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Small community looking for intentional neighbors!!!

randall gabriel

Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 10
My partner and I and 2 other couples are looking for opportunities to pursue like finding land to share creatively. We are currently renting 26 acres in Indiana to practice sustainable lifestyles and learn form mentors here. It has been great and extremely productive but we are looking to settle somewhere and be rooted. We are looking to remove ourselves from the enslaving systems in America and find creative ways to counter them. We are all passionately pursuing sustainable practices such as self relient communities of people because we realize that even with 6 people we can not be TOTALLY sustainable with out help from others. We hope to find land, build houses out of cob and such, create our own energy and supply our daily consumed resources. There are some obstacles though, most of us have student loans... So basically we are looking for someone who owns alot of land and would like to share with us and be shared with! There are alot of options others have tried to accomplish this. We could do a rent to own on little parcels of land or create a LLC or a 501 C3 or any idea anyone might have! We are looking to move to Arkansas, Tennesse, Kentucky or Missouri area and would love hear about any opportunities anyone knows about for this area! Or any questions in general so please post or PM me if you are looking for something similar or know someone who is!


Deb Stephens

Joined: Dec 03, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: SW Missouri
Hi Randall,

I have stated previously that I am interested in some sort of intentional community, but...

Among the many things I can think of in response to this inquiry, I would want to know (as I am sure others interested in communal living would also) what you and your friends would be contributing to the community, and what you would expect in return. It might be helpful if you took some time to state your goals and aspirations as well as offering some credentials and background information. You do not have a lot of posts on this website, so it is hard to know what skills or education, experience, etc. you might offer. You might think of this as a kind of first date -- where everyone gets to know everyone before making a commitment. It would also be useful if your partner and friends joined you in replying.
randall gabriel

Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 10
Touche' Ha ya I would want to know the same... Well I spoke for the group in broad terms mostly because the ways and to what degree vary from person to person on how to live a self sustaining life. For me I would like to remove myself from the broken ecomonic and goverment systems COMPLETELY! The ways I can imagine today is to either make or trade all good I might need or do with out. Ways in which I am pursuing this is by learning everything about everything that I can. I hope to facilitate a forest garden intigrated with animals to sustain my diet. I hope to build my own house for little or no money out of available resources like for example cob, timber and thatch. I hope to either make hydroelectric energy or do without. I hope to have a supportive community of people to share life with. Over all do everything within my power to live at peace with the earth and everyone in it! I have pursued the knowledge to do so through formal and informal training and reading everything I can that has the possibility of helping along the way. I have had formal training in natural medicines, cob, permaculture gardening, food preservation, primitive skills of all sorts and rocket stoves. My favorite books in order of improtance to me is Edible Forest Gardens, sepp holzers Permaculture, all of Fukuoka's books, Gias Garden and THE Permaculture Design Manual. I have not taken a PDC course YET... I am in the process/ waiting till the course I want happens this year (it was canceled last...) and I am to picky to just take a random one... I hope to then take the advanced course and teach one day! I spent 6 months in a small village in Mozambique Africa at http://kujilana.org/mgk-resources a localy owned and operated resource center. I built alot of loraina/rocket stoves, a bread oven and a house out of cob for a neighboring chief who lost his in the previous rainy season. I tended to all of thier animals at one time or another including rabbits, turkeys, chickens, goats, sheep, ducks, guineas, and dairy. We set up many humanure systems and had a large garden mostly propigating medicinal plants but alot of produce too! I did alot of other stuff to and it was an overall fromative experiance! I am currently working a garden with my friends and sell at the local farmers market. I am also working or worked with a local orchard, a metal sculpter and I make barnwood furniture and such and sell it out of a window front in town. We have a goat for milk and chickens because thats all the land lord would allow... I hunt with a bow I made and that pretty much sums up what I've been up to and hope to do. I want all of this for my life and know I can't do it alone so here lays my predicament on how to make all this actually happen... Well let me know if I can expand on anything and I will get my friends to write as well!
Deb Stephens

Joined: Dec 03, 2011
Posts: 254
Location: SW Missouri
This will be long (I apologize in advance) but I have several thoughts about all this (your quotes are in bold here)...

