The structure of a community is paramount to its successes and failures. Having a good structure will support the IPC participants - to live, build, be and play as a cohesive network.
There are 4 main elements to the IPC structure. These are the;
- Participants - the life force of the community;
- Organizational Elements - legalities, activities, communal processes;
- Physical Elements - space uses of land, village and farm;
- Production Elements- work, products and services.
The core, the life force of the IPC, is its people, whom are free and freedom loving individuals who care for the miracles of life and whom understand the importance of such communities in the larger social fabric of human civilization. The strength of the whole lies in the relationships and interactions of those people. Such persons should have a voluntary interest in collaboration and a desire to live differently than the modern consumerist pattern. Individuals dedicated to listening and working with nature and each other to create a vibrant tribe and home to us all.
Some of the general privileges and responsibilities of an International Permaculture Community Participant is to;
- Choose a piece of land they can steward as their home / personal space of 900 meters square;
- Have the right to assist meetings of any of the production elements within the community;
- Have the right to vote on any issue that interests them within the community;
- Take on the responsibility of completing the minimum Shared Work Load (Shawolo) hours per month/year;
- Have the right to share in the harvest and goods produced by the community;
- Have the right to monies (paid out monthly) made by the collective works of the community participants, minus expenses, through the 'Share the Wealth dividends' plan;
- Have the right to divest of their participation from the community and reclaim their stewarded land fee once a new participant has been approved by the community and paid their own membership in full;
- Participate in numerous enriching community activities and services.
More details about participants can be found in the Community Earth Membership Contract, including the application process for future Participants.
Organizational elements pertain to the way we interact with each other and the land, the wider community, other intentional communities and the world at large. All the legal issues, protocols and processes are all part of the organizational elements as are the way we live and work together. These can often be nearly invisible structures, such as the ingrained habits and perceptions within a culture that inadvertently foster predictable patterns and outcomes. A natural and peaceful flow within the community manifests when such organizational elements work well together creating invisible 'ties that bind', which contributes to building healthy relationships.
There are a few models of success that we can glean 'best practices' from, such communities like Twin Oaks, Crystal Waters, The Farm, Dancing Rabbit and Findhorn to name a few. Each of these success stories are similar in spirit but different in application and our organizational elements pulls what we feel are the best mix for our collective vision.
Community living is not for every one, nor is it an easy ride. Communities often flounder due to economic and social friction between members. Our community aims to address these issues in unique ways (social contracts). We will flourish by creating strong economic and social ties between members. There will be much emphasis on communication within the community and processes will be in place to ease social tensions that may arise.
What works and doesn't work for us will be observed as we grow. Organizational elements can be tweaked over time through our collective decision making process to best suit our collective needs. If you would like to know the reasoning behind certain decisions thus far, feel free to contact us and talk about them.
Our intention is to live collectively in such a way that villagers are encouraged and able to contribute their skills, gifts and interests, to create a solid, diverse, and thriving social environment. The social dynamics at the IPC are thus born out of the organizational elements that we, as a community agree to, and take responsibility for. Therefore, to join, each person must understand and agree with our Organizational elements before becoming a participant. These are embodied in our Membership Contract.
Physical elements are the elements which are bound to the earth. The use of land is therefore its domain. The land will be divided with a balance between agro-forestry, agricultural, naturally reserved areas and the village land which will further be divided between private homes and communal/collective spaces. The land will provide food security in every possible niche. The designation of lands are broken down into the following 4 zones;
Personal spaces, community spaces, and cooperative spaces, all have physical elements that must be considered before the time, effort and expenses are invested in making them.
The design and layout of a village impacts greatly on the efficiency of a community, on the psyche and health of its members and on the interactions and relationships that people have to each other and the environment. Permaculture design therefore is crucial and some over arching considerations will include integration of natural resources within the landscape of the village, non grid patterns, useful poly-culture corridors, ways to promote symbiotic village life relationships and efficiency through well planned locations of the different physical, cultural and economic elements.
