Date   
Traits of Successful Community Founders

David Oesper
 

During Yana Ludwig's recent webinar, "How to Start an Intentional Community", we had a brainstorming session (there were over 120 participants) as to needed traits of successful community founders. Here they are, in alphabetical order.

  • Bravery
  • Clear communication
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Determination
  • Empathy
  • Energy
  • Entrepreneur
  • Facilitation skills
  • Financial planning skills
  • Good listener
  • Grit
  • Helping other people with their problems
  • Honesty
  • Humility
  • Integrity
  • Legal know-how
  • Logistics skills
  • Mediation skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Networking skills
  • Non-negative reputation
  • Openness to feedback
  • Patience
  • Permaculture skills
  • Perserverance
  • Project management skills
  • Resilience
  • Self-Awareness
  • Vitality

Everyone in a group of intentional community founders should have some of these skills, such as integrity, but no one person, no matter how talented, has all of these skills. And that's the point. It takes a village to make a village.

Characteristics of Intentional Communities

David Oesper
 

Every intentional community has attributes that fall somewhere along various community characteristic spectra. Yana Ludwig shared the following "Spectrums for Community Visioning" during her recent webinar, "How to Start an Intentional Community". Below each "spectrum" is my suggestion for where Mirador Astronomy Village should be placed. Comments and suggestions welcome!

Income Sharing left_right_arrow % Tithing left_right_arrow Independent Finances

milky_way Independent Finances

High Resource Sharing left_right_arrow Low Resource Sharing

milky_way In the middle somewhere

No cost to join left_right_arrow High cost to join

milky_way Low cost to join

Spiritually Same left_right_arrow Spiritually Diverse left_right_arrow Supports Spirituality left_right_arrow Tolerates Spirituality left_right_arrow Secular left_right_arrow Intolerant of Spirituality

milky_way Secular

Rural left_right_arrow Urban

milky_way Rural

Mission Driven left_right_arrow Member Quality of Life Driven

milky_way In the middle somewhere, but much closer to Member Quality of Life Driven

Inwardly Focused left_right_arrow Outwardly Focused

milky_way In the middle somewhere

Family Size (4-6) left_right_arrow Village Size (500+)

milky_way In the middle somewhere, say around 50-100 people

Low Technology Use left_right_arrow High Technology Use

milky_way High Technology Use

Mainstream Appeal left_right_arrow Radical Appeal

milky_way In the middle somewhere, but slightly closer to Radical Appeal

Deep Alignment left_right_arrow Consensus left_right_arrow Voting left_right_arrow Small Decision Group left_right_arrow Sole Leader

milky_way Consensus would be my preference, but maybe Voting. Perhaps a hybrid of the two depending on the type of issue.

Flat Power left_right_arrow Dispersed Power left_right_arrow Strong Pockets of Power left_right_arrow Very Lopsided

milky_way Dispersed Power

Strong Group Role in Conflict Resolution left_right_arrow Group Hands Off with Conflict Resolution

milky_way In the middle somewhere

Rules-based left_right_arrow Relationally-based

milky_way In the middle somewhere, closer to Relationally-based

"Moving Toward" Energy left_right_arrow "Resisting" Energy

milky_way "Moving Toward" Energy

Re: Characteristics of Intentional Communities

Bennett Jones
 

Dave,
I was going to reply to this in our next chat, but thought I would send it to the group instead in order to see if it would stimulate some additional discussion.
There is no reason Mirador Astronomy Village (MAV) could not accommodate several versions of the "spectrum" in the different housing areas - Campsite (tent to RV), "Hotel", Dorm, Apartment, Private Residence, etc. ....

Please explain the "Spiritualty" and "Energy" spectrums.
What does it mean to be less than tolerant of spiritualty?
What is "Energy", in this context?

Here is my point of view regarding the others (based on the L.C. model and my experience living in an IC):

Income Sharing - Yes!... in that I would prefer as a resident to be able to be a shareholder of the site ownership corporation which operates at a profit from multiple reliable revenue streams - to the point of never needing additional income.

High Resource Sharing - Yes. I only want private access to my personal bedroom and attached bathroom (I will Email you a floor plan), I'm good with sharing everything else. And, I would even consider dorm style (bunk and a locker), if all the necessary public health design features, policies, and procedures were in place..

Cost to join - varies from your security deposit/monthly rent to shareholder.

Create a new "Urban" in a rural setting. But really... MAV is a primarily a remote residential Science Station.

Mission Driven, at a high quality of life (which I expect is defined differently by everyone).