My partner and I and 2 other couples...
Who are you and your partner? (And the 2 other couples.) Names, ages, brief bio (where you got your education, what fields of study and what degrees if any; work experience) basically a resume, please. You are asking to be considered for something that is without doubt a job -- even if you may like to think of it as some sort of idealized lifestyle, trust me, you won't be living in Eden. You won't need to give this stuff here on the forum, obviously, but if you expect to have someone take you aboard in some capacity, these are details you should be prepared to give. (You will want similar info from them as well.)

...learn form mentors here.
You may want to give a brief description of these mentors and what their precise role has been. Also did you pay them, or what sort of arrangement did you have with them? It might be instructive to see what others have worked out along these lines.

We are looking to remove ourselves from the enslaving systems in America and find creative ways to counter them.
This is quite ambiguous, and pardon me but, it sounds a bit trite as well. All systems -- American or otherwise -- are not enslaving. Be specific about what you want to opt out of. You can't opt out of everything, and until you have a clear picture of exactly what you are opposing, you will not be very successful at replacing it with anything of lasting value.

We are all passionately pursuing sustainable practices such as self relient communities of people because we realize that even with 6 people we can not be TOTALLY sustainable with out help from others.
Have you asked yourselves why can you not be totally sustainable without more people? Perhaps you should reassess your idea of sustainability. It really depends upon what your goals are. I think it would be quite possible to be completely self-reliant alone if your needs were simple and basic.

We hope to find land, build houses out of cob and such, create our own energy and supply our daily consumed resources. There are some obstacles though, most of us have student loans... So basically we are looking for someone who owns alot of land and would like to share with us and be shared with!
Please don't feel insulted by this, but I think you should carefully consider a couple of hard truths here. You are not going to "find" land to do all these things on. You are asking someone to "give" it to you. You are hoping to find someone who already did what you cannot or will not do -- BUY a piece of land to work and live on and then allow you to come in and start doing the "fun" and creative part without having spent a dime or suffered a day to create the initial infrastructure of the homestead.

I do understand that poverty can preclude or postpone enjoyment of a lot of things. We would all like to have enough of the green stuff to buy a solar array or windmill, etc. and hire a contractor to come in and build our green dream home for us so we could move in and start raising our herbs and veggies and living the free life pursuing art and music and walks in the woods all day, but...

If I may be forgiven a not-so-brief divergence to share some personal history, I will try to convey a sense of what I am getting at here...

I was already 35 when we managed to find the place we have now. My husband and I thought we were so old and had waited way so long to find our homestead that we would have no time left to enjoy it by the time we got things together. Before that, we did everything we could to find an easy way to get all the stuff we wanted at once so we could start “living the life”. (Honestly, I think we worked harder at not having to work than we ever do at real work.) Then one day it sort of hit us. We really were going to get old and die before we realized our dream if we didn't get up off our asses and start building it ourselves.

This was so-called "unimproved" land when we bought it. (We were lucky to find someone willing to take a relatively low down payment and finance it for us.) There was absolutely nothing here to start with -- no water, electricity, well, home site or anything else people pay extra for and think they have to have. We literally unloaded the U-Haul trailer into a clearing and set up camp.

We worked hard (and believe me, we had NO money to make it easier -- plus we each had substantial student loan debt to repay). We lived in a tent for 4 months during a very cold winter in which we bathed in water from buckets (from which we had to break the ice off before using), then managed to upgrade to a 7' x 30' vintage (as in old and falling apart) motor home for 7 long years. It had no water, sanitary facilities or electricity and we could fit almost nothing but a couple of chairs and a bed inside without bumping into one another constantly, but at least it was warmer. All our other possessions (stacked on pallets and covered with tarps in that clearing) finally had to be thrown away after years of mice and condensation rendered them unusable. (It is amazing though how little of all that was actually needed or missed.)

We carried all our water from the creek a 1/4 mile away for bathing, laundry, dish-washing and drinking. It wasn't until we had been here 12 years that we finally managed to save enough cash to pay a well driller to come out and drill our 450' deep well. Even then, we set all the pipe for that well ourselves using nothing but our collective 4 hands, a rancher's helper and a tripod with a pulley. (We were actually pretty impressed with ourselves after that.) We installed a hand pump to get it to the surface, so even with the well, there was considerable work involved bring water from a static level of almost 200' to the surface by hand.

