In the grand scheme of things, not much. Sure, you could attempt to see your friends more often, make conversation with strangers and/or spend less time in faux-communities online. You could even place an ad for a roommate or two. But I believe this issue is something deeply engrained in the global consciousness, and requires more radical action in order to be truly remedied.
This is why I am extremely excited to announce a new initiative: the creation of true community on a global scale.
I have teamed up with visionary Marc Coppola from Why? Simply Because to create a 100% sustainable community and activism powerhouse in Montreal, Canada. This will be the first of many. “Every journey begins with a single step.”
Mission Statement: “To bring attention to a variety of social issues by highlighting the inefficiencies of today’s socio-economic practices and acting upon them to establish a one hundred percent sustainable community. This entails being able to supply, shelter, energy, nutrition, entertainment and comfort to the standards of the 21st century levels of knowledge and progressively and actively “being the change we want to see in this world”.
Vision Statement: Our vision is simple – if it isn’t sustainable or rational and doesn’t lead to 100% self-sufficient community then it doesn’t belong.
The Surface Details:
– Completely off-the-grid and sustainable: solar and wind powered, organic composting, permaculture organic farming and Earthship-inspired housing & water filtration
– Individual housing will surround a community center built for for cooking, eating, meetings, workspaces and any class or activities offered by community members
– The pilot community will be limited to a few dozen members to start, all of which will be accepted through an application process. The pilot must do extraordinarily well for this to work. Consequently we’re looking for only the most capable and passionate individuals to create it with us. Later renditions will be open to anyone, of course.
– The initial 60 acre plot can be expanded up to 500+ acres when needed
– Construction is already underway
Why would I want to live there?
Allow me to paint you a picture of your daily life in this type of community…
You wake up in the morning with the sun streaming through your Earthship house like the one below….
After taking a warm shower from your solar-heated water system, you get dressed and walk over to the community hub for breakfast. Fresh, organic food never seems to get old! Not to mention you’re eating in the company of 50 or so people who all love the mystery of life as much as you do. Oh the conversations you’ve had at these tables…
After breakfast you meet up with your current project partners to brainstorm ways to promote community activism through flash mobs and peaceful protests. After getting lost in discussion for a few hours, you head back to the community hub for lunch and see that one of the musically-inclined members is playing her newly completed acoustic EP live for all to hear. It’s excellent.
You make it out of there just in time for a 4pm Kung Fu class offered by a brand new member from China. The class and everything else in the community is free, of course. Everyone is constantly trying to out-do each in giving back to the community. You had never fully realized how good giving felt before living here.
After taking an evening siesta nap, you’re back up and ready for the night’s activities. One of your better friends in the community is hosting a party at their house, culminating in a midnight swim in the river that runs nearby (yes, there really is a river). Whoever is left still awake at the end of the night joins you in staying up to see the sunrise.
How will this change the world?
Your first thought might be ‘there are plenty of other sustainable, conscious communities already in existence…why is this one different? Why will this one change the world?’
1) Epicenter of Change
The main difference with this initiative is that the community will exist with the sole purpose of changing the world outside of it. Most existing communities like this are completely removed from the world, and are (understandably) happy to be. The goal of this project, however, is not escape or a life-long vacation.
Instead, this community will serve as a hub for launching grass-roots movements and other ventures hell-bent on changing the world for good.
We are removing ourselves from the world to provide the time, focus and collaboration required to pump out revolutionary campaigns. This community will provide an environment of complete freedom so members can place their full attention on their world-shifting passions and ambitions.
Imagine what you could accomplish with no rent, no job, no commuting, no distractions…
Now imagine what could be accomplished by a large group of conscious, driven, creative individuals… with a wide variety of skills and expertise… working together in close quarters… under those same conditions.
Here are some possibilities off the top of my head:
- Organizing leaders from different regions to help coordinate wide-spread, peaceful, sit-in protests
- Made-to-be-viral videos and infographics aimed at spreading awareness for specific causes
- Designing and proliferating international street art campaigns
- Creating charitable companies like Toms Shoes, which also bring in money to further the goals of the community
- Pumping out conscious, thought-provoking websites like the one you’re on now
- Inventing and/or improving sustainable technology
- Other initiatives even more ambitious than the community itself!
2) This Baby Is Going Viral
This first community is only the beginning, the test pilot.
The entire process is being scrupulously documented on video and will be made freely available in a documentary and a detailed how-to guide. These videos will be relseased on a weekly bassis but also made into a feature film documentary. Our goals it to show people two things:
1) There are other viable alternatives to live a rich and fulfilling life which are not only sustainable, but also fucking awesome. Who says you can’t live at summer camp all year-round while working to change the world?
2) You can do this too, and we will show you EXACTLY how to do it. We made the hard mistakes so you don’t have to.
