Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my!

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Mabon
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Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my!

Postby Mabon » 29 Dec 2012, 22:00

OK silly thread title but you get the idea. :grin:

I am currently living in a house in suburban Sussex that I own jointly with my civil partner and our mortgage provider. However, I've been drawn to exploring alternative, sustainable living models for a few years and I would love to hear about how housing and lifestyle work for you? And in an ideal world - how it would work for you?

REALITY:

I have a pretty typical household set-up by today's standards: A semi-detached 3BR house with small garden and conservatory which is dependent upon the national grid for gas central heating and electric cooking. We will pay a mortgage for the rest of our working lives unless one of us inherits significant money - not looking likely :wink: . We are a lesbian couple and my partner's two school-aged kids live with us and our two cats.

DREAM:

After the children leave home (which I do hope will be at age 18...), and pretending for a moment that my partner would be totally aligned with this....I'd like to sell-up, live off-grid and probably in some form of eco co-op. I'd like to barter and take a shared approach to the labour required to cook, clean, mend, raise chickens, grow vegetables and fruit, bake, sew, knit and weave. Ah yes - the simple life. I love the idea of building my own straw bale / cob home. Is living off the land still feasible when you are old or become unable to work though?

What are your lifestyle realities and dreams? Oh - and what alternative communities exist in the UK - do any of you have practical knowledge of any of these?

Mabon

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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby BlazeLeeDragon » 30 Dec 2012, 00:29

There are things like this in America, called communes. However normally it seems to work best when it's an entire community living and working together. As the older generation ages, they still contribute with there wisdom and the younger generation helps pull the more physically demanding weight. Okinawa an island off of Japan is similar in many ways to this and many of the older individuals still live full and active lives, there are some fishermen still fishing to this day in there 90s. I would imagine though that with only the two of you, to go off grid in any country maybe a challenge. It seems people seem to thrive in society best, some better in nature based ones, some in suburban areas, some in cities. Just something to consider :)
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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby Aphritha » 30 Dec 2012, 06:55

Hm.
My reality:
I live with my husband and son in a pocket sized rental house. I grew and will grow as much of our food as I can, and when I can't provide my own food, I attempt to feed us with as natural of a product as I can. We own one car, me being the driver. He works, I drive. We use electricty and gas from the city to suit our needs, though our needs differ from the modern person. We keep many pets that require heating. Also, 5 cats. We do not do extensive technology, we have no televsion and our phone makes calls only. Sometimes we have internet access, sometimes we don't, depending on our roomate(who is a person we attempted to help out on hard times, but has become an unwelcome freeloader).

My dream:
To live in a small hut on a large plot of land, with a well or creek nearby to get water. I'd like to live off the grid, though the appliance I worry most about losing would be the refridgerator. Perhaps I could use solar panels to run this? I'd like enough land to grow a garden big enough to suit all our needs, and if I am able to sustain what I need at home I'll have less reason to travel, getting rid of the car.


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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby Whitemane » 30 Dec 2012, 23:23

Trying to get two or three other couples together to share resources and workloads might be a good approach.

Another option might be sweat equity - basically you work for payment in kind, such as housing and resources for building or improving the property. That way you can find something run-down and cheap that otherwise meets your needs. Sweat equity is practiced in the US, but I don't know if there is a British equivalent.
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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby Whitemane » 30 Dec 2012, 23:23

Trying to get two or three other couples together to share resources and workloads might be a good approach.

Another option might be sweat equity - basically you work for payment in kind, such as housing and resources for building or improving the property. That way you can find something run-down and cheap that otherwise meets your needs. Sweat equity is practiced in the US, but I don't know if there is a British equivalent.
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All love surround you,
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Guide your way on.

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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby Mabon » 02 Jan 2013, 14:21

Home ownership and the nuclear family model seems so devoid of community sometimes. I think I'd like a Clan. I'd be in charge, of course. :grin:

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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby fionay » 29 Aug 2013, 13:21

