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The Community Itch Options
Paratrooper
#1 Posted : Saturday, January 23, 2010 9:00:34 PM
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Tom in Kingman AZ
MC
#2 Posted : Monday, January 25, 2010 6:52:09 PM
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That's...  interesting.  Some of these people sound very well-organized and some of them sound like sugar-frosted flakes.  It's good to know they are out there.

I guess I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that joining almost any kind of group is going to mean the end of my marriage.  Don't know how I feel about that.  I wouldn't be opposed to being a single mother in a supportive community setting.  I don't know how I feel about separating them from their father.  I don't know if he would allow me to take them to something like this.  And I'm NOT leaving them behind. 

I understand that children are very much frowned on by the ecoconcerned set.  I understand why.  I see their point.  But I don't want to be bitched at for having these kids.  Having the third one might have been very irresponsible, but she's here now and that's not going to change by any agency of mine.  I'm not going to wallow in guilt.  I'm going to go forward trying to teach them to be as responsible as I know how.   

MC
#3 Posted : Monday, January 25, 2010 7:16:23 PM
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What I can do, here and now, is develop my own skills and try to build some kind of network within my own community. 

Housing developments are coming to Garfield-- thankfully they have been delayed by the economic climate, but it seems everyone with two pennies to rub together or the credit to borrow someone else's wants their little slice of rurban lakefront paradise (gag me with an outboard). 

Still the community here is full of good ol' boys.  About as ecologically concerned as Haliburton (sadly), but very big on self-reliance, on dealing with life on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis. 

How do you talk to people about building up a community network???  Strengthenhing our ability to work together to take care of ourselves, and making myself and the kids a contributing and valuable part of 'ourselves'.  Exchanging labor for learning, labor (at least in part) for goods (milk, eggs, produce, firewood), labor for labor???  

Is that even a reasonable exchange???  DH says it is not, that I am delusional and that they will either laugh at me or take advantage of me.  I don't believe I can use much of what DH says.  He simply does not understand, and cannot (or will not) wrap his brain the validity of any model other than the conventional one. 

My own experience is that my neighbors will do things FOR me (lady in distress syndrome) but they are not real big on doing stuff WITH me.  I appreciate their help-- it gets my girl to school and groceries in when the car's broke down and it is very sweet, and repaying in coffee, beer, and company is fun-- but it does not move things forward.

I do not mean to play poor-me, only to state a fact.  Other than money, labor is about all I have to offer.  I have no unique equipment, no unique skills (I have plenty of skills, but they have been doing what I can do since I was in diapers and I am looking to them for the opportunity to learn more), no usable land.   

Where do I go to learn about community-building???  It seems to me to be a happy medium--  I and the kids get our village, in which we are contributors rather than welfare cases, and Daddy and the kids get to keep each other even if he does not want to participate on a scale beyond doing the dishes when I'm not available (which I appreciate and he seems to think is heroic).   

davisonh
#4 Posted : Monday, January 25, 2010 11:37:20 PM
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heh,heh,see MC what you're thinking is precisely what I've been talking about all these years here,thing is people have a hard time realizing that in many ways they've been doing what we've been preaching all along!See part of the problem is we're lazy as a society.We are.If any of us can get out of doing(labor)whats necessary to survive comfortably,we'll do it.JEM here made a good point.Money is basically a paper exchange for the value of one's labor and thats all it is.It's why gas costs so much,it gets you out of doing a whole heck of a lot more to get to the point you need to than it would if you had to walk the same distance.Thats what you pay for.No you're not delusional,you're right on the money pardon the pun.Problem is everyone else is!What I mean is many are charging more for the value of their labor that what the labor really is worth,basically more than the market will bear.What I do not get is that those good 'ol boys,if they were really into the self sufficiency thing,would learn to run their atv's,sleds,outboard motors etc on their own homemade gas like their granddaddys did.Now thats real patriotism IMO.We're giving the value of our labor over to a group of people that fundamentally disagrees about what we  in America stand for as a society.Does that make sense to you?When you run into a situation like we're in now is when it's time to get back to basics.You may not 'think' you have  valuable skills but common sense these days is of the greatest value of all because not too many these days seem to have any.Community building starts with you,then your kids,then your begrudged other half,then with your friends,then with your friends friends,then with your dog and you cat,well..you get the picture.You dont need much,just a bunch of like-minded *individuals*.Thats what makes real community,equal give(in one individuals mind)to equal take(in the other individuals mind)..when both can say.Fair enough,it's done.