We spent an entire summer tearing down three houses in the way of a highway expansion project in a nearby town to salvage all the wood, doors and windows for our house. (Even so this house is a temporary structure to be turned into a studio and storage area when we finish the hybrid tire, strawbale and earth bermed house we ultimately want to spend the rest of our lives in.) It has no running water and only minimal electricity. We did manage to finally buy a solar pump for the well, however, so at least now we have running water via a garden hose for watering our garden and bringing it to our animals.

We still salvage for windows at every opportunity to build the large greenhouse in our future plans, and we now have enough to build a structure of enormous proportions. (Hopefully, next year's BIG project.)

We have lived here 20 years this September. We have 3 large, productive gardens; 5 fenced and cross-fenced acres for our various animals; chicken house and goat barn; a good well; electricity on site (slowly being converted to solar as we raise the cash -- with the ultimate goal of being off-grid in 2 more years); 50 acres of restored glades; 25 acres of restored woodland; and good roads and trails into and across the property. We still are nowhere near being done and somehow I think it will never be completely finished. (I would be sad to say there was nothing left to do because it would be like saying life was done too.)

Anyway, this long diatribe was meant to make the point that in addition to an initial outlay of money to purchase a place, there is a lot of hard work involved in building a homestead. Those of us who chose this lifestyle did the time and paid the dues to get this far.

I am not being rude or sarcastic when I say this. What benefit would there be to any of us to allow someone else to come in and enjoy the fruits of all our years of labor? What makes you think that your merely wanting to live in harmony with everyone, or having a few skills that may prove useful around a homestead will be an equitable trade for the years and sweat equity those of us who already have land and homesteads put in to get where we are?

These are questions you and your friends really need to ask yourselves. For one thing, your skills -- however useful -- will, in most cases, be redundant to someone who already has a homestead. Most of us have already read the books you mention -- and more, probably, if we have been homesteading for any length of time. We have mostly all built houses, ovens and stoves or drilled wells, done blacksmithing, cooked over campfires and on woodstoves, washed in creeks, herded goats, raised chickens, gardened and preserved our harvests, etc. In short, what can you and your friends expect to contribute that will be a reasonable exchange for getting to opt out of all those intense years of developing the homestead you want to move on to? You should be prepared to answer that BIG question.

You also said For me I would like to remove myself from the broken ecomonic and goverment systems COMPLETELY! The ways I can imagine today is to either make or trade all good I might need or do with out.

This is an extremely generic and easy thing to say – like "All I want is world peace." The problem is that it requires real-life solutions and you need to have a good idea what you would like those solutions to be and how you would go about making them happen. This is something you need to have firmly set in your mind or you will have trouble achieving the desired result. Idealism is only really useful when you are clear about what it takes to realize it.

A couple of other, minor points...

You mention a few hopes... I hope to facilitate a forest garden intigrated with animals to sustain my diet. I hope to build my own house for little or no money out of available resources like for example cob, timber and thatch. I hope to either make hydroelectric energy or do without.

These are things you would need to be very specific about if you want to involve yourself in a communal life with people who own the land you "hope" to do these things on. For example, many of us (myself included) are quite environmentally minded and would not consider putting domestic livestock in our forests to upset the natural ecology there. Neither would those of us who are vegetarians (for 30 years in our case) raise animals to help "sustain [our] diet". (Hunting may be problematic as well.) Power supplies and home styles would also need to be compatible with the current owner's plans.

Another point to consider is that your choice of home will depend heavily upon the sort of resources available where you end up. You would do well to keep an open mind on that score. Here in the Ozarks (where you have indicated a desire to live) we don't have dirt. That includes clay -- except in some localized areas. Earth-bermed or cob structures are not impossible, but probably not the best materials if you want to avoid buying them elsewhere and trucking them in. You would be better off with timber and rocks as your main materials. Don't plan to dig anywhere – unless you are lucky enough to find bottom land somewhere, the soil is going to be only about 2' deep and then you will hit rock.

Your hope for a hydroelectric power source will depend upon finding land with a good supply of year round running water. This is a karst landscape, so we have a lot of water, but it tends to disappear underground just when you need it most. It is not impossible to find a good year round creek or spring, but it will cost a lot more than land that does not contain such a gem, so you may want to consider solar power in your backup plans.

