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Author Topic: Libertarian Ecovillage  (Read 16548 times)

andrewpgardner

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Libertarian Ecovillage
« on: April 21, 2006, 08:27:11 pm »

Anyone interested in starting up a libertarian ecovillage in NH?

I’m a “greenish” libertarian in Phoenix, AZ just looking for a good enough excuse to move to New Hampshire.  I’m wondering if there may be others like me out there.

An Ecovillage is basically a planned community designed to both require as little outside resources to sustain itself as possible and build a close knit community among its inhabitants.  The land is owned collectively, but individual housing units are parceled out in a lease that reflects a "condo" type of arrangement.  The community as a group comes to consensus regarding decisions about the use of the land while individual owners have the final say about their individual housing units.

Ok, ok... I know this sounds kind of communist, and to some extent it is, but it isn't anything like, "the good of the majority outweighs the rights of the minority."  The idea of "consensus" decision making is that everyone needs to buy into an idea before any action can be taken on it.  One person can block the decision of the group if they are absolutely uncomfortable with it.  The idea is that for an idea to work, everyone needs some amount of ownership in it.  A, "majority rule," mentality means that the majority could make a final decision regardless of how you feel about it.  Every individual has a veto in the ecovillage on community matters.  The one exception I believe was timely issues that needed a decision pronto (like finances). Needless to say, gaining a consensus may take a VERY long time.

I was checking out a forming ecovillage in Ithaca, NY for a while, but the fact that the group refused to allow guns, even if I never brandished them and kept them trigger locked at all times on the property.  As a non-member, I was not able to block the decision.  Such is the disadvantage of latecomers.  They might not have let me in anyway.  To tell you the truth, I’m probably better off.

The existing members, after a vetting process, decide whether or not to let someone into the community.  This is a good idea for a group that is trying to live together more closely that average neighbors do.  All you need is one jerk to make everyone else’s lives miserable.

The great thing about a group of "greenish" libertarians getting together to do this in the free state is that we can make the rules as libertarian as we want, enshrine them into the village's bylaws, and only a super-majority of those that come after us will have a chance at overturning them.

The advantages of a group of libertarian activists living in close proximity to each other will also encourage our activism.  If our community is large enough we may also dominate a local board or two. ;-)

The community could also rent out spare units to other Free Staters coming to New Hampshire as a source of income… Hey, being green doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good capitalist enterprise when I see one… ;-)

We could also benefit from the Tax Exempt status of the ecovillage.  Ecovillages across the country do this type of stuff all the time.  They always write in a mission that qualifies them for non-profit status.  The two in Ithaca were providing “sustainable living” education.  Ours could be to provide “economic/constitutional education (libertarian)” as well. ;-)

The reason “leases” are used instead of something more like a deed is that the “lease” ensures that the tax exempt ecovillage “owns” the property while the individual is granted an exclusive use of the housing unit transferable only by the individual signing the lease.  The ecovillage can’t annex the unit.  If the individual decides that he/she wants to move on he/she can sell it to whoever they want, though the community will still need to approve the person for membership before they can actually live there.  The original lease would contain language to that effect.  Consider it a “permanent easement” on the property.

The more "greenish" members I'm sure will also enjoy the camaraderie and showing the "greenish" socialists out there that we don't need the government's interference to build "sustainable" communities.  Our community can stand as an example of a free market solution to some of the ecological problems we face.

Thanks,

Andrew P. Gardner, Phoenix, AZ
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Transition_Force

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2006, 08:55:41 pm »

It's an interesting idea.
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RalphBorsodi

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2006, 09:55:41 pm »

Quote
The reason “leases” are used instead of something more like a deed is that the “lease” ensures that the tax exempt ecovillage “owns” the property while the individual is granted an exclusive use of the housing unit transferable only by the individual signing the lease.

This is a standard land trust concept as originally devised by Ralph Borsodi when he started the School for Living in the 1920's.

http://www.schoolofliving.org/history.htm

http://www.schoolofliving.org/landtrust.htm

In the late 30's Ralph became the editor of a publication called "Free America" a populist, agrarian, decentralist magazine which was an early attempt to unite right and left - southern agrarians & catholic distributists - which eventually became one of the major trajectories of the old right, jeffersonian/agrarian conservative movement after the magazine failed in the mid 40's.

