The Survival Podcast Forum

Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => Homesteading and Self Reliant Living => Topic started by: Doc K on September 25, 2013, 05:49:48 AM

Title: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 25, 2013, 05:49:48 AM
I wanted to share my vision, largely based on Jack's interviews and podcasts, of creating an intentional community. I have read through the now dead post on Jack's ecovillage. I totally understand that this idea is not for everyone. But it is a viable option for many. I already have quite a few individuals interested in my project.

Please feel free to read through my article. Let me know if you have any questions, and please let me know if you are interested in joining me in this endeavor. I'd love to have a bunch of TSP-ers as part of the community!

http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2013/09/24/my-plan-for-an-intentional-community/ (http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2013/09/24/my-plan-for-an-intentional-community/)

All the best!
Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: backwoods_engineer on September 25, 2013, 09:09:16 AM
 :popcorn: :popcorn:

I want to do something like this myself, except with family.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: konaexpress on September 25, 2013, 09:34:00 AM
That was a fun read I must say. I like your idea and Jacks idea but Texas gets to dang hot! Lived there for a few years many years ago. It would be very hard to live off grid with that kind of heat. Never lived in Tennessee, how is the heat and humidity.


John
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 25, 2013, 10:09:07 AM
Family is the whole reason I am doing this. Come along, and bring the family with you! :)

Tennessee can get hot and humid, but so can many other parts of the country. I lived in Minnesota for 4 years and the summers were almost as bad as when I live in South Florida. However, I think that Tennessee is a more forgiving climate than Texas. Western TN, along the Mississippi can get pretty uncomfortable, but central and easter TN is not bad. I lived just north of Nashville, in Kentucky, for a number of years, and I loved the four distinct seasons. With a properly designed home, a person could easily live off grid there.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Longsnowsm on September 25, 2013, 10:47:14 AM
We are looking at the community land trust model ourselves for our homestead plans.  We are currently looking in the south west or south central area of MO to do the same things your thinking.  I think this makes far more sense to focus on a community model than to try to do this alone.  There is strength in numbers if planned and executed well.  The challenge is finding like minded people who share your vision for community goals, dreams, aspirations, and land use criteria.

We considered existing intentional communities, but many of those appear to be geared to specific religious, dietary, or other political agendas that are possibly counter to our desire to survive.  So we are considering the idea that we need to start our own and put the land into a community trust.  I would love to hear more about how your plan goes and what you learn as you go through this process.

Take Care,
Longsnowsm
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: kckndrgn on September 25, 2013, 12:07:58 PM
I think this is an interesting concept, and one that I am looking into.

I will agree on the weather/climate.  I lived in MN for 20+ years, moved to West TN and have been here 15 years. I have family around the country, and the more I look at things the more I think East TN is the better place to be, climate wise.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: fred.greek on September 25, 2013, 12:21:58 PM
Just posting links for thought, the folks at “Survival and Self Reliance” have had preliminary intentional community creation thoughts posted for awhile. 

http://www.ssrsi.org/Onsite/ConArt/megnewgroup.htm
and
http://www.ssrsi.org/os1/CSRS/summit1.htm

While their posted approach is sort of a mini-version of the “Free State” project, enticing like minded individuals to buy / relocate to the same small town, they do have a “checklist” of resources desired to be near their community.

If nothing else their site has other potentially useful information.
http://www.ssrsi.org/toc.htm

For a lot of people out there, their greatest source of “cash” is their IRA / 401k.  With a cooperative account custodian, funds from these accounts can be used to purchase shares in the central corporation, and the land lease, and even land itself can be owned as an asset within the IRA / 401k.

There are of course restrictions on use of IRA owned real estate, but in an intentional community there would be ways to work it for everyone to live in the same area.

My generic notes related to the aspects of a long term sustainable community are at:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/11849883/Sustainable-Civilization-From-the-Grass-Roots-Up

Food productions specific notes:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/38915649/Micro-Environment-Subsistence-System-Sustainable-Civilization
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: fred.greek on September 25, 2013, 12:51:13 PM
Before marketing shares or seeking investors, I would check with qualified legal counsel regarding the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) rule re qualified / accredited investors.  I have read “horror stories” of the SEC stomping on small projects…
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: OutWestTX on September 25, 2013, 01:19:47 PM
Fred beat me to it, but definitely get legal counsel and "qualified" is the key word on finding the right attorney.  I know of a project in another state that went horribly wrong because of legal issues that arrose after people were living on the property. 
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: rdg6pk on September 25, 2013, 03:21:34 PM
Like the idea and although I am in Central Fl. I am interested. Do you have anyone researching legal ramifications?
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 25, 2013, 03:45:56 PM
Fred - thanks for the links. I'll be reading through those when I get a chance here soon.

I have a number of friends who are lawyers who will be reading through my initial idea and business plan. I will then hire/retain a lawyer who specializes in this area of law to review and help with all of this. I am going to be methodical and above-board on this. I have to be.

If anyone is seriously interested. Please PM me.

Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Cedar on September 25, 2013, 04:24:23 PM
I soooooo know of a perfect spot on a large bit of land, off the beaten path more than I am, on a salmon river, wells, springs, creek, with houses and cabins, main cook house, a large 'gathering building', barns.. etc.. I seriously want a special person to get this one. I would take it in a heartbeat. The price tag is $500K.

Cedar
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: FrugalFannie on September 25, 2013, 04:40:40 PM
tagged.

You can sell 'shares' without SEC involvement. It's called people going into business together.I have a corporation and recently sold a portion of it to my new partner.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Mr. Bill on September 25, 2013, 05:14:07 PM
MODERATOR'S NOTE:

Discussion of general plans for how one might organize an intentional community are fine here.  The moment it goes over into actually forming a corporation, looking for investors, offering leases, or anything else commercial/financial in nature, it must go in the Swap Meet (http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?board=36.0) board.

