Date   
Re: All-Rental Community

David Oesper
 

Sharon,

Ever since your post yesterday I’ve been thinking a lot about how Mirador could be structured as an all-rental community. Here’s my idea.

The renters are the owners. The organization that operates Mirador would be a cooperative. Instead of paying your rent to a landlord, you would pay your rent to the community. The renter-owners would not be building equity for themselves but rather equity for the community. All proceeds would be invested directly back into the community. As long as you are a renter, you are a part-owner of the community.

How would decisions get made about how the money gets spent, etc.? Some form of consensus or perhaps sociocracy would be used.

Income from the RV park, tourism, education, etc. would also be reinvested back into the community.

Raising the capital needed to purchase land would require issuing shares. Those shares would make you a community founder. Some future residents of Mirador will have money to invest in shares prior to living at Mirador, and others would not be able to pay anything until they begin renting. Some shareholders may not plan to live at Mirador but will want to support the project. We might consider some form of crowdfunding.

What privileges will be afforded to community founders/shareholders? Will community founders/shareholders have any privileges that differ from the renter-owners after the community is established? These are questions that will need to be answered.

Since Mirador will have an RV park, a sharehouse, apartments, and a cohousing community, where will people be able to live on-site until the community raises enough funds from rental and business income to build their permanent homes? We might find some land with an existing house on it that could be used right away as the sharehouse, and others could live in the RV park until their apartments or homes are built.

Some amount of conventional financing seems likely so the community gets developed faster than at a snail's pace...

Lots to work out yet to create a viable business plan, but that’s the gist.

Thanks,

Dave

Re: Off-Grid Systems

Sharon Villines
 

On Jun 29, 2020, at 10:26 AM, Steve Taylor <steveastrouk@...> wrote:

Yes, those are very handy.
I think the ONLY way we'll develop Hidalgo is with some very creative solutions that keep things affordable and serviceable out there. 

You might want to look at the SustainableCohousing.org site. It’s a new site so not a lot of information but I’m researching options for low cost housing. I just put up a blog post on building strong communities and keeping building costs low while still producing a house that banks will finance and zoning boards will approve.


After a life time of real estate sales and development in Dallas, Ty Albright is working on a model for low-cost housing. Every cohousing community begins wanting to be low cost to be inclusive and diverse. They all end up at market rate or above and some people inevitably have to leave because they can’t afford the rising costs. Zoning and construction requirements raise costs but it is also caused by the desire for green technology and cool things. If you are building yourself, you want it to be everything it can be.

Albright says the main points to keeping the initial design low cost are:

1. Forget expensive green technology. Good insulation and a tin roof that will last forever. That’s it.

2. Don’t include any features that will scare the bank or the city planning board. Sod houses were a great idea in the Wild West, but not something a bank or town board will even think about. (A community in Utah did get approval for straw bale, however.)

3. Traditional houses on traditional lots. 2-story with a big room upstairs. Can then you can have a roommate or finish it off as an apt. (But don’t mouth it around.) Never say two-family. 

4. Partner with a local builder so the builder will profit by doing a good job in the least amount of time required. Being an investor elevates the builder and shares the risk/responsibility.

5. Choose an area with other amenities — state parks, recreation water, some history. Anything that adds a bit of extra interest and can be capitalized in the future. A Dark Sky community would fill the bill.

6. Build with what you have. Don’t go looking for more. It adds risk, not opportunity.

8. Build one house at a time. Build the first, sell, get the mortgage, build the second. If 8 people can invest $33,000, they could do this themselves without involving a bank. If the houses cost $164,000 to build and will sell for $197,000, that is a return of $33,000 on the first house. Then a mortgage will be available for the finished house. And the second house can be built.

This is the traditional Chinese method used in NY in immigrant communities. Money is pooled to set up one member of the group in a business. Then the money goes to the second person. (I have no idea how they decide who is first, second, etc.) 

Albright is now working on a model for a $100,000 house. I would doubt very much that it won’t work since he is basing his strategy on knowledge of the field. Working with a local builder also adds local knowledge and trust — if you choose a builder who is trusted locally the bank and potential buyers will be reassured. A #1 consideration.

He highly recommends the Pocket Neighborhood book by Ross Chapin.

https://www.pocket-neighborhoods.net

The blog post includes some other tips on changing your perspective in order to use what you have without reaching beyond yur means.

Sharon

Re: All-Rental Community

Sharon Villines
 

On Jun 29, 2020, at 7:05 PM, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper@...> wrote:

First, I posted a message this morning before I read this one so it isn’t in response.

The renters are the owners. The organization that operates Mirador would be a cooperative. Instead of paying your rent to a landlord, you would pay your rent to the community. The renter-owners would not be building equity for themselves but rather equity for the community. All proceeds would be invested directly back into the community. As long as you are a renter, you are a part-owner of the community.

