What scares me about many intentional communities is that they attract (they're attractive to ..?) people with liabilities/few skills/other issues.
I think this is a design flaw of existing attempts, rather than an inherent design limitation. Design a more attractive community, and raise the bar for entry, and this problem gets replaced with attraction and filtering. Each of these is more tractable than the original.
There may be some people/families who have both the survivalist resources and the personality type to go it alone and both survive (food, water, shelter) and flourish psychologically; but seems that must be a rare breed indeed. It's about building strong communities.
This. There is some thought loop among our most educated, that keeps them looping in this box. This is some serious G class (gervais) juju. Too many years in school, and one cannot think outside this box.
Here is the secret: if you read an establishment book on anything outside of the establishment, you are reading a perspective that was created for you. That may or may not align with the perspective one would choose for oneself. The presented perspective is likely to be chosen to make the reader feel better about where they are (within the cozy embrace of the establishment), or it may be chosen to highlight how difficult and dangerous life is without that smothering chokehold- eh-hem uh, cozy embrace.
And because we live in a society drowning in information, there will be books written from the above perspectives, carefully written to appeal to the anti establishment audience, to help guide them back into the fold. And for the establishment audience, and every step in between.
I understand the desire for a strong community. I share it in my own twisted way. But strong communities are an emergent feature of getting the other parts right. One doesn't build strong communities, one grows a strong community, and with luck, success is copied.
Scale is important, but the auto scale-up thought loop will kill any productive line of thought.
If one were interested in solving this riddle, one should look at what has been tried, and failed. If only to ensure the path one wants to follow doesn't lead to a known hazard.
I would say that all G class paths out of the establishment have been tried and have known hazards. Perhaps a different starting point is appropriate.
(I'm not calling you out, I chose this quote because it is such an excellent example, well written, and clear. )
A couple years ago I got mildly obsessed with ecovillages/intentional communities and read eight or so books on the topic. Most of them were concerned to a significant degree with answering the question "what are the common causes for the ~90% failure rate?"
A very good start, and there was good info in your post.
But I was thinking more in terms of "what are the common causes of the failure rate/how does this compare to the failure rates and failure points of traditionally founded communities".
If that had been the approach, I think we might find paths not fully explored previously. Success is more likely to be found in under explored territory than going over the same old ground that has thus far yielded a high failure rate.
If one is determined to go over the same old ground, bringing new tools/techniques would at least bring the possibility of better results. But I haven't heard of any new tools or techniques, yet.
I think, maybe, there is a problem with trying to convert what is inherently a individual solution into a group/tribe solution. First in the types of people it attracts, and secondly in the type of thinking it perpetuates. Hence it has some problems unique to it, vs other intentional communities.
What is a group/tribe solution, that is also not an individual solution?
So, founding an ERE group/tribe/religion is not my goal. But if it were...
I would look at how cities are typically founded.
Step 1. Economic center.
There has to be a reason people want to be there, and this is usually because they perceive an opportunity, and move to it.
Step 2 establish land ownership.
This needs doing asap. Perhaps before anyone knows of step 1. One doesn't need contention in this step.
Step 3 divide up your land, mark it up and sell lots.
Repeat steps 2&3 until the demand, determined by step 1 is filled, or some other failure point.
So here on the west coast, this looked like someone building a cabin and dock at the mouth of a river.
Then expanding as fishing and logging made that dock make $$. Then expanding as the opportunity presents itself.
This is a coastal variation on the Railroad model. As the railroads moved west, one of the ways they capitalized their project was to lay out a town where they needed to stop. Everyone wanted to be close to the railroad access points, they bought and built.
Are you noticing a pattern here? All these people are buying into a dream. They are all coming of their own accord. And most of them will be young and relatively unskilled. Because that is the time of life when people are most likely to go on an adventure.
Individualists simply need a reason to go do their thing where you want them to. Typically this reason looks like you made a space that is appealing to them.
So, if I were a high income younger man, looking to start my ERE cult in a small town in the Dakotas, I would look at buying something like the sorority house linked in some other thread. (Sorry, no link)
It was a 9 bedroom, 3 bath house. Classic architecture, brick siding, and big all over, on a quarter acre.
The typical first thought is get lots of roommates, and life gets cheap, fast.
I would go the other way, though. What do I want in a housemate? Great. Now what would a person like that want in a house?
So then I would rent out a room with a studio/office.
Just like that, I went from attracting based on cheapness, to attacting based on a special appeal to people who want/need studio/office space. Now we're filtering!
