“Whatever you would do or dream you can, begin it. Commitment has genius, power, and magic within it.”
Our goal is to make available communities that are designed with a long-term perspective, which have resiliency built into as many features and aspects of the community as possible. Accordingly, we are working on establishing various ways to “make things work better.” As part of that process, we are organising this document to be a set of design patterns for ourselves as well as for other people engaged in the work of building better communities.
There are many aspects to our work, and we are doing our best, here, to examine each and every single one of them. That factor of thoroughness is destined to make this document very long. We are, therefore, summarising some elements of our work here in the introduction. That way, you can read this intro, browse the sections you think are most interesting, and pick over the ideas you think work, or need work, or don’t work.
These design patterns are a living document. We do not expect to identify, list or describe every method or system that supports deliberate and decentralized living. We seek to describe in as much detail as is possible, while providing a means to do further research on your own. We expect there to be many versions, evolving, over time – and the patterns, strategies, ideas that support resilient living will evolve as well.
We look forward to your involvement. Please send us comments, questions, remarks, reactions, and ideas, as you see fit (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks!
Rural vs Urban
We believe that it is possible to build resiliency into any community of any size. We are committed to helping people with that work wherever they may be, in villages or in cities, in countries around the globe, on the land, sea, in the air, or out in space.
For our first community projects, we have chosen exceedingly rural counties. These include Hocking county, Ohio, and Doniphan county, Kansas. We believe it is important to consider some of the beneficial aspects of rural locations in our work.
A very significant statement is made by Mao Zedong in his “little red book” about cities. He wrote, “Power flows from the provinces into the city.” That is literally true about electrical power, for example, which is typically generated in rural locations and brought to the cities on high tension power lines. It is also true of power generation systems of many different kinds, including photovoltaic solar arrays, thermal solar systems, nuclear power plants, coal-fired power plants, natural gas power plants, hydroelectric systems, and the feedstocks for all these kinds of systems such as uranium, gas, oil, and coal which are typically mined in rural locations rather than in cities.
What is true of power is also true of water, food, and, up to about 75 years ago, labour. Water is pumped in large volumes from rural locations to cities like Los Angeles. During various “water wars” some of the pipelines involved have been occupied, shut down, and even blown up. Food, of course, is mostly grown away from cities, where land is cheap and plentiful. Even today, many smaller communities in rural areas are losing population as younger people go to the cities to find work. So, a great many things flow from the provinces into the cities. Therefore, if one seeks resilient communities, it seems important to consider the sources and uses of power, water, food, and labour.
Where possible, we want to be closer to the sources so as to ensure our access to continuous supply. While it is possible to make do with locally sourced power in big cities, and it is certainly possible to purify waste water and re-use it, it is often costly to retrofit for such situations. Food requires growing space, at present, although there are ambitious persons who anticipate lab-grown foodstuffs (see, for example, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age for an interesting novel that discusses how this technology may be implemented, and many effects from it).
Size Matters: How Many Acres
In order to get started quickly and begin applying our ideas in real-world situations, we have identified smaller properties of 22 acres, 27 acres, 17 acres, and 50 acres in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. We have recently identified a property of 60 acres in the Doniphan county area of Kansas. Our goal is to experiment with designs, and to put these design patterns into action in different places.
While there is no technical minimum nor maximum when it comes to life, there are optimal minimums and maximums when it concerns communal living. The size and scope of available property impacts living space as well as the kinds of resources, water, arable land, that are available.
Moral Framework: The Zero Aggression Principle and More
We believe that every permanent resident of our communities must be asked to agree to the terms of the zero aggression principle. Simply stated, that principle says that no individual has the right to initiate force against any other individual, nor to delegate its initiation. Self-defence is always agreeable and acceptable, but aggressive force is not. We believe that without this important principle, an endless supply of bullying, interference, regulation, and levels of “government” will come into existence; we further believe that in the presence of unanimous consent to this principle, such things will be minimised or completely avoided.
We favour decentralised power generation. That preference does not mean that we favour only low-wattage power systems. We are happy to see all kinds of power systems, including steam power through the clean burning of renewable resources (such as wood); thermal solar involving the heating of water with mirrors and other systems; photovoltaic solar power; and many others. Just as we are willing to consider clean-burning systems for using coal, we are willing to consider radioisotope thermal-electric generators in situations where they become available, provided their fuel elements can be disposed of safely. We think various kinds of tidal, ocean thermal, wind, and hydro-electric resources can be used to provide resilient ways of power generation.
