An Unintentional Community
No rent zone
By Grandma KoKo, March 2016 - Author of More to Come
Learning to BE - A Human Being at E.A.S.E. (earth as sentient entity), living close to the earth. We believe no one should have to pay rent to live on this generous planet.
’s Home Alice Alice began
building a home out of papercrete, this is like paper mache with cement as a stabilizer.
By mixing cement, water and paper and shaping it into blocks that are allowed
to dry, these blocks form the walls. The walls are about a foot (12 inches)
thick, before plaster is added, and offer great insulation. Papercrete is load
bearing and not as heavy as concrete so it did need to be framed, especially
since this is a single story home.
|“No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem” at the community center and kitchen.|
An Unintentional Start
While most of the world was preparing for the new millennium, partying like its 1999, wondering what the computer brain would do about 1999 becoming 2000, and generally suspecting something is not right with the world, some folks in
were starting to begin a journey of homesteading. A generous person with a big heart owned a piece of land and had a greater vision. Her love of nature and hiking
in the wilderness allowed her to become friends with a number of other folks
she found who were also enjoying the free range part of New
Mexico. New Mexico
is a free range state meaning it is legal for people to move about and camp on
the land in the wilderness. These are folks with a deep love of nature and
wilderness. Some moved to camp on the land and provide stewardship, care and
direction for this eco-friendly plan.
So, right around 2000 they devised a plan to make the property into a land trust. Remove the land from commerce, placing it into a stewardship under which it would never be bought or sold.
A land trust as defined by Wikipedia, is a private, nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements.
A land trust makes it so the land is not owned by anybody, a least by no one individual. Regulations or rules are established by the group rather than owner. While it took a long time to process through the slow-ass bureaucratic/legal machine the trust got put in place and signed in 2007.
Despite the land trust not being settled a couple of folks started building in 2000. Two more stayed there; one in a tent, another stayed in his bus. All four of these folks are still living rent free on this most beautiful tract of land near the wilderness.
Sometime around 2000 two dwellings were starting to be built. It was already becoming a community without really planning anything or having ‘rules’. The people who wanted to stay there longer, wanted to settle and make this their home had some things in common. They were all independent survivors, people who did not like the trappings of the civilization of EMPIRE. Each one offering a variety of survival and sustainability skills, and they all shared a great love for the earth and for the plants and animals that live among us. They were already living lives apart from the 9-5 grind.
The roof is made of papercrete. Held up by vigas (logs for rafters), the decking is lumber, then tarpaper, and then the 6 inch thick papercrete blocks are set in place. The papercrete is covered by elastomeric paint to be waterproof, and it looks really nice. Looks like snow on the roof, even in the middle of summer.
The entire home is 24 x 24 square feet. The one big room is 24 x 12 feet and contains the kitchen and living room. The bedroom is 12 x 12 feet and the remaining area is the porch. It is 576 square feet including the porch.
Kitchen side of the big room in
Bedroom – 12 x 12 feet
Outside view of
Sherpa began building a small round home she calls her ‘hooch’ or ‘kiva’. Starting with the posts from an old corral that was in the spot she liked to build. She had to move a few posts and put a tall one in the center. The walls were made of ‘put together what she had.’ And she was experimenting with a variety of available building materials. One wall was cobb, another stone adobe, bottle inserts, chicken wire strung between the posts, then stuffed with straw and then adobe plaster applied for finish. The little hooch is about 14-15’ in diameter, not symmetrical. She started with tarps for the roof. Because of the asymmetrical shape of the building she used repurposed lumber and fit it to size for the rafters. She used discarded paneling for the roof. Under the paneling is cardboard, used as the ceiling. Sherpa is enthusiastic about cardboard being an incredible structural material, most useful for building. Straw is stuffed between the cardboard and paneling for insulation. Cloth was attached under the cardboard to look better and help secure the cardboard.
Community Center and Kitchen
Community Center and Kitchen, near Sherpa’s home. Also built by Sherpa.
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem at the community center and kitchen.
The kitchen walls are formed from recycled pallets, repurposed lumber to secure the pallets, cardboard to stuff inside the pallets for insulation, then chicken wire stuffed with straw before applying the plaster. This makes a wall about 12 inches thick and serves well to keep the place cool in summer and warm in winter.
|Jacob’s porch, an extension of the main home, seen on the right.|
Inside Jacob’s home, notice the rock and adobe stove to the right.
Looking from the front door offers a better view of the amazing rock and adobe stove, on left.
Jacob’s home is built predominantly from found material, free stuff. Insulated with cardboard and straw, cardboard is a great insulation. He used natural materials for functional and aesthetic values. The rock and adobe stove offers the stacked functionality of cooking and heating. The thermal mass of the stove works to cool the house in summer and warm in winter. Total sq. ft is about 300. The roof was inherited because this home started with a pavilion with a gabled roof of plywood and rolled asphalt roofing. Windows were important, and repurposed, offering lots of light and solar gain.
The sauna is near the community center and the babbling brook.
The sauna has bottle inserts that add light and color. When you step inside on a sunny day it seems like it is a stained glass window. The roof is a repurposed satellite dome.
Along with building the actual structures to house them, the people were learning to live in community. A community of free spirits, who do NOT like rules, has to find a way to communicate and resolve ‘issues’. All people who want to live together have to find a way to get along. This part of the equation can often be the harder part of getting a community to form and work together.
After more than 16 years of learning to live together and get along the consortium has set some rules, yet no one likes anything to do with formal meetings. While members prepare their own food for the most part, every homestead has its own kitchen. There are times when they gather for food. Often, they are joined by neighbors or friends for the weekly pot luck, or the weekly peasant soup night. Other than the expected kind of visiting with neighbors and friends, the compound is NOT public. This is a CLOSED community. It is not accepting new members. It does not offer tours.
A couple of community members shared some insight as to how and why they have been successful as a peaceful community. At the forefront is choosing like minded folks who share the same values. For example, no one here wants to have any kind of toxic chemicals sprayed on plants in the garden or anywhere at all. Rather than have a rule about no spraying, rules often get ‘ignored’ by people who do as they wish. It is better that all members are in agreement about the importance of respecting the earth and each other.
So rather than have a lot of rules, forming the community around people who share the same values is the key. These are not poor homeless people, these are a proud people who love the land they stand on. A people who love and honor the world, the earth, all plants, animals and so much more. They don’t want to live the life of greed and excess that is dangled in front of the consumers of EMPIRE like a poison apple. They are content to live close the Mother, nestled in her bosom.
Sharing is caring. The other overriding value is that these people are givers, rather than takers. Community members love to share. The newer members worry if they are sharing enough. People value the gifts of one another, and everyone offers a variety of talents and skills. All members of the community have enough, they live a life of plenty. Plenty to eat, warm clean homes that are magnificent personal creations, fun things to do, but the best part of all is having a community that works. Shared values!
Respect is the bottom line.