Inwardly Focused in the permanent residence (P.R.) section. Outwardly Focused in the public areas, and as part of the education mission. Residents can then operate in their chosen mode at any given time.

Optimized for 72 P.R. (144 max. cap. - which is consistent with the approx. limits of Dunbar's Number).

Designed and built MAV so that all essential functions/critical systems can be operated at an extreme Low Tech level, then overlay up to Highest Tech for cutting edge "bells and whistles".

Radical Appeal for sure. I want to live in a remote Experimental Science Station. Mainstream is already available.

Voting is possibly the worst form of decision making ever (however, it cam be used effectively as an opinion survey device). It breeds division and resentment immediately, which compounds infamously over time. A contractual community does not require most of the conventional "decision making" processes. I would suggest unanimous consent be required in order to change the terms of the contract. There are some functions within a community that, at times, require competent leadership. This is a long conversation topic. (See the Organizational Chart.)

I'm presuming the "Power" spectrum has to do with control. Again, in a consensual contract community, there is little need for the conventional "power" structures. (This is another long discussion.)

Conflict Resolution is situational. It depends... and is most effectively dealt with differently, if for example the conflict (non-physical) is between two (or more) members of a camping party or... the conflict (physical) is between Board Members at an organized meeting. You need plans for the different situations. (See the Policies and Procedures Manual.) The entire community should rarely (if ever) be needed for Conflict Resolution.
In the L.C model there is both an on-site Counselor (permanent staff position in the Heath Department) and a formal Conflict Resolution Committee (as part of the Department of Administration. See Organizational Chart).

Rational Rules-based. All relationships work better when rules are clearly defined and agreed to. (See Contract and Consensus). Science is about learning the rules. Society is then about choosing to live by them.


-Bennett

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, 05:56:07 PM CDT, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper@...> wrote:


Every intentional community has attributes that fall somewhere along various community characteristic spectra. Yana Ludwig shared the following "Spectrums for Community Visioning" during her recent webinar, "How to Start an Intentional Community". Below each "spectrum" is my suggestion for where Mirador Astronomy Village should be placed. Comments and suggestions welcome!

Income Sharing left_right_arrow % Tithing left_right_arrow Independent Finances

milky_way Independent Finances

High Resource Sharing left_right_arrow Low Resource Sharing

milky_way In the middle somewhere

No cost to join left_right_arrow High cost to join

milky_way Low cost to join

Spiritually Same left_right_arrow Spiritually Diverse left_right_arrow Supports Spirituality left_right_arrow Tolerates Spirituality left_right_arrow Secular left_right_arrow Intolerant of Spirituality

milky_way Secular

Rural left_right_arrow Urban

milky_way Rural

Mission Driven left_right_arrow Member Quality of Life Driven

milky_way In the middle somewhere, but much closer to Member Quality of Life Driven

Inwardly Focused left_right_arrow Outwardly Focused

milky_way In the middle somewhere

Family Size (4-6) left_right_arrow Village Size (500+)

milky_way In the middle somewhere, say around 50-100 people

Low Technology Use left_right_arrow High Technology Use

milky_way High Technology Use

Mainstream Appeal left_right_arrow Radical Appeal

milky_way In the middle somewhere, but slightly closer to Radical Appeal

Deep Alignment left_right_arrow Consensus left_right_arrow Voting left_right_arrow Small Decision Group left_right_arrow Sole Leader

milky_way Consensus would be my preference, but maybe Voting. Perhaps a hybrid of the two depending on the type of issue.

Flat Power left_right_arrow Dispersed Power left_right_arrow Strong Pockets of Power left_right_arrow Very Lopsided

milky_way Dispersed Power

Strong Group Role in Conflict Resolution left_right_arrow Group Hands Off with Conflict Resolution

milky_way In the middle somewhere

Rules-based left_right_arrow Relationally-based

milky_way In the middle somewhere, closer to Relationally-based

"Moving Toward" Energy left_right_arrow "Resisting" Energy

milky_way "Moving Toward" Energy

Re: Characteristics of Intentional Communities

Sharon Villines
 

On May 20, 2020, at 12:40 AM, Bennett Jones via groups.io <byl_liberty@...> wrote:

There is no reason Mirador Astronomy Village (MAV) could not accommodate several versions of the "spectrum" in the different housing areas - Campsite (tent to RV), "Hotel", Dorm, Apartment, Private Residence, etc. ....

There are intentional communities that have this range. Cohousing has included a few government subsidized units but the issue is that unless you are in the country you can’t get building permits to build anything other than conventional housing. 

