Date   

Re: Rancho Hidalgo

Lonnie Dittrick
 

Here is the original plat map


On Tue, Aug 4, 2020 at 12:43 AM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

All,

If anyone is interested in seeing where Rancho Hidalgo is, here are the coordinates of one of the entrances (if memory serves me correctly)—I haven't been there in a while.

31 56 38 N, 108 53 56 W Elevation: 4426 ft.

--
“The Universe declares Your Majesty.”
www.londittrickphotography.com


Re: Rancho Hidalgo

David Oesper
 

All,

If anyone is interested in seeing where Rancho Hidalgo is, here are the coordinates of one of the entrances (if memory serves me correctly)—I haven't been there in a while.

31 56 38 N, 108 53 56 W Elevation: 4426 ft.


Re: Rancho Hidalgo

David Oesper
 

Thanks, Lonnie, I guess I'll need to contact Hidalgo County about what enforceable restrictions remain. I'm planning to visit Rancho Hidalgo later this year or early next year (as soon as the pandemic eases). Is anyone living there full time? Is there any on-site guest lodging?

Dave


Re: Rancho Hidalgo

Lonnie Dittrick
 

Hi Dave, boy I’m up late tonight!   Anyways, I would have no objections.  I am still unsure about any enforceable restrictions upon which our community was built on.  It is very unclear what if any covenants are in force from the old HOA??
On my end (Western end) there is no building going on other than an access road I paid for so I could get up to my property. The Petersens (ranchers) who live just North of me acquired the ranch house and quite a few lots on the western end of RH.  

On Mon, Aug 3, 2020 at 11:43 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Lonnie and Steve,

Just curious, if I wanted to build a small cohousing community on the 4 acres I own at Rancho Hidalgo, would I be allowed to do that?

Would there be any support for at least some of the other aspects of Mirador Astronomy Village at Rancho Hidalgo, or would the existing owners (including both of you) be resistant to that?

Thanks,

Dave

--
“The Universe declares Your Majesty.”
www.londittrickphotography.com


Re: Rancho Hidalgo

David Oesper
 

That's encouraging, Steve! I just wrote the county to see if I can purchase a plat book that includes all of Rancho Hidalgo to see who owns what and what might still be available and where.

Thanks,

Dave


Re: Rancho Hidalgo

Steve Taylor
 

For me, we'd welcome more people. Whether four acres would be enough, I don't know, but we'll  toss in our  4 acres in with you - I think you ARE my northern neighbour. There's a lot of unknown ownership between our house and the lot we own however.

On Mon, 3 Aug 2020 at 23:43, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Lonnie and Steve,

Just curious, if I wanted to build a small cohousing community on the 4 acres I own at Rancho Hidalgo, would I be allowed to do that?

Would there be any support for at least some of the other aspects of Mirador Astronomy Village at Rancho Hidalgo, or would the existing owners (including both of you) be resistant to that?

Thanks,

Dave



--
 


Rancho Hidalgo

David Oesper
 

Lonnie and Steve,

Just curious, if I wanted to build a small cohousing community on the 4 acres I own at Rancho Hidalgo, would I be allowed to do that?

Would there be any support for at least some of the other aspects of Mirador Astronomy Village at Rancho Hidalgo, or would the existing owners (including both of you) be resistant to that?

Thanks,

Dave


Re: How to Start an Intentional Community - Day 3

Bennett Jones
 

Dave,
I think meal sharing may be the single most defining aspect of community.
That is why we place so much importance on the design of the "Common House" (aka the Community Kitchen and Dining Room), and say it should be constructed first.
Next in importance is probably working together, which can not be avoided when living in community, but can be encouraged in order to build bonds.

Bennett

On Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 02:05:27 AM CDT, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper@...> wrote:


Yana Ludwig presented an expanded version of her “How to Start an Intentional Community” training recently. Here is what I found most valuable from Day 3 of 3.

