Intentional Community Economics - Part I

David Oesper

Gwendolyn Hallsmith, an intentional community economics expert who lives at Headwaters Ecovillage in rural Vermont, presented a two-hour webinar, “Intentional Community Economics”, on June 9. This was another great webinar sponsored by the Foundation for Intentional Community (FIC). Because of my work schedule, I was not able to participate live but one advantage of watching the recording afterwards is that pause and replay allowed me to take almost six pages of notes!

Gwen covered so many topics worth writing about here, that I will present them in separate postings over the next several days.

Something we might want to consider for any astronomy-friendly intentional community (Mirador included) is an employee stock ownership program for on-site businesses.

Interesting fact: Nonprofits represent about 6.5% of the GDP

Financing an Intentional Community

Structure is Important: Ownership

If you are going to go with a traditional lending institution, such as a bank or credit union, there are only certain types of ownership structure they are going to understand and therefore approve. Condominiums, for example.

Some ownership structures:

  • Commune

  • Cooperative

  • Condominium

  • Subdivision

  • Multifamily Rental

  • Squatting

  • Homesteading

  • Informal Settlement

Community Land Trust - a way to keep housing permanently affordable. The community owns the land, and residents (or the residential housing authority, in the case of rental) own the houses that sit on the land.

Water and Wastewater Systems

The water and wastewater systems are two of the first things you need to consider when finding a site for a rural community, where you cannot tie into an existing municipal system.

IMPORTANT: If you are planning a community water supply for more than 25 people, you will need to comply with federal EPA regulations as a public water supply. This will be expensive!

Since Mirador Astronomy Village will have a community water supply, we need to be prepared for additional expenses to comply with federal regulations—just as any small town or city has to. Unfortunate, but understandable and desirable from a public safety standpoint.

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