In an isolated location, a guest house might be a source of income. Focused weekend programs might draw people — even just to experience a dark sky. And actually see stars. I recently read of B&B in Scotland that was floundering until the owner started having knitting retreats. The big focus was just knitting and chatting. Sharing projects. She had some events like having a yarn company come one afternoon with a “trunk sale”, yarns discounted because they are discontinued. Or someone to give lessons for 2 hours. Simple programs that don’t take huge amounts of preparation or expense. If the community members donate time, and the guest house is small, it might be a possibility. There are several cohousing communities that are adjacent to some kind of educational center.

One thing Chuck Durrett has said is that you can’t do two things at one time. Focus on one. Develop a staged program with the first stage financing the second but get built by focusing on the first stage.

Isolation is a challenge for people needing employment but working from a distance is becoming more common. Senior cohousing might work well. Also an isolated location that has an easy shot to a airport. Even 4 hours away seems doable. But I’m used to urban distances now. I know in Nebraska, people in small towns had small planes and would fly to Kansas City for dinner.

What are the dreams of this group?

Sharon

Re: Characteristics of Intentional Communities

David Oesper
 

Sharon,

The staged approach you suggest makes perfect sense. I know Bennett has advocated that from the beginning. The first stages might work something like this.

  1. Form a corporate entity that will purchase the land
  2. Purchase the land
  3. Build an RV park with necessary infrastructure in phases
  4. Build additional infrastructure and the residential, business, and observatory “campuses” concurrently in phases (we’re going to need some elements of all of them early on).

Your suggestion of a guest house, focused weekend programs that don’t take huge amounts of preparation or expense, and community volunteers would probably be how we would have to do things during the early part of stage 4 above. Perhaps there will already be a house on the property we purchase that could serve as the guest house.

Did you live in Nebraska?! I was born in Omaha and lived the first few years of my life there. As an adult living in Ames, Iowa, each summer when our children were still at home a group of us (both families and singles) from the astronomy club drove out to the Nebraska Sandhills and rented a large guest house near Brewster, NE for three days and three nights. There, we really enjoyed each other’s company in a remote, quiet, and beautiful place, cooking and eating meals together, going for walks and exploring the surrounding area, and observing a night sky with absolutely no light pollution using telescopes, binoculars, and our unaided eyes. Some of us stayed out almost all night! The kids had a great time, too. As I recall, we rented the house for something like $175 a day (very reasonable), and it had many bedrooms that provided sleeping accommodations for up to 25 people. It was wonderful.

I think it would not be too difficult to be within a four-hour drive of a major airport anywhere in Arizona, New Mexico, or West Texas where we might locate. Also, being a frequent Amtrak traveler, I would be very happy if Mirador Astronomy Village were located reasonably close to the Sunset Limited rail line, making it easy to visit my daughter and her family in Alpine, TX.

The specifications document (https://skythisweek.info/mirador.pdf) describes, in some detail, the aspirations of those of us who want to create, live in, and visit Mirador Astronomy Village. It is still a work in progress, so input is welcome and encouraged.

The purpose of the Dark-Sky-Communities group, in general, is to provide a discussion forum for any existing or proposed community (or community attribute) that provides a “friendly” environment for observational astronomy. For example, it is not difficult to envision a small community with no dusk-to-dawn lighting at all. Any exterior lighting that exists would be activated by occupancy sensors, time controls, or a simple on/off switch. And that lighting would not be any brighter than it needs to be, illuminating only what needs to be illuminated and no more.

Thanks,

Dave

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Re: New file uploaded to main@Dark-Sky-Communities.groups.io

David Oesper
 

An oddity of Groups.io is that image files cannot be uploaded to the Files section, and the Photos section does not seem to provide any place for the description of the image.

You will find Bennett's drawing here:

https://dark-sky-communities.groups.io/g/main/album?id=245317

Re: New file uploaded to main@Dark-Sky-Communities.groups.io

Sharon Villines
 

There is setting about allowing uploading photos to files. You have to give permission


On May 20, 2020, at 7:05 PM, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper@...> wrote:

An oddity of Groups.io is that image files cannot be uploaded to the Files section, and the Photos section does not seem to provide any place for the description of the image.

You will find Bennett's drawing here:

https://dark-sky-communities.groups.io/g/main/album?id=245317


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Description:
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Re: New file uploaded to main@Dark-Sky-Communities.groups.io

David Oesper
 

Ah, thank you, Sharon!