I think you will find that there is not much sympathy from anarcho-capitalist for green/left libertarians. I should know - I am one.
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UCCO2004

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2006, 03:02:11 pm »

This actually reminds me of something I was told to believe in during high school, the year before I decided that I was a Libertarian.  We were in an Environmental Science class with a textbook written by a hardcore [and basically statist] environmentalist.  One of the case studies in this textbook was an "integral urban home" built voluntarily by a group of environmentalists, although the home was also subsidized by a non-profit foundation.  We were told that we should consider building ourselves an "integral urban home" because it would reduce or eliminate our dependence on the unsustainable power grid and the corporate food suppliers, but also because living in an urban area might allow you to use the public transit system or walk instead of driving a car, an activity which most environmentalists hated with a passion until the introduction of electric and hybrid cars.  Although the author had some relatively lunatic ideas such as "worldwide oil shortages by the late 1990s" [end quote], the idea of creating your own home with deliberate reasons for its location and construction appealed to me, and remained part of my consciousness even after becoming Libertarian.
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RalphBorsodi

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2006, 03:33:43 pm »

I have found self-sufficiency is a common ideal amongst both right and left libertarians although for different reasons.

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brontus

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2006, 10:18:52 am »

This is an idea that seems to come up again and again, and every time, everybody tries to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch.  Check out the White Mountain Land Company thread and  their YahooGroup.  Their whole point is group land purchase for the purpose of buying land at discounted prices.  Although sustainable living isn't a charter point for it, many of the members are in fact interested in it.  Even if they don't want to go as far as you do, you can use them as a vehicle to get your own movement started.
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dalebert

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2006, 06:19:03 pm »

I have no moral problems with small-scale voluntary communism. I think that concept fits within the ideals of libertarianism. However, I think the practicality of it deteriorates the larger the scale.

For instance, many of us have had roommates- people we chose to share things with for the sake of efficiency and controlling expenses. It's an idea that works well. But right now I live in a condo and the beurocracy is attrocious. Trying to get even a majority consensus on really important things is maddening, like when we need to replace the roof to prevent water intrusion into many of the units.

I think a better approach is to implement innovative ideas to incentivise green activities. Just brainstorming but for instance, start a non-profit organization that collects recyclables and organic material. Green-oriented people can make donations and volunteer to help it run. They can recycle and mulch things and sell the fertilizer at a discounted rate to participants. Use innovation to make being green more practical and you will increase the market share of green products and activities.

I've always wondered why people who are upset about big oil aren't putting their heads together to start viable companies to offer competitive green energy products. All the money donated to Moveon.org to support policies to force the bad things to be more expensive and inconvenient would go a long way on research and development of alternatives. When there are affordable alternatives to the standard sources, people other than rich condescending limozine liberals will start using them because it's actually viable, affordable, and heck, makes them feel good about themselves.

the almighty

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2006, 12:43:03 pm »

Anyone interested in starting up a libertarian ecovillage in NH?

I?m a ?greenish? libertarian in Phoenix, AZ just looking for a good enough excuse to move to New Hampshire.  I?m wondering if there may be others like me out there.

An Ecovillage is basically a planned community designed to both require as little outside resources to sustain itself as possible and build a close knit community among its inhabitants.  The land is owned collectively, but individual housing units are parceled out in a lease that reflects a "condo" type of arrangement.  The community as a group comes to consensus regarding decisions about the use of the land while individual owners have the final say about their individual housing units.

Ok, ok... I know this sounds kind of communist, and to some extent it is, but it isn't anything like, "the good of the majority outweighs the rights of the minority."  The idea of "consensus" decision making is that everyone needs to buy into an idea before any action can be taken on it.  One person can block the decision of the group if they are absolutely uncomfortable with it.  The idea is that for an idea to work, everyone needs some amount of ownership in it.  A, "majority rule," mentality means that the majority could make a final decision regardless of how you feel about it.  Every individual has a veto in the ecovillage on community matters.  The one exception I believe was timely issues that needed a decision pronto (like finances). Needless to say, gaining a consensus may take a VERY long time.

I was checking out a forming ecovillage in Ithaca, NY for a while, but the fact that the group refused to allow guns, even if I never brandished them and kept them trigger locked at all times on the property.  As a non-member, I was not able to block the decision.  Such is the disadvantage of latecomers.  They might not have let me in anyway.  To tell you the truth, I?m probably better off.

The existing members, after a vetting process, decide whether or not to let someone into the community.  This is a good idea for a group that is trying to live together more closely that average neighbors do.  All you need is one jerk to make everyone else?s lives miserable.

The great thing about a group of "greenish" libertarians getting together to do this in the free state is that we can make the rules as libertarian as we want, enshrine them into the village's bylaws, and only a super-majority of those that come after us will have a chance at overturning them.