One of the issues in our currently underprivileged populations is that they are not building a sense of ownership in addition to not building equity. They have no control. City councils don’t listen to renters even if the renters feel forward enough to go to city council meetings. The landlords can allow the buildings to decay while taking huge tax abatements on the property. The make money even if they don’t improve their buildings.

In a cooperative, such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually in some relationship to the size of the apartments they occupy. They have the right to occupy a certain apartment because they are joint-owners in the whole venture. When they move they sell their shares. And the cooperative must approve the owners.

So the it is both a cooperative with everyone having a more or less equal say in how it functions (if they choose to), owners of stock are building equity based on how well their building is maintained and improved. The cooperatives I know are actually very rich, but it is a good model for low cost housing as well. The owners of shares then profit from their labor and have control over their lives and how the building is run. Maintaining property is a responsibility that has to be grown into. 

It would be very difficult to get and maintain buy-in when residents are both paying money and providing labor to develop the community. It could be a non-profit charity organization, much like Zen communities that also run bakeries, soup kitchens, etc. But in those communities the residents who work don’t pay rent. The ones who pay rent are people who work outside the community. They do chores to help out and defray costs. But when their money and work increases the value of the community, all the advantages stay in the community—and their rent goes up as well.

Otherwise you have an organization that rents living units to support itself.

You could find out how many people are willing to live in such places — no equity, pay rent. I suspect it is a temporary situation for people who have enough money to live elsewhere. There will probably be more people who are willing to work instead of paying rent.

How would decisions get made about how the money gets spent, etc.? Some form of consensus or perhaps sociocracy would be used.

The models in sociocracy are businesses that own themselves (there are no external owners) and everyone receives a salary from working in the business.  The business has a governance structure that specifies how the organization works. Who decides what. There can’t be an hostile takeovers.

In cohousing, the community is owned by all the participants. There is a tension sometimes between those who live there as renters and those who are owners. Should a renter participate in decisions that obligate owners to pay more money or take more risk than the renters do?

Income from the RV park, tourism, education, etc. would also be reinvested back into the community.

This makes sense as these services are for people’s partial needs — not their whole living situation. They are intended to be temporary for learning and experiencing the environment.

Raising the capital needed to purchase land would require issuing shares. Those shares would make you a community founder. Some future residents of Mirador will have money to invest in shares prior to living at Mirador, and others would not be able to pay anything until they begin renting. Some shareholders may not plan to live at Mirador but will want to support the project. We might consider some form of crowdfunding.

The sociocratic model is the only one I know that specifies the earnings and rights of the investors or shareholders. They have rights and a representative who participates decisions, but they do not own the organization and participate in decisions but have no control over them the way corporate shareholders do.

My sense of crowd funding — based on no research — is that it works when a project is dear to someone’s heart and they receive something in return. Start ups, for example, are “selling” preorders of their product. Perhaps selling 2 weeks vacation in Mirador.

Otherwise you are facing the same things non-profit organizations face— foundations don’t fund operations. They fund special programs, sometimes special facilities. People who donate money are hard to convince to donate money for operations.

Since Mirador will have an RV park, a sharehouse, apartments, and a cohousing community, where will people be able to live on-site until the community raises enough funds from rental and business income to build their permanent homes? We might find some land with an existing house on it that could be used right away as the sharehouse, and others could live in the RV park until their apartments or homes are built.

There would have to be some upfront investment in setting up all the connections the RVs need and probably converting the existing building to part living spaces and part group facilities. Studying the way people operate boat docks might be helpful. Some boats stay for years and others dock a few months of the year. One I know in Annapolis has facilities on shore — a pool, recreational center, and apts for people who don’t live on their boats but dock there.

Some amount of conventional financing seems likely so the community gets developed faster than at a snail's pace...

I may have told you this before but I’m sure there is someone out there who didn’t see it so I will repeat it. The usual way that cohousing communities start is that 70-75 % of the units have to have purchase contracts with down payments before the bank will loan construction funds. We had a developer who started the project so he had money to pay for the underground stuff and the permits. But we all had to sign contracts with checks for 5% of the purchase price. That meant the bank was only financing units that had already been sold. Not much risk. And they knew the developer so that helped a lot.

Is there a city around the area you are interested in? How remote is it?

Sharon

Re: All-Rental Community

Steve Taylor
 



On Tue, 30 Jun 2020 at 21:08, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon=sharonvillines.com@groups.io> wrote:
such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually

You mean specifically housing co-operatives here ? Co-operatives in general most certainly did not begin in Manhattan !