jd
#5 Posted : Tuesday, January 26, 2010 3:20:21 AM
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Forgive me.........I don't know your situation well enough to comment legitimately but that is part of the problem with all forums.  So, here goes.....................

It does not sound good to break up a family to join a community.  Feels like a move contrary to it's own nature.  Of course, maybe you are looking for an excuse to leave your husband and that is your decision.  But sacrificing one relationship for a larger unknown one is going in the wrong direction and doing so blindfolded as well.  In my opinion.

My suggestion would be to find a community that you like and visit with the family on weekends.  See if it 'catches on' with hubby and the kids.  Bear in mind, that your husband is an equal partner - not superior, not inferior - but definitely equal when it comes to family matters.  The only REAL decision you can make without him is whether to stay with him or not.  After that, it is all EQUAL - legally, anyway.

Secondly, any community that frowns on kids is doomed.  Stay away.  Kids are the backbone of the community.  The are what sustain it, they are the glue.  Whether you have 2, 3 or ten - makes no difference.  We might wonder about when the fetus-machine will stop but we would welcome each and every one of the kids (quietly hoping that the parents each were sensible in other respects of their lives, perhaps). 

As for community building........well, we have seen a lot of such so-called builders.  They aren't.  They are, usually, just talkers.  You want to build community for real?  Then find out the skill (the one that you don't have) that is needed in the community and go get it.  That's right.  Learn to weld if you have to.  DO NOT BE or even PLAY AT the lady in distress syndrome.  It wears thin very quickly.  Real participation is work and skill.  Doing not saying.  In fact, if you were a skilled deaf mute, you are more welcome than is a charismatic beauty in distress (well, the beauty in distress works for a short while even in a real community but it wears thinner with the women much faster).

Our women look good.  They are healthy and fit.  But their hands are tough.  Their skin is weathered. They don't have giant, white teeth like piano keys.  They have real muscles. They gave birth in tents, fixed outboards while drifting at sea, chopped wood for their sick neighbours and built their own houses.  Our women carry heavy things, work with tools, get dirty and get things done.  'Ladies in distress' have minimal appeal to anyone - even the bachelors.  Drop the idea of having the role of community builder and adopt the role of becoming a real builder of practical things, or a practitioner of a needed service, or a producer of necessary goods. 

Think about it.

MC
#6 Posted : Tuesday, January 26, 2010 7:52:45 PM
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JD--  Man, you ain't kidding.  Taking a family apart just to take a chance on starting a new one strikes me as avoidant, selfish, and stupid.  It's running away hoping it will be easier somewhere else.  If I wanted an excuse to get out, being 900 miles from elderly grandparents and an aging father would be enough. 

And LIDS is revolting-- to anyone who has survival in adverse situations in mind, and to me as well.  Where's the self-respect in that???  Nowhere.  That is what nauseates me about this situation-- I will take them doing FOR me if I have to because it is what gets stuff done, but that is not what I want to be.  Even before I consider the fact that it will shortly wear thin---  being the "lady in distress" makes me want to puke.  IMO, if that is all I can do I had ought to drop dead and leave the resources I consume for someone else. 