The advantages of a group of libertarian activists living in close proximity to each other will also encourage our activism.  If our community is large enough we may also dominate a local board or two. ;-)

The community could also rent out spare units to other Free Staters coming to New Hampshire as a source of income? Hey, being green doesn?t mean I don?t appreciate a good capitalist enterprise when I see one? ;-)

We could also benefit from the Tax Exempt status of the ecovillage.  Ecovillages across the country do this type of stuff all the time.  They always write in a mission that qualifies them for non-profit status.  The two in Ithaca were providing ?sustainable living? education.  Ours could be to provide ?economic/constitutional education (libertarian)? as well. ;-)

The reason ?leases? are used instead of something more like a deed is that the ?lease? ensures that the tax exempt ecovillage ?owns? the property while the individual is granted an exclusive use of the housing unit transferable only by the individual signing the lease.  The ecovillage can?t annex the unit.  If the individual decides that he/she wants to move on he/she can sell it to whoever they want, though the community will still need to approve the person for membership before they can actually live there.  The original lease would contain language to that effect.  Consider it a ?permanent easement? on the property.

The more "greenish" members I'm sure will also enjoy the camaraderie and showing the "greenish" socialists out there that we don't need the government's interference to build "sustainable" communities.  Our community can stand as an example of a free market solution to some of the ecological problems we face.

Thanks,

Andrew P. Gardner, Phoenix, AZ


im green & an ancap but i cant stand to have dealings w. neighbors.  call me semiautistic
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kckuhns

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2006, 07:29:54 pm »

Andrew,

I was just about to make a posting to see if anyone is interested in starting an intentional community in New Hampshire. Then I read your posting. I have done some research and find the concept very compelling; there is really nothing very communist about it at all. For one thing, membership into the community is completely voluntary. Anyway, I was quite enthralled with one community outside of Peterborough. You can check them out here:

http://peterboroughcohousing.org/

Everything about this community fits exactly with my idea of a nice cooperative neighbohood and farm. There is only one problem, the price of entry. They want $450K for a 3BR unit in a duplex, and almost $550K for a 4BR single family unit. Then the property taxes run about $10k a year. I suspect that this just might be a for-profit community. Don't get me wrong, this community looks to be outstanding, but the price for entry is prohibitive in my opinion.

So I did some searching and found a piece of very nice property, 37 acres, less than a mile north of the Nubanusit Neighborhood [NN] for $250K. So I did some quick math and figure, heck, $250K for 37 acres, then say another $200K for a really nice 4BR house, and I now have the house, 37 acres, and I'm way below NN.

So, now I am thinking REAL seriously about starting a community. Check out the mission statement for the NN; this is nearly identical to what I would want. So, I'm thinking of the [best guesstimate] math like this now:

Land                  $     250K
12 houses           $  1,000K  [$83K per house, averaged....communty constructed]
Common bldg      $     300K
Farm bldgs           $    100K
Farm equip          $      50 K
Civil works            $    250K

Total                   $ 1,950K

Price per unit        $  163K

Now that's more like it. So you put the 12 houses and the common bldg on about 6 acres, then the farm on about 10 acres, and the rest is woodlands.

Anyway, I am going to investigate this some more, see if I can come up with financial backing.
Next step is to locate some other interested individuals. For all successful intentional communities there is an extensive screening process for prospect community members, to be sure that they are aligned with the general mission statememnt. The only modification that I would add to the mission statement is that it has a libertarian slant.

So this posting is just a heads-up on this forum. I hope to post a more provocative proposal in another few months on a well-planned, financed, intentional community with a libertarian flavor.

For those reaing this who may be interested, here is some general info on intentional communities:

http://www.ic.org/

Regards,

Kevin C. Kuhns

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Kevin C. Kuhns
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maxparrish

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2006, 06:56:58 pm »

Andrew,

I was just about to make a posting to see if anyone is interested in starting an intentional community in New Hampshire. Then I read your posting. I have done some research and find the concept very compelling; there is really nothing very communist about it at all. For one thing, membership into the community is completely voluntary. Anyway, I was quite enthralled with one community outside of Peterborough. You can check them out here:...

http://peterboroughcohousing.org/.....

Everything about this community fits exactly with my idea of a nice cooperative neighborhood and farm. There is only one problem, the price of entry.Regards,

Kevin C. Kuhns

Hmmm, I do have an interest. I've looked at a lot of intentional communities and most of them are too mystical and collectivist for my taste.  The logic of collective action is to  share those  items of mutual interest (to pool costs) and to appreciate social interaction and support. For me, however, farming would not be of particular interest (vs. gardening or hobby growing/raising).

I would be looking for: a workshop, pottery/ceramics studio, craft room common house, sauna, hot tub AND gardening (maybe chickens). My own place would be one or two bedrooms, passive solar heated (mainly), a/C, and most likely on the grid.