Hi. sorry for my late reply. Yes, I know that feeling of wanting to live differently! I am married with a fourteen year old daughter and if she was not so settled here, I would sell up and change where I live for something more sustainable and which connects me to my roots and gives me freedom. This I am working towards. For the next few years, I will probably still be in this house. However,the way I live in this house has changed very much and is continuing to change as my senses are sharpened my spiritual path and I become more and more aware of the earth and my responsibility for my actions. These are some of the changes I have made and I have found that they are a way of reconciling the way I wish to live with my current circumstance:- We have central heating in our house, but we use log-burners instead. I do not have a tumble dryer or dishwasher. I use only eco-friendly, vegan household/personal products. I burn responsibly sourced plant wax candles so that I use less electric light. I have become vegan, more or less (I ate eggs from my own hens until they died and till eat organic, free range eggs). I changed to this diet because it is better for the environment. I do some of my washing by hand in the sink. I buy some things second hand to avoid the wastage of consumerism and I am careful about where everything I use is sourced and of the types of companies I buy from. I grow vege and take a generally holistic view of life and the way I live it, using herbal medicines and natural products whenever I can. I buy my energy from a company which invests in renewable energy...
So, what is happening for me is that the gap between how I want to live and how I do live, has narrowed to some extent, although, of course nothing is ever perfect!. In the future, I will still go off the grid and move. I would like to sell my house and buy some woodland and live in it, but of course the authorities wouldn't like that!

Eadhadh

Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby Eadhadh » 17 Sep 2013, 17:26

http://www.brithdirmawr.co.uk/ysbrydol.htm

Hey check out this lady her name is Emma Orbach, I have stayed with her a couple of times and her land is joined with a self sufficient housing co-op which I have also stayed with. She has several straw bale turf roof roundhouses, with one visitors hut which people can stay in which she doesn't charge for but takes donations. The community is completely off grid and has no electricity, grow their own food and there is a stream coming off the mountains which is their water supply. It's a really sacred area, the energy coming off the land is extraordinary and it's situated in the preseli mountains, surrounded by ancient oak woodlands and about half an hour walk from the coast. Absolutely beautiful, and just to top it off, Emma is one of the kindest people I have ever met. I would love to go and live there, but can't due to reluctant boyfriend. Totally recommend to anyone wanting visit or even considering this kind of thing as a lifestyle :D xxxxxx

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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby Mabon » 07 Oct 2013, 14:38

Yes I saw a piece online about Emma, looks like she is living the dream! Wasn't she the one with the wood-heated bathtub? :D

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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby wolfsbane » 26 Jan 2014, 13:11

I have been on to my wife about this for years. We currently have 3 teenage daughters living at home. My wife has said more than once about buying a field and living in a tent although I would prefer a yurt or Hobbit hole coz I'm a snob :-)

The whole idea of living a more traditional life with like minded people appeals to me so much. I even contemplated applying to the National Lottery for funding my commumnity so I could also use it as an educational program for schools etc to come and see how it was run with traditional crafts being used. I guess another 5 years at least because my girls abhor the idea of no telly, hair dryers, curling tongs and mobile phones seems just so alien I think they will have me committed to a mental institute if I bring it up again :grin:
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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby nightfire » 23 Jul 2014, 18:05

This is what I dream about.... alternative living ideas. But so far I don't seem to be making much progress. Lots of people like the idea of co-ops, eco villages, communes, but getting people (in real life, as opposed to online) to have a serious discussion about doing it is a whole other issue. We have worked the last couple of years to pay things off. We've made progress, though slow. We hope to spend this year doing more and saving for a down payment on land (here land is pricey and requires 10% down at least for most loans). At that point, I'll continue working towards the goal of getting at least a little piece of land but at the point where we are ready to buy, we'll broadcast it to friends. Anyone locally who is actually interested in buying property next to us can either jump in or not. That way, everyone has their own property yet we are near like-minded people and can pool resources.
Trying to get two or three other couples together to share resources and workloads might be a good approach.
This was my idea too. I think that it makes a lot of sense considering the economy and the way things are heading. It's just hard finding people who are on the same page and with the same goals.

Nightfire
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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby Aphritha » 23 Jul 2014, 19:17

My husband and I have been looking into joining already established ones. There's a few here and there, though most(understandably) have some extensive processes to join.


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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby Nodwink » 31 Aug 2015, 04:31

i realize that this thread is about a year old , but i thought i would give my take on co-op living. i lived for 5 years in an artist’s Co-op in St. Paul Minnesota. there were 30 families who all worked together to create a living community. You begin to see the benefit of this when you have a roof leak or someone breaks their leg. it’s amazing how everyone looks out for everyone else. It’s not for those who just want to live their own lives. it demands active participation. And honestly, you can get a tired of dealing with your community at times. Some folks did not last long, as they were constantly being pulled into larger discussions around common space, design approvals, etc.