What is Consensus?

Consensus means that all voices are heard and taken into account.

Consensus doesn’t mean everyone gets their way or is even happy about the decision.

Consensus means a good faith effort has been made to make sure everyone is part of the decision, and that the decision is in service to the group’s mission.

Some Community Design Basics

  • Build a Common House early, locate it with roughly equal access by all community members, and make meal sharing a design priority

  • De-emphasize cars, and emphasize walking and play

  • Use natural resources wisely: catch water, wind, and sun; think about their flows

  • Permaculture Zones: think about how often things are accessed or need attention

  • Design from fully public to fully private in layers

  • Casual contact can be encouraged or discouraged by design

  • Build aging, kid, and disability features in from the start

  • Use designers and trainers who know community

  • More Commons and less personal space is the key to affordability; what can you co-op?

  • Good design is location-specific

milky_way I really hadn’t given a lot of thought to meal sharing at Mirador Astronomy Village, but universally I am hearing that meal sharing (whatever the frequency) really helps to build community within your community. milky_way

Use a community-oriented architect and land-use planner, not an architect that specializes only in designing single buildings.

A Land Trust (either an LLC or a nonprofit) owns the land.

Housing on the land can be either private ownership or collective ownership (e.g. rental), or some combination of the two.


How to Start an Intentional Community - Day 3

David Oesper
 

Yana Ludwig presented an expanded version of her “How to Start an Intentional Community” training recently. Here is what I found most valuable from Day 3 of 3.

What is Consensus?

Consensus means that all voices are heard and taken into account.

Consensus doesn’t mean everyone gets their way or is even happy about the decision.

Consensus means a good faith effort has been made to make sure everyone is part of the decision, and that the decision is in service to the group’s mission.

Some Community Design Basics

  • Build a Common House early, locate it with roughly equal access by all community members, and make meal sharing a design priority

  • De-emphasize cars, and emphasize walking and play

  • Use natural resources wisely: catch water, wind, and sun; think about their flows

  • Permaculture Zones: think about how often things are accessed or need attention

  • Design from fully public to fully private in layers

  • Casual contact can be encouraged or discouraged by design

  • Build aging, kid, and disability features in from the start

  • Use designers and trainers who know community

  • More Commons and less personal space is the key to affordability; what can you co-op?

  • Good design is location-specific

milky_way I really hadn’t given a lot of thought to meal sharing at Mirador Astronomy Village, but universally I am hearing that meal sharing (whatever the frequency) really helps to build community within your community. milky_way

Use a community-oriented architect and land-use planner, not an architect that specializes only in designing single buildings.

A Land Trust (either an LLC or a nonprofit) owns the land.

Housing on the land can be either private ownership or collective ownership (e.g. rental), or some combination of the two.


How to Start an Intentional Community - Day 2

David Oesper
 

Yana Ludwig presented an expanded version of her “How to Start an Intentional Community” training recently. Here is what I found most valuable from Day 2 of 3.

A Short Guide to Choosing a Decision-making System for Your Group

Yana Ludwig Training and Consulting www.yanaludwig.net mayana.ludwig@...

Decision-making is a primary element in determining your group culture, and can affect your ability to achieve your mission. Thus, it should be given careful consideration. Intentional Communities use many different kinds of decision-making models effectively: there is no one right answer.

The main ways of making decisions fall into 4 basic categories:

Sole leader deciding. Popular with more conservative or religious groups, this is a time-tested method that works well for some types of groups: those with very strong values alignment, buy-in to hierarchy as a useful tool, and high trust in the leader. With that trust, it gets high points for efficiency. Without it, it can create significant cognitive dissonance for people, leading to all kinds of problems.

Voting (simple or super-majority). The most familiar type of decision-making, it works best for groups with high turnover rates, low commitment to training, and a lack of interest in progressive cultural change work. It is easy to understand and often produces quick decisions. Super majorities can be anything from 2/3 to 90%. (Sometimes groups do what they call “consensus minus X number” but I consider this to be a misnomer.)

