A snowy Mount Shasta mid summer in northern California. The purple “What Comes Next?” inscription on the back of MoBo, my adventure-ready landship, is always thought provoking but has never felt more poignant. I’m on a community property research expedition stretching from the foothills of the southern Sierra up to Ashland in southern Oregon during which I’m exploring opportunities that are helping usher in the future of what community can look like. How can groups of individuals, ranging from a handful into to the hundreds who share some common thread or set of values, purchase land together? How can the finances and decision making process be managed in a clear, smooth and egalitarian way? How does currency function when some people work within the community, while others do business in the outside world? How will these communities be examples of resourcefulness and self reliance while still maintaining a healthy connection to the rest of society?
I’m in discussion with a few groups at various stages of development that are interested in questions like these that lie at the core of the community (r)evolution. These pioneering people and projects represent much more than just a modern take of the back-to-the-land movement. In a time of great turbulence they offer nothing less than a fresh way of looking at how we live. It just takes a little look around to realize that something is obviously nut working with the status quo. The majority of people have been sold the false promise that we’ll find happiness when we no longer need to rely on anyone else. But all around us we are witnessing the symptoms of what happens when people feel disconnected. We’ve built isolated bubbles, amassed objects, built fences and celebrated the illusion of our independence through excessive consumption and unparalleled waste. Meanwhile we distract ourselves from our latent sadness by any means possible, until our repressed collective pain bursts through the fabric of society in tragic displays of social angst. It’s a disease, and like any disease it eventually it has to end. The host either fights it off, or the host eventually dies. We can choose to face it, or not to face it but the longer we try to avoid looking at the root issues, the more drastic the course correction will be.
I believe that returning to the values village life, where we collectively work, play and raise families in closer proximity than we’re typically used to, will play an important role in the solution. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in a rural or urban setting, when we feel loved and supported not only by our family but also by our extended community, then our sense of belonging increases. As our connection to ourselves, others and the planet deepens our sense of well-being expands and then it’s only natural that we don’t want to hurt any part of the system, because by doing so we know that we are only hurting ourselves.
It’s been a year of disrupting my old patterns and shedding layers of my ego, and I’m finally beginning to feel a call to action once again. I might not know “What Comes Next” exactly, but I do know that the more carefully I listen, the more it leads me to amazing people and opportunities. The better my communication with myself, the better my communication is with others whether they share my values or not. When my mind is clear, the more I can actually FEEL what is right. Sure the problems of our world can be daunting, but coming from this mindset I know that I’m doing my best. And being able to say that, and really mean it, feels really good.