Water is important to living things. One of our properties under evaluation has a spring-fed pond and well-water on it. Another has a stream running past it. A third has two springs on it that produce 60,000 gallons a day. We are interested in all methods of water recovery from the air, land, and sea. We believe that contemporary methods allow for desalination with decentralised techniques, as well as recovering water vapour, and other water sources.
Food is vital to all living things. We believe that food systems should emphasise simplicity and purity. We do not believe that genetically modified organisms are a uniform blessing, and certain chemicals, such as glyphosate, do enormous damage not only to the environment, but also to humans. Since the average healthy human has about 4 quadrillion cells in their bodies, and roughly 5 quadrillion plant cells in their gut, including “active cultures” of all kinds, it is mistaken to think that we are not harmed by plant-eradicating chemicals. In addition to farming and ranching without glyphosate, we believe that there are many other damaging factors in contemporary food, such as bovine growth hormone which seems to make it more difficult for humans to lose weight; pesticides and herbicides; and antibiotics, among many others. We seek effective ways to bring wholesome food to people at an affordable price.
A very wide assortment of approaches to shelter have been used successfully by humans, going back to prehistoric times. These include caves, tunnels, huts, small houses, tents, yurts, larger houses, and many more. There are also a wide variety of building materials that have been used, including wood, poured in place concrete, brick, concrete block, and 3-D printed materials, among many others. Since we are not Marxists, we hope that every resilient community engages in commerce – and this includes tourism, lodging. We seek to partner with the contemporary low-impact hotel industry, and to enable the construction of sound, smart, warm, receptive, functional, hotel and multi-family housing. There is a place for the homestead, the bunk house, the gypsy-wagon B&B, and hotels – there ought to be space for us all.
Every resilient community will need to manage issues of waste, recycling, and the impacts of consumptive activities upon the community. There are many considerations, not least of which are costs, mandatory waste management regulations, and the existence of working sewage/septic on the property. Even with functional septic, there is work to be done in investigating the age of the septic system, its design, and the last time it was inspected.
Health and Wellness
We believe that a very wide variety of tools and techniques have benefited human cultures for hundreds of thousands of years by providing for healthy living. Nutrition, exercise, meditation, and intervention are all important to health and wellness. Interventions can take the form of pharmaceuticals, nutrients, oils and rubs, surgeries, chiropractic adjustments, massages, acupuncture, and many other tools and techniques. We do not wish to limit people in any way from effective health care alternatives.
Education and Learning
In order for this or any community to function, there needs to be a capacity for retaining knowledge and training/educating members of the community on key functions: a) energy, b) water, c) food production, d) healthcare, e) defence. Community members with skills, knowledge or expertise would participate (by voluntary agreement) in library and mentoring programs. Since our values map closely to home-schooling and even more closely to un-schooling, it is our expectation that much, if not most, of the pre-professional training and education will be managed by parents or primary care givers. Libraries would be voluntary as well, and we will expect our communities to have networks of these – with indexes published amongst the various communities for lending or sharing or visiting by scholars. If there isn’t an app for that, we’ll develop some.
Physical Security, Search and Rescue, “Bugging Out”
People have a rational expectation to be safe from attack in their homes and communities. Accordingly, methods for providing physical security, as decentralised as possible, are vital. This requirement for security must be managed mutually, with voluntary participation by all members of the community.
One way to support the physical security, on a cost basis, would be to coordinate with a local, constitutional sheriff to see if they have a “search and rescue” team or if they would be interested in creating one. Local sheriff departments often have access to government funds for disaster preparedness, homeland security, and other activities that could be directed to the needs of search and rescue teams. By working with the local sheriff, a resilient community gains trust and builds social capital. Additionally, training & equipment made available to search and rescue teams would also have usufruct utility with respect to securing our communities.
We should also address “government response” in the form of violence. We expect, as the situation for government worsens, that many irrational and violent behaviors would continue to occur. We do not pretend to know how, when, nor to what extent these behaviours would happen. We have, however, adopted the basic strategic guideline that “stand and fight” doctrine cannot be made to work in a 4th generation warfare environment. The most likely outcome of “stand and fight” against an organization with vast weapons and manpower capacity including substantial control of the media would be destruction – as has happened in the past at places such as Mount Carmel church near Waco, Texas.
