WHO CHANGES?

– WE OR THE CLIMATE

 

 

HOW TO FORM

SELF-SUFFICIENT COMMUNITIES

(that are completely and genuinely

carbon neutral)

 

 

 

 

 

by

 

Bryden Allen

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            This Version

 

This, hopefully, is a temporary version of this piece of work. Later I will try to get the work published in a more formal manner. So the purpose of this version is to get any feed-back from you - and to find out about any errors. I would like the work to be circulated as much as possible and, as such, it is free to anyone who will actually read it. However it would be asking far too much to expect you to read the whole thing. So my condition is that you can have the thing free if you agree to read - the first two introductory chapters, the ŒSummaryı and also a couple of pages in between (about 15 pages). Otherwise you can have it at its cost price – probably about $15. The contents opposite will give you a very good idea of what the book contains.

 

                                                                                    Bryden Allen

                                                                                              7/5 Knox St, Ashfield.

                                                                                             Tel. (02) 9797 7249

                                                                                             1/12/2007

 

 

 

 


 

 

CONTENTS

 

                                                                                                                                              Page

 

1.      WHO CHANGES – WE OR THE CLIMATE?                                                                          4

 

2.      INTRODUCTION                                                                                                            9

 

3.      HOW THIS WORK CAME TO BE DONE                                                                   15   

 

4.      POSSIBLE FORMS                                                                                                         18

         4.1  Communities and Governmental Forms    4.2  Degrees of Self-Sufficiency

         4.3  Fundamental Forms – Simple, Basic, Village and Independent

         4.4  Footprints (hence Land Required)     4.5  A Forming Society

 

5.      A BASIC COMMUNITY IN GENERAL                                                                                 31

         5.1  Physical Form (with a Detailed Plan)    5.2  Membership and Finance    

         5.3  Officers and Courses    5.4  Meetings and Voting

 

6.      A BASIC COMMUNITY IN TERMS OF ITS ACTIVITIES                                                    49

A)     MAJOR ACTIVITIES

         6.1  Agriculture (Food,  Crops,  Animals, Land Calculation and ŒIt will be Funı)

6.2  Building (Accommodation, Sustainability, Construction and Final Total Costs)

6.3  Transport    6.4  Social Activities    6.5  Care and Education

B)      SERVICES                                                                                                                       90

         6.6  Energy (Facilities, Units, Insulation, Hot water and Electricity)    

         6.7  Water (General form, Storage and Collection)     6.8  Recycling

         6.9  Communication    6.10  Work-Shop

C)     THE EXECUTIVE                                                                                                         112

         6.11  President (external)     6.12  Treasurer (finance)    6.13  Membership   

         6.14  Secretary (internal - employment)    6.15  Analyst (equivalent to opposition)

 

7.      A VILLAGE COMMUNITY                                                                                                 117

7.1  Basic Form     7.2  A Two Tier Governmental Form

         7.3  Distribution of Activities

 

8.      AN INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY (A Town-State)                                                        123

         8.1  Basic Form    8.2  The Equity Problem    8.3  The Support Problem

8.4  Six Other Features     8.5  Into the Future

 

9.      SUMMARY                                                                                                                  134

 


                                     WHO CHANGES – WE OR THE CLIMATE?

 

The normal accepted wisdom in the current world is that climate change is very bad and we must do something about it. However, we must also consider our economic growth and the effect of such a change on the welfare of our people. Thus young people just starting up, who wish to buy a house and have a family, are already pushed to the limit. Such people are in no position to deal with higher energy prices at the moment. Therefore we must adjust slowly to the new situation and allow some time for new carbon-removal techniques to develop. Thus joining the Kyoto agreement, which specifies a 60% reduction of carbon emissions by year 2050, seems a reasonable compromise.

 

This may seem a reasonable compromise initially, but let us now look at the situation in terms of Œclimate changeı. Let us consider the following three points:

 

1)      Polluting the atmosphere with CO2 and causing climate change should, by any normal logic, be regarded as illegal. Thus, if a farmer lets their cattle stray into a neighbourıs property, then we say that they should pay for the damage they cause. Similarly, if a chemical company allows their chemicals to injure the health of local people, then they should pay for just restitution. So, if we the rich countries pollute the atmosphere with our CO2 and cause the people of poorer countries to lose their livelihood, then the very least we must do is to pay for the damage - and then correct the problem. Any destruction that a country causes beyond its own borders must be called illegal. If we want to be stupid and destroy our own livelihood then, that is our problem – but it must be illegal to destroy other peopleıs livelihoods.

 

2)      The situation about climate change is already very bad and it will soon become much worse. Thus both India and China are trying to follow our disgraceful example. Now just think how bad things will become if they, with their huge populations, start to pollute the atmosphere as badly as we are now doing. The situation will be absolutely disastrous. We need to rectify our errors as soon as we possibly can and so we can set a reasonable example (and then tell India and China that any form of global pollution is illegal).

 

3)      Climate change, as we know, does occur over periods of thousands of years - but we should not think of this as a very comforting thought. Over these thousands of years of climate change, some species die off, some species flourish, some move to a different part of the globe and others change their physical form in order to cope. All species have to change in a very significant manner to deal with the problem. We are also an animal species - so the same situation will apply to us. Do we really want these sorts of things to happen to us, within our own childrenıs lifetime, simply because we want to continue travelling by car too much and not using sensible methods to keep our houses at reasonable temperatures.

 

Also we simply cannot afford to wait. Thus, for example, 30% of the artic ice has already disappeared, and so climate change is already significant. Moreover we cannot imagine that by simply stopping our pollution now that everything then will be OK. Thus the pollution that we have already caused will need to be removed from the atmosphere before things even start to improve. So we need to act right now, and so far we have done nothing. A reasonable time-scale I think is that we should be completely carbon neutral within 10 years time and, within 20 years time, the countries that created this excess of CO2 must remove their contribution to this excess (so that CO2 level return to a normal level i.e. the 1950ıs levels).

         This timetable might seem a little extreme, but I think it has to be this way. Leaving things until 2050 simply means everyone forgets about it – because our thinking is that we will be dead by then. We should be acting now, and so far we have done nothing, apart from talking about good intentions in the far distant future. Remember it is WE, our generation, who have caused this problem, and so it must be WE who have to solve it. To bury oneıs head in the sand and say it should be partially solved by 2050, when our children will be inheriting an absolutely frightful problem, is terrible. Any parent who thinks that we should wait that long should crawl under the table and hang their head in shame.

         Furthermore there is no problem about how this scheme should be implemented. All that we need to do is to decree that all non-green forms of energy must rise in price, over the next 10 years, until their price incorporates the full price of the removal of the CO2 associated with their use. This extra money will go, in the normal way, to the companies that remove the corresponding amount of CO2 (this removal procedure needs to be immediate and permanent – not like some of the tree growing schemes that I have heard about). This means that the price of non-green energy forms must rise considerably - but there is no alternative.

 

But now we ought to return to that very difficult problem that I mentioned in my first paragraph (about young people who want to buy a house and start a family and are in no position to deal with these extra energy costs). I am the very last person that wants to increase the burden on this section of our community. Before we can do anything, however, we must understand very clearly the reason that this situation has arisen.

         The reason is very simple. As is well known, over the past 50 years of economic growth various sections of our community have become much richer. With this extra wealth these people (together with some wealthy new Australians from other countries) have bought up many of the big, old houses in our cities. This in turn has caused the prices of houses to rise enormously in our cities. This in turn means that young people, who have had little opportunity to accumulate wealth, have been forced to move out into our new, distant, outer suburbs, which have few facilities or public transport. Thus these people are very dependent on cars and so these people are very vulnerable should a large increase in the price of petrol occur. Thus their situation is very awkward indeed.

         So, what is to be done? Well the obvious thing to do then is to tax the rich people because they have plenty of money and they are the people that have caused this problem in the first place. This will have the effect of lowering the price of housing in the cities and then normal young people can start moving back into the cities. The tax gathered could then also be used to provide good, public, energy-efficient transport in our new, outlying suburbs.

 

But – wait!, stop! – I am going far too far – I am not a politician and I only have a meagre knowledge of economics. The above case was only meant as an example of the problems we could face, and a possible way it could be solved. I am just trying to put you into a mood about thinking that we really may have to change our ways.

 

Over the past 50 years we have seen an enormous amount of economic growth. This growth (and cheap energy) has meant the people have built bigger houses (that use more energy) and have started using cars as the standard means of getting to work. Also this economic growth has meant that:

I am appalled when I compare my own situation when I entered the work-force 50 years ago to that of my younger children doing the same thing now. In many ways we are much worse off now than we were then.

 

So in many ways we are now heading in exactly the wrong direction and so soon we will be forced to think about making some fundamental changes to we way we live. We need further economic growth (of the type we have had over the past 50 years) like a hole in the head. The difficulty, of course, with change is that you need to think very hard about what the best thing to do might be. It is always far easier to leave things as they are – and I am certainly not suggesting how the world should change. What I personally would like to do is to form (with other people) a self-sufficient community that indulges in none of the stupid practises mentioned above. This is what the rest of this work is all about (as the total form of my title should indicate). Unfortunately, I have to admit, the number of people that want to do this is very small indeed. However this work is also relevant to normal people (like you presumably) who are worried about climate change and who accept that we have to change our ways to some extent. Thus:

1)      This work shows how we can insulate our houses and then keep them at a comfortable temperature by just using solar hot water. We could then comfortably deal with the extreme temperatures of both Summer and Winter, and we could do this at a total annual price that would be probably be less than we pay at the moment. Obtaining solar electrical energy is a little more expensive - but I demonstrate that we donıt need to use very much electrical power at all and so the total cost can be quite reasonable.

2)      How to become self-sufficient in agriculture is, of course, a very large subject indeed. However I do cover most of the essential details of how it can be done. If you are patient then you will find out how we can, very happily, integrate a healthy, outdoor, agricultural life style with a normal city life. Thus we can save on energy and also gain a richer and more varied life style. I show that people could even continue to hold a normal city job, if they wanted to. As regards climate change it is important to be involved with agriculture because this gives us an opportunity to retrieve CO2 out of the atmosphere (by returning growth and organic waste into the soil as humus). Thus we ourselves can correct any excess of CO2 which may have been caused by our city life.

3)      The easiest way to avoid the excessive use of cars is to revert back to old-fashioned ways. Thus it is best to live in reasonably compact housing (i.e. terraces) that then can be close to a village centre. The local community could then run a small, electrical bus service to the local town, which could run quite frequently (and also hopefully connect up to a fast train service to the city). Besides this, a more limited use of cars can in fact be made quite sustainable.

4)      I show how a small community can develop its own reliable, flexible finance system. Thus the older people can be quite secure with most of their life-savings as equity in the community and yet, at the same time, young people can build up their equity in the community in a reasonably easy manner. At old age then all people will have an equal (yet substantial) equity in the community, which they can slowly withdraw (and then use this money for any care that they might need). Thus the capitalist curse of Œthe rich getting richer and the poor getting poorerı will not occur, and hence all people will always have sufficient savings to look after themselves in their old age.

5)      In a self-sufficient community, I can show how we can regain our leisure and have no worries about obtaining further employment, if required.

6)      Finally I show how all people can be involved in the governmental process and so there will be no problem about a ruling clique emerging.

 

If you have studied the six previous points carefully then you will probably feel that the first three points are indeed relevant to how we might have to change in the future (because of climate problems). However, on the other hand, the last three points donıt seem terribly relevant to you (as a normal person) because you are already reasonably happy about how our current financial and governmental systems are run. However, you may be forgetting one very important point – the fear of  loss of employment. In the current western world, most people are trained for one type of job and often people stay in that type of job for the rest of their life. Furthermore, most people tend to expect the nature of employment will remain more-or-less as it is, and so they adjust their future life on this expectation (i.e. where they live and the size of their house). Now a major change in life-style (as an adjustment to climate change implies) will radically change the nature of employment. Thus I think most peopleıs antagonism to a full adjustment to deal with climate change is, not because of a slight change of life style, but a fear of a radical change of employment and its consequences to them. And I have to admit that this fear is fully justified.

         So – what can be done? Well in the current world there is not much that we can do. This is the way our world is structured and it is very hard to change anything. We, the human animal, are justly famous for our intelligence and hence how we can adapt to many different circumstances. But the same cannot be said for our western civilization (unless it gets a really good kick in the pants - like a world war, and then it simply has to adapt). However, if one does accept that we have to change, then we perhaps we should think about further changes that would make our society more adaptable to change. And this is precisely what those final three points are all about. If you study these points you will realize that, in a self-sufficient community, people will have no worries about loss of employment. Thus the community will easily be able to adapt to any new situation.

 

So you now probably have got the message that I would like those people, who are thinking about adapting their life because of climate change, to also think about joining a community that is considering about a certain amount of self-sufficiency. When you start to go through the details, you will find that the natural way of dealing with climate change will also lead to more self-sufficiency. Admittedly such a course will not lead to people gaining a huge amount of wealth – but there are a lot more important things in life than just having a big house or a flashy car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is all I want to say about climate change because I am certainly not an expert in this field. Nor will I say a great deal on the subject of being Œcarbon neutralı because I again am not an expert in the field. However the reason for this is also because there is very little that needs to be said on the subject. A self-sufficient community must, almost of necessity, be mostly Œcarbon neutralı. After all, a small self-sufficient community wonıt have access to coal or oil and it wonıt wish to burn any organic matter (because it will need this matter to build up the quality of the soil). So being self-sufficient, in my terms, means that you will automatically be mostly Œcarbon neutralı – so nothing further needs to be said. {Besides, the details start to get very technical indeed. Thus, for example, I know that normal agricultural land in Australia only contains 3% organic matter because of our poor agricultural practices. Good land should contain 10%, which is obtained by returning organic matter into the soil. But, to work out how much carbon one can return into the soil, one needs to know: the depth of soil to which it is applicable, how difficult it will be to do, and how long it will remain there. So the calculation must be very hard indeed.}

 

So most of this work is simply about self-sufficiency. I canıt really claim to be an expert even in this subject - but I have been involved with the topic for a long time. Thus I wrote a paper called ³Modelling the Energy/Agriculture Self-Sufficiency Problem² way back in the late 70s. I certainly passionately believe in the subject - and so I have done my very best.

 

Thus the following chapter is the introduction to the main topic of this work, which is, of course, self-sufficiency.

2.      INTRODUCTION

 

The 60 years since the last world war has given us (the Western world) an unprecedented degree of affluence. However, there is a down side to all this in that we are now much more dependent on a global economy and we are working harder and longer. I think many of us now would like to have the option of disentangling ourselves slightly from our rich city environment. Thus we would like to have an association with the country and have the option of moving there if things turn bad i.e. should we get the sack. Hopefully this would be better for our children as well. The purpose of this book then is to show that, if we use the technological advances over the last century, then a group of people can physically form a fairly self-sufficient community reasonably easily. The difficulties are rather that:-

·       One needs to do some fairly careful thinking beforehand.

·       One needs to find a group of people who feel the same way as you do.

·       One needs to forego a few of our excessive affluent expectations (e.g. big houses and yearly overseas trips).

 

In most of this work I will deal with the fairly precise problem of how a group of about 100 people can become reasonably self-sufficient. Clearly this is quite a difficult problem and most people will be more interested in a less demanding case. I do this for two reasons:-

1)      There are many facets to this problem i.e. water, energy, food, re-cycling, social, building, transport, self-employment, finance and governmental form. There are a myriad of ways of partially solving any of these problems. It is easiest for me to show how all these problems can be solved in a reasonably complete manner. You can then just skip over the bits you are not interested in.

2)      Many of these facets interact with each-other – thus water is rather essential if one wants to become self-sufficient in food. So if you were to miss out one facet then the other facets would become incomplete. Moreover I think it is better for you to feel that you could see a complete solution if you wanted to. So please accept that this booklet might be a bit long and hard - just skip the bits you donıt want.

The solution to this fairly complete case shows that:-

1)      Such a community will use much less land than you would think. Strangely it is easier  if you keep everything compact. The advantage of this is that you can now afford to buy expensive land and hence live close to a town or a city. So you neednıt feel isolated.

2)      Such a community will tend to have an excess of time (and hence wealth). This is because a fully recycling, compact community is a very efficient way of living. So we will have a lot of spare time to spend with our children.

3)      The physical work might be easy but you will need to know how a lot of systems work. A fair degree of your spare time may have to be spent on learning these systems.

 

I do spend some time on other cases. On the simpler side, there is the extremely important problem of how people can find other people who will be compatible with them (to form a community of their required type). I naturally deal with this problem in some depth. On the more complex side, there is the problem of how a largish group of people might try to form a fully independent green community (i.e. a state). This would be the ultimate challenge for a group of people dedicated to self-sufficiency - so it is fun to consider how all the various problems might be solved and then how this form could lead us on into a different kind of future.

My previous page should have given you a rough idea of what this work is all about. The remainder of this chapter then is now mainly about the detailed advantages and disadvantages of joining a self-sufficient community.

 

To some extent, the search for self-sufficiency lies against the trend of our successful modern civilised world. Thus our current success has depended on the high degree of specialisation that has occurred in our cities throughout the world. This has resulted in great technical advances in materials and products. These things have been produced in cities and then shipped throughout the world. Hence we now mostly live in cities, have increased energy needs and we accept a global market situation.

 

This is what has happened, but it does not necessarily mean that this is quite the best solution. Now I donıt want to argue the current debate between living in country or city or

the debate between self-sufficiency and globalisation too keenly. You can make up your own mind on these matters. However, it is appropriate at this moment to remind you of a few basic facts. These are that:-

1)      Probably less than 20% of our labour force is associated with manufacture and so the majority of people donıt actually need to live in the city.

2)      Energy-wise it is better to live close to your source of food.

3)      Complete recycling of excreta is almost impossible unless one lives close to oneıs source of food.

4)      Sunlight and rain (our principal sources of renewable energy and water) lie well distributed throughout the country.

         Thus, if you wish to live efficiently, then it is basically better to live in the country rather than the city. This is confirmed throughout the world where the people who live in villages (in the third world) have far smaller footprints than we who live in the western world in cities.

 

Now letıs get down to the main purpose of this section which is to show that there are significant advantages in living in a self-sufficient community that has a very close association with country land. These are:-

 

1)      More Leisure

The excessive amount of work that we indulge in within Western Societies is entirely unnecessary. Remember 30 years ago when there was a slight panic about all the leisure that our forecasters were telling us we were soon to have. This never occurred. However the logic that the people  were using then is still true – namely that, if you have a modern society (with all its labour saving devices) in a stable situation (30 years ago we had only just finished dealing with the baby boom and the reconstruction after the second world war), then there should be an excess of leisure. It didnıt occur of course because of the unfortunate infinite truth associated with Parkinsonıs Law – ³Work will always expand to fill the time available². However in a self-sufficient community, where this problem is clearly recognised, then it should be reasonably easy to regain our leisure. Besides this (as I shall show later), living in a modern self-sufficient community is a very easy and efficient way of living.

 

2)      Better for Our Children

A less frenetic lifestyle will give us more time to spend with our children (or have more children). Moreover a country lifestyle is usually more healthy for children because they can play where they like. Also, in a small basic community, it is much easier for children to know everyone and learn how everything works.

 

3)      A Safer Situation

An independent community will be safer because:-

 

4)      An Independent Culture

Within an independent community one can develop a culture that would be less materialistic and would support oneıs own concepts of independence, equality and recycling. Hopefully then oneıs children might continue with this better lifestyle.

 

5)      The Friendliness of a Community

Most of us live in cities these days without much of a local community, and we can be short of friends. Thus we often get most of our friends through work. Living and working in a community means that your work friends can become permanent friends, and your relation with them will be unbiased by having to play the politics and Œsuck up to the bossı. Thus it provides a much more natural situation for obtaining friends. {Not as good as climbing club of course – but then you canıt have everything.}

 

6)      Doing the Correct Thing

We in Australian are doing a lot of very silly things. Thus:-

In the small self-sufficient recycling community that I am suggesting there is no way in the world that you will be doing any of these things. In fact an independent community is almost forced to be excessively saintly. This is because it is much easier to support oneself on a small amount of good quality land. To form good quality land, one needs to create organic mass, turn this into humus and then plough this into the land. This process thus automatically increases the quality of land and takes CO2 out of the atmosphere. Moreover there is no way you can afford to put an excess of fertilizer on the land that will be washed out to sea. In general, a full recycle process of all materials is the simplest and easiest option for supporting oneself. Thus we can bask in the glory of doing the absolutely correct thing.

 

These then are the advantages of living in a self-sufficient community. However naturally there will be disadvantages as well - so I had better mention them.

 

1)      Living in the Sticks

This wonıt be entirely true – there is no way in the world that I myself could bear to live in the sticks – so I wonıt be suggesting this at all. However it is still true that we wonıt be able to live in the centre of things quite as much. Also we wonıt be able to use all the amenities of a big city, like Sydney, all the time.

         First let me explain why it neednıt be too bad. Firstly, the form I am suggesting will be quite compact so we certainly will be able to afford to live fairly close to a reasonably sized town. Secondly, there is no reason why all our living accommodation need be on our agricultural land. Thus some of the accommodation could be in the city, and so some of our people could, some of the time, live in the city. However, of course, we cannot have it both ways. Thus we canıt claim to be self-sufficient if we are always using big city facilities. Likewise, if we want our children to have the benefits of living in the country, then we cannot be forever dragging them off to the city.

 

2)      A lot of Learning

Being self-sufficient must involve a lot of learning. Thus things like agriculture, building, energy and water management are very complex subjects and they all must be learnt. This learning process will be very natural because it is easy to learn a subject when you are continuously involved with it. However, there is certainly a hell of a lot that needs to be learnt.

 

3)      Less Individual Choice

In the current world, we have a huge degree of choice over consumer items (because we import them from all over the world). In a self-sufficient community, we cannot have too much choice because we will be trying to make such items ourselves. {And, even if we import items, we still canıt have too much choice because we would still like to mend our imported items.} This lack of choice should not restrict our community in any way – but this different situation would take a while to get used to.

         Communities like I am suggesting will in fact add to the variety and choice available in the world. I talk about this very general concept in the further advantages in my last chapter.

 

4)      A Strict Egalitarian Government

So far we have basked under the benign assumption that our community will run well and everything will be hunky-dory. Alas this is rarely the case. If you think otherwise then you should read the fate of the Paraguay experiment led by Billy Lane in the 1890s. Thus I think we need to think very carefully about our government form before we start, and we need some quite strict rules. Thus I think the following sort of rules must apply:-

         To many people, these sort of strict rules will be quite obnoxious and so they wonıt join. However I agree with Bernard Shaw ³Liberty means responsibility. This is why most people dread it.² I believe that a just egalitarian community is possible – but it ainıt real easy. It is terribly easy to degenerate into a simple autocratic regime.

 

In spite of all the wonderful advantages I have outlined, I think that you will have gathered (or else you intuitively already knew) that forming a good self-sufficient community wonıt be real easy. There is no doubt that, if you want to live a normal, simple, easy life, then it is best to go with the flow and put up with the inadequacies of our current life – things arenıt all that bad – particularly if you compare our life with the life people had in previous centuries (or even life in present third world countries). However, if you are like me and believe that at least a little part of our existence on this earth should be spent on working out how to create a better life then – what else can you do? We know that we are doing some very stupid and terrible things to this world - and yet at the same time we are living in absolute luxury. Surely we must try to do something  - admittedly it wonıt be all that easy but then it wonıt be all that hard as well - particularly if you compare yourselves with other small self-sufficient communities that have existed on this earth in previous ages. Are we simply going to give up and pretend we are incapable of genuine thinking and follow the common horde? However I think we must accept the situation that forming a good self-sufficient community is a very definite challenge – in fact I think it is the best and most magnificent challenge that exists for us in the world today. So some of us at least should try and have a go at solving it.

 

As you may have already surmised, this challenge breaks down into two fairly distinct parts:-

1)      the problem of finding a governmental form which works and is just and fair to all,

2)      the physical problem of being self-sufficient.

Because the physical problem is detailed, large and complex; this subject tends to be covered mostly towards the end of this work. This means that the governmental problem tends to come first. However, I do try to mix things up a bit so that, as you read, you can feel you are progressing towards a complete solution. Neither problem is real easy - but then also neither problem is really hard – all we have to do is to keep working at them.

 

If I wanted to join a self-sufficient community, then the sort of things I would like to know before hand would be: how much it would cost, what the accommodation would be like, how far from the city it would be, what we would live on and how much time would be involved in running it. The only real way of answering these questions is to form a detailed plan of the whole thing (and also decide on a reasonable general diet for everyone). From all this one can then calculate: the total amount of agricultural land needed, the total required water, cost of all the buildings, the total land requirement, the total capital cost and then the daily, total work-load. From this then one can make an estimate of how close one could live to a city (which must partially depend on how much everyone in the community wishes to fork out to begin with). A total plan like this of course isnıt easy to form. But this is precisely what I have tried to do. I really do believe that some of us should knuckle down and show the world that some people can live in a sane, green, self-sufficient manner. And the best thing I, in my declining years, can do to help this happen is to form a detailed model, and so show precisely how it can all be done in practise.

         Of course everyone will disagree about the details – but if a community is to start then the interested people must have something to look at to begin with - and then everyone can change the model as they see fit. But everyone must have a definite plan to start with to fix their ideas on. To make this model as applicable as possible, I have assumed that our community will adjust the agricultural land to make it as productive as possible. {And with modern knowledge and a lot of dedicated work, all land can be made as productive as the available sunlight and water will allow. This means that the model can apply to nearly all terrains to a reasonably good degree.}

I realise that most of my readers will not be interested in this amount of detail - but you can just skip the bits that you are not interested in. It is just that I, the writer, am absolutely dedicated to the idea that self-sufficient communities should start up – and I want to do the most I possibly can to help this happen.

 

At this stage now, it is probably worthwhile if you were to go back and study my contents page in detail. Thus you can then initially only read about your particular area of interest. The rest of the details can wait. There is never any point in learning about anything until you actually want to apply it.

        


 

3.      HOW THIS WORK CAME TO BE DONE

 

Most of this work requires you to do some quite hard thinking. I thought at least we might start very easily and I simply describe how I came to do the work. This wonıt require you to do any thinking at all - but you will get a vague feeling of what the work is all about.

 

I have never been over enamoured with either the materialism of this little world, or the benefits of joining big business. Thus when I finished my first degree, while the rest of my friends in the maths department were getting lucrative jobs with the national coal board and things like that, I sneaked off back to Australia (where I had been born) with the hope that I might be able to find an existence that was slightly more associated with the basics of life.  However that didnıt last long. The crucial day occurred when I was hitching up north in Queensland. During the night I was slightly sick through eating some slightly rotten carrots (and the mossies were bugging me as well). So to cool off I went out for a little walk but, to my horror, on returning to my tent I found a huge cane toad sitting bang in the middle of me sleeping bag. He could only be removed with the help of a large stick. So, on reflecting on this for the rest of the night, the life of wandering around seeking the meaning of life seemed too hard to me. So next morning I turned back and returned to Sydney. In the end I finished  up doing a PhD as a means of avoiding work for a while (fortunately my first degree results were sufficiently good so that getting a scholarship was no problem). Then the usual sorts of things happened - I got married, had children, had to get a serious job etc.

 

However the idea of living a more basic life was not forgotten and so, when the Tuntable Falls Coordination Co-operative (often simply referred to simply as ŒNimbinı) was forming, I was very keen to join in. However it soon became very evident that it was not what I wanted. Nimbin tended to be a complete escape from our current civilized world. But there is much in our current lifestyle that I like - I just wanted to chuck the bad bits and retain the good bits. But I must admit you have to do a lot of careful thinking before you can differentiate between the good and the bad bits (and how you can organize everything so that you do it with people who feel the same way will be damn hard). Meetings are not the places to do such thinking - you need to be alone and then write everything down very carefully. However I of course still joined. I visited there once with the family about 30 years ago but we were a bit depressed. There were too many people there on welfare and/or drugs and things were getting a bit out of hand – besides it was far too far away. I should go back to see what is going on - but this would be very difficult now with a broken back.

 

My next association with this subject occurred while I was lecturing at Macquarie University in the late 1970s. I was giving a course in Linear Programming (a mathematical tool for optimising activities in industry), and my students came to me complaining that the large example I gave them on optimising a refinery was too difficult. They didnıt understand how oil refineries worked - so I should give them a problem that they did understand. I thought about this for quite a while and I soon realised this would be a superb opportunity for me to follow a subject very dear to my heart - namely how a genuinely green world could work. Now of course this is a horribly hard problem. So what I did was to do all the work and formed the model myself (LP is a very suitable tool for this kind of thing and I am quite adept at this sort of work). I wrote up the work as a paper called ŒModelling the Energy/Agriculture Self-Sufficiency Problemı and gave a copy to each student. All the students had to do was to understand the model and then form the equations (which I had already given several lectures on). But even then the students found it too hard – they wanted to return to the refinery problem the following year. Still the problem got me thinking about this whole subject again.

 

Probably what I should have done then was to do what I am doing here in this book now. But I didnıt – I tried something much harder and more abstract. I suddenly realized that, if all levels of government (i.e. local, municipal, state, nation and world) were given equal degrees of autonomy and independence, then the general government problem could be solved in a very logical and precise manner. This form would also result in giving more autonomy and independence to the local level of government. This is what I think our current world needs because this would result in more variety and choice being available at the local level (rather than globalisation which makes everything the same). So this was my big thing - it took me 20 years to do and is 362 pages long. It is called ŒSociety of Choiceı (the opening page with the abstract is given at the back of this booklet). You can have a copy for $30 if you want to but I donıt recommend it – it is simply too hard.

 

When my ³Society of Choice² was finished my next appointed task was to produce some stories that would introduce the essential ideas behind this work in a much easier fashion. This task proceeded in very lackadaisical fashion for 3 years because I mainly went climbing. However, sadness and bitter grief, I then broke me back in a minor climbing accident and the simple fact of life was that the only thing I could then do was to work (i.e. to write). So life started again in earnest and so the stories started to form. But, as I started to get down to the details of how a low level society must run (and this of course must come out in the stories), I found I had to differ quite markedly from my ³Society of Choice². Thus:-

1)      Our current problems associated with energy, water and pollution needed to be dealt with in much more detail.

2)      Many of the problems now become easier because, in a small community, everyone knows everyone else (and what is going on). Thus it is much easier for everyone to make a fair appraisal of what they should vote for.

3)      One is now only really interested in one level of government, and so most of the general abstract nature of the problem can be avoided.

          Thus, in the end, the details and differences associated with forming a small independent community turned out to be so great that clearly I needed to write a separate book.

 

This last paragraph may give the impression that this work in merely an offshoot of my major work. This is false. My ³Society of Choice² describes how a logical and consistent political system can be formed for all levels of government (i.e. local, municipal, state, nation and world) giving equality (and the maximum amount of freedom) to all people. This is an enormous theoretical challenge, and my final result turns out to be so complex and so different to the current world that no normal person can see how they would apply it in the present world. It is just too difficult. All that our little world really wants to know is how to start a grass-roots community that does not indulge in the worst excesses of our current world. This is what this piece of work does. So I now think that this work is a lot more important than my ³Society of Choice² project.

 

I started this work in 2005 and the first year was spent studying the problem and thinking over the various possible solutions. The work clearly requires a great deal of technical knowledge which isnıt very easy to obtain. By far the best source of information has been the NSW Dept of Agriculture (they have some very patient agronomists there). I have joined the ŒDiggersı Clubı and the ŒSolar Energy Societyı and they have helped a bit. Iıve studied a little at the ŒSustainable Buildingsı offices with mixed success (their solutions were too much oriented towards big business). It was surprisingly hard to obtain the cold hard figures that I required. I wish there was a modern update of the ŒPhysical Constants and Tablesı I used to have at school when doing physics (e.g. for obtaining the heat conductivity for Polystyrene). I have done my best, but I would very much appreciate receiving any corrections or extensions to my essential data.


4.      POSSIBLE FORMS

 

4.1    Communities and Governmental Forms

 

There are two quite radically different types of governmental forms that can apply to communities. Thus the first job we need to do is to understand what these two different forms are and then work out when these two different forms should apply. However before doing this I think we first need to start quite formally and understand fairly precisely what we mean by a Œcommunityı.

 

I will thus define a Œcommunityı to be a group of people that live on a stretch of land that is to some degree communally owned. So by this definition:-

are all communities. Clearly all such communities must have some degree of community ownership because, at the very least, the community must own the shared access facilities (i.e. a road). This implies that the community must also have all the usual democratic processes like -  meetings, voting, an executive (secretary, treasurer, chairman etc), bank account etc.

 

This so far is all very standard but the next point requires some very careful thinking. Different types of communities differ in a very crucial way as to how new individuals become members (or share holders). These two methods are:-

 

1)      Individual share-holders decide who a new member will be.

This occurs, for example, in a block of units because a share-holder may sell (or give) their share to someone who will become the new member. Of course the leaving member doesnıt usually care as to who the new member will be. However the only way that the old member can be assured of getting a fair price for their share of the property is to have complete freedom as to whom they sell their share to.

