Because it Takes a Whole Village
It was a misty and chilly day
There were 6 persons in attendance at this Lodge Meeting. Larry - Made a request to be the moderator for the meeting, to which there were no objectors.
Larry introduced himself as a regular attendee of the meetings for several years and by profession as a holistic veterinarian. How the vision of Eden resonates with his profession is that he feels he is trying to get individuals into a more healthy state, but sees the difficulties in this when the present underlying environment and societal circumstances are sick. Personally he is interested in finding a place for a family to live a more natural life.
She found out about the project through the internet and has been participating in the Egroup. Introduced herself by profession as having worked in the telecom field and now works in the field of graphic design (the specifics of which I was not able to fully understand but relate to land mapping). Personal interests of finding rural land natural home building and organic gardening were mentioned.
Amy was escorted to the meeting. The escort unfortunately could not stay very long. A park ranger by profession, and personal interests in living on rural land within a community setting. Amy found out about the meeting from an internet message board.
A rural Sonoma county resident, and architectural expert by profession expressed his frustrations with getting regulatory approval for alternative/group home designs in Sonoma County. Personal knowledge of permaculture and of rural communities in the bioregion, and personal interests in growing and nurturing permacultural plant ecosystems were expressed.
Perry arrived after the meeting had started. Currently a San Francisco resident, Perry found out about Eden project through the internet and has introduced himself in the egroup. Perry is knowledgeable of urban communities and of computer resources, and was able to give some ideas for better technology services for internet groups. Perry is actively searching for a place to be on the land, and to him Eden Valley truly seems like Eden. Expressed an enthusiasm for living on the land, planting trees and raw foods.
Introduced by the moderator as the visionary founder of the Eden Project is a rural/off grid Sonoma County resident at the present time. T has been committed to developing the Eden project for 9 years, as a part of being committed to preserving the nature of the bioregion. As is usual for the meetings the issue of what the status of the proposed land for the Eden project is was brought up.
T acknowledged that the valley is owned privately and the owners have no known intention of selling it. T has not been actively negotiating any sale of the land with the owners. He feels that to go to the owners with a proposal without the sufficient backing of a substantially proven group could endanger the project.
As regards looking into other lands for the project T expressed that he believes the best way to buy land is to find the land you want, go directly to the owners when you are ready to buy the land, and not until and then let them know what you are able to pay for the land and on what terms and what your vision for the use of the land is.
T feels that in general realtors do not offer the choicest of lands available and that by nature they tend to be an agent of the seller not the buyer. Arlie expressed her agreement with this from her experience of looking for rural land. Various physical logistic considerations regarding Eden Valley and surrounding areas were contributed. Some of the highlights are listed here: Eden valley is at 2300 feet elevation. It has frosts and would most likely have a 6 month growing season.
The current road
The main road in goes over a mountain pass of about 4000 feet peak elevation which would receive snow. That would make access difficult at times in the winter. It would be good to develop an alternate route that does not go over such a high pass.
Larry suggested about 100 pounds of domestic animals per acre. T said he has already proposed in a previous issue of the Eden Journal a sum of 700 lbs per 5 acres. Arlie lamented that this might preclude horses from being in Eden, and most expressed the desire to have horses around. However, people could group together to have a horse, or someone without a desire for a lot of domestic animals could give their acreage as an allotment to someone else.
T thinks that cattle would not fit well in Eden and believes that goats would be better. The only reason for limits on animals is to prevent excessive denudation of vegetation. T mentioned that special considerations to the issue of domestic animals would be implemented in the proposed vegan village. There are good supplies of water for Eden but of course they would not be unlimited.
T thought there should be at least 300 gallons of potable water per day delivered to each home site. This would be quite sufficient for domestic uses if composting toilets are used. Greywater could be used agriculturally. A figure of 100 gallons per day was suggested as needed to keep an acre of land wet enough for plant productivity in the dry season.
We should incorporate rain water collection into the design of buildings for extra water resources. Arlie expressed concern that for home design some of the sites might not be suitable for natural home building because of lack of exposure to sun.
T thought lack of exposure might be a factor for only 2 of the particular sites and that wood stoves might need to be used a little more there. Perry thought that even if so, living at one of those sites would still be 'Eden' for him.
David expressed concern
On the maintenance of roads. He mentioned a Northern California community (Greenfield) that is almost falling apart over the issue of road maintenance. T also had some knowledge of that community and felt that those difficulties were due in part to privatization of home sites in the community.