I would have the garden planned and laid out as well as any other major changes, before I let anyone in. When people move in, they should be aware that the space is going to change ahead of time. How the changes are made is another filter.
So, 9 bedroom becomes 3 bedroom, 3 studio, and 3 craft rooms. How you divide that up is up to you.
But I would suggest that the applicant who want a room for $300/mo is different from the applicant who is looking at $750 a month for a room/studio/craftspace in a pretty house with garden.
Make the space you want, with space enough for others, attractive enough to the kinds of people you want to know.
When the first 2 spaces are rented, start looking to expand. Watch for opportunities in the neighborhood. People sell all the time. Simply repeat as often as desired. Ideally, getting neighboring property, and maybe set up your ideal little urban/suburban compound. (Little known fact: if one owns multiple adjacent blocks, it is possible to have the street closed between them, now look at all that garden space...)
If I were looking for a rural version, I would start with the economic incentives to be there. Maybe start with a woodlot, and make log cabins for folks to move into. Get good internet. The world is full of back to the land types. Make a space, make it as easy/hard as you want to filter for.
There is nothing complex about any of this. The hard part is letting go of the childhood treehouse mentality (boys club-no girls allowed!) And moving in to an adult mentality, understanding that you don't have or want control over anyone. That path leads to the extreme divergence/high failure fields...
Of course, knowing what you want and building it in a way that appeals to others is no small feat, either.
I think the cause of high failure rate of intentional communities is that they are generally started without enough capital, by people of an idealistic bent. The ideology is often opposed to capitalism, so they skip step 1.
If one wanted to build a house, but were ideologically opposed to the standard tools and materials, one's odds of failure would be similarly bad. Though the successes would be extremely divergent (like Flying Concrete).
Now note where the successes are in IC. Extremely divergent. Places that are so different from our day to day system, that people will put up with the downsides, to participate in the dream.
Not screwing up step 1 means the extreme divergence shouldn't be necessary. The less divergence, the broader the appeal. The broader the appeal, the higher one could raise the bar for entry. The higher the bar, the more successful the average participant, does everyone see the positive feedback loops?
Now, to this idea that an WL5 would want to team up with other WL 3-7's. The whole point is to get synergies. One doesn't get synergies without differences. What ERE WL5 wants, is a gardener/permaculturalist or a carpenter/woodworker or whatever you want to attract, who is also ERE compatible.
You learn the skills and practices that appeal to you, the same for them. We have plenty of folks here from other interest groups. One doesn't need the full theory of ERE to live an ERE compatible life.
Jacob wrote ERE in an academic way, because that is both his background and his style. His goal was to blaze the efficient path WL7+. And that's great, perfect, for me. But most people don't learn the way I do, especially in the realm of lifestyle design. People learn from the people around them. I think the beauty of the ERE commune would be allowing people to do what they love, while in an ERE soup. Their actions are influenced by their environment, and after they are partially down the ERE road, and have experienced the benefits, they are more likely to be open to more.
We know ERE works in HCOL and LCOL economic zones. So simply set up ones franchise in the space you like, that will attract and support the kinds of people you want. The examples of group living that work, don't diverge greatly (the folks from YMOYL) took care of step 1 as part of their system, or as an accident (7w5's bohemian youth experience). I don't know how one could progress to WL5 without enough economic theory to get step 1 completed early. In other words, this should be easier
I believe Leadership is the opposite of what is needed. OWNERSHIP is needed. There is nothing unusually difficult here. This is all standard real estate practices. You can get standard financing. You just have to figure out what and how you want to do it, and then follow that up by taking ownership, and actually doing it.
And in the immortal word of Alphaville:
I ran across a term I would like to introduce.
Technical Debt. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_debt
Technical debt (also known as design debt or code debt, but can be also related to other technical endeavors) is a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.
Because this is the heart of the rest of the problems we face as a society. We cobbled together our society from short term incentives, and work arounds.
I see ERE as a way to redesign an individual life to pass through a society wrestling with this technical debt, in a way as to minimize friction.
And thinking in terms of technical debt, is more accurate than terms like collapse, or any other catastrophic hyperbole. It describes the problem in a framework that makes the most efficient choices most visible.
And from the marketing perspective, the fewer WL0's who cross our path and hear words that trigger "crazy" in their heads, the less resistance we generate. And for better or worse, the mainstream likes to paint anyone coloring outside of the lines, crazy.
Lemme know what you think.