 

2)      The community itself decides who new members will be.

This occurs for example in a commune or in a country. In this case it is then sometimes convenient to also extend the power to include the authority of possibly banishing a member from the community. The crucial decision then is how such a member will be recompensed for their share.

 

As is well known - method 1 is much the simplest and safest method to implement. Method 2 is clearly much more dangerous - but then it gives the community the power to form a much more cohesive and stronger community.

 

The major task of this chapter then is to decide under what circumstances which of these two different forms should apply. However, before doing this, I think we first need to think about what tasks and activities the various possible communities are likely to be associated with. This I will do in the next section. Then in the following section I am finally able to specify which of these governmental forms should apply to the general different forms of community.

 

 

 

4.2    Degrees of Self-Sufficiency

 

In this section then I will list those items and activities that give a community a degree of self-sufficiency. The list is quite long and I try to order the list so that the easiest and natural items come first. However, as each item can be carried out to very different degrees, this order can be a bit meaningless. The degree to which a community can be self-sufficient is also highly dependent on how big such a community is.

 

1.      Shared Facilities

This situation corresponds to what a normal body corporate of a block of units has to do. Thus this always includes:-

a)      looking after the common gardens,

b)      painting and looking after the common bits of the building,

c)      looking after the access road and the visitor parking.

Extra facilities are things like:-

d)      a common laundry,

e)      a swimming pool and children play facilities,

f)       a common social room.

 

2.      Water

Probably the first and easiest step in the path to self-sufficiency is to collect and use oneıs own water. Thus one can buy a tank and store the rainwater from the roof. One can also recycle oneıs grey water and use it to water the common gardens and lawns.

 

3.      Power (Electricity)

The next step is probably to become partially self-sufficient in power. Thus one can install hot water panels on the various roofs and so provide the community with a common hot water system. With a bit more expense one can also buy some PV panels and save further on ones electricity bills (though with current very low energy prices one certainly cannot justify this in commercial terms).

 

4.      Transport

A very useful step is for the community to own its own small bus and use it to make regular trips to the local municipal centre and transport terminus. Thus the huge expense of many individual cars can largely be dispensed with.

 

5.      Food (Agriculture)

It is relatively easy for a community to become self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. At the cost of buying a more significant amount of land, it is also not too difficult to become self-sufficient in dairy products and even meat as well. The hard thing is to become self-sufficient in grain products (for animals as well as us humans). However grain is an essential part of our diet so one cannot regard oneself to be self-sufficient in food unless one takes this step as well.

 

6.      Re-cycling

When one becomes self-sufficient in food then it becomes relatively easy (and hugely beneficial) to re-cycle oneıs human excreta and also all organic matter as well.

 

7.      Social

It is easy to forget this point but it is terribly important. We humans are very much social animals and probably the majority of our time is spent in being social. Thus ,for our community to be self-sufficient, it must provide a sufficient amount of social activities to fulfil this essential need. Unfortunately a small community could not provide much of a social outlet to people (like myself) with normal western expectations associated with city life. In the basic system I am designing therefore I have also envisaged that our community be part of a largish village. This will help to overcome this problem. However people will always need to be part of a wider community as well so this must be accepted (and this is partially what the bus is for).

 

8.      Self-Employment

This is by far the most important point of all. Work is probably the most important facet of our life and so to be self-sufficient our community must try to provide sufficient work. This is not all that easy to do. The obvious jobs are the regular jobs such as:-

a)      Agricultural work (picking, harvesting, ploughing, sowing etc)

b)      Driving,

c)      Painting, fixing and mending,

d)      The executive control work.

However these regular jobs are probably only a minor part of the total work that the community would need to do. Thus I think things like:-

e)      Building,

f)       Installation (energy panels etc),

g)      Land preparation and reconstruction,

would needed to be included in the work load before the community is essentially self-employing with respect to the major part of the communityıs work load.

 

9.      Welfare

This comes at many levels. The community can fairly easily provide child-minding facilities for the young and also care for the old. Nursing and medical facilities are naturally more difficult to provide.

 

10.    Education

A normal school usually serves a community of about 5000 people (to give 2 or 3 classes per year). Thus a small community cannot provide any significant degree of education ( For my small community I just give scouting/guiding like facilities). A largish full village community is just capable of providing this facility.

 

11.    Banking etc

The community must of necessity (as I shall describe in section 5.2) provide some form of internal banking. Most people however would also require extra external investment and insurance facilities as well to feel secure.

 

12.    Judicial facilities

This is the hard one. To be genuinely self-sufficient one would like oneıs own laws and oneıs own judicial system to implement them. However in general most external communities (i.e. states and nations) are very loathe to allow sub-communities this degree of independence.

 

13.    Manufacture

This is just a question of degree. A small community could for example manufacture their own doors, windows and furniture. However even nations are rarely self-sufficient in respect to manufacture. Thus a community cannot be self-sufficient if they donıt have the basic raw materials (e.g. metals and oil) for manufacture. So self-sufficiency in manufacture in general is out of the question.

 

 

 

4.3      Fundamental Forms – Simple, Basic, Complete and Independent

 

So, having seen the various degrees of self-sufficiency, we now must return to our fundamental problem of - Œwhich of our fundamental governmental forms should applyı i.e.

1)      Should individual share holders decide who a new member will be (by giving or selling their share to a new person), or

2)      Should the community as a whole decide who a new member will be.

I think the answer is fairly natural and obvious. Thus when Œself-employmentı is minor then the individual shareholders should decide who to give or sell their share to, but when Œself-employmentı becomes a major issue then the community should decide. The reason is that when self-employment is a major item then the community as a whole must know what a new member can do and to what extent they will be useful to the community.

 

This is an important issue so letıs just consider the situation in a different manner. At the lower stage of self-sufficiency you are probably thinking in terms of money as to how this can be done. Thus you (or the community i.e. body corporate) might buy a water tank or solar panels or land and so become a bit more self-sufficient. As this is mainly in terms of money your main concern will be that you do not lose your money. This situation is best supported by method 1 because you are then fully in control of how your share will be sold. However at the other end of the scale when you are fundamentally integrated in the community then your life and work (and how this integrates with the rest of the community) becomes the most important thing in your life. Hence you, as part of the community, will want to have your say as to who and when new members will be chosen. Hence you will want method 2.

 

I am now in a position to fairly clearly differentiate between four different kinds of community. I do this in the sequence of the simplest and smallest to the largest and most complex:-

 

A.     SIMPLE

This is the simplest and easiest form and is really just an extension of the normal Œbody corporateı form for a block of units. Its two major features are:-

1)      Each member can sell (or give) their share to anyone they like,

2)      The community can carry out all activities that depend principally on money. Thus it may:-

a)      own all the required community buildings and land,

b)      be self-sufficient in power, water and transport,

c)      be self-sufficient in food and recycling,

d)      even be self-sufficient in welfare and education.

         What it is difficult for this form to do is to be very self-sufficient in employment. This is a result of my reasons given above. However the form is still very useful because it is the simplest and easiest form to gain some degree of self-sufficiency. At a later date such a community could possibly transform itself into a form that could offer self-employment.

         I donıt talk about this form very much for the simple reason that there is not much to be said. There could be an infinite number of forms of self-sufficiency the community could have and its basic political form is simple and well known. One minor little point I should make is that the simple bodycorporate form as used in Australia for a block of units will not always be appropriate. Thus in the case of a farm community where every member family has their own house then clearly each family should be able to do what they like to their own house without much reference to the community as a whole. However in general I donıt say much about this case (and all the details of self-sufficiency are dealt with in the following major case).

Although this case could be used for quite complex cases (e.g. example (d) as above) the case is better for just small simple communities. Hence the form is a very useful form to start with.

 

The following three forms now all assume a high degree of self-employment and hence the community as a whole must control membership. You might be a little worried at this stage that a member might not be able to leave such a community and receive the full value of their share. However I do consider this problem very carefully (see section 5.2) and I think I give a very just solution. It is just that it has to be a slightly more complex process.

 

B.      BASIC

This is the fundamental form that the majority of this booklet refers to directly . I want as my prime example to have a community that is as small and simple as possible and yet at the same time to offer a reasonable degree of self-employment. This then is what this case is all about. Thus the crucial decision is how small can such a community be. Well my feeling is that a community that has arrived at that critical stage of being able to do the major part of its work load (i.e. level 8 as in section 4.2) then it needs to consist of about a 100 people (i.e. between 50 and 200). In considering this one must remember that the community must contain a standard range of ages and sexes (i.e. no age or sex is represented above another) and be of normal ability. Then to get a group of people that can cope with all the normal problems of farming, building and transport you will need to have this sort of number of people. {In the current world, with its enormous degree of specialization, this may seem too small. But if you look at past ages (or at third world countries) then this is not the case at all. We should be able to all become jack-of-all-trades again – and probably enjoy it. I know I, as a maths person, would. Thus maths is OK but 10 minutes of maths a day is quite sufficient for me.}

I try to make my actual case to be as definite as possible. Thus my community:-

1)      will be fully self-sufficient in water, power, building and food,

2)      will be sufficiently self-sufficient in self-employment so that a person that only resides in the community can obtain enough employment to pay for all they need.

3)      will have its own bank and monetary system and run itself completely.

4)      will recycle almost everything (of necessity in fact).

This case may initially appear to be a little extreme. However it means I can show that all this is possible and hence I can give a very definite result.

 

C.      VILLAGE

My Œbasic communityı has been carefully designed so that 16 of them neatly fit around a nice village centre. This will give rise to what I call my village community (which will consist then of 1600 people). This community is just big enough to support a village school (23 children per year). This school, with other facilities, will naturally go in the village centre and everything will be sufficiently compact so that no internal transport would be necessary. One would like to be in charge oneıs own education because then oneıs children can be taught how they can be self-sufficient right from the start. The other big advantage of this form is that it can be much more socially self-sufficient (it is hard to be socially self-sufficient with only 100 people).

 

D.     INDEPENDENT

The final challenge is to form a community that can readily stand by its independent self – like a nation. Thus it must have its own laws, its own judicial system and be capable of being socially independent for a significant amount of time. I think the minimum size for this is about 10,000 people. Thus in my terms it could consist of several villages (as in C. ) clustering around its own Œtown centreı. My final bit of work considers the various problems associated with such a community.

 

 

 

4.4    Footprints (hence Land Required),

 

In case you do not know, oneıs Œfootprintı is the total amount of land you need to support your complete lifestyle (in hectares). The world average is about 2.3 hectares and Australians have a footprint of about 6.5 hectares. Compared with these foot-prints the foot-print I am about to suggest will seem to be very small indeed. The reason I do this is, not particularly to be saintly (though I donıt mind this), but rather because it makes life much easier. However, before going into details, let me first relate some of the experiences I have had in this regard (or heard about).

 

I was once associated with a group of people who had some land on the Coxıs river. I went up there once for a weekend. First of all, it took us half a day to get there because their lovely beautiful scenic land (which it was) was out in the sticks (which is bound to be the case because close land will be too expensive). We then spent the rest of the first day extricating our land-rover that got bogged. We then spent the whole of the next day patiently hacking out tussock-grass from the pasture (which the law requires - and rightly so – Œtussock-grassı is an exotic weed which will spread if not kept in check). We thus returned home in the evening exhausted with no produce and had only removed enough tussock-grass to make up for what had grown since the previous visit. It didnıt seem a very viable proposition.

The Tuntable Falls Co-operative (mentioned in 3.1), when I visited it, was supporting about 100 people on 2,000 acres of land. This was about 10 times as much land as it needed. The result of this was that the community couldnıt cope with all the Lantana and it was getting out of check. The case of the Paraguay Co-operative experiment was even worse – they were given a free grant of 500,000 acres from the government. This was about 1000 times as much land as they needed - no wonder the experiment folded within a few years. Thus too much land often does not help you – it can be just a mill-stone around your neck.

 

Let me now list some of the reasons why keeping things tight and compact can make life much more pleasant and easier:-

1)      A small community cannot provide much of a social life (as mentioned in 4.2). Keeping things small means you can choose land close to a larger community and so still have a reasonable community life.

2)      Keeping things small means that transport around the land is much easier (in fact I only consider walking and hand pushed carts). Recycling oneıs excreta is also much easier.

3)      Compact living makes heating and cooling much cheaper and easier.

4)      Fences and services lines (water, power and sewerage) will be shorter.

5)      Total water losses will be less. Thus if you grow the maximum number of crops per year then the evaporation losses, that occur during the fallow period of the year, will no longer occur.

 

To decide on what might be a suitable foot-print you unfortunately need to know a hell of a lot of basic quantity facts (none of which are too definite). However, before we go into details, we need to think fairly carefully about what units we use. The two units we need to consider are:-

1)      Land Area

The normal unit used for this, in agricultural circles, is a Œhectareı which is 10,000 m2. However in general for us, this unit is much too large. Thus, for fruit and vegetables, an individual only needs a few square meters – and so to talk in terms of hectares would be ridiculous. So it is best to talk simply in terms of the well-known Œsquare meterı (i.e. m2). When buying land for the whole community, one must use the standard term of a hectare and of course I do (or any time when it is standard).

         The unit of a Œhectareı has bugged me for many years so, for a moment, let me give vent to my frustration. Normally units go up in terms of thousands. Now, as our small unit must be a square meter (m2) and as our large unit must be a square kilo-meter (1,000,000 m2), then one would expect, in every way, that the intermediate unit would be 1,000 m2. But the stupid thing is it ainıt. Moreover 1,000 m2 is what every normal person should want. It is recognizable – it is more-or-less equal to the standard ¼ acre block and the standard municipal swimming pool (50m x 20m) – which everyone is familiar with. Moreover it is approximately the amount of agricultural land that one individual needs. Anyway no use whingeing – one simply has to put up with it.

 

2)      Water volume

The two standard terms here are:–

a)      a litre - for normal use and

b)      a mega litre (1,000,000 litres often abbreviated to ML) - for agricultural use.

Unfortunately, for this work, a litre is too small and a mega litre is too large. The unit we need is a kilo litre (1,000 litres) because this is roughly the amount of water a square meter of land needs per year. However a kilo litre is not a standard unit. Fortunately 1,000 litres is the same as a cubic meter (1 m3) which is clearly an MKS unit - so this is what I now will normally use. The advantage of this is also that it automatically gives the depth of water above the land in question. Thus, if one needs 1.5 m3 of water for a square meter of land per year, then the unit automatically indicates that a depth of 1.5 meters of water is needed for this land (which is in fact 50% more that the world average rainfall per year).

 

Returning now to the problem of how much land we might need, I think the following very approximate facts will be useful in giving you an initial feel of the situation. They are:-

1)      the absolute, basic, nutritional diet for a person is about 1 kilo of grain per day. This will give a person plenty of energy and protein but it will be deficient in certain vitamins etc. However the land needed for these extra nutrients is very small (and a kilo of grain is slightly more than is needed).

2)      one can obtain 2 kilos of grain (dry) from a square meter of good land per year (double cropping is necessary to obtain this figure),

3)      for a normal dry Australian climate, one needs about 1.5 m3 of water per square meter to obtain a maximum crop growth rate (e.g. to obtain the 2 kilos of grain quoted above).

If you combine these three little facts then you will find that the absolute minimum amount of land needed to support one person is then about 200 m2 of land and this land will require 300 m3 of water per year. Thus, in this extreme case, if you had plenty of water then you could have a foot-print of only .02 ha.

 

The actual foot-print I shall be suggesting is .2 ha (i.e. ten times as much). To substantiate this figure will take a long time but let me, at this point, give you a very rough picture of the situation. First let us assume that our rainfall is 750 mm per year (which is low - the sort of rainfall you get 100 km west of the dividing range - the world average is 1 m). Then one person should need about 2,000 m2 of land (corresponding to a foot-print of .2 ha) of which:-

1)      500 m2 are needed for growing food,

2)      400 m2 are needed for a dam and water collection (i.e. tiled),

3)      200 m2 are needed for living and recreation (and energy collection),

4)      900 m2 are needed for wild-life and possible expansion (I call this natural land).

Of the 500 m2 needed for growing food this would be made up of:-

         a)      100 m2 for fruit and vegetables,

         b)      300 m2 for grain (wheat and maize - mostly for the animals),

         c)      100 m2 for pasture (lucerne).

I have also assumed that the roofs and pavements of the living area will be used for water collection (in fact half the living area) giving a total collection area of 500 m2. For a system like this to work, one does have to recycle absolutely everything. This recycle process is reasonably easy to carry out because everything is close at hand and so all our wastes can be composted and ploughed back in.

 

At this stage it is probably worth taking a break from reading and looking at the diagram on page 33 which corresponds to my basic community of 100 people. The diagram shows a lot of detail (particularly in the living area) that you, at present, wonıt understand. However the areas used correspond quite closely to these figures and so hopefully this picture may help you understand that these figures are not too extreme.

 

The fundamental problem I havenıt tackled yet is the quality of land because, as you probably know, there is very little good quality land in Australia (and my solution requires very good quality agricultural land). However, before doing anything else, we need to look at our total financial situation. The average person in Australia has assets considerably in excess of $200,000 (mostly in terms of their homes). We should expect that the housing and land of a reasonably complete community should mostly consume the membersı assets. Thus, for example taking my basic community, the total asset value of the communityıs buildings and lands should be about 20 million dollars (i.e. 100 x $200,000). If we allow that half this should be for buildings (this includes all the membersı housing), then we will still have 10 million dollars to spend on the land. If we allow $100,000 per hectare to buy the land (which is very expensive - but it means that you can live quite close to a town or village) then we will still have 8 million dollars left to spend on improving our land. This means that our community has $73 for every square meter to spend on the 11 hectares that need improving. We can do a hell of a lot of improving with that sort of money to spend on every single square meter.

          With $73 to spend per square meter almost the worst conceivable land can usually be brought up to scratch (provided that one has sufficient water). Let us go through the essential features:-

1)      Level

Our agricultural land must be reasonably level. This shouldnıt be too bad because naturally we will choose the 5 agricultural hectares that are the most level (out of the 20 hectares that we have). After choosing the best then we will naturally do a fair amount of bulldozing.

2)      Soil consistency and depth

Our agricultural land must have the correct proportion of clay and sand. If incorrect it can be corrected by taking the appropriate ingredients from our other land. In the worst case we might have to buy it elsewhere.

3)      Nutrients

The soil must contain all the nutrients one needs to grow food i.e. nitrogen, phosphates etc. This is easy - $1 per square meter will buy all the nutrients that we could need (provided of course that they are fully recycled).

4)      Humus

This is just a question of time. Our soil must contain sufficient old organic matter to allow water retention and soil ³clumping². If it doesnıt have sufficient humus then we simply have to keep growing vegetation and ploughing it back into the soil until we do have enough. After 5 years we will certainly have enough.

 

On a more philosophical note, you will find any good self-sufficient system will be trying to promote the growth of life. This will apply, not only to the agricultural land, but also to the communityıs Œnatural landı as well. This is because oneıs natural land will be much more pleasant if is contains an abundance of life. This will occur for example if one is very careful to avoid bush-fires in the area because then dead timber will have a chance to decay slowly to form humus and provide food for insects as well. However all this can lead to a CO2 problem in reverse. There is not a huge abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus if you were to lay it all flat on top of the earth then it would form a solid film of only 3 mm deep. Also one could, with absolutely maximum growth (e.g. with the growing of sugar cane), deplete the atmosphere of CO2 corresponding to the land below in just six months. Thus it is possible that the building up of humus to promote life could denude the atmosphere of CO2 quite significantly (and vegetation growth is heavily dependent on the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere). This is clearly not an immediate problem – but it should be borne in mind – creating a world with an abundance of life may not be all that easy.

 

Anyway getting back to the main purpose of this section, I hope I have now persuaded you to think very carefully before buying too much land. You have to study your figures very well before you make any move - particularly if you have any pretensions at all to being Œgreenı.

 

The footprint of .2 ha, which I am suggesting in this section, will give a slightly false impression. This footprint only applies to people while the people live in the community. Most people will also spend an appreciable amount of time also in the outside world and, during this time, they will be increasing their footprint depending on their activities there. So this footprint of .2 ha is just the beginning. Nevertheless it is still a very low footprint when one considers how much has been included in it already.

 

 

 

4.5    A ŒForming Societyı and Actually Forming a Community

 

Trying to form a self-sufficient community is not going to be at all easy. Thus one will have to find a sufficiently large group of people who all agree on:-

1)      The level of self-sufficiency the community should be trying to attain,

2)      How the community should be governed,

3)      Where it should be situated,

4)      And finally the most difficult thing of all, a group of people where everyone is happy with their fellow members. {Besides all this the community must consist of a reasonable balance of people in terms of different - ages, sex, abilities and wealth.}

 

I think the only way to solve these problems is to create a society whose sole purpose would be to allow people to meet people who have similar ideas on forming self-sufficient communities. The sort of thing, that the society would do then, would be:-

1)      to have a site on the internet where everyone would give their own ideas and desires of what such a community might wish to do,

2)      to have a meeting (perhaps once a month) where everyone could meet people with ideas similar to themselves,

3)      when groups of people agree within themselves on their ideas then their unified ideas should be put on the internet site as well. People could then join with groups that have known, substantial support.

         Even forming a society like this is not going to be easy – thus:-

1)      Such a ŒForming Societyı must be reasonably large because naturally there will be many different opinions of what people want. Thus I would imagine that a Forming Society would need to consist of about 1000 people before people could start forming communities of say 100 people.

2)      Such a society must have all the normal facilities of general societies i.e.

  a.    a membership fee,

  b.    a voting procedure and an executive,

  c.     a newsletter,

  d.    possibly some paid officials to set up the internet site and look after it.

 

What I have said so far in this section may make the task of forming a self-sufficient community sound almost impossibly hard. However it will not be all that difficult if you bear in mind everything I have said previously. We need to go through everything in careful detail.

 

First of all, we have to remember that communities must fall into two very clear distinct groups (the simple and complex as described in section 4.1). Now, as I have said, there can be a myriad number of ways that a simple community can obtain some degree of self-sufficiency – which is a problem. But on the other hand one must remember that a simple community can be very small e.g. it need only be an extended family. So, with the simple form, you simply start small and then try to build up to something bigger and more self-sufficient as time goes by (and using a ŒForming Societyı will help). So this situation will not be too bad.

 

Now let us turn our attention to our bigger and more complex communities and then let us go through the four problems I mentioned at the beginning of this section one by one. {However in fact I will only deal with the ŒBasic Communityı because this is the smallest - and the larger ones are just obvious extensions of this form.}

 

1)      The Degree of Self-Sufficiency

In this work I give a great deal of self-sufficiency to this community as it gives me something clear and definite that I can say. However this is not necessary. At the initial stage of forming this community all that one would need to do is to design the community so that it could be self-sufficient in the distant future. This means that, at the start, all one need do is design the community so that it does not need to use too much energy or water and have a form where recycling would be easy. The community can then decide for itself on the actual degree of self-sufficiency as time goes by when the community knows the problems (and also when the community is in a situation to do something further about it). Fortunately the current prices for things like water, energy and grain are quite low so, as a temporary measure, it is easy to buy them externally.

 

2)      Governmental Form

In this work, I have tried to give a very egalitarian governmental form. This means that every member must take their voting very seriously - even to the point of studying the facts very carefully. I know the vast majority of people will not like this at all. It is much easier to believe in the fantasy that there is such a thing as a Œgood leader who will always do the right thingı. I have to admit that is probably a fundamental problem and we have to accept the number of people who can accept this situation is limited.

        

3)      Where should the community be situated?

If you live in NSW and like to be able to get to Sydney reasonably easily then this is a surprisingly easy question to answer. It seems that the Upper Hunter region is a reasonably obvious choice. There are 4 reasons:-

a)      It is fairly close to Sydney (very much the centre of our state) and has reasonably sized towns within it. So one neednıt feel too isolated.

c)      Its rainfall flows to the ocean and so, if one uses all the rain you receive, then you cannot be accused of starving the drought stricken inland areas. Its rainfall is a little higher than the 750 mm I was talking about in 4.4 - but not so high so that you could be accused of pinching Australiaıs best land.

c)      There is a reasonable amount of available land here. In case you have not noticed, Sydney is surrounded by a system of very extensive parks. This means that the land within this ring of parks is at a very high premium.

d)      Land close to Sydney and the other large cities are subject to many planning requirements. The upper Hunter region is the closest area to Sydney where these rules are less applicable.

         Thus I think if you live in the Sydney region then the Upper Hunter is likely to be the obvious choice.

 

5)      Choosing Fellow Members

This is a difficult task and will require a considerable amount of time and effort. I think a ŒForming Societyı (as mentioned at the beginning of this section) is essential to allow this process to proceed. I think that one must expect to need at least a year to find fellow members for a community. Alas this is another one of those problems that one simply has to accept and spend time on it. Life wasnıt meant to be easy.

 

Forming a self-sufficient community then is a bit like getting married. Thus one has the same problems – first one has to find suitable partners, then one needs to define the rules under which everyone will live, then one needs to decide what partnership is going to do together, and finally one will need to decide where one is going to live. In fact, if anything, forming a self-sufficient community will be harder than getting married – after all in recent times I donıt think it has ever been successfully done. But then, on the other hand, this makes it a magnificent challenge.

 

Thus forming a self-sufficient community from scratch is going to be fairly hard – but there could be an easier option. It is possible that somebody could be persuaded to start a school for self-sufficiency. For the community at large there are significant advantages in having such a school. When people leave school a lot of students donıt want to do any further academic study and yet they donıt want to enter the long tread-mill of continuous work too soon. I think that they would really enjoy the challenge of trying to live in a self-sufficient manner (I know I would). And then as far as the community at large is concerned there is absolutely no better form of general education than trying to learn to be self-sufficient – for self-sufficiency you need to know everything. Furthermore it wouldnıt cost very much – the students would do all the work and all the governing body would need to do would be to provide some land, equipment and advisers.

         Such a course would need both a finished basic community as well as an unfinished basic community. The course would then divide very naturally into 3 distinct years. Thus we would have:-

         Year 1

The students would spend their first year in the finished community learning how everything works and how to support themselves.

         Year 2

The students would then spend the next year in the unfinished community doing the more difficult tasks associated with building and extending the community (besides supporting themselves).

 

         Year 3

This would be the real testing year – it is not sufficient for students just to know how a community works and how to extend it – but they also must know how to run it. So, in the final year, students should take over the 15 officer positions in both the finished and unfinished communities - and so effectively run the whole show. Staff advisers and examiners would still be needed to oversee everything (e.g. that the year 3 students were not mistreating or misinforming the year 1 or year 2 students). But nevertheless the students should do everything themselves (including voting for who they want to be their officers).

 

Of course all that I am saying here is rather simplistic. All I want to do here is to get you to bear in mind that there could be an easier option. From such a school there would still be quite a journey to the stage of actually forming a self-sufficient community. However it would still be an enormous help. It would mean that there would exist a body of people that would know what they could do, probably have a definite interest in the subject and who could all be contacted at a later date (after they have done their trip round the world, had their taste of normal employment and done all the usual things like that). And I think everyone would find such a course a great challenge and good fun.

 

 

 


 

5.      A BASIC COMMUNITY IN GENERAL (OF 100 PEOPLE)

 

As I mentioned in my introductory chapter, in this community I will be as specific and definite as possible. This because finally at the end of this work I will want to work out how much time and money would be involved in creating the whole community. However this does not mean that I expect you to follow this form at all. Every community must choose their own form and my ideas are just a starting point – to help you start your thinking. You can just skip the stuff you are not interested in.

         In particular in this form, I will assume that all 100 members are residents. Clearly often many members would prefer to be Œsleepingı members and so they would reside where they were - until it was convenient to move (but they could still contribute to the finance). Here I assume members are all residents simply because it is precise and definite. It is too hard to assume that a certain percentage would live elsewhere.

         When I describe my Œdefiniteı communityıs activities I try to use words like Œmayı, Œcouldı, Œshouldı etc. However sometimes I forget and I use words like Œwillı and Œoughtı. This is just a mistake – I just get carried away with my own little ideas  - I am only trying to help.

 

5.1    A Physical Form and Land Usage

 

The best way to understand the physical form is to study my diagrams on the following two pages. You most certainly will (and should) have a lot of questions to ask but perhaps the first will probably be Œwhy the funny shapeı? The answer is reasonably straight forward – it is because I have envisaged that the community will want to be close to a village centre and this form allows 16 similar communities to be equally distant from the village centre (see section 6.1 to see how this would work out in detail). The total area is 20 hectares (which corresponds to a footprint of .2 for 100 people - as described in section 4.4).

         You will soon notice that the area divides up fairly naturally into four fairly distinct regions. So it is easiest to deal with these areas separately (corresponding again very closely to the areas described in section 4.4 on Foot-Prints).

 

A)     Agricultural Land

This is the obvious area on the right hand side of the page between the Œliving areaı and the Œwater collection areaı. The crop areas correspond as accurately as possible to the actual figures I shall derive later in section 6.1.2. {Where the areas are too small to write the whole crop name, the single letter corresponds to the crop in the sequence - thus ŒPı corresponds to ŒPotatoesı.}. The total area for agriculture, as I mentioned in section 4.4, was 5 hectares, whereas my accurately derived figures actually give 5.01 hectares (i.e. remarkably close). However the split into Œfruit and vegetablesı, Œgrainı and Œpastureı is much rougher.

         If you study the diagram carefully then you may have a feeling that the total agricultural area is greater than a quarter of the total area (which the given figures indicate). This feeling is correct because the agricultural area contains some water collection area as well (along paths and on buildings) - and we cannot afford to waste any water at all. Thus the 5 hectares only corresponds to the actual crop area.

         I have placed the smaller and more intensive crops closer to the living area. However, in practise, this might be hard to maintain because crops need to be rotated to avoid disease build up in the soil. The agricultural buildings are relatively large because clearly one wants the best possible facilities for oneıs animals and also oneıs crop storage.

 

B)      Water Collection and Storage Area

This is principally the yellow area at the top right - but it also includes all buildings, paths and water dam/reservoirs (these are all carefully covered) as well. In total it adds up to about 5 hectares – almost the same as my crop area. The water collection area must also be supported by an intricate system of underground pipes (because we cannot afford to lose any water at all).

 

C)     Natural Wild-life Land

This is the obvious dark green area on the left of the diagram. Although it would mainly support wild life, it is also for the enjoyment of the community as a whole. Thus I have included some: camp-fire areas, a rock-pool and a climbing crag as well. These facilities might need to be partially manufactured - but this is one of my little areas of expertise. In Oxford (U.K.) we climbed on the side of a disused railway tunnel with enormous satisfaction. The most important thing, funnily enough, was to make sure it had sufficient traffic – otherwise it became over-run by stinging nettles.

         The Œwild cornerı is supposed to apply to humans (rather than animals - animals are just more naturally wild). I thought it appropriate that we should have an area where the conventions of normal civilised life should apply a little less rigorously – it is only small.

 

D)     Living Area

This is best seen in the more detailed diagram on the following page. Its most important feature is the accommodation units (numbered 1 – 20). They need to be compact so as to minimise building and heating/cooling costs - so they are in terrace form. The diagram gives the various numbers associated with them. The terraces can be of 2 or 3 levels giving between 76 and 114 mostly single person type units. However the most important feature that I have incorporated is to allow the single units to be combined in several ways, so that the form can be combined to give any sized Œhouse typeı accommodation. I think the system can give all the features and flexibility that might be required (but of course you will have to read section 6.2.1 in detail to check that I am not raving on).

         The rest of the living area gives all the work, social and playing facilities necessary for such a community. These facilities are reasonably extensive because Australian villages tend to be lacking in a social life. If one did have an active village (as I will assume in chapter 6) then one wouldnıt need as many facilities (however they would need to be included in oneıs calculation of foot-print).

 

 

You should have gathered that I would like our community to use its land in the best possible manner. Thus we now come to a very general problem of what land should be used for which activity. This is quite a difficult problem and I would have preferred to have left the problem till later – but there is no other suitable spot (because later each section deals with a particular activity). So we need to decide the matter now. I think then that our usage of land should follow the following priorities.

1)      Water Storage

This question will be discussed in detail in section 6.7.1. The result of this discussion is that we will almost certainly need to give some of our very best quality, flat, valley land over to water storage. Sad – but it has to be done because all life is dependant on a reliable source of water.

2)      Living area

We humans are very much social animals and this means that our living area needs to be as close as possible to a village centre (and then our children can walk to school). It would also make our life much easier if this land was reasonably flat.

3)      Agricultural Land

Clearly we would prefer to do our farming on flat land but this cannot always be the case. Previous societies have successfully lived on very steep land by terracing their land – and we could carry out this operation far more easily than they ever could. There is no reason that we should continue to always be put to shame by the industry of older more primitive societies. Terracing is not all that difficult and we could have simple electric pulleys to help us deal with the hills (for daily activities). We will clearly use the good quality soil (that our water storage facility would be covering) on the valley floor and put it on our agricultural land.

