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Podcast 042 - Intentional community part 2

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Credit: Kevin Murphy

Paul visited a few of other people's podcasts about permaculture and was impressed with how professional they were. Paul liked Carol Steinfelds podcast in particular regarding composting toilets.

Jocelyn mentions that Paul's podcasts are more conversational. Paul discusses how his podcasts are going out daily and videos every other day and how there is not enough time in a day. Paul knows the three ethics but the 12 principles are not something he has memorized. Paul started doing podcasts because a bunch of people(about 25), begged him to do it. Now Paul wants to share what is in his head with other people. Paul feels that if he can get the information out then other people will take it and run with it. Paul believes that for as much he knows there is tons that he does not know. Jocelyn discusses how permaculture is a solution based system. There was five or so core ideas that Paul started with. Now that list has grown. Jocelyn does not foresee and end to Paul searching for more knowledge and understanding.

The topic of today's podcast is on community. Paul reviews the list of items related to community. Some people made suggestions to Paul about many of the things he does such as less background noise in the podcasts but Jocelyn and Paul agree that staging this would be less natural. Paul likes the idea of function stacking. Keeping things simple keeps costs lower and it is more natural to Paul and Jocelyn.

There are about 1000 people downloading the podcast at this time. Paul mentions a community in Italy where 900 people live. Each house holds 20 people. Everyone's day is scheduled and you get 8 hours sleep. This is a community of Artists called Dolimar. Paul thinks that if artists can get along most other people should get along. This community includes meditation time as part of the schedule. Paul mentions that in smaller numbers there are always problems. With 20 people there are 190 relationships. This community does not use consensus. This community elects a head of household. You can select a different household if you do not like the people you are around. There is also a spiritual component to this community. Jocelyn discusses how relationships impact a community.

Paul mentions his hybrid document which he posted at rich soil.com. This document explains how consensus is useful at Java ranch. Paul wrote this back in 2004. If a consensus can not be reached then the tyrant dictator (Paul) steps in to resolve the problem. Paul learned that the sooner he steps in when things get heated the better. Paul believes this is a pretty good model even though it is an online community only. Jocelyn mentions John Gottman's work and how he can identify successful marriages just by the way the couples talk to each other.

Jocelyn explains how Paul stepping in is very good at Java Ranch. Jocelyn has two farms that she wants to use as examples. Paul does think that the tyrant hybrid is the best model. This is a fiefdom type model. Lost Valley is moving away from a consensus model. Paul brings up Alpha farm. They are located in Oregon. Paul paid them a visit and spent a few hours there. This community has existed for about thirty years. Paul asked many questions about their consensus model. Everyone there has to work. Paul asked how consensus works. The question is discussed amongst everyone. But they all wait and do whatever the head woman says. They trust and respect her decision based on trust. Paul visited with Diana and discussed this. Diana said that if Paul met this woman she is very regal and well spoken. Diana challenged Paul to try and argue with this woman and how he will not be able to do it.

Next Paul mentions Packtree up in Washington. This is a community managed by consensus. The land is made up of multiple tracts. Paul explains how there are eight people living on this land. Each person has one aspect they focus on. There is one person coordinating the efforts of the community and most people do what he says. The farm thrived under this model. A person would be in charge of bees another in charge of chickens, etc. After some time a woman decided that she did not want to do what the one guy wanted. When they could not reach a consensus then everyone left the farm. Paul was amazed how what an impact one person can have. The people packed up and left. When they went to the next place they did not do the community thing because they felt burned. Paul feels that the consensus model is based on people being noble and not everyone looks at things that way. Paul feels that by having a fiefdom you can prevent one person driving away the rest. Paul's model would use turnover as a guide to how good a farm might behave.

Jocelyn plays devils advocate and questions how you would get rid of a person. Jocelyn mentions the shared food household. Paul helped them build a hugelkultur system. Paul experimented with this community. There was a simple one page document with some simple rules. As a founder you really need to think things out. In this community all food was shared and you had to sign up to cook two meals. They only bought organic. Food bill was even steven and a person of smaller stature might get the short end of the stick if Paul was in the house. A situation arose that a person bought soy milk and no one else drank that and how they handled that situation by weighing the cost of the soy milk versus what everyone else liked to drink. Paul's monthly bill came to $108 per person per month. Paul discusses the meals and how buying in large quantities helped lower the costs. Jocelyn was amazed at this cost because she spends a great deal more with teenagers and people with food allergies. Paul's utility bill was only $20 per person per month. The house was kept cool. Paul felt that some of the meals were delicious but his cooking was pretty plain. He did love using his cast iron skillet, however. This system worked well for about four months but then it ended. Paul recalls buying fifty pound sacks of organic rice for $15. The meals were very cheap and very healthy. Why eat out when what you have at home is organic and affordable. Paul continuously tried experiments. A fair bit of food was grown on the site. Paul recalls a woman who loved cooking and loved visiting neighbors. The neighbors would give her tons of things like cherries so she would make all sorts of cherry dishes . This also contributed to lowering the food bill. Paul enjoyed living in this house. The rent and food was half as much as if Paul tried to live on his own. Paul recalls playing scrabble on many a night and how having live music in the house was pretty amazing too. Paul started a thread at the intentional community forum at Permies.com. Paul's thread is about who wants to live with him where he is the person in charge. Jocelyn thinks about putting something humorous on the thread. Paul explains how it has been viewed 800 times and how about 8 people are ready to come live under Paul's fiefdom.

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