The biggest drawback to voting systems is a tendency to induce the formation of “camps” that become competing entities, and thus you get significant power struggles over time. This phenomenon comes from only needing to listen long enough to get enough votes to “win” at which point, the system allows for people advocating for a particular position to tune out and treat as unimportant others in the group.

Consensus. The most progressively, culturally radical of the choices. It requires significant commitment to training, largely because functional consensus is a departure from many cultural assumptions we are trained into in the US from a young age. Hard to do with lots of turnover, and needs a context of shared values. Some groups do a kind of spiritual consensus that can have a higher bar to it (a sense of deep resonance, for instance). Note: little known fact: you can consens to vote on some topics and in many cases, that's a best of both worlds scenario. This includes things like elections and aesthetic issues such as paint colors.

The biggest drawback with consensus (especially if it is not done well) is the encouragement of a kind of fetishization of each person's personal needs. Without clear group values and strong facilitation to keep the group focused on them, an individual's personal thing can start to run the conversation and actually derail the group from their mission. This also relates to the oft rumored “it takes forever”. Finally, good consensus is a terrific personal growth catalyst; bad consensus can actually stunt people's growth.

Community/Village Councils. This is a variation on voting or consensus from above—rather than the full group making decisions, a s/elected smaller group make them on behalf of the full group. Allows for a smaller group to get the training and full context of issues, and build rapport together for ease of decision-making, but is obviously a less inclusive choice. I strongly recommend having clear criteria for council members and a selection process that is not campaign-driven.

Note: All that said, I believe that if you get the culture right, nearly any system can work well. See The Cooperative Culture Handbook, due out late summer, for an articulation of what I mean.


Key Questions for Figuring Out Your Best Method

If there is really no right answer to this question, then it becomes a matter of the group discerning what is the best match for their culture, resources and general population. Two main types of questions are helpful here: ones related to cultural fit, and ones related to your learning process as a group.

Cultural Fit:

  1. How far outside the mainstream are your group intentions? If intent is a more comfortable version of cultural status quo, voting could be the easiest. If intent is more politically, ecologically or spiritually radical, consensus is a better match.

  2. How much are you wanting to develop cooperative culture and move away from competitive, individualistic culture? Voting reinforces competitive dynamics; consensus deliberately undoes them.

  3. What is your commitment to conflict resolution? Skills of conflict resolution and consensus are very similar.

  4. Is your group overall more rules and structure oriented or relationally and process oriented? Note: this question can be helpful for determining what type of processes you use within your overall decision-making method.

  5. Do you value more: efficiency or inclusion? A well-run voting system is one of the most efficient for getting decisions, though you may have implementation struggles if things are not as well considered prior to the vote. Instant Runoff Voting is a variation that can be even more efficient for things like elections. Consensus is fundamentally inclusive, but can be more slow to get decisions. This is one of the reasons why training is critical. May be more efficient in terms of implementation.

  6. Do you value more: personal growth or familiarity? Adopting consensus means a big commitment to personal and group growth, where voting systems are very familiar.

Learning curve:

  1. How much turnover do you have? Because consensus takes some training to do well, groups that have a high turnover rate often feel perpetually frustrated. (I'd define high as > 30% / year over time.) Voting on the other hand, requires very little training for most people to understand.

  2. What's your group commitment to training? Related to the above. Training in how to be more cooperative can be useful in any system outlined here, but is essential for consensus.

  3. How patient are you with people learning? Do you have or are you wanting to develop a mentoring culture? For people who are long-timers in a community, continually mentoring others can be either tedious and wearying, or part of a long term commitment to service to the wider world. The attitude they take can be critical to the success of any group process, but especially consensus.

  4. Do you have other communities near you, trainers locally available or a willingness to use online trainings and mentorship with people who are community-experienced, for the process? Regardless of the system you choose, a mentor is great.