Re: All-Rental Community

maxeem
 

I think she meant where some example co-operatives were first founded.

Rochdale principles and such I think started in England about 200 years ago? I'd have to look at it again but I think it was born out of post-war famine and inequity there. And spread to farming and grocery cooperatives here in the Midwest and elsewhere ... but I'd love to learn more about the Manhattan ones. They have some cool examples of residence coops. Met some really nice people from them. I am trying to think of one starting with a "G" where some people came from to visit Twin Oaks when I was there and they seemed so experienced. Would be good people to ask about it, even if their situation is very urban.


On 6/30/20 6:51 PM, Steve Taylor wrote:


On Tue, 30 Jun 2020 at 21:08, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon=sharonvillines.com@groups.io> wrote:
such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually

You mean specifically housing co-operatives here ? Co-operatives in general most certainly did not begin in Manhattan !

Re: All-Rental Community

Sharon Villines
 

On Jun 30, 2020, at 9:51 PM, Steve Taylor <steveastrouk@...> wrote:

On Tue, 30 Jun 2020 at 21:08, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon=sharonvillines.com@groups.io> wrote:
such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually

You mean specifically housing co-operatives here ? Co-operatives in general most certainly did not begin in Manhattan !

Yes. As I understand it they started with the huge mansions in the city. Families scattered and others were down in income so they broke up the mansions and created cooperatives. They had full control over whom they accepted and they were often life time friends in the same boat. Many of the mansions already had separate suites so it didn’t even require a big overhaul.

Sharon

Re: All-Rental Community

Sharon Villines
 

On Jul 1, 2020, at 12:26 AM, maxeem <maxeem@...> wrote:

Would be good people to ask about it, even if their situation is very urban.

The city is so alluring and yet so difficult to live in that it has a million different living situations. When I lived there it felt like living in both a luxurious place and the most desolate country with broken transportation, dirt, people begging and peeing in the streets, etc. Every way you can imagine people living together is practiced daily in Manhattan.

One developer built on a very small lot — the apartments were 12’ by 12’ in a 8-10 floors because the lot was so small. The elevator protruded off the side. He expected to sell to people as a weekend or temporary residence. They were purchased by all kinds of people who all lived in them full time.

You could start with reading about intentional communities. I’m not sure how else to look them up. Usually when you start researching you find other keywords that go with the topic.


Re: All-Rental Community

Steve Taylor
 

I grew up in Rochdale UK. Just down the road from where we lived is the house that one of the pioneers actually lived in. The Co-op was a MAJOR force in the UK, less so now.

On Wed, 1 Jul 2020 at 00:39, maxeem <maxeem@...> wrote:

I think she meant where some example co-operatives were first founded.

Rochdale principles and such I think started in England about 200 years ago? I'd have to look at it again but I think it was born out of post-war famine and inequity there. And spread to farming and grocery cooperatives here in the Midwest and elsewhere ... but I'd love to learn more about the Manhattan ones. They have some cool examples of residence coops. Met some really nice people from them. I am trying to think of one starting with a "G" where some people came from to visit Twin Oaks when I was there and they seemed so experienced. Would be good people to ask about it, even if their situation is very urban.


On 6/30/20 6:51 PM, Steve Taylor wrote:


On Tue, 30 Jun 2020 at 21:08, Sharon Villines via groups.io <sharon=sharonvillines.com@groups.io> wrote:
such as the cooperative buildings in Manhattan, where cooperatives began, the owners own shares in the organization/corporation, usually

You mean specifically housing co-operatives here ? Co-operatives in general most certainly did not begin in Manhattan !



--
 

Re: All-Rental Community

David Oesper
 

On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 08:08 PM, Sharon Villines wrote:

It would be very difficult to get and maintain buy-in when residents are both paying money and providing labor to develop the community.

I can imagine that some retirees and wealthier members of our community won’t want to work at all. Those folks will pay full rent. The amount of monthly rent will depend on the type of unit they live in—the four-bedroom house in the cohousing community will cost the most, while the sharehouse and RV park would be the least expensive.

Most will want to work part-time for the community. Their monthly rent would be reduced according to the number of hours they work and perhaps the type of work they do.

Some will want to work full-time for the community. Their monthly rent would be reduced the most, again perhaps depending upon the type of work they do. In some cases, they will be able to live at Mirador rent-free. Basic living expenses in addition to rent might be covered as well.

Everyone will have the freedom to have income sources outside the community, and the community will have no involvement in that.

You could find out how many people are willing to live in such places — no equity, pay rent. I suspect it is a temporary situation for people who have enough money to live elsewhere.

