Important note: these are ideas for a possible future base – . The purpose of sharing this article is 1. an exercise in dialogue or discussion about people’s expectations and values in these sort of shared efforts, and 2. (perhaps less likely) to elicit the interest of any one who shares these values to work on establishing such a base.
Access to the land is, effectively, without any strings attached.
It’s not contingent on your doing this or that many hours of work every day. It’s not contingent on your fulfilling this or that or the other criteria – except one.
The one rule – the one criteria – is this: no bullying, and no controlling.
Other than that, the land, and the space, is yours – period.
Some of those involved want and intend this to be a part of a larger effort towards a gift economy. But, one thing at a time …
Except in exceptional circumstances, all forms of coercion – whether physical, psychological, or whatever other form – are sternly and unambiguously denounced. This is to be a place of rest, peace, and self-determination – not of fear or servitude.
Sharing / gift economy¶
( this section is a tentative addition. Not everyone that comes here necessarily needs to agree with this – it would just be a bonus. We might be revising this paragraph – especially if it comes across as dogmatic.)
We endeavour to provide people with whatever sort of help they need without resorting to considerations such as exchange or money.
We’re interested in helping each other, and – while it isn’t necessarily a “rule” – it would be ideal if other people who came here had the same attitude.
We certainly don’t want to exclude people, but we don’t perceive this as being a burden upon people; we don’t think it’s a “big ask” – or, indeed, any sort of ask at all.
The term some people might use for this is a “gift economy”. It’s not necessarily perfect, but it will do for the time being.
While we realise that it may not be viable for people to cancel all monetary or commercial relationships they have with the outside world, and don’t expect them to – we feel that our dealings with each other (i.e. within the community) should ideally resemble something much more akin to a gift economy.
Ownership of land? Not really¶
We realise that whatever series of circumstances may have led to this land coming into our possession, they do not grant us a licence to regard ourselves as “owners”.
We acknowledge that whatever good fortune may have placed these assets in our hands, our foremost obligation is to share it with others who have not been as fortunate as ourselves – and to do so in a manner which is unpatronising and uncondescending.
Whatever control we do exercise over the land, or the circumstances that arise within, it is primarily only to ensure that it is not re-privatised, and that all visitors and inhabitants remain unintimidated and untroubled.
Beyond these considerations, we abnegate whatever power we may otherwise maintain. We will assert our power only whenever it is necessary to ensure that the environment remains free from coercion.
The points above are perhaps the most essential to remember. Having said that …
It would also be beneficial if visitors shared other values, such as
- a willingness to allow some of the area to grow (at least partially) wild (an interest in foraging, etc.),
- that – even if they are not vegans or vegetarians – that they have at least some concern for animal welfare (and not just in a tokenistic sense), and
- a strong inclination towards sharing and gift economy practices.
But this is perhaps asking too much – at least in the short term. (In other words, those aren’t “rules”.)
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is the point expounded above – that this is to be a place of rest and non-coercion.
Whatever work or labour is undertaken – whether manual, technical, or purely cerebral – is to be chosen at each individual’s discretion – never prescribed by another.
People can come here to convalesce, to study, to write poetry, to develop their skills or competences in a certain area – or a combination of the above. Or people can come here to just live.
You can stay for as long or as short as you like. The land is as much yours as ours. As mentioned above, whatever power we assert within this context, it is really only to ensure that circumstances remain this way.
The value of dialogue¶
We encourage extensive dialogue – not only in order to avoid any potential ambiguities or misunderstandings, but also to discuss any projects that we might be interested in working on together. If there is anything you are unsure or uncomfortable about – even if it seems trivial or unimportant – we strongly encourage you to talk or write to us about it, whether in public or in person (whatever you deem appropriate).
Q. Is alcohol allowed?
A. Yes, as long as it doesn’t lead people to make a nuisance of themselves, and as long as people can take responsibility for their actions while drinking. Also, people shouldn’t leave bottles and cans lying around the place. In many cases, this might mean simply drinking in moderation. The details could maybe be open to discussion, but – in general – we would like people to have as much autonomy and freedom as possible, while – simultaneously – maintaining a high standard of behaviour and respect towards one another and the environment.
Q. What about disabled people? And the elderly? Are they welcome?
A. Absolutely. They are welcome with open arms. People will not be judged on their age, qualifications, or abilities – but on the content of their character. The one thing that may have to be borne in mind, is that we will probably be working with very limited resources. So, although, we will try to care for people as best we can, the “facilities” might not be what people expect.
Q. What about non-monogamous relationships? Are they welcome?
A. Yes. To put it crudely, whatever arrangements are made between people who are old and mature enough to make their own decisions is their business. Some people may choose open or polyamorous – rather than traditional, monogamous – relationships. Some people, on the other hand, may choose no relationships at all. Whatever a person chooses – assuming that their actions and decisions do not impact negatively on anyone else – we must try to respect – or at least accept.
People who espouse conservative values in this regard are still welcome, as long as they don’t try to instill these values in other people. It is important that visitors or members are willing to acknowledge, for example, that the nuclear family isn’t the only possible social unit (although, if people choose to live that way, we respect it).
Q. So you don’t expect any sort of labour, work, or any other sort of contribution from people who come here?
A. No. The only contribution we expect from people is their company and solidarity. People are free to pursue whatever work or interest they choose while here. Alternatively, if they want to lie in the grass and stare at the stars – they are welcome to do so.
The flip-side of this arrangement is this: if people want something to happen, it will be incumbent on them to make it happen themselves. Also, it’s perhaps worth mentioning that the place is not a hotel; we are not here to cater to everyone’s whims and desires; and people should treat the place with deep respect.
All we can offer people is access to a small amount of land or space, but we believe that this is people’s birthright. It’s not our business to tell other people what to do. We didn’t create the land, so we don’t regard ourselves as justified in demanding any sort of contribution for it. If you feel otherwise, then you probably don’t belong here.
Q. Are alcoholics welcome? Or people with illnesses?
A. Yes, absolutely. We’re not by any means suggesting that this is the best place for people to convalesce, or recover, or get well – but we are never going to give any one the cold shoulder on the basis of such criterion.