Tag Archive | self reliance

Unmeasurable antidotes

I have a complaint about science as the current principal truth model.  For science to function you have to have repeatable experiments and you have to be able to measure things.  For many things which i think are important (revolutions and romances jump to mind) both repeatability and measurability are impossible.  There are no good metrics and they are often chronologically unique.  This does not make science in itself bad, but it certainly causes distortions, where we focus on less important things because we can “get more truth” over there.

Lack of love we can measure

Lack of love we can measure

Similarly, the mainstream promoted values of self reliance and independence have negative side effects.  The commercial interpretation of self reliance and independence is that you need to uniquely own everything you need to survive and thrive.  This leads to tremendous idle capacity.  Which leads to the accelerated degradation of the planet.

Trust me, there are lots of alternatives

Trust me, there are lots of alternatives

Some years back the globalization fans were fond of calling it a TINA proposition. There is No Alternative.  This is a catchy name for a profound failure of imagination. Globalization is the current flavor of industrial capitalism which feeds our insatiable need for stuff.  When i talk with mainstream audiences, the idea of affluent people consuming less to save the planet for future generations it goes over pretty poorly. Even the most radical of audiences think that voluntary austerity is an anti-gravity proposition.  But then i pull out my trick question.

“What if i told you that you could work less and have access to more wealth and resources (and save the world as a secondary side benefit)?  This often gets people’s attention.  Especially busy people, who are already pressed for time, think this might be a lovely solution and they want to know more.

Where can i find more time?

Where can i find more time?


The principal thing which stops people from living this more luxurious lifestyle is trust.  Because we are generally unwilling to trust other people with your stuff, everyone has to have their own everything.  And almost all of it sits idle almost all the time.  If alternatively we can trust each other, then we can share.  This is not a trivial proposition.  There is logistical leg work, like avoiding brittle sharing agreements, including scheduling and routine or catastrophic repairs.

And this is where community comes in.  More important than any of the products of our cottage industries make, communities are trust building engines.  We are not perfect, certainly and some are much better than others.  But at their core communities share things, both socio-cultural and material.  These cultures help us share and build trust.

We don’t have units to measure trust.  There is little critique of “self reliance” and it’s associated idle resources.  But there is an alternative.  If you are interested in this low hanging fruit of a better world, i would encourage you to strongly consider coming to this years communities conference. August 29th thru Sept 1, 2014 at Twin Oaks in Virginia.

Radical Hospitality

Casa Robino is closing its doors.  This is heartbreaking and surprising for me, despite the fact that no reasonable person could suspect this type of anti-gravity project would go on indefinitely.  It was an area i was not willing to be reasonable in.  Casa was some of the best we could be: wildly dynamic, anarchist self reliance in its fluffiest funnest form, exotic interesting people always coming thru.  The doors were open.

Our doors are open to people who figure out what the keys look like.  Usually, you have to come thru the email front door – by arranging either the “3 hour tour”  on Saturday [queue Gilligan’s Island] or our three week visitor program.  In other words, we don’t accept “drop ins”.  So when these two charming, but ill timed, Dutch gals showed up at Emerald City – Hawina turned to Puck and said “Should we call the ‘drop in’ manager?”

These are not Aukje and Erika from Holland

Which of course is me.  I come up and they are apologetic about not telling us they are coming.  i was supposed to oil and bevel stretchers – but i decide to take time off and play with these new fun people.  I take them for a tour, we even zip over to Rob Jones for a quick hot tub.  And i arrange for them to go to Acorn.  Because my commune is not comfortable with drop ins, if the drop ins are wonderful enough not to be ejected out of hand (which some are), then i try to place them at other places.  This time it was Acorn.

I went over to Acorn and Aukje and Erika had blended right in.  They had worked, they had played, they had made friends, there was definitely some flirting going on – it was sweet.  And i wished my home could be more welcoming to strangers.  And i totally understand why many Oakers are not happy with that idea.  Or at least may enough so the culture does not change.

Of course the different communities hospitality cultures determine what number of little known people you have in your midst.  At Casa Robino, if you just knew that the place existed, you could stay, often for a long time and “pay” nothing, tho almost everyone volunteered for something.  It was doing it’s part to support the idea of digital nomadism.   Similarly, at Little Flower an open door policy has been critical to their evolution.

One of my favorite stories is about what happened to Little Flower after 9/11.  The FBI came to visit, having not found Osama bin Laden int he White Pages, decided to take the War on Terror to who ever they wanted to intimidate.  Early on the list was the radical protesters from Little Flower.  The FBI came to tell them that this pouring blood on the Pentagon and the like (which they had been doing for years and doing jail time for) was going to stop, because the FBI had extraordinary powers now.

Little Flower was having none of this.

The FBI dissatisfied with their lack of cowering went to their landlord (who had been very supportive before) and threatened them, saying that if these terrorists did anything, the landlord could be implicated and the property seized.  Which is neither true nor legal, but my son does not get his distrust of authority from nothing.   The landlord told them he could not deal with the threats and they had to go.

They started looking for places to live instead, but this time they wanted to buy.  They found the prefect place not far from Travilians.  Just one hitch, it cost $100K and they had exactly $0K

They also had a young couple who had stopped the night before on a long bike trip.  Enchanted by the catholic Worker mission, when Bill explained to Sue that they needed this money, but did not have a source.  The guy from the biking couple said

i just inherited $100K, i could give it to you

And he did.  He had known them for less than 24 hours.  And now Little Flower has a beautiful place, because they were willing to take chances with drop ins.

My favorite door sign was on the place we lived in Santa Cruz, many years ago now.  It read:

Dont Knock! – If you are friend of the family, just come in.  If you are an agent of the state, just go away.