In short, we desire to make this type of community go viral. We will focus on spreading awareness of communal living and helping others fund and build their own communities so they can do the same for others, etc, etc.
A New Direction For High Existence
Up to this point, HighExistence has been a site focused on improving the self. After all the first step to loving others is being able to love yourself. However, we are now shifting our focus towards the world, and how you can use everything we’ve talked about previously to change it for good.
I would argue that the final stage in personal development is expanding your sense of self beyond yourself. I would also argue that this includes realizing the world needs you now more than ever, and committing your entire being to bringing about global change.
We need step beyond our personal goals and work toward a way of living that embodies what Charles Eisenstein calls the world our hearts tell us is possible:
“Environmentalists often state that we can ill afford to maintain our resource-intensive lifestyles, implying that we would like to if only we could afford it. I disagree. I think we will move towards a more ecological way of life by positive choice. Instead of saying ‘Too bad we have to leave our gigantic suburban homes behind because they use too much energy,’ we will no longer want those homes because we will recognize and respond to our need for personal, connected, sacred dwellings in tight communities. The same goes for the rest of the modern consumer lifestyle. We will put it aside because we can no longer stand the emptiness, the ugliness. We are starving for spiritual nourishment. We are starving for a life that is personal, connected and meaningful.”
I think this is a powerful way to change the world. Since I published the first article of this series, more and more people have been contacting me saying they have had the exact same thoughts come to them over the last few months. This idea is certainly on the mind of the collective unconscious. That is very exciting and all the more reason to embark on this mission.
As with any mission, we must start small, with just one community. But you can be sure that if one of these is being built, others will begin springing up. That is the nature of invention — it pops up everywhere at once as if by magic.
I have two finals questions for you: What do you think of this initiative? And more importantly…are you ready to change the world?
Note: Many more details will be coming shortly in the form of a Google Doc that anyone will be able to read and comment on. This project will be communal from the very beginning.
1) What will this community be called?
As mentioned in the comments, the name of this community will be crucial in gaining wide-spread appeal. We’ve been brainstorming for a while and have not agreed upon anything yet, although the top choice right now is Valhalla. Under Montreal law, the name must either be in French, or be some fairly esoteric term with no English diction.
If you have ideas on names, please share them in the comments!
2) How will this be funded?
Firstly, the project already has massive support by local business who have committed to donating thousands of dollars in plants, trees, soil, labor, lumber, etc. over the next few years. Marc’s father also happens to own a string of wineries, so we have access to tons of construction & excavation equipment.
Secondly, Marc knows the ropes of how to get funding for a documentary. The project has already sparked interest among some hollywood types who have requested him to report back in a few months on our progress.
Thirdly, http://kickstarter.com. We’re in process of designing the perfect Kickstarter to garner both funding and interest in the community. Taking from both my graphic design ability and Marc’s video production ability, it’s going to be one damn sexy kickstarter. Not to mention it’s going to be one of the first things we work on as a community on HE to make go viral. I’m very excited to see how that turns out.
Fourth, even if all else fails, we can provide enough private funding to keep the project going. Even if the pace at the beginning is slow.
But here’s the thing: I have a KNOWING about this project unlike I have had for anything else in my life. I have zero doubt in my mind that funding will be the last possible issue in the construction of this community. Call it God, the universe, or positive thinking — I just know. Those others who have said they’ve had the same ideas recently expressed that same knowing. Something strange and magical is going on here…
3) How can I apply to get involved?
You can start by messaging me and Marc and saying why you’re interested, ideas you have, your availability to move to Montreal, etc. I want to hear why you’re so passionate about this!
4) How do you know we won’t spend all of our time farming and have no time for other things?
Well the beauty of permaculture by definition is to replicate what would happen naturally in the wild is being optimized in a more controlled – yet not hyper controlled environment like monocultures and chemically sprayed farms – as for who will be farming / growing food? Reality is it will be the people who want to do such – they will sign up to be part of the agriculture / nourishment committee and be able to partake / decide what needs to get done to feed the rest of us!
Also it is important to note that there is lots of crops and food that is already planted or being planted on the land today that is perineal – aka grows back year after year – already 25 fruit trees of all types and kinds and 30+ berry bushes have made their way onto the land and the annual garden is currently coming in at a 100 foot diameter circle full of raised beds! Reality is every time we accept a member we will accept them based on availability of space to live, and food to feed them as well as other criteria!
The same way society works today some people will take on some jobs while others take on others as their more dominant responsibilities but obviously will be able to partake in helping out other activities when they so choose to help! So even if I for example and have not taken on the burden of being the crop grower in the group but more so im the web designer for example – nothing is stopping me from joining the food growers outside and helping out when I feel like it!