4)      Water Collection

Water collection is best done using steep, shady land. This is very convenient because this is the land that no other activity wants.

5)      Wild-life Land

Wild-life, as always, gets left with the land that we humans donıt want – but, not to worry, they are tough - they can deal with it (not like us humans who have grown soft with too much civilized, city living).

 

So, with a bit of work, we could use almost any land that may come our way.

 

 

 

 


A PLAN FOR A SELF-SUFFICIENT COMMUNITY OF 100 PEOPLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scale                                                                                                        VILLAGE    CENTRE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trees and Bush-Land

 

Grass

 

Fire

 

Tiled Area (for water and energy collection

 and paths)

 

Water (reservoirs and dams)

 

Crops

 

Roads

Fences

                                                                                                               


DETAIL – LIVING AREA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scale

 

                                                                                                               

Grass

 

Trees and Bushes                                                                          VILLAGE      CENTRE

 

Buildings

 

Tiled Area (for water and energy collection - and paths)

 

Roads

Fences

Service ducts

Vertical service ducts

Hot-water Tank

 

                                                                 HOUSING

 

                            ---------------Two Levels----------             ----------Three Levels------------

Houses                   Size m2  Units  People  Rooms             Size m2  Units  People  Rooms

  1-16                        200          4           4            9                            300         6           6           14

17-18                        133          2           2            5                            200         3           3             8

19-20                        267          4           6          13                            400         6           9           20
 5.2   Membership and Finance    

 

As mentioned previously, this is the most important section of this whole work. Thus far we have chosen that our community shall be run by its current, present, active members. However, somehow, we must take care of the financial aspects of the enterprise bearing in mind that:-

Furthermore all this must be integrated with a reasonably slow and careful membership attainment process. I hope in this section then to outline a practical process which will do all these things. I would like you at this stage to be as critical as you possibly can be because, after all, if you are joining such a community you must be absolutely certain that your savings will be safe. However at the same time you cannot of course expect the impossible. Before doing all this, however, I must outline some fairly obvious stages of membership.

 

I think there needs to be at least 4 levels of membership:-

1)      Associate Membership

Associate membership is for those people that might consider joining but first want to see how it all works (and also get to know the people that live there beforehand). Thus this membership should allow people to go to the communityıs social functions (I personally am always a greater supporter of Saturday night dances for this sort of thing), possibly do some work there and occasionally buy some of the communityıs produce. This level of membership would also be suitable for people living in the local village whose only desire is to join in with some of the social activities. There probably would need to be an annual fee to cover the costs of this membership.

2)      Child Membership

This is the obvious level of membership for the children of members living in the community. In practise, this membership wouldnıt be very different from associate membership.

3)      Interim Membership

This is the level of membership that is suitable for people who seriously desire to become members of the community. People at this level would live and work in the community and the only difference between them and full members is that they wouldnıt have full voting rights. During a personıs time as an interim member, they would be working towards having a minimum equity in the finance of the community. I think Œinterim membershipı should last between 1 and 5 years.

4)      Full Membership

This is the normal membership that everyone would eventually attain. Clearly all official positions of the community (15 in all – see next section) would be restricted to just full members.

 

I will talk about membership in detail later but, for the time being, the following points need to be mentioned:-

1)      It is essential that members know the laws and the responsibilities associated with the community. The only unbiased way of checking that the various levels of membership do know these things, I think, is to have formal written exams. They donıt need to be difficult exams - but they must exist. The same situation occurs when one learns to drive – here again you are formally tested to check you know the highway code before you are allowed to drive.

2)      No member can rely on external welfare. A community canıt in any sense claim to be self-sufficient if any of its members are living from external welfare.

3)      Drugs of any form are terribly dangerous. I donıt think a person can be a community member if they allow drugs to affect their working capacity in any significant manner.

 

Coming to finance now, the first fundamental rule, I will assume, is that the community members must completely own the communityıs physical assets. Thus I donıt think a community can claim to be self-sufficient if it is in debt to other institutions. Now let us consider how the financial situation might evolve when a young person joins our sort of community.

First let us assume that there is no inflation and that the going interest rate is 4% (a highish rate if there is no inflation at all). We will assume the asset value of the community per person is $200,000 (as in section 4.4). We will assume that our young member has no assets and hence they must pay interest on their $200,000 (which will be received by older members who have invested more than their share). Let us now assume that the value of his/her labour is $20 per hour and they work 30 hours per week (50 weeks per year). Then a realistic cost/value of their maintenance expenses (i.e. food, water and energy) is probably about $100 per week (equivalent to 5 hours work). {This is a very contestable figure indeed and to know if it is true or not then you need to study my system in detail. However if you bear in mind that the only work that needs to be done in the community (once it has been set up) is to produce oneıs food and to do any repair work on oneıs capital assets then one can see it cannot be too far wrong.} Such a person might then realistically wish to spend $100 per week outside the community (if they had reasonably greenish principles - again this is equivalent to 5 hours work).

         Then for the first year:-

1)      the personıs income              would be   $30,000               equivalent to 1,500 hrs

2)      their interest repayments      would be    $8,000               equivalent to    400 hrs        

3)      their direct expenses             would be   $10,000               equivalent to    500 hrs

         which would leave                                   $12,000

which would become their equity in the communityıs assets.

If you continue this calculation over the succeeding years you will find that this guy would have paid off their share of the community assets in just over 13 years.

         This is a very simplistic calculation because it does not consider things like tax. However the example is sufficiently accurate to high-light two very important features of the communityıs financial situation.

1)      The community will, in general, have an excess of time and this could very easily lead to an excess of wealth. This is basically because it is a very efficient system. Thus the living costs in time are only 5 hours per week (equivalent to $100 per week) and even the capital cost would be paid off with 5 hours per week over a working life span of 40 years (remember this is a closed system so that any interest you pay when you are young must in turn be received by an older member). Thus, as you can support yourself on 10 hours work per week (on average), you have a reasonable amount of spare time for gaining wealth in the normal Australian community (and hopefully paying a nice lot of tax as well – I am not trying to defraud the Australian government of any of its just returns).

2)      A young person will tend to have to work too hard when they are young and then they will not have enough to do when they are old. In the example above you will see that the situation is not too bad and, if a young person wanted to, they could fairly easily delay their interest payments until they were older (and then do the work when they did have more time). Nevertheless, as a true egalitarian, this situation still infuriates me. In my ŒSociety of Choiceı I could overcome the problem by insisting that people repay their upbringing costs (and this gives me a logic for having no interest at all). However this is not possible where a young person can simply move back to Australian society where there is no such expectation. So we are stuck with the problem. Any sane older parent should of course help their children, if there is a problem, when the children are busy producing grand-children. But alas, a lot of older people are not always very sensible about these sorts of things.

 

         One of the facets that this bit of logic tends to lead to, is that everyone might as well be paid at the same rate (per hour). This is because everyoneıs needs are the same (i.e. we would all eat the same healthy food and we would all live in the same very convenient living units). Also there is plenty of time for everyone to earn these things (in fact 5 hours is all that is needed). So, what would be the point in paying the leaders of our community at a higher rate of pay, when there is nothing they could do with this money except go and live the Œhighı life outside (and so set a bad example to the people they are supposed to be leading - like the wicked clergy used to do in previous centuries). This may still sound a bit too free and easy – but it is not. Thus only reasonable people would be asked to join the community and, if anyone was too slack in doing a job, then they wouldnıt be asked to do the job again. So, if a person got no work, then they would get no money.

         The final thing that follows from this bit of logic is that oneıs unit of currency should simply be Œhours workedı (which can be traded in the normal way). The advantages are:-

1)      everyone clearly knows what it means and they can see that every one is doing their fair share of work,

2)      it is not subject to inflation,

3)      it is a more sensible size (a dollar is too small).

Of course there would always be a rate of exchange between Œhours workedı and the Australian dollar and one could always convert either way. But, within the community, Œhours workedı is simpler and easier (as I hope you saw when I included Œequivalent hoursı in my example above).

 

Now let us get down to the details of how all this might work out in practise. Clearly our community would follow normal practise and each person would fill out a time sheet (at the end of the week) detailing work done (which as usual would need to be signed by the officer in charge of the area). When a person entered their time sheet, this would add to their Œhours creditı. The aggregate of all membersı credit balances would then effectively become the communityıs banking system. On submitting their time-sheets people would also indicate how many hours they wish to be converted to Australian dollars (and this would be given to them on the basis of the current exchange rate). Within the community all the usual expenses (e.g. food purchases, interest repayments, electricity etc) would debit peopleıs accounts. Iıll justify this further and give more details in section 6.12. However it is a surprisingly straight-forward thing to do.

         In my example I used 4% as my rate of interest. This is a slightly high figure (given no inflation at all). Over a long period of time, the interest rate figure (when inflation has been taken out) tends to be between 3% - 3.5% when you are talking about real estate where there is virtually no risk. {At least that is how I remember things when I worked in the actuarial dept in GIO.} I think 4% is a sensible figure to use because then all members will have a clear incentive to put their money in the communal holdings as their share of the equity. As there is only a limited amount of equity available in the community, eventually our equity will be over subscribed. Here I will now insist that the members, that are over represented in the equity, must gradually withdraw their equity (and hence receive Australian dollars instead). The effect of all this then will be to equalise the equity between all members (the last requirement I mentioned at the beginning of this section). At this point you must pause and be clear that you understand what I am saying. This is not standard practise because normally oneıs interest rate changes purely on supply and demand. In this system the interest rate is fixed at a slightly high level so that there is an incentive to equalise the equity of the community between all its members.

 

We can now return to the problem of how all this finance and equity stuff should be integrated with our various levels of membership. Firstly, Œassociateı and Œchildı membership can clearly be ignored because their financial commitment would be (and should be) negligible. ŒInterimı membership is the important one in this regard and here I think interim members should obtain 1,000 hours of equity in the community before they should become full members. {As the average total equity is 10,000 hours (corresponding to $200,000) this is approximately 10% of their expected equity.} Furthermore I think this 1,000 hours of equity should be personally worked for (thus buying this equity via Australian dollars (or being given it by other members) is not acceptable). The membership of the community must be sure that a new member can take an active part in the community before they are accepted. Full membership could still be gained within a year - but this would be improbable because people need still to eat and do other things as well (as my example shows). In general I think as least 2 years should elapse before an interim member becomes a full member. Clearly the gaining of both interim and full membership must be voted on by the full community (with due notice to all members – membership is terribly important). Of these two hurdles the gaining of interim membership is probably the more important. When you become an interim member you become a full active member of the community so everyone would want to feel that you were OK beforehand. You only wouldnıt gain full membership if it turned out in fact that you werenıt OK.

 

There is only a certain amount of work that needs to be done in the community and so we now come to the problem of who shall be given this work. This is difficult to define completely but I think the following guidelines should apply:-

I think these rules should give a sensible balance.

 

Finally we come to the problem of ensuring that members can always receive a fair value for their share of equity should they wish to leave. Strangely, I now need to introduce a restriction which, at first sight, might appear contrary to this aim – however I think it is necessary. The restriction is that:-

The reason for the restriction is that it would stop a Œrun on the bankı - which could happen for example if a minor disaster occurred to the community. This restriction means that no single person can make a Œrun on the bankı and so it is fair to everyone. Under normal circumstances a person could sell their share at the going rate of exchange (if there were enough buyers at roughly that rate of exchange - as for any normal business). Thus a personıs savings would be secure and would be available as much as is sensibly possible.

         However I think there is one circumstance where people could feel that they were not getting their fair share. This would be associated with a devaluation of our monetary unit – an Œhourıs workı. In the early stages of the community an hourıs work would probably correspond to genuine hard labour i.e. building the whole place. However, when this was all done and there was less essential work (that needed to be done), then it would be fairly natural for everyone to mutually agree to extend the possible jobs (that could be done) to ones that are less essential e.g. looking after children and tidying up oneıs natural land. Because these jobs would not correspond to a physical increase in the value of the property, the value of the communityıs Œwork hourı would then tend to drop in terms of the Australian dollar.

         One could prevent this tendency by insisting that Œwork hoursı must only correspond to essential work. However I, for one, would be opposed to this. I think that the older asset rich members of the community should be sufficiently well off so that a slight devaluation of our Œwork hourı should not matter to them at all. It is more important that the younger members can take an active part in the community and so obtain work when necessary. However one does have to accept that this is a fundamental problem that stems from the fact the community would be run by the active members (and only to a lesser extent by the equity holders who might be more interested in maintaining the value of their equity).

 

There is one nasty subject that I havenıt discussed yet – namely forced ŒLoss of Membershipı. Hopefully this should occur very rarely - but one must allow the possibility. Thus, if the community is to have rules (which I think is essential) and if a member consistently breaks these rules, then the communityıs only option is to eject such a member. Clearly this would require a full community vote. However such a member must still definitely obtain a just value for their share of equity. As before when a member wished to leave this process should be gradual (so that both parties can adjust to the new position - if there is any problem). Thus the same restriction should apply in this case as well. So neither party should have the right to force a withdrawal of more than 20 hours of equity per week (unless both parties agree to it).

 

Finally we come to a very pleasant question to answer – Œwhat will the community do with all its spare time ?ı (that its very efficient form of living will give it). First let me state the obvious – the communityıs spare time should not be used to support the Œhighı life of the external world i.e. travel, cars, big houses etc. The community wonıt try to stop this (it canıt even if it wanted to) but people will have plenty of time to earn money in the external world for activities like these (if they want to).

         Preferably this time would be spent in the community itself. The obvious things are:-

 

If you check back now to the beginning of this section hopefully you will find that I have achieved all the goals I set out there. Please check back if you doubt the fact. Thus the  complete finance of the community can be organised reasonably easily and the important factor to remember is that our community would relatively quickly become wealthy in both money and spare time.

 

During the last week the following article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. You should read the article quite carefully because it will emphasise quite clearly how my self-sufficient community will differ from the normal concept of a commune. Thus my community will allow each individual to have more individual freedom and have more control over their assets than even their reformed Œcapitalistı versions will. Thus Mr Greenblatt could still have an outside life - run his own nature healing and massage centre and have his own house and car. It is a bit sad that he should want to - but he could certainly do it. There is just one thing I disapprove of - if a community wants to go out of its mind, mortgage its assets and indulge in external capitalist adventures then they should be at liberty to do so - but they should not be bailed out. That is what liberty means - you have the right to be stupid - but you have to pay the consequences.

 


Article from Sydney Morning Herald - 12/3/07


5.3    Officers and Courses

 

You should have gathered by now that the community I am suggesting must be fairly technically oriented. Thus there must be people in the community that will know this technical information and then direct the people associated with this work accordingly. How people learn all this information is what this section is all about. However, before doing this, we first need to know what the major areas of activities are likely to be.

 

I think the five major areas of activities are likely to be:-

1)      Agriculture,

2)      Building,

3)      Transport,

4)      Social Activities,

5)      Care and Education.

It would seem sensible to have an officer in charge of each of these 5 areas.

         Likewise there are 5 areas of activities associated with the essential services. These are:-

1)      Energy,

2)      Water,

3)      Recycling,

4)      Communications,

5)      Work-shop.

Similarly it would seem sensible to have an officer in charge of each of these areas.

         Finally there are the executive functions and again I think it reasonable to have 5 officers. These are:-

1)      President – chairman and external representative,

2)      Treasurer – finance and banking,

3)      Membership – and hence discipline to some extent,

4)      Secretary – internal affairs – chiefly in charge of employment,

5)      Analyst – takes on the function of the opposition.

The scope of these 5 functions is nothing like as clear-cut as the previous 10 positions. However they are reasonably standard and of course I will define their areas of authority much more carefully later.

 

Thus, out of our community of 100 people, we will always need 15 officers, and so every member of our community should expect to be an officer for a reasonable proportion of their life. Thus being an officer is very important to everyone and so these are the basic rules that I think should apply:-

a)      Each officer should be elected by the community on a yearly basis.

b)      A member would only eligible to be elected as an officer of an area if he/she has passed the exam associated with that area.

c)      A member may only hold one office at a time.

d)      A member may only hold an office for 3 consecutive years.

These rules are designed to ensure that the officer positions are circulated fairly regularly among the membership. This is the healthy thing to do because our members can only make a fair assessment of an officerıs performance if they know the area reasonably well themselves.

 

I have said that an officer would only be paid at the same rate as normal members and so it might appear that many people would not be bothered to do the learning work associated with becoming an officer. I do not think this would happen because there would be a lot of prestige associated with becoming an officer. Besides the natural status that comes with being in charge of an area, the position of an officer could be further increased by the following:-

1)      Each officer would be allowed 10 hours of unspecified time on their time-sheets to allow for general things like - thinking and producing reports.

2)      Each officer would have a desk and a phone (in general these would be the only work ones available).

3)      There would be a membership list giving the offices held and number of years held for each member. This list would play an important part at meetings and in voting (as I shall detail in the next section).

         I would hope that one of the ultimate goals of every member of the community would be to try to have held every office in the community. Not the easiest of challenges - but a very fine one. {Clearly I donıt believe in this specialist rubbish that is preached so heavily in the current world.}

 

So that every member has the chance of learning all the technical details associated with each office, I think it essential that each officer gives a course on their area once a year. This course should be accompanied with a handout that specifies all the technical details associated with the area. This handout need only vary in minor ways each year - so it should not be too difficult to produce. I would imagine that these courses would need between 1 and 10 hours to cover everything that is necessary. {Thus Agriculture might need 10 hours but then all the executive offices would probably only need an hour each.} Thus, if the community reserved one hour a week for the giving of courses, then all the 15 courses would probably fit in this one hour per week.

         Giving and attending courses will be the easy bit – it is the setting and taking of exams (that must follow at the end) that will be the hard bit. I personally have very old fashioned ideas on the subject of exams – I believe that exams should be absolutely and demonstrably fair. This will initially require some hard work - but it can be done. Thus the standard written driving tests we take are absolutely and demonstrably fair - but most University examinations these days most certainly are not.

         In spite of all the raving that tends to go on, the nature and scope of a course is defined by its examination at its end – because this is what people must actually learn. So, if a student knows the full scope of questions that could be asked, then they know what to learn (which is what happens in the written driving test and more-or-less what happened in my maths university finals exam). I believe we have to do the same thing. Thus I think that the community (as a whole) must amass all the possible questions (i.e. problems) that they think are fair (probably about 10 times as many questions as an exam will contain). Then an exam will simply consist of a random selection of these questions.

         In practise it is probably only the specialists in each field that will be capable of originating questions. Thus the normal sequence would probably be that each officer, at the end of their period of office, would add or alter a few questions in this accepted list of questions. These questions would then be presented to a general meeting of the community who would accept or reject these questions. It must be remembered that this system is very different to what happens in the current world. However, if you wish to create an egalitarian community, I donıt think there is any other choice – our advanced community must be reasonably technically based and so all the community must be fully involved in what knowledge needs to be gained. It is time consuming and a little bit difficult - but it must be done.

         Clearly the officer in charge of each field must do all the marking for their examinations. In a community where the examiner and examinee are likely to know each other very well indeed, it would be far too dangerous to leave completed examination scripts as a matter solely between the examiner and the examinee. Thus all the completed examination scripts must be open for the whole community to check. I think the usual levels of degrees of pass are useful i.e. a pass – the person is qualified to be an officer in the field; a credit –a good pass; a distinction – an outstanding pass.

         So far I have assumed that we will only have written or multiple choice examinations. In some cases of course a physical test is clearly preferable. In this case it is even more difficult to check that collusion cannot occur. Thus I think that physical tests must be carried out in a situation where the rest of the community can be present.

         Finally - people do forget things. Thus I think examinations must be retaken if you want to stand for an office and 5 years has elapsed since your last exam. Retaking an exam should not be difficult if you work in the field and it is a sensible exam.

 

 

 


5.4    Meetings and Voting

 

A democratic community clearly must have a meeting and voting procedure. The problem here is that often these things donıt work too well. Thus for example - sometimes essential people donıt arrive in time and some people rant on about minor details that no one cares about. The net result of all this can be that everyone gets cheesed off with meetings completely and no one turns up at all. For the sort of community that I am thinking about, it is absolutely essential that the meeting/voting procedure works well and efficiently. Thus, in this section, I am setting out some definite rules that I hope will give this result. They will be far more rigorous rules than exist in current practise at the moment.

 

I think that my basic community needs a relatively short meeting every week. Let us be definite then and so let us assume that this meeting is on Wednesday evenings from 8 – 9 p.m. Most of these meetings can be fairly easy going and informal but I think that there needs to be one formal monthly meeting that will be a lot more serious. Let us start by discussing the nice easy and informal meetings first.

 

I think it is best to regard these informal meetings as simply preparatory meetings for the serious monthly meeting. Now, as there will normally be 3 informal meetings per month and as there are also 3 different types of officer (major activities, services and executive), then the natural thing to do is to associate one informal meeting with each of these 3 different functions. {Fully general issues would fall very naturally under the executive function.} Clearly it is essential that the 5 officers associated with the 3 functions turn up to their relevant meetings. The sort of thing that would happen at these informal meetings then would be:-

1)      Members would discuss, with the relevant officers, any problems they are worried about in their areas and

2)      Motions would be prepared that could be brought forward to the general monthly meetings.

I canıt say any more about these informal meetings until the nature of the monthly meeting has also been discussed.

 

My previous work, in this chapter, has now more-or-less already defined what must be done at these monthly meetings. This is:-

1)      The most important thing of course to elect the 15 officers. If you think about it carefully, you will soon realise that it is much too difficult to follow normal practise and do all this at one great huge AGM meeting. Thus, even if members could carefully consider all the possible candidates for the 15 positions at once, the fact that some people might like to stand for alternative positions means that members would not know what candidates would be available. It is much better to tackle the job little by little and so elect 1 or 2 officers every monthly meeting.

2)      Two things also need to be done at the monthly meeting before the meeting where an officer is elected. These are:-

a)      the officerıs annual report needs to be handed out,

b)      a list of possible new candidates for the office ought to be given out.

Both these items can then be discussed at the intervening informal meeting and then appropriate motions (or new candidates) be proposed.

3)      New members (and possibly deletions of old memberships) need to be voted on at the monthly meetings. Again the list of such possibilities needs to be given at the previous meeting and discussed at the intervening informal meeting.

4)      Motions (together with specific speakers for and against the motion) arising from the informal meeting must be carried forward into the monthly meeting.

 

You can see from all this that that it would be very easy to run out of time for the one hour that I have allotted for the monthly meeting. Let me now set down the set of rules and procedures that I think need to be adhered to. These are:-

1)      All 15 officers must attend the monthly meeting (in very special circumstances the second-in-charge might have to take their place).

2)      Normal and interim members must attend 75% of monthly meetings. If a memberıs level of attendance drops below this figure then they would automatically lose their right to membership. {One would imagine a member would attend almost all meetings for the few years. After that they could take quite extensive holidays etc without being too worried by the 75% limit.}

3)      Each officer (for their area) must list the motions that need to be brought forward together with the speakers (for and against) and the time requested by each person (this must include their own needs as well of course)).

4)      These 15 lists must be given to the chairman who must then apportion the monthly meeting hour as they feel best fits the actual requests (and also the communityıs needs). This may be a difficult decision but it must be done.

5)      If a member (or officer) feels that they have been unjustly treated then they must refer the problem to the Œanalystı (equivalent to the opposition). The analyst, by adding total speaking times over the year, can then see if there is a genuine bias against a specific member or a class of members. {Each officer should also keep a rough running total of their areaıs speaking requests for the year and so check that this will add up to a sensible proportion of the total speaking time for the year. Each month cannot be a fixed time because, at the end of their year, a lot of extra time will be needed for reports and elections.}

6)      Just for the sake of definiteness I will say that the monthly meetings should be the first Wednesday of the month - followed sequentially by the informal meetings on Œmajor activitiesı, Œservicesı and Œexecutiveı.

 

Before I do my best to defend these rather rigorous rules, let me first set down my little ideas on the subject of voting:-

1)      At each monthly meeting each member should have in front of them a membership list which, for each member, would detail:-

a)      the memberıs number of years as a member, their equity share and % of meetings attended,

b)      the offices the member has held (together with the number of years and exam results for each office).

2)      The voting form should be like parliament where a vote means each member walks to a specific spot to register their vote.

3)      Voting should occur slowly so that people who feel strongly on the subject (or are very aware of the facts of the matter) can move first.

         The result of all these measures will be that all members should know which members of the community are likely to know the facts of the matter best and so (if they trust them) they have the option of following their example by walking after them and hence to vote in the same manner. This, in a simple manner, allows the genuine expertise and strength of feeling, that some people might have, to be reflected in the voting. {Normal voting systems of course ignore these important matters completely.}

 

All these rules and procedures I have set down are a bit abnormal and on the whole unpleasant – you probably feel that our current procedures are adequate. You may be forgetting what actually happens in practise. The normal concept that people subscribe to today is that a community should be led by a leader (i.e. a president, a prime-minister or something like that) with a committee to support them (or a cabinet). However I certainly do not subscribe to this concept. The logic is a little complex but the basic reason is that the leadership concept clouds the issue as to who is responsible for the success or failure of a particular activity. Thus the leadership concept tends to work OK for the period that the leader is in office. However, when the community needs to elect a new leader then the community must know who will be capable of doing the job - and to know this the members must know in detail how well each sub-officer performed in the various departments previously. And of course it cannot know this if the responsibility is divided between the leader and the officers. So what I have done instead is to give you 15 different officers all with clearly defined responsibilities so everyone can see how everyone performed. My president/chairman is not the Œleaderı - he/she has their own clear cut duties to perform (on which he/she will be judged) and is in no way responsible for anyone else. This means that I have to give some firm rules so that the chairman/president knows precisely what their duties are and how far their authority extends (thus they cannot act like a benign autocrat). It also means of course that all members and officers must now have to take full responsibility for their own actions – which alas is one of the fundamental facts of life.

 

 {In my ŒSociety of Choiceı I gave a full chapter to both Œvotingı and Œmeetingsı and there I was able to give some reasonably complete and logical solutions. Unfortunately these solutions were far too hard for anyone to understand. ŒVotingı in particular is a very academic, well-researched topic. However the main result of this research so far has simply been to prove that no Œordinal voting systemı (which includes all forms that are in operation today) can obey 5 very sensible logic requirements. Alas, fully logical systems are simply too hard for people to understand. I think the form I have given here is a reasonable compromise.}

 


 

6.      A BASIC COMMUNITY IN TERMS OF ITS ACTIVITIES

 

A)     MAJOR ACTIVITIES

 

6.1    Agriculture (Food,  Crops,  Animals and a Detailed Land Calculation)

 

                                     The cure for this ill is not to sit still,

                                          Or frowst with a book by the fire;

                                     But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,

                                          And dig till you gently perspire;

 

                                     And then you will find that the sun and the wind,

                                     And the Djinn of the garden too, . . . .

 

Clearly the world has gone mad about this globalisation thing in general - but its application to food just seems to verge on the ridiculous. Thus my family land exports baby squash to Japan by air – this must be extremely expensive, energy consuming and unsafe as regards diseases etc. The purpose of this section then is to show how a small community of roughly a hundred people can easily support themselves almost totally in food with comparatively little work and do all the perfect environmental things as well. Air-freighting baby squash to Japan isnıt really necessary (as you might guess).

 

You should already have a general idea of my agricultural form from what I said in section 4.4 on foot-prints and later in section 5.1 on the physical form. First let me remind you of what I said about our probable land requirements.

         A community of a hundred people should need about 20 hectares of which:-

1)      5 hectares are needed for growing food,

2)      4 hectares are needed for a dam and water collection (i.e. tiled),

3)      2 hectares are needed for living and recreation,

4)      9 hectares are needed for wild-life and possible expansion (I call this natural land).

Of the 5 hectares needed for growing food this would be made up of:-

         a)      1 hectare for fruit and vegetables,

         b)      3 hectares for grain (wheat and maize - mostly for the animals),

         c)      1 hectare of pasture (lucerne).

I have assumed a rainfall of only 750 mm which is low (the sort of rainfall you get 100 km west of the dividing range - the world average is 1 m). Hence you need a reasonable collection area (the roofs and pavements of the living area help as well in this regard).

         The basic purpose of this section is to substantiate these figures by going through everything in considerable detail.

 

Our 5 hectares of agricultural land needs to be of the highest possible quality. So let me again remind you how this can be done (given that one is expecting to spend $73 or so on every square meter of agricultural land):-

1)      Level

The agricultural land must be reasonably level. Normally this shouldnıt a problem but, if it was essential, then we could terrace the land (as discussed in section 5.1).

2)      Soil consistency and depth

The agricultural land must have the correct proportion of clay and sand. If incorrect then it can be corrected by taking appropriate ingredients from our other land. In the worst case we would have to buy the ingredients elsewhere.

3)      Nutrients

The soil must contain all the nutrients one needs to grow food i.e. nitrogen, phosphates etc. This is easy - $1 per square meter will buy all the nutrients that you could need (provided of course that they are fully recycled).

4)      Humus

This is just a question of time. Our soil must contain sufficient old organic matter to allow water retention and soil ³clumping². If it doesnıt then one simply has to keep growing vegetation and ploughing it back into the soil until one does have enough humus. After 5 years you will certainly have enough.

         There are two other facilities that I think also are needed to make life much easier. These are:-

5)      Services

For ease of farming, one needs water and power to be on supply everywhere. This is relatively easy to provide and still stay within our budget.

6)      Protection

Our agricultural land must be exceedingly well fenced to prevent nasty animals, bugs and diseases getting in (and stop our animals getting out). Besides this, we can also easily afford to have netting above our agricultural land so that: birds would be stopped from eating our grain; and moths be prevented from introducing caterpillars to our vegies. {But I unfortunately donıt know how to stop fruit fly infecting our soft skinned fruits. So my food does not include any fruit with soft skin.}

 

For a system like I am proposing to work, one clearly has to recycle absolutely everything. Thus there will be no need for further nutrients because everything that has been taken out of the land will be put back in a recycled form. This recycle process is reasonably easy to carry out because everything is close at hand and so all our wastes can be composted and ploughed back in.

 

This section is by far the largest of my sections so it is convenient to divide it up into four fairly clear-cut sub-sections. They are:-

1)      Our Food (i.e. Bread, meat, cheese, fruit, vegies etc),

2)      Our Crops (i.e. Wheat, maize, lucerne, soya beans, fruit etc),

3)      Our Animals (Chooks, pigs, cows (both beef and dairy),

4)      The Final Complete Calculation of Our Water and Land Needs,

5)      It will be Fun.

 

Finally you are probably asking yourself just how much do I know about agriculture. Not as much as I should, I am afraid. My family owns some land in New Zealand and at times I have had a fairly close association with this land. I have bugged my friends and relations a fair bit to get some of this information. Mostly, however, Iıve relied on the various books, Ag Notes and District Agronomists of the NSW Dept of Agriculture (they have been very good indeed). I will give the details of all this in the relevant sub-sections.

 


6.1.1   Our Food

 

Before we can do anything in agriculture, we first need to know what crops we want to grow and what animals we want to keep. To work this out, of course, we will need to know what food everyone will want to eat. This is going to be difficult because everyone will have different diets and even one personıs diet will vary over time. Thus one simply has to guess as best one can. What I have done is to choose the most standard foods we eat in Australia but give a slight bias in favour of the healthy, nutritious foods and likewise include slightly less of the unhealthy foods (or foods that are very expensive in their land needs). I include slightly more food than is necessary so this will give our community more flexibility in what everyone can eat (if the food is not eaten then it can just go to the animals). If you donıt like my choice then please give me the full details of what you think is better. Growing extra crops is not all that difficult – the difficulty is rather the extra learning problem about the details of soil requirements, water needs and associated pests and diseases etc. 

 

The table on the following page gives the details of my suggested food consumptions. The crucial column is the amount (in grams) that the average person is expected to eat per day (second last). The last column gives the energy (in mega-joules) associated with this amount. You can see that this food has a total value of 10.88 M.J. per person per day. A balanced diet needs between 6 and 9 M.J. depending on a personıs size and level of activity. Thus there will be a reasonable amount of spare food that can be given to the animals.

 

The next question is ³ if you eat this food in the right degree (i.e. you eat the proportion that will give you the correct number of M.J.) will this constitute a healthy balanced diet²? I can assure you that it is - but it would take a long time to demonstrate that it is. There is a very simple rule in nutrition which says that ³if you avoid all processed foods  then most mixed diets will be OK². Thus, if you were to miss out all my processed foods (i.e. the cheese, butter, oil, sugar, tea, coffee, beer and wine) that I have included in my diet then you would have a slightly better and healthier diet (besides being easier to produce). However, the normal Australian has certain expectations of a certain amount of Œgood livingı - so these evil items have been included.

