GoFundMe for Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve


David Oesper
 

A worthy cause and possible partnership opportunities for Mirador Astronomy Village if we end up locating in West Texas.

Thanks,

Dave


Hi David,

Just alerting you to this fundraiser we are running:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/serious-starlight

We are getting pretty close to our goal - any chance you can spread word on this?

Thanks so much,

Shelley

Shelley Bernstein
Executive Director
Big Bend Conservation Alliance


Lissa Bengtson
 

I haven't donated yet...things are kinda tight right now.  But I looked at the list of donors.  There are some donors we could probably follow up with--businesses and a foundation or two.  Good excuse for an introductory letter "Hey I was donating to this and I saw your name.  I'm part of Mirador...etc etc."  Or a phone call if you've researched them and have a list of bullet points in front of you...

I have ideas like this but little time to execute them.  I might have time to make a list of donors, though.  And then there is Blue Origin...

David how was your most recent trip to Alpine?

Lissa
Cooler today in San Antonio...going to more RV training next week--this time it's about Air Conditioning.




On Tue, Jul 20, 2021 at 10:31 PM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

A worthy cause and possible partnership opportunities for Mirador Astronomy Village if we end up locating in West Texas.

Thanks,

Dave


Hi David,

Just alerting you to this fundraiser we are running:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/serious-starlight

We are getting pretty close to our goal - any chance you can spread word on this?

Thanks so much,

Shelley

Shelley Bernstein
Executive Director
Big Bend Conservation Alliance


David Oesper
 
Edited

Hi Lissa,

I had a chance to meet with Bennett Jones, Leslie Hopper, and Bill Wren during my family visit to Alpine earlier this month. All good conversations.

I have some leads that we can discuss in our next Mirador Zoom meeting.

How to approach potential donors...

First of all, we either need to form a non-profit, or partner with an existing one, which would be easier. Anyone have any ideas?

There are really two basic parts to Mirador, at least as I envision it. The first is primarily educational (and that's where the non-profit comes in), and the second is residential (and our existing Mirador Astronomy Village LLC is the starting point for that).

Let me address the latter first. I've actually become quite despondent of late of ever finding a group of people who have interest enough in astronomy and the necessary lighting restrictions that they would be willing to move from wherever they currently live to a new "astronomy friendly" location, even just a little ways out of town—especially if they have to finance the development, and not just their individual residences. We need a developer who has the financial resources and experience to create an astronomy-friendly subdivision somewhere that both local and more distant people will want to move to.

It is uphill all the way, but I would prefer a cluster of homes using a shared water supply, septic system, etc., instead of homes spread out all over the place as is usually/always? done in rural developments. Can/would any developer take that on?

To my way of thinking (and if someone else has a better idea or more resources, feel free to run with it as it is not going to hurt my feelings not being the main driver for this project), the residential community needs to come first before the educational part, and much more than two of the folks need to be living there full-time. Personally, I am super interested in the educational part, but I need a decent place to live first—and I want to live in a community where I will never need to worry about neighbors trashing the night sky or the nighttime environment with light pollution as I do now (and have all my life). Hierarchy of needs, you might say.

I think it would be really cool to do regular astronomy programs (and not just me—I'm not looking for another full-time+ job but a place to retire) for visitors, guests, and our residents—on site. So much more could be included depending on residents' interests, but my focus will be primarily on the astronomy piece because that is what I know the most about.

The thing that makes Mirador unique is the combination of residential and educational outreach. That, in a nutshell, is my "vision".

Dave


Lissa Bengtson
 

I wasn’t really considering asking the Big Bend donors for money—but for information. Like, “here’s what we want to do—what are your thoughts?”  Because these folks are like-minded to the point of donating money, and are players in their communities.   Networking, finding opportunities for partnerships. 

Lissa

On Fri, Jul 23, 2021 at 2:06 AM David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:

Hi Lissa,

I had a chance to meet with Bennett Jones, Leslie Hopper, and Bill Wren during my family visit to Alpine earlier this month. All good conversations.

I have some leads that we can discuss in our next Mirador Zoom meeting.

How to approach potential donors...

First of all, we either need to form a non-profit, or partner with an existing one, which would be easier. Anyone have any ideas?

