Making Values Shifts in Regular Life
This section is about how people can go about starting their own community living experiment incorporating value shifts (if they don’t want to be part of the Bridgers program, outlined in Appendix 2). For more ideas, suggestions, or to dialogue with the author about this, please visit www.thebridgers.org.
One of the most meaningful patterns you can start is to learn to enjoy the feeling you get from being in service and helping your community. Help your neighbors build a fence or coach a little league team. Most recreational past-times, especially travel, require vast amounts of (fossil fuel) energy and significant amounts of money. Traveling to faraway places and continents requires spending a lot of time in a vehicle of some sort, which is usually uncomfortable, then staying in unfamiliar lodgings, trying to recover from the fast-paced travel while trying to “see the sights” before returning home to work/school with little time to regain balance. It’s no wonder many people get sick after a “vacation”. Why not spend that leisure time sleeping in your own bed or enjoying the many scenic areas that every part of the earth has to offer, while enjoying the companionship of those closest to you? Even in your local area, a 20 minute drive offers many different parks.
Work to create a support network of community around you. If you don’t like the approach suggested here, then consider joining or starting an intentional community where you can at least live with some like-minded individuals and share your basic lifestyle expenses. If you like to live extravagantly, it is much easier to have a pool and tennis court and maintain them with a few other financial contributors. For those who appreciate simpler living, a community of 15 people each paying $300 per month can pay off a piece of land or a house and live simply without having to work overtime to pay off their own private place. Although this isn’t exactly the interdependence promoted in this book, it is a step in the right direction and frees up a lot of people’s time from work. The following are further ideas based on people’s different financial and resource circumstances.
Building Cooperative Lifestyle With Few Resources
Find 10 people whose company you enjoy and agree to each contribute $300 per month for a total of $3000 per month. This is enough to pay first and last rent and deposit on a large rundown house with some property to rent. If the rent is $1500 per month and the utilities another $500 per month, then each person need only contribute $200 per month to cover rent and utilities. From there, another $100 buys a basic diet for everyone, with shared cooking and cleaning duties. With an additional $10 or $20 per month, the group could fund the maintenance and insurance on a shared vehicle. That is only $300 per month to cover basic living requirements, which could be covered by only 30 hours per month of working for $10 an hour. This would allow the rest of the time previously spent in wage labor for arts and crafts, dance, games, stretching, personal work, and people to do these things with!
Building Cooperative Lifestyle With Some Resources
Many individuals who are dissatisfied with their lives right now have already accumulated some monetary wealth and collateral, but perhaps not enough to make a lifestyle change and support themselves. If these people pool their resources, with careful selection of community members, there is no limit to the possibilities for interdependent living.
Here is one example layout:
Ten like-minded individuals who own their own house or have similar savings – 401ks or stock or inheritance – cash in their investments or sell their homes. Then each of the 10 put $100,000 in a communal fund, giving them $1,000,000 to work with. With this fund, they buy a group home or old apartment house with some land for $400,000. They spend $100,000 to fix it up for communal living and they put the remaining $500,000 in bonds or a 6% interest bank account. The revenue from the bonds or bank interest gives them $30,000 per year fixed income, enough to cover taxes and basic food and utilities each month with supplemental food from the garden and selling or trading co-created handicrafts.