 

Columns 3, 4 and 5 allow you to check that major ingredients of my diet (i.e. protein, fat and carbohydrate) are in a good balance (the figures are in grams per 100 gram portion). The other small essentials (i.e. minerals and vitamins) are too numerous to list. I happen to know this subject very well. When I was young, I went on several extended climbing trips so I bought a nutrition manual so that I could work out whether our meagre light-weight food was nutritionally adequate. Then, later in life, I had to lecture on Linear Programming (a mathematical optimisation technique) and by far the best example of this technique is the problem of finding the cheapest (or lightest) diet that obeys all the dietary constraints. In this work, my major problem has been dealing with changing fashions in units. My original books were in ounces and calories but the modern ones are naturally in grams and joules. Trouble is that the old books are much better because they do not include as many processed foods. If you look at a modern book then you get completely confused because of the myriad number of variants in modern processed foods. Thus I have had to compile this table from 3 nutrition manuals spanning 40 years.


A PERSONıS DAILY FOOD

 

                                       %                                   Carbo-                     -------Amount------

                                              Edible    Protein      Fat    hydrate       M.J.          Grams            M.J.

 

Wheat Products           100         9.4         1.3       79                  1.51            300             4.53

(Bread, Pasta etc)

 

Milk                              100          3.3         3.8         5                    .37            500             1.85

Cheese (cheddar)         100        26.1       33.8         0                  1.69              50               .84

Butter                           100          0.6       81.2         0                  3.05             5                .15

Oil                                 100          0.0       99.7         0                  3.72              10               .37

 

Beef (lean)                      73        18.4       13.4         0                    .84           30                .25

Beef (average)                79        16.3       25.1         0                  1.24              30               .37

Pork (lean)                      80        20.0       15.0         0                  1.00              30               .30

Chicken                           69        20.5         5.8         0                    .59            100               .59

Eggs                                88        12.5       11.6         1                    .67              10               .07

Fish (cod)                       66        17.0         0.4        0                    .32              10               .03

 

Potatoes                         86          2.0         0.1       19                    .34            100               .34

Corn                                65          3.6         1.2       21                    .41              50               .20

Carrots                           92          0.9         0.2         9                    .15              50               .07

Onions                            95          1.2         0.2         8                    .15              50               .07

Broccoli                           61          3.6         0.3         6                    .15              50               .07

Cauliflower                    50          2.6         0.2         5                    .11              30               .03

Beans (soya)                 100        10.9         5.1       13                    .56              60               .33

Beans (runner)                86          1.7         0.2         6                    .13              50               .07

Peas                                43          6.3         0.4       15                    .34              30               .10

Tomatoes                       94          1.0         0.3         4                    .09              60              .06

Capsicum                       92          0.9         0.2         9                    .15              60               .10

Lettuce                           75          1.3         0.3         3                    .07              40               .04

Mushrooms                    75          2.2         0.3         4                    .09              40               .05

Strawberries                   97          0.7         0.5         9                    .15              40               .06

Apples                            78          0.3         0.3       13                    .22            100               .22

Oranges                          74          0.9         0.3       11                    .19            120               .23

Bananas                          70          1.1         0.3       22                    .37              50               .18

Avocado                         70          1.7       15.8         6                    .67              60               .40

Kiwi Fruit                       90          1.2         0.3         9                    .13              50               .06

Grapes                            95          0.7         0.4       17                    .28              20               .06

 

Sugar                            100          0.0         0.0        100      1.64              20               .33

Tea                                100          0.0         0.0          0                   .00                4               .00

Coffee                           100          0.1         0.0          0                   .00              12               .00

Beer                               100          0.3         0.0       3+4         .17            200               .03

Wine                             100          0.3         0.0       2+12       .36            100               .04

 

                                                                                                              Total M.J.     10.88


 

The last 5 items in this table (sugar, tea, coffee, beer and wine) will be hard to produce in our community and so I have assumed that they must be imported. As I would like to feel that our community will, in some sense, be self-sufficient in food, I feel we must produce some extra food and export it to counter-balance these imports. {With our normal expectations it is almost impossible to be completely self-sufficient in food.} The easiest way to do this is to use the Œtotal energy valueı as the measure of equivalence (the usual criteria used to measure food quantity). However this would be a bit of a cheat because it would be far harder to produce those 5 imported foods than it would be to produce wheat for example with the equivalent energy value. So what I have done instead is to use the Œmonetary valueı as the measure of equivalence between our exports and our imports. This is much harder to do and it tends to break my heart to have to trade our healthy hard-won food for the iniquitous drugs that I am importing – but it ought to be done. The details of this are shown in the following table (the prices are a bit questionable – they are simply the standard values I saw in my local mall).

 

                                  IMPORTS and EXPORTS (per person per day)

 

                                      IMPORTS                                                                         Total for

                                   Price ($/kg)          Amount (gm)                   Price ($)      community

 

Sugar                              1.20                   20                                 .24

Tea                                15.00                     4 (2 serves)                .06

Coffee                           50.00                   12 (2 serves)                .60

Beer                                 3.30                   200                               .67

Wine                               3.00                   100                               .30

                                                                                                     1.87                      $187

 

                                      EXPORTS

                                    Price ($/kg)         Amount (gm)                    Price ($)

 

Bread (70% wheat)        3.60                   256                               .92

Milk                                1.70                   100                               .17

Strawberries                   7.80                   100                              .78

                                                                                                     1.87                      $187

 

 

The problem of how and where our food gets into the hands of the people that are going to eat, then it leads us on to the more general question of Œwhere all our various agricultural related activities should be carried out within our communityı? At this stage it is appropriate that you go back and look at the detailed map of our community in section 5.1 (Pages 33 and 34).

 

The major agricultural activities of course occur in the big rectangle on the top right. However, if you look at it carefully, then you will see that a big black line encircles this area even at the natural entry point at the bottom. This black line represents an exceedingly solid fence designed to keep all possible predators out and even the entry point at the bottom will consist of a very secure locked gate. This might seem a bit extreme but I think it is necessary. Thus, if a child was to walk into the agricultural area and accidentally let free their pet mouse, then the results could be disastrous. {I have twice camped in mice plagues and I assure you they are extreme.} Thus people should enter this area with care. So most of the buying and selling of food should occur outside this area - so this what the rest of this section is about.

 

Before we can go any further, you have to become familiar with one of the harsh facts of life in our community. This is that the cost of our electrical power will be about 5 times as much as you pay at present (made from wicked old coal). Now this is OK – we can live with it – but we certainly wonıt be wasting any of our electrical power if we can possibly avoid it. Now one of the big ways that we can avoid using extra electrical power is not to use individual fridges. This may seem a little extreme - but you must study the detail very carefully. If you look at my diagram carefully then you will see that the average distance of any unit to a large communal fridge is only 50 m (at the agricultural produce shop and the bakery/café). Also, as everyone would like everything as fresh as possible, it would be very natural that everyone would go to both these places at least once a day. Furthermore all things that need to be kept cool (e.g. milk, cheese and meat) can be sold in well-insulated containers (after all our containers must be reused many times - so we might as well make them well-insulated as well). So with these facilities, you can see that individual fridges are simply not necessary (and if there is a problem (i.e. you are having a party) then you can simply get some ice and use an esky). If, at sometime in the future, the price of PV panels become more reasonable then we can have individual fridges once again. Till then, it is better simply to use communal fridges and so save our precious electrical power for jobs that can save actual manual labour.

 

This last paragraph will have more or less indicated that the buying and selling of food will occur at our bakery/café and our produce shop. Clearly my bakery/café has been set up as an ideal place to sell some of our fresh produce. However, it is also an ideal place to introduce outside people to the wonders of our community. It would also be beneficial that outside people could mingle with people of the community - so our community should use this café as well. As I think maintaining a good relationship with the outside world is more important than selling our food, I have placed this area under the control of our social department rather than our agricultural department. The bakery part must clearly have a small flour mill.

         Our produce shop, however, does very much come under our agricultural departmentıs jurisdiction. As this food will only be sold to community members, we can allow members to mostly serve themselves. For this sort of thing to work, however, there need to be some strict rules. These are the 2 rules that I think should apply:-

1)      Our produce will be taken to the shop in boxes and only one box of each food will be available for members to choose from. Each open box will have an entry list and members will add their name and the amount they have taken to this list.

2)      the rule Œif you touch it then you must buy itı ought to apply. Feeling produce is not a very hygienic thing to do and it also gives the community the problem of what to do with left-over picked-over produce. If some produce is sub-standard then the member should show it to the person in charge.*

*{One could argue this case in many ways on the basis of hygiene, fairness, time consumed or wastage - but many people would disagree with all such arguments. However, if you were to carry out a practical test and put out two sets of boxes and allow all people to choose either the Œtouching allowedı boxes or the Œno touching allowedı boxes (but not both) then I think you would soon find that people would prefer the Œno touching allowedı system. Feeling fruit first is nice – but, if everyone else that you share with is also a fanatic fruit-feeler and sometimes you have to put up with the left-over, well-felt dregs – then it ainıt so good.}

         There still needs to be someone in charge who will: price items, discard bad produce, put out new boxes, check that the completed entry lists add to the original amount and occasionally check that people are not cheating. However, this system will still basically allow members to serve themselves when they like. At the end of the week, each personıs total usage would be calculated and priced and this amount be deducted from their account.

         Some of our produce must be in cold storage and it might be too demanding on the cooling system to allow everyone to enter this area when they like. There probably needs to be a side bench (available through glass hatches) where members can choose what they want without going inside. Members should be able to get ice here as well.

 

Pricing our produce will be a significant task as pricing needs to vary according to the changing supply and demand situation and also on the difficulty of production. Our pricing structure will not be the same as the external Australian price structure because their prices are too high for grain products (thus the price of pasta, bread and wheat-biscuits are roughly 10 times the raw price of grain) and too low for meat.

 


6.1.2    Our Crops

 

As we have now worked out our food requirements then clearly the major task, of this section, is to work out how much land we will need to grow our relevant crops. However this is clearly a relatively hard and detailed task. I thought it would be a lot more pleasant if we started by answering the nice, general question of Œhow can we grow our crops in a truly Œgreenı fashionı. I personally can dream for hours on jobs that need to be done in the easiest and simplest manner – I hate the thought of the possibility of actually doing any hard labour.

 

If you look at my physical diagrams in section 5.1 then you will see that I have put a central paved path (2 m wide) up the centre of my agricultural area with branching paved paths (1 m wide) every 20 m apart. Thus every bit of my agricultural land will be within 10 m of a paved path. This is because I think this form of agriculture will be ideal for manual transport. Using a small well-constructed cart, one person can easily push 100 kg of produce on relatively flat paved paths. Thus, as we all need an occasional bit of exercise, I think the need for tractors or trucks for cartage is entirely unnecessary. I have assumed that our carts would be about 80 cm wide – thus the carts could pass eachother on the central path but not on the branch paths (unless they are moved onto the land).

 

I have said that our agricultural land should be well supplied with water and power. Clearly the major water pipes, drainage and power lines should be situated beneath the paved paths (otherwise they are likely to interfere with the ploughing operation). As regards servicing the individual plots of land, I must first remind you that I also wish to be able to place suitable netting over every part of our agricultural land. Now netting would require about a 3 m post every 5 m and these posts would need to be connected by strong metal wires at the top to stabilise them and support the nets. Appropriate nets could then be slipped over the top of all this when the need arose. These posts can also be very useful as a means of delivering power or water to any part of our land. Letıs deal with the easiest facility first which happens to be power.

 

As our posts are placed 5 m apart, our agricultural land can be considered to consist of 10m squares with 8 posts on the outside and a central post in the middle (see following diagram as to how this would work out in practise). We can take a power lead to the top of this post (using the top connecting wires) and, if a further lead of 8 m is connected to this, then power can be brought to any part of our 10x10 m little square. However, there are still 2 awkward problems if you wish to use this power in the easiest possible manner. {The same sort of problems apply when you vacuum the house or mow the lawn with an electric lawn mower.}

1)      In normal circumstances, the power lead will get caught in the vegetation (as one progresses in the operation). The solution to this problem is to keep the power lead high. Fortunately the power lead starts from the top of the post. What is needed then is a retractable power lead to keep the lead taut and a rod on the implement to keep the power lead high at the implement end as well. It is best that this retractable facility is kept on the implements rather than the power posts as there are likely to be about 500 power posts and only about 20 agricultural implements.

2)      When ploughing or harvesting this 10x10 m region, the normal operation would be to cycle around the central post. If this operation continues for too long then the power lead will get snared around the central post. The solution in this case is to have a socket at the top of the post that can easily swivel around. I am not sure that such swivel sockets exist - but it shouldnıt be too difficult to make them if necessary.

 

 

 

Scale

 

 

 

 

 

Posts

 

Support wires

 

Power Lines

 

Water Pipes

 

Water Sprinklers

 

Swivel Power Points

 

 

 

 

The natural way to deliver water evenly to this same 10x10 m piece of land would seem to be to have a sprinkler pipe across the middle, resting on the same posts (as shown in the previous diagram). If one then has sprinkler nozzles every 1 m then, when the pipe is oscillated appropriately, it should be possible to obtain a reasonably even spread of water over the whole square. The difficulty is again that one might have to make it oneself. The problem with the normal circular sprinkler devices is that it is hard to get an even spread of water. One could use just one normal circular sprinkler at the centre and then have special sprinklers at the 4 corners - so this could be an alternative option. This whole system needs to be reasonably automatic because water needs to be delivered in the middle of the night (to avoid too much evaporation loss).

 

We now come to the details of how we should actually do our farming. I will cover this under the following 6 natural headings but, before doing this, let me first talk about our general degree of mechanisation. I like mechanisation (Iım lazy) – but I donıt like large scale mechanisation. Fortunately large-scale mechanisation is not necessary in our case. If you bear in mind that:-

a)      the average crop line width is about 25 cm and

b)      a person only has 500 m2 associated with them

then the crop line length associated with one person should only be 2 km long. Now, as a person walking slowly should cover 2 km in about ½ an hour, this should indicate to you that our implements should only need to deal with about 25 cm at a time - thus they can be quite small. Furthermore a person can easily guide a small mechanical implement from behind- and so every task could be done on foot. Our problem, of course, then is that modern agriculture is designed for large-scale operations and so small-scale implements are hard to obtain. So we have a problem – but I will deal with this at the appropriate time for the different operations.

 

1)      Soil Preparation

Soil preparation in normal terms means: getting rid of the weeds, ploughing the land and returning the basic nutrients into the soil. In normal agricultural practise, the basic nutrients are returned to the soil in the form of fertilizers and are placed on top of the soil. In a self-sufficient community we must return all our nutrients in the form of compost. It is also far better if this compost is returned beneath the soil so that the nutrients do not partially evaporate into the atmosphere. Thus we have very significant problem as to how we get our compost into the soil. There seem to be two ways by which this can be done:

a)      We can more-or-less follow standard farming practise and so we can:

         i)       plough one furrow at a time,

         ii)      put the compost in the following trench,

         iii)     cover this compost during the next adjacent ploughing operation.

b)      The other way is to drag a vertical pipe through the soil and, while doing so, pump the compost into the soil.

         Neither operation is standard practise but I know of parties that have used both methods. I, personally, tend to favour the second method for the following reasons:

i)       The vertical pipe method is much more flexible as to how it can be applied. Thus the pipe can be applied at any depth and at any width (depending on what is required).

ii)      Dragging a vertical pipe through the ground may sound very expensive in energy and it could even be destructive to the soil. However this need not be the case at all. Thus, if small Œwinged flangesı are attached to the front of the pipe, then these flanges can lift the soil and guide the soil to either side of the pipe. This means that the pipe could travel through the soil reasonably easily and also carry out a very beneficial operation by lifting and aerating the soil at the same time. In the following little two diagrams I have tried to show what these flanges would look like – but with very dubious success. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is best to think of these flanges as two tiny, linked ploughs that guide the soil to either side of the pipe. There probably needs to be about 4 such flanges per pipe (with a flange depth of 10 cm giving a pipe depth of 40 cm). These flanges will also mean that our compost can simply be fed into the soil without the need for a pumping operation. Thus immediately after the pipe, an empty space will be created by the flanges. So our compost can simply flow out here (although the compost will need to be liquefied a little by mixing with water first). 

iii)     The above operation should then have already broken up and aerated the soil. The weeds and roots can then be taken out of the soil by a deep raking operation. They can then be composted with all the other compost. This means that there should be less chance of weeds regenerating again in the same place.

iv)     These two operations (ii) and iii) should mean that a major ploughing operation is now unnecessary. The ploughing operation is difficult for a small community, like us, because it is very hard to buy small electric ploughs. Also the ploughing operation moves the soil laterally to small degree. For a small community where we have to plough many small patches, this movement can become quite a problem.

         Of course it is terribly hard to know which of these two methods would be best in practise. But it is good to remember that there are at least two options as to how oneıs compost can be returned back to the soil very effectively.

 

2)      Sowing

Sowing is normally done using an automatic sowing disc and there is no reason for us not to follow this standard practise. Clearly we will only need to sow with one disc at a time and so I think it should be possible to push this manually. For some crops it is better to grow seedlings (I have organised that the roof of our crop storage area should be used for this purpose). The planting of the seedlings would presumably be done manually.

 

3)      Nurturing the crop growth

This principally means watering the crop and this is now very easy for us as we have a sprinkler system in place all the time. {As mentioned before this should be done in the middle of the night to minimize evaporation losses.} Some nutrients could be added to the water as well (i.e. urine or its broken-down products). Some books recommend the addition of mulch around the crops but I have included all possible forms of mulch already in my compost. So this is not possible. Possibly one should lay down lines of black plastic between crop lines to minimize evaporation losses.

         Weeds and pests need to be dealt with as usual. This should occur less with us because our nets should keep pests away and we should give very few opportunities for weeds to grow. The problems can therefore be dealt with manually and so if chemical spays are needed then they can be used precisely in the appropriate places and only when necessary.

 

4)      Harvest

The normal complex harvesting machines will tend to be too big and expensive for our kind of operation. The easiest thing to do then seems to be to use an electrical cutter (mounted on wheels) and this would normally cut each crop near its base (i.e. taking the whole of the crop). The crop would then fall into a following collecting bin and, when full, this would be taken to our processing building. This process would be the reverse ploughing – thus one would start on the outside of each 10 m square (connected to the central power lead) and then go rotationally around and end up at the centre. The operation will involve quite a lot of cartage - but this is essential because everything that is not eaten will need to be composted in any case.

         This would be the general form but each crop could be different. Thus some crops need to be picked daily while root vegetables need to be yanked out of the ground. For wheat it could be better to initially cut the crop high (mostly only including the ears) and take this to our processing buildings. The remaining stalks could then be cut later and then this be taken directly to our compost buildings. A similar situation could also apply to corn. There could be variations for almost every crop.

         From here on we are going to be largely associated with what goes on in our agriculture buildings so I now need to describe them in a general sense. As you can mostly see in my diagram (page 33), my complete agricultural building is 65 m long and 15 m wide. It is divided up so that crops have 20 m, chooks have 10 m, pigs have 8 m, cows have 12 m and compost has 15m. It is 4 m high and built with plenty of insulation and thermal mass and so a very steady sensible temperature can be maintained (in fact the same as all my other buildings). Thus, for all the various activities, there should be a comfortable, spacious area. Usually I wonıt go into any further details because I donıt want to expose my ignorance on all the essential detail.

         Our actual crop processing could be different for every crop - so I canıt go into details. However, I should say something about our most important crop - which is wheat. Here one would use (or mimic) the later stages of a combine harvester. This operation consists firstly of threshing and this is done by feeding the crop into the gap between a concave plate and revolving wheel (with knobs on) which crushes the crop a little and thus separates the wheat from the ears. After this the resulting mixture is fed in front of a blower - the wheat grains will fall down and will be sieved out while the chaff will be blown further on and this will eventually be taken to our compost facility. A similar operation could apply to maize except that the gap in the threshing operation must be much greater. Thus you can see that the lack of a full combine harvester should not cause us too many problems.

 

5.      Composting

I donıt know much about composting - so I am limited in what I can say. However I do know that it is important that it is done well so I give a fairly large building for the purpose (225 m2) that can be kept at the correct temperature with good aeration facilities. Clearly all greenery will need to be shredded - so we will need a shredder. Originally I had intended to keep the faeces and urine separate but that turned out to be too difficult. However, on arrival, it is probably best if the urine is separated out and treated separately (as one then has the option of using it in the watering system). Other than this, all I know is that you add worms (or bugs) to the mixture and wait till these noble creatures turn this awful mess into nice good compost. {I have a feeling that the worms may need a little bit of normal earth as well to feel at home.}

 

6.      Storage

For a community to be able to regard itself as self-sufficient, I think it should have some capacity to deal with the bad times. To put this into quantifiable terms, I propose that the community should be able to cope with one year of crop failure. This means that we will need a substantial amount of storage space but, before going into details on this, let me first specify how our crops will be stored.

         Our produce would be stored as normal in sacks (for grain) and boxes (for the rest). However, so that everyone in our community can easily handle these things, the items should be of a sensible weight. I think a sensible weight for this is about 10 kg (as opposed to normal current day sacks which weigh 25 kg). As our sacks and boxes will be used many times over, they can be light and of a very good quality (the sacks must be tied rather than sown at the top).

         Produce, stored for human consumption, should probably be stored at a cool temperature (i.e. about 10 degrees Celsius) - so I have assumed we will have a large cool room. If this was made of Styrofoam 10 cm thick with internal dimensions 10 m x 10 m x 3 m (high) and, if we assume that our average external temperature is 20 C, then our energy losses will be about 8 Kwh per day. Of course there are a large number of assumptions here as there are a large number of possibilities that can make this figure higher or lower. {The factors that could make it lower are: 1) modern refrigeration machines use the Carnot cycle and this can give better results than the unity that I have assumed here; 2) one can use the cold air at night to refrigerate and so the temperature differential need not be so great and 3) in dry climates one can use water evaporation solely as a means of attaining this only moderate temperature.} I donıt want to argue this case too strongly – the point is that this facility can be attained at a reasonable price. When I first envisaged this system I imagined that the bottom meter would be for grain storage (in compartments) with a light floor above with trap doors as access (giving a cubic meter space for each person). The top part would have shelves for all the boxes. But it could be done in many ways – I have probably allowed for far too much cool storage.

         Putting produce in the cool room for only short periods of time can involve extra work (and be expensive in energy) so, when possible, it is far better to pick only the required amount of food that day and use it that very day (perfectly fresh). The same boxes can then be used for picking the produce and then taking it and selling it at the agriculture shop. So, with a bit of luck (i.e. the food is clean), the produce can go straight from picking to the shop. One should also work on the assumption that, after purchase, everything would be eaten in the following 24 hours. Thus things like avocadoes and bananas should be chosen individually so they are in perfect condition for eating either that day or the next. {This then eliminates the need for people to actually hand feel the produce before purchase.} The only need for grain is at the bakery or for the animals so it could continue to travel in the sacks. {The bakery would have a small mill and the wheat would only be milled when needed. This makes it easier for us to use wholemeal flour because then it wonıt have the chance to go off (the kernel of grain has a tendency to go off).}

We also need a reasonable amount of storage for our animal fodder (i.e. corn and hay). There should still be ample room in our crop area for this purpose.

 

 

Finally we come to the major task of this section and this is to work out how much land we will need to grow our crops. This will mostly be done in the table on the following page - but it might take a little while for you to understand it. Firstly let me explain the units I have chosen (which are not entirely standard – but no units are). The table, as a whole, refers to a year because agricultural productions always are (and always have to be) in terms of years. This means that Œour daily food requirements in gramsı (see table 6.1.1) must be multiplied by .365 (the requirement column) to turn the figures into kilos per year. Our land requirement then is given in square meters - because you can then fairly easily visualise how much land you will need per person (last column). Our basic calculation is simply that

                            Land Needed      =       Requirement / Production Rate .


 

CROP LAND REQUIREMENTS (per person in m2)

 

                                 Ref.       Period     Harvest           Production         Requirement           Land

                                 No.       (Days)  (Month No)      Form  Kilos/m2         (kilos)                    (m2)

 

Wheat                      1          180          11                            0.75           110+65                 ½ x    233

 

 

Potatoes                   3          130          C                4x2        8                  37                          4.6

Corn                         3          100          C                3x2        6                  18                          3.0

Carrots                     3          130          C                4x2        8                  18                          2.3

Onions                     3          120          C                4x2        8                  18                          2.3

Broccoli                    3          100          C                2.5x2     5                  18                          3.6

Cauliflower              3          100          C                              6                  11                          1.8

Climbing Beans       3          100          C                5x2      10                  18                          1.8

Soya Beans              2          120          C                1.5x2     3                22+78                    33.3

Peas                         3            70          C                1x3        3                  11                          3.7

Tomatoes                 3          120          C                5x2      10                  22                          2.2

Capsicum                3          130          C                4x2        8                  22                          2.8

Lettuce                     3            80          C                2x3        6                  15                          2.5

Mushrooms             3                          C                                                  15                          0.0

Strawberries             3          50+140    C                2.4x1.5  3.6             15+37                    14.4

Apples                     3            P            2-1                           6                   37                          6.2

Oranges                   3            P            5-9                         10                  44                          4.4

Bananas                   4            P            C                             3.1                18                          5.8

Avocadoes               3            P            C                             5                   22                          4.4

Kiwi Fruit                2            P            C                             5                   18                          3.6

Grapes                     4            P            ?                              1.3                  7                          5.4

                                                                                             TOTAL (Fruit and Veg)       108

 


Animal Feed

 

Wheat                      1          180          11                            0.75              53             ½ x      70

Maize                       2          160            5                            1.0              303             ½ x    303

Lucerne (dry)           5            P            C                             2.0              179                        90

 

                                                                                                       Total Land                            501


 

Going backwards then in the table, the second figure in the ŒProduction Formı is the number of times the crop is grown per year. Hence this figure times the harvest figure gives us the annual production. In the ŒHarvest (Month No)ı column the ŒCı stands for ŒContinuousı which means that the crop can be harvested at any time (provided you sow the crop at the appropriate times). The ŒPeriod (Days)ı is of course the amount of time the crop will take to grow (ŒPı stands for ŒPerennialı). The ŒRef. No.ı refers to the various ways I gathered the information in this table and so each number in this table needs to be gone through in detail. However, before doing this, let me explain about a few of the Œfunniesı in this table.

 

        Wheat and Maize are grown on the same land (Wheat in Winter and Maize in Summer). In order that everything will total correctly, I have therefore multiplied the land they require by ½. The extra figures, for wheat and strawberries, correspond to exports. The extra figure under Soya beans is for oil production. Finally the ŒAnimal Feedı ŒRequirementı figures

come from the complex calculations that are done in the next two sections (which you donıt know yet). They are inserted in here just for the sake of completeness.

 

Now for the details of how I gathered all my figures for the 5 different forms of ŒRef. No.ı.

 

1)      This reference just refers to Œwheatı but I gave it special attention because, as it is by far the most important crop we grow, one needs to be as sure as possible that our details are correct. The crucial figure is the amount in kilos that one can grow on a square meter of land which is ¾ of a kilo (corresponding to 7.5 tonnes per hectare). This is a terribly hard figure to obtain because it depends on the degree of irrigation and weather conditions that apply (and also wheat is not usually irrigated in Australia). This figure comes principally from the various bulletins from the Yanco Agricultural Institute (the main irrigation research centre in NSW) and from discussions with the district agronomist there. The figure is also consistent with various papers from other research centres both in Australia and the US. It is not the highest yield one can get - but it is still fairly high (because I have organised that we shall do everything in the best possible manner). This figure goes with a water usage figure of 650 mm for the growing season.

 

2)      Maize and Soya beans were grown extensively on our family land in NZ and we considered very seriously growing kiwifruit as well. I was associated with all these ventures so I did know these figures reasonably well. So these figures mostly come from my own personal knowledge. The important figure is of course maize so I have checked this figure both with the Yanco Agricultural Institute and a paper from the US. The highest figure was noticeably higher than this but it is still fairly high. This figure corresponds to a water usage figure of 850 mm for the growing season. I had difficulty in finding confirmatory figures for Soya beans and Kiwi-Fruit – so I had to trust my failing memory.

 

3)      Most of the figures in this table correspond to this category - and this is from various Diggersı Club articles and circulars. When you look at any of these figures, they may appear to be exceptionally high. However you must remember that all these foods contain a large amount of water whereas the figures for wheat and maize are for dry produce. The correct way to compare a produce amount is on the basis of energy value (because our basic need is for energy and, conversely, this is what a crop will find hard to produce). If you were to compare any of these crops on this basis then the only crop that will compare with the production of 1.75 kilos for wheat/maize per year is Avocadoes. So these figures are not as high as they might appear.

 

4)      This reference only applies to Bananas and Grapes. I couldnıt find any reasonable figures for these two products so I had to resort to using figures from the Australian year-book. These two foods tend to be grown without irrigation in Australia so, using an average Australian, gives figures that are too low. However this is the best I can do (the grape figure in fact is ridiculously low).

 

5)      This reference applies just to Lucerne. The result again comes from papers and discussions with the district agronomist at the Yanco Agricultural Institute. This product is only partially irrigated so the figure is a little low. However I also use the Instituteıs water usage figure of 1.3 m per annum as well - so this should be a consistent value.

 

All these figures are very dependent on the degree of irrigation. This problem will be discussed more fully in the following sections.

 


6.1.3   Our Animals

 

So far, we have learnt (in section 6.1.1) how much animal produce we will wish to consume in terms of milk, cheese, butter, beef, pork, chicken, eggs and fish. Then in section 6.1.2, we have learnt how much animal fodder we will grow in terms of lucerne, wheat and maize. {Our animals will also have a fair amount of waste product in terms of things like the protein left over from soya beans (after extracting the oil) and our human food left-overs.} So the question you will hopefully be asking now, with bated breath, is Œwill all this fodder when correctly fed to our animals produce all the food we requireı. However, as you might guess, this is a very difficult question to answer - but I have to do my best. My answers are bound to be very Œiffyı indeed because circumstance can differ so much (much more so than my crop productions). However you must also bear in mind that people do not need to eat as much meat as I have suggested. Thus I have suggested a total amount of 210 gm of meat per person per day. A lot of people would be quite happy with just 100 gm per day – if it was necessary. So there is a reasonable amount of spare capacity in my system.

 

Before we can go any further now, we first need to understand two very fundamental problems.

 

1)      The quality of life of our animals?

This problem is associated with a question of energy. All animals (including ourselves) use our energy for just 3 things: – 1) keeping ourselves warm, 2) moving about and 3) growing. Hence, if we wish to produce the maximum amount of meat (or milk or eggs) for our fodder, then we must keep our animals near their optimal temperature and also try to persuade our animals not to move around too much. This must lead to a terribly boring and unnatural life for our animals. Another thing that needs to be borne in mind is that the quality of our meat will depend on the amount of activity our animals indulge in. This is because the redness of the meat depends on the amount of activity that an animal indulges in. So battery chooks will have white meat and a humming bird will have the reddest meat of all. So, if you like red meat (or interestingly coloured meat as I do), then you have to let your animals have some exercise (which will cost you extra fodder).

         Some people may also consider that keeping animals inactive is inhuman – but this is a dubious question. Modern farm animals have been bred to simply like sitting still and eating. So, if you are simply allowing the animal to do what it wants to do, then it is hard to complain. However, it certainly does mean that, if we wish to obtain the maximum amount of meat for our fodder, then we cannot regard ourselves as returning to a natural, simple life-style. Thus we are not likely to enjoy the pleasure of taking our children around our farm when all that they will see will be animals that want to pig out and do nothing. In our current world, this sight would be sending them the wrong message.

         In this work I have used figures that are more-or-less in keeping with current Australian practise. However what people actually did would depend on what everyone wanted to do of course. I myself would prefer to: - eat much less meat, allow our animals to live more active and normal lives and be able to go around the farm with my children and even occasionally play with the animals (as I did myself when I was a child and we kept chooks and goats). However it is no great deal with me – I, like most animals, am an omnivore and I can usually simply eat what is put in front of me. So I would always go along with what the majority wants – the important thing for me is to live a lifestyle that is a bit more independent and self-sufficient. The trivia of what I eat, provided that it is healthy, is unimportant.

 

2)      Breeding problems

In Australia, the current practise for the growing of chickens is:  first for a chicken farm to receive a large batch of one-day chicks; then to feed and grow them (for 8 weeks); then to prepare them (kill them and gut them) and finally to sell them. The cycle then repeats itself.  Now I do not regard such a process as being self-sufficient because one is fully dependent on buying one-day chicks over a relatively short time span. To be self-sufficient, one needs to breed oneıs own chicks. However, now there is a problem because modern one-day chicks are well-bred hybrids who do what you want them to do i.e. either grow quickly or else produce lots of eggs. So we now have two problems:-

1)      it is hard to obtain good quality hybrids (because the breeders of such chicks are not keen to lose their income) and

2)      when we do get them, then their high quality will tend to degenerate over several generations (it is pleasing to know that the weird animals we eat will, over time, degenerate back into normal healthy animals).