Certainly some of the folks living at Mirador will be living there only some of the time—RVers, snowbirds, and the like. But I think many others will want Mirador to be their one and only home, and will be OK with renting. Many are currently renting (and that number is increasing). Many current homeowners will sell their homes before moving to Mirador, and will like the flexibility that renting offers. This will be especially true for retirees (see https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/business/retirement-rent-buy-home.html).

I have owned four homes in my life as jobs and locations changed, and currently have 25 years remaining on a 30-year mortgage (at age 64), so not a lot of equity, anyway. I’ve owned homes in towns of 50,000, 6,000, and 4,500, so no large cities or metro areas. The first two homes were older ones that we poured a lot of money in to improve. I’ve never owned a home in a real estate market that has appreciated appreciably. So moving from owning to renting doesn’t bother me. I don’t know how common this experience or sentiment is for others nearing retirement who would be considering Mirador.

There will probably be more people who are willing to work instead of paying rent.

I agree, and that’s a good thing for the community. Might help attract some younger folks, too. Another good thing for the community.

Is there a city around the area you are interested in? How remote is it?

There would certainly be advantages to living reasonably close to a city with decent medical facilities and other amenities. From an astronomy standpoint, it would be best to locate southeast or southwest of the city. There, no celestial objects would be impacted by the light dome of the city when they’re highest in the sky and the generally more interesting half of the sky south of an east-west line wouldn’t be affected. Due south of a city wouldn’t be too bad either. Due north of a city would be the worst, where the light dome of the city washes out southern objects when they’re highest in the sky.

Locating too close to a city or metropolitan area would jeopardize the dark-sky community in just a few short years due to urban sprawl and the lighting encroachment that inevitably comes with it.

Locating southeast or southwest of a smaller town wouldn’t be as risky, and would still offer some amenities less than a half hour away.

The best place to locate an astronomy community in terms of minimizing light pollution both now and in the future would be a remote area, far from any cities or towns.

The best resource I know of to find suitable locations for a dark-sky community in terms of light pollution is here: https://www.lightpollutionmap.info.

Thanks,

Dave

Re: Off-Grid Systems

Bennett Jones
 

Suggestion -

By definition, a Dark Sky Community (DSC) has some unique challenges, and while there are some features and considerations which may make sense in an urban setting, please consider the following for a DSC:

- A DSC is a remote (probably isolated) desert settlement, not an urban neighborhood.
- There are no zoning issues to add to cost (at least not here in the Big Bend of Texas).
- "Green technology" often is less expensive than having utility power extended to a remote site. and water reduction strategies are a requirement in the desert.
- "Traditional" houses on "traditional" lots would be both prohibitively expensive and the least desirable land use.
- Accept that conventional financing is not an option.
- The Bank and the City Planning Board are not part of the process with a DSC.
- Because of less surrounding support infrastructure, being as close to independent in all critical areas as possible is a top priority.

Bennett

Financing the Development of the Cohousing Community at Mirador

David Oesper
 

Though Mirador Astronomy Village will have an RV park, a sharehouse, an apartment building, and a cohousing community, in this note I’d like to focus on how the construction of the cohousing community might be financed.

First, let’s assume that the land for Mirador has been acquired, a community land trust created, and the Mirador cooperative established.

Here’s a hypothetical situation I’d like you to consider.

Linda & Paul want to live in a house at Mirador. They have five floor plans to choose from. They select one of the floor plans for a house that will cost $200,000 to build.

Linda & Paul decide to make a 20% downpayment of $40,000. They pay Mirador the $40,000.

Mirador secures a construction loan through a lending institution and begins construction.

Mirador owns the house that is being constructed. Independent of this contract between Linda & Paul and Mirador, Mirador will be responsible for constructing the common facilities that everyone in the cohousing community will be using.

After the house has been constructed, Linda & Paul move in and begin paying rent to Mirador. Their monthly rent is reduced by $320 because they made a $40,000 down payment on the house. Their rent will be reduced by $320 each month for 125 months (10 years and 5 months) until Mirador pays Linda & Paul back the full amount of their initial $40,000 down payment.

Mirador makes the monthly house payments to the lending institution using the rent payment from Linda & Paul, plus $320 from other income sources at Mirador. (For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that Linda & Paul’s rental payment + $320 = the monthly payment on the mortgage.)

If Mirador is bringing in enough income, an extra amount could be applied towards the principal to shorten the length of the mortgage and the total interest paid.

Linda & Paul will need some legal protection for the $40,000 down payment they initially made. If the house does not get built, then the $40,000 must be returned to them.

Mirador may not be able to secure the construction loan unless Linda & Paul co-sign the loan. If for any reason Mirador defaults on their loan payments (heavens forbid!), Linda & Paul will be responsible for making those payments directly to the lending institution, and ownership will be transferred from Mirador to Linda & Paul. Needless to say, this would only happen if the entire Mirador enterprise goes belly up and the fallback plan is a more-or-less traditional owner-occupied cohousing community in the desert.

