Where to begin? Building an unconventional community from scratch

Hi everyone,

After what felt like a very rough patch in my life, I have come to see that living an alternative lifestyle is the best way forward for me - alternative even from the viewpoint of many intentional communities. I want to come together with people who share a similar vision. I am just at a loss and don’t know where to start given who and where I am.

I’m in my early thirties. I don’t have relationship ties, children, a career, or a home that I own. So I am both free and vulnerable. It seems like it’s time to build from scratch. I will likely have money coming in from inheritance so I am hoping that investing in a piece of land will become a reality for me in the future.

I have been volunteering and living a nomadic lifestyle for the past couple of years and realised it may be time to build a solid and reliable structure I could call home. I want to channel any resources I have now to building a future in the wild, with others surrounding me. It scares me because I need lots of solitude and independent endeavours for well-being. I wonder how I can combine working with other people on a large project like this as an autonomous, creative hard-core introvert with mild autistic traits…

I have stayed in a few eco-villages and found that they are in many ways similar to the conventional way of life that I find in “normal society” i.e. people have jobs, prefer to do grocery shopping, watch TV, drink socially, have their children attend local schools etc. And whilst I respect people choosing such practices, I want to build a more unique way of life.

To keep this post to the point, here are my core questions and challenges I want to transcend:

  • Are there other international platforms where I can reach out to more people – platforms that are more visited than this wonderful but fairly new IC Forum?
  • Is there information about unconventional communities, for example that embrace a more primitive lifestyle closer to the wilder part of nature, and embrace diversity of personalities, barely participate in monetary aspects of everyday life through investing in self-sufficiency etc.
  • Are there resources that are applicable internationally when starting a project like this?
  • What are important beginner questions I haven’t yet asked?
  • What are some of the best ways to begin for those with experience?

I want to get the conversation going here or/and elsewhere. I recognise within myself the uncertainty and uncomfortable emotions involved with this, but also excitement, inspiration, and a new life to look forward to creating and living.

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Hello there badassfairy,

Ok, now I fill answer your core question, starting from the top:

pertaining to your first core question, there are other platforms that you could try. Permies.com would be one. It it more broadscoped, but I assume it is bigger (as of now) than this forum. And if you want to look at different eco-initiative, Gen (Global ecovillage Network - ecovillage.org) is worth a shot.

I believe I have come across some on the community listing here on IC.org. Maybe make an advanced search, and type in keywords like money, simple, diverse or things like that? My best suggestion as of yet.

That is an interesting question. Except from doing a kickstarter or something, not that I am aware of. If you are talking about resources more generally, I guess many want to share if asked. There are a lot of information, and maybe also on communities and how they use introversion as a boon in their social and communal life.

The questions below are my best suggestion, but they are more self-reflections than ‘questions’ per say. They could be useful in getting more clarity for both yourself and the ones you want to live with.

Did you mean ‘begin searching for’? In any case, the alternative you mentioned includes: different from “normal society”, in the wild, with a stable structure (home) where you have solitude and work together with others.
Maybe you could elaborate on those things. What is it you want that is alternative, more concretely? How is it different from ‘normal’ society?
How wild, which wilderness, is it important? How far away from cities and the like?
What kind of stable structure, what do you need, how do you want to live?
Solitude, how much, when and do you want a romantic partner for example?
And how do you see yourself working together? What do you want to contribute with, what is it that you want to do, believe would be useful to the group to contribute to the fullfilment of this lifestyle?

Kindly,
Leif-Conrad

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There are several intentional community groups on Facebook that are fairly active, and I think here in the US there are communities that may be similar to what you’re looking for.

Edit:

Noticed now you have answered more elaborately on another post, with relations to the reflections.

Thank you taking the time to respond. I appreciate the questions.
I wonder if there are different types of kickstarter and maybe you were referring to a particular kind. Based on my recent research they appear to be focused on smaller projects with a concrete “end” that can be then shared. With building a community there may be no end, not one visibly soon, and so it seems like kickstarter isn’t something I can use to build a community?

But I like the idea of funding, maybe there are funding bodies giving financial assistance. It seems too overwhelming right now because my idea of location is very broad (Central and South America) and coupled with a language barrier and no local person yet can be a hard place to begin from.

It does look like it may be time to sit down and overview the vision, and share it in as many places as possible to gather some kind of back and forth, feedback system, and get the wheel moving. Right now it feels like I am floating in space without gravity or anything to grab on.

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I have long been interested in a more primitive Village going off ALL grids not just electricity that makes slaves of electrons, but all grids that have fear in them anywhere. And “going” means just that. I know it not possible to get there fast, we have a lot to learn. I have been to several Primitive Gathering s and I know we can build on those skills. … No fear means all love. Love of All of Nature, both Inside and out . A Butterfly Village …I can say much more …I now live in Seattle .