There are really two basic parts to Mirador, at least as I envision it. The first is primarily educational (and that's where the non-profit comes in), and the second is residential (and our existing Mirador Astronomy Village LLC is the starting point for that).

Let me address the latter first. I've actually become quite despondent of late of ever finding a group of people who have interest enough in astronomy and the necessary lighting restrictions that they would be willing to move from wherever they currently live to a new "astronomy friendly" location, even just a little ways out of town—especially if they have to finance the development, and not just their individual residences. We need a developer who has the financial resources and experience to create an astronomy-friendly subdivision somewhere that both local and more distant people will want to move to.

It is uphill all the way, but I would prefer a cluster of homes using a shared water supply, septic system, etc., instead of homes spread out over all over the place as is usually/always? done in rural developments. Can/would any developer take that on?

To my way of thinking (and if someone else has a better idea or more resources, feel free to run with it as it is not going to hurt my feelings not being the main driver for this project), the residential community needs to come first before the educational part, and much more than two of the folks need to be living there full-time. Personally, I am super interested in the educational part, but I need a decent place to live first—and I want to live in a community where I will never need to worry about neighbors trashing the night sky or the nighttime environment with light pollution as I do now (and have all my life). Hierarchy of needs, you might say.

I think it would be really cool to do regular astronomy programs (and not just me—I'm not looking for another full-time+ job but a place to retire) for visitors, guests, and our residents—on site. So much more could be included depending on residents' interest, but my focus will be primarily on the astronomy piece.

The thing that makes Mirador unique is the combination of residential and educational outreach. That, in a nutshell, is my "vision".

Dave


David Oesper
 

Totally agree that's a good idea, Lissa. Networking is a key activity for us right now, and will hopefully open the door to a partnership opportunity.

So, here's the "elevator speech" to share with those contacts. Any changes needed?

https://miradorastrovillage.org/Mirador_Astronomy_Village_Project_Summary.pdf

Thanks much,

Dave


Sharon Villines
 

On Jul 23, 2021, at 3:06 AM, David Oesper via groups.io <oesper=mac.com@groups.io> wrote:
I've actually become quite despondent of late of ever finding a group of people who have interest enough in astronomy and the necessary lighting restrictions that they would be willing to move from wherever they currently live to a new "astronomy friendly" location, even just a little ways out of town—especially if they have to finance the development, and not just their individual residences. We need a developer who has the financial resources and experience to create an astronomy-friendly subdivision somewhere that both local and more distant people will want to move to.
This whole process is very difficult and filled with pools of despondency—it’s not a personal weakness. In spite of that people have been building cohousing communities for 30+ years and it is becoming easier and easier. It no longer takes 5+ and even 10 years to develop a community. Now that developers and banks trust the process, it is being done cleanly in 2 years, start to finish.

There reason I say “cohousing” is because the concept of self-governed and self-managed is inherent in that label. It means people recognize that they are responsible. This is theirs if they work together. The focus is on each other and what each one needs to make the project work. You can’t be all things to all people but the central focus needs to be there. How much commitment to what is required?

It is uphill all the way, but I would prefer a cluster of homes using a shared water supply, septic system, etc., instead of homes spread out over all over the place as is usually/always? done in rural developments. Can/would any developer take that on?
Clustered housing around a centralized infrastructure would seem to be the best way to start a development. One of the early ideas was having a community of RVs, Vans, Mobile Homes, etc. Some permanent and some spaces for part time people who might stay for a month or six months. This allows you to start something without a construction company having to build homes. That gets tricky. If people come with their homes, things get interesting.

And interesting article picked up by Bloomberg News in the Vail Daily about a company building vans intended to be used as affordable homes. Vail is so expensive now that they can’t find workers who can afford to live there. Dave & Matt Vans is working out rental and ownership plans with employers. The employer can provide parking space for the vans and either rent or lease them to their employees.

https://www.vaildaily.com/news/eagle-valley/could-van-life-be-one-solution-to-eagle-countys-affordable-housing-crisis/

The more focused your goal is, the wider the net you need to extend to catch the fish. It seems limiting to focus on RVs or vans but trying to do everything is also limiting. Harder to sell and you look less promising. And nothing gets finished. Have to have success to build on.

I can suggest some things that other communities have done over the years, particularly those that have been teased out on Cohousing-L.