Would this work?

Intentional Community Economics - Part II

David Oesper
 

This is the continuation and conclusion of my notes from the “Intentional Community Economics” presentation by Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Headwaters Ecovillage in rural Vermont.

A bank or credit union is not the only option for the loan you’ll need to make a land purchase and start community development. For example, an individual or ad hoc investment group could employ one or more of the following.

Innovative Financial Strategies

  • Friendraising

  • Microfinance

  • Small Investors

  • Public Banks

  • City investments

  • Community capital

  • Pre-selling

New construction is expensive! Avoid this when you can.

JOBS Act of 2012

(Jumpstart Our Business Startups)

  • Permits equity crowdfunding

  • Removes prohibitions on general solicitation in Regulation D offerings

  • Reduces cost of going public for “emerging growth companies”

  • Increases threshold of Regulation A offerings to $50 million

  • Raises cap on number of private company shareholders from 500 to 2,000

90% of all new jobs created in the U.S. are from small businesses.

Always, you need a good business plan that allows some return on investment.

In the future, we will have an ecosystem of currencies, including things like

  • Time bank

  • Care bank

  • Food currency

  • Commercial barter

  • Data payments

  • Carbon currency

Monetary currency such as dollars are artificially scarce and debt-based. This does not take into account many things of value.


Universal Basic Income (UBI)

  • First introduced in the U.S. by Richard Nixon: “The Politics of a Guaranteed Income: The Nixon Administration and the Family Assistance Plan” by Daniel P. Moynihan

  • Tested in Finland; Stockton, California; Kenya, Iran, and Alaska. Alaska pays all of its residents a dividend from oil (Alaska Permanent Fund). Scotland is currently looking into UBI in part because of the pandemic.

  • Referendum in Switzerland (lost, but got over 25% of the vote)

  • Finland study showed no decrease in work initiative, many health benefits; people still wanted to go to work, showing that work isn’t just about money

  • UBI in local currency?

A Universal Basic Income (at a basic level) + Universal Health Care would much better allow people to do fulfilling work and work that provides greater benefits to society.


Cryptocurrencies are still tied to the money system and therefore not truly complementary.

Tokenomics: The Future of Money?

Cryptocurrency Evolution

  • Bitcoin (the first)

  • Ethereum

  • EOS

  • Tezos

  • Libra

  • Stablecoin

  • SEEDS

There are many problems with cryptocurrencies. For one, they are not disconnected from the existing monetary system with all its scarcity and destruction. All are private and not public, which is also a drawback.

However, cryptocurrencies do point the way towards a new and better monetary system.

Cryptocurrency is essentially a distributed ledger system. Right now, our banks are our centralized ledger system. With cryptocurrency, everybody has the ledger. This eliminates the need for banks to be the central ledger for all monetary exchanges.

Public banking is not an easy thing to do, but when it works it’s great.


In Gwendolyn’s ecovillage in rural Vermont, there are more Europeans than Americans. The idea of living “in community” is foreign to most Americans.

The cooperative idea is more ingrained in Europe than it is here in the U.S.

We have a more individualistic, competitive culture here.


Using different kinds of money for different kinds of purchases (instead of one kind for everything) is a paradigm change.

Alternative currencies: sufficient instead of scarce

We shouldn’t have to worry about “will we have enough?” down the road.

No interest on debt.


There are successful “high end” intentional communities. This is an option, but many would not be able to afford to live there.

Re: Intentional Community Economics - Part II

Lissa Bengtson
 

I’m getting real confused.  I’m going to have to print all this out and sequester myself with a highlighter. 

Lissa

On Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 5:48 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

This is the continuation and conclusion of my notes from the “Intentional Community Economics” presentation by Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Headwaters Ecovillage in rural Vermont.

A bank or credit union is not the only option for the loan you’ll need to make a land purchase and start community development. For example, an individual or ad hoc investment group could employ one or more of the following.

Innovative Financial Strategies

  • Friendraising

  • Microfinance

  • Small Investors

  • Public Banks

  • City investments

  • Community capital

  • Pre-selling

New construction is expensive! Avoid this when you can.

JOBS Act of 2012

(Jumpstart Our Business Startups)

  • Permits equity crowdfunding

  • Removes prohibitions on general solicitation in Regulation D offerings

  • Reduces cost of going public for “emerging growth companies”

  • Increases threshold of Regulation A offerings to $50 million

  • Raises cap on number of private company shareholders from 500 to 2,000

90% of all new jobs created in the U.S. are from small businesses.

Always, you need a good business plan that allows some return on investment.

