I don’t know if we can even call this a vision statement–it’s a rough and hastily put together draft, a squint through a crack in the wall more than a fully realized vision. But so far it’s all we’ve got…comments would be very welcome.
We want to build on our six years’ experience living collectively to establish a community of collectives that will promote urban sustainability in all its forms. We envision a parcel of urban land that will serve as an incubator in which the community can learn, teach and refine sustainable practices that are appropriate for a neighborhood setting, including gardening, water catchment, energy alternatives and conservation, bioremediation, food preservation and the like.
Even more important, however, the express purpose of the new collective will be to expand the definition of “sustainability” beyond the usual infrastructure of food, transportation, and energy, to include healthy, collaborative ways of organizing and building community, challenging racism and oppression in all its forms, and actively seeking solutions to the destructive economic consequences of gentrification. We believe that power with, not power over, is the true definition of democracy, and that no solution, however small its carbon footprint, is truly sustainable if it leaves an unhealthy and unfair power structure in place.
We also believe that leaderless, collaborative, consensus-based organizing is a skill like any other, and deserves to be taught with the same care as carpentry, canning, or bicycle repair. In a culture where hierarchical organizing is the norm, it’s important to have places where people can see grassroots collaboration at work, where they can take part in consensus decision-making, and where they can use their own voice and learn how to listen to the voices of people who often go unheard.
Like any living organism, our collective will be made up of a number of interlocking and overlapping systems. These will include:
*Private living space for 8 to 12 people. Although there will be continual cross-pollination between the residential and community portion of the collective, the residential sector will be an autonomous and self-governing sub-collective.
*Community event space, both indoors and outdoors. This will include flexible space for workshops, performances, and recreational activities. Use of the space will be overseen by a collective made up of members of the communities served by the collective.
*Space for gardening, small livestock husbandry, and other sustainable systems that can both provide food for the residential collective and serve as a vehicle for community skills exchange.
We take some of our inspiration from the HIVE, a grassroots community space in the Glenwood neighborhood of Greensboro. The following list from the HIVE’s vision statement expresses our vision as well:
* Develop and strengthen community-based participatory democracy;
* Actively confront and challenge all forms of oppression;
* Celebrate the diversity among us and recognize that we have a lot to learn from each other;
* Foster education and dialogue that emphasizes self-empowerment and recognizes the real-world needs of individuals and communities;
* Provide a venue for cultural and artistic expression;
* Build healthy, ecologically sustainable communities;
* Support an economy based on localism, fairness, and mutual aid.