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I am elated to read that I am not the only one. While we are in minority, we do exist and have an equally valid dream. I want a lifestyle that allows us to connect with our senses mindfully again, like in the old days. Yet I think there is a spectrum in primitiveness, and I would still like to have solar panels for what might be hard to do without electricity, like reaching out to those in the neighbouring communities or further (until we develop telepathy).

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Thank you for telling me about Solar Panels, I have one myself but having a hard time putting it up as
I live in a trailer park but I also know it is temporary as I head for the hills - seems a part of the journey
to get there…I also drive a car and play CD’s as I like chillout music and play a smattering of instruments
but grew up on drums, do ya know about Norie Huddle’s book called Butterfly? It’s a metaphor of us, in
a crumbling world we gotta find each other to survive, written for children it seems, but most children would
not see the deeper message which is for us. Thanks again for being you! *john

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I’ve been where you are and I determined that I needed to write down my vision, not just to share with other people, but also for my own use.

I came up with this framework:

  1. Who we are, what we do and why (values, mission, vision)
  2. Membership, governance, conflict resolution, ownership
  3. Strategy (long-term planning, no specific timeframe or quality)
  4. Objectives (short-term planning, specific goals and timeframes)
  5. Practices
  6. Policies

I’m at the point now where I’m getting ready to share mine with a wider audience. The first step is to test if other people get the same understanding I had when I wrote it. I think I’m going to need some kind of sparring partner or small group discussion to do that. Then comes the second test, implementation in an actual community. Will it work in a small test community? I’d be happy to be a sounding board for you if you think it will help.

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Some trailer parks allow solar panels to be angled on the roof of the mobile home, some require them to be laid flat on the roof. Check with yours before you install so you don’t have to reinstall to their specs. Of course angled to get the best solar gain is more efficient, but even flat, as long as it is not shaded all day by trees, will produce enough wattage, amps, volts, to be of some use to you. All you need is a charge controller to plug the panel into, and an inverter to convert the direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Even if you don’t hook it up to your main breaker panel, you can plug various AC appliances or tools directly into the inverter to reduce the amount of grid power you are paying for. Go for it!

Try searching for “off grid community/ies” or “homestead community/ies”. You’ll find people blogging or advertising for members all over the world. Then narrow it down to a region where you think you’d like to live and check out a few. :man_farmer:

No, Kickstarter is probably not the right crowdfunding source for building a community. It is mostly for authors and artists, anything copyright or patentable. Try searching for “crowd funding sources” and you’ll find others that may be ideal for your purposes. :man_farmer:

I like your outline. It’s to the point and clear. I might use that overview to structure. I see you are starting a test community in your home, which I suppose is a practical way to get to know people who are interested to start a community with you. I have a different situation in that I want to start a community on the opposite side of the world. That’s why the internet is so pivotal in my case, to find these individuals first here to get to know…

Best of luck to you on your journey!
I might post a more detailed vision of my community here when it is ready.

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I’m glad that you found it to be helpful. Although I plan to start out small, my reach also needs to eventually be world wide. There aren’t too many Christian anarchists anywhere.

I do wonder what you mean by strategy. Can you give an example?
It sounds a bit like values but can’t be since it’s also been addressed.

I’m also curious about Practices. Is this internal culture of the community, such as daily life dynamic? Frequency of sharing meals etc?

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It is true that there is a great deal of confusion about these different terms. Different gurus use them differently. To me, strategy is a high level plan for getting to your goal. It is deciding between mass marketing or direct marketing, deciding who is the target audience, how do we raise funds, practical things like that.

Values are beliefs that guide all your actions, things like integrity, honesty, equality, emotional things like that.

In the case of New Covenant House, our strategy is to share everything in common, follow the teachings of Jesus, love God and one another.

That makes sense. I see it like the big cogs in the community - their operation and what keeps it running and moving forward.

I edited my previous message but you managed to respond before I was finished so didn’t see it. Do you mind having a look?

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Yes, practices are the details of daily life. You may not think you need them, but it is important for prospects to know what to expect and not get surprised by a different reality. Believe it or not, it might have to be detailed as: Do you leave the sponge on the kitchen counter or does it go below? Do you leave the washer door open or do you close it? Daily practices can be major sources of conflict.

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Thanks for clarifying. Yes it can be a source of conflict, and I have often wondered where the line goes between micromanagement/inflexibility and healthy preferences. People have their ways and I suppose a group discussion on daily practices brings awareness and new perspectives for everyone to consider and ultimately hopefully agree on.

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I can relate as I’m also beginning my 30’s and somewhat on the same boat. Where are you located? I currently live in East Tennessee. Seymour to be exact between Sevierville and Knoxville. Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like just to chat and reciprocate ideas for the community we’d like to start.

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Hey, good to hear from you!
I’m currently wrapping up loose ends in Europe, in the life I used to live here…
What kind of community are you interested in? There is so much variety in people’s visions.

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