I just had someone text me asking me about progress that is being made on Vegan Utopia Ecovillage, and I feel grateful. I feel motivated to share how things are going and thus to inspire people to get involved.
I took a break from trying to get people to join me in my efforts to build the Ecovillage for several reasons. My funding run out and I needed to have $20,000 to buy my former husband’s part of the land. Robert and Cliff, both former husbands, had gone in with me to buy 27 acres. Cliff is a vegan, and wants to still own his land, but he will be a friendly neighbor.
Robert is not vegan, and does not want to be part of the Ecovillage at all. So he agreed to sell his 9 acres. This is very fortunately, because he loves the land. Yet he knows this is such a passionate dream of mine, and he was willing to give up his needs.
The house that I am living in near the Ecovillage site is under contract, and should close on Dec. 20. At that time, I have been promised by the owner that she will give me the money to buy the land from Robert, plus more money to finish the physical infrastructure of the Ecovillage. The amount is unknown at this point. But the most important thing is that I own the land so I can put it into either a nonprofit or a LLC.
It is essential for healthy community that the legal structure is such that it can be handed down to the coming generations. This means the land is never owned by individuals but owned by the community at large. I am studying the options for this and getting support from Kyle Luznynski, founder of Project Animal Freedom. I recently drove up to St. Louis and joined Kyle, his parents and brothers, and other activists on a march to ban fur in St. Louis. We found we have almost identical visions for how to achieve our goal of a world where all animals, human and non human, are safe, happy and free. He is very excited about the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage and I have a lot of hope that with his support I can move forward on the areas I am weakest at–fundraising and legal structures.
In order to have a non-profit or LLC, I will need a board of directors. I have found 3 people who are willing to be on the board:
Cliff Mikkelson: former husband, vegan and neighbor. I have known Cliff for 44 years, and even though we are not married any longer, we get along very well and I trust him implicitly. He has been involved with social justice movements starting with being a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. He has been doing organic gardening for about 50 years, and has a passion for inspiring people to know about the importance of Oneness of all life. He has written a number of books, including How To Help The Nature Spirits Clean Up the Earth. One of the best thing about Cliff is his ability to get along with just about everyone!
Rob McNeil: Passionate animal rights activist in Canada who is an accountant and very practical. I met him (along with Amanda Barker and John Sakars) when they came to visit on the Love-based Intentional Vegan Experience tour. Rob and I have been working to unite the midwestern animal rights activists, as well as providing mutual support on our animal rights journey. He has proven to be a good and loyal friend in spite of many challenges. I feel so grateful that he is willing to serve on the board.
Sky Masters: I met Sky over 4 years ago when I was living in San Diego for the summer. We shared a passion for community building and coaching. We have been deepening our friendship and trust, experimenting with various structures of relating which encourage personal growth. We have been meeting every week for about 8 months with another friend, discovering that we have a synergy that makes it very safe for us all to heal our inner children and make profound changes in our lives so we can achieve our goals, living according to our values and fulfill our potential. He has marketing and business skills that will be a great asset to our Ecovillage along with much experience in community building.
Right now I am in the midst of moving out of the house I am living in because it is selling. I have a number of options as to where to live for the winter, including living in the Ecovillage site if money is available and help is available.
The Common House, which has been named the Mir House, is almost completely done on the outside. It is large enough to hold up to 30 people for eating and working. But we still need to get a simple water system and solar system developed, along with a shower/bath house. These systems are completely doable, but working in the winter can be a bit troublesome.
I am leaning towards working with the Project Animal Freedom to help Kyle get that group off the ground which can then help me solidify the legal structures that I think would be optimal before people start working for the Ecovillage. However, I have one woman who has already offered to volunteer to help with construction clean up and re-doing the garden. As you can see, I am very indecisive.
The one thing I know is that come spring–around March–I will want to be living on the land and being in a position to invite people to live there. There are two large tent platforms along with tents and everything needed to have a comfortable living space. These are places where people could live either in dorm style or for a family. We also have a yome that needs repair, but which could be used for a meditation space. One of the the tents could also be used for common space so we can gather in a circle.
One of the main things to figure out is where people can sleep. Usually people don’t sleep in a common house because people might need the common house at all hours. I am thinking that a campground where people can set up a campsite with adequate sound distance from others would be the ideal. The first people who come will be willing to have very small sleeping space, or else bring their campers or other mobile living spaces. We do need to set up a place for RV’s which is very doable. But we are off the grid so people will need to use the common house for internet and food prep etc.
We will serve all meals in the common house so people won’t have to have kitchens.
I still need to figure out the cost of staying at the Ecovillage and set up even more specifically the visitor period, the screening process, membership process.
If you have any questions, please put in the comments below. I will do my best to answer them.