Sunday, May 29, 2005

Village, Community, Space

What are neighbors, we all have them, even if they were a mile away, we would still have them. The point is that you need to pick the community by the type of neighbor you wish to have. In some cases this is difficult if not impossible to do, but in intentional communities, or eco-villages, it is the point. You get to know your neighbors before you decide to commit to the community.

To create a community, to shape it, design it, to conform to a certain set of criteria, this is intentional community. What are the common goals, what is the vision.

Private Space and Community Space

In any situation there is a need for privacy. Even within the most intimate relationships there is a need for privacy. Without it, there is no sense of self. To further enhance this we desire privacy for our unit. This is considered the family. For all intents and purposes, as the context of this article, family is an intimate relationship that considers themselves a single unit. Outside the family is the community. The community is an intimate relationship of even more intimate units (families). Family space is limited share, while community space is open share. What constitutes a limited share and what constitutes a open share must be determined by the families that comprise the community. What should limited space consist of? This is an individual choice of those using the private limited space. We call it limited space, because the space is limited to full use by the unit, and only open to the community on the basis of the individual unit. The basic uses of a home constitute the primary use by the family. This means that there must be certain services provided by the limited unit. Each limited unit must have some private enclosed space for hygiene use, by most terms. Further there may be considered private rooms for sleeping and other types of intimate privacy (bedrooms). Should there be shared space within the limited space, is there a need for some type of private utility space? This should be determined by the individuals who will reside within the limited space. Considering the human desire for common space of their own, the concept is that small common spaces are also created for the use by the family, but also shared by the community in a limited manor (by invitation). So the limited space therefore consist of a small common space, which includes an open space, and a utility space where meals and other daily chores can be performed. Further there is space for evasive utilities, those that provide the unit with services (i.e. Communications, Electrical, Water/Waste, HaVAC, etc.). These units would be unusually small, when compared to the common spaces and designs currently considered necessary by the family unit. Amenities should be considered the norm, as compared to the common unit. Such items as television would be provided via built in units, which also serve as communications systems. This limits the space and need for appliances other than the built in communications devices. Built to provide access at all points, these terminals would provide entertainment, communications, and information. In each bedroom a small (17” or less) LCD screen would be installed (with framing and other ascetic details) to provide the same service as the larger device within the common space. The common space would have a minimum 34” letterbox LCD screen with 5.1 sound surround. Upgrades would be available at additional cost. Automation of services is paramount to energy resource utilization. Creating aware spaces, and using newer technologies for radiant heating, and passive solar sub-systems, in addition to other forms of energy resource and conservation. The advantages is that with such systems and such shared resources, the cost is divided between the individuals, but available at much lower cost to all. Automated community services, load balancing, energy services, entertainment service, and communications generate a sense of individual value, while providing both service and revenue to the community spaces. The limited space units should be as unobtrusive to the landscape as possible, with confined outside space allocation. The lay of the land, as well as, the ley of the land should determine how the community is designed. At some point the community must connect to the bigger community, or municipality. At these points there should be built community spaces, and visitor spaces. This is also the best place for commercial spaces. A community without allocated commercial space, will not thrive, and therefore will not be able to continue indefinitely. Community space is important. The use of this space should be considered deeply before any development. Before considering any space development undeveloped space needs to be considered. This is a community space of a different kind. This is open space with no development, but preservation. The only consideration in this space would be the establishment of specialized spaces, herein referred to as sacred spaces. Sacred spaces are those that are especially important to the community vitality, and/or hold specific spiritual significants to the community. Next to consider is the community spaces that provide benefit to the community. Social benefit should be considered as part of the determination, however in land-use the important benefits to consider are agriculture, permaculture, and community services. If certain aspects are not considered, the community will not survive. Waste is a consideration of every aspect of the community. How the community considers their waste treatment is an important aspect of the initial development. In the biodiverse community agriculture is a significant producer of resources, but also a significant producer of waste. To best consider the needs of the community, a CVS assessment should be performed. How many units of what size could be supported by what amount of agriculture. If an individual is to hold the assets of the agriculture production, how would that effect the community. What amount of agriculture is performed on what amount of the land, and how will that effect the size constraints of other types of land use. What other services would be suited to the agricultural bias, and how can there be a shared use of the agricultural land use. Some services are both consumers of service and resources as well as producers. Agriculture is one example, and it's consumption should be considered against its production. Another consideration is the support services. The community will be served by support services. There is a need for such services as EMS, health services, and education services. These micro-municipal services should be considered as a necessary part of the initial development. Additional services such as utility services should also be considered. How energy is generated, how is water obtained and distributed, and what will provide the basic tools and building materials. These more industrious services need consideration. Will outsourcing be used to provide the building materials, or will the community look to their own resources to generate the energy, water, and building resources for development of the community. A self reliant community would consider the alternatives and consider the natural resources available and the impact they would have on the land, and consider what is the best course of action for all these types of industrious services. For Health, EMS, and Education services, there is as much to consider. All these services require manpower to facilitate, as well as skilled and highly trained individuals with particular skill sets to implement from internal resources. Some of the EMS services are learned, and can be developed internally through the development of basic skill sets and community exchange of equipment resources. The important issue on EMS services is that conditions are considered. How would certain circumstances be considered. Fire protection is important, it is important to provide adequate fire protection to the community with sufficient resources and equipment to facilitate adequate fire protection. Safety and security is an important part of every successful community. To provide safety and security, there should be sufficient security services provided by the community. How these security services will be governed is a point that must be established very early on in the development of the community. The largest concern may be for petty crimes, disturbances, and from outside communities. To consider the external threats to the community's safety, all connections to municipal egress should have adequate means for egress control. Technology can provide many of the detection and protection features, allowing the community to limit the number of employed staff for the purposes of safety and security. Somewhere in the community will have to be a governance committee, to handle daily operations of the community. This should be a consensus body, representing the majority of the community. However there will need to be some time for daily activity, and the method for division of administrative operations should be established early in the planning of the community. Several options are apparent, including mandatory service for participation in the community. Compulsory service in the different aspect of the EMS and administrative organizations that service the community may have adverse effects, caution is to be taken with these considerations. Certain EMS services must include a trained individual, or it should be made part of participation that members of the community learn BLS. Certain codes and regulations determine that every community must conform with certain basic conditions to limit certain egress. The community will have to allow municipal services to have access, or provide a means for this to occur.