         This all means that we, as a community, must carry out a certain amount of selective breeding ourselves. We could do this by: -  tagging each animal with a number, measuring their weight at the end (and noting if they should be interfering with other animals etc) and choosing to breed only from those animals with the characteristics that we like. This process requires us to keep some careful records and do a bit of arithmetic - but it is necessary if we want to feel that we are in control of our own destiny. {This all mostly applies to chickens but it also applies to pigs and cows to some extent as well.}

 

There is a huge amount of detail associated with the growing of animals – things like: - wild birds spreading disease, - chickens getting lame because their toe-nails havenıt been cut etc. So what I am going to do is to miss out all the details entirely and simply go straight to the fundamental facts that we need to know. This is simply the amount of fodder that we will need to grow to obtain the meat (or milk products) we require. This is given in the following table. After this I will give all the references from which I obtained this information (and these references mostly also include a lot of the detail you need to know to raise these animals in the appropriate manner).

 

ANIMAL GRAIN EQUIVALENT NEEDS

                                  Requirement     Conversion               Grain Equivalence

                                        Kilos               Factor                                     Kilos

 

Milk                              183+37                 0.4                                88

Cheese                               18                              4.0                                72

Butter                                  2                            10.5                                21

 

Beef                                   22                              6.0                              132

Pork                                   11                              4.5                                49

Chicken                             37                              2.5                                93

Eggs                                    4                              5.0                                20

Fish                                      4                              0                                     0

                                                                                    Total          475

 

In this table, the crucial figure is the ŒConversion Factorı because this figure says how much grain (or its equivalent) is needed to produce the required food. Some of these figures might appear to be rather low (i.e. exceptionally good). You need to bear in mind that our eaten products contain a reasonable amount of water whereas the grain is quite dry. If you were to more correctly compare the figure in terms of energy then, for example, the conversion factor for chickens would only be 6.4. This is a good figure – but not fantastic. I will talk about the subject of ŒGrain equivalenceı in my final section.

         Animals need to be reasonably well housed to produce these good conversion factors. Again I wonıt go into details but I have given them a reasonable amount of housing space. Thus I give: - 150 m2 for our chooks, - 120 m2 for our pigs and – 180 m2 for our cattle (and they can free-range on our lucerne pasture as well).

 

By far the most useful book for deriving these various conversion factors has been ŒFarming in a Small Wayı, produced by the NSW Dept of Agriculture and edited by Gordon Yabsley. The other books that I read went into far greater detail in many aspects - but they didnıt end up by giving me any of the figures that I needed. Thus my figures for Milk, Cheese, Butter, Pork and Eggs all basically come from this book.

         For the chicken figure, I was extremely fortunate to have a climbing friend (Ron Newman) who had done his PhD studying chicken growth (on a grant supplied by the chicken industry). The figure that he could obtain for his experimental stock was about 1.7. However, for the conditions that I was suggesting, he thought a figure of 2.5 was about right.

         The figure for beef was terribly hard to obtain. There are two problems:-

1)      Nearly all beef in Australia is obtained by grazing cattle on fairly rough pasture. Thus there are no figures available in Australia for the circumstances that I am suggesting.

2)      The beef that I am suggesting would mostly be derived from the steers left over from producing milking cows. This situation tends to cloud the issue because then the cattle have not been bred for beef.

         The figure of 6.0 that I give is simply a figure I remember from years ago. It is, however, moreorless consistent with what most people think.

         Our fish are simply grown in our dam in a natural state and so they donıt use any grain. I will discuss this further in the section on water.

 

My next section will now tie all these different facets together.

 


6.1.4   The Final Complete Calculation of Our Water and Land Needs

 

We now have our final problem of seeing how all our crops, animals, land and water will all fit together. In my table on ŒCrop Land Requirementsı I have already given you some of the figures. However this was a bit of a cheat because I did not explain how the numbers were derived. So now I need to go back and explain everything in detail.

 

The first thing we need to decide on is to what degree we are going to feed our animals on either grain or lucerne (either in the form of hay or just normal grazing). Most animals can feed on either but cows, being ruminants, can cope with hay slightly better than pigs or chickens. The animals would also eat a lot of human left-over food (from us) so variety should not be a great problem. As regards the usage of land, it is slightly more efficient to use grain as the chief source of food as, according to my figures, our land can produce more useful grain than hay. On the other hand, our animals must have some land to graze on. Thus I think a balance of 3 parts grain to 1 part lucerne is about right. This balance means that the 475 kilos per person that I derived for grain equivalent feed for our animals would consist of:-

         Grain          475 x ¾      =       356   kilos  and

         Lucerne      475 x ¼      =       119   kilos (in grain equivalent form).

 

The accepted figure is that a kilo of dry lucerne hay is equivalent (in feed value) to only 2/3 of a kilo of grain. Thus, with this adjustment, our requirement for lucerne is:-

         Lucerne      119 x 3/2  =       179   kilos.

 

Going back to grain now, if we add our human need to our animal requirement, we get:-

Total grain need           365 + (110+65)            =       531   kilos

Now, as wheat and grain are grown on the same land, this means that we must apportion this figure in proportion to their annual productions. This gives

         Wheat                 531  x  0.75/(0.75+1.) =       228   kilos

         Maize                  531  x  1.00/(0.75+1.) =       303   kilos

Wheat is used for both us humans and animals. So if we subtract our human need we get

         Wheat (for animals)    228  -  (110+65)  =         53 kilos

 

If you check back now, you will see that I have now supplied all the numbers that were missing in our ŒCrop Land Requirementsı table. The crop production numbers were also explained in that section - so I wonıt try and explain them again here. However I will repeat the final land totals again in both square meters per person and in hectares per community (of 100 people) as these areas are so important.

                                               Square meters per person              Hectares (total)

Fruit and Vegetables                               108                                         1.08

Grain (wheat and maize)                        303                                         3.03

Pasture (lucerne)                                                 90                                         0.90

 

Total for Agriculture                               501                                         5.01

 

So you can now compare these figures with the figures I used in the Footprint section (they are fairly close).

 

All these production figures are completely dependent on an adequate supply of water. The supply and storage of water will of course be covered in detail in section 5.7 on water. However, the usage of water (in its end form i.e. after recycling if necessary) is almost entirely for agriculture. In the following table (unfortunately heavily interspersed with notes), the first figure is the depth of water required in meters, the second figure is the area in square meters and the final figure is the water requirement in cubic meters. {In my previous table I gave the total areas in hectares so I have had to multiply by 10,000 to bring everything to the correct units.} The last line does not follow this pattern at all - but I explain these figures afterwards.

 

Water Requirements (in cubic meters per year)

 

Grain                                                                           (.65 + .85)  x  30300    =       45600

The two usage figures comes from the Yanco Agricultural Institute as given in my notes on crop productions.

 

Fruit and Vegetables                                         1.5  x  10800                =       16200

It is terribly hard to find water usage figures for fruit and vegetables. As fruit and vegetable productions (in terms of energy) are less than grain production, I have assumed that the combined grain requirements should be adequate.

 

Lucerne                                                              1.3  x  9000                            =       11700

The usage figure comes from a Yanco bulletin (as also given in my crop notes).

 

Greenery in living area                                      1.  x  10000                            =       10000

I have allowed a usage figure of 1 m for this region. This should be sufficient to keep oneıs trees and lawns healthy and well all the year round.

 

Seeds                                                                           1.5  x  200                    =           300

I use the same usage figure here as for fruit and veg.

 

Human and animal evaporation and waste    10 x 365 x 100 / 1000 =           365

Because everything is recycled (e.g. urine), this figure will be very small indeed. I basically allow 10 litres per person per day. If one remembers that the total amount of animal flesh is comparable to the total amount of human flesh (and we both have the same bodily functions) then the animals can also be included in this figure with water to spare.

 

Hence our total water requirement (in cubic meters per year) is                            84165

 

This figure can now be used to define the minimum land area that we must use (i.e. everything except our natural land). Because we are going to use every scrap of water on our area and our assumed rainfall is  .75 m per square meter, this means:-

 

Our total used area must be                   84165 / .75

                                                                 =       112220       m2

                                                                 =       11.222        hectares

If we now subtract our agricultural land and our living area greenery

Our total collection area must be                       5.212        hectares

 

If we now also subtract out our living area collection facilities

Our tiled (plus dam) collection area must be   4.212        hectares

If you compare this with what I said in the section on footprints you will see it is slightly bigger. {I actually made a mistake with one of my figures – however it is still fairly close.}

 

Since writing all this, I have been reading some articles on water collection and usage in the ŒDiggersı Clubı magazine. They allow for 10% loss of water in water collection but, on the other hand, they assume much lower usage figures. It seems better for me to leave everything as it is until I am more certain as to what the correct figures ought to be.

 

 

 

6.1.5 It should be Fun

 

So far in this section you have been asked to consider a large number of problems and also to deal with an enormous number of figures. This has been essential because our food must be quite varied, and this implies that we must consider many crops and several types of animals. It can all be a bit overwhelming – for me as well as you. But now lets go back just a little bit and remind ourselves that all this work leads to only one basic fact that needs to be remembered – namely the amount of agricultural land we will need. Having remembered this fact, we will then be able to see that being self-sufficient in food will in fact lead us to an easier, happier and more varied life.

 

The essential fact is that, if you farm in a sensible manner, then each person only needs 500 m2 of land to support themselves. And 500 m2 isnıt much land – in more familiar terms it is simply half the area of a normal house and its land (i.e. the ¼ acre block). This means we can walk everywhere and move all our produce around by hand pushed carts. Besides this we wonıt need to use large agricultural instruments and so all our work can be carried out by small electrically-powered implements (which we can guide from behind on foot). Finally, if you study the various operations that need to be carried out fairly carefully, then you will find that total workload associated with this total agricultural operation should only be about 2 hours per person per week. Thus our whole agricultural operation need not be an arduous task at all.

 

But the most important point of all is that this operation will be, for most of us, a tremendous break from the normal slog of a mundane office job. Thus I would love to go out into the sunshine and wind – do a bit of physical work, watch our crops growing, see our animals chewing their cuds and fraternizing with each other, and in general feeling at one with the growing world. There is no reason that our current city and country life should be as divorced as they are at present. While donıt we forget the current world and be a little more at one with nature again.

 

Finally, I have said that this whole operation need only take 2 hours per week. But there is no reason why we should always be efficient about everything. In olden days, for example, the gathering of the harvest was a time of great joy. In past days, often the whole population of the village would often join in the operation, do their little bit and join in the fun. There are even rumours that they would then dance around the maypole at the end of the day. There is no reason why we canıt do the same sort of thing.

 

                                               What is this life if, full of care,

                                               We have no time to stand and stare?

 

                                                        .   .    .   .    .    .    .
6.2    Buildings (Accommodation, Sustainability, Construction and Final Total Costs)

 

                                                        The Stately Homes of England

                                                        How beautiful they stand,

                                                        To prove the upper classes

                                                        Have still the upper hand.

 

In Australia, a large part of most peopleıs income is spent on acquiring or maintaining their home. In our community, we cannot afford to spend such a large proportion of our income on this activity. In purely monetary terms then, I am thinking of spending roughly per person: - $100,000 on our land, $50,000 on our community buildings and items and $50,000 for each personıs accommodation (from the total assets per person of $200,000). Strangely enough, it makes life easier if you do not spend too much money on your accommodation because it forces you to build in a nice, simple, compact form. This form will be easier to build and will be more sustainable (as were the simple terrace houses of previous ages). The reason for my quote above is to remind you then, that the main reason most people build large, ornate houses in the swanky suburbs, is not to be comfortable but rather to proclaim their status to the rest of the world as to how wealthy and important they are. In my community, I am hoping my members will attain their status in the world by showing the world that they can live in a perfectly healthy, green, sustainable, self-sufficient manner. Such an achievement will be much more worthy of honour and glory than living in a large house.

 

This section falls very naturally into three principal parts.

1)      In the first part, I need to demonstrate that all our buildings are adequate and have all the facilities that our members could require.

2)      Then I need to show that our building forms are sustainable. This basically means that we can live in our buildings without using an excessive amount of energy.

3)      Finally I need to show that our buildings can be erected by normal people like you and me. Associated with this, I also need to show that our accommodation will not require too much expensive material and can be built for roughly $50,000.

        

 

6.2.1   Building Facilities

 

As regards the form of our buildings then, the first thing you will need to do is to turn back to page 26 and remind yourself of the plan of our buildings. You will first notice that all our buildings fall into two quite distinct classes. These are:-

1)      general community buildings and

2)      our accommodation.

         As regards the general community buildings, I have nothing much to say. In my plan on page 26, I have put down what I think is in appropriate set of buildings in sensible places and of roughly the correct sizes. I have assumed here that our local village does not have much of a social life. Thus our community would need a fairly complete set of social facilities and, in fact, we would be trying to get local people to join us in our activities. If the local village does have good social facilities then my centre would probably be too large. Thus our form must depend on the particular circumstance (and what people want). I have followed common practise and made all these buildings to consist of just a ground level.

 

However, as regards the form of our accommodation, I do have a lot to say. This is because providing a set of accommodation units that can cope with all our constantly varying requirements is quite a challenge. So trying to solve this challenge has been, for me, one of the great joys of this work. The following table gives the basic numbers associated with my form.

                                                                 HOUSING

                            ---------------Two Levels----------             ----------Three Levels------------

Houses                   Size m2  Units  People  Rooms             Size m2  Units  People  Rooms

  1-16                        200          4           4            9                            300         6           6           14

17-18                        133          2           2            5                            200         3           3             8

19-20                        267          4           6          13                            400         6           9           20

 

This table is given in terms of units for single people. Clearly I hope that most people will live in families in appropriately sized houses or units. It is just a little easier to start by considering single units and then to build up to larger forms from there. As you can see, the housing can be of either 2 or 3 levels and of three different types. For a start, it is best to consider just the most common form (the first line) and the 2 level case. This corresponds to the first half of the first line and what it is basically saying is that a house (which is 10 m x 10 m square) will consist of 4 units (corresponding to one on the left and one on the right for both levels). You now need to study the following detailed plan for a full house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

You will notice the following:-

1)      Because the normal width of a room is about 3 m, I have divided the whole of the house into 3 sections of room width size. {The extra meter, left over from the 10 m of house width, is for the wall widths.}

2)      On the ground level, the central section is used for access to the back garden and associated facilities. I then use the extra space, on the left hand side, for a laundry and storage facilities for bikes and similar things.

3)      The two side sections form the basic single person units. Each unit is divided into two rooms by a shower/toilet facility in the middle. The usage of the two rooms is optional. One could have either:

a)      a lounge/dining/kitchen room at the front and a bedroom at the back or

b)      a lounge/bedroom at the front and a kitchen/dining room at the back.

The water and drainage, associated with a toilet block, must then be extended to either the front or back for the sink and related facilities (depending on a) or b)).

4)      The ground floor plan can be repeated for the second level - except there is now some extra space in the central section (corresponding to the passageway below). I have used this area for a slightly larger bedroom at the back and some extra storage at the front. This extra space can be used by either of the top two units.

5)      The second level plan can be repeated exactly for a third level (if desired).

6)      The crucial facility of this plan is that it can now be easily adjusted to give larger elements just by opening or closing some of the doors. Thus:-

         a)      The ownership of the central bedroom at the top can be swapped between its two side units - simply by opening and closing either of the two side doors.

         b)      The whole of the top floors can be made into one large unit simply by opening both central side doors. This then gives a large 3-bedroom unit. However, it might be better to have the lounge and kitchen/dining room on one side and then permanently lock the entrance on the other side (so that children cannot sneak out unnoticed).

         c)      The whole of the top level, plus the left hand ground level unit, can bemade into one large town house simply by just giving sole access of the stair well to that large section.

         d)      The whole house can  simply be treated as a whole house.

 

The above system then can give most of the different sized units/town-houses that you could require. However a few things are missing. The most blatant thing that is missing is that there is no stand-alone 3-bedroomed house with its own garden. However this form can easily be obtained by simply building the standard 2 level form with no right hand section. This form is represented in houses 17 and 18 (although in the table it is represented as two units). This form can be extended upwards to give a large self-contained house. The trouble with this form is that it is a little inflexible.

The other thing that is missing is that there is no normal 2-bedroomed unit with separate kitchen/dining and lounge facilities (which a normal couple might require). However this facility can be obtained if we extend the right-hand side of the house to include an extra section - as shown in the following diagram.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see that this resulting unit has a slightly more standard form with living rooms at the front and bedrooms at the back. So this is the form that I use for houses 19 and 20. The form must of course be repeated above for the higher levels (otherwise the general house forms would be out of alignment). The upper levels can still be joined together to form quite large single level units. In this case, however, the extra door is now at the back of the lounge (just behind the front door).

 

This total form is not only flexible in how it can be arranged to give many housing forms but also in how it can be built and extended. Thus this form can be built house by house and also, if ground space runs out, extra levels can be added above (giving three levels or even more).

         In my allocation of total space for people, I think I have allowed sufficient room for normal living - but there would be insufficient room if people wished to have visitors. This is because I have envisaged that the community would always have quite a few spare units and any visitors could use these. It is usually easier to give visitors complete independent units and so let them have the chance to live a normal independent life (and not let either party get in each otherıs hair). Similarly our accommodation would not be large enough if people wanted to have a large party. However, our community centre would be ideal for holding functions like this and there would be plenty of time when some of the facilities would be available to individual members. So there should not be any problem accommodating such functions.


6.2.2   Sustainability

 

This is all I have to say on the general nature of our buildings - so we now come on to the problem of whether we can make our buildings sustainable (i.e. not use too much energy in trying to maintain a comfortable internal temperature). Clearly the form I have developed so far, should make this reasonably easy because, in comparison with most current housing forms, my housing form has a relatively small amount of external surface area (in comparison with its internal volume).

Now, before I can go any further on this topic, I first need to check that you are familiar with the general concepts associated with sustainable buildings. This is basically that a good sustainable building should have a good coat of insulation on the outside and plenty of thermal bulk on the inside. So the way that the building would work is that, during the summer when it is hot, you would exclude the heat during the day by closing and insulating the windows. Then at night you would open the windows and let the cool night breeze cool the thermal bulk inside (or force it to with a fan). Conversely then, during the winter when it is cold, you would keep the insulated windows closed during the night but then during the day, when the sun is shining, you open the curtains so that the sun can shine on a nice black mat (and hence warm up the thermal bulk). So you hope to remain cool during the summer and warm during the winter.

         That is the theory but of course things donıt usually work quite as easily as this in practise. Thus, if you live in the tropics with high humidity and high night time temperatures, then there is nothing much you can do at all. Thus you would have to use those terrible energy-hungry air-conditioners (or simply get used to it - as people always did in previous days). Fortunately I am not trying to form a green self-sufficient community in the tropics. In general these days, it has become far easier to keep oneself warm rather than to keep oneself cool. This is because insulation materials (i.e. Styrofoam) have become so good and cheap that, if a building is well insulated, then the body heat of the inhabitants will often be sufficient to keep a building at a sufficiently warm temperature. Moreover, a building can be warmed by low-grade energy (i.e. simple heat) - whereas cooling needs to use high-grade energy (i.e. electricity). Fortunately the temperature of 25 degrees Celsius, at which most people feel comfortable, is slightly above the average ambient temperature.

 

We should naturally try to follow this standard practise. Thus, in my plan for housing, the four longways, solid internal walls for each house have been designed to provide plenty of internal thermal bulk. Besides this, these walls have been designed so that, when the windows are open, any cross breeze will naturally flow past them (so they can be warmed or cooled when the time is appropriate). So the thermal bulk and its warming or cooling should not be a problem. As regards the external light thermal cover, the major problem is often that local council laws will try and forbid you from putting one on (as least from doing so in the cheapest possible manner). Thus if we were to cover all our buildings with a 3 cm thickness of Styrofoam (an excellent form of insulation) the local neighbours would probably object on the grounds that it was unsightly – and they would have a point. Clearly the Styrofoam must be covered by something else and I will discuss this further in section 6.6 (Energy) – for the moment it is sufficient to say that it must be done and that it shouldnıt be all that difficult to do. It is mostly a problem of aesthetics.

 

That leaves us with the very vexatious problem of windows: –  how they should be used, how big they should be and how they be should insulated. I will deal with the problems in this order.

         I think the general solution of opening the windows at night and letting a cross draught cool the thermal inside bulk is as excellent method of dealing with the hot weather. However the idea of using the windows as the sole form of warming oneıs accommodation is not very practical. One needs a solar heating system (for oneıs hot water system) in any case and so it is easier to extend this facility a little further and use hot water for radiators as well. Because all our buildings are very close together, our community can have a unified hot water system for hot water and house warming. Thus, if you look at my plan on page 26, you will see that there is a lump of blue colour at the back of the community centre. This represents a well-insulated large hot water tank that is ready and waiting to provide hot water to the community whenever they need it. The details associated with this will be covered in section 6.6 on energy.

         Directly opposite to where I live there is a very large box of a building without any outside windows at all. This is Ashfield mall. The reason that it has no windows is probably because its designers knew the facts of life – these facts are that, if you have an air-conditioned building (maintaining a very comfortable temperature), then windows will add significantly to oneıs energy bill. Inside the mall, nearly all walls are made of glass giving a feeling of light and openness everywhere. So the lack of external windows can go almost unnoticed inside. In housing, however, external windows are of course essential – but if you want your building to be sustainable then you must limit their size. Thus, if you look at my plans in detail, you will see that my windows arenıt real big. The same should apply to the depth of the windows as well. Thus the windows onto the balconies should not go down to the ground - so when you step out into the balcony you must expect to lift your legs high. There is nothing wrong with doing a minor bit of exercise when stepping onto the balcony.

         I have yet to see a modern window system that will give adequate insulation at a reasonable price. The old fashioned system used to consist of: - wooden shutters on the outside, then normal glass windows and then finally thick curtains. This form would give adequate insulation but unfortunately it is hard to use because it is difficult to close the outer shutters from inside (at least for those of us that like our modern conveniences). My suggestion, that would give adequate insulation, is then the following. Firstly, we should have the normal fly/mosquito netting on the outside and then a normal sliding window system. Then, on the inside, we should have a sliding insulation panel system. Each panel would consist of:-

a)      a reflective surface on the outside (probably shiny aluminium foil),

b)      1 cm thickness of Styrofoam and

c)      an aesthetically pleasing cloth covering on the inside.

The difficulty with this system would be that the panel must slide past the window (so that it does not impede the view through the window). However, if this panel was in fact made like a normal window and consisted of 2 connected panels, then the first panel could be slid till it was next to the second and then both be slid into a recess area on the side. This means that the recess area only needs to be half the area of the window (and a normal room could accommodate this reasonably easily). {The two panels can be connected by flanges so that opening and closing the first panel will automatically open or close the second.} It will mean that the concrete blocks in the recess area should only be 20 cm wide (rather than the normal 25 cm width) - but this should not matter too much. The insulation panels should slide quite easily because, although they would be wider than glass panels, they would be much lighter.      When I initially looked at this problem, I was keen to use air gaps between the various elements as my major form of insulation. However the opening and closing process tended to mean that the air gaps would always be too big. The important thing here is to make sure that the air gaps are not too large (otherwise nasty small circular eddy currents will occur and heat will be carried across the air gaps by convection). One centimetre is the approved width for a non-conducting air gap and all my gaps turned out to be too big. Thus this sliding panel system is the best system I can work out. Thus it should be possible to insulate our windows reasonably well. But it will not be easy and it will need a lot of careful thought.

 

         I will do all calculations associated with this insulation system in my energy section (6.6). The basic result, from these calculations, will be that an average temperature differential between the outside and the inside temperatures of 10 degrees will, over a day, change the inside temperature by less than a degree (with the windows closed of course). Thus you can see that the system of using the optimum external temperatures to regulate our inside temperatures should work out very well indeed.

 

 

 

6.2.3   Construction

 

Finally we come to the question of whether we, as individuals, can successfully construct these buildings. If you have studied my plans carefully then you should realise that this should not be too difficult. Thus all my housing is very simple and highly repetitive – this makes them rather boring - but it also makes them easy to build. Thus, as regards the flooring, all you need is one standard beam of length 3.5 m long (to span the 3 m gap). So all you have to do is to place these beams in the correct positions (when the walls have been built to the correct height) and then to put the flooring on top of them. A similar situation applies for everything else. So, as everything is repeated so often, all the various elements can be made in our construction building and then the building operation simply consists of either screwing, nailing or gluing all these pre-made elements together. So we will have no difficult measuring or awkward fitting problems to deal with at all (quite unsporting in a way).

 

So far I have avoided the awkward question of - what materials our buildings should be made from, partially because I am not quite sure. Iıll do my best to make a few suggestions now. Thus, for all the following 8 elements, I will first suggest the materials and then, for a standard single person unit, I will give the total volume of material that is required. From this then, the total cost of imported materials can be calculated per person. To get the costs, I simply went to Bunnings for a couple of hours and then made some rough calculations. If you have any idea of the correct costs, please tell me. Finally, from all this, you should be able to see whether my estimate that a personıs accommodation should only cost $50,000 is reasonable.

 

1)      Walls

As we want our walls to have plenty of thermal bulk, it is best to make them out of the cheapest material available. This is probably a low grade form of concrete made from the most suitable local dirt and cement. This would then be made into blocks (in the construction building) and then the walls would be formed from these blocks. The total volume required per unit is then:-

                  2 x 10 x 3 x .25  +  2 x 5 x 3 x .25  =       22.5 m3

where the first part represents the 2 side walls and the second part represents the front and back walls. The wall width is assumed to be .25 m.

         Cost of cement per m3  = $200

         Total cost                     = $4,500

         Our walls will also need reinforced concrete foundations.

Total volume per unit           = .5x.5x(2x10 + 2x5)x(1/4 + 1/6)

                                               = 3.15 m3

Cost of cement and steel /m3 = $500

Total cost                              = $1,575

 

 

 

2)      Flooring

This is the most difficult element of all and I am unclear about what is the best thing to do. There seem to be three options. These are:-

a)      The most obvious option is to have normal wood floors (i.e. floor-boards supported by wooden beams). The disadvantages of this option are that: - it needs a large amount of imported material and there will be an increased fire hazard.

b)      This option is to have a solid reinforced concrete floor (as is used in most blocks of units). The disadvantages of this are that the setting up of the support scaffolding and the internal metal work is a difficult task that requires a lot of expertise. Also it usually means that a lot of ready made concrete mixers will have to move through our community. It does not seem a very suitable operation for a small community.

c)      This third option is my personal preference. This option is that the floor should be made up of well-made reinforced concrete beams and floor panels (made in our construction building). Thus the beams would support the floor panels (that would be made to fit between them, thus forming the floor). The beams and floor panels must be made with indents and protrusions so that they can all fit together tightly and give mutual support to each other. These joints, together with the indents and protrusions, are shown in the following two diagrams.

 

                                     The beam and panel elements join (a detailed side view)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

                            THE TWO PANEL ELEMENT JOIN (parallel to the beams)

 

 

 

 

 

These joints should also be sealed together with a cement-like glue substance to give extra rigidity. The disadvantage of this system is that, as far as I know, it has not been tried and so it may not work at all.

         Fortunately the two main options (a) and (c) appear to cost roughly the same amount. So I can still give a cost.

         Floor area per unit       = 50 m2

         Cost per m2                  = $50

         Total cost                     = $2,500

 

3)      The Roofs

The roofs of our buildings will be a reasonably well-used facility. Thus they will certainly be used for PV and hot water panels and water collection. Besides this they may also be used for drying, sun-bathing and even as a play area. Thus they will need a normal floor and our stair-wells must be continued upwards so that everyone can have easy access. Above the floor there must be the usual coat of insulation (Styrofoam) and then a gap for the water collection pipes and a bit of air circulation (about 5 cm I imagine). Above this, there must be either horizontal water collection tiles (see Water section 6.7) or energy panels. These items must naturally be supported at all their corners by little blocks. The cost of the insulation will be included in item 8) and the cost of the energy panels and tiles will be dealt with in the sections on Energy (6.6) and Water (6.7). This leaves us to deal with the roof part here.

Pro-rata area of roof per unit                  = 50 x (1/4 + 1/6)      = 21 m2

         Cost per m2                  = $50

         Total cost                     = $1,050

 

 

4)      Light internal walls

Fairly clearly our light walls will be made in the usual way from timber and plaster-board. The total length of internal walls, per unit, is given by

                            7  +  14x(1/4 + 1/6)  +  10x(1/4 + 2/6)  =  19 m

         Cost per m                            = $20

         Total cost                     = $380

{Iım sorry about all these horrible fractions. It is just that there are several options for the central sections and it is awkward to pro-rata these sections correctly over an average unit.}

 

5)      Doors and Stairs

These two items will clearly be made out of wood so I include them together.

Number of doors per unit    = 3 + 5x(1/4 + 1/6)  +  4x(1/4 + 2/6)  = 7.5

Cost per door                                 = $150

Total cost                                        = $1,125

Wood cost of half a set of stairs    = $300

 

6)      Windows

The materials associated with windows have already been covered in my paragraph on windows.

Number of windows per unit                                    = 3

Cost per window (a 1.5 m2 sized window)     = $200

         Total cost                                                          = $ 600

 

7)      Fittings

Most of our fittings must of course be imported - so the purpose of this paragraph is to simply - list the essential items, give their individual costs and so then work out the total cost. The various items are:-

         Carpet etc,  area 30 m2,  cost per m2  $40         ,  Total cost    = $1,200

         Shower $150,        Toilet $150,      Sink unit $200,    Extractor Fan  $30,         

         Kitchen sink unit  $250

         Plumbing facilities, Electrical power leads and sockets, meters etc  $500$

The services duct is that little rectangle in the toilet in the corner nearest the front room. This duct will go vertically from a human accessible channel below, through the units and then onto the roof. This duct will be used for air extraction as well. Because this duct is so close to the plumbing outlets, our plumbing requirements should be quite low. I have assumed that we should follow the North-American example and so have no roof lighting at all. If you wish to keep your power needs low then it is best to have your light precisely where you need it. Thus you should use a movable light stand. I discuss this problem more fully in the energy section. Also, because our power needs will be so low, we should only need one circuit breaker (and this can be set at no more than 2 kilo-watts per unit).

         Total fittings cost                           = $2,480

 

8)      External Insulation

Styrofoam seems to be as good an insulation material as you can get. However it needs to be covered by something that will prevent it from weathering and that will make it more aesthetically acceptable. I donıt know how to cover it - but I can deal with the Styrofoam.

Area required               = 3x5x2  +  10x5x(1/4 + 1/6)       =   54 m2

Cost (for 3 cm thickness) per m2   = $9.6

Total cost                                        = $518

 

Thus the compete cost of imported materials, per unit, would be      = $15,028.

So I think it is reasonable to assume that each unit could be built for less than $50,000.

 


 

6.2.4 Summary

 

This has been a longish section, so let us go back and remember the salient facts that come out of all the work. They are:

1)      We can all live very comfortably in a modern form of terrace housing. It is also possible to build this housing in such a way that it will suit both single people and any size of family. In fact the terraces can be altered to a different configuration simply by opening or locking some doors.

2)      By building these terraces with plenty of internal thermal bulk and by giving them some good external insulation on the outside, these terraces will need very little heating or cooling except in extreme weather conditions. I have given all these essential details here but the detailed energy calculations I have left to the energy section.

3)      Finally we will be able build all our buildings reasonably easily ourselves. Furthermore each basic unit should cost only about $15,000 in imported materials and appliances and so we should be able to build them for less than $50,000.

 

 

 

6.2.5 The Complete Capital Cost of Everything

 

At some point in time I need to make an estimate of the total capital cost of everything. Clearly this should preferably be done at the end when everything has been described in detail. However, unfortunately, my last sections are all about the executive and how everything will be run - and this has nothing to do with costs. So I donıt want to do it there. Furthermore I donıt want to create a whole new section on the subject of costing because the figures are all far too iffy. So it seems best to do this final costing here because at least all the major costs (associated with agriculture and buildings) have been covered. It means we need to jump forwards, just a little bit, and pick out a few costs we will generate in later sections. But this should not be any great hassle.

 

As in the case when I worked out the costs for each unit, here I will likewise only work in terms of imported materials and appliances. At the end I will talk just a little bit about the internal labour required. Similarly I will give the costs in terms of per person rather in terms of the community. However when a figure is better understood in terms of the total community cost then I give this as well.

 

1)      Land Purchase Cost

I have assumed our land will cost $100,000 per hectare and we need 20 hectares. Hence

Per person our cost is                     $100,000x20/100                                             =$20,000

 

2)      Reforming the land

Our land could need quite a lot of reforming to provide relatively flat land for our agriculture and houses, and also to provide us with reservoirs for our water. The cost of this operation will mostly be in terms of our own labour, but we will also need to hire some earth moving equipment and purchase a significant amount of fuel as well. I have allowed $500,000 for these external expenses.

Hence per person our external costs are          $500,000/100                       =$5,000

 

3)      Fencing

Our outside fence is about 2,500 m long and I allow $10 per metre for imported materials for this fence. Our agricultural fence is only about 1,200 m long but it must be much more substantial. So I allow $20 per metre in this case.

So cost per person is             ($10x2500 + $20x1200)/100                                     =$490

 

4)      Agriculture

The figures for this come from the diagram in section 6.1.2 (but you need to also remember that a person only needs 500 m2 of agricultural land).