The co-op i lived in was a limited equity ownership (Lowertown Lofts Artist Cooperative) that required you to buy the share (or living space). the great thing about this type of ownership is that you have to value it based on a specific formula. the current owner has no say over how much they can sell it for. i bought my first loft for $4000 in that community (in 1995). i was amazed at how inexpensive it was to live this way with everyone paying for the insurance, etc.

I’m quite surprised that this is not the model for more like-minded people. On a parcel of land, i would think this would work wonderfully.
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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my

Postby LoonyLuna » 31 Aug 2015, 10:35

I love the idea of communal/off the grid living. I did a fair bit of research on it about a year or so ago. I was shocked by what I found. The majority of existing places wanted substantial sums of money (around the quarter million mark) to buy into them, many also had a whole raft of very strict rules as who could buy. As someone who doesn't own property and with limited means I felt excluded, and that such a dream was totally unreachable without a lottery win (rich relatives are out of the question as none of us own property or have med/high incomes).
So I've had to cross this dream off my bucket list as it just isn't possible unless you have the money, which is very sad in my book, as I can imagine there are many people who are of limited means who would probably love to live this way.
:-(
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Re: Alternative Living: Co-ops, eco villages and yurts oh my!

Postby butterflymelody » 19 Mar 2016, 22:14

I like the idea of living off-grid, but I like the idea of living in a community off-grid and relatively self-sufficient even more. The problem with communities is ownership. Co-ops and land trusts sound great until you realize that you need to have some very exceptional leaders in place for the project to succeed. It's easy if you already have a community that trusts and gets along with each other, but very different if the community is still in the formation stages. In the long run, I think a board of directors such as in a land trust is good, but to start I think the fewer the people the better. I've been toying with the idea of buying land, investing in building the eco-friendly homes myself, and then renting the properties. Then I would be able to take what I know already, teach others, and help lay a foundation. Plus, from what I've read about this topic on other sites, Pagan people are very interested in living together in communities, but are understandably afraid to go all in. I think it's just a "if you build it, they will come" situation.

The Dream:
As I mentioned in my intro, the dream is first to have property for a proper sacred space. I've yet to encounter any type of Pagan group, druid or otherwise, that actually owned land that would be tax exempt for being a religious site (at least in the US). Most groups I've visited with rent a site which can be good except that it lacks privacy, and on more than one occasion curious onlookers have been spotted looking at us with binoculars. Other rituals I've been to take place in city centers, right in the middle of traffic and pedestrians. The ancient sites of Great Britain and Ireland are wonderful, but again it can be tricky at times getting permission to have rituals there, and again there is this feeling that it's not yours.

I think I would be beneficial to just have one place people could go to and say "this is ours," where they can be comfortable and, most importantly, set up permanent structures. Ideally it would have an area for outdoor ceremonies, perhaps a re-creation of a modest stone circle, and an indoor space when the weather is rough. Instead of large patches of lawn, it would be great to have a food forest and some underground greenhouses. This could provide food for people who visit but also be a living school where people could learn how to grow things in small, or big, spaces. Little places to mediate, pray, or just receive inspiration could be sprinkled about. Ideally, it would be a property that needs to rehabilitated such as an abandoned mine, monoculture farm, or deforested area. This would ease building while also making sure more trees and vegetation are planted instead of cut down.

If that proved to be successful, I also envision a library, since I'm quite fond of libraries, that specialized in Pagan religions. There are so many books that people don't have access to. Maybe even a Celtic museum could be placed on the site! I doubt if I could get authentic artifacts, but it would be fun to have something more interactive with people moving through different scenes of the Celtic world.

Now, I'm not naive, I know that this will cost lot of money. But on the other hand, money is really all that it would take and is not impossible to get. Not to brag, but I faced and overcame obstacles much more "impossible" than getting money so that's where a good deal of my positivity comes from. :)

So, in summary the plan is:
1) deforested, abandoned, or old farmland that needs to be rehabilitated
2) My house (probably a hobbit-style thing because most energy in homes is wasted heating/cooling and being underground stabilizes temperature)
3) some permanent structures to worship, such as a meeting hall and a small stone circle
4) a food forest and dug-in greenhouses on the grounds
5) a library catering to Pagan research
6) an interactive Celtic museum

and if enough people are interested:
7) small dug-in shelters for visitors to the site
8) permanent homes and a community for like-minded individuals

Pagans are notorious for being difficult to get in one place, but I think a permanent site with free food from the food forest just might do the trick! :D


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