In the future, we will have an ecosystem of currencies, including things like

  • Time bank

  • Care bank

  • Food currency

  • Commercial barter

  • Data payments

  • Carbon currency

Monetary currency such as dollars are artificially scarce and debt-based. This does not take into account many things of value.


Universal Basic Income (UBI)

  • First introduced in the U.S. by Richard Nixon: “The Politics of a Guaranteed Income: The Nixon Administration and the Family Assistance Plan” by Daniel P. Moynihan

  • Tested in Finland; Stockton, California; Kenya, Iran, and Alaska. Alaska pays all of its residents a dividend from oil (Alaska Permanent Fund). Scotland is currently looking into UBI in part because of the pandemic.

  • Referendum in Switzerland (lost, but got over 25% of the vote)

  • Finland study showed no decrease in work initiative, many health benefits; people still wanted to go to work, showing that work isn’t just about money

  • UBI in local currency?

A Universal Basic Income (at a basic level) + Universal Health Care would much better allow people to do fulfilling work and work that provides greater benefits to society.


Cryptocurrencies are still tied to the money system and therefore not truly complementary.

Tokenomics: The Future of Money?

Cryptocurrency Evolution

  • Bitcoin (the first)

  • Ethereum

  • EOS

  • Tezos

  • Libra

  • Stablecoin

  • SEEDS

There are many problems with cryptocurrencies. For one, they are not disconnected from the existing monetary system with all its scarcity and destruction. All are private and not public, which is also a drawback.

However, cryptocurrencies do point the way towards a new and better monetary system.

Cryptocurrency is essentially a distributed ledger system. Right now, our banks are our centralized ledger system. With cryptocurrency, everybody has the ledger. This eliminates the need for banks to be the central ledger for all monetary exchanges.

Public banking is not an easy thing to do, but when it works it’s great.


In Gwendolyn’s ecovillage in rural Vermont, there are more Europeans than Americans. The idea of living “in community” is foreign to most Americans.

The cooperative idea is more ingrained in Europe than it is here in the U.S.

We have a more individualistic, competitive culture here.


Using different kinds of money for different kinds of purchases (instead of one kind for everything) is a paradigm change.

Alternative currencies: sufficient instead of scarce

We shouldn’t have to worry about “will we have enough?” down the road.

No interest on debt.


There are successful “high end” intentional communities. This is an option, but many would not be able to afford to live there.

Re: Intentional Community Economics - Part II

David Oesper
 

Sorry, your confusion to due to me. Lots of new ideas that I am unfamiliar with, so my notes are spotty. Just wanted to share the concepts presented. Gwendolyn focused on two areas: how to fund building an intentional community, and how to make a living in an intentionally community. There is no implication that any of this would have anything to do with Mirador Astronomy Village specifically, but there are at least a few ideas that might be worth looking into...

Dave

Re: Intentional Community Economics - Part II

maxeem
 

Nothing wrong with sitting down to take notes from notes. A lot of work "available" from the collective wisdom of various communities. I used to keep a notebook as I traveled to communities and jotted down a wide variety of things. I'm sure it wouldn't make sense to others trying to understand my organization ... but I eventually filled it! And there's even more to learn!

As someone who's been looking into it for 10 years, I appreciate your sketchy notes. Might not help communicate to a wider audience yet but for those passionate about absorbing new information that pertains to this research, I appreciate it. Also that stuff about funding/money. Cryptocurrency is intriguing because it's decentralized but problematic because it's still private. Didn't consider that!



On 7/8/20 4:04 PM, David Oesper via groups.io wrote:

Sorry, your confusion to due to me. Lots of new ideas that I am unfamiliar with, so my notes are spotty. Just wanted to share the concepts presented. Gwendolyn focused on two areas: how to fund building an intentional community, and how to make a living in an intentionally community. There is no implication that any of this would have anything to do with Mirador Astronomy Village specifically, but there are at least a few ideas that might be worth looking into...

Dave

Intentional Community Economics - Mirador Money?

Bennett Jones
 

While it may be premature to discuss "local currencies" (or local money options) here is some background -
When we started The Alpine Sustainability Project in 2007, we quickly formed a Local Currency Team and accelerated our research. Unfortunately I could never find a Project Leader for this one and I needed to focus my effort on Energy. I offer the following resources to anyone interested in the topic.