5) How will permaculture work in the Canadian winter?
Let me first start by saying – permaculture works everywhere in the world – we just call it nature! The same applies to the Montreal region which so happens to be one of the most fertile soils on the planet – Apart from preserving / drying foods to eat over the winter and producing and harvesting in abundance in the fall to try and brave the canadian winter – we have already put together plans to build Geodesic Dome (google / youtube it) green house and will beginning this endeavour in the following weeks! In this dome we will be able to keep some of the fish from the pond in to be able to easily fish, grow veggies and annual foods as well as all kinds of food all season long.
This isn’t new practice – Canada does have an industry that creates man made climates to be able to grow all season long – hydroponics, lights all kinds of stuff are also options!
So between the preservatives – massive green house(s) – the animals and fish we farmed – and our ability to trade other services for anything else we might need this should more then meet our demands!
6) How will leadership within the community work?
Although we will answer this question more in depth when the time comes – and are subject to change – the reality is leadership and decisions will be broken down by having a minimum of 2 monthly votes on issues surrounding the decisions of the community itself.(they will be held both in person and online and the issues to be discussed at those assemblies will be ranked in order of priority on the same way reddit works) the more people vote up an issue the quicker it will pass through the system that will be in place for making decisions!
As for the voting system the community will use – we will be using the “alternative voting system” as oppose to “first past the post” – this will be further explained in our long format doctrine but will have to be approved by the initial members of the community and can be amended at later dates.
To draw parallels to other voting systems we will have a cross between a anonymous freemason like voting system (they use marbles for yes and no) and a highly democratic voting system like used in occupy wall street movement! We feel that because the community is small enough to not make decisions go out of hand and that members will have been picked based on their fit with the goals of the community we won’t necessarily face the same issues large governments do in trying to govern millions of people more so then making decisions that affect a handful of people.
As for the functioning of the community – its activity schedules and decisions regarding everything from energy creation, to water filtration or to who will be cutting the grass that week. The members themselves will all have to actively partake in at least 1 committee of people who are responsible for providing solutions to any problems or organizing such. Each committee may elect a spokesperson / leader if you will to represent the committees decisions at these monthly meetings.
Please keep in mind we are at first stages of discussing this and as said earlier this is all still open to suggestions but the most fair system so far – details to follow!
7) How will members purchase things outside of the community that cost money if they’re not making any money within the community? Eg. computers, skydiving, traveling.
How tied you are to the normal economy is entirely up to you. There will be zero cost of living within the community itself; any outside niceties will be on you. Of course you will have freedom to have your own savings and work out outside of the community. All that we ask is you contribute your fair share of effort (be that with time, money or whatever else) back into growing the community.
Thanks to the internet, there are more opportunities than ever to be location-independent and still make money. Personally I will still be running HighExistence and two other online business while living there.
That said, I forsee many of those desires we have now melting away once we experience the ultra-fulfillment of living with a community.
8) Can members stay in this community for life?
Certainly! It would be too much of a tease to let someone live like this and then force them back into non-communal living. The very mission is to create a web of these communities to anyone from anywhere may live like this if they choose to.
9) It’s nice to imagine that this will provide utopic living conditions, but what if it doesnt? Who will regulate what behavior is and is not appropriate?
Their will be a doctrine of basic community rules that is being put together and will be voted on and have the possibility of amendments at any future date if the community choose to do so coming soon.
But to quickly answer – the community itself through the more egalitarian voting system and the abiding of this “constitution for the community” will be the force that ensures people aren’t stepping on other peoples toes!
Allow me to also address this question in another way – we will be living in optimal abundance for all – everything will be in a sense free – all it will require is people do their fair share in partaking in some kind of community activity at some minimum level to be able to retain membership and all your benefits. The community itself isn’t going to be all that big and will be a community of friends and colleagues – not strangers with have’s and have not’s – thus social peer pressure will actually play a positive role in ensuring hat people do their part!
9) Doctors? Medicine? Birth control? How will the community provide these?
You’d be surprised at how little these things will be needed with a stress-free lifestyle and a diet consisting only of organic food! Most every physical ailment is caused by stress and poor nutrition, which will not exist in this community.
However we hope to have a mix doctors, home remedy knowledge and of course outside sources of birth control as part of the community! Just because we want it to be self sustainable doesn’t mean that going to the doctor is not allowed here! This is Canada, we have free universal health care for all – so reality is someone can go and visit a doctor or surgeon or anything when and if they choose to!
Again self sustainable does not equate a closed community in fact it means more open – we will undoubtedly have doctors be part of the group or at the least love the project and idea and want to help when someone is in need! We aren’t going to live in isolation from the rest of the world – the nearest hospital is as close to the land as the nearest hospital is to where I stand right now in the comfort of my home!