Dave

Re: Characteristics of Intentional Communities

David Oesper
 
Edited

Bennett,

I agree that the “spirituality” spectrum as presented is a little strange in that being “Secular” in no way suggests that it would be “less than tolerant” of spirituality. To my way of thinking, being a “secular” community simply means that spirituality does not play a role in the community organization. Think of it as separation of church and state. Individuals within the community could certainly have a wide range of personal spiritual beliefs, and humanists, agnostics, and atheists would be welcome as well.

If I understand Yana’s “Moving Toward” Energy and “Resisting” Energy correctly, “moving toward” means that the community is not antithetical toward society or civilization as it exists, but does want to show the world there is a better way to live, and it’s a gradual process. “Resisting” suggests a rejection of society or civilization as it exists where the status quo may not be tolerated.

I see no real problem with your definition of community “income sharing”, but what Yana is referencing is personal income sharing: that all of your personal income goes to the community. Think of it as 100% tithing or 100% taxation. Not a place either you or I would want to live!

As for resource sharing, I think that needs to be the choice of each individual member or family. Some will be comfortable with high resource sharing and living in a small unit in a multi-tenant dwelling while others will want to live in a more traditional detached single-family dwelling and sharing less.

I like your “New Urban in a Rural Setting” and “Remote Residential Science Station”. Let's remember those phrases.

Inwardly Focused in the permanent residence (P.R.) section. Outwardly Focused in the public areas, and as part of the education mission. Residents can then operate in their chosen mode at any given time.

Very well said!

The reason I chose between “Mainstream Appeal” and “Radical Appeal” is that I want Mirador to be appealing to anyone who is willing to rent their domicile in a rural area with on-site access to a beautiful night sky and no dusk-to-dawn lighting. Other than that, I don’t want to scare anyone away for any other reason. It will be difficult enough to get enough people to make the move to Mirador. Even Chuck Durrett mentioned to me that he has concerns about whether enough people would be interested in the project.

As for decision making, I agree that unanimous consent (consensus) is better than “majority rules” winner-takes-all voting. We have seen what a mess that has made of our country. But when you say “unanimous consent be required in order to change the terms of the contract” are you referring to all the tenants and no one else, I hope?

OK, I’m willing to shift somewhat from Relationally-based to Rules-based if it is done correctly, but the devil is in the details.

Where are the Organizational Chart, Policies and Procedures Manual, and Contract and Consensus documents you are referring to? Or are you saying that we will need to develop these documents?

Thanks,

Dave

Re: Characteristics of Intentional Communities

Lissa Bengtson
 

The idea of being able to have part of the campus rented for groups that want to have a retreat is a real revenue generator.  
   If you have looked at Airbnb lately—they are thinking “out-of-the-box” and offering experiences as well as places to stay. 
  Every Thanksgiving (not sure about this one!) I go to Greene Family Camp outside of Bruceville,TX for 4 days of folk dancing.  There are several housing options, and we dance and eat in a large building, partying as late into the night as we want. Renting the camp for 4 days costs $25,000.   There are usually 200-250 attendees. It costs me $350 or so because I prefer the private room option.  All meals included. 
    Other fond workshop memories I’ve had were at John C Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC  as well as Festival Hill near Round Top, TX.   Festival Hill is known for classical music concerts in their Elizabethan theater, but they have many other workshops during the year—some they sponsor, which brings in revenue. 
    Most of these places know how many attendees they need to break even and if registration isn’t high enough, they cancel the workshop.  As far as I know they are all 501c3’s. 
     This weekend I plan to have time to savor these posts and think through them.  

Lissa Bengtson
San Antonio

Re: Characteristics of Intentional Communities

Bennett Jones
 

Dave,
Thank you for your response.
(My reply below - Bennett)

Dave: "I agree that the “spirituality” spectrum as presented is a little strange in that being “Secular” in no way suggests that it would be “less than tolerant” of spirituality. To my way of thinking, being a “secular” community simply means that spirituality does not play a role in the community organization. Think of it as separation of church and state. Individuals within the community could certainly have a wide range of personal spiritual beliefs, and humanists, agnostics, and atheists would be welcome as well."

Bennett:  Thank you for clarifying.


Dave: "If I understand Yana’s “Moving Toward” Energy and “Resisting” Energy correctly, “moving toward” means that the community is not antithetical toward society or civilization as it exists, but does want to show the world there is a better way to live, and it’s a gradual process. “Resisting” suggests a rejection of society or civilization as it exists where the status quo may not be tolerated."

Bennett:  I still find the use of the term "Energy" somewhat confusing (but then I sometimes seem to be easily confused). I would say there are aspects of the "status quo" that no one should be tolerating, but I do prefer the approach of leading by example.