Water and power supply     30 m at $15 per m                          =$450

Water sprinklers                    5     at $50 each                              =$250

Posts                                               30 posts at $20 each                      =$600

Support wires                       60 m at $5 per m                                     =$300

Netting, assuming only 200 m2 needs covering, at $5 per m2     =$1,000

Total costs per person                                                                                     =$1,600

The facilities in the agricultural building will be included in all the other buildings.

 

5)      Buildings

Our accommodation costs for our imported materials and appliances has be calculated in a reasonable amount of detail in section 6.2.3.

Thus our cost per unit is                                                              =$15,000

It would be far too hard to be very specific about our other buildings and all their varied appliances. I will be very rough indeed then. If we were to say $1,000,0000 for the whole lot then this would give a figure per person                                             =$10,000

This would seem to be a reasonable estimate because it is a little smaller than our accommodation. Our other buildings have only half the floor space of our accommodation and our accommodation also included a large number of appliances.

Thus our total building imported costs per person is                                             =$25,000

This therefore includes the costs of large number of departments – namely Social Activities, Care and Education, Recycling, Communication, Work-Shop and the Executive because the capital costs of these departments is simply in terms of their buildings.

 

6)      Transport

Our community will need between 10 and 20 vehicles. If we say $500,000 for this then

Our costs per person will be                   $500,000/100                                          =$5,000

 

7)      Service Ducts

These facilities are described at the start of the SERVICES section. They consist of three parts:

Vertical ducts per unit, 3 m at $20 per m                                             =$60

Horizontal ducts, 500 m /100 at $40 per m                               =$200

Gauges per unit                                                                            =$400

Total imported cost for these facilities is                                                                 =$660

 

8)      Energy

This has been calculated in a reasonable amount of detail in section 6.6.5.

Thus the total imported cost per person is                                                    =$5,000

 

9)      Water

Our water costs have two components:

Water collection (tiles etc)    500 m2 at $10 per m2                      =$5,000

Pipes, pumps and the high storage        $200,000/100              =$2,000

Thus our total imported cost per person is                                                    =$7,000

 

So our total imported and external costs per person are                               =$69,750

 

Clearly this figure is very approximate indeed. Hopefully, however, my reasoning associated with the figures should be sufficient to persuade you that our community can be built for about $200,000 per person. The majority of this money will go to the members of our community who actually do the physical work (mostly the younger ones).

         I may have given the impression that our community could be built in total before we actually all move in. Clearly this is impossible if we wish our construction work to be done by the members of the community (in order to increase their equity). The complete construction must be a very gradual process and probably take about 20 years to complete. At the end of these 20 years, some of our capital items will need to be replaced. However this shouldnıt be a problem because, when everything is set up, our community should start to have an excess of wealth (in terms of our spare time).

 

 

 

 


6.3    Transport

 

Blessed relief – finally we come to some nice short sections. On certain activities there is not much that needs to be said. This applies particularly to transport because what will need to be done will depend very much on the particular physical position of the community. So this section can be very short.

 

Transport is required in two different areas i.e. either internal to the community or external to the community. Iıll deal with the internal form first because this is easier. Basically I think that all internal journeys can be made by foot and any loads can carried by hand-pushed carts. So our system would be the same as I have already described in agriculture. The fact that our community is very compact, with a lot of nice, level, paved paths, will make everything very easy.

Our workshop will have the job of making the carts because simple light-weight carts, made of aluminium with four pneumatically tired wheels, simply arenıt readily available in the current world. The local guy that makes my wheel-chair could do a job like this very easily indeed. So making the carts shouldnıt be too difficult.

 

As regards external transport, I think our community will certainly need its own van for normal purchasing and delivery. Also the community would probably need between 5 and 10 cars that all members can use for their own personal journeys (but of course pay the costs themselves). This should allow us all to lead a fairly normal life when we want to and yet still feel fairly green.

Whether we have any further transport is very heavily dependent on how close our local village is, and how good the village public transport system is, to the local town. As you have seen in section 5.1 my community form is such that it could be situated right adjacent to a village centre and so in this case no transport should be needed to go to the village. Even if our community was 2 or 3 times further than this, one could still very easily walk to the village. So I will assume we can walk. However I certainly wonıt assume that our village has a reasonably frequent bus service to the local town (after all nearly every Australian household has a car). Thus I think our community needs a couple of small buses (perhaps an 8 and a 12 seater) that would make regular trips into the local town. The community should encourage the local village people to use this facility as well. I will assume that our local town has a good regular public transport system to the local city – so when you can get to the town centre you should also be able to get to the city fairly easily.

Members could also own and use their own private cars. However this practise should not be encouraged too much. Thus members should have to leave their cars in the parking at the front of our community and then finish their journey to their house by foot (like every one else). Also they would have to pay extra for their parking area. The Australian community, in general, encourages the use of cars by providing all the facilities that a car needs (as part of the standard service that everyone pays for). We should certainly avoid doing this.

 

Finally our community needs to be able to do as much of the servicing of these vehicles as is possible. To be able to do this, our vehicles need to be as simple and as similar to each other as possible - so we should purchase them with these features in mind. As regards our regular journeys to the local town, it would be nice if we could use battery-powered vehicles for this purpose (because battery-powered vehicles are ideal for such short regular journeys). However, at the moment, the car manufacturing industry is in the process of destroying the electric cars they have already developed – they have suddenly realized that electric cars are relatively simple and will require very little maintenance – so by producing electric cars they would be doing themselves out of work. So we have a problem. Worse still, this sort of situation is a very fundamental problem that will occur many times in our search for self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency will always be effectively taking work away from big business. So big business will always try to avoid manufacturing the items that a self-sufficient community will require. So we will have to look after ourselves. Such is life – life wasnıt meant to be easy.

 

Hopefully this is all I need to say on the subject of transport.

 

 

 

 

 

6.4    Social Activities

 

We, as normal humans, probably spend the majority of our time purely being social. So it is therefore essential that our community provide sufficient social activities for our members. Otherwise our members must seek their social outlets elsewhere and this will be expensive in both time and in transport costs. A community of 100 people is limited in the number of activities it can support – but it must do its best. I think our community needs to provide at least the following facilities (as a start).

 

1)      A large meeting room (or a small hall)

A large meeting room that can accommodate the full community is essential for our normal weekly/voting process (as I have detailed in section 5.4). Hopefully this room would also be used for other more strictly social activities.

 

2)      A Bakery/Café

This facility has already been discussed in section 6.1.1. The only thing I want to add now is that I probably made it too big.

 

3)      A T.V. Room

I think that our community should be trying to persuade its members not to watch T.V. at home too much (particularly the children). Thus the community needs to provide a T.V. room for communal watching. It is much better to watch T.V. in a crowd so you can interact with your friends at the same time. It also means that the community has some chance of limiting the quantity and quality of T.V. that people are watching.

 

4)      A Book/Reading Room

It is a nice, easy, social activity to read in a place where other people are reading. It is even better to read the same books as other people so that you can discuss the books with them afterwards. A communal reading room allows this sort of thing to happen. The room can also be a depository for books supporting self-sufficiency.

 

5)      A Games Room

Most people nowadays do their game playing on a computer or through the internet. I am old-fashioned in this respect and prefer games like chess, draughts, Go or Monopoly. However, whatever game you play, it is still better to play the game in a social environment.

 

6)      A Bar

A bar is an obvious essential. It probably needs to be attached to the meeting room/hall.

 

7)      A Childrenıs Playground

This is another obvious essential for a community like ours.

 

8)      A Playing Field

You might notice that most of the facilities I am giving our community are simply slightly larger extensions to the facilities that a normal large family home might have in any case. A ŒPlaying Fieldı is no different and it simply corresponds the lawn of a normal family. The difficulty about a playing field is not to create one, but rather to make sure it is well used. This means that our community needs to form groups of people that actually want to play games outside.

 

9)      Nature/Wildlife Land

Somebody within our community needs to be in charge of our 9 hectares of natural land and the best option for this purpose seems to be our social department. Hopefully then our community would have a little nature club and this group would do the work of making any little adjustments to the land that they thought that the community as a whole might appreciate. Thus this group would choose which forms of flora and fauna they wished to encourage and which forms they should eradicate (presumably the exotics).

 

I think these are all the facilities our community definitely needs to have. Other facilities will be dependent on whatever facilities the local village has itself. Such extra facilities are things like: - a swimming pool, a tennis court, a dance hall and perhaps a little church. However there is one extra item that I think our community ought to have and this is - an activity which is special to them (but which the local people would like to join in). So this would be an activity that the neighbouring people would join in and hence allow them to see what our community is like. Any activity would do for this purpose but in my plan for the centre of my community I have assumed it would be a Saturday night dance (for which our community would provide the band). So my centre has been designed with a slightly larger hall than is strictly necessary. I am a firm believer that a village community ought to have a Saturday night dance - and I am afraid most villages donıt. So our community ought to go out of its way to create a good dance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


6.5    Education and Care

 

Our community is far too small to consider taking too much responsibility for either education or care. However there are aspects of these activities that such a community could take care of very well indeed. So, in this section, I detail those aspects.

 

By far the most important educational activities that our community must run are the courses that I spoke of at length in section 5.3 (run by all 15 officers). The giving, attending, learning and exam-setting associated with these courses will (and should) take a very substantial amount of time for all members of our community. However this activity is mostly associated with the adult members of our community. When I was young, an important facet of my life were the various activities associated with the scouting movement. Scouting tends to teach self-reliance - and this is a bit akin to self-sufficiency. So what our community could do is run a scouting like function (i.e. cubs, brownies, guides, scouts, rangers and rovers). This activity would need to be done in conjunction with the local village community because there would not be enough young people in our community to form such a group. When I was drawing up the centre (as shown on page 34) and I put in the word ŒYOUTHı - this is the kind of facility that I had in mind for that area. However one must tailor oneıs ambitions as to how many kids you can get to come along and how many people you can get to run the show. As one who has had some experience in these matters, it isnıt real easy to get anyone out into the bush these days. However we should do our best.

 

People need care for two distinct periods in their lives – when they are very young and when they are very old. Let us deal with the Œyoungı case first. In my diagram on page 34, I scrawled the word ŒCHILDı near the front of my community centre. This is supposed to represent a child-care centre. My community is an ideal place to have children and so, hopefully, it should be well used. I see no reason why a mother (or a father) should be tied to their children all day long - because in general it is so unnecessary. Thus I think this facility should be free of charge. There are plenty of older people without much to do (myself for one) who would be happy to look after children when convenient. Alternatively the mums can stay with their children and spend the time chatting with the other mums - as happens in most mothersı groups.

         My community would also be quite convenient for older people. Thus there are plenty of small compact units where people can sit and watch the busy life around them – thus it is the sort of place where I would like to spend my declining years. Older people need medical facilities and in my diagram on page 36 the building marked ŒINDEPENDENTı is a building that could house such medical people. A community of 100 people is certainly not large enough to support any fulltime medical people. Thus my building marked ŒINDEPENDENTı is for people who want to work independently and so wish to serve our community and the local village community as well (hence it is on the public road). Doctors, nurses, physios etc all tend to fall into this category. It is convenient for our community to provide such a facility because they then have a better opportunity of persuading such suitable people to take up residence there.

         There is a tendency for people to feel that communities like the one I am suggesting should take full responsibility for the care of the elderly. For example this is what happens in the Kibbutz in Israel. I disagree with this concept completely. In the community that I am suggesting, people will have plenty of opportunity to earn an almost excessive amount of money when they are getting older. There is nothing wrong with the old people simply using some of this wealth to pay for the care they wish to receive. It allows the old people to get rid of some of their excess of wealth and it allows them to choose the people they think are competent to look after them. This is precisely the sort of situation that I would like to have when I am old. The idea of a community taking full responsibility for my life just fills me with horror and loathing – Iıd rather be dead.

 

So, hopefully, you can see our community can carry out some very useful aspects of the work-load associated with education and care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


B)      SERVICES

 

These days most services are supplied either by pipe-lines or wires (of one kind or another). So, before describing each service, I now need to describe how these services will be delivered in general. But perhaps before doing this, I need to list all the services that will be needed. These are:-

a)      Hot water (see section 6.6),

b)      Normal water (see section 6.7),

c)      Drinking water (see section 6.7),

d)      Electricity (see section 6.6),

e)      Communication wires (i.e. phone, internet and TV lines) (see section 6.9),

f)       Used water and excreta (to our compost facility) (see section 6.8),

g)      Collected water (from our roofs, paths etc) (see section 6.7),

h)      Extracted air from our toilets to the outside (see section 6.2),

i)       Usage recording wires (see section 6.6).

         As there are so many services and they are so important, I think that they must be carried in services ducts that will be accessible at all times. These ducts then must be of two forms:-

 

1)      Horizontal underground ducts

These are the major ducts that will carry our services between our various buildings and our houses. To make these ducts accessible at all times, I think they need to be a little more than a meter in height and a little less than a meter in width so that a person in crouched position can walk through. The service pipes and wires would then be attached to one side of the duct. Usually these ducts will lie beneath our buildings and, in this case, they will simply consist of a trench a bit deeper than the usual gap between the bottom floor and the ground. When going through open ground, however, the ducts will clearly need a good covering (and possibly concrete walls as well). From my given plan on page 34, you can see there would be about 400 m of ducts covered by buildings and only about 100 m of ducts that would need to be covered. Thus the covering problem should not be too extensive. It would help enormously if our compost building was at a lower height than all our other buildings because then our ŒUsed water and excretaı and ŒCollected waterı could flow to their destination without too much difficulty (otherwise pumps would need to be used).

         A very important advantage of having our ducts very accessible is that it means that the meters that measure the amount of Hot water and Electricity that each unit uses can be placed directly beneath each unit (where the service lines of the unit branch away from the communal service lines). Thus these meters can then also be serviced without requiring access into each unit.

 

2)      Vertical ducts (serving individual units)

We then need some vertical ducts to access each unit and I have organised that these ducts shall go through each unit via the little rectangle in the toilet/shower room (as shown in section 6.2). The hot water pipe would feed into the hot water tank on the toilet side while the electricity and communication lines would branch immediately into the lounge. These ducts must continue onto the roof to allow for air extraction. The rest of the facilities would leave or join the duct as convenient. These ducts would not be immediately accessible but one side of the duct should be detachable and so access could be obtained if something went wrong. Smaller versions of these ducts would also exist in all the community buildings as well as the house laundries.

 

The position of all these ducts is shown in the diagram on page 34 (they are the red lines and dots).

 

 

 

5.6    Energy

 

So finally we now come to the crucial question: Can our community become fully self-sufficient in energy? I hope to show that we can – it wonıt be very easy – but, if we are careful and donıt waste any, then it can be done. However, before getting down to any of the details, I had better review all the possible forms of Œgreenı energy. The actual choice, for a community of our size, will actually be fairly obvious. However it is useful to review all the various possibilities because some of these options will be applicable to our larger communities.

 

Iıll divide the possible sources into two groups – non-solar and solar. Within these groups, I will start with the least applicable sources first and so get them out of the way quickly.

 

Nuclear energy is clearly the least applicable source of energy. Thus it is very dangerous and it needs big business to run it. So we can forget that. Thermal energy from deep in the ground is a difficult technical task and you have to be in the correct region to use it. So we can forget that. The same situation, to a lesser extent, applies to wave or tide energy – so I wonıt consider these sources as well.

Hydro-power, of course, is a perfect source of energy - but naturally it has now nearly all been used already. However a very important aspect of hydro-power, that needs to be remembered, is that it can be used for temporary energy storage. Thus water can be pumped back up into a reservoir and about 90% of its energy be regained. {90% is the figure that I have heard but it sounds too good. I would have thought 80% was a more likely figure.} Thus such a reservoir can act as a very large battery (and a very efficient battery as well in the correct circumstances). For a substantially sized community this is the only reasonably practical form of energy storage that I know of - and as such it is very important indeed.

The final form of energy in this category is wind power and this can be a very useful source of power. However I tend not to consider it because:-

a)      one has to be in the correct location,

b)      the very high large wind farms tend to do a better job (which a small community cannot afford),

c)      the amount of power for a given area that can be extracted from this source is limited.

Nevertheless, if our community was situated in a good location for the collection of wind power, then we would naturally use it.

 

Finally we come to the solar sources and these sources are in general better because the amount of energy we receive from the sun far exceeds any of our possible human needs on earth. I include ŒBiomassı in this category because basically its energy is derived from the sun. The major disadvantage of this source in Australia is that it needs a large amount of water (which we donıt have). Also it uses good agricultural land and it would tend to degrade such land (as opposed to my agricultural system which would tend to improve such land). The advantage of the form is that it can be stored easily and then used when required. As such it could be harvested and stored and then used on cold winter nights when the sun hasnıt shone for a while. We should do this in a very minor manner and I will give the details later.

         Solar Thermal Power (i.e. concentrating the suns rays through reflector dishes and then producing power) is possibly the most efficient method for producing electricity from the sun. However it is quite a complex process and best considered to be a big business operation. So I donıt consider it. This leaves the standard hot water elements (you see on roofs) and Photo-Voltaic (PV) panels as our possible energy sources. So these are the ones we must use. However, before going any further, I need to discuss the differing qualities of energy.

 

         The three principal forms of energy in use today are:-

1)      Electricity (or its physical equivalent e.g. the potential energy of a dam),

2)      High temperature heat (e.g. the concentrated rays of the sun or the burning of fuel),

3)      Low temperature heat (e.g. hot water or accommodation heating).

These 3 forms of energy are measured in the same way and, by the law of conservation of energy, are in one sense equivalent. However, by the second law of thermodynamics, they are certainly not equivalent because, if you wish to change into a different form, then it is very easy to go down the list - but it is jolly hard to go back up the list. {In fact it is almost impossible for a small community like ours to go back up the list unless we buy specific machines to do the task for us.} This basically means that, in our community, we must conserve our electricity for the circumstances where it is essential (and hence do our heating using the lower forms of energy).

 

This in turn means that the order of this section must be:-

1)      Facilities,

2)      Units,

3)      Insulation,

4)      Heating, Cooling and Hot Water,

5)      Electricity,

because we first need to work out how much energy we can save by using good insulation and hot water, and then we can deal with the more difficult problem of generating sufficient electricity.

 

 

6.6.1   Facilities

 

I have said that we will obtain our energy by hot-water panels and PV panels - and clearly these facilities should be located on our roofs. Our roofs will be very suitable for this purpose because they will be flat and very accessible. Thus we can organise that: - all our collection panels will face exactly the correct direction, - we can keep them clean - and even adjust their elevation angles to fit the seasons.

         It will be very convenient to keep all our hot water panels together so that they can heat the hot-water together (with less heat loss). The best place for this would be the roof of our community centre because this is our largest roof and it is also very central. It is very important that these panels are central so that we do not lose too much heat on transportation.

         The other roofs would be used for our PV panels. There should be plenty of room on our roofs for these purposes - as I shall show later.

 

There are actually two sides to the energy problem - firstly to supply the energy and then how to store it until it is needed. The panels will supply the energy but now we need to consider how we will store it.

         As regards electricity, I shall assume that we shall connect up to the Australian electricity grid and then use this system as our energy storage form. This is not the strictly self-sufficient thing to do but it is difficult to do anything else at the present stage. Thus batteries are expensive and, when worn-out, they become an environmental problem. I will return to this problem in our much larger independent community where we will be in a better situation to consider other options. Also as regards irrigation, I will give a partial solution because this is the most essential activity that we must carry out (see next section). But, for the time being, this is the best we can do.

 

However, as regards heating and hot-water, we must take care of the problem completely ourselves. Thus I think we must have a large hot water tank in our community centre - to which Iıll give a capacity of 40 m3 and a temperature of 70 degrees. If all our units were served directly from this tank then this temperature would be too hot for showers and the total situation (and the mixing process with cold water) would result in oneıs showers running horribly hot and cold (a situation that I am sure that you are very familiar with). Thus I will give each unit an individual tank of 45 litres with a temperature of 50 degrees, obtained by mixing our hot water with normal water. It is this water that would be used for normal domestic use.

 

One of the problems associated with our energy forms is that its price must depend completely on the cost of its installation - and this cost will depend on the maximum demand we cater for. Unfortunately, for something like hot water for heating, the natural maximum demand will be far higher than the average demand. Thus, to limit our costs, we must either limit or charge a high price during times of high demand. This in turn means we will need to measure all the rates of usage of the units during times of high demand. So the normal meters that simply add the usage over a 3 months period are not really adequate. The best way to solve this problem then is to have a constantly monitoring system that will send all the sampled usage rates to a computer in our centre. So this is what my Œusage recording wiresı are for. I donıt think the price for this should be too high. The other alternative is for members, during times of peak usage, to record their individual usage (and this would form the basis of their payment). However this must be randomly checked and, if anyone is cheating, then they must pay a high penalty. So this other alternative is not very acceptable.

 

This is all I want to say, in a general way, about our facilities because all other decisions require a lot of detailed calculation. And, before we can do this, we have to decide what units we ought to use.


6.6.2   Units

 

In energy, there is a problem about units because different units are appropriate for different occasions. Thus: - Œcaloriesı are appropriate when talking about heat, - a height/weight measure is appropriate when talking about physical work and - kilowatt hours are appropriate when talking about paying oneıs bills. In a way, the correct modern thing to do is to use just one fundamental unit (which is the Œjouleı). The difficulty with this is that people tend to lose any physical feeling of what they are talking about. I tend to be old-fashioned and think it is enormously important that a person does have a physical idea of what they are talking about. So what I do is to start with the natural unit and then quickly relate it to the fundamental unit. Thus I need a conversion table and this is given below.

 

                                               ENERGY CONVERSIONS

 

                                                        Kcalories      Tonne Meter      MegaJoule   Kilowatt Hour

 

Kilocalories (Kcals)                    =           1                 .426                     .00418        .00116

(raise a litre of water 1 degree)

Tonne Meter                               =           2.35                1                      .00981        .00272

(raise a tonne 1 meter)

MegaJoule (MJoule)                   =       239                 102                      1                 .278

 

Kilowatt Hour (Kwh)                =       860                 367                      3.60            1

 

Average active person per day   =    2064                 881                      8.64            2.4

(Average metabolic rate 100 watts)

 

In choosing these energy units, I have tried to choose a magnitude that is meaningful to everyday life. Thus I have chosen a MegaJoule (rather than a joule) and a Tonne Meter (rather than a Kilo Meter) because the MKS units are too small. In general, I will finally bring all our energy quantities down to Kilowatt Hours because this is the term that everyone is most familiar with. I have included the last line so that you can get a feeling of the relevance of these quantities to everyday life. Thus you can see:-

1)      You get much more value from your energy by raising a tonne of material by one meter than by raising the temperature of a litre of water by 2.35 degrees (at least I think so).

2)      A personıs body heat makes a significant difference to oneıs energy bills (i.e. 2.4 Kwh).

3)      If you know that a person can climb a 1,000 m mountain as a daily bit of exercise (but not much more) then you can see that personıs physical body efficiency is only about 10% (by considering the 881 figure and remembering roughly the weight of a person). Thus you can see it is much better to get a nice efficient electric motor to do your physical work.

 


 

6.6.3   Insulation

 

The general usage of insulation has mostly already been covered in the building section. The purpose of this section is to derive the energy quantities associated with this insulation and the results of this section will be used in the sections on Heating and Cooling.

I have also already suggested that Styrofoam is the best form of insulation we can get. Here I should now annunciate the specific reasons. They are:-

1)      Styrofoam is 4 times better as an insulator than fibre-glass batts (which is the only other commonly used insulator in Australia),

2)      Styrofoam is a rigid material (which makes it much easier to attach to the outside of a building),

3)      One can buy kits that produce Styrofoam and hence one can mould it to produce whatever shapes that one desires,

4)      It is relatively cheap.

Besides this, Styrofoam has a very simple conducting value of .01 (in MKS units). This means that a square meter of Styrofoam of 1 cm thickness will conduct 1 watt of power for 1 degree of temperature difference. This makes all our arithmetic very nice and simple. {If you are familiar with Œresistanceı terms this corresponds to an R1 value (and similarly 2 cm thickness corresponds to an R2 value). However in general I donıt use these terms.}

 

There are 6 occasions when we shall need some insulation - so my job now is to work out the figures associated with these various occasions.

 

A)     An average accommodation unit

You may remember, from section 5.2, that the term Œaverageı will make our arithmetic slightly more complex.

Iıll deal with our window losses first.

Our average window area per unit         =  4.5 m2

I have assumed 1 cm of Styrofoam insulation per window. However I think the curtain material, air gap and glass should add up to at least half this value as well i.e. effectively 1.5 cm thick.

Thus the power loss per degree              =  4.5/1.5  = 3 watts.

         Now to deal with the wall and roof losses.

Our average wall/roof insulation area   =  2x3x5 - 4.5 + 10x10x(1/4 + 1/6)/2 + 10x3x2/10

{The first 2 terms are the unitıs end wall contributions, the third term is the roofıs contribution and the last term is the block of housesı end wall contribution.}

                                                                 =  52.5 m2

With 3 cm of Styrofoam our power loss          =  52.5/3

                                                                 =  17.5 watts

 

Thus our total power loss per unit per degree will be 20.5  watts.

I think, over a period of 24 hours, a significant temperature differential between the desired internal temperature and the outside ambient temperature will rarely be greater than 10 degrees. For such a case then our energy loss will be

                                                                 =  20.5x10x24/1000

                                                                 =  4.92  Kwh/day

If you are thinking in terms of kilowatt hours, this may seem a lot but, as I shall show later, in terms of cheap low-grade heat this amount is not too much. I have used the term Œlossı in the sense that you are losing heat in the direction that the insulation is trying to stop. Thus, when you are trying to keep something cool, then the insulation loss is actually allowing heat gain to occur (which in fact will be harder to deal with).

 

B)      A unitıs hot water container

I have assumed a unit has a hot water container of 45 litres (.3 m x .3 m x .5 m).

Then surface area                                    = 4x.3x.5 + 2x.3x.3

                                                                 = .78 m2

With 3 cm of Styrofoam loss/degree     = .78/3      = .26 watts

I am assuming the water will be kept at 50 degrees with a unit temperature of 20 degrees. Hence, over a day, our total loss             = .26x(50 - 20)x24/1000

                                                                 = .19 Kwh

 

C)     The communityıs hot water container

I have assumed that our community with have a large hot water container of 40 m3 (diameter 4 m and height 3.2 m).

Then surface area                                    = 2xPIx(2x2 + 2x3.2)

                                                                 = 65 m2

(The ŒPIı is 3.142.)

I assume that this will be at a temperature of 70 degrees in a room at 20 degrees and we will have 10 cm of insulation.

Hence loss per day                                  = 65x(70-20)x24/(10x1000)

                                                                 = 8 Kwh

 

D)     Hot water pipe insulation

Up till now, everything has been easy. However insulation losses from small pipes certainly isnıt easy – in fact I am told that the correct solution is actually given in terms of Bessel functions. It is too hard for me to look up and understand a solution like this. So what I have done is to approximate the heat losses in terms of 1 cm layers. In my solution below then, the 5 different fractions correspond to the 5 different 1 cm layers. This approximation will slightly over estimate the loss – so that is OK. {The derivation of this result is still not real easy – but, if you doubt the result, then you can check my notes.}

         I will assume pipes of 2 cm diameter and that there is 5 cm of insulation.

Then loss per meter per degree               = .01xPI/(1/3 + 1/5 + 1/7 + 1/9 + 1/11)

                                                                 = .035 watts

As in C, the water temperature shall be 70 degrees but this time the ambient temperature shall be assumed to be 15 degrees. As mentioned in the start of this Œservicesı  section we need about 500 m of underground piping and then 3 m of vertical piping for each unit. This gives a total distance of 800 m.

Then insulation losses per day                = .035x800x(70 – 15)x24/1000

                                                                 = 37 Kwh

 

B, C and D are all part of the hot water system. Thus:-

Total insulation losses for the hot water system per unit per day                = .19 + (8+36)/100

                                                                                                                = .64 Kwh

 

E)      Cool Storage (as in the building of our crops)

The details of our cool storage have already been given in section 6.1 under crop storage. However to refresh your memory the building is 10 m x 10 m x 3 m.

Then surface area                                    = 4x10x3 + 2x10x10

                                                                 = 320 m2

Then, with 10 cm of insulation, loss       = 320/10

         = 32 watts

Then over a day with a required temperature of 10 degrees and an average ambient temperature of 20 degrees we get:-

Insulation losses                                      = 32x(20 – 10)x24/1000

                                                                 = 7.7 Kwh

 

F)      Cold Storage (as in our agricultural shop)

Our cold storage room is 3 m x 3 m x 3 m.

Then surface area                                    = 6x3x3

                                                                 = 54 m3

Then, with 10 cm of insulation, loss       = 54/10     = 5.4 watts

Then over a day, with a required temperature of 0 degrees and an ambient temperature of 25 degrees, we get :-

Insulation losses                                      = 5.4x(25 – 0)x24/1000

                                                                  = 3.2 Kwh

 

 

6.6.4   Heating, Cooling and Hot Water

 

The general method by which we keep ourselves warm in winter and cool in summer has already been described in some detail in my section on sustainability (in section 6.2.2). Thus the purpose of this section is largely to quantify this process. {If you have forgotten the process then it is essential that you reread it because otherwise everything here will be meaningless.} The first item, we need to know then, is how effective our thermal bulk will be in modifying the daily temperature variations. The first thing we need to calculate then is:-

The volume of our unitıs walls               = ((9+9-2+2x4.5)x3 – 4.5 )x.25

                                                                 = 16 m3.

I havenıt been able to find out either the density or the specific heat of the low-grade concrete I use for my walls. From what I have seen most substances have a specific heat per volume of about 2/3 that of water (things like granite have lower specific heat per weight but they make up a bit by having higher densities). Thus I will assume that my specific heat per volume is about half that of water. Thus:-

A unitıs thermal capacity                       = 16x1000/2

                                                                 = 8000 Kals per degree

                                                                 = 8000/860 Kwh

                                                                 = 9.3 Kwh per degree

Then for the case in section 6.2.2 (with the 10 degree differential) and using the insulation loss for a unit (section 6.6.2 A) we get:-

The temperature change would be                   = 4.92/9.3 per day

                                                                 = .53 of a degree per day.

Clearly this isnıt very much - so things look pretty good.

 

Then the next thing we must do, is to calculate the amount of energy needed for normal hot water (i.e. showers, washing etc). The accepted figure for this is 50 litres at 50 degrees per person per day. Thus:-

Energy needed per unit per day              = 50x(50-20) Kcals

                                                                 = 1.75 Kwh

 

Now, before we can go any further on heating or cooling, we need to think about what sort of internal temperature we want to maintain and what sort of outside temperature we want to be able to deal with. The range of temperature at which people feel comfortable lies between 20 and 25 degrees. 25 degrees is better if you like wandering around with very few clothes on and 20 degrees is better if you are wearing a moderate amount of clothes. In Sydney, the average daily high temperature in summer is 26 degrees and the average daily high temperature in winter is 17 degrees. The average low temperatures are between 5 and 10 degrees lower than this. Further inland, the range of temperatures is wider. By considering this range of temperatures (and remembering how good our insulation and our thermal bulk is), I think you should realise that if we use the system outlined in section 6.2.2 then it should not be too difficult to keep ourselves cool enough in summer anywhere in the state of NSW (or further south).

 

Keeping ourselves warm enough in winter will be a little bit more difficult. First of all, we must consider all the various effects that will tend to make things warmer and cooler. The things that will make us warmer are:-

1)      our body heat (possibly 2.4 Kwh),

2)      our electrical appliances (about 1.7 Kwh – see next section),

3)      our hot water system i.e. the natural heat output as it is used,

4)      direct sun heat when the sun is shining in through a window.

The things that will cool things down are:-

1)      opening doors and windows,

2)      getting some fresh air in through partially open windows,

3)      heat loss through windows when the insulation panels are not closed (because you want to see out or let the light in).

If you bear in mind that 4.92 Kwh of energy will raise our internal temperature by 10 degrees then I think, in general, that we can expect our internal temperatures will tend to be about 5 degrees higher than the ambient temperature outside. Thus I think it is possible for a person to live in Sydney in accommodation like ours in comfort without any need for further heating (by using the system given in section 6.2.2). However some extra heating will certainly make life easier. Also I would like to be able to cater for regions that have colder winters than Sydney.

 

 I will suggest then that we add a further 4.92 Kwh of hot water heating. This will give us the capability to raise our internal temperature by 10 degrees. This 10 degrees (plus the 5 degrees previously mentioned) will mean we can cope with an average outside temperature of 7 degrees and still have a comfortable internal temperature of 22 degrees. Thus my accommodation and energy system should be able to cope with most Australian regions.

