Aeon Shift Kit/Communal Living
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Living communally is beautiful. For tens of thousands of years humans lived together in tribes. These tribes were necessary for the survival of fragile humans in a hostile environment. With the environment conquered
Nowadays the standard unit is the family, or just the couple or many of us even live alone. The sixties and seventies saw the first wave of experimental communes. Many of these failed. There were many reasons for these failures Power games, politics, hierarchies and bad ownership structures. Yet the alternative of each of us living alone and alienated is just as unsatisfactory,
Living communally is more efficient and puts less strain on our Planet's sorely stressed resources. An appliance can be shared among many people - do 20 people really need 20 dishwashers. We can share cooking, cleaning, childcare and can create together. Living with others accelerates our growth as other people present a mirror
This manifesto outlines a vision for future communes and
It is time to draw lessons from the failures of past communal living experiments and try again. Getting it right could make the difference.
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I recently stayed in a Squat where close to 30 people were living communally. The squat was semi-official - the owner knows they are there and has given them permission to stay for a couple of years. This quasi-legitimacy has encouraged those living there to put a lot of energy and juice into the place. This living, sharing and creating together was really beautiful - it reminded me a lot of Rajneeshpuram and living there. There is something so beautiful about living together. It is also really practical as sharing appliances, cooking, cleaning and childcare is a lot more efiicient than each having our own.
In the end I could not stay, there was not enough space and there were some politics so it did not work out. It did however make me think of communal living and wonder if it is not time maybe to try again. All Sannyasins carry scars from the failure of past communes especially from the huge wound that was the implosion of Rajneeshpuram. This makes many of us reluctant to try again. However if we learn from the mistakes of the past it is possible to create a commune which can work and survive.
So what are the mistakes of past communities and how do we avoid them?
Its tempting to think we are evolved enough to do everything by consensus and there is no need for the rigidity of formal structures. This just abandons power to the alpha males and females of the group and means the quieter voices don't get a fair say. Structure does not have to mean hierarchy. Of course democracy creates politics but until we are all in perfect harmony it is the best system possible.
Governance is a *hard problem* as proved by the struggle so many countries, communities and societies have with it. Democracy has however evolved and there are some good new styles of democracy which would work well in a community.
One such style is Direct democracy which comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein all citizens can directly participate in the decision-making process. Direct democracy in its traditional form is rule by the people through referenda. The people are given the right to pass laws, veto laws and withdraw support from a representative (if the system has representatives) at any time.
The main objection to Direct Democracy is that deciding all or most matters of public importance by direct referendum is slow and expensive, and can result in public apathy and voter fatigue. The solution to this is Delegated Democracy.
In delegated democracy all people have a vote on all issues as with direct democracy but they can delegate their vote in any area to any other person. If I vote on a topic my vote is counted if I do not bother to vote and I have delegated votes in that field to someone else then my vote is added to their tally.
- Nina is a great cook and nutritionist and I trust her with regards to running the kitchen and feeding us. Therefore I delegate my votes on food buying and cooking to Nina thus if there is ever the need to vote in this area Nina will cast my vote on my behalf. - My friend Naoise knows a lot about money and is trustworthy and I think has a good balance between investing and being too cautions. I would delegate my investment votes to him in most instances (although it is an areas which interests me a bit so at certain jey moments I may well vote myself). - If friends decided to delegate their votes to me on certain areas where I feel confident (community, governance :-), education) I would be honored to vote on their behalf.
Remember you can alwats still vote yourself and you can always move your vote from one person if you feel they no longer adequately rtepresent you.
After watching many communes go down the tubes and seeing past effort go to waste many are understandably reluctant to commit energy and money to something without a clear idea of what might happen to it. This is what makes communal ownership so important.
If the commune is incorporated as a Limited Liability Partnership all those involved in it can legally have a share of it. That way if one wishes to leave one can sell out or if it does not work and needs to be wound up any assets will be shared out among those who contributed