Thanks.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Samuel Fairlane on September 25, 2013, 05:26:00 PM
I hope these communities take off everywhere. I would love to come visit, work, teach, learn, or do business with such a community. East Tn could be a retirement possibility, if there is still room in 18 years.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: OutWestTX on September 25, 2013, 06:52:35 PM
I hope these communities take off everywhere.

They have.  They're called "Subdivisions" with HOAs.  When it boils down to it, that is what most "intentional communities" really are...glorified subdivisions.  The problem is that once people buy into them, things change.  Your job situation changes, you get married or divorced, your health changes, your ideas about how to use your property changes, but due to the restrictions you are stuck.  If the restrictions are "deeded" to the property, forget ever trying to sell it.  Most intentional communities will not allow you to rent out your property if you need to move. I am speaking from first hand experience.  The one I was in finally disolved, but I have two other friends that are still stuck in one.  I don't know of any that have lasted more than 5 or 6 years before falling apart. 

It is much better to recruit like minded people to move into the same area.  That is what SouthernPrepper1 has done in SC and what Rawles is trying to do. 
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: NWPilgrim on September 26, 2013, 12:45:22 AM
I soooooo know of a perfect spot on a large bit of land, off the beaten path more than I am, on a salmon river, wells, springs, creek, with houses and cabins, main cook house, a large 'gathering building', barns.. etc.. I seriously want a special person to get this one. I would take it in a heartbeat. The price tag is $500K.

Cedar

Is that in Oregon, Cedar?  West or east of Cascades?  Would it be large enough for 3 or more families?
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Cedar on September 26, 2013, 12:56:24 AM
Is that in Oregon, Cedar?  West or east of Cascades?  Would it be large enough for 3 or more families?

West and yuppers.

Cedar
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 26, 2013, 07:16:22 AM
They have.  They're called "Subdivisions" with HOAs.  When it boils down to it, that is what most "intentional communities" really are...glorified subdivisions.  The problem is that once people buy into them, things change.  Your job situation changes, you get married or divorced, your health changes, your ideas about how to use your property changes, but due to the restrictions you are stuck.  If the restrictions are "deeded" to the property, forget ever trying to sell it.  Most intentional communities will not allow you to rent out your property if you need to move. I am speaking from first hand experience.  The one I was in finally disolved, but I have two other friends that are still stuck in one.  I don't know of any that have lasted more than 5 or 6 years before falling apart. 

It is much better to recruit like minded people to move into the same area.  That is what SouthernPrepper1 has done in SC and what Rawles is trying to do.

I appreciate this opinion, but I don't entirely agree... which means I also do agree with some of it. :)

MOST intentional communities are places I would never, ever want to live. Not just for the reason you outline above, but for many other reasons as well. The community I am planning is going to be a place I really want to live. This is the whole reason I am working on it. I searched for years and years to find the "ideal" place. I can't find it. First, a "perfect" place doesn't exist. Second, anything that is close to "perfect", based on my criteria, has multiple, very large detractors... too much money, too rural, too urban, too whatever... So I decided to make my own community. I have been sharing my thoughts and ideas on community and Permaculture for years on my website. I have nothing of the fan source that Jack has, by any means, but what I have seen is that my "ideal" place is not very unique to me. There are a bunch of people out there that want to live in a similar way to how I want to live. Within 24 hours of posting my article, I already have two very interested investors; and I have yet to apporach the people I thought would be my investors!

Now, about this being a subdivision with an HOA. Yeah, it is sort of like that, but I will be able to set the rules (which will be few), and I will be able to set the rules about how rules are set (which will make it very difficult to change or add new rules). There is one huge benefit to me in this… I get to set it up how I want. Yeah, this sounds selfish a bit. But if you knew me, you would know that I truly have the best interests of my family and the land in mind. People have joked about Jack wanting to be a benevolent dictator. Well, that is possible, really. There were amazing kings and queens throughout history. The reason they were great is that they were servants to their people. While they may have had a title and a crown, they felt they were given a mission from God to care for their people. I don’t want to be melodramatic by any means. I am not a king, and I have not been spoken to by God, but I know that for this community to be successful, I need to be a servant leader. Jack has another way of saying it… the CEO is beholden to the consumers. This is why the lease/business model is a brilliant way to run this.

In addition, if you don’t like the ground rules, then you do not have to join. You don’t have to move there. Again, it’s the free market.

Finally, yet another great benefit to this lease model, you can walk away whenever you wish. You always have the ability to sell your lease option at market value. But in the worst case scenario, where no one wants to buy it, well then, you still walk away. You have no investment in the land. You may have an investment in whatever improvements you have put into the land, for sure. But you will not be sitting on a mortgage. You will not be sitting on a house payment. And if you built a temporary house or have a mobile home or mobile tiny house, then you can even take that with you. You will owe no one.

If you know a lot of people who have enough money to buy land and houses right next to each other in a town, then do that by all means. This is another option to build a community. Based on the huge increase in emails to me over the last 2 days, I know it is an option people are excited about.

Hope that helps.
Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 26, 2013, 07:19:29 AM
MODERATOR'S NOTE:

Discussion of general plans for how one might organize an intentional community are fine here.  The moment it goes over into actually forming a corporation, looking for investors, offering leases, or anything else commercial/financial in nature, it must go in the Swap Meet (http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?board=36.0) board.

Thanks.