The community should consider many of the other aspects that comprise the society in which they will create, and the ones within which they currently exist. This social aspect includes many subjects including politics, neighbors, religion, and several other custom related aspects. To understand diversity, it is necessary to first understand that individuals are prone to personal opinions. A personal interview with a certain type of person does not generally predict their fit to the community. It takes time for many units to fully discover their likenesses and differences, and how that will affect the community as a whole. To state that the community will be open to all types of social culture, invites a certain utopian concept, however the reality is often far from the idea.

Technology: a community property, a private privilege

The use of technology can provide many of the commonly accepted services and conveniences available to many communities only through the use of municipal and private contracts. First among the technologies that are to be considered is the use and generation of energy, for use by the community, individually and generally. There are several solutions that could be considered, and many should be considered, however the aspect of grid power should be considered as only the last resort of back-up energy, as the cost is prohibitive and the controls over the ways that it can be distributed are quite limited. However local community grid systems can be utilized to provide adequate power transmission safely and sufficiently for most common and private uses.

Governance and Social Aspects

Somehow I had skipped one of the most important aspects of the planning process. The truth is I am not truly the person to consult on such matters as governance. I am an optimist, and a humanist. I believe that provided the opportunity people will work things out, if the atmosphere is proper. However just from personal experience with my own family it is evident that for the most part people are more concerned with themselves than with the bigger community. That individual self is lost even in the thought of communal concepts. Despite the success of some examples, fear continues to surface, as does resentment and trepidation.

More to come...