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february 4, 2023

Communities - Ideology or Feasible?9 criteria to have/start a successful community

After 2.5 years of travelling and engaging with communities, and even having had serious plans to start an eco-village ourselves, we have become a lot wiser. And discovered that living in a community is not as idyllic as it sounds:
A group of people you live with, functioning like a big family. Where the children are free and looked after by more people than just the parents. Where they don’t go to school, but learn in a different way what life is and how to make the most of it. That we help each other. That everyone shares his/her talents. That money is no longer needed. They live in nature and can live from nature. Where they generate their own energy, water comes from their own well. And little is needed from outside.
I think this is pretty much the ideal picture when talking about a community. So why is it that communities are difficult to get off the ground, that the chances of success are slim and that sooner or later there will be fights anyway? And how can you have or start a successful community?

Although we are people who immensely enjoy being alone with ourselves, we too have long toyed with the idea of ‘doing something with a community’. Yet we have already come across quite a few things that cause initiatives to fail.

In Portugal in early 2021, we got involved in a group where the idea was to find your ‘tribe’. People who fit you. In practice, many of these people turned out not to even be in Portugal. While the idea was that activities would take place, where we would get to know each other better. Very useful if you want to know who ‘your’ person is 😉 .

For ourselves, we knew right away that being ‘a good neighbour’ was important to us. Just your own place to live, not on each other’s doorsteps, but with shared spaces for when you want to socialise, but also for working together on the vegetable garden and the food forest, a space for workshops, healings, etc.

Two meetings were organised and we went to both. Because we soon realised that it wasn’t going to work via Telegram. People who were not in Portugal were hoping to link up with initiatives by people who were there. Well… so we take the plunge and take all the risk, and they want to get into a well-spread bed. Somtething that we saw and see in many Facebookgroups as well…A lot of people are looking. And there are not enough communities to go to or participate in… More communities should come. And I find it unbelievable that people are not prepared to give their time, energy and money to create a ‘new future’. Their dream.

Besides, many people who come to Portugal are vegan. In our experience, one-sided food is too limited. However, we do feel that meat should be of good quality. In Dronten, for instance, we got the meat at Hoeve Vredeveld, who lets the cows run all year on Schokland. And occasionally a cow is slaughtered at a butcher’s shop in Elburg. All regional. Perfect. Only disadvantage I found was that the meat was frozen. But anyway, meat is no longer alive 😉. EAnd while I personally really do want to eat less meat (hubby was really quite obsessed with meat), eating vegan is way too far for me. Buttermilk, yoghurt, whipped cream, a nice frothy layer of whipped milk on my coffee, real butter… No, I don’t want to exclude all animal products. Although I do make vegan meals from time to time. But not only.

In Portugal, vegans did not want to live with meat-eaters. The first time I faced discrimination based on eating habits!! A very special experience. Still, quite a few commnities have basic rules. Think eating rules, meditation and yoga together at 6.30am, adults only, certain religion… But, one must be aware that it doesn’t become a cult!

From the moment we arrived in Portugal, we looked at land. Initially to buy something cheap and put a caravan on it and live cheaply. But a caravan is not even allowed in someone’s yard in Portugal. Let alone on a piece of land.
Well, we didn’t know that. We hardly knew anything about Portugal before we left, and didn’t expect such a piece of legislation. On top of that, the sale of bits and pieces of land went extremely fast. An incredible number of people were looking for a piece of land. And since we had promised the children living in a house in the first place anyway, and didn’t really find anything suitable in terms of land, we left it at that. Still, we kept looking at bigger things. Although our budget was not sufficient for that, together with others we might be able to do it. And that’s how we looked for our ‘tribe’.

In the summer of 2021, we found a 7-hectare piece of land with potential near Carrascalinho, where we lived in our caravan for 6 months. It did have a plan attached for a hostel. But in the plans, we had found that there should be 14 beds per hectare.

It was particularly suitable for multiple people to live there. To put geodomes and other small accommodations, hammocks among the pine trees, a piece where we could make the vegetable garden, a big car park (flat piece where you can park on arrival).

How could we do this? I made a business plan. How we figured out that the community would work. How people could live there. How they could make money etc. etc.
We had a name. A complete plan. And started looking for crowdfunding.

Until we attended a master class by MindValley: Shapeshift your Identity.

One of the exercises involved describing what your ideal weekday looks like. So basically what your ordinary life looks like. Do you work? Do you have a business? Where/What, how do you live? What does your morning routine look like? Do you eat lunch with anyone? Do you have children etc. etc.

And both hubby and I found out that living in an Ecovillage was not in our ‘dream life’. But that it was mostly because of what was happening in the world. That was not the right drive. And we let the plan go.