Not a problem. If anyone is interested in any of that stuff, just PM me. I am mainly trying to show what, how, and why I am doing what I am doing. I love the TSP community. I think it could benefit a lot of people.

Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: konaexpress on September 26, 2013, 08:38:10 AM

It is much better to recruit like minded people to move into the same area.  That is what SouthernPrepper1 has done in SC and what Rawles is trying to do.

I could see this working out a lot better than the commune thing. The problem is finding a town that does not  have a ton of laws on the books and how would the small town feel about prep peers invading their small town?

John
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 27, 2013, 01:23:40 AM
I could see this working out a lot better than the commune thing. The problem is finding a town that does not  have a ton of laws on the books and how would the small town feel about prep peers invading their small town?

John

This is exactly the reason for starting this community. It is not a commune, and we get to set the rules (in large part).
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: kckndrgn on September 27, 2013, 04:52:35 AM
I could see this working out a lot better than the commune thing. The problem is finding a town that does not  have a ton of laws on the books and how would the small town feel about prep peers invading their small town?

John

Simple really, you don't start this in a "town", you find an area that is outside of a township or city city boundary so you are in a county only.  That is the way my BOL is.  While the address is "in the city", I'm outside of their jurisdiction and in a "county only" area, one less layer of government.  Now that does not mean that if the city grows it can't annex the area (that is what the city of Memphis has been doing for years, annexing the "county" areas that are not part of a city)
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 27, 2013, 10:30:22 AM
I had someone post this to my website today... fantastic!

Joel Salatin explaining that you don't have to own the land to be a farmer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sifJyvFiP_o (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sifJyvFiP_o)

Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Skunkeye on September 28, 2013, 04:13:59 AM
The problem with the "benevolent dictator" model is that a single leader, no matter how great, eventually retires from the lead or dies.  Most of the great monarchs throughout history were followed up by an incompetent or corrupt regime that squandered everything the "good guy" built.  How many great companies have been pissed away into bankruptcy or irrelevance by incompetent CEOs once the founders are out of the picture?

If you're looking to build a community, one assumes you want it to last for future generations.  So how do you guarantee that the next leader is as service-minded as you? 

Finally, yet another great benefit to this lease model, you can walk away whenever you wish.

Isn't that a pretty big negative for the group as a whole, though?  By making it (relatively) easy for members to just pick up and leave, isn't there a risk that they'll feel less anchored in the community, and more likely to bolt at the first difficulty?  Also, it seems like it could make finances a little dicey - what happens to the remaining leaseholders if enough people jump ship all at once that you can't cover real estate taxes or something? 

...and how would the small town feel about prep peers invading their small town?

Many small towns in America are slowly dying.  The younger generations are moving away, especially in more rural places.  So I would suspect it wouldn't be too hard to find lots of places that would welcome some "new blood", especially if those people were of the DIY, self-sufficient, get-er-done mindset that most preppers are, and were interested in actually being part of the community.

I'll admit I haven't studied a lot of intentional communities in depth, so I could be wrong about this, but there must be a reason that they have such an abysmal success rate.  A lot of it might be that many of them are set up by folks with pie-in-the-sky ideals, and such utopian fantasies don't translate well to the real world.  But I suspect some of it is human nature, and unless you get really lucky to have just the right mix of personalities, trying to get a large group of people to work toward a common goal 24/7 is just really difficult.  Some of it might also be stagnation - after the first flush of settlement, most such communities don't have a lot of new folks coming in.  Hopefully these new "liberty" communities will overcome these problems by steering away from the "hippie commune" model, so I will be eagerly watching and rooting for these experiments.  I think there's possibly a place for such communities, and that they might be just right for some people.  But personally, I much prefer owning my own place.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 28, 2013, 05:25:51 AM
The problem with the "benevolent dictator" model is that a single leader, no matter how great, eventually retires from the lead or dies.  Most of the great monarchs throughout history were followed up by an incompetent or corrupt regime that squandered everything the "good guy" built.  How many great companies have been pissed away into bankruptcy or irrelevance by incompetent CEOs once the founders are out of the picture?

If you're looking to build a community, one assumes you want it to last for future generations.  So how do you guarantee that the next leader is as service-minded as you? 

Skunkeye - I totally agree. I actually think this is one of the biggest hurdles. There will have to be some specific criteria and probably a vote from the board and the community. Also, the corporation bylaws will need to be very strict. It cannot just be a heritable position (ie, my sons)... That is a huge problem with the monarchs you spoke of.

Isn't that a pretty big negative for the group as a whole, though?  By making it (relatively) easy for members to just pick up and leave, isn't there a risk that they'll feel less anchored in the community, and more likely to bolt at the first difficulty?  Also, it seems like it could make finances a little dicey - what happens to the remaining leaseholders if enough people jump ship all at once that you can't cover real estate taxes or something? 

Of course that is a risk (people being able to easily walk away). But I don't think it makes people feel less part of the community. Also, one members start to work and develop their land, they will be anchored to the land. I have moved a lot during my time in the military, and my biggest regret in leaving each time was abandoning my garden!

I'll admit I haven't studied a lot of intentional communities in depth, so I could be wrong about this, but there must be a reason that they have such an abysmal success rate.  A lot of it might be that many of them are set up by folks with pie-in-the-sky ideals, and such utopian fantasies don't translate well to the real world.  But I suspect some of it is human nature, and unless you get really lucky to have just the right mix of personalities, trying to get a large group of people to work toward a common goal 24/7 is just really difficult.  Some of it might also be stagnation - after the first flush of settlement, most such communities don't have a lot of new folks coming in.  Hopefully these new "liberty" communities will overcome these problems by steering away from the "hippie commune" model, so I will be eagerly watching and rooting for these experiments.  I think there's possibly a place for such communities, and that they might be just right for some people.  But personally, I much prefer owning my own place.