Dave: "I see no real problem with your definition of community “income sharing”, but what Yana is talking about is personal income sharing: that all of your personal income goes to the community. Think of it as 100% tithing or 100% taxation. Not a place either you or I would want to live!"

Bennett:  Actually, in an ideal community (which does not exist in the real world), I would not be opposed to 100% "tithing" (to use your word). But, I do want to receive 100% of my "income" From the community. I would like to live a community where that could be true for everyone who wanted it.
<insert long discussion here regarding robust, resilient, and antifragile communities>


Dave: "As for resource sharing, I think that needs to be the choice of each individual member or family. Some will be comfortable with high resource sharing and living in a small unit in a multi-tenant dwelling while others will want to live in a more traditional detached single-family dwelling and sharing less."

Bennett:  That was presumed for Mirador. For all these "spectrum" topics, I was merely stating my personal preference... at this time (subject to change). As we discussed, I would prefer as many options available as possible. Even temporary guests might opt to use some of the additional features (shop, garage, vehicles, gym, pool, etc.) if permitted.


Dave: "I like your “New Urban in a Rural Setting"

Bennett: This refers to the limited growth design for carrying capacity idea.  Currently, cities consume more resources than they produce and have no built in check on their growth (by definition are "cancerous"). I am interested in a new model - "cities" as a restorative process, that produce more resources than they consume, and have limits to their growth built in.


Dave: "The reason I chose between “Mainstream Appeal” and “Radical Appeal” is that I want Mirador to be appealing to anyone who is willing to rent their domicile in a rural area with on-site access to a beautiful night sky and no dusk-to-dawn lighting. Other than that, I don’t want to scare anyone away for any other reason. It will be difficult enough to get enough people to make the move to Mirador. Even Chuck Durrett mentioned to me that he has concerns about whether enough people would be interested in the project."

Bennett:  I think Mr. Durrett is correct...  If you are looking for "Mainstrem Appeal".  By definition, Mirador is not a "Mainstream" idea. It is an remote isolated Science community that will never even be considered as a place to even visit by most folks. That is its major appeal, and strength. You are looking for residents (temporary and full-time) that see such a place as an ideal, for a vacation if not as a home. For some of us, it is as close as we will ever come to colonizing another planet.

The appeal is site specific. To use the Rancho Plata property as an example... it is litterally at the end of the road (the paved road that is), but for the "off-road" RVers visiting Big Bend Ranch State Park, it might be an ideal "base camp" to stage their dream "Jeep" trip. This is from the Park website. - "The scenic drive along the River Road (Texas FM 170), following the meanders of the Rio Grande, is among the most spectacular in the nation. Due to road conditions, motor homes and large recreational vehicles may not be able to enter backcountry park areas." SOURCE:  https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/big-bend-ranch

It is the site of a historic 1880's Texas ghost town waiting to be revived, and developed not as just an attraction, but as a resource for the surrounding residents. What was an oasis of food production in the Middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, needs to be an active Desert Agriculture Experiment Station. The entire site should be a multi-disciplinary Science Field Station including a Biological Field Station (BFS). See: https://www.obfs.org/join-obfs

We currently have two BFS in the region, and a third developing, but none are open to the general public. The opportunities represented by such a site are only limited by your imagination. This is the Mission Statement of one - "The Dalquest Desert Research Station (DDRS) is a pristine example of the Northern Chihuahuan Desert. It is managed by Midwestern State University as a natural area and a year-round research station available to scientists from MSU and elsewhere. The DDRS supports both observational and manipulative research on the biodiversity, ecology, paleontology, and geology of the Desert, while maintaining the unique geology and biology of the area. The Station is a research link of the chain of Chihuahuan Desert stations in the U.S. and Mexico, and MSU scientists cooperate with scientists at the other sites. Field courses are offered for graduate and undergraduate students as well as educators of all levels." Mirador could be a link in that chain.

Bonus: "The Chihuahuan Desert: Our North American Outback" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQvg5TDV_nc


Dave: "As for decision making, I agree that unanimous consent (consensus) is better than “majority rules” winner-takes-all voting. We have seen what a mess that has made of our country. But when you say “unanimous consent be required in order to change the terms of the contract” are you referring to all the tenants and no one else, I hope?"