We will explore different fundamental designs for extending the village (vertically and horizontally) so we reduce the possibility of problems if our population density climbs and will look carefully at waste streams, water patterns, people movements, product/good movement, electrical, etc.
Before any permanent structures are started on the land, the community will undertake a Permaculture Plan which includes Village Design, which will stretch over a one year period. Any future participants can get involved and the general public can offer suggestions to the design(s). There has already been some visioning with this in mind and the following describes a general feel that the core team is hoping for.
The concept of the IPC is not to build a subdivision but rather a more fluid mix of interconnected communal and private spaces. Since there will be many varied communal spaces, personal homes will probably not require large amounts of space or resources. Villager participation in the design and building of their own homes is recommended and input from the rest of the community will help ensure a nice balance between personal comfort and resource management. For some villagers a home could be as simple as a hut or as small as a 2 bedroom apartment and for others intricate stand alone houses may be in order. Either way, villagers have a personal space to retire to when they desire to.
Dwellings will primarily be built on the periphery of communal areas for greater efficiency and facility in sharing of resources. Residential Stewarded Land will be allotted based on a 1st come basis and their sites chosen and drawn in from the participants input as to their general needs. These include distance from community spaces, views, access to waterways and many other attributes.
Easy accessibility to and within the community will be important. An access road or alternative cargo/transit technology may be necessary to aid in the construction of the core of the village, however it will become a car free zone with large walking/cycling paths.
The IPC village will include spaces for learning, sharing and growing, areas to explore and discuss and places to create and exchange knowledge and techniques. These communal spaces will reduce the need for large personal homes and keep the village centered around a core, keeping many social functions within short walking distance or biking distance. Sound playing structures, mini theater space, public courtyards and learning spaces, are some of the possible physical elements in the village that promote communal/family dynamics. Cooperatives and businesses are only limited to members imagination and capabilities. Some of these physical structures may include a carpentry workshop, butterfly house, beekeeping operations, kitchen and food transformation spaces, art studio, etc... . An extensive list of imagined spaces that future villagers would like, has been started and can be view here: List of Physical Elements.
Civilizations are shaped in part by their technology. We will design our community in the most efficient way for the enjoyment of its peoples and use appropriate technologies to reduce our environmental footprint. All buildings will go through an eco-friendly analysis, weighing the pros and cons of certain materials in this climate and their availability. We will design and build in ways to harness the waste stream in a useful way for and from each building.
We are aiming for a complete, vibrant, healthy and productive village with at least 50 participants. It will also be a place of immersion into new social dynamics and a permaculture put into practice. Guests can integrate into community life and learn about the relationships and production areas of interest to them.
Societies who feed their populations with the most wholesome of foods, while using techniques that are healthy to the land to ensure sustainability, will in our opinion be the most resilient over time. In our village, we envision a maximum of 200 adult participant residents and a handful of guests from time to time. There is a document that Ivan Tattoli wrote about the carrying capacity of land to population size which is available upon request and we have used this information to help decide our own balance between land and population with a bend to the cautious side, so if we have 200 people we will have a vibrant village and food sources that will be able to sustain them substantially.
Our community will strive to be self sufficient in foods first and if successful will expand to grow larger plots for sale to what we foresee as our primary market in the region: restaurants and foreigners. Production Elements will also be using the produce to create their own products for internal and external use, consumption and sale.
Farming has many physical elements to consider and often looks different in application based on the techniques one incorporates on the lands. Some clearly defined elements that we will include are vegetable plots and bio-intensive beds, greenhouses, swales, irrigation systems, harvesting infrastructure, fencing, animals and of course the plants, bushes and trees that nourish us.
The staple vegetables and fruits of the region will be planted first to provide for our community. Staples such as bananas, papayas, pineapples, beans, tomatoes, eggplants, cassava and rice to name a few. These plots will be inter-planted in the first few years with larger tree species so that we maximize our time and space in developing the agricultural aspect of the community.