The benefit in this arrangement is that the community development is funded by the monthly lease fee, not by people working together. Of course, I imagine many people moving here would be the type that want to help build the community, and it will occur faster with their help (which will also anchor people to the place more), but it will not be required to be part of the community.

Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Mortblanc on September 28, 2013, 10:20:55 AM
I escaped from Tennessee ten years ago and I will never go back!  I lived there for 50 years.

No one has yet considered the fact that Tennessee has some very specific and strict statewide zoning laws that specify exactly what one may do with their land, even in the rural areas.

Those laws do not line up with the anticipated action I read on the OP.

If you build anything larger than 10x12 it must be up to codes and be inspected.  No residences built without perk testing and septic tanks ($10,000 for septic and another $10,000 to dig a well in the Tennessee limestone, on a leased lot!  No thanks!).  I do love that "walk away from it any time you desire" clause!  You can not take $20,000 investment with you no matter how ticked off you are.

There are also zoning restrictions on placement of buildings on the property.

The law even specifies how long one can live in a tent on their own property in Tennessee.

Just because the land is there and the op has never seen enforcement of those laws does not mean they are not on the books and can not be enforced. 

If you tick off the wrong neighbor you will be facing stop work injunctions, fines for zoning infractions, deputies taking pictures of everything you do, and evection from the property. 

If you have children and are breaking zoning laws the children can be and often are removed from your custody.  Tennessee is one of the national test states for pushing the boundaries of child protective services to see what the Supreme Court will allow.

I have seen new structures bulldozed for zoning noncompliance in the general area the OP is suggesting as a location.

These laws were specifically designed to stop the infiltration of religious cults and survivalist training centers/communities into the state.  

The laws exist to give the state control over,and ability to end exactly what you wish to be!  That is why they were written.

There is already one Islamic training center 30 miles south of Nashville that got in under the wire and is now grandfathered.  It has been there since the mid '80s.  There were also several cults that moved in during the '70s.  There has always been the lingering fear that Charles Manson would get parole and move his cult into Mid-TN, which is his original home. 

Climate?

Summer starts in May with temps topping 90f.  After July 4 expect temps above 95f daily and occasionally topping 100.  Unbearable humidity.  I was right at home in SE Asia when I was deployed.

Winter is actually mild.  Temps seldom stay below freezing for more than a week but it is hovering around freezing for most of January and February.  I have seen it rain for 3 straight weeks without letup in November and December.  Spring is nice and lasts for about 2 weeks.

Add these things to the other problems of living under the rule of a war-lord/self appointed dictator and I will have to pass.

Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: fred.greek on September 28, 2013, 11:27:28 AM
Awhile back, Michael Reynolds set up an off-grid community outside of Taos, New Mexico, the homes (supposedly) all being earthships.

His third earthship book has what seems to be a draft of the community agreement, which starts on book page 148.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/105685235/Earthship-Vol-3-Evolution-Beyond-Economics

Garbage Warrior – A video on Mr. Reynolds "struggle" to get approval for his non-traditional housing development.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7h1eRiJwow

Just sent for info.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: AlanB on September 28, 2013, 12:08:59 PM
While I disagree with Mortblanc about many things he stated, there are some good points there to be aware of.  At least in my county, you would want the lots to be 1.5 acres at least. and possibly bigger depending on how the land percs.  I realize it is a nitpicky point in some respects, but I saw the size mentioned many times so wanted to address it earlier rather than later.

Also, what was said about neighbors can really play into your plans.  Look at what is going on with the Barefoot Gardeners place right now.

Interesting thoughts, not something per se I would like to do for myself, but interesting.

Keep us posted.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 28, 2013, 12:31:37 PM
Mortblanc - I am curious where you can live, with a group of like-minded people, where you have no building codes to follow at all. There are a large number of places in the country where you can build under the radar, for sure. Many people do. I know of a few in KY who have done just that. But they are running the risk of being "discovered" and facing whatever consequences come up from that action.

I can see no way of building a community under the radar. We need to be above board all the way. Now, I also know of people building cob homes (one example) in central TN, WITH building permits and full county support. It is all in how you present yourself and the plans to the local government. I don't like it, but that is the system we live under, and we need to work with that system.

There are communes that are doing this, even in TN right now. What I am proposing is not a commune at all. It is basically a special type of subdivision.

Weather - I am from south Florida and lived all over the world. I love the weather in TN.

Islamic Training Center - Not sure what exactly you mean by this. Militant? I doubt it. Religious? Freedom of religion. There are a number of Christian retreats and at least one Jewish one that I know if in TN.

Manson, War-Lord... I'll let that alone.

Obviously, this is not a place for all people. That is completely fine with me. The interest I have so far, in less than a week of publishing my article, shows that this is going to happen. I appreciate the critique. You brought up some good things I need to examine further.

Doc K

Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: NWPilgrim on September 28, 2013, 08:15:04 PM
How does it work if a person decides to move out of one of these leased communities and they have done a lot of land and building development?  It isn't clear to me who owns and can sell what.

For example, say for $200/month (and the buy-in fee) I lease a one acre plot that has minimal infrastructure at the time I buy it, maybe a road, electrical, and water at the street.  There is no building so eventually I build my own cabin with basement, deck, etc.  I decide I want to live off grid so I drill a well, install a pump house, run water supply from well house to house.  I also use the raw land I leased to build up a nice fruit and nut orchard, or a tree farm. 