What do I do when I offer to help and that offer is turned aside, apparently out of some sick Southern chivalry????  Case in point:  I drive a Cavalier.  Gets really killer gas milage, is paid for, serves the purpose about 350 days out of the year.  Going to trade it in on a 4WD when I can pay for a reliable one out of pocket (about 2 years down the road).  My neighbor drives a Jeep.  I ask him to take my daughter to the top of the hill in the mornings when it's too icy to get the car up there.  He's glad to do it-- threatens the Wrath of Dave if he sees me walking the little ones up there instead.  I'm very appreciative.  Bring him beer and hang out with him-- he likes that, having recently retired and lost his wife and being lonely. 

But.  I offer to help cut and stack wood-- things I can do with one eye shut-- and, "Oh, that's awright.  I can handle it.  That's no place for a lady."  "Dave, man, I ain't a lady.  I'm a broad.  I'd like to help.  It's the least I can do."  "Aw, that's awright.  I've got it under control." 

If I keep insisting, I think I become a pest and "all talk."  Do I show up next morning with chalk in my pocket, the tot in gloves, the baby all fed and in a car seat, and the saw on my back and work gloves on and just start stacking???  Am I getting in someone's face if I just jump in, or is that what's required???

I want to work.  I am-- literally, at this point, with how bad the depression's getting-- dying to work.  It's the only thing outside of chemical sedation that's going to help.  It seems that my help will not be accepted because I've got two little ones and a vagina.  That's got to be the reason.  Even if it were my alleged inherent stupidity-- and it's not-- they haven't known me long enough to have seen it.  How in the fart do I get around that????  Splitting and stacking my own dang wood ain't enough to prove I can, will, and should???

Other thought---  There has to be a community builder or organizer or whatever somewhere.  Otherwise, how do people connect up with each other????  "Joe has goats, wants to go away for a weekend.  Tom has cask, wants milk.  Rita is broke and lives in a rented trailer, but wants to learn to keep goats.  Suzy wants to buy milk and learn about goats."  "Fran has chickens, needs help.  Phil wants to learn about chickens.  Sally has money and wants to buy eggs.  Dan knows about chickens, has no place to keep them."  "Community organizer" is just a 50-cent word for the person who tells Tom and Suzy and Rita that they might want to give Joe a call, or tells Joe that he might get money from Tom, help from Rita, and both from Suzy.  A walking, talking (and working, if they've got any balls) classified directory and phone book. 

I guess it's sort of the same question you've got (and part of how it ended up on your thread).  People can benefit from each other.  The skills, the goods, and the market are pre-existing.  How do you get them to work together, and let them know that others want to work with them as well????              

MC
#7 Posted : Tuesday, January 26, 2010 10:29:24 PM
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Put shortly.  I don't want the role of community builder.  Interpersonal skills are among my weakest points.  I am conscious (and self-conscious) of that fact.  I don't like it; I still see myself as stupid and I'm scared.  But someone has to do it if this going to progress beyond being a place full of disparate individuals.  Case in point:  The girls up at the real estate office organized a food pantry and connected a guy with chickens and no money up with people who have money and want eggs.  The response has been overwhelming.  Over 100 families use the pantry and about 30 (us included) contribute to it.  Eggs sell faster than the chickens can lay 'em. 

I don't want the job.  But everyone benefits if someone does it.  Or, at least they do if the someone doing it is going to walk what they talk, even if they have to break trail.  It's worthless without walk, but talk does have a purpose.  I have some ideas.  That kind of makes it my job to organize them.  Or at least to run them by the people who are doing the organizing. 

davisonh
#8 Posted : Tuesday, January 26, 2010 11:58:24 PM
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So what if you think you're stupid,guess what everyone else is too so you're not suprising anyone there.As with your husband ;my parents (and I know you've heard it before)used to say 'Well,shyte or get off the pot,are you with me or not?.if you dont like what you hear you can decide what you want to do from there.It's not like you're bursting thru the door and say 'OK Honey we're off to the commune'no you have given them plenty of advanced warning of your plans from what it sounds like.I myself am not a communal person,I'll help out but I like to be left to myself,and so here I am.LIDS dont ever get very far..

