B. Rural Communities & Ecovillages

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The first main presentation in the series, following the introduction. An overview of rural agrarian communities, based on instructions from Srila Prabhupada.

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Rural Communities & Eco-Villages :

1 Rural Communities & Eco-Villages Practical Alternatives to Unsustainable Lifestyles

Intentional Communities & Ecovillages:

2 Intentional Communities & Ecovillages What are they? What is Srila Prabhupada’s model? Do we need them? What degree of “simple living and high thinking” is necessary? What principles and standards are required?

What are they?:

3 What are they? Ecovillages are intentional communities with the goal of becoming more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable Srila Prabhupada used the term “farm communities” Srila Prabhupada’s model had a very high degree of sustainability, far more than many existing ecovillages

Srila Prabhupada’s Model:

4 Srila Prabhupada’s Model Devotees are only in the cities for outreach and helping other people take up spiritual life Devotees personally dedicated to preaching or to supporting the preaching may live in the city All others should move to a rural community New people who get involved should choose between dedicating themselves to the city preaching or moving to the rural communities

Srila Prabhupada’s Model (cont):

5 Srila Prabhupada’s Model (cont) Sacrificing for helping others spiritually helps maintain purity even while we live in the city Living in rural communities facilitates a peaceful atmosphere, development of society, and proper social structures, which everyone needs for ongoing personal spiritual development Each of these two methods can independently bring about needed change in society, but using them in conjunction is very powerful

Reasons for starting such communities:

6 Reasons for starting such communities Spiritual advancement is much easier The lifestyle is far less stressful So much free time in the city is wasted The cost of living is far less in the country Best atmosphere for families and children It is the only natural way to live

More reasons for starting such communities:

7 More reasons for starting such communities Enhances our spiritual life Provides a safe haven in times of catastrophe or social upheaval There is a huge movement toward such lifestyles in today’s society It is Srila Prabhupada’s desire

Simple Living and High Thinking :

8 Simple Living and High Thinking We are very conditioned by city life Start simplifying before moving Learn useful skills beforehand Get experience in an existing community Form practical communities that can increase in standards over time Keep working in the city for a while

Principles and standards:

9 Principles and standards Many are found in Srila Prabhupada’s books Agreement on these builds a good foundation Details must be agreed upon by everyone involved, prior to starting a community There can (and should) be variety within a community Opposing sets of standards and desires may require multiple communities

Principles:

10 Principles Communities should Be built on common purposes Build trust among the residents Be planned, using good design principles Produce the majority of their food Be off-grid or grid-neutral Utilize local resources as much as possible Be economically independent as much as practical Require tangible contribution from residents Depend on nature, and ultimately on Krsna

Standards:

11 Standards Existing governmental standards must be followed Higher standards can be adopted as community rules Higher standards are desired in: Personal behavior Community governance Construction Education, etc.

Build on shared purposes:

12 Build on shared purposes Shared purposes bring about strong personal bonds Allow maximum input to understand what purposes are shared and by how many Put the core principles and purposes of the community in writing Use them to develop the community rules or constitution Regularly affirm and strengthen shared purposes

Build trust among the residents:

13 Build trust among the residents Encourage one another Participate in group activities Train everyone how to work and live together Validate new efforts and successes Deal directly and honestly with each other Serve and help one another Engage in the six loving exchanges Establish a dispute resolution process Be willing to be wrong

Planning and principles of design:

14 Planning and principles of design There are many critical design principles, and many stages of community development Considerable planning has already been done A good overview of the key subjects is required before getting further involved Come to weekly meetings to learn more and discuss More information is available at www.selfsufficientcommunities.org

Producing the majority of our food:

15 Producing the majority of our food Everyone has some involvement in agriculture for personal consumption Every household has equal acreage All land should be used productively Village members (8 households) work together Variety of crops should be grown Excess crops can be bartered or sold

Being off-grid or grid neutral:

