As my husband and I drove up to North Carolina, we played with our recurring daydream of buying land in the country. Land around Newberry, South Carolina still looks beautiful to me--close enough to Columbia, the capital city, to get what we would need, but still beautifully rural in spots. Land in the Upstate (South Carolina) also looks good--close to mountains, but still underdeveloped. Sadly, the land around Asheville is distressingly developed. When I was a kid going to camp at Lutheridge, you really had to pack carefully--there weren't lots of stores nearby (and when my Mom was a counselor, back in the 50's, there was NOTHING nearby). Now, there's a SuperWalMart across the street from one of the camp gates. Sigh.
I love the creativity retreat that I attend at Lutheridge every year, and as I do with events/gatherings/people that I love, I always leap to wondering if there's a way to keep that going year round. I'm also interested in intentional communities of all sorts, and wonder if there's a way to create a community that does sustainable farming, creative pursuits, and social justice. And I wonder, could there also be a religious component (I have an abiding fascination with monasticism).
If someone wanted some of the elements, but not others, could the community still work? It seems to me that even if someone didn't want to participate, they'd still have to agree not to undercut the activities. So, you don't have to pray several times a day, but I don't want you to denigrate those of us who do so.
Now, for the more important question: how would we finance this?
I wouldn't want an old-fashioned commune, where everyone would have joint shares. I'd prefer to own the land, rather than all the founding members pooling their money together. I guess I'm an old-fashioned capitalist that way. How strange.
The most important question: could such a place be self-sustaining? We could farm and sell what we raised. We could have retreats regularly. We could offer creative workshops and day-long events.
Now all we need is for Obama to create some kind of national health care plan. Otherwise, it's likely we'll all need to keep working somewhere else for our health insurance.
Or maybe I'm dreaming too small. This Washington Post article inspired me today.
At one point, I'd have been resistant to the idea of buying land. I'd have worried that it would involve too much work. What I like about the article is that it reminds me that there's intrinsic worth in restoring the land and keeping it healthy. And now that I have a job that would really like to consume every waking hour, I'm open to other possibilities that I might not have been before. What do I want to create with my labor during my time on this earth?
Perhaps that's really the most important question.