1. Make clear distinctions between projects.
Are you doing cohousing or resort rentals for Vans and RVs? Or both. School or observatory. Name them and develop separate development plans for them. Most people will only fund one kind of project or the other.

2. Define ownership and governance. Who benefits from money donated or invested in each project?
While some people do use the crowd funding platforms to finance personal vacations and the purchase of items for personal use, it isn’t the most attractive for donors. They want to donate to the public good, not private enrichment — as they see it. Yes, the projects all benefit each other and some are required for others to exist but clarity will help in planning. Swiss cheese it.

3. Contact local and state governments, banks, etc.
If you have chosen an area this becomes less time consuming but it can be incredibly helpful. These are the people who have the information you need and who are already invested in the development of that specific area. I can’t see anything about this development that would be a turnoff for current residents and governments. It can only attract interesting people, create resources for the whole state/nation, build the economy, provide education and discover new information.

I am super interested in the educational part, but I need a decent place to live first—and I want to live in a community where I will never need to worry about neighbors trashing the night sky or the nighttime environment with light pollution as I do now (and have all my life). Hierarchy of needs, you might say.
For me, it seems the residential community would have to come first if you are in a remote area. People have to people the land and keep things warm, or cool. And protect each other. Cohousing communities that have acquired land that already has a building on it are really lucky. It not only allows the group a place to begin feeling like a community, it allows them to have an office to organize from and meet with officials, contractors, etc.

As in cohousing, it is impossible to guarantee that everyone who is interested will follow through on the Dark Sky initiatives. People will come and go. Over time, more committed people will appear. If the rules prohibit physical changes that ruin the vision, the land is protected. People will move in and then go on their way if it isn’t what they expected.

I think it would be really cool to do regular astronomy programs (and not just me—I'm not looking for another full-time+ job but a place to retire) for visitors, guests, and our residents—on site.
Target this demographic. Think how many people in their 60s are looking for such a place. Or dreamed of it when they were 12 and then forgot about it. Senior cohousing is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s a time of life when people are looking for new things—the something else. They are going to move, they want less house responsibility, and they need new friends now that they are not connected to their jobs. They usually don’t need new jobs but welcome a purposeful activity and some income.

Chuck Durrett is the person who has been championing Senior Cohousing the most. This page on his website explains his history and experience.

https://www.cohousingco.com/firm-profile

A tangent — but also important — use the vocabulary that your target understands. Cohousing made the mistake for years of trying to talk to banks about their meal program, playgrounds, work requirements, no hired staff, etc. Totally turned off banks. All banks wanted to hear was the likelihood of success based on the choice of architects, contractors, management companies, and resale value. Any other information just confused those issues and were negatives.

(Please don’t be overwhelmed at the length of this — I write easily when I have a lot of information to write.)

Sharon
———
Sharon Villines, Editor & Publisher
Affordable Housing means 30% of household income
Cohousing means self-developed, self-governed, self-managed
http://affordablecohousing.com

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David Oesper
 

Thanks, Sharon, your contributions to this group are uplifting and always informative. When I talked with Chuck Durrett on the phone just before the pandemic, he was very helpful but did caution that our biggest challenge would be getting enough people that would like to live in an astronomy-friendly rural cohousing community.

I do like the idea of self-governed and self-managed as opposed to living in a community where residents have little or no say in how the community operates.

Personally, I'm at a point in my life that if I am going to live outside of a town or city, I don't want to live alone on an acreage, but with others. Clearly, carving up ranches into, say, 10-acre parcels is the worst thing you can do to encourage any sense of community, but I'm sure it does maximize profits for the land owner / developer, and may minimize financial risk as well. Obviously, a lot of people buy into this dream. I'm not one of them, especially as I transition to my retirement years.

The RV/Van/Mobile Home approach to starting the community is a good idea, especially in the desert southwest, but I can't be the driver for that part of the project because my future is living in a traditional home with 1,500 - 2,500 square feet (2 BR, 2 BA, office, music room, and hobby room) as I do now.

I agree, we have to make clear distinctions between projects. I think the Mirador project as currently envisioned is so big and multifaceted it scares a lot of people away, or into inaction (wait and see).

I'd be interested in hearing what others in this group would like to see. Regardless of the direction(s) we go, we won't be able to go beyond the theoretical until we have a parcel of land.

Dave