  5. Do you have members already familiar with the process? Ditto the above. Member familiarity may be even more critical than outside local resources, so long as those members are trusted to be even handed and reasonably good teachers.


Re: Acquiring Land for Mirador Astronomy Village

Steve Taylor
 

Don't know what other wreckage Turner left with his abandoned projects ? We have names for less than 50% of the available lots at RH, so I presume there are many owners who bought multiples. I wouldn't say there AREN'T 100 contiguous acres there that you could acquire, probably for cents on the dollar.

On Tue, 21 Jul 2020 at 21:59, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Steve,

Yes, and if I could sell my four acres at RH for what I paid for it, I would purchase an additional 13 shares for the Mirador land purchase.

Would be nice if there were ~100 acres of contiguous land available at or near Rancho Hidalgo that could be purchased for Mirador Astronomy Village. It's a good location.

Thanks,

Dave



--
 


Re: Acquiring Land for Mirador Astronomy Village

David Oesper
 

Hi Steve,

Yes, and if I could sell my four acres at RH for what I paid for it, I would purchase an additional 13 shares for the Mirador land purchase.

Would be nice if there were ~100 acres of contiguous land available at or near Rancho Hidalgo that could be purchased for Mirador Astronomy Village. It's a good location.

Thanks,

Dave


Re: Acquiring Land for Mirador Astronomy Village

Steve Taylor
 

Pretty sure you'd find any number of buyers from Rancho Hidalgo....

On Mon, 20 Jul 2020 at 23:28, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

The Mirador specifications document located in our Files section and here gives a lot of detail about our vision for an astronomy-friendly residential community and astronomy resort & learning center. But before any of this can be developed, we need to have land.

The next step for Mirador is to create a legal entity that can raise money for a land purchase.

Some challenges we face:

  • Mirador could be located in Arizona, New Mexico, or West Texas. We don’t want to limit our land search to one state, but incorporating in the state where land will be purchased is less complicated.

  • We need an attorney who is familiar with Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas law, but especially with real estate law and corporate law

  • Does anyone know an attorney who is interested in astronomy, might want to become involved with this project, and might be willing to do some pro bono work?

  • Does anyone know a fundraising professional who is interested in astronomy and might want to become involved with this project?

Our most immediate need is to find an attorney to help us create the legal entity that will be necessary to raise money for a land purchase. This legal entity will exist for one and only one purpose: to purchase land for Mirador Astronomy Village.

Here is what we currently envision for the land-purchase legal entity. Would appreciate your thoughts before we submit this to a prospective attorney.


Land Purchase

Issuance of Shares

  • 1 share = $1000

  • No limit on the number of shares that can be purchased

  • Initial shares and additional shares can be purchased at any time

  • Hold the money in an FDIC-insured interest-bearing account

  • Value of shares remains unchanged except for interest accrued

  • Shareholders can return shares and remove their investment (plus interest) at any time up through the point of the shareholders voting in favor of making an offer on a property but before an offer is actually made

  • 1 share = 1 vote

  • Funds can only be used to purchase a property for Mirador Astronomy Village; any leftover funds will be returned to the shareholders proportional to the number of shares they own.

  • If there are insufficient funds to purchase the property without financing, the shareholders will not be a party to that financing arrangement.

  • It is possible we may acquire land that is "partially donated", that is the land owner may agree to sell us the land for the amount of funds we have raised to date.

  • Shareholders will be known as Community Founders.

  • After the property is purchased, the monetary value of the shares goes to $0.

  • Benefits for shareholders after the property is purchased will include free RV, camping, and astronomy access to the property as soon as it is acquired; after development, no-additional-cost benefits such as free access to astronomy programs will be offered.

  • Benefits will be proportional to the number of shares owned.

  • If Mirador Astronomy Village isn’t established on the property within five years, the property will be sold and the proceeds returned to the shareholders in proportion to the number of shares they own.