10 years later something changes and I decide I need to move elsewhere (job, family, climate, whatever).  What happens to all the improvements I have made.  I can't take them with me.  I can't sell them since they are embedded into the land owned by the community corporation.  Is the corporation going to pay me for the improvements that I liked, but they never asked for or approved? OR am I going to have to walk away from a substantial investment of time and labor?

I keep hearing that leasing i no different than paying property taxes.  Not true in the least; that is trite and an insult to intelligence.  When I take out a mortgage and pay property taxes, I can make improvements on that land and buildings.  I can then turn around and sell it for not just what I bought it for but for any additional amount according to value of improvements, appreciation, and inflation (or the reverse, if values drop).

A lease arrangement for residents seems to encourage temporary improvements: modular or mobile house than could be relocated, annual crops, etc.  It would seem to discourage any permanent improvements in infrastructure, land use, or buildings.  Is there a part of the lease agreement that addresses this and how does the "fair market compensation" work out?  I can see why the founder and the corporation would want to retain ownership and control of the land, but I am missing how that is attractive to prospective residents who seriously want to live on and with the land and be productive.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Ian-FW on September 28, 2013, 08:52:55 PM
I would consider myself a libertarian, and I like most libertarians, and libertarians are among the last people I would want to surround myself with. Dunno why it is, but we tend to make pretty poor neighbors, in my experience. My general reaction to the idea of libertarian intentional communities is "run for your life!", and I don't see a reason to think otherwise with this setup or Jack's PermaEthos plan. Maybe my view is skewed by abnormal personal experience, but I'll take apathetic plain folk as neighbors long before dedicated libertarians or survivalists.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 28, 2013, 11:11:24 PM
How does it work if a person decides to move out of one of these leased communities and they have done a lot of land and building development?  It isn't clear to me who owns and can sell what.

10 years later something changes and I decide I need to move elsewhere (job, family, climate, whatever).  What happens to all the improvements I have made.  I can't take them with me.  I can't sell them since they are embedded into the land owned by the community corporation.  Is the corporation going to pay me for the improvements that I liked, but they never asked for or approved? OR am I going to have to walk away from a substantial investment of time and labor?

I keep hearing that leasing i no different than paying property taxes.  Not true in the least; that is trite and an insult to intelligence.  When I take out a mortgage and pay property taxes, I can make improvements on that land and buildings.  I can then turn around and sell it for not just what I bought it for but for any additional amount according to value of improvements, appreciation, and inflation (or the reverse, if values drop).

A lease arrangement for residents seems to encourage temporary improvements: modular or mobile house than could be relocated, annual crops, etc.  It would seem to discourage any permanent improvements in infrastructure, land use, or buildings.  Is there a part of the lease agreement that addresses this and how does the "fair market compensation" work out?  I can see why the founder and the corporation would want to retain ownership and control of the land, but I am missing how that is attractive to prospective residents who seriously want to live on and with the land and be productive.

The corporation owns the land. You can improve it or not as you choose. Big, permanent house or small, mobile place... your choice. If you should ever choose to sell, then you can just walk away (ie break your lease, with no penalty more than likely), or you can sell it for whatever the market allows... meaning, if you can find someone, and the corporation will help with this, to purchase your property, considering all your improvements, for what you think it is worth, then you can sell it for that. It is similar, but not identical, to how property is bought and sold. You pay more for a better, more improved place. If the market is down, it is a buyers market; if the market is up, it is a sellers market.

I have personally seen a number of so-so properties sit on the market for, literally, years. I have also heard of great properties never being listed - sold by word of mouth - in days. It all depends on a lot of factors. The one big factor for us, to be honest, is that banks may not finance a loan for this type of purchase. So a person leaving the community will either have to find a cash buyer or self-finance, which may not be a bad option considering your initial investment.

I never said that a lease is identical to property taxes. I said, or implied strongly, that you still have to pay something (property taxes) forever. There is no, honest, "free and clear" point. You always have to pay "the man". In this case, let the man (the corporation) be someone you personally know and trust, and have a more direct influence on, than a county, state, or federal govt.

My big reason for running the lease, as is Jack's, from what I can tell, is three fold. First, communes and purchase/ownership intentional communities rarely last more than a few years. This system seems to solve a lot of those issues. Second, while you can do what you want (to an extent) on your leased land, the rest is managed by the corporation. As Xavier Hawk said, then people won't screw it up. Third, to allow a small, but steady, return of investment. I've run the numbers, a lot. This is not a get rich scheme. It is a solid investment that can provide perpetual returns, with risk. I'm not doing this to become independently wealthy.

I have been, for years, trying to figure out how I can have a farm and my family and a good chunk of my friends all in one place, in or near a quality community where I feel safe raising my kid. I have searched for ways to do this for over 10 years. I really think this is the best chance at making my vision a reality.

Personally, and I understand that life gets in the way, I plan for this to be my forever home. I don't mind that it may be a bit harder to leave. I would hope this produces longevity in the community.

Doc K

Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 28, 2013, 11:24:20 PM
I would consider myself a libertarian, and I like most libertarians, and libertarians are among the last people I would want to surround myself with. Dunno why it is, but we tend to make pretty poor neighbors, in my experience. My general reaction to the idea of libertarian intentional communities is "run for your life!", and I don't see a reason to think otherwise with this setup or Jack's PermaEthos plan. Maybe my view is skewed by abnormal personal experience, but I'll take apathetic plain folk as neighbors long before dedicated libertarians or survivalists.

I can appreciate that to a point. But I have a few issues. If you are a libertarian (or follow any -ism for that matter), you are likely frustrated that all your fellow countrymen and women are apathetic and don't see the world like you do, to varying degrees. I would love if everyone saw the world a whole closer to how I do, not identical - that would be boring! It's the apathetic who are around us that make the need for survivalists and libertarians. If not, it would just be a way of life and there would be no labels.