         To use our hot water for general heating, we clearly must have a hot-water radiator in both the front and back rooms of our units. These radiators would use the 70 degree hot water directly. If these radiators are connected so that, when you want to heat one room (and turn the radiator on in that room), then the lukewarm water flows on into the radiator of the second room then there will be very little wastage of heat. Thus one does not need to keep the whole of the unit warm all the time but rather simply warm one room when one wants to (as one normally does in Sydney for example).

 

So our total daily heating energy requirements would be:-

Hot water                                       = 1.75 Kwh

General heating                               = 4.92 Kwh

Insulation losses                             =   .64 Kwh

                            Total                   = 7.31 Kwh

To allow a bit of spare I will increase this to 9 Kwh. {This number also makes our later arithmetic simpler.}

 

This means we should be able to cope with normal winter weather – but what happens if it remains cold for a week and the sun doesnıt shine at all? Well we have three facilities to deal with this sort of possibility. They are:-

1)      We have a large 40 m3 communal hot water storage tank. Its

thermal energy capacity                 = 40000x(70-22)/100 Kcals per person

                                                        = 19200 Kcals

                                                        = 22.3 Kwh.

This means we have 22.3/7.31  =  3.05 days of hot water capacity to draw on.

2)      We can use some of our semi-waste biomass in the form of straw or dead wood (from all over our land). This would be used in a burner to heat our communal storage tank.

3)      We can use some of the enormous thermal mass we have in our accommodation units. This implies that over a week the temperature in our units must drop by a few degrees. This should not be too great a hardship.

So using these three facilities in a sensible fashion means we should be able to cope with a problem like this reasonably well.

 

So, as we now know how much hot-water energy we need, we can now finally come to the problem of how we produce this energy using solar hot-water technology. There seem to be two options:-

1)      Evacuated tubes

This is the new modern method and it is a very efficient system indeed. It consists of glass tubes with vacuum on the outside and a black collection system in the centre. It is very high-tech.

2)      Flat plate

This is the old-fashioned system. It consists of a network of pipes in a glass-covered box with a black absorber plate at the bottom. The sun heats the absorber plate, which in turn heats the liquid in the pipes.

Of these two methods, we must choose the flat-plate system as we would like to carry out as much of the construction work as possible ourselves.

         For a relatively large system like ours, we will need to use a specific anti-freeze collection fluid to take the heat from our collection panels and heat our hot-water tank below. This anti-freeze fluid must be circulated by a small pump.

         It is difficult for me to be too precise about area of panels we will need. I only know the figure for the evacuated glass tube form and this is that a square meter will produce 3 Kwh per day. I would imagine that our flat plates would need at least double this area to produce the same amount of energy. Hence, for the 9 Kwh we require per day, we would need between 6 and 10 square meters of flat plate collection panels. There is ample room on the roof of our communal centre for this purpose.

         I will leave the further details on how much this should all cost and how it would be paid for by the members of our community until I have dealt with electricity in the next section.

 

 

6.6.5   Electricity

 

We first need to work out our total requirement. I will start with the individual needs. In the following table I have mostly considered my own appliances and then written down their wattage (w) followed by the amount of an hour (h) used per day. When it is easier to think in terms of a week then the usage is adjusted by dividing by seven (/7). The following lines then give any further explanation that is necessary. To some extent these values are just my own personal choice – but it should be sufficient to give a rough idea of what a reasonable total might be.

 

Microwave                             1000w  x  .5h                                  = 500 wh

A microwave oven is the most efficient method of cooking and, when you get used to the system, it turns out to be the simplest and easiest method as well. I have allowed half an hour a day - but I in fact do all my cooking in a quarter of an hour (and this refers to the days when I cook everything for myself). Since writing this I have been talking to my son (an apprentice chef) and he says cooking with a microwave isnıt Œreal goodı (e.g. it dries out meat). However you donıt need to use a microwave. 500 wh is sufficient energy to boil 5 litres of water and so, if you cook with insulated purpose built appliances, there is plenty of energy to cook in other slower ways.

 

Lights                                    20w x 20h  +  10x(.2w x 12h)                 = 424 wh

I have assumed 20 hours of personal florescent lighting plus 10 of those incredibly efficient LED night-lights (for finding oneıs way around during the night in the house and on the streets).

 

Washing machine                  (310/365) x (2/7) x 1000              = 243 wh

This calculation is derived from my washing machineıs energy rating and by assuming that the machine is used twice a week (for one person).

 

Fan                                         60w x 3h                                         = 180 wh

Vacuum cleaner                    (1500w x .3h)/7                             =   64 wh

Iron                                        (1100w x .3h)/7                             =   67 wh

T.V.                                        40w x 3h                                         = 120 wh

Printer                                    40w x .2h                                        =     8 wh

Computer, phone etc                                                                    = 100 wh

 

Total                                                                                     =          1686 wh

                                                                                             =         1.7 Kwh

 

Estimating the communal electricity needs is even more difficult. I mostly just guess as best I can.

 

Irrigation                               84164x.7x50/(367x365)                         = 22 Kwh

Here I assume that 70% of our total water requirement will need to be irrigated and that the irrigation pressure (and losses) is equivalent to a 50 meter head of water.

 

Cooling our agricultural products                   7.7 + ?  +  3.2 + ?                  = 20 Kwh

The figures here correspond to the insulation losses as calculated in section 6.6.3 - E and F. The question marks are for losses due to entry and exit of both people and products.

 

Fridges in our centre and in our bakery/café                              = 10 Kwh

Ploughing, harvesting etc                                                             = 10 Kwh

Lights and appliances in our centre and work areas                            = 30 Kwh

 

Total                                                                                              = 92 Kwh

Total per person                                                                            =  .92 Kwh

 

Thus I shall allow for 3 Kwh of electricity per person per day.

 

I shall assume that we shall connect up to the Australian electricity grid and then use this system as our energy storage form (as described in section 5.6.1). This is the best we can do for the time being.

 

This electricity will be provided by solar PV panels and so the major question will now be Œhow much will this all cost?ı It is hard to be very precise - but the following figures will give you some idea. The fundamental figure is that the PV material (that the panel is made of) costs 3 dollars per peak watt. This means that, in the Sydney region where a peak watt will have an average operating time of 5 hours, the basic capital cost of the material will be $600 per Kwh per day ($3x1000/5). In Australia, small domestic systems get a substantial government rebate and the total price of such a system will be about $1,000 per Kwh per day. When such rebates do not apply then the total price will be about $2,000 per Kwh per day. The major extra cost (besides the PV material) is an inverter (to change from 12 volt DC to 240 volt AC) and, although the price of this is significant in small systems, it should not be significant in a large system like ours. Putting these figures together, I think a large system like ours should cost less than $5,000 for the 3 Kwh that we require per person per day.

 

In the Sydney region, the area of panel per Kwh per day is 1.6 m2  and so each per person will need 5 m2 of panel per person (3x1.6). Clearly we have plenty of space on our roofs then for this facility. What these figures highlight is the fact that solar heating systems are much more efficient in gathering energy than PV panels (which is not surprising if you remember the facts of the second law of thermodynamics I mentioned at the beginning). Specifically, it takes 5 times as much area to gather electrical energy as it does to gather heat energy using evacuated tubes (actually this over-estimates the case - but I wonıt go through the details). This is reflected in the prices of these items and the generally accepted figure is that solar electrical energy costs 3 times as much solar heat energy to produce. As I donıt have a cost for my flat panel heating system, I can go backwards from my PV panels and derive a cost for my flat heating panels. The net result of this is that our heating panel system (which is required to produce 3 times as much energy as the PV panels i.e. 9 Kwh as opposed to 3Kwh) will cost roughly the same amount as our PV panels. Thus the total cost for both the electrical and heating systems should be less that $10,000 per person. This cost of the imported materials and our own memberıs labour costs should roughly be the same (because the high cost of imported material in PV panels should be cancelled by the higher memberıs labour cost in our heating panels).

 

We must now bring this possible $10,000 capital cost down to a yearly payment by our members and, in doing this, there are two aspects that need to be remembered. Solar energy systems tend to last for about 20 years and so paying off this capital costs about $500 per year. In my community, I was thinking in terms of a 4% interest rate (see section 5.2 – remember this is an inflation free figure) and so the interest repayments would be $400 per year. So the total payment cost is $900 per year. This is a sizeable amount for just one person - but it is also not excessive. Thus it is less than the income from an hourıs work per week. In the future, when solar energy collection system become more standard, then the price of these panels should drop and everything will be a little easier.

 

Finally, we come to the question of what rates our community should charge its members. Clearly the charges should add up so that the system pays for itself (and so in my case it should add to $900 per year). However the point I want to stress here is that this daily rate cannot be constant. Thus the rate must be low when there is an excess of power and high when there is a shortage of power so that members will have an incentive to use power when it is easily available and go easy on it when it is in short supply. At present, this fluctuation would only apply to hot-water because the Australian electricity grid will take care of the excess/shortage supply problem for electricity. However, when PV panels become more common and make a significant difference to the Australian gridıs performance, then the Australian energy authority will almost certainly jack up at having to deal completely with the high and low demand problem. So their cost of energy rates must change over time as well. Thus we will need to change our electricity rates over time also. {The usage recording wires, as described at the beginning of section 6.6, will give our community the necessary facilities to be able to charge us (the members) different prices at different times.}

 

 

6.6.6   Summary

 

This whole section has had to deal with a large number of numbers and calculations. I imagine that you could now be completely bamboozled by the whole thing and as such are tending to forget the whole thing. Let me quickly outline again how we overcame our energy problems.

1)      Firstly, being a nice little compact community made everything much easier. Thus:-

a)      We can walk everywhere in our community and also to the local village. Thus our transport costs can be very low.

b)      We can have a communal hot-water service (without too much pipeline heat losses).

2)      We gave our buildings plenty of thermal bulk on the inside and good insulation on the outside and this minimised our heating/cooling losses.

3)      We were very careful not to waste our precious electricity on heating operations (that could be done by hot water).

4)      We naturally used energy efficient appliances when possible.

These 4 strategies meant we could obtain all the energy we needed via hotwater and PV panels at a reasonable cost. In fact, although the obtaining of energy in a sustainable method is an important facet of life, it is probably much less important than things like: food, adequate accommodation, education, care, water, fair employment, egalitarian ownership and good government. The fact that the world in general has a problem with sustainable energy is not because the problem is fundamental, but rather because the world has become lulled into a false sense of security with a temporary excess of fossil fuels. We (and the world) will simply have to learn to return to a saner manner of living.

 

 


6.7    Water

 

Our total requirement for water has already been calculated in detail at the end of the Agricultural in section 6.1.4. Furthermore, the Agricultural section also contains the full details of our irrigation system. Thus the final job of this section is simply to describe:-

1)      The general form of our water system,

2)      Our water storage system,

3)      Our water collection system.

 

6.7.1   The general form of our water system

 

In Australia, the amount of life we can support is almost completely limited by the amount of water we have. Thus, in this section on water, I will be assuming that our community will be doing its very utmost not to waste any water at all (much more so than is done in Australia at the moment). Thus:-

1)      In the area we designate for water collection, we will be trying to collect the absolute maximum amount of water that we can.

2)      We will store a large amount of water so that we can apply it where and when we want to. Also, in this storage process, we donıt want to lose any water to vaporisation at all.

3)      One of the unfortunate aspects of Australian weather is that our rain often comes (when it does come) in huge deluges which cause floods. How we can cope with this unfortunate circumstance and still collect our precious water is the main concern of this particular sub-section.

 

In a huge deluge, the natural thing to happen is for all the runoff water to rush down to the lowest point of the property. What we would like to do then is to have a small collection facility at this point and immediately pump the runoff water up to our major water reservoir. Unfortunately this is not usually possible because, for a reasonable deluge, the pipe would need to be too big and the power requirement on the pump would need to be too large. These points are a bit debatable. Certainly, if one is a reasonably small community, then there is no way that such a community could store enough electrical energy to cope with the energy demands of this problem. If one used the Australian power grid then it might be possible but this is doubtful. In a deluge, everyone has a need for power and so a small community cannot expect to receive an exceptionally large amount of power at this crucial point in time.

 

So what does one do ? – well two things.

1)      It will clearly help if oneıs water collection areas are on reasonably high land and the major water reservoir is on reasonably low land. Then the pipes that carry the water from the water collection area can feed into the major reservoir without any pumping operation. So this major source of water needs no power at the time of the deluge.

2)      At the lowest point of oneıs property then, one needs two things:-

         a)      A reservoir set into the ground that could hold all the runoff water that is likely to occur from a normal storm. This water would then be pumped into the main reservoir when power was available.

         b)      Around the inset reservoir, there needs to be a flood plain catchment area that would be enclosed by an embankment on the low side - and the natural higher land on the high side. In times of an abnormally large deluge then, the water would temporarily remain here until sufficient power was available to pump it all back into the main reservoir (perhaps a fortnight). The flood plain catchment area must mostly consist of natural land (or pasture) because then it wouldnıt matter if this land was flooded occasionally.

         With these two facilities we should be able to cope with most natural events without too much hardship to our community (and still collect the maximum amount of water).

 

Thus our total water system will consist of the following elements;-

 

1)      The Tiled Collection Area

This consists of roughly 4 hectares of dedicated tiled land (preferably on the high steep land). Then there will also be one hectare of collection area in the living area (in terms of paths, parking and buildings). The plans in section 5.1 show how this could work out. The details of the tiling collection system will be described in sub-section 3.

 

2)      The Main Storage Reservoir

This facility will be described in the following sub-section.

 

3)      The Temporary Runoff Reservoir

This is the low inset reservoir described on the previous page.

 

4)      The Flood Plain Catchment Area

This facility is also described on the previous page.

 

5)      The High Irrigation Reservoir

This is a useful facility that will help our community from being too dependent on the Australian electricity grid system for our electricity storage. Each day, up to 300 m3 of water will be needed to irrigate our crops and this operation needs to be carried out in the middle of the night to prevent evaporation losses. As this operation must occur everyday, it seems worthwhile to have a high dam of this capacity so that we can pump our water up into this high dam during the day when we do have plenty of solar energy. We can then use the altitude of the high dam to irrigate our crops during the night. This dam will need to be 30 m above our agricultural area to provide sufficient pressure for the irrigation system to work.

 

6)      The Irrigation System

Our irrigation system will be quite extensive and has been described in detail in the Agricultural section.

 

7)      Pipes and Pumps

Our water system will need quite an extensive set of pipes and pumps to transfer all this water to the appropriate place at the correct time.

 

8)      Drinking water facilities

Our nutrient rich water from our compost facility will go straight into our high irrigation dam - and so there is no question of this water polluting our major storage dam. So our major dam will simply contain normal runoff water and as such it should be reasonably pure. It is probably good enough to drink but it would need to be checked and fluoride added etc. I think the easiest thing to do is to provide definitely pure water only to the cold kitchen sink tap by a separate pipe system. Thus we only need to provide a small amount of water that is definitely of a drinking standard.

 

The reason I have outlined all the elements of our water system here is to emphasise how extensive it must be and hence that, all together, it must be quite expensive. I think that this situation is unavoidable. Previous civilisations like the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Romans spent an enormous amount of effort in obtaining their water. We, in Australia, donıt put in the same degree of effort at all. I think we have to put in a lot more effort if we want to be assured of a reasonably good water supply. Thus our water supply will (and should) cost significantly more than our energy supply will.

 

 

6.7.2 Our water storage system

 

It is hard to be too definite about the main storage reservoir (i.e. dam) because this will be very dependent on the particular topology of oneıs land. What I have done therefore is to show how one can construct a reasonably good reservoir on perfectly flat land. Most land forms will provide better opportunities for reservoirs than simply flat land - so this should approximate to the worst case.

 

Clearly the best form for such a reservoir must be circular. The following diagram shows some reasonable dimensions it could take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The radius of the reservoir is 57 m because this gives an area of one hectare (which seems a reasonable amount). The depth of the reservoir is 5 m made up of 2 m below land level and 3 m above. The bank slope is 1 in 2. {The diagram is extended down below to show how you can work out the volume in terms of the difference between two cones.}

Volume of reservoir              = PIx(57x57x57 – 47x47x47)/6

                                               = 42,611 m3

Volume of earth removed     = PIx(51x51x51 – 47x47x47)/6

                                               = 15,097 m3

Assuming that the top of the embankment is 4 m wide then

Length of reservoir                = 2xPIx59

                                               = 371 m

Cross area of embankment   = 3x6/2 + 3x4 + 3x6/2

                                               = 30 m2

Cross area of removed earth          = 15097/371

                                               = 41 m3

Hence there is plenty of removed earth to build the embankment (in fact there will be 11 m3 of spare earth for each meter of embankment).

 

All these numbers seem very reasonable to me and thus this reservoir should not be all that difficult to build. Clearly the embankment must be covered with my tiling system (which I shall describe in the next section) to prevent any erosion. There are also technical things like having an impervious layer in the embankment - but I will leave things like this to the experts. The volume of the reservoir is more than half our yearly water usage and this means that we can always know if we have sufficient water in storage before we sow any new crop. Clearly more storage would always be beneficial – but we canıt have everything.

 

Our reservoir must be covered to prevent evaporation but it is difficult to know what the best system should be. The easiest and cheapest system would be a floating system (e.g. oil or linked Styrofoam panels) but it is hard to know if such a system would work. The other solution is to have a normal corrugated clear-plastic roof supported on concrete posts. This form would be more expensive but it could be made and stay within the budget of $73 we have to spend on each square meter of our developed land (see section 5.1). Thus the covering would only cost $10 per m2.

When I started working on this project, I was keen to use this reservoir for fish farming and so I envisaged that our water would be aerated by small windmills (that would pump air down into our water) and so we could keep fish. However, even using the best figures for fish farming (i.e. keeping carp in a well organised German reservoir), you find that the quantity of fish that you harvest is still very small. So it is very hard to justify such an operation.

 

 

6.7.3   Our water collection system.

 

As mentioned before, we will wish to collect the maximum amount of water from our collection area and the only way this can be done is to cover the given land with an impenetrable surface. I think the most acceptable way of doing this is to use tiles. {The cheap ways of doing this tend to weather badly - and they donıt look very good.} Before doing this we should collect all the good quality soil and transfer it to our agricultural area. After this the land will need to be bulldozed into a form that is suitable for tiling. Our tiling areas could also be very useful as fire-breaks.

 

There tend to be two fairly distinct situations. These are:-

 

1)      Sloping land

The majority of our dedicated collection area would be of this form and hopefully it would be high land with a reasonable slope. {Sloping land is also not very convenient to use for agriculture or for living.} Tiling sloping land is relatively easy and any of the standard systems will do (e.g. slate like objects or well structured tiles). Because our area is quite large, it would be better if the tiles were bigger than normal i.e. perhaps ½ m x ½ m. Clearly there must be a very good gutter system beneath the tiles and this would channel the water into our collection pipes.

 

 

2)      Flat land

This situation would occur when one wants to collect water on our roofs, paths or parking area. There is a significant problem here because, not only is there no slope to allow the water to runoff, but wheels will need to run over the surface without too much of a bumpy ride. My solution is the tile/pavement panel shown below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of the panel is to channel water into a central exit pipe by a miniature ridge/valley system. The ridges would maintain the horizontal surface and so, when a pneumatic wheel (or a shoe) went over the panel, it would only feel very minor bumps. The valley system would encourage the rain drops to run down the slopes until they meet a miniature creek of drops at the bottom (and then to the pipe). I have put flanges on the side of the panels so that each panel can give support to its neighbour. The exit pipe must be connected to a collection pipe system and this is a little tricky because, if it went straight down, one couldnıt see the pipe when laying the panel. I think the exit pipe needs to exit to the side so that it is easy to guide the exit pipe into the collection pipe. This also means that 2 sets of panels can both feed into the one collection pipe. The system is a bit sophisticated but, when you think about it for a while, it seems to be the only possible solution.

 

All collection systems must have some losses but I am not sure what they should be. An article in the diggersı periodical suggested losses should be about 10 %. This seems a reasonable figure but the same article suggested much lower water requirements than I am using. I donıt want to put down a figure on the losses until I am sure of what the figure should be. Also one should work these losses in order to reduce the loss figure as much as possible. Thus a good suitable coating on our tiles could possibly reduce the loss figure considerably.

 

 


6.8    Recycling

 

Recycling is very important to our community. Nevertheless this department would be quite small because most of the actual recycle process would be carried out elsewhere. The recycling activities, that I think should come under the recycling departmentıs jurisdiction, are the following:-

 

1)      Excreta

Our excreta and all our farm waste vegetable matter will be recycled in the compost area (and this is part of the agricultural departmentıs jurisdiction). However it will be the recycling departmentıs job to look after the piping system and to make sure that this excreta (and the accompanying waste water) arrives at the compost area.

 

2)      Recycle Bins

A small compact community likes ours will make recycling very easy indeed. Thus we can have individual recycle bins for things like: vegetable matter, wood, paper, plastic, glass and tins. Thus the curse of our current world of having to deal with a lot of mixed rubbish tied up in plastic bags, need not occur. Clearly the vegetable matter bins must be taken to the compost area. The wood must either be stored for burning (for hot water if the sun hasnıt shone for a while) or shredded and then added to the compost. Paper could be added to the compost but it is probably better to return it to the outside world and let it be recycled (so that the outside world can make further paper). Plastic, glass and tins would definitely need to be returned to the outside world to be recycled.

 

3)      Clothing etc

Here I am thinking about things like: clothes, shoes, sheets, blankets etc. The best option for these items is for members to take them to our communityıs recycle store and then, when a need arises, they can be fixed, mended and reused. Thus our community can become slightly less dependent on the outside world for material items.

 

4)      Appliances

The same sort of situation as in point 2 should apply to our appliances. Thus, when our appliances breakdown, they should be taken to our recycle store where they would be mended and then stored for reuse when needed. For appliances, it is usually only one particular element that breaks down so that, if the community has the know-how and the correct spare parts, then an appliance can be reused many times. The problem with this is that our community can only have a limited number of appliances for which they will have the required spare parts (and the required know-how). To help overcome this problem, my suggestion is that our recycling department must not only mend our appliances but purchase our appliances in the first place. Thus our recycle department will only buy those appliances they know they can mend. So our recycle department must act as our purchasing department as well.

 

 


6.9    Information and Communication

 

This is a relatively small department but it is also quite important. Its responsibilities divide very naturally into two definite areas.

 

1)      Information (Internal)

The facility we would like here is to have our own personal internet-like facility which would contain and distribute all the information that members need to know as to what the community is doing i.e. its own personal information system. However I think this sort of thing would be too hard to organise. A simpler system is simply to have a community computer with all the community information on it and members would simply pick up a CD of this information whenever they wanted to. This information should include:-

a)      The membership/qualifications/experience list (as described in section 5.4),

b)      The minutes of all general meetings,

c)      All the officer reports,

d)      All the communityıs financial dealings,

e)      All the possible exam questions and demonstration answers (as discussed in section 4.3),

f)       All the membersı time sheets (as discussed in section 5.2),

g)      All membersı financial details associated with the community (e.g. equity etc).

In the current world, the last two items could be regarded as an invasion of a personıs privacy. However these details must be on the community computer in any case in order that the various officers can do their jobs. Moreover many other members would know these facts by watching people while doing their jobs. Thus it seems to me that it is far easier to allow all members to have access to all this information at all times and then everyone is on the same level (and everyone can check on everyone else). However each community can decide what it wants to do itself.

 

2)      Communication (External)

The five external forms of communication are: phone, Internet, T.V., mail and newspapers. For phone, Internet and T.V. this departmentıs job will be to receive the external transmission lines and then connect them all to internal lines that will lead on to the units that require them via our ducts. For mail, the department will need to manually collect the mail and then distribute it to the units. For newspapers, the department will need to buy the main papers and then put them in the centreıs lounge.

         Besides this, the department will need to connect the electricity and hotwater recording lines to the community computer and then process this data in such a way that the energy department can understand it (and hence do its job).

Also it should be this departmentıs job to organise the communityıs phone answering roster (for general enquires from outside).

 

Finally, of course, it will be this departmentıs job to maintain all these various facilities.

 

 


6.10  Our Workshop

 

The main function of our workshop department will be to make all the special items that our various departments will require. Thus it will need to make:-

1)      The swivel power sockets (as discussed in section 6.1.2),

2)      The oscillating sprinkler pipes (also as discussed in section 6.1.2),

3)      Possibly the electrically powered ploughs (as discussed in section 6.1.2),

4)      The insulated window facilities (as discussed in section 6.2.2),

5)      The carts (as discussed in section 6.3).

Of course all these items are simply my own little ideas and I donıt want to suggest that a community should follow any of my ideas at all. Nevertheless, under any circumstance, a community should have the capacity to develop its own special facilities -  and to do this it must have its own workshop.

 

It is hard to be explicit about anything else that this department should make. However, harping back to my own personal bias, I think the community should make its own good quality prams. In the old days, you used to be able to buy substantial prams that could carry a couple of children and a large amount of shopping (or other paraphernalia) as well. Such prams didnıt fold up real well - but then they didnıt need to because people then didnıt usually use a car to go for a walk. Such prams are not available these days so this is what I think our community should make - it is just so much nicer to be able to take oneıs children on a substantial walk and yet be not too limited by oneıs childrenıs walking capacity (even if it means burning off some of oneıs excess energy by pushing a fairly heavy pram). Such a pram would also allow the children to move around, play with each other and you can see what they are doing all the time. I think the modern, large, light, well-made strollers are absolutely hopeless in this regard. Furthermore you donıt need to put harnesses on your children if you can see what they are actually doing all the time.

Such a pram is also the sort of item that our community could export. Thus our community could then feel that, even on the manufacturing side, there is at least a partial two-way flow between our imports and exports (as I managed to organise as regards agricultural produce). It should be reasonably easy for our community to produce such prams because a pram is essentially just a smaller version of a cart (which we must produce in any case).

 


C)     THE EXECUTIVE

 

In this section on the executive positions, I have tried to make sure that:-

1)      The activities and responsibilities of each position are very clearly defined so that it is absolutely clear as to which position is in charge of what function.

2)      There is a clear cut checking procedure so that all positions are subject to some form of careful scrutiny.

3)      The total workload of the executive is divided fairly evenly between the 5 different positions.

4)      The responsibilities of each position conform to standard practise.

Satisfying all these criteria is not real easy.

         The sequence of the positions is, as much as possible, in terms of activities that I have already covered (in chapter 5) to activities that have not yet been covered. So the sequence is from the known to the unknown rather than in terms of importance. Thus the secretary and the analyst positions are just as important as the president and the treasurer positions (in spite of the fact that they are treated last).

         I have assumed, in the usual manner, that each position is carried out by just one person (as opposed to the other officers who would normally be the head of a department).

 

 

6.11  President (external)

 

The president is, as normal, the chairman of all general meetings and their duties here have already been outlined in section 5.4 on ŒMeetings and Votingı. I wonıt repeat these details here but do remember that it is their job to divide all the speaking time justly between all officers and members. Thus the very worst thing that they could do would be to hog all the speaking time to themselves (which happens in the vast majority of meetings that I have attended).

         The other main task that I have given to the president, is to be the communityıs representative to the outside world. Thus:-

1)      If an outside person is, in general, enquiring about the community (e.g. a journalist) then the person that they should speak to is the president.

2)      When our community is required to give an opinion on some outside matter then it is the president that should represent the community. Thus for example the president should represent the community at village meetings. Also when our members are required to vote in the outside world then it is the president (having a better knowledge of the outside world politics) that should advise us normal members as to how to vote.

         Finally, hopefully a very minor task, the president should be in charge of the communityıs defence. Thus, if anyone in our community was to have a gun, then that gun should be in the presidentıs keeping.

 

Many people tend to feel that the president should also be the Œleaderı of the community. I disagree with this concept. Thus the sort of leaders that I admire are the leaders that lead bush-walking parties down long, nasty, horrible canyons or climbers that lead parties up high and difficult climbs. However such leaders do not need to be officers of a club (and rarely are). On the same basis, a real Œleaderı in a community is a person that will inspire and invigorate a community to make a difficult but beneficial change to the community. {Or even better still to start a completely new community.} Such a person most definitely does not need to be an officer of the community (in fact it is usually better that they are not). Such a person, in latter life, may (or even should) receive the slight honour of being elected to the presidency of the club. However, in general, the officers of a community have a fairly prosaic job to carry out and they should be elected on the basis of how well they can do that prosaic task.

 

 

6.12  Treasurer (finance)

 

The treasurer has 3 very definite tasks to carry out. These are:-

 

1)      The weekly banking

 I think it will make this task much more comprehensible if I specify some very definite times. Thus I will say that on Monday morning all the various financial transactions (that have occurred in the previous week) must be handed in to the treasurer. These financial transactions are of 4 basic types:-

a)      Each memberıs time sheet for the previous week (together with any Australian dollars that the members wish to put in or withdraw from their bank account - as described in detail in section 5.2).

b)      The lists of purchases at the agricultural shop, the café/bakery and community centre (to be debited from the various membersı accounts),

c)      Any cheques by which members wish to give money to other members for services rendered. These cheques could be our own very simplified cheques – little more than an I.O.U. {Or rather I.G.U. - ŒI Give Youı.}

d)      The accounts for rent, electricity, hot water etc should also be given to the treasurer by the various departments in charge of these things (to also debit the various membersı accounts).

The treasurer will then have to enter all these debits and credits into all the relevant accounts (presumably using a computer program). Then, on Wednesday afternoon, the treasurer would present each member with their new equity balance (together with all the transactions that created this new balance). The equity balances themselves are also put in the community information system so that all members can always see who owns how much of the communityıs equity.

 

2)      A monthly ŒCommunity hourı to ŒAustralian dolları rate adjustment

The exchange rate between our Œcommunity hourı financial unit and the ŒAustralian dolları must vary according to the normal supply and demand situation (as is normal between all currencies). The treasurer will have the task of specifying the new exchange rates. This operation can hopefully be done just once a month at the formal monthly meeting (where the treasurer can explain all the reasons for the readjustment).

 

3)      A yearly budget

This is probably the hardest executive task that our community has to carry out. Thus I think that our community needs to devote a whole general meeting for this specific task once a year. A reasonable sequence of events could be:-

a)      Prior to this meeting all the various departments would present the treasurer with their requests for Œcommunity hours workı and required Australian dollars for the following year (to carry out the various functions of their department).

b)      The treasurer would then study these requirements and then, from them, produce a budget that they think will give a balanced growth rate for the community. {As usual in these cases if the treasurer is too Œsoftı and allows each department to have more than they need then very likely the value of the Œcommunity hourı financial unit will sink against the Australian dollar.} This budget should be in writing and circulated to members prior to the budget meeting.

c)      The community then at the budget meeting will make the final decision as to what the budget should actually be. But the community members should certainly take strong heed of the treasurerıs good advice.

 

 

6.13  Membership

 

There are 4 different aspects of this particular function (corresponding more-or-less to the various stages of membership as described in section 5.2). These are:-

 

1)      All enquiries about membership should naturally be directed to the membership secretary. I think our community should have a booklet describing how it all runs. The membership secretary then should be in charge of this booklet and they could send it out to such people enquiring about the community. They could also invite these people to any suitable social occasions. At such a social occasion, the membership secretary could then give the person an application form for associate membership. Associate membership is not terribly important and so the membership secretary could be left to make the complete decision as to who is suitable to receive such membership.

 

2)      As regards both interim and full membership, the full community must make the final  decision as to who is to be admitted. Nevertheless it should be the membership secretaryıs job to present the community with the basic facts concerning every case (so that the community as a whole can finally make a well-informed decision).

 

3)      When a person becomes a full member then they should be putting a reasonable proportion of their savings as equity in the community (for which there is a reasonable incentive - as described in section 5.2). However, if a person is not doing this, then it should be the membership secretaryıs job to enquire why not. If there is no good reason why not, then they should propose to the general meeting that this personıs membership might be rescinded. There is no point in having members who are only half-hearted about the support of the community.

 

4)      If a person does something wrong then the only thing that our community can do is to take away that personıs membership. This tends to mean that our membership secretary must effectively be in charge of discipline. Thus if a member starts to fail to turn up to meetings or if there are complaints about a personıs behaviour then it should be the membership secretaryıs duty to - talk to the member, explain the situation and, if there was no other option, propose at a general meeting that this personıs membership be rescinded. {Definitely not the most pleasant of tasks but someone has to do it - and the logical person to do it is the membership secretary.}


6.14  Secretary (internal)

 

As I have indicated already, the secretary is in charge of internal affairs – and this mainly means organising the employment. There are several different people associated with employment and each might have differing ideas about what they would like to happen. Thus:-

1)      The employee involved might want either more or less employment than they have at present. Also they might desire that any new employment to be a task that they can do easily (or perhaps something that is new and hence more interesting and exciting).

2)      The officer in charge of the area will probably wish to employ someone that is experienced in the area and so the job could progress more easily and quickly.

3)      The membership secretary will be keen to see new, young members get plenty of employment so that they can increase in experience and equity and so keep the community healthy and well balanced. And this implies of course that the older members may have to accept less employment.

4)      Some officer should have the task of checking that some members are not obtaining a lot of employment and yet spending their earnings outside the community (as mentioned in section 5.2). Iıll give this task to the secretary.