Step one - learn:
- what is the difference between currency and money?
- what is a fiat currency?
- what is the petrodollar?
   video < 26 min. and transcript - https://www.weusecoins.com/hidden-secrets-of-money-currency-versus-money/
   https://www.investopedia.com/articles/forex/072915/how-petrodollars-affect-us-dollar.asp

Local currency - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_currency
List of community currencies in the United States - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_community_currencies_in_the_United_States

Recent News Story - July 9, 2020 - https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2020/0709/In-economic-slump-town-takes-new-tack-Printing-its-own-money

"What's Minted in Berkshire County Stays There: Finding Reward in Local Currency" - Sep 5, 2013  PBS NewsHour -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bP0iSnygyhU

"Ithaca Hours: Local Currency" - Aug 15, 2010  Grassroots Activist Guild  -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy2nCHX36tI

__

Our original starting point -

From: efssociety@...
To: [address deleted]
Sent: 2/21/2008 5:23:32 P.M. Central Standard Time
Subj: Kilowatt Hour Notes and Other Mediums of Exchange

Dear [name deleted]

In April of 1981 the E. F. Schumacher Society convened a conference called
"Community Survival in the Age of Inflation." Schumacher President, Robert
Swann addressed the conference on the theme "The Place of a Local Currency
in a World Economy: Towards an Economy of Permanence"
http://www.smallisbeautiful.org/publications/toc_swann.html  In his talk he
laid out the steps for implementing a local currency denominated in
kilowatt-hours of electricity produced regionally using small-scale
technologies and renewable resources.

In June of 2004, E. F. Schumacher staff member, Chris Lindstrom led the
convening of a new conference: "Local Currencies in the 21st Century"
http://www.smallisbeautiful.org/local_currencies/2004_conference_report.html
. It proved a historic gathering. Representatives from 17 countries shared
experiences and built relationships that have led to new productive
collaborations.

Much has happened in the development of new community-based systems of
exchange. Advances in technology have suggested possibilities for the design
of currency systems that Bob Swann could not have anticipated. And Bob would
have been proud that in his own region of the Berkshires, over 1.5 million
BerkShares have been issued from eleven participating banks since launch of
the program in September of 2006 http://www.berkshares.org.

A coalition of groups is convening a conference April 14th-16th in Seattle,
Washington to explore monetary systems, how these systems impact both the
individual and communities, and how this impact might be transformed through
personal and community action. See http://unmoney.wik.is for conference
details and registration information.

Keynote speakers include:
Hazel Henderson, producer of the TV series "Ethical Marketplace," author of
"Creating Alternative Futures" and other books, and E. F. Schumacher Society
Advisory Board member; and Nipun Mehta, an inspirational speaker and founder
of CharityFocus, a fully volunteer-run organization that has delivered
millions of dollars of web-related services to the nonprofit world for free.

Everyone who attends is welcome to present (the format will be 80% open
space technology).  Topics will include micro-credit, slow money, local
currencies, complementary currencies, time dollars, retail trade exchanges,
LETS, state of the art transaction software and hardware technologies, money
and spirituality, ecological accounting, social venture and
entrepreneurship, monetary theory, value network mapping, equity sharing,
energy backed currency, organizational structures, gift economies, and
barter.

The E. F. Schumacher Society is pleased to be a co-sponsor of the event in
partnership with PlaNetwork, RSF Social Finance, Current Innovations and
Tools for Change.

Following are excerpts from Bob Swann's original 1981 talk.

Chris Lindstrom, Michael Gordon, Sarah Hearn, Susan Witt,
Amalia Feld, Beeta Jahedi, and Chad Nicholson
Staff and Interns of E. F. Schumacher Society
140 Jug End Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230
http://www.smallisbeautiful.org

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

from "The Place of a Local Currency in a World Economy" by Robert Swann,
1981

1.  I want to focus on the institution of money and the opportunity that now
presents itself to develop a better system than our present system. We need
a monetary system which will by its nature promote and enhance the small
scale institutions, small businesses, cooperatives, small communities, and
local towns, while at the same time being sensitive to the unique ecologies
of regions. Obviously, the system we have now, and which is failing, does
not do so.

2.  From a legal viewpoint, money is nothing more (or less) than a claim.
But from a technological viewpoint, money is a tool. Like any other tool it
can be shaped to perform in different ways. Just as both a scythe and a
combine are tools for cutting wheat, so money may be designed to perform in
different ways with different objectives. In the same way that we are
presently designing and creating more appropriate hardware for small scale
needs, so we must create an appropriate tool for exchange.

I do not mean to suggest that creating a better money or exchange mechanism
will solve all the problems that confront our society. Not by a long shot.
However, just as E. F. Schumacher pointed out, if we create inappropriately
scaled tools we end up with many social problems (unemployment,
dissatisfaction with work, alienation, etc.) so also the tool which we
presently use for exchange, is inappropriately designed for the various
functions for which it is intended and as a result has led to serious
economic and social problems.