T feels that the Eden project could avoid these difficulties especially if a good reserve of group monetary reserves is maintained so that large maintenance projects could be paid for. Amy suggested that there is a network of smaller Northern California land based communities forming that are considering sharing assets like heavy equipment.
As in past meetings the issues around monetary finances were actively discussed. It was clarified that private deed to the individual home sites is not part of the plan for Eden.
If an individual or group of individuals were to depart from their home site, sale to another private party would not be a recourse. Transfer to another individual or group of individuals subject to approval of the Stewards council might still be possible.
The Steward's Council
This could be the initial governing body of Eden comprised of one representative from each homestead, with a 3/4 consensus rule. T discussed that there would be different levels of individual contribution towards the project. On the one end of the spectrum may be some wealthy backers who would pledge large amounts of financial support if the project was to run into financial difficulties.
On the other end of the spectrum would be groups of people with a minimum of finances available and they could support the project for a minimum of about $380 month.
The contribution pledges of early members of the project would be starting from $28,800, to $36,000 per home site. Later that would have to go up. The Eden land base would be owned by a nonprofit corporation, keeping taxes low.
The question was raised on how to start contributing money resources. There is a seed fund established in a nonprofit bank account (see Summer Solstice Journal, 2000). It is only recommended for those who are comfortable in taking this step.
Contributions of $1500 or more to the seed fund will become the initial members of the Steward's Council. At present there has been one contributor of $1500 to the seed fund.
T suggests that when there are 9 members on the Steward's Council many real and practical steps to advancing the project could be decided upon.
Using the Credit Union
Larry suggested another way of starting to get the funds of the group together: There has recently been established a permaculture credit union. Contact at www.pcuonline.org, or 4250 Cerillos Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505, or phone 505 954 3479.
Their mission is to pool the financial resources of all the people who believe in Permaculture embodied in the ethics of Care of the Earth, Care of the People, and Reinvestment of the Surplus to Benefit the Earth and its Inhabitants.
What is being proposed to the PCU is that potential backers of the Eden Project would deposit funds in personal accounts under their own control, and that there would be a tabulation of the total funds so that the project could monitor the available resources.
Financial considerations led to issues of governance being discussed. Perry asked why each person in Eden would not have a vote. Eden will have 300 to 500 people living in it. T feels that this would be potentially too large a group for effective consensus processing and discussions to be held among the full population would probably have to be held in the Main Circle, where everyone would have a voice.
Perry had some concerns
He thought that too strong a governance of personal affairs on the home site would be a negative aspect and this was widely agreed to. But that could be seen as being cowardly as well.
The question was posed to T what if the Council disagreed with some of the precepts that he has envisioned as founder of the project.
T replied that he didn't think it would happen as he thought that what he has laid down were just the basic understandings that all could agree on before they become involved, and that would save us a lot of trouble later.
Anybody who had any problem with any of it would probably not be attracted to the project. In this way people would either courageously self select themselves, or just turn chicken on us and pull out on the project as the case may be, based on what has been said about the most basic understandings.
The following question was whether there would be written agreement contracts for joiners of the project, to which T said yes. Issues of governance seemed to lead into issues of philosophy.
What would the projected time table for the project be to become a reality as far as getting the land. T expects that it will be about 3 to 5 years. T feels that there are already a lot of steps that have been taken to set the wheels in motion that are not obviously visible.
Mentioned were the getting together of a group (numbered at about 300 persons on and offline), and decisions that those individuals have made that would assist there involvement in the project from reallocating and saving resources to selecting a particular type of vehicle.
The question was asked
What to do in the interim time period. T thinks that other than accumulating resources, people could consider moving on up into the surrounding area. Ukiah was mentioned as a nice city, and Willits as a smaller relatively inexpensive town and was closest to the project.
Another possibility that some are considering and initiating is to form smaller communal groups with the intent of moving them to Eden when it becomes available. The question was asked if the project could be initiated on a smaller scale, with a smaller land area and/or fewer persons.
T feels that the land being considered would not be suitable for the purpose if it was divided. Larry felt that there needs to be a good number of people to have the diversity of skills that would be needed to have a small village function well.
The meeting ended after about 2 hours, with the participants being a little chilled. We do need people who can bring a laptop to the meetings to take very precise and in depth Meeting Notes who will type them up and send them in as an official report of what took place.
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