Bennett: I am only refering to the actual parties involved. There could be a contract rule in place that originally was agreed to by both the property owner  and the resident/s, but conditions change so that both/everyone agrees the rule needs to be temporarily (or permanently) changed. Extreme example: The rule prohibiting continous bright unshielded exterior dusk-to-dawn lighting may be suspended during emergency conditions, such the sky being obscured by volcanic ash (a "year without the Sun" scenario). Or... it could be a simple as deciding to allow visitors to pay a fee and use the therapy pool, which had originally been restricted to residents only.


Dave: "Where are the Organizational Chart, Policies and Procedures Manual, and Contract and Consensus documents you are referring to? Or are you saying that we will need to develop these documents?"

Bennett: I have fragments of all of the above from the LC model, but yes - Mirador documents will need to be developed (many items will be site specific).

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Bennett Jones has been thinking for many years about what it would take to create an off-grid remote self-sustaining community. It is a work in progress. This Organization Chart could be used as a prototype for the org chart that will be needed for Mirador Astronomy Village.

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Customization and Building a Community

David Oesper
 

Over on the Cohousing-L group, Sharon Villines (also of our group) and Mac Thomson recently had some important thoughts to share about building a community and customization. Though in reference to cohousing units for sale, I believe this is a valuable consideration for any multi-home construction project, whether for sale or for rental.

Sharon wrote:

"...you will find that interior modifications (except perhaps leaving something out or unfinished) will both extend the time for construction and the cost for everyone. Building 35 unique units vs building 35 that are all similar except in size or number of bathrooms means all your cost savings will be gone. Literally gone. Construction will take longer because workers and supervisors will have to double check plans while building, stock a greater variety of materials, and tear things out and redo them because no one looks at the plans."

"Tell people to renovate after everyone is moved in. No delays."

"Exterior modifications will probably bring all those same problems plus more. They will require extra construction plans and possibly re-permitting. Down the line it increases maintenance and repair costs for those extensions or elaborations. Those units will use more common space than other units and possibly do things like block sunlight to other units. Should that unit pay more for roof replacement or painting if it is extended another 10 feet?"

"One of the things that I learned after living in cohousing is why standard condos are standard. All similar units can be proportionately priced and condo fees and repair costs divided equivalently."

Mac Thomson added:

"From our experience building at Heartwood Cohousing, I would agree with Sharon. Do not allow customization of any kind. Customization leads to more potential construction mistakes, increased costs for everyone (not just the customizers), and a longer construction timeline."

"If possible, create homes that are flexible enough for modifications and customizations AFTER move-in. For us, one of the main opportunities of that kind was to include unfinished basements, which about 2/3 of the households have since finished in the 20 years since move-in."

Re: Customization and Building a Community

Bennett Jones
 

Dave,
Not only is Ms. Villines spot on with her advice, as someone who has been involved in several projects in the Big Bend, I can say it is even more important to listen to her advice when considering a remote (potentially off-grid) community.

Bennett

On Monday, May 25, 2020, 10:46:50 PM CDT, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper@...> wrote:


Over on the Cohousing-L group, Sharon Villines (also of our group) and Mac Thomson recently had some important thoughts to share about building a community and customization. Though in reference to cohousing units for sale, I believe this is a valuable consideration for any multi-home construction project, whether for sale or for rental.

Sharon wrote:

"...you will find that interior modifications (except perhaps leaving something out or unfinished) will both extend the time for construction and the cost for everyone. Building 35 unique units vs building 35 that are all similar except in size or number of bathrooms means all your cost savings will be gone. Literally gone. Construction will take longer because workers and supervisors will have to double check plans while building, stock a greater variety of materials, and tear things out and redo them because no one looks at the plans."

"Tell people to renovate after everyone is moved in. No delays."

"Exterior modifications will probably bring all those same problems plus more. They will require extra construction plans and possibly re-permitting. Down the line it increases maintenance and repair costs for those extensions or elaborations. Those units will use more common space than other units and possibly do things like block sunlight to other units. Should that unit pay more for roof replacement or painting if it is extended another 10 feet?"

"One of the things that I learned after living in cohousing is why standard condos are standard. All similar units can be proportionately priced and condo fees and repair costs divided equivalently."

Mac Thomson added:

"From our experience building at Heartwood Cohousing, I would agree with Sharon. Do not allow customization of any kind. Customization leads to more potential construction mistakes, increased costs for everyone (not just the customizers), and a longer construction timeline."

"If possible, create homes that are flexible enough for modifications and customizations AFTER move-in. For us, one of the main opportunities of that kind was to include unfinished basements, which about 2/3 of the households have since finished in the 20 years since move-in."

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This email message is a notification to let you know that the following files have been uploaded to the Files area of the main@Dark-Sky-Communities.groups.io group.