Second, many of my closest friends are libertarian-ish, even if they don't vote for the libertarian nominee. I want them living near me, hence the community. I never said this is a libertarian or survivalist community, not by any means. I said that I am very liberty minded, and the community would be based on that.

Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: AlanB on September 29, 2013, 06:31:21 AM
The discussion makes me think of a quote from a friend of mine that we use about a sport we do.

"Individualists of the world UNITE"

Anyway, one other thought, maybe out in left field, but I think there are several out there, have you thought of looking at some of the "failed" time share properties in the area? 

I believe the structure and legality is all already in place to do basically what you are saying, I believe there were some out in the Dover area that were marketed towards hunters and fishermen that had some of the groundwork set, but never really got going. 

I wonder if you could go into (purchase) one of those, and benefit from their initial efforts and their loss would be your gain.  Kind of like picking up a car restoration after someone has started and bought a bunch of parts then lost interest, time and capital.

Some random thoughts.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Skunkeye on September 29, 2013, 11:10:37 AM
I would consider myself a libertarian, and I like most libertarians, and libertarians are among the last people I would want to surround myself with. Dunno why it is, but we tend to make pretty poor neighbors, in my experience.

I wouldn't say libertarians make poor neighbors.  That hasn't been my experience.  But places like this and PermaEthos (ugh - Doc K, I hope you come up with a better name for your project!) will have problems, I think, when it comes to "herding cats", and getting everyone on the same page regarding common areas and ground rules.  I think a lot of people are pseudo-libertarians, who like the concepts in theory, but when faced with the actual consequences and real-world application of libertarian ideals in their community, will find it's "too much freedom".  Lots of people who say they're libertarian really just mean they want more freedom, not so much that they want you to have more freedom.  When their neighbor builds an ugly shed right next to the property line, or has some noisy geese, all of a sudden, they want more rules - for him.  So the trick will be to attract people who really are "live and let live" libertarian types, who truly understand that freedom can be messy sometimes.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Mr. Bill on September 29, 2013, 01:05:56 PM
MODERATOR NOTE:
Deleted a personal argument between The Professor and OutWestTX.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 29, 2013, 02:37:00 PM
I wouldn't say libertarians make poor neighbors.  That hasn't been my experience.  But places like this and PermaEthos (ugh - Doc K, I hope you come up with a better name for your project!) will have problems, I think, when it comes to "herding cats", and getting everyone on the same page regarding common areas and ground rules.  I think a lot of people are pseudo-libertarians, who like the concepts in theory, but when faced with the actual consequences and real-world application of libertarian ideals in their community, will find it's "too much freedom".  Lots of people who say they're libertarian really just mean they want more freedom, not so much that they want you to have more freedom.  When their neighbor builds an ugly shed right next to the property line, or has some noisy geese, all of a sudden, they want more rules - for him.  So the trick will be to attract people who really are "live and let live" libertarian types, who truly understand that freedom can be messy sometimes.

This is the benefit of a solid 10 foot buffer between lots... Ideally planted thickly. This is why the bylaws will be very, very clear as well.

Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: FreeLancer on September 29, 2013, 03:19:14 PM
Lots of people who say they're libertarian really just mean they want more freedom, not so much that they want you to have more freedom.  When their neighbor builds an ugly shed right next to the property line, or has some noisy geese, all of a sudden, they want more rules - for him.  So the trick will be to attract people who really are "live and let live" libertarian types, who truly understand that freedom can be messy sometimes.

Agreed!  I'm interested in watching from a distance to see how these libertarian communes pan out.  I'd like them to work, but it seems like it wouldn't take much interpersonal strife to bring them down.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Nicodemus on September 29, 2013, 04:35:45 PM
I'm following this in case you end up in the Eastern Tennessee area.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: konaexpress on September 29, 2013, 05:01:42 PM
Like I said, love the idea of it but how do you make things work? People can be stupid at times...

John
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Samuel Fairlane on September 29, 2013, 06:29:19 PM
I've often thought that only a community based on common faith could or would work. The biggest issue I have with neighbors is drugs, and those who think it's ok to let dogs and cats roam free doing all kinds of damage. I love my little homestead, but my local community seams to be descending in to bedlam. I went to the closest gas station just a little while away and looked like a scene from the walking dead, there are so many meth junkies walking around. How productive or enjoyable can a community be if the people are wasting away like they are in a concentration camp?
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 30, 2013, 12:08:02 AM
A couple of things...

I cannot speak for Jack's project, but my project is not going to be billed as a Libertarian community. It certainly is not going to be marketed as a survivalist community. We will be very liberty-minded in how the bylaws are written and enforced. I would consider myself a Libertarian. However, my target is for people who want a sustainable, resilient, connected community where we can raise our families in (relative) peace and safety. My goal is to surround myself with as many common-sense Permaculturists as I can. Many of these will be Libertarian-ish and modern, common-sense survivalist/homesteader types.

Drugs... Stray cats... Whatever else... This will all be very clear in the bylaws. We follow the law of the land. Drugs are illegal. If a person is choosing to kill themselves like that, while I hate it as a physician and a fellow human being, and while I may try to help that person if they are a part of my community, as long as they are paying their monthly fee, not hurting the community, and not hurting other people, than it is their life. The same premise will go for animals. This will be an agricultural community. That will be very clear.