Neene
#9 Posted : Wednesday, January 27, 2010 1:17:06 AM
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A lot of the reason, IMO, people don't like to accept help is fear. It is so much easier to do something for somebody your way than to have to work with them and get along. You have to have patience, good communication skills, and willingness to compromise - no matter what the job is. Even with cutting and stacking wood. He has a way of doing it and if you come over you may want to change it and boss him around and he may not be able to stand up to you. Having you there would put him on a time limit, plus where would your kids be? He would also feel responsible for them. You might tell him that the excercise would really help, it lifts your mood... but again. A lot of people would prefer to help you and have you "owe" them than accept anything in exchange.

The problems you are having in your relationship and with the neighbors will be the same if you tried to go somewhere else. All I can suggest is keep on, keeping on. More and more people are waking up and starting to think earthwise. Keep learning and keep trying. Having small children is hard, they need you so much right now and it wears you down, but they have to be your main priority. I sincerely hope you don't divorce, the kids need their dad as much as you and it is really hard on them when they lose a parent.

Community starts with you. Be friendly, know your neighbors and speak, even when they aren't friendly back and look for places you might be able to volunteer. Work on the networking angle as much as possible. Winter is an ugly depressing time, and it sounds like it is getting you down, but spring is ahead.... Hang in there.

jd
#10 Posted : Wednesday, January 27, 2010 2:29:52 AM
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Good response, MC.  Good attitude.  I think you'll be fine.  But, listen to Neene and Davh.  Sensible people. 

As for my hints......they go something like this:  men have egos (which is good and bad) and they will almost automatically say, "Nah! I'm good.  No problem." It is one of the reasons so many men have so few friends as they age.  They want to sound strong and independent.  Basically it is macho-ego in a "I can handle it" kind of way.  An offer of work help to a man is (often) saying, "You look weak."

None of this matters very much since there are so many ways to 'balance the books' and allow for the 'dignity' factor to remain intact.  First off, the books don't have to be balanced right away.  Living in community means that the general give and take is out of balance now and then - it's only natural - but, overall, it eventually gets pretty equalized in a harmonious community (there are always little debit and credit accounts that cause a bit of friction, tho). 

People come to know the takers, the givers and the 'keep-it-square'-types over time.  But it takes years for this to become common knowledge because no real accounting is done except in the heart and the subconscious.  So, relax.  

Having said that, some needs are also obvious.  Maybe Dave hasn't had fresh baking/canning...whatever.......in a long time.  Maybe Dave has a small place and when his guests visit, he could use an extra room.  Maybe he needs a sit-down Sunday dinner now and then.  Typically, the macho, independent types can easily accept quid pro quo so long as it takes a feminine form.  Like cooking, laundry, sewing and gardening. Women, generally, are more social and have less of this 'obstacle' to overcome. 

Of course, if you can weld or cast iron or do fine finishing work and he can't - that is fine, too.  But traditional roles are easier to play at first. Not essential - just a bit easier. Our community could really use a hunter who can dress fresh deer and, quite frankly, gender is not an issue but we kind of expect that the person who eventually steps up will be male.  If they are female, it will not be a problem.  NOT having the knowledge to do the job is the problem.     

I, personally, am not so much community oriented - not on a group scale, anyway.  I have a legal background and most people know that.  I have a business history, too.  Plus I write.  So people are all the time coming for help in matters of that nature.  And, of course, I give the assistance freely.  So, that is my role in the community.  NOT a party-type of guy, not a group-maker.  I am simply a resource that everyone knows about and feels they can use.  If the help asked for is small or even medium, it is free.  If it is a bigger commitment, I say, "Pay me what you can or give me eggs or fix my diesel or just remember the favour - it's all OK with me."