Uploaded By: David Oesper <oesper@...>

Description:
Dave, The attached plan is very much a work in progress (and would always be), with some of the layout site specific and could vary with the interests of the residents/customers. There is a priority order of the design/construction/development of facilities not reflected in this plan. Again, this will be somewhat site specific. Bennett Jones

Cheers,
The Groups.io Team

Site Plan

Sharon Villines
 

I looked at the site plan — it looks like a university! Do you have a plan for major funding or a phased plan? With that many buildings and that many things going on, how do you keep it dark?

One of my posts to the Cohousing-L list was in response to a community that wanted to reduce their “light footprint” by eliminating lights along the sidewalks. I know night vision is supposed to develop once you are out of unnaturally lit environments, but it is also widely variable. Some people just can’t see very well and it isn’t obvious until they are expected to see what other people see.

I once had an argument with about whether the bathroom door sign should be on the door or on the wall beside it. A team member said it had to be on the wall because if the door was open, no one would see it. "But they wouldn’t need to see the sign because they could see it was a bathroom.” She said, “No they couldn’t.” I finally took her over to look. Even with the light immediately in front of the door off, I could see this was the bathroom. Toilet and sink clearly visible. She could see neither one. It was a dark room. One she wouldn’t have stepped into without turning on the light. And unless she knew it as the bathroom, she wouldn’t have turned on the light.

Needless to say the sign went on the wall beside the door.

One can trust that someone with vision issues wouldn’t choose to be located in a Dark Sky Community but it is also quite likely that they don’t realize they have a problem until they are actually moved in. This woman is still unaware that she has vision limitations.

The other reason is aging. One of the first signs of cataracts is dimming vision. And oddly the cataracts are a dull tan color. They block light from entering  the eye. At night this obvious before the person notices something wrong during the day. One sees something like a dense cobweb obscuring vision.

You probably know this but others on the list may not. My point being that the larger and more varied the complex the more considerations you have adjust for in the participants in order to build a diverse and inclusive community.

You know your audience and I don’t, but I’m biased in favor of starting with cohousing. 


Re: Site Plan

David Oesper
 

Sharon,

I’ll let Bennett respond to you about his Lydian City (LC) site plan. This is not specifically a site plan for Mirador Astronomy Village, but one model we can draw upon. Bennett provided some additional explanation which is now included in the file description:

https://dark-sky-communities.groups.io/g/main/files/Intentional%20Community%20Resources

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain more about the outdoor lighting aspects of an “astronomy-friendly” community. Indoor lighting would have no restrictions except the amount of light shining outdoors at night would need to be controlled with some sort of window covering.

Ideally, an astronomy-friendly community would not allow any dusk-to-dawn lighting. Why have a light shining all night long when most of the night no one will be making use of its illumination? Modern light sources such as LEDs, occupancy sensors, and control electronics have advanced to the point (both in terms of technology and affordability) that dusk-to-dawn lighting is no longer needed, at least in the kind of small community we are talking about here. I would like Mirador Astronomy Village to be an ongoing demonstration project for the wider world showing a better way to do outdoor lighting. By “better” I mean lighting that provides needed illumination where and when it is needed without adversely affecting the nighttime environment, including our view of the night sky. By “better” I also mean using passive reflective or light-colored materials where possible to reduce the need for—or brightness of—outdoor lighting.

There’s a lot to be said in favor of using “personal lighting devices”, also known as flashlights, when walking about at night.

The permanent outdoor lighting that is installed should be properly shielded and directed so that only what needs to be illuminated is illuminated, thus minimizing glare, light trespass, and direct uplight. The right amount of light for the intended task should be used, never more than is needed.

We certainly will need to be mindful of anyone visiting or living in our community with vision limitations. This is most likely going to be an issue in the areas open to the public at night. Observational astronomers, as a general rule, have learned to see better at low illumination levels through familiarity and experience, but the same is not true for the general public. Accommodations will need to be made with this in mind, and I would expect the public areas to have more illumination.

Hope this helps,

Dave

Re: Site Plan

Bennett Jones
 

Hi Ms. Villines,
To be clear, the plan (as is) represents an example of the process (not original to me)* I use and, while not developed specifically for Mirador, is Mirador compatible. This was to allow me to communicate more clearly with Dave some of the ideas, issues, and processes that would need to be addressed with the development of Mirador (or any Intentional Community).