Why do we not worry if a new subdivision will be able to "make things work"? This is not a commune. This is a community which is going to try and attract like-minded people. By its nature and design, there will be many opportunities for the people to get to know each other and work together, but as long as members are paying their monthly fee, the community will be built with or without their involvement. It will be built faster and it will be a whole lot more enjoyable if everyone participates and gets along, but that is not going to happen. Every community has its own dynamics. I think of it like going to church. Everyone that attends does so for a common belief. Each has their own specific views and opinions, some are more outspoken about them than others. Some people attend every week and are involved in every committee. Some only show up on Easter and Christmas Eve. Some people get along, some are cranky. Some leave the church. New people come. This is a community. This idea, where we know everyone, we know who the grumpy person is, or the one who drinks a little too much, the one to ask about fixing our cars... This is what we don't have anymore. This is what I would like to build around me. It is not utopia. It is real life. But it is a life connected to a community.

Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Skunkeye on September 30, 2013, 01:42:24 PM
Why do we not worry if a new subdivision will be able to "make things work"?

For starters, a "traditional" subdivision is a well-proven model.  We already know it "works" (I put that in quotes because from my point of view, modern tract housing doesn't work well at all, but by the standards most people seem to accept, normal housing subdivisions almost always work).  From a business standpoint, it's a much simpler model:  you buy the land, put in the infrastructure, then sell the houses or lots.  Then you move on.  There's not a lot of ongoing management required.  Most don't have many common areas (some have a community center or swimming pool or the like, but nothing on the scale of common areas that these permaculture communities are talking about).  The property is all sold to private entities, not managed in a lease arrangement, so there's no ongoing involvement there.  If I buy a house in a traditional development, and the company that built the development goes bankrupt, it doesn't affect me much.  I've got my house and land, and my only considerations are the bank (if I have a loan) and the taxing entities the property is affected by.

With a lease-the-land deal, the management corporation would have to be rock-solid for lots of people to even consider it, because there's the risk that they'll mismanage their funds or otherwise screw up.  If the landowner fails to pay his taxes, the leaseholders don't have much recourse.  The county or whatever can seize the property and kick everyone off.  Or someone else buys the property and decides to change the rules.

It's essentially a new concept that hasn't been tried much before, so naturally people are going to question its feasibility.  Say what you want about traditional housing developments, it's a tried-and-true model that folks are familiar with.  Not to say it isn't deeply flawed, but those flaws are well-known and understood.

Another major difference is that most subdivisions aren't concerned with trying to attract like-minded folks with common goals.  So you get a very diverse mix of people.  What you're attempting to do is to attract a narrower cross-section of people, many of whom are likely to be very individualistic and not the typical model of "go along to get along" types that most suburban housing developments seem to attract.  It's a much different group dynamic, and I think it's valid to question if it's viable long-term.  I can see it going either way.  Could end up a sustainable community of independent thinking, self-sufficient families working together for the good of the community, the way small towns and villages were in previous centuries.  Or, packing a bunch of libertarian survivalists into one-acre lots could be a powder keg that blows itself apart a year into it.  Like I said, it hasn't really been done before, so nobody knows how it will turn out.  Everything is purely theoretical at this point.

Lastly, nobody questions whether a regular subdivision will work or not because nobody really cares.  If they build a bunch of houses in a cornfield somewhere, I don't give a crap if they sell them all or lose their shirts trying.  I think most of us here would love to see something like your project or Jack's actually work out and prove the concept.  So we're a little more invested in the idea, and more inclined to think about it.  And thinking about it raises questions.  My only goal, since I'm not going to be joining one of these efforts, is to raise concerns so they can be thought through and dealt with.  It's much easier to solve problems in the planning stage than to discover them after you've leased half your lots.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on September 30, 2013, 02:48:55 PM
Skunkeye,

I appreciate the comments even if I don't agree with everything people say. It is making me think and question or confirm my thoughts.

Bring it on! :)

Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on October 01, 2013, 10:02:51 AM
For starters, a "traditional" subdivision is a well-proven model.  We already know it "works" (I put that in quotes because from my point of view, modern tract housing doesn't work well at all, but by the standards most people seem to accept, normal housing subdivisions almost always work). 

My point pertaining to "not worrying if a subdivision is going to work" was specifically about the human conflict issues that people keep bringing up, not anything else... definitely not its legal structure - it is comparing apples to oranges.

As far as people are concerned, I keep saying that this is not a commune. The major conflicts in communes arise from (among many other issues) living on top of each other, trying to make group decisions, and collective work. Those issues will not be here.

Another major difference is that most subdivisions aren't concerned with trying to attract like-minded folks with common goals.  So you get a very diverse mix of people.  What you're attempting to do is to attract a narrower cross-section of people, many of whom are likely to be very individualistic and not the typical model of "go along to get along" types that most suburban housing developments seem to attract.  It's a much different group dynamic, and I think it's valid to question if it's viable long-term.  I can see it going either way.  Could end up a sustainable community of independent thinking, self-sufficient families working together for the good of the community, the way small towns and villages were in previous centuries.  Or, packing a bunch of libertarian survivalists into one-acre lots could be a powder keg that blows itself apart a year into it.  Like I said, it hasn't really been done before, so nobody knows how it will turn out.  Everything is purely theoretical at this point.

I also do not see this as much of an issue. How many of you, who claim to be individualistic and libertarian have problems with your neighbors? I mean, everyone has a few issues here and there, but most of the time, it is because “that other person” has their head in the clouds or sand… and they really do. They are the yuppie or the “fashionista” who doesn’t have a clue about real life. That is not who will want to move to this community. I guess what I am asking is if the whole community was mostly filled with people JUST LIKE YOU, why would there be problems so large that the whole community would blow up? Unless you are a selfish, unreasonable jerk (and I am not saying you are), then why is this such a concern? Do you really think being a modern survivalist is a good idea and everyone should do it? Or do you really think everyone should be more liberty-minded? I certainly do. Then why, when we could build a community that does just this thing, do people think it would fail due to the character of the people involved?
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Doc K on October 01, 2013, 10:08:10 AM
One issue I am working on right now is finding out about code issues for alternative housing. I have contacted two cob building instructors in Tennessee, one of whom trained under Ionto Evans. There is no way this community will be able to fly under the radar, so all building will have to be above board. I had a brief email conversation with one of the instructors, and she said that there have been cob buildings approved in TN. I didn't think to ask which county it was, and so I am waiting to hear back.