Having said that, the road on the other island needed repairs (we all use that road) and no one was addressing it.  I decided that I would.  I told everyone that I was going to fix the road on a certain date and that I had rented some equipment and bought a few truckloads of gravel.  I didn't organize anything.  I just went with Sally and my neighbour to do the job.  34 people showed up!  4 who didn't show sent money.  The point: NO committees, no one was put on the spot.  Everyone knew about it.  Those who came did so because they wanted to.  Regardless, Sally and I and my neighbours would have gotten it done.  But that was 'community' and it was a natural manifestation of it.

Neene
#11 Posted : Monday, February 15, 2010 2:00:36 AM
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I have been thinking about this post and the more I thought the more I realized I had something else to say:

"Put shortly.  I don't want the role of community builder.  Interpersonal skills are among my weakest points.  I am conscious (and self-conscious) of that fact.  I don't like it; I still see myself as stupid and I'm scared.  But someone has to do it if this going to progress beyond being a place full of disparate individuals."

Community building is like politics, the ones who want it probably shouldn't be doing it. Do not get down on yourself - it takes time and patience and the ability to be supportive and nonjudgemental to do so. Community begins at a grassroots level and in today's world of instant gratification and bigger is better no one seems willing to try to start and follow through on the small steps and open themselves up to the personal price that the job requires. Sometimes the only way you learn something is by stepping up to a job that nobody else wants but that needs someone to at least start it. There is a poem they found on the wall of one of Mother Teresa's orphanages that I am going to put on here because I think it applies to community building:

The Final Analysis

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; … forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; … be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; … succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; … be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; … build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; … be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; … do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; … give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

I hope you're doing ok, M.C. Exercise is a great thing to help lift your mood and if you can't help someone by chopping and stacking wood then make sure you take the kids out for a walk and stretch your muscles and get the blood circulating, (and definitely say hi to anyone you see regardless of how grumpy they are!), that will keep your mood up as much as anything. And don't let yourself get overextended which is an easy thing to do with small children.

 

MC
#12 Posted : Friday, February 19, 2010 6:14:53 AM
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Yes, OK.  The computer croaked without warning (DH broke it, actually, but at least he broke it trying to do something with it, and I got weeks without the blasted thing, so I'm soooo OK with that).  Still frustrated, but OK.

Hmmm.  What skills are missing around here???  We're drowning in welders and machinists and carpenters.  I can find 3 without walking a mile.  There are a goodly many mechanics I think.  Obviously we don't need anyone to work wood, or even any woodlot flunkies-- just people to buy it. 

We don't have a blacksmith.  We don't have (to the best of my knowledge) a tanner.  I don't know of anyone who can make cordage or fiber or fabric, though I know a lot of the women can sew well enough to take it from there and suspect that they would make good weavers. 

What they would be doesn't matter for the purposes of finding a niche for me to fill, does it????  Only what IS.

I know there isn't an herbalist within 15 miles.  I'd love to take that one on.  I'm also afraid to.  I don't think medicinal herbalism is something you want to learn from books.     

BB
#13 Posted : Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:02:37 AM
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I'd like to start a community on my 44 acre ranch.  I really admire the Hutterites, Amish and Conservative Mennonites.  I'd like to find people of like beliefs  We could pool our labor and resources on the ranch, and people could work to earn the cash they need that can't be earned from the farm.  I'm near San Antonio, Texas.  It's warm much of the year, so the growing season is long.  It's not humid like the Deep South or Midwest.  Contact me if you're interested @ myhiddenmeadow@hotmail.com

MC
#14 Posted : Thursday, May 27, 2010 11:02:37 AM
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I think almost every week about joining some kind of self-reliant community.  I hate the modern American culture; it makes me sick and I want to spit on it, turn my back, and walk away.  How desperately I want it depends on how abjectly frightened and miserably frustrated I am.  

In a relatively good mood???  It would be nice, God would it be nice, but it's probably not necessary for survival.

Things going badly???  These kids are going to starve if I don't get them in somewhere.  It should have been done, yesterday, at any price. 

The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.  I will post more on this subject when the baby is not jumping up and down on my lap screaming to get back in front of the fire. 

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