I’ve written about the importance of a decent human community (here, most comprehensively). I’ve hosted hundreds of visitors here, and I’ve spoken and written often about this rock-pile in the desert as an example. In this essay, I provide a brief summary of the ties that bind the members of this human community, with a focus on the few hundred people within five miles of the mud hut rather than the five-person community occupying this small property.
Love for this place
The humans here love this place. Consider the examples at either end of the fiat-currency continuum. There are several financially wealthy people here. They could live anywhere, but they choose to live here. The majority of my human neighbors, though, choose to live in financial poverty. A mile up the road is a land trust with 13 members who share life on 20 acres. They grow their food and share a common well near the center of the property. They could live in dire financial poverty anywhere, but they choose to live here.
This is not a bad spot. I’ve grown quite attached to it. The latest trailer for Mike Sosebee’s film reveals the perspective of one of my neighbors.
Respect for self-reliance
If you can’t fix it, learn how. If it’s an emergency, learn quickly. The preferred route is to teach yourself. If that doesn’t work, you are welcome to call one of the neighbors, most of whom have been pursuing self-reliance for many years. They know about building structures, installing electrical lines, repairing the plumbing, changing the carburetor, growing food, tending animals, mending clothes, and mending fences.
And you’d better not call the expensive plumber in the town 30 miles away. Not when your neighbors need the work and appreciate the companionship and the Federal Reserve Notes. As John Steinbeck wrote in Grapes of Wrath: “If you’re in trouble, or hurt, or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”
Appreciation for diversity
Most of us claim to tolerate other races, creeds, and points of view. But that claim comes up well short, in many of my experiences.
And tolerance isn’t nearly as much fun as appreciation. Here, we appreciate diversity in its myriad forms. My favorite example is the combination New Year’s Eve and house-warming party I crashed a couple years ago. About 20 of us were attending another party. Two of party-goers had been invited to a party at the home of the financially wealthy literary agents up the road. So we all went.
We were welcomed, of course. The party was attended by 150 or more people. At one point during the festivities, I happened to notice one of the well-dressed hosts chatting with a cowboy from the cattle company. The cowboy was dressed to the proverbial nines, including the requisite felt hat, pearl-button cowboy shirt, vest, starched blue jeans, and ostrich-skin boots. I suspect you’d be hard pressed to find two people in this country with more disparate political views. They were joined by a man from the land trust. His dress and personal hygiene reflected his living arrangements, with limited access to fiat currency and water. The three men continued an animated, thoughtful conversation for 30 minutes or so, as if they care about each other. Which they do.
I’m not suggesting it’s all rainbows and butterflies here, much less that the years ahead will bring nothing but good times. We have our differences, thankfully, even here on this hectare.
There are many attributes that could keep us apart. But there are even more that can hold us together, if we allow. I’d like to believe the latter is stronger than the former, despite the tendency of civilized humans to find an “other” in our midst.
I was interviewed by Daniel Kerbein for Shift Shapers radio. The result is embedded below.
This essay is permalinked at The Refreshment Center.