I will share what I learn.

If anyone has any good information on cob homes that have been approved by code officials, especially in TN, I would love to hear it.

Thanks!
Doc K
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Ian-FW on October 01, 2013, 11:38:47 AM
Quote
I mean, everyone has a few issues here and there, but most of the time, it is because “that other person” has their head in the clouds or sand… and they really do. They are the yuppie or the “fashionista” who doesn’t have a clue about real life. That is not who will want to move to this community.  I guess what I am asking is if the whole community was mostly filled with people JUST LIKE YOU, why would there be problems so large that the whole community would blow up?

Most of the people out there who are dead-set on starting a homestead, already have. You'll snag a few who would be doing it anyway and happen to see your project at the right time, but most of the people that would be moving to a project like this are people who are currently living in proper civilization and are motivated to move out to your place by all the cool stuff it promises to become. A lot of those people don't realize how much hard work is involved in building something like this from the ground up, and are not going to be comfortable with it. They'll create social problems because they have gambled a huge amount of time and money and other potential opportunities on building a new life in your community. As Jack has said several time, people under stress don't make rational decisions - and building an unorthodox house in a rural place with a family (who may or may not be fully on board) and maintaining some sort of income stream is extremely stressful. Everything will take twice as long and cost twice as much as anyone plans on, and people who don't realize that going in will be in a real bind when money runs low, the house isn't livable, and the family is complaining about this whole idea.

Lots of people are great folks and in ideal circumstances the best neighbors you could ask for, but they have unrealistic expectations and have built many layers of plans on those faulty foundations. Those folks are a lot less neighborly when their plans come crashing down around them. Not something I would hold against them personally, but those aren't people I want to live around.

The community I have had the great fortune to find myself in has worked out very well because nobody there expected any help from anyone else, and the whole thing was unplanned. People who couldn't handle the work and the stresses simply left, and the people who stuck it through are now a pretty solid community. We help each other out when necessary, but there is no community property or common area or shared plan or any formal structure that can be enforced. I think it also helps that the average property is 40 acres (with lots of unoccupied parcels between the actual residents) so we have a lot of space between people. We basically have no unintentional interactions - I can only see one other building from my home, and only the top of its roof. Lots of little things that can cause disputes on small parcels (smelly animals, construction noise, etc) are simply not problems when the closest person is a half mile away.

I would also point out, FWIW, that nobody in my little community has successfully build a house in less than 5 years. The ones that are finished now are absolutely gorgeous (we have a strawbale house, a rough-cut lumber house, and several conventional stick framed abodes), but virtually all of them were done either by retired people with pension-type income or by having one member of the family live elsewhere with a fulltime job while another did the building work.
Title: Re: My plan for an intentional community in central to eastern Tennessee.
Post by: Skunkeye on October 01, 2013, 03:28:29 PM
I guess what I am asking is if the whole community was mostly filled with people JUST LIKE YOU, why would there be problems so large that the whole community would blow up? Unless you are a selfish, unreasonable jerk (and I am not saying you are), then why is this such a concern? Do you really think being a modern survivalist is a good idea and everyone should do it? Or do you really think everyone should be more liberty-minded? I certainly do. Then why, when we could build a community that does just this thing, do people think it would fail due to the character of the people involved?

You're right, if that's how it plays out.  But, again, this is an untried concept, so you really don't know exactly who will be attracted to it once you start leasing lots.  It almost certainly won't be 100% people like me, or people like you.  As Ian points out, the ideal people for this sort of project probably are already doing this stuff on their own property, or have deal-breaker reasons to not be doing it, like family obligations.  You'll certainly find some good people, but it is an unconventional idea which may scare off some people who might otherwise be perfect for it.  People (even free-thinking, liberty-minded folk) find comfort in the familiar and are naturally distrustful of unfamiliar situations.  Even when the familiar doesn't really work for them.

There are going to be a few shitheads, because there always are, in any group of humans.  The trick is to structure it in such a way that a few bad apples can't spoil the whole barrel, and to attract far more non-shitheads, so the inevitable few who sneak in are outnumbered.  The group of us here on these forums seems like a pretty good group, as most of Jack's listeners seem to be.  But I think we all know that if you widen the circle just a little bit, the "modern survival" community has some really odd ducks circling around the fringe.  The kind of guys who have ruined the words "survivalist" and "prepper" to the point that you can't really use them around "normal" people, lest they think you're the Unabomber.  I think the moderators here on this forum do an amazing job of insulating those of us who are (or can at least appear) sane from the real nutjobs, but they're out there.

Ian brings up another great point about people getting in over their heads, too.  Ironically, the more organized and professional your project appears, the more likely it is to attract people who aren't prepared for the amount of work it will entail.  Managing expectations will be a huge part of your job when it comes time to start leasing lots to people. 

Now that I think about it, you'll definitely want to avoid using the words "survival" or "prepper" when you're talking to anyone in any regulatory capacity, trying to get things approved.  I doubt there are many county officials that would want a "survivalist compound" (that's what they'll hear, anyway) in their backyard, with visions of "Doomsday Preppers" dancing in their head.  Use "sustainable community" instead...   ;)