Economists are presently arguing about the possible "solutions" to these
problems but since economists, like most modern technologists are looking
for "macro" solutions, they have virtually overlooked the possibility of
micro solutions. . . . . It is, therefore, I think up to those of us who are
the advocates of appropriate technology and small scale to become the
inventors, creators, and producers of an appropriate technology for money
and banking. We cannot expect the answer to come from outside of our own
ranks. Moreover, it is vital to us, because all of the other appropriate
technologies with which we are involved depend eventually upon a proper and
decent exchange system.

A new money system should have all of the attributes that we value
(cooperation, self-reliance, community, etc.). Such would be the direction
of the work on which we must concentrate in order to develop an "economy of
permanence" in Schumacher's words.

3. If we are to begin to design a local money system that would work for
development of a local economy, what are the elements or characteristics for
such a system?

It would have to be simple to understand, but consistent with our experience
of the present money system. That is: it would have to consist of both cash
(or paper currency) as well as a checking system--or some other form of
bookkeeping which utilizes the computer to simplify accounting. Unlike our
present money system, it would have to be redeemable (i.e. exchangeable) in
some real value--not necessarily gold or silver, but real needs of everyday
use such as energy. Without redemption system it will be difficult to
convince people of its value--after all isn't that exactly why the dollar so
devalued--because it is not redeemable for real value from the primary
issuer, the Federal Reserve.

Most importantly, we would need to establish a measurement of value which
would be as universal as possible and not subject to swings in value up or
down as our present money system is. In other words, it would have to remain
as constant in value as possible in order to establish a sense of permanency
and security as well as make it more practical for exchange to take place.

Such a method of measurement would be the most revolutionary element in the
design and would be the key factor in making it possible for a universal
system of money and banking--without the need of central banks or central
governments becoming involved in money issue. Once this standard of value
had been arrived at, it could be monitored by the state or federal
government just as the Bureau of Standards maintains and monitors other
standards of measurement such as weights and units of space. But it would
not require state intervention into the economic sphere, as is now the case.

And finally, it would have to be organized at the local level and controlled
by the community as a whole (i.e. each community would elect members of the
board of the issuing bank which would preferable be a non-profit
institution). Under such a structure as I am suggesting, banking would
become more truly a profession, and bankers would be paid for their
services, but the community would decide how and where its currency would be
invested.

Let me reiterate briefly these specifications: a local currency (appropriate
scaled currency) should: be consistent with customary practices (cash,
checking, and accounting systems); be redeemable in some form of real need
of every day value; and although based on local production, be a universal
measure of value.

4. To restate the major point of this talk: the most pressing need I can
imagine for a local and regional self-reliant economy is the invention and
establishment of an appropriate exchange system such as I have described.
Yet such a system, because it is based on a universal measure of value like
a kilowatt-hour of energy, could, at the same time, become the key to
eventually establishing a worldwide system. For it is obvious that while on
the one hand we are at an historical point where local and democratic
participation in the economy is essential to our economic survival and to
our humanity, it is also clear that we live in a world which is rapidly
moving towards a one world economy.

This new, appropriately scaled monetary system would consist of thousands of
small, primarily self-reliant regions exchanging or trading directly with
each other using a common unit of exchange. Thus the foundation for a
cooperative world economy would emerge.

I would therefore call for a task force of volunteers to come forth from
this conference determined to study and then implement the first stages of
such an appropriate money and banking system.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

Bennett

Mutual Housing

Steve Taylor
 

Found this interesting article while I was researching the general area of New Kensington for a personal project
https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2015/03/08/Bring-back-mutual-housing/stories/201503030032

Re: Mutual Housing

David Oesper
 

Thanks for posting this, Steve! I wonder if Mirador Astronomy Village could be set up as a mutual housing association through a nonprofit mutual housing corporation? And if this could be extended to the apartments and sharehouse in addition to the homes?

I just ordered the author's book.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1439912068

After I read through her book, I'll contact the author about Mirador.

My understanding is that this is one version of a limited-equity housing cooperative.

It might be better than the all-rental model, but how do you ask a troublemaker to leave the community if they aren't renting? For example, someone who puts up dusk-to-dawn lighting outside their home even though it is prohibited in the astronomy community? Or someone who becomes emotionally disturbed and is a danger to visitors or other members of the community? Or even someone that makes life miserable for others in the community? If they own their home, they can't be asked to leave the community, can they? This is something that we hope will never happen, but such situations can and do occur in even the best intentional and cohousing communities. A good screening process will certainly minimize problem residents being admitted to the community, but sometimes the problems develop later...

Thanks again,

Dave

Re: Mutual Housing

Steve Taylor
 

It certainly looks like a promising sort of structure doesn't it ?

Re: Mutual Housing

David Oesper
 

Yes! I think we should take a serious look at this.

Dave