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Communities of the Future
The industrial revolution has changed the way humans live on this planet in myriads of ways. It brought us new technologies that have enhanced life, some for worse but many for the better. Earth can support a much larger and culturally homogeneous population than ever before. This has given our species many upgrades and also some obstacles that will need to be addressed with an increasing urgency as time marches on.
Many believe that the increased ability of communication (cell phones, internet, etc) is the most beneficial of these changes. Specialized industry which has concentrated goods and service production into the hands of the few is arguably the most detrimental. Rather than one or two farmers feeding a hundred people, tens of millions of people rely on one or two farmers for their bodily sustenance today. When one man would typically have all the knowledge required to build a shelter for his family, today it usually takes a small army of specialized tradesmen to accomplish the task.
Many philosopher entrepreneurs believe that the answer to a sustainable future lies in the task of recreating the smaller community model. This involves the incorporation of every aspect of life to be woven into a functioning, self-reliant community that is much smaller than all cities and most towns that accomplish this today. One analogy of this approach uses the concept of electricity production and distribution. Imagine that 1 million people, living on 10 square miles of land need electricity. One large power plant can provide for all of them. Another approach may be twenty small plants that will provide for 50,000 each and be spaced out to cover about ½ a square mile.
A failure at the large plant will mean that all 1 million people will be without power. The small plant model maintains a much healthier buffer when failure occurs. Increasing this buffer is the common goal of all species of philosopher entrepreneurs creating alternative communities today. Ignoring the subtle differences of methodology, the Intentional Community; Eco Village; Co-housing; Permaculture; Ubuntu; Sustainable Living and Commune movements are all building this same buffer between the mega-city and the individual household.
I envision a reality where the world religions focus on their similarities rather than divide over their differences. People of different nations will identify themselves as Earthlings, all living on the same boat. And every alternative community will recognize their common thread as well.
What would happen to humanity if every 20 square mile region produced everything it consumed? Supplies necessary for life would travel no further than 20 miles to reach their destination. Any economic hiccup would only effect its own 20 mile region. In contrast to the globalized world we live in today, virtually every large or medium scale economic disaster would be non-existent in such a paradigm!
How do we transform such a vision into a reality? After a decade of studying the theory and four years of steadily implementing the practice, I can already see it happening now! The only question remaining is, how do we get more people on board? It has been raining nonstop since the industrial revolution and many have simply ignored it. As the low lands began filling up with water some have moved to higher ground. A small contingency have begun building arks capable of weathering out the storm until the water subsides. The Self-Sufficient Small Community model is the blueprint for creating such an ark.