must also have a clear way of showing who they are and where they stand. Finding like minded is not like its going to work but it is a start. To understand ones past brings a lot of who they are too. Now a land owner can offer options to make his land look appealing by well, if its empty land than to have a layout and a shop avaiiable because from there you can now do. If building on the land is what is wanted than having the layout ready protects the others that want to get involved. I suggest a biophilic design. Also when it comes to making small houses that work.,( Call me for that if you wish) if that is implimented the offer looks even better to a potential buyer. So marketing now is also important. If there is a well known person in the area that has his head in wanting to help you with the same mind like , than approach him and ask if he will give his name to your project. Find others who are like minded in your immediate area too. I know most of you guys hanging out in the feilds out there never talk to strangers but. you better get used to it. Working on finding like minded people today comes in many forms. But always look for a back ground check and if your not sure than don’t do it.

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The challenge here is that people statistically are less likely to work as hard if they don’t perceive themselves as owning something. Its not that rentors won’t work, its that they won’t work as hard in many situations. Obviously there are exceptions, but this generally is the case. This is one of the reasons my husband and I won’t buy land ourselves for a community, we’ll either buy with other founders as an LLC, in which we each own our house, but we collectively own the land, or we’ll join a community like that that already exists.

In my ideal community, everyone who owns their house, mobile home, tinyhous, etc. has an equal share in the holding of the land in the form of an LLC. They can sell their house as long as its to someone the community agrees is a viable fit who wants to do community with us. I think though I’d also like to have some rentors because not everyone can afford to buy and maybe we could have a situation where if someone has rented long enough then they own theirhome/unit/whatever and thus have earned over the course of time a share of the LLC.


HI Doe Valley,

I’m just wondering if you have thought about doing a community land trust? You put the land in a trust and then the people you invite to live there build their own small homes. They own the homes but not the land. Of course you would have to be compensated for the value of the land, which would no longer belong to you and have some agreements in place for what to do when a person or family wishes to sell their unit and move on. Land trusts are really growing in California as a way to make housing more affordable and it also solves the problem of no one wanting to work so hard if they don’t have a stake in the community.


Re. landtrusts, I recently learnt that there are a few different kinds, community landtrust is one kind, and it involves people outside of the intentional community who live in the area having some say on the board of what happens. And then there’s a private landtrust in which only the members of the intentional community have a say of what happenss. And then there’s a third type which involves putting a portion of the land aside as protected area, I’m trying to remember what that’s called, I think ecological landtrust?

I think if I went for a landtrust it would be a private landtrust.

After finding out how hard it would be for my husband and I to buy land collaboratively with others my tune is changing a little bit. We will need to use first-time homebuyer grants and programs to be able to afford to buy anything. These things cannot usually be combined with other people to buy land collaboratively, which is why whatever we do we will have to join someone else’s project instead of being cofounders in a group. This makes us quite sad, but we’re coming to accept the reality of it.

So what does this mean? It means that we’ll have to join up on “someone else’s” land, buying in rather than starting anything new. I do maintain that people work harder if they feel an “ownership” of the space, which can be done even if one person bought the land to begin with like the original poster has, the land can be set up to where everyone owns it collectively but owns their own house, etc.

Just writing to say the idea of someone already having land has become infinitely more appealing to me in the last month, having attempted to move towards cofounding with friends and running into this sizible barrier. Will we buy into their project later? Yes perhaps, but they’ll need to get land first, and a bit of infastructure, or we’ll buy a modular home in the resident-owned mobile home community. Either way or if another option comes along that is nearby but not in Portland proper, we have our first-time homebuyer appointment in March to see what is possible for us and we’re excited, even though we’re moving forward at a snail’s pace and I wish we could move faster.

WE Network has a new site that is for those wanting to start a community called The Ecovillage Engine. They help by offering an infrastructure to get started, including Transition Training and open sourced plans for everything you could ever need. You will get your own listing and group on their site and the site is set up to orientate everyone to their local communities and based upon their trade. They are working towards a long term goal of establishing RBE villages everywhere. Wanderersend.org

Greetings. I saw you posting. and wonder if you have had any replies? I am interested in being part of a community, and particularly, to grow one’s own food., and food for the community, as food production is becoming more and more important.

Perhaps on your acreage - which is a plus if one does not have to purchase land - one could start with purchasing a large custom-made shed ($5K) and then add to it over time.

Does this idea seem of interst to you?

Thank you.

Suzanne (dimension22334@gmail.com)