The fact is that to live the life you choose with the greatest degree of freedom, you really need to own your own land -- not move in with established homesteaders. You may luck out and find someone compatible in every way, but for that to happen, you will need to be very specific about what you want and what you can bring to the arrangement that will allow it to move beyond what the current owners are already able to do for themselves. If you and your friends are compatible, you would probably be much better off to find a way to purchase a place together and make your own way as most of us have done.

One last question... I went to the link you provided. It looks like a great project, but I noticed that the backers of the project were all Christian churches. Were you or your friends missionaries there or is that coincidence? I only ask because religious differences may be another thing of major importance to consider in looking for a compatible community.

Well, I really did not mean to write a book here, but I did want to help and I really felt you may have overlooked a few things in your enthusiasm. I do wish you good luck in finding what you are looking for. Your goals seem good as far as they go, but in my opinion, (and it is only my opinion, of course) you would do well to define them a bit more.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 6029
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
Deb - wow, that was an amazing reply. I daresay it wasn't exactly what the original poster was expecting, but it was full of stuff to think about which will be of use to anyone in a similar situation. Thanks for going the trouble to write it all out for us.

Randall - not many other replies here yet, but I understand that the member Frieda Reid is anxious to contact you.

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Frieda Reid

Joined: Jan 26, 2012
Posts: 4
Greetings! Please contact me at jeancoyote@yahoo.com or call me 402 706 8150. Would like to invite you to a NW Missouri intentional community. Thanks Frieda
Frieda Reid

Joined: Jan 26, 2012
Posts: 4
Randall, Thanks for your response and the PM. I do not see that my PM was delivered in response to yours, and it was long. Sorry, I know you said to be brief. I may be inept at maneuvering around this site. Anyway, rather than type it again, let me just say, please have a computer handy when you call on Sunday or Wednesday and I will go through a slideshow with you, that can be downloaded. It will give you a view of the land. I Believe your ideas and goals can be achieved, amiably. Thanks so much. Frieda
randall gabriel

Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 10
ya i have a problem sometimes when posting if you ctrl+C your post besfore submitting you can paste it in a new one if the one you where trying to send doesnt work. it sort of a fail safe but thaks for your efforts!
mike wood

Joined: Jan 29, 2012
Posts: 15
If you want outside the american aspect a little more literally. Canada is just up here past Maine. East coast is fantastic, even inland.

An intentional community that, besides geographical considerations, may tickle your interest.

As well Falls Brook is this fantastic place just a walk down the country lane. Dirt roads make good neighbors.

Falls Brook Centre is a sustainable community demonstration and training centre in rural New Brunswick. Through local, national and international community development and resource stewardship work, we encourage and support initiatives that are working towards a society that respects ecosystems, honours diverse cultures and provides an economy in balance with communities and nature.
randall gabriel

Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 10
Those seem like really neat places we have thought about out of the country quite a bit but for family reasons we have decided to stay close to home thats why we are looking for places in between the ozarks and the appellations. and I am originally from texas and im haveing a hard time with indiana winters... ha so im not sure how canada would have worked out anyway... maybe mexico! well thanks for the info im going to contact the South Knowlesville Community Land Trust to see how they set up the land trust because im really intrested in that sort of thing!

randall gabriel

Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 10
Sorry everyone for not going into to much detail on here. I have little trust and value for this method of communication but I think it is a great tool to find people and then converse using other methods like Frieda Reid did on this forum. So thanks and thought that little disclaimer might be helpfull to some!
randall gabriel

Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 10
Does anyone know a good resource on finding land trust in a givin area?
Varina Lakewood

Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
Pretty sure your best bet is to buy land, find out what you need to do to get an easement on it, and do that. It worked for a community I know, though they are into organic gardening, not sustainable living, per se. (And no, they would not be interested.)
randall gabriel

Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 10
what do you mean by easement?
Jonathan Overlin

Joined: Jul 31, 2011
Posts: 23
Hello Randall!

While our climate may be no better than Indiana's, we may have what you are looking for. We have 78 acres of land 20 minutes east of Des Moines (the capitol) Iowa. We are looking for folks to come out and help us build a permaculture farm and intentional community. You can see more here- http://thevillage.gaiacenter.org/

Feel free to contact us at - contactus@gaiacenter.org

subject: Small community looking for intentional neighbors!!!