There will be mixed orchards which will produce fruits that the community can use, transform and sell easily. The trees will be trimmed for easy picking and fruit promotion. Such things as grapes, passion fruits, citrus, water apples, caimitos etc... will be planted and maintained in a mixed orchard setting. Some leguminous trees will be found in this area for greater shade, nitrogen fixing and to improve the soil biodiversity.
Some animal husbandry may be maintained especially once orchards and forests are established. We may have animals that assist in work load and providing fertilizer, that give products to eat or be transformed for other purposes. The raising of animals will depend primarily on the dietary requirements of community members.
Community Earth will plant and maintain mixed timber species, medicinal species and a large food forest which will share boundaries with land that we have decided to preserve. Hundreds of species would be maintained and labeled, however some plant and tree species will be grown in larger patches or will be given more emphasis due to market opportunities for village sustainability. Some of these species will be exotic fruits, traditional staple fairs and trees for promoting more eco-concious lifestyles (such as the soap nut).
The final goal would be to establish a poly-culture that creates ecological services for the land and for the community while healing the forest through bio-remediation. The maintenance and expansion of a permaculture food forest should be well under way by the 7th year period. We have no current plans to grow tree species for timber for resell purposes however selective logging may be done in this area in the future to be used by the community. The food forest will be implemented in small stages and in the early years could occupy a large portion of the communal work load.
Experimentation and research will be encouraged for those interested and we have access to a search-able plants database which one of our members already has in the works. For example: such experiments as the domestication of jungle grapes and tapping of cohune flowers for sap could have marketable implications as well as new understandings in the form of pure scientific interest.
Protected Preserve Zones
Depending on the land we attain there may be the need for restoration of original forests involved. The protection of such land will ensure that the community can thrive for generations to come so long as the preserved lands are allowed to regenerate and flourish. This preserve will consist of natural fauna of the area, with the intent to restore it into a state of primary forest if it is not already. The conservation of water ways and biodiversity will be paramount, so that wild life can continue to prosper and evolve.
From the point of purchase, a protracted observation period and a proper updated layout inventory of current species and resources will be undertaken, followed by a permaculture design strategy which will include understanding what grew in the original forests here and how to reclaim some of the land for such purposes. Selective cutting to give a boost to the flora will most likely follow. Pruning of existing trees and the introduction of species lost or beneficial to a diverse and productive forest will commence.
Pathways may be made in this area and could be used for collecting medicines in a sustainable manner. Most food producing species in this preserved area will be left for wildlife regeneration. The protected forest will also keep the water table high and guard the springs that run into the rivers.
The primary purpose of Production Elements is to sustain the diverse needs of the community members, and the secondary purpose is to produce certain goods or services that the community can exchange with other communities or for sale to the world at large.
A diverse set of interconnected industries & disciplines will ensure a robust, healthy, creative and wealthy populace. These production elements can touch all fields and include all sorts of activities, be it agricultural, cultural, industrial, commercial and/or touristic. A list of suggested Production Elements has been started.
Each Production Element can be set up in the form of a Project, Business or Cooperative. Note that, if any type of production element generates income, these monies will be shared via the 'share the dividends' plan. See the Income Sharing Model in the economy section of the Membership Contract for details.
These production elements will be the method through which members can participate in the day to day operations and mini industries in the community. Participants are free to engage in whatever business, project or cooperative they feel most useful. In our Sharing Economy, each participant understands and agrees to be responsible for a certain amount of work hours per month. This ensures things get done, people profit from the collective labors and everyone contributes. The sharing of the monetary profits may also act as an incentive but it is secondary, a benefit of the collective effort.
This shared income model creates an invisible cohesion. By this token, it is in every villagers interest to work well and produce quality goods or services for themselves, each other and the surrounding communities. Through shared responsibility the community bonds will be maintained while villagers can also explore their own interests, switching roles or putting efforts / time in a few production elements at a time.
As people join with differing expertise more production elements will blossom. The wide range of goods and services, allows for the community to fulfill many of the members needs and wants and allows diversified income streams for the village into the future.