 

In general, then, it is the secretaryıs job to balance the employment so that all these 4 various requirements are attained as well as possible. Thus a guy wanting more or less employment would go and see the secretary - say what they wanted and why – and the secretary would do their best (bearing in mind these 4 criteria above). Similarly an officer would come to the secretary to get more workers in their field. Occasionally the secretary might need to tell someone that they might have to put in more time on a job (than they actually write down on their timesheet) because, at that stage, they cannot Œproduce the goodsı in the time they take (and hence, if they do not do any better, they wonıt be offered further employment). Similarly, occasionally the secretary might need to tell an officer that they are asking too much of their employees. 

 

So the secretaryıs job ainıt real easy – but then they simply have to do their best. The secretary would also be in charge of the semi-independents.

 

 

6.15  Analyst (opposition)

 

The analystıs job is to basically check that all the officers are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Thus the analystıs job is similar to that of an auditor (or a member of the opposition). In doing this task, the analyst should take a long-term view of the situation because it always takes a significant amount of time before one can see whether a new feature of the community is working out well or badly. The analyst then has 3 specific tasks to carry out. These are:-

 

1)      A month before their term of office finishes each officer has to produce an annual report describing the progress in the area over their year (as described in section 5.3).

The analystıs job will be check this report and produce a short, critical report about it. Their report should be available a week before the general meeting so that, at this meeting, the community can make an informed decision on the future development in this area (in particular who the next officer for the area should be).

 

2)      The analyst is the person a member should go to if they wish to lodge a complaint against an officer. The analyst doesnıt have to do anything immediately (unless they think the complaint is valid and they want to) but over time, if similar complaints continue to arrive in this matter, then they should study the matter and bring it before the community.

 

3)      The analyst (like all other officers) has to produce an annual report (a month before their term of office is due to finish). This report should give critical analysis of the general progress of the community over the past year – and hence this report will be by far the most important report that the community produces (i.e. all members should read and study it). It has to be the analyst that produces this report, because he or she are the only person to cover all fields (and they should have all the information readily at hand - after all they have already made a critical study of all 15 departments). So this certainly the analystıs most important function.

 

 


7.      A VILLAGE COMMUNITY

 

For the basic community I went to great pains to show a quite precise method by which the community could be formed (in very practical terms). I have no intentions of doing this at all for these next two larger forms. All I want to do is to show how our basic community can be joined with other basic communities (in a very natural and easy manner) to form larger communities. Furthermore these larger forms will have more facilities and give all members a better and fuller life (and yet still be completely green). Moreover these forms will appeal to a much larger proportion of our current population so this whole system of self-sufficiency should grow and expand. So forming a basic community is not a dead end operation but rather it can be the start of a movement that will spread, grow and eventually change the world to a form that is hopefully healthier and more fulfilling.

 

 

7.1    The Basic Form

 

Before I can go any further I need to give a name to my basic community of approximately 100 people. I will call it a Œhamletı. – this is the best word I can think of. In its relation to a village the term ısectorı would actually describe the situation more accurately – but the word doesnıt sound very good.

 

If you study my diagram on page 33, then you will see that 16 similar hamlets could fit round a village centre (a square of 460 m x 460 m). Now the very last thing I want you to do is to expect that our village form would really be like this in detail. But this does give you an idea about how the whole thing could fit together. Furthermore later I will want to say how all these villages communities can be taken to form a town community. In order that I can be a little definite then, I will say a village community is a square piece of land 2 km x 2 km where 16 hamlets cluster around a village centre at its middle. With our village centre (and a small border around the outside – to make up the distance) we are now using slightly more land per person than we did for just our hamlet community. Thus our foot-print per person now goes up to .25 ha (as opposed to .2 ha before). One should expect this increase because the village form now will allow our people to be slightly less dependent on the outside world.

 

The main advantages of this larger village community are that we can:-

1)      Run our own village school,

2)      Have a much better social life (with people sharing the same ideas),

3)      Run our own regular bus service to the local town and

4)      Have our own medical centre.

However there are also advantages in all our areas of activity. What I therefore do in section 7.3 is to go through all our 10 activities and services (discussed in our basic community) and explain how the village form can help to make life easier. The 4 facilities mentioned above will be automatically included in this discussion.

 

However before doing this, we must very carefully consider how the government of this village community might work. There is always a very strong tendency for a central government to increase its authority at the expense of the authority of its sub-communities. The last thing we want to do is to erode the self-sufficiency of the hamlets that we have created with so much care. So we must be very careful.

 

 

7.2    A Two Tier Governmental Form

 

To a large extent, the form of our village governing body follows on from what I have spoken about previously (in sections 6.11 - 6.15). Thus the presidents of our hamlets are also their representatives and so our Œhouse of representativesı, who govern our village affairs, should simply be the 16 presidents of the hamlets. {The number of hamlets is of course fairly arbitrary (though it would be nice if it lay in the range 10 – 20). I use the number 16 because it makes it clearer as to what I am talking about.} This Œhouse of representativesı should meet in the village centre once a week in a similar manner to the way that members of each hamlet meet once a week in the hamlet centre. These meeting should not be in secret (so all hamlet members could also watch what is going on as well).

         Like the hamlet meetings, the main task of these meetings is to elect the officers of the village community - and it will make life a lot simpler if these officers are more-or-less the same as the 15 officers of the hamlets. This would mean that a person can gain experience in a particular office in a village before putting themselves forward as a candidate for the same office in the village (and the required examination could also be similar). The one absolutely firm rule that I think must apply is that a member of the Œhouse of representativesı cannot be a candidate for an office in the village. The presidents of the hamlets (the Œhouse of representativesı) have enough work to do with their present tasks - and besides this sort of thing would strongly bias the election process of the officers. In our circumstances the system of choosing the Œcabinet ministersı from the Œhouse of representativesı would be quite wrong.

 

I now come to the extremely important subject of autonomy – but before doing this it will help enormously if I can define a few new terms. First of all it will be easier to sometimes refer to a village community as a village-state. This is because later I need to refer to a town-state (and a city-state) – and I wish to indicate that a village community has the same form (but at a smaller level). The next term I need to define is the village-domain which is, very simply, all the land in the village-state which is not a hamlet. Thus, in practise, the village-domain consists of: - the village centre, the access road, the village water reservoir and any left over land not needed by a hamlet (e.g. the outside border in this particular case). In the next chapter we will also need to talk about the town-domain as well and this is all land in a town-state that is not a village-state.

 

There is no reason at all why the hamlets should still not have complete autonomy over their own land. The village governing body would just look after the village-domain and our hamlets would look after themselves. This then gives a very clear-cut definition of our hamlet autonomy - and our village-state cannot interfere with it. Initially it must be the interim village governing body that purchases the total land because that is the only way that our body could acquire this amount of land. {Note that 4 km2 = 400 ha which is simply the size of a largish farm. So this amount of land could be purchased reasonably easily.} So each individual hamlet would then purchase their particular land from the village governing body as they are formed. So the village governing body will have a lot to say about what hamlets are formed initially. So the village governing body would have a lot of power in this regard. As time progressed the village governing body and the hamlets could still buy or sell land to each other as they wished.

 

Normally the village would accept the members of the hamlets as their own members. However the village body must also have some form of disciplinary power over its members so it must have the power to take away a personıs membership (if they do something wrong in the village-domain). Such a person could still retain their hamlet membership but it would mean that, when they were in the village-domain, then they would have to be accompanied by a full member of the village (who would take full responsibility for this personıs actions). I think, as a disciplinary action, this process would still be quite effective. It might not be quite as effective as gaoling a person – but then it would be a hell of a lot cheaper and an easier thing to do.

 

Finally we come to the problem of how the various facilities in the village-domain will be funded. Normally, of course, a facility should be funded by the people that use it. This practise would mostly continue in the village-domain and so, for example, our village bus would be funded by the passengers. A slightly more doubtful case occurs in the case of our medical centre. However I still think that our medical centre should be funded by its patients for the reasons I have already outlined in section 6.5. For the village school, however, this solution is clearly not possible (the pupils are too young). My suggestion then is that our village school should be funded by a tax on the people who are no longer supporting children and who have already attained full equity in the community (i.e. people later in life). This class of people will have a huge capacity for doing more work and a tax on them in a way is simply a request for them to do some more work (e.g. they could be the teachers). It is quite fair to do it this way because everyone will eventually be in this situation and it is simply a means of getting people to pay for the education that they received themselves when they were young at a convenient later date. This tax could be used for other things as well e.g. the village library, bush-fire brigade etc.

 

 

7.3    The Distribution of Activities

 

As you know, I have made our hamlet communities completely self-sufficient in a large number of areas. However, now that our hamlets are part of a larger community that share the same ideals and goals as our hamlets, we can let our village-domain take some of our tasks that a larger community can do more easily. The purpose of this section then is to suggest a sensible division of activities between these communities with respect to our 10 activities and services. The executive function must also be discussed.

Before doing this, however, let me say a short word on the subject of private enterprise. For our hamlets it was difficult to introduce much private enterprise because they were too small. In our village domain there should be a much greater scope for private enterprise. However in this section I will not try to make a distinction between private enterprise and direct government activity - it is simply too difficult (everyone would have differing ideas). However, just because I donıt say anything, this does not mean that every activity should be strictly under the village government.

 

 

 

1)      Agriculture

I think the majority of our agricultural activity should remain in the hands of our hamlets – as described in section 6.1. The 3 main reasons are:-

a)      It is much easier to recycle ones excreta completely in the hamlet environment,

b)      Our Œgreenı farming techniques are more applicable to a hamlet,

c)      Our hamlet farming labour hours are not excessive (about 2 hours per person per week). There seems little point in depriving our hamlet members of this healthy outdoor activity.

However some of the more sophisticated farming tasks should be done within the village domain. Thus: - advice on pests and diseases, the development of our seeds and the breeding of our animals, would be best done by experts in village-domain.

 

2)      Construction

The solution for construction could be easy – hamlets could do their own construction on their own lands and the village body could do its construction in the village domain. This system means that hamlets develop slowly and usually remain incomplete (which is the case in section 6.2). When we have a village-state, however, we have the option of developing and completing each hamlet one by one. This is probably a more natural doing the construction - but it means that the work must be organised by the village-state using the labour of hamlet members (whose communities are complete).

          The construction of the windows and doors is probably best done within the village-domain.

        

3)      Transport

The village should clearly run the bus service between the village and the local town (hopefully this could be about every 15 minutes). However it is probably best if each hamlet still have their own cars (for individual use by hamlet members).

 

4)      Social Activities

The larger village community can do a lot more on the social scene than our hamlets could. Thus the village centre should have a library, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a hall (for dances etc), playing fields and associated clubs and teams. However this still leaves our hamlets with several social activities to organise for themselves (if you bother to look up what I wrote down in section 6.4).

 

5)      Education and Care

For the village community this department would be quite large as it must run the village school and the medical centre. Probably this department needs to be split into two. The hamlets, however, can do a better job as regards the very young and the very old (as described in section 6.5)

 

6)      Energy

Again this is easy - thus the hamlets should look after their hot-water service and PV panels and the village domain should look after theirs. What the village also needs to do is to co-ordinate the total village-state electricity production, with the Australian grid as our energy storage form. The village could also run a few small windmills to help decrease our communityıs dependence on the Australian grid for energy storage.

 

7)      Water

As regards water collection - the hamlets should look after their needs and the village domain look after its needs. As regards water storage, however, the village as a whole has a very big part to play. This is because a water reservoir needs to be placed in the most optimum location. Also it is more efficient to have one large reservoir rather than a lot of small ones. Thus our main water storage reservoir should be placed in the village domain and hence run by the village as a whole.

 

8)      Recycling

Clearly organic matter would continue to be recycled in the hamlets. For other materials and items, however, such items would still need to be collected and sorted within the hamlets but then they would be given to the village body to be reprocessed (or reused). I said in section 6.8 that the recycle department should also act as the purchasing department so that the community would try to only buy items that it can mend. This function should mainly now be given to the village because then the village can act for the whole community and hence they can organise to have less variety to deal with.

 

9)      Communication

Again the hamlets will look after their communityıs communication facilities and the village will look after their facilities. However the village communication facilities could be much larger and more sophisticated than the hamlet facilities and so there could be a lot more work involved in the village domain.

 

10)    Workshop

A workshop is basically a manufacturing facility and as such it will be easier to hand most of this manufacturing function over to the village who can produce the various items in larger quantities. Such activities are also often better done by private enterprise. The hamlets would still need to have their workshops so that they can develop their own special ideas – but their scope for such activities would be smaller.

 

11)    The Executive

The village executive functions should mostly work in the same way as in the hamlets. However the village executives may have a slightly larger work-load and so they may need an assistant.

There is a slight problem in the treasury department. First of all I think that each hamlet, and the village domain as well, must continue to have their own Œhourı monetary units which will have different exchange rates to the Australian dollar (and hence with respect to each other as well). This may sound very complex - but in fact it is only marginally more complex than the system I outlined in the basic community. The problem arises because each hamlet may wish to offer different amounts of work (and also have differing views on how hard one has to work for this hour. These factors must lead to different hour values – and this circumstance can only be avoided by radically interfering with a hamletıs autonomy. So I think we must accept different values.

         The total banking system then would work in more-or-less the same way as for a single hamlet. Thus each person would give their time sheets etc to their relevant treasurer on Monday morning and the treasurer would input this data. To avoid each member having both a hamlet and a village account I think the village treasurer should transfer their memberıs transactions back to the hamlets after an exchange rate adjustment. This means that the hamlet banking system, in their membersı eyes, would hold all the equity. However some of this equity will really be for the village-domain infrastructure as well. This means, however, that all hamlet equity balances must be on the village information system as well, so that everyone can know who owns what within the village-state.

 

 

I think then that the split of activities between the hamlets and the village would roughly be 70% to the hamlets and 30% to the village (or 50% to each if the construction is done by the village-state). On the whole, the simple manual tasks are best done in the hamlets and the more sophisticated jobs that require more experience and knowledge are better done in the village. Thus one of the huge advantages of having a village community is that each individual person doesnıt need to learn anything like as much.

 

Finally let us finish on a slightly different matter. I have organised our village-state so that it will act in a very efficient manner in all its activities. This efficiency will result in our village-state having an excess of wealth in terms of both money and spare time. To use up some of this excess of wealth, our village-state should build or buy some holiday resorts for us members - at the seaside, in the mountains and in the local city. Thus our members can use up some of our spare time and wealth by having nice long pleasant holidays (and of course this will be better for our children as well).

 


8.      AN INDEPENDENT STATE (A Town-State)

 

So we now come to our ultimate challenge – to form a fully independent state. Thus we would like to form a very small nation that has no over-riding authority above it to tell us what we may or may not do. {Although many nations now certainly should have such an authority above them – to tell them that they cannot pollute the atmosphere with too much CO2.} There are two very good reasons as to why we should aspire to this ultimate challenge. They are:-

1)      We would like to make our own laws that support our own lifestyle - i.e. our green concepts, our self-sufficiency and our independence. A community is terribly limited if it canıt make its own laws.

2)      Without this independent status we are restricted to offering our membership just to Australian citizens. There are plenty of good people in third world and deprived countries who would be delighted to join communities such as ours. It is a shame that we have to miss out on this great opportunity.

 

In this chapter I am going to suggest a very independent form indeed. Thus my town-state will be more independent, in many respects, than Australia is at the moment. Thus this form might initially appear to be far too extreme. I do this intentionally because there is no point in suggesting a form that is the same as the current world. You can just ignore the extreme bits that you are not interested in.

 

 

8.1    Basic Form

 

This chapter tends to break down into two parts:-

1)      The features associated with our community being a town-state,

2)      The features associated with our community being fully independent.

I think it is best to, first of all, get a clear picture as to what a town-state will be like in its physical form and nature. So, in this section, we will mostly be concerned with this town-state form. Then the next two sections will deal with the more difficult problems associated with full independence.

 

Our basic physical form will naturally simply consist of a group of village-states clustering around a town centre in its middle. In terms of size then, we can think of our town-state as being a 10 km x 10 km piece of land basically containing 25 village-states (2 km x 2km). In the same way that our village-states contained a specific village-domain so, in our town-state, we must also have a specific town-domain. This town-domain will include the town centre, access facilities, a major water reservoir and several other town related features as well.

At this point it is worth pointing out a very radical difference between our town-state and our village-state physical forms. This is that, in a village-state, we could imagine that there existed a normal village consisting of the village centre together with Œhamlet living areası adjacent to this village centre. However, in a town-state, this situation cannot occur because none of the living areas of our hamlets can be adjacent to our town centre (as the hamlet living areas are next to the village centre on one side and they have their agricultural land on the other side). Thus our town-state will not contain a town (in the normal sense of the word) because a normal town has permanent accommodation and our town centre wonıt have this facility. This is a very intentional decision on my part because I think it is far better that all our members retain a close association with the land by living in a hamlet and so all people will remain fully Œgreenı and self-sufficient. It is quite unnecessary for our town centre to have permanent accommodation because our villages are only about 5 km away and, with a reasonable transport system, this journey should take less than 10 minutes.

 

Now letıs talk about people, membership, citizenship and things like this. First of all as regards population, I said that our village-states would have 1,600 people and there are 25 village-states. This gives our town-state a population of 40,000 people. I think this is a reasonable number. I said in section 4.3 that a population of 10,000 would do as a minimum. So it would - but 40,000 would be a bit better.

         Our governmental form would now be 3-tier system with the 25 village presidents forming the Œhouse of representativesı of the town-state. This Œhouse of representativesı then would elect the 15 officers of the town and so everything else would follow as a larger version of our village government. Once again the town government only rules over the town-domain and village-states remain autonomous.

         I think it is now best to talk of the full members of the town-domain as the citizens of the town-state. These citizens will be taken from members of the village-states (in the same way that village-state members are chosen from the hamlet members). However I think that it is essential that our town citizens now take a specific examination before they can become citizens. This is because:-

1)      Our town-state will now have its own laws and it is important that the citizens know these laws.

2)      Our town-state will now have its own complete education system and so there is no reason why all citizens should not have learnt these laws as part of their education.

3)      In the current world certain people like judges, policemen, doctors etc are given special authority by the laws of their country. In our community I donıt think that this is necessary (and I, as a good egalitarian, think it is unjust). However, it does mean that all citizens must know the laws of our community correctly.

 

The remaining features of our town-state then follow the trends that you will have already seen in the development of the village-state from the hamlet. Thus:-

1)      In the same way that our village provided for primary education so, in our town-state, we must supply secondary education. {And possibly tertiary education as well.}

2)      Our level of taxation on citizens must be increased to provide for the extra facilities of the town-domain.

3)      The importance of our membership executive must be increased because they now will be in charge of a complete judicial system. This task is not of over-riding importance because again the only penalty that the town government can inflict is loss of town citizenship. The membership executive would still need to bring such cases before the Œhouse of representativesı (in writing of course) for ratification. Thus the membership executive doesnıt carry the full responsibility for such a decision. The total work-load could be too much for one person and so the membership executive might need to choose some assistants (chosen possibly from other citizens who have also passed the membership executive exams).

 

         Thus, structurally, our town-state will have the same form as our village-states and our hamlets - but at a higher level of course. This type of structure could be continued to a higher level still. Thus 100 town-states could be combined to form a city-state of 4 million people. The important thing to note here is that this city-state would still not be very big. Thus the city-state would be 100 km x 100 km and the average distance to the city centre would only be 50 km. So, with a good public town to city transport system, people could still live in our hamlets and still get to the city centre in less than an hour. So living in self-sufficient hamlets need not be a great restriction. However the difficulties of forming a new city-state in the current world are far too great for me to consider. So I think that we must be satisfied with a town-state to consider the joys and problems of full independence.

 

 

8.2    Equality of Equity?

 

In our hamlet community I tried very hard to ensure that all our members eventually ended up with an equal amount of equity in our community. For a large independent community the situation is a little less clear-cut. This is a terribly important and difficult decision because it will affect the degree to which our community will be either a capitalist/free-enterprise system or a socialist/communist system. So, before dealing with the problem with respect to an independent community, let us review what I said about the hamlet case (back in section 5.2).

 

First let us be clear that we know what we mean by equity. In our community, a memberıs equity is simply represented by the size of the memberıs bank balance. So it basically means how wealthy that person is in the community. Admittedly, besides this equity, a member might have many treasured items like - famous paintings, antiques, jewels, fur coats etc. But these items are private and have nothing to do with the rest of the community - so our community can ignore such matters.

I tried to keep this equity equal between members so that:-

1)      A memberıs voting power also reflects that memberıs equity.

2)      Each member will have the same capacity to deal with the financial ups and downs of life i.e. sickness, accidents, old age, going on holiday etc.

3)      If any member desires to leave our community they would have an equal capacity to take away money with them to settle somewhere else. Thus each member would have an equal opportunity to leave our community.

         The system by which I tried to ensure that all members ended up with equal equity was:-

1)      I stipulated a reasonably good fixed interest rate (4%) so that all members would have an incentive to increase their equity and

2)      I gave a higher priority to young members with low equity to obtain work and hence such people would have every opportunity to increase their equity.

         The disadvantages of this system were:-

1)       Older members would have more difficulty in obtaining employment (not that this would matter too much because such people would already be wealthy) and

2)      Older membersı equity might even have to decline (for which they would receive Australian dollars).

 

The problem of extending this system to our fully independent community is that these two disadvantages now become a little bit more serious. In our hamlet community, our members could always go out into Australian community and do more work and hence they could accumulate as much wealth as they liked. In our independent community, this option might not exist.

         So I think you can see that the case is now more open to doubt. However you must remember that older members will still be allowed to work to pay for all their current expenses in the community (and the taxes that they now have to pay for education etc - see section 7.2). Thus their situation is still quite OK. There are also lots of other activities in which they could also play a very useful role. Thus they could;-

1)      Give some extra help to people in need i.e. the young, old or sick,

2)      Help or be active with various sporting activities,

3)      Help or be active in all the usual cultural or artistic interests,

4)      Help with emergency activities (fire-fighting etc),

5)      Help new communities to get started,

6)      Help with possible future expansion (i.e. living on the ocean or going into space).

As far as I am personally concerned, such a situation would suit me fine. Thus I am happy to do formal work to earn the essential facilities of life. Then, when all this work has been done and I have also built up enough savings, in the form of equity in the community, to deal with the various contingencies of life, I would like to be left to my own devices and make my own decisions as to what areas shall be blessed by my extra aid. Furthermore this is precisely what I have always done in my life - and I have certainly never been paid for most of the activities that I have done in the hope that I may have helped my fellow men.

 

So I would personally leave the situation as it is. However there are plenty of other options. Thus many activities can now be carried out by private enterprise so older people can fund and work in such concerns. So the Mr Greenblatt (see section 5.2) could certainly start up his massage centre in the town centre. Also taxes could be increased, people be forced to work a bit longer and all the 6 activities that I think should be done by personal choice could then be funded by these taxes. People could then do these activities as paid work. Thus there are plenty of other options - so I shall say no more.

 

The important thing, arising from all this, is that Œequality of equityı is still a very important goal that our community should always strive to attain. ŒEquality of equityı means that all normal people will have the funds to look after their own well-being. Thus each member can be financially self-sufficient. ŒEquality of Equityı is not supported by capitalist/free-enterprise systems because such systems tend to promote the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer (I will discuss this further in the next chapter). Communist/socialist systems, on the other hand, essentially put all the equity into the hands of the government. Hence the government ŒcaresŒ for everyone - I personally vastly prefer to look after myself - thank you very much.

The other feature of Œequality of equityı is that it supports Œgovernment by choiceı. Thus, if a person does not like the way their community is being run, then they have the choice of taking all their assets with them and going to live somewhere else, and other places are likely to welcome them because they are taking very substantial assets with them. This process is limited by my restriction on the speed of withdrawal (to prevent a Œrun on the bankı - see section 5.2). Nevertheless this process would have a strong effect on governmental actions and it is what I call Œvoting by oneıs feetı. This is the fundamental concept behind my ŒSociety of Choiceı book (see last page). However the total process becomes quite complex when you start going into all the details. This process cannot occur within a socialist system because all the assets are in the hands of the government and they are most unlikely to give a person their share of the communityıs assets if they want to leave.

 

 

8.3    The Support Problem

 

In our hamlet and our village-state communities, each community could accept or reject members more-or-less as they liked. In our fully independent town-state community, however, this situation no longer occurs because we must accept the people that are born to us and we canıt simply reject anyone (because such a person would have nowhere to go). So our town-state community has a radically different situation to deal with.

         Our town-state would naturally be quite happy to accept all normal people. However there are three classes of people that would pose some problems. These are:-

1)      People that desire to support themselves by a life of crime.

2)      People that have become so addicted to various drugs that they are no longer capable of supporting themselves.

3)      People with genetic defects and hence canıt support themselves.

         I call this the Œsupport problemı because all these classes of people will need to be supported. {The criminals more so than the people with genetic problems because keeping people in prison is very expensive.}

 

The first thing you should note is that our form of society is very well adapted to deal with these types of problem. Thus:

1)      A Downıs Syndrome person could very easily live in a hamlet and, in this environment, they could be moderately useful. They could almost certainly help with the food picking and preparation process. Thus they wouldnıt be much of a burden on our community at all.

2)      Our community is structured so that each sub-community has a large amount of autonomy. This means it will be easy to prevent the flow of drugs. Also it becomes relatively easy to limit the movement of people that use or deal in drugs.

3)      If a criminal has to live in a village-state, then there would exist almost no opportunity for crime at all. Thus there would be almost nothing they could conveniently pinch and, as there would be no money, there would be nowhere that they can escape to (because they would need to identify themselves in order to purchase anything).

         So our community could deal with these problems very easily indeed.

 

However, in the current world certain expectations have grown up on this topic and I think our community should clearly explain what the total concept of self-sufficiency implies. I suggest then the following 4 points.

 

1)      No right to be supported

In the current world, a vague feeling has grown up that all people have the natural right to be supported. This is obviously untrue because, if all people demanded to be supported, then there would be no one left to do the supporting. The correct state of affairs should be that the people who do the supporting should say who they wish to support and to what degree. {This does not apply to normal old age pensioners because during their working life they would have earned the right to be supported.}

 

2)      Gradual increase and loss of citizenship/membership

This process has been implied in everything that I have said so far. Thus a person would start with no membership at all (and hence be completely dependant on their parents). Then they would gradually get associate, interim and then full membership of their hamlet, then membership of their village-domain and finally citizenship of the town-domain. This process could be reversed if the various governing bodies felt that way. As this process increases or decreases there will be more or less bodies of people who will be concerned over the well-being of this person, and hence there would be more or fewer people who might be ready to support them.

 

3)      Individual life determination

I think individuals should be as free as possible to run their own lives as they wish. This means that a person should be able to decide when they wish to exit from this world. However it is not quite as simple as that. The various levels of government, that this person belongs to, may all wish to understand why this useful person disappeared from their world. So they should have the right of enquiry into such a disappearance. So it shouldnıt be all that simple – nevertheless, if a person definitely knows their own mind, then they should be able to leave. Under painful circumstances, the access to certain drugs could make this process a little easier. The various levels of government could (even should) have differing ideas on how available these drugs should be. So I canıt say anything. However the general result of the increased autonomy of the lower levels of government should make this whole process a little easier.

 

4)      Protection from external publicity

The net result of all these measures will mean that some individuals or hamlets could be left with some difficult decisions as to whether they do (or do not) support some people. If the supernal governmental levels think it wise to protect such people from the ever prying eyes of the outside world then our political structure gives them the power to do so. I know myself that there could be circumstances when I would find this protection very useful indeed.

 

So what can one say about all this – not a lot because it depends on what each community wishes to do. Nevertheless I think I can safely say that, if you or your dependants want to be assured of being supported under all circumstances, then they shouldnıt join a community that believes in self-sufficiency.

 

 

8.4    6 Other Features (associated with independence)

 

There are 6 further features associated with independence and they are also fairly important. They are:-

 

1)      Financial Independence

This takes 3 forms:-

a)      Complete self-employment

In our hamlet and village-state communities, we have already stipulated that all work on our own lands shall be done by our own members. This situation will naturally continue in our town-state. However, in these smaller communities, most of the income that essentially paid for our imports (mostly manufactured goods) came from some of our members working in the external society (i.e. Australia). In an independent community this cannot continue and hence we must balance our imports by producing an equivalent amount of exports. Fortunately there are in fact many good Œgreenı products we could export – our fresh healthy organic produce, our insulated windows, our electric hand held cultivating system etc. There are many things that our global economy is not interested in producing (because they make people too independent of the global market). We can conveniently make those items that are missing.

b)      Capital Ownership Independence

This situation is already implied by the fact that only our members should own the equity of our communities. This situation probably needs to be extended a little, however, to rule out our members receiving money from outside (i.e. inherited money, dividends, gifts etc). We should look after ourselves - and the outside world look after itself. So, if our members want to use this money, then they can go on holiday in the outside world and spend the money where it came from.

c)      Situation Independence

The important thing here is to not let an external boom or recession affect our community in any way. Mostly the self-sufficiency measures we have already taken should have ruled out this possibility. The final step we ought to take, however, is to accumulate a reasonable store of all our essential materials (steel, cement, plastics etc). With this precaution then we should be able to weather a bad period without too much of a worry.

 

2)      Fully Carbon Neutral

In our hamlet and village-state communities we have been fully carbon neutral for our people while they lived in the communities. However, in these communities, some of our people would still have to work in the external society (to pay for our imports) and there they wouldnıt be carbon neutral. In our independent town-state, this situation no longer applies and so we can be fully carbon neutral. Unfortunately, there is still a slight problem because, you might notice, all our imports (i.e. steel, cement, plastic etc) are very energy intensive while our exports would be less so. On the other hand, because we would recycle every thing, these material imports would only occur when our community expands (to accommodate more people). When this expansion occurs we must also increase our agricultural land and in doing this we will be absorbing a lot of carbon to increase the amount of organic matter in our soil (to make it more fertile). Hopefully then, the carbon that is produced by the production of our imported products would be cancelled by the carbon that is absorbed by our soil. However I personally do not know the relevant figures - so I will have to leave this calculation to someone that does.

 

3)      Defence

It may seem impossible that a small community such as ours could possibly defend itself against surrounding nations that would normally be about a thousand times as large. Let us go through some of the steps, however, that a small community like ours might take to defend itself. Thus it might build the following facilities:-

a)      Underground Retreats

If a large nation invades your land then the sensible thing to do is for everyone to retreat underground with sufficient supplies to be able to stay there a while. Hence our community needs to build secret underground retreats for the whole population with sufficient provisions.

b)      An Underground Listening System

When one is underground one would dearly love to know what your invaders are doing above ground. A good underground listening system will provide this information.

c)      Secret Exits from Retreat

Our community wouldnıt want to feel that their invaders could reside above ground with impunity. Thus our community needs to build many secret exits from their retreats. Then the community, knowing what the invaders are doing, can emerge from their retreats at leisure and deal with the invaders appropriately. {Our community would naturally have bought some of the readily available light weaponry that can be obtained fairly easily overseas.}

         Our community could construct the above facilities fairly easy because we would have a large amount of spare time. Also, because our community lives in such a compact manner, the essential tunnelling system that must connect all the above facilities would not be too long. I think the above measures should be sufficient to dissuade any aggressor from invading our town-state. However, it would be a glorious challenge if we were to try to construct the following final facility.

d)      A visual surveillance system with associated guided missiles

The purpose of this system would be to try to destroy any invading vehicles or aircraft. Clearly the system needs to be operated from underground and be retractable (so that it would not be visible to the invaders). The visual surveillance system would have 2 functions. These are:-

i)       To accurately pinpoint the position of any invading vehicles and

ii)      To accurately pinpoint the position of our guided missiles (when launched).

This information will need to be relayed to a central computer (and operators) and then, using this information, our missiles can be accurately guided to hit any invading vehicles. The missiles need to be fired high, rather than low, to give more time for flight adjustments. Such a system requires a lot of old-fashioned applied mathematics to be done (but there are plenty of old-fashioned applied mathematicians (such as me) with nothing much to do). With a system like this then, our town-state could become almost impregnable. Defence is like everything else in this world – all one needs to do is to indulge in a bit of old-fashioned work. 

 

4)      A Transport System

For both our hamlet and our village-state communities, we didnıt need an internal transport system because it was easy enough to walk everywhere. However, for our town-state, we most definitely do need a transport system – so now we have the great challenge of devising an adequate, Œfully greenı transport system. If you think about the nature of our requirements there seems to be just one reasonably obvious form.

a)      The only regular transport that we need to cater for is from our villages to our town centre. This journey is only about 5 km long and hence the journey should only take about 5 minutes. Because this journey is so small we only need small vehicles (but quite a few). I suggest very small car-like vehicles that hold either 2, 4 or 6 people (two abreast).

b)      Clearly our vehicles must be powered by electricity and this electricity is best supplied on route. Thus our vehicles should run on guided tracks so that they can fairly easily pick up the electrical power they need (but the vehicl