Respectfully submitted for your consideration,

David Oesper



--
 


Acquiring Land for Mirador Astronomy Village

David Oesper
 

The Mirador specifications document located in our Files section and here gives a lot of detail about our vision for an astronomy-friendly residential community and astronomy resort & learning center. But before any of this can be developed, we need to have land.

The next step for Mirador is to create a legal entity that can raise money for a land purchase.

Some challenges we face:

  • Mirador could be located in Arizona, New Mexico, or West Texas. We don’t want to limit our land search to one state, but incorporating in the state where land will be purchased is less complicated.

  • We need an attorney who is familiar with Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas law, but especially with real estate law and corporate law

  • Does anyone know an attorney who is interested in astronomy, might want to become involved with this project, and might be willing to do some pro bono work?

  • Does anyone know a fundraising professional who is interested in astronomy and might want to become involved with this project?

Our most immediate need is to find an attorney to help us create the legal entity that will be necessary to raise money for a land purchase. This legal entity will exist for one and only one purpose: to purchase land for Mirador Astronomy Village.

Here is what we currently envision for the land-purchase legal entity. Would appreciate your thoughts before we submit this to a prospective attorney.


Land Purchase

Issuance of Shares

  • 1 share = $1000

  • No limit on the number of shares that can be purchased

  • Initial shares and additional shares can be purchased at any time

  • Hold the money in an FDIC-insured interest-bearing account

  • Value of shares remains unchanged except for interest accrued

  • Shareholders can return shares and remove their investment (plus interest) at any time up through the point of the shareholders voting in favor of making an offer on a property but before an offer is actually made

  • 1 share = 1 vote

  • Funds can only be used to purchase a property for Mirador Astronomy Village; any leftover funds will be returned to the shareholders proportional to the number of shares they own.

  • If there are insufficient funds to purchase the property without financing, the shareholders will not be a party to that financing arrangement.

  • It is possible we may acquire land that is "partially donated", that is the land owner may agree to sell us the land for the amount of funds we have raised to date.

  • Shareholders will be known as Community Founders.

  • After the property is purchased, the monetary value of the shares goes to $0.

  • Benefits for shareholders after the property is purchased will include free RV, camping, and astronomy access to the property as soon as it is acquired; after development, no-additional-cost benefits such as free access to astronomy programs will be offered.

  • Benefits will be proportional to the number of shares owned.

  • If Mirador Astronomy Village isn’t established on the property within five years, the property will be sold and the proceeds returned to the shareholders in proportion to the number of shares they own.


Respectfully submitted for your consideration,

David Oesper


Re: Rural Community Water and Septic

Bennett Jones
 

Dave,
Both water supply and wastewater treatment are going to be site specific.
There is also a high probability that there will be more than one way both functions will be addressed.
I can walk you through this, when the site is selected.

Bennett

On Saturday, July 18, 2020, 03:42:07 PM CDT, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper@...> wrote:


This is a cohousing community in rural Pennsylvania, but perhaps of interest and relevant to the desert SW...

Hundredfold Farm is a rural PA cohousing community of presently 10single-family homes (15 maximum). Due to our location, we did/do nothave access to municipal water or sewer services. And since we areclustered, individual wells and septic systems were not an option. Twowells provide our drinking water, but since they are low yield wellswater conservation is key here. Our community septic system is anartificial wetland housed in a greenhouse for which the state allowsus to reuse a portion of the treated effluent within the homes astoilet flush water. We are the only folk in PA with such a system. Thecost for us is equivalent to the construction of a conventionalcommunity septic system. Operational costs are primarily utility costs(about what you pay each year for gas and electricity of asingle-family home) plus periodic repairs. Being mostly gravel,plastic pipe, and low power pumps, it doesn't cost much to take careof. It is a licensed wastewater treatment facility, so effluenttesting is required. That's a few thousand bucks a year. Happy to chatmore and to share info if it is helpful. I would warn that everystate's regs are different, so what worked elsewhere may not work foryou. Bill @ Hundredfold Farm


Re: Rural Community Water and Septic

Steve Taylor
 

Hmm those guys are only a couple of hours from me.