We are, therefore, incorporating into our core doctrine the philosophy that “pseudo-random dispersal” is a better, more resilient, strategy. We train for dispersals, how to maintain operations security following dispersal, how to re-group and re-create structures that were part of the previous community – if it is possible to do so without impacting the security of other groups. Evaluating probabilities in the absence of facts in hand is impossible, but we plan for clean pseudo-random dispersal, no contact with other sub-groups of the community, link up if possible with other communities or establish new ones.
Information Security and Communications
As with physical security and communication generally, information security is critical in planning free, dignified communities. As with voluntary participation in the physical security, information security would involve coordination and some participation by all. We would seek to adopt standard modes of communication. For members of the community without a background in encryption and security, there would be introductory (and higher) classes. Per our identified approach of “Education and Learning”, these security classes would be taught by experts within the community.
In order to be resilient, people need to be able to communicate. Communications include in person, online, on the air (by radio or television signals, including cell phones) and line-based telephone communications. Some communication would be by text, some by voice, some by video. In addition, Morse Code (trinary) and binary code systems should be understood by some or many members of our communities. We very strongly believe in privacy, and encourage the use of encryption to help people safeguard their communications. At Resilient Ways we are seeking various alternatives to the more standard means of communications, to include: a) advanced encryption, b) alternate-webs (like mesh networks and WISPr), c) alternatively sourced electronic equipment.
Land Titles and Lease Arrangements
Heathian Anarchism, similar to Georgism, is the belief that much or most of conflict in society is due to the amassing of land by some members of the society. By implementing non-perpetual lease agreements, we anticipate planning how land titles would be transferred within the community without restricting how members can voluntarily coordinate their work, if desired, to achieve positive economic outcomes. We expect many leases to be 99 years in length and renewable up to 100 times. Since tenants would have usufruct of their leased properties, they would be able to sub-lease for shorter periods and to various levels of nested leasing.
Crypto-Economics: Crypto Currencies and Precious Metals
We seek free markets and voluntary/mutual trade as the most resilient and effective means by which to find a market clearing price for goods and services. Money itself has a market clearing price. Work by E.C. Riegel, F.A. Hayek, and others strongly indicates that markets are more efficient and useful to consumers when there are many competing currencies available.
In all cases whatsoever we believe individuals are free to use whatever money they see fit, and we do not anticipate imposing any sort of “legal tender” or “community currency” upon free people. It happens that the only meaningful legal tender law in the United States allows the national fiat currency to be printed with the legend “legal tender for all debts public and private,” but there is no law requiring its acceptance. People remain free to accept tokens, precious metals, coupons, scrip, and digital equivalents of these, including Bitcoin and other crypto-tokens.
In free markets, exchanges include farmers’ markets, flea markets, rummage sales, malls, shoppes, warehouse operations, and high volume exchanges. Monetary exchanges are often licensed and heavily regulated by governments, but cambios are, when left unregulated, frequently parts of other ordinary shopping activities. In free markets, people accept various forms of payment, and make arrangements for exchanging one payment methodology for another, quickly and easily.
We have designed “Abolition” silver medallions of the size, weight, and shape of pre-1964 American dimes, about 4 grams of silver by weight. We intend to release these through our web store soon.
With regard to economies in the communities we develop, we do not anticipate planning nor the imposition of rules to be effective. We understand that the “calculation problem”, as it is described in Austrian economics, is an element of fundamental conditions in our universe. Chaos mathematics illustrates the difficulties in predicting all of the consequences over time of tiny variations in initial conditions. The incompleteness theorem of Kurt Gödel proves that a complete logical system is unobtainable. So, we are about as far from the mythology of the “managed society” in our philosophy as it is possible to be. Free markets are inherently chaotic, thereby expressing fundamental aspects of reality, human freewill, and are the best means for finding market clearing prices.
Therefore, whether basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and entertainment are sourced locally or remotely, are provided by particular individuals or sets of people, and the ways in which goods and services are priced, distributed, exchanged, and monetised is not something we seek to design. Instead, we anticipate free markets to arise, on their own (and as they should), and seek to facilitate them by providing spaces in which they may congregate as market actors see fit. We intend no impositions on free market behaviours, within local communities of our design nor amongst various communities – and we hope, by example, to impact those communities we live around, invigorating their sense of free commerce as well!