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FreeBoB

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2006, 08:19:51 pm »

The intentional communities listed for NH are an interesting group - http://directory.ic.org/records/?action=search_results&locations[state_prov]=New%20Hampshire

Atlantis Rising in Bradford NH mentions that libertarianism as an interest in a resident.

I would like to own my own property, but I'd also look to share in the cost and benefits of private but commonly used facilities, like a woodshop, bbq & party areas, a big room for indoor parties & meetings, food gardens, food, water and energy reserves, etc.  One of the NH ICs offered professional office spaces for its residents - now there's a great idea!  When I land in NH soon I plan to rent for a while and get the lay of the land.  I like the earth-sheltered solar designs, like the Earthship, and plan to build within a couple of years. 

I think a libertarian-style of IC would be arranged differently than usual and I'd seriously consider it. 

Brian
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maxparrish

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2006, 01:00:50 pm »

I am now in the process of looking for land in Northern California and Southern/Eastern Oregon (with a bit of interest in New Mexico and a spot on the Washington side of the border with Oregon).  I never thought much about New Hampshire as I generally think of anything east of the Rockies as too humid and hot in summers.  Still, I decided to explore the free state project (I've been a libertarian fellow traveler for decades...since college) - while New Hampshire does have cold winters, its summers seem tolerable (even if I have heard horror stories about the black flys).

After reading about the people, the old towns, etc. its obvious I should take a second look...at this point next spring (although October would be nice..who knows).

Anyway, here is my situation: I'm semi-retired. I have a modest income and enough assests to commit 400K (max). If I entered in a situation like this I might be able to trade financial investment for support; i.e. I'd buy the land and build my place, in return other residents could use the land and own some smaller percentage based on their investment (for their own house).  Here's what I'd expect of fellow libertarians: a) you guys keep the place up, I'm not inclined to do a lot of yard work. b) keep the workshop (and my tools) in shape, repair ponds, etc. c) daily sojurns to my statue and the leaving of produce and refreshments as the estate "padron" or minor lord - worship of my image would be nice :)  (Ummmm recall the Warlord with Heston?)

Otherwise the younger folk could party their hearts out, hold pagen rituals, build an A.I. Ayn Rand robot, brew beer and moonshine, or whatever they please.  I'm a 55 year old lazy ass, but also very easy to get along with.

Now that we are dreaming: orchards, chickens, microbrew, water falls, ceramics, woodshop, greenhouse(s), aquaculture, etc. My place: either strawbale or SIP's, passive (Kachadorian floor) solar heated, and centeral air.  Style: french country, craftsman, log. 

But where in N.Hampshire? Where are most of the FS'ers? Hmmmmm




 
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FreeBoB

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2006, 12:49:38 am »

maxparrish -

Participants are spread out all over really, with the most in the southern cities, it seems.  I believe I'd be happy to be within a 45 minute drive from Concord/Manchester, but I really don't know yet.  We'll see.

Please move forward with your idea - I'm interested in the concept.

Brian
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maxparrish

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2006, 12:29:25 pm »

maxparrish -

Participants are spread out all over really, with the most in the southern cities, it seems.  I believe I'd be happy to be within a 45 minute drive from Concord/Manchester, but I really don't know yet.  We'll see.

Please move forward with your idea - I'm interested in the concept.

Brian

I confess that my desire is to stay in the far west - its home territory for me.  However, I am also quite constrained by property prices.  In the bay area, a building lot is 350K. In bucolic nearby wine country or coastal property (by preference) you might pay up to 500K for a little lot (in Bolinas, its 500K for a water connection).  In more remote areas  (e.g. Paradise in Northern California) I might get 1.5 acres for 120K to 140K.  So it looks as if 2.5 to 4 acres could be 250K in rural areas.

As I don't want to spend more than 250K for land (with well/electricity) you see the challenge.  I would like a few others on my land to keep it up and use it as they please (as long as it is not harmful), in return I get to enjoy retirement without excessive upkeep.  I will keep looking this fall along the Northern California coast, in Southern Oregon, and up to Hood River (Oregon-Washington border).  If I find some potential "estate" land I will let 'y-all' know (although you and others may be committed to New Hampshire).

In the meantime I'll schedule a trip to N.Hampshire in the spring (say April?).  HOWEVER, if you or anyone here is willing to put me up for several days (say 4 or five) I'd be more than happy to fly out this fall (October).  I imagine the fall folige would seduce me far more effectively than the 'black fly' of ill-repute.  Basically I need to fall in love with New Hampshire - my once youthful political asperations to reform the collectivist State are no longer suffcient to induce a move...priorities change with age.