Today I drove through the Aluminium City Terraces near New Kensington. Very pretty houses.

On Sat, 18 Jul 2020 at 16:42, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

This is a cohousing community in rural Pennsylvania, but perhaps of interest and relevant to the desert SW...

Hundredfold Farm is a rural PA cohousing community of presently 10 single-family

 


Rural Community Water and Septic

David Oesper
 
Edited

This is a cohousing community in rural Pennsylvania, but perhaps of interest and relevant to the desert SW...

Hundredfold Farm is a rural PA cohousing community of presently 10 single-family homes (15 maximum). Due to our location, we did/do not have access to municipal water or sewer services. And since we are clustered, individual wells and septic systems were not an option. Two wells provide our drinking water, but since they are low yield wells water conservation is key here. Our community septic system is an artificial wetland housed in a greenhouse for which the state allows us to reuse a portion of the treated effluent within the homes as toilet flush water. We are the only folk in PA with such a system. The cost for us is equivalent to the construction of a conventional community septic system. Operational costs are primarily utility costs (about what you pay each year for gas and electricity of a single-family home) plus periodic repairs. Being mostly gravel, plastic pipe, and low power pumps, it doesn't cost much to take care of. It is a licensed wastewater treatment facility, so effluent testing is required. That's a few thousand bucks a year. Happy to chat more and to share info if it is helpful. I would warn that every state's regs are different, so what worked elsewhere may not work for you. Bill @ Hundredfold Farm

http://hundredfoldfarm.org/building/water-conservation/


How to Start an Intentional Community - Day 1

David Oesper
 

Yana Ludwig presented an expanded version of her “How to Start an Intentional Community” training recently. Here are my notes from Day 1 of 3. Maxeem also attended, so feel free to add to this, Maxeem!

Gathering co-founders early on really helps. A good founders group usually has 3 to 8 people.

Seek out professionals as much as possible. Some of them you will need to train, and some of them need to have direct experience with intentional communities to serve you well. Unfortunately, lawyers will charge you to educate them about what you’re trying to do, and few of them have had any experience with intentional communities.

Train these: real-estate agents, lawyers, financial planners, and accountants

Find these: architects, process consultants, land use planners (generally permaculturists are more adaptable than landscape architects for community projects)

Property Search and Acquisition

  • Create search criteria, based on your vision.

  • Create an ownership model, entry and exit plans, based on your vision.

  • Have a business plan before you start the search and more than enough solid commitments to make it real.

  • Watch the market for a while.

  • Work with/educate a real estate agent who can competently partner with you.

Some Thoughts on Location

Costs: Coastal communities and liberal cities tend to be expensive

Politics: Good news / Bad news. Not having hostility is good, but where is there sufficient need that people will commit?

Urban/Rural: Trade off between good jobs & internet with LOTS of distractions and expense.

Climate & Climate Change: Water, growing season, good soil, wind and snow loads (handling these increases building costs); expected and already-occurring climate disruption impacts {I'll add one more which is relevant in the desert southwest: dust in general and dust storms specifically-thanks, JWB, for bringing this up recently!}

Proximity to resources: City stuff, hospitals, water, “alternative” culture, nature, public transit, etc.

Another community nearby: Mentoring is an excellent model. You may want to deliberately choose a location close to an already-established intentional community.

One question came up about forming an intentional community (IC) with both a rural and an urban component. Yana replied that an IC with both a rural and urban component could work, but there would be additional costs associated with purchasing and managing two properties.

Determining Your Legal Structures

One person owning the property is a very, very, very bad idea.

Get very clear about core ownership and derive structure from there.

