Practical Solutions - Experimental Transitional Communities
Realtors of an Alternative Reality
We need to approach basic issues beginning at the base level.
There is a general view of the growing number of homeless people, pushed to the margins by circumstances and conditions largely beyond their control, as not only a problem but a tangle of nearly unsolvable problems. Almost totally missing from the public discourse is an awareness of the great potential just below the visual, easily observable surface.
There is a vibrancy to the shantytown, to the hobo camp, to a squatter's settlement that offers incredible opportunity.
Of course it is only temporary. Of course it is substandard and insufficient. It is also within grasp of voluntary action of free associated individuals without governmental funding, and we must start where things are.
With duct tape and bungee cords and tarps and PVC pipes, with broke down trailers, old buses, storage containers and sheds, shelter, at the most basic level, is possible in short time for all. Once we establish a security of shelter in place we have a foundation for creating longer term housing, sustainable gardens and small scale enterprises that serve community needs.
Everything begins with land. The ground under our feet defines our relationship with the spinning cosmos of the universe. When we can live securely in place we can use our labor and creativity to improve our lives and build on the foundations of our accomplishments. The Squatter’s Dilemma is that no place is secure so no efforts offer a longer term potential. Without securing the land under our feet, we have nothing to stand on, no place to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.
With a secure relationship to the land, everything changes. A temporary shelter, be it a tent, trailer or shed, can become a more secure and permanent home given time, creativity, materials and the freedom of action. Without establishment of a physical security of place, none of us can transcend the trappings of the dominant economic forces that consume us. Any sense of a free market and self reliance must start with that basic level of security. To establish the basis of self reliance we need to bring swaths of land into a new form of ownership, removing property from the commodity relationship of real estate. To do so, we need to bring some land into a long term trust or collective ownership to foster the experimental development of free, self reliant and interconnected community.
Without land we are landless peasants, toiling for others with little to show for it. When we control the land under our feet the entire dynamic changes. That is real transition.