If you or Andrew (or others) continue to be interested, it might work. I have one other friend who is interested, although he has little funds and would conribute work.  A few more questions:

1. What is (in miles) within 45 minutes of Manchester (etc)?  Are all these areas served by straight freeways or winding mountain roads?
2. Don't most FS'ers need work?
3. I like mountains AND seashore, are there any such combos (i.e. mountains plunging into the ocean)?

Keep in touch, keep the ideas coming. I'm getting interested.... 
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andrewpgardner

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Re: Libertarian Ecovillage
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2007, 10:32:29 pm »

Wow!!!  I'm glad to see my original post produced this kind of response...  I guess that's what happens when you forget about a forum for a while.

My plans to move to NH are currently on hold as I am getting paid extremely well for what I am doing currently in AZ.  I was looking into buying a house or some property but the property prices out here in the southwest are getting as bad as CA! :-P

I think the idea of having both private land and areas for general use by the community is a pretty good idea.  The original idea of "the association" owning all the land would be to avoid the property taxes, but a private property, with community association, and community association owned property" might accomplish almost the same thing.  The individual owners would need to pay taxes on their housing plots, but the "Association" can be a non-profit.

I see housing associations all the time out here in AZ.  The houses are owned individually, and the community pool, clubhouse, and fitness facilities are owned and maintained by the association.  In an ecovillage, I would envision more of the land being "association owned."  The "Association," most likely being a corporation whose shareholders are those people putting up the money for the property and "non-private" infrastructure.  Some ground rules could be laid out in the corporate charter to prevent drastic changes to the use of the land without a super-majority approval of the people living there.

With Ecovillage at Whitehawk in Ithaca, the idea was that everyone had a say in matters that effected living in the community, but those that put money into the community had the final say about fiscal matters.

To avoid the type of situation one sees in both Animal Farm and Atlas Shrugged (IE one or two animals being expected to feed the whole lot), the farm land could be operated as a coop.  In order to reap the benefits of the harvest, one needs to either have worked to produce it or pay the coop for their share, or some combination of both.  If an Ecovillage member doesn't want anything to do with the farming aspect of the property, then they don't have to.

This is how the farming was done in Ithaca, and the community outside of the ecovillage also participated.  We should be able to expect the same type of thing happening for us.  I might also suggest that we see if we can't build in a little profit into farming.  Hopefully enough to spread around to both those farming the land, and the "Association" for use of the land.  I would suggest that some portion of this be held or used by the "association" for upkeep or capital improvement and some of it be spread around to the shareholders of the association in proportion to their 'ownership.'  Call it a dividend on their investment in the ecovillage... ;-)

Also, if there are any other activities like logging or extra electricity generated by the ecovillage,  it might not be a bad idea for the same type of dividend to go to the original investors.  At Whitehawk the land was donated, but this requires some extremely generous individuals.  I feel that an opportunity to make money off the land is a good incentive for investors in the property.

Does anyone know if doing this kind of stuff will threaten the "non-profit" nature of the organization?  A cost benefit analysis should probably be done to see if any potential money made on the operations of the ecovillage actually outweighs the amount paid in taxes.  It might be worth it to keep the whole thing strictly non-profit, but who-knows, maybe not.

Setting things up so the "Association" has some cash is also a good way to provide for the regular maintenance of the property by paying one of our members to do it.  This will be nice for those who may wish to be retired and not worry about such things. ;-)

As I said before, I don't have any immediate plans to relocate, but I think I will eventually find myself in NH.  I look around here, the area that pioneered the type of home I want to build, and I just can't picture myself doing it here.  I don't really feel at home here, while one long weekend at the Porcupine Festival a couple years ago felt like home. ;-)  In the meantime, I plan on socking away some cash and investing in some property out here so I can sell it off when the time is right and have some cash for NH.

When I was looking at Whitehawk, I was toying with the idea of hybrid Earthship-Haybail duplexes or triplexes.  The idea would be to conserve space and provide a good amount of living area.  Individual Earthships take up a lot of room, but two or three Earthships side by side with an "upper level" on the berm constructed out of Haybails might not be too bad on space.

I might also suggest that those who are interested in this idea might also look at the "white mountain land trust" as someone else suggested.  If there is enough of us/you guys you may be able to work out a deal with the land trust to get a huge piece of land that could be divided up according to the amount "put in" with those interested in an ecovillage guaranteed continuous plots.

Any and all ideas are most welcome.  I'm going to really try to make it to the Porcfest in 2007, so if any of you plan on going I'd love to pow-wow with you.  My camp will be the one flying the AZ State Flag (Coolest one in the union). ;-)
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