Particulars are STATE SPECIFIC; you will need a lawyer licensed where you will incorporate.

Private or Collective Ownership of Housing

  • Educational Non-Profit 501(c)(3)

  • Land Trust (Community or Conservation) [Create a Conservation Land Trust only if a large amount of land is left undeveloped]

  • LLC (shares/membership) [Fast, but a bit clunky to live with longer term if you have people coming into and going out of your founders group]

  • Co-op (shares/membership) - sometimes “limited equity co-op” [Popular in urban areas]

Caution: Many of these require a Board of Directors, and this can lead to dual and competing power structures within your group. Yana recommends that your Board of Directors be your full membership. You still can have / will need officers, though.

Key considerations:

  • You can own property in the best way for your vision, including consideration of equity strategies and tax implications

  • You are able to select members (HOA seems hardest for this)

  • Have clear entry and exit processes that you have run past a lawyer

  • Land is available where you want to be

  • Ease of changes to bylaws and members

  • Community is legally protected from bad actors

Two important resources:

  • Nolo (https://www.nolo.com/) - DIY legal aid organization, will tell you when you need to go to a lawyer

  • Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC, https://www.theselc.org/) - In the Bay area - they know a lot about intentional communities and alternative communities, land trusts, etc.

Bylaws

  • Bylaws are a pain to change.

  • Strongly recommend attaching more flexible documents such as membership lists, membership processes, and decision-making at the daily level and referencing them in your bylaws.


Re: Some Reasons Why I Want to Live in a Dark-Sky Community

RICHARD ROSCOE
 

Great post David. That is the spirit that I think we all share.

Rick


Re: Some Reasons Why I Want to Live in a Dark-Sky Community

maxeem
 

Interesting. Ames was also recently in the news in the Twin Cities for having progressive housing laws that were inspiring for the Twin Cities Intentional Community ordinance.

And I completely love the notion of protecting our sacred connection to the skies.



On 7/13/20 4:16 PM, David Oesper via groups.io wrote:

I drove 20 miles round-trip early Saturday morning to view Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3) for the first time. It is beautiful! Easily visible to the unaided eye and spectacular in binoculars. And now, in the more convenient evening sky!

I had to trespass onto private land (as I often do) because we are not allowed to be in any of our state parks here in Wisconsin during the hours of 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. (unless you are a paid camper at a campsite).

One of my motivations for living in a dark-sky community is having a great view of a comet like C/2020 F3 literally right outside my door night after night. The same goes for watching meteors. The visibility of comets and meteors are severely impacted by light pollution—both the general urban skyglow but also nearby lights. Along with just about every other aspect of observational astronomy.

All my adult life I have spent significant time and energy educating (and becoming educated myself) about light pollution, environmentally-friendly lighting, and, of course, astronomy. There have been small victories, yes, but overall I feel my contributions have been a drop in the proverbial bucket.

Living in a “regular community” (as I have all my life), there is always the trepidation with every new neighbor or lighting technology change that your view of the night sky will be degraded even further than it already has, and there is not a darned thing you can do about it if the perpetrator (be it a neighbor or the city) chooses to marginalize you and your kindly-presented concerns. Heck, this can even be a problem living in a rural area. When I had my Outdoor Lighting Associates, Inc. business in Iowa from 1994-2005, I can’t count the many times I got a call from a distressed rural resident that had a new neighbor who decided to light up their place like Las Vegas.

Sure, a lighting ordinance would help a lot, but in most cities and towns these days they’ll look at you like you’re from Mars if you try to make enacting one a priority.

There are many advantages to living in a small community, but where I live now (population 4,700) there is no community will nor interest in reigning in bad lighting or in protecting the night sky. However, in 1999 I was deeply involved with writing a lighting ordinance and getting it approved in Ames, Iowa, a university town of 50,000 (at the time). Being a well-educated university town had a lot to do with our success there. Those were kinder, gentler times then, too.

Dave