I explained to him - the site plan "bubble drawing" is a representation of a design technique I use when starting the process with a client. The "bubbles" represent functions of structures, and are not to scale, but merely represent relative location at this stage. When applied to an actual site, this allows for the establishment of the permanent roads and for community level utilities (if any) to be fixed. From here the details are worked out, then the priority order and stages of construction (including potential future additional development) can be sorted. (It also allows you to immediately set limits on vehicle access - to limit areas of soil compaction - and to plant trees as soon as possible.)

At this stage we are dealing with concepts, such as:
-the relative access and exposure of the structures to the Hwy from more public to more private.
-the minimizing of expensive and land consuming paved private roads needed for heavy vehicles.
-the relative positions of structures in order to optimize functions.
-etc., etc. etc. (King and I :)

To your points:
Appearance - I'm glad to hear you think it looks like a university. That is the "feel" I was going for with that project. And, the education function of the community is a high priority with me.

Funding - As with all my projects, I plan for a "staged" (tight budget, pay as you go) approach unless it is specified in advance the funding is available up-front for the entire project (including a source for maintenance/repair/replacement funding). Regardless, the total site plan is ideally the same. That is, I design for best case, then build to reality.

Dark Sky - This project was conceived as a Dark Sky Community to be built in a dark sky designated area. The difference is, this community was to exceed all current standards in that regard. There are too many details to list here, but three quick examples: 1) All exterior lighting is ultimately under the authority of the Astronomy Section Team Leader (within the Science Department). 2) All exterior doorways are to be lighted with minimally sufficient lumen, spectrum limited, full cutoff, hands free motion sensor and photo cell controlled fixtures which are fitted with switches to override the auto-on function when needed. All exterior paths are to be surfaced with high albedo material and where ever possible covered as much as practical with a canopy of vegetation.

Visually (and otherwise) Impaired - Since spending some time years ago in direct patient care, are my designs have incorporated "Universal Design" features. This project was conceived literally as a "Cradle to Grave" community. The reality is - everyone, unless a victim of premature death, will become visually impaired to some degree. (I want to live in a Dark Sky Community... even when I'm blind, but then I've never claimed to be "normal", and I have "vision" - even with my eyes closed :)


There are many things about this design and the associated "Articles of Agreement" (including the "Policies and Procedures") of a : pet-free, remote, non-violent, family-friendly, self-sufficient, charity and service and heath and wellness and stewardship and education oriented, vegan, beyond organic restorative farm based, drug-free, Science focused, alternative "schooling", multi-age learning, non-political, off-grid, Dark Sky, etc., etc. etc.... birth/retirement community - that will discourage most folks, But they are already living somewhere. This (like Mirador) is a place designed to be built for a permanent core of 72-144 radical extremist owner/operators.

At this point in my life, am only interested in living in the cohousing area, but I recommend starting any remote construction project with the Campground.

I very much appreciated you sharing your feedback.

-Bennett

* Unfortunately I have long lost the identity of the originator of the "bubble" design technique, so I can not relay the credit due.

On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 12:46:30 PM CDT, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon@...> wrote:


I looked at the site plan — it looks like a university! Do you have a plan for major funding or a phased plan? With that many buildings and that many things going on, how do you keep it dark?

One of my posts to the Cohousing-L list was in response to a community that wanted to reduce their “light footprint” by eliminating lights along the sidewalks. I know night vision is supposed to develop once you are out of unnaturally lit environments, but it is also widely variable. Some people just can’t see very well and it isn’t obvious until they are expected to see what other people see.

I once had an argument with about whether the bathroom door sign should be on the door or on the wall beside it. A team member said it had to be on the wall because if the door was open, no one would see it. "But they wouldn’t need to see the sign because they could see it was a bathroom.” She said, “No they couldn’t.” I finally took her over to look. Even with the light immediately in front of the door off, I could see this was the bathroom. Toilet and sink clearly visible. She could see neither one. It was a dark room. One she wouldn’t have stepped into without turning on the light. And unless she knew it as the bathroom, she wouldn’t have turned on the light.

Needless to say the sign went on the wall beside the door.

One can trust that someone with vision issues wouldn’t choose to be located in a Dark Sky Community but it is also quite likely that they don’t realize they have a problem until they are actually moved in. This woman is still unaware that she has vision limitations.

The other reason is aging. One of the first signs of cataracts is dimming vision. And oddly the cataracts are a dull tan color. They block light from entering  the eye. At night this obvious before the person notices something wrong during the day. One sees something like a dense cobweb obscuring vision.

You probably know this but others on the list may not. My point being that the larger and more varied the complex the more considerations you have adjust for in the participants in order to build a diverse and inclusive community.

You know your audience and I don’t, but I’m biased in favor of starting with cohousing.