The collection of strategies which enable voluntary commerce and exchange we call crypto-economics. We are not the originators of crypto-economics, but rather practitioners, students, researchers, and experimenters. We strongly believe that crypto-economics stands in defiance of corrupt and crony “economic” systems dominated by forceful government interventions on behalf of a few. Another, more comprehensive name we like is crypto-catallaxy. The “naming of things” may be less relevant than the “doing of things” in the work of building free and dignified human communities.
Networking Communities Together
It is our intention in designing what we regard as resilient communities to leave out as much coercion, centralisation, and hierarchical control as possible. To our way of thinking, anarchism and liberty represent the best of human dignity, as well as the most flexible approach to human relations, and survival. Wherever people seek to impose upon one another, for any purpose, they typically impose upon themselves – beggaring neighbors, and impoverishing all.
By making provisions for communications amongst communities, not only of our design, but designed and implemented by others, we anticipate a free exchange of ideas and information that would create a “market place of ideas.” Voluntary arrangements amongst individuals and amongst community groups should be possible in areas such as physical security, communications, healthcare, food, water, learning, knowledge, and technologies.
It is in the nature of people to specialise and focus, so it is in the nature of economies for division of labour to arise spontaneously. Some individuals are very skilled at certain trades and hobbies, some communities bring together several such individuals who craft a local specialty. Therefore, trade and commerce are facilitated by the free movement of goods, services, people, and information. We don’t expect any one community to ever be “self-sufficient” but we do anticipate communities getting “good at” providing particular goods and services. One of the specialties we expect to feature in several of our communities is entertainment: theme parks, theaters, cinemas, and entertaining experiences of all kinds.
Working with People, avoiding Governments
We are thinking about and designing our work around several major issues. Two of these are: How do we effectively work within existing rural communities, learning about them, understanding their strengths and weaknesses in order to find a place that fits; and how do we avoid negative transactions with various governments?
Very little effective work can proceed without understanding a local area, its geography, social dynamics, and economics. We seek to learn about the people who live in the areas where we locate our new communities, including their dreams, hopes, knowledge, and challenges. From this research and diligence, we anticipate greater probability of economic success for the businesses in our communities, including our own businesses.
It is rational to anticipate that without due regard for local conditions, callousness toward others would inspire callous and irate responses. Thus, to build resilient communities we seek to understand the people and flavour of the places where we build. Anarchism, as properly understood, including complete freedom for the individual to own and exchange property, is not necessarily understood by others, any more than free markets seem to be widely understood today. Therefore we will be watchful for local resistance to our ideas, even as we offer alternatives to the caricatures (iconography) of the hoax stream media and various governments.
One key to understanding the legal and governmental processes in the United States is to understand the very high level of authority vested in the county sheriff. County government is a basic unit of governance in the United States, which is not really 50 states and various territories, but is actually about 3,600 county (township, parish, or county) governments – each with significant autonomy to assess and collect taxes, conduct elections, and enforce laws. Thus, it matters to our work to be in contact with and understand the local sheriff, along with other prominent members of the local scene.
While it is possible to be obedient to the laws, it is foolish to expect them to be rational in their design. Nor is it wise to suppose that by not breaking any law one is free from governmental interference – our legal frameworks, local, state, federal, can be quite complex, and it is virtually impossible to know if a person has “broken some law”. Many people who were not in fact breaking a law have been arrested; a few have been falsely convicted; some have been killed. It is therefore essential to avoid having law enforcement applied to our work. In every locality, whether or not laws are applied is a matter of the personalities involved, especially those of the sheriff and the county prosecutor.
- Rural vs Urban
- Size Matters
- Moral Framework
- Power Generation
- Waste, Sanitation, Garbage
- Health and Wellness
- Education and Learning
- Physical Security
- INFOSEC and Communications
- Land Titles and Lease Agreements
- Networking Communities Together
- Working with people, avoiding government
- About: Jim Davidson
- About: Dan Sullivan
- Afterword by Jim Davidson
- Afterword by Dan Sullivan
- Appendix: Draft Lease Agreement from MacCallum and van Notten