Sometime in 2022, hubby grew the idea of having a place where we can live in various places around the world, where people who, like us, travel can stay for an x-time (max.3-4 months). This has a number of advantages:

  • In general, the likelihood of escalation between people is a lot lower when there is a limited period of time. The emergence of unresolvable quarrels is something that happens everywhere. It is often said that the ego still gets in the way too much. But last week we discovered that this is not necessarily an ego thing, but more that some people really don’t match you in terms of character and energy. And then you definitely don’t want to spend time together 😉.
  • You can take advantage of the different seasons in different countries. One person likes a summer in the south, another in the north, etc. So you can always choose the place based on e.g. the seasons. You also spend much less on accommodation costs. Campsites or camper spots can be quite expensive. And travelling is quite tiring. Most people want to stay in one place for at least a month. So how nice is it to have the space and be with like-minded people, without it being a tourist spot?

Again, now that we are in France, we are learning a lot about communities and how to maintain them or what is missing or needed. And we actually come up with a list of what we think is important in a – as far as we are concerned always rotating – community:

9 criteria to start/have a successful community

  1. Choose a targetgroup for whom the community is there
    For what we want to facilitate: It is exclusively for that group of people who have sold everything, have a travelling existence and want to keep it for now and consciously choose a life outside the matrix. People who today are described as ‘awake’ but also have a spiritual slant and have let go of the ‘fighting against’ and are choosing their ‘ own life’. People who primarily choose alternative health solutions,who want their children to go to alternative schools, who like to be around like-minded people, who like to spend time in nature, people who are considerate of another, people who respect others as well as all shared spaces and materials, people who love peace and quiet.
    It’s hard to put into words properly. I just call it the very conscious person who is attuned to source.
  2. People with all kind of trades are necessary
    So people who know about permaculture, electrics, woodworking, building construction, natural building materials, vegetable gardening, natural healing remedies, sewing, painting, woodcutting and wood supplies, tool maintenance, (bread) baking, animal care, etc. etc. The more variety there is, the more all the tasks that are there can be taken up. And the more you can learn from each other. With a rotating ‘village’ as hubby envisions, it would be wise to have a sign-up list… E.g. there is room for 2 vegetable garden people, 2 facilitators for children,, 1 jack-of-all-trades, 1 electrician, 2 carpenters etc.. And if that spot is already occupied for that period, then you cannot go there at that time. So unless you also have other qualities that are needed at that time 😉
  3. Ask a fixed fee for the spot(s)
    Through a fixed fee per year, you can use all the facilities of each place. In addition, you do have to help out. This may take more time some times than others. More time will need to be invested in the build-up phase than when everything is up and running.
  4. Choose people with a drive and sense of responibility
    The people who come there also have a drive to make something of the place. A community is not a holiday spot where you only have to BE and be taken care of. A community is a place to live and create AND maintain together/by yourself.
  5. Enough distance between the accommodations
    Everyone has at least 5000m2 to live. To maximize privacy and to minimize sounds etc. from others..
  6. Basic ammenities available and communal spaces
    In addition, more communal spaces are needed. Also consider a large kitchen, dining area, space for yoga, healing and other activities, space for the children, tool shed, work shed and of course you can have a vegetable garden at your place, but there is also a communal vegetable garden and a food forest. There should also be communal animals and they also need care. And also the energy for these communal spaces has to be arranged. And everyone arranges that for themselves in their own place.
    SUGGESTION IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR LAND: A campsite usually has all the basic ammenities and sometimes even more. 
  7. Pets are no danger to other animals and humans
    Pets should not be tied up. So they are allowed to run loose. However, they are not allowed to chase other animals (chickens, ducks, goats, sheep or whatever) or people who are there. Also, a dog should not bark regularly. Proper education of your pet is necessary if you want to live together in a community.
  8. Determine medical exclusions
    If we look at ourselves and the group of people we want in the rotating village, they are people who are sensitive. Not just to the radiation, energy and sounds in their environment. But also, for example, to mRNA vaccines. Shedding takes place on a large scale. Excluding the group of vaccinated people we don’t want, after all, someone can change their mind and start making conscious choices… But a booster should be at least 1 year ago.
  9. Determine a couple of base or houserules
    As mentioned earlier, there are places that are exclusively for vegans. But it can go further. Maybe you want to have compulsory meals together at set times, meditate, do chores etc. . Maybe you want quiet times, like e.g. at night. A weekly meeting at a fixed time.
    We recommend setting as few rules as possible. But a few rules can make it more liveable and ensure that it is clear beforehand what is expected of someone so that there is no ambiguity afterwards. Or that you can point it out to someone should things go completely wrong somewhere.

If you go through these 9 points and make choices, you will find out what suits you and what does not. And this way, people who feel the same also come together again, which brings ‘like-minded’ people closer together.

Of course, challenges arise in the best families. Make sure you can stay away from anger and find out where it comes from. Then engage in conversation if necessary. Stay away from blame.

We create the new world together. This is not just happening. Allow eachother space, and also seek eachothers company regularly.

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