16 Being off-grid or grid neutral This includes all utilities and waste Each home is as independent as possible Solar power and rainwater harvesting will take place in each home Villages of 8 homes are more fully self-sufficient (independent) as a group Complete self-sufficiency will rarely be practical

Utilizing local facilities:

17 Utilizing local facilities All land should be cultivated or otherwise used productively Everything produced should be utilized as much as possible, including waste materials Buildings should be constructed primarily from local materials (earthen construction is the best) Consumable purchases from outside the community should also be primarily local Non-recyclable waste must be minimized

Economic independence:

18 Economic independence Water, food, shelter, and clothing all come from our own land as much as possible and practical Labor and production should take place in the community, even if the end product is sold or distributed outside it Residents should primarily try to produce things that are needed within the community Systems of barter and local currency will be established Some degree of interdependence with general society is natural, and necessary in earlier stages

All residents contribute tangibly:

19 All residents contribute tangibly Service to one another, and the exchange of gifts is the heart of a community In the beginning the focus should be on providing and making arrangements for water, food and shelter Good advice and useful education is always a very valuable commodity Relative values of various goods and services will change over time Anything can be bartered!

Standards of personal behavior:

20 Standards of personal behavior Existing society’s standards are often very low Our minimal standards must be strict vegetarianism and refraining from intoxication Certain rights, such as voting rights within the community, can be contingent on following particular standards Ideal behavior should be valued more than wealth Promote the Golden Rule Improving personal behavior should be accompanied by a process of purification

Other community standards:

21 Other community standards Standards of construction can be higher than legal requirements, and should greatly minimize energy consumption, waste, and pollution Community layout should follow principles such as permaculture and Vastu Shastra Standards in governance, education, and other areas can be much higher than legal requirements if everyone agrees All legal requirements must still be followed

Communities are for everyone:

22 Communities are for everyone Sustainable communities are absolutely critical for long-term success in life We can be very successful with sufficient planning, agreement, and cooperation Such communities are for everyone, including devotees Many others are also working toward such development Such communities are the future for humanity

How you can help:

23 How you can help Be part of the group forming a community near Dallas Learn & contribute as a member of the group Work together, reach agreements, and develop the community Find others for forming villages together Whether or not you are part of the group Offer your skills, expertise, contributions, or time Conduct further research in particular areas as a Planning Team member Establish similar group training in existing urban communities

Next steps:

24 Next steps Read the information on the website Come to meetings and seminars, become informed, contribute your ideas, and discuss everything in detail Learn more about these lifestyles Learn more useful skills Get a plot in the community garden Visit nearby farms and communities together

Rural Communities & Eco-Villages:

25 Rural Communities & Eco-Villages Questions and Discussion www.selfsufficientcommunities.org shalagramdas@hotmail.com

Srimad Bhagavatam 2.2.3:

26 Srimad Bhagavatam 2.2.3 Text: For this reason the enlightened person should endeavor only for the minimum necessities of life while in the world of names. He should be intelligently fixed and never endeavor for unwanted things, being competent to perceive practically that all such endeavors are merely hard labor for nothing.

Excerpt from purport::

27 Excerpt from purport: The fruitive worker aspires after a big fortune in the matter of wealth, woman and worldly adoration, but those who are fixed in perfect reality are not at all interested in such false things. For them it is all a waste of time. Since every second of human life is important, an enlightened man should be very careful to utilize time very cautiously. One second of human life wasted in the vain research of planning for happiness in the material world can never be replaced, even if one spends millions of coins of gold.

(Purport continued):

28 (Purport continued) Therefore, the transcendentalist desiring freedom from the clutches of Maya, or the illusory activities of life, is warned herewith not to be captivated by the external features of fruitive actors. Human life is never meant for sense gratification, but for self-realization. Srimad-Bhagavatam instructs us solely on this subject from the very beginning to the end. Human life is simply meant for self-realization.

(Purport continued):

29 (Purport continued) The civilization which aims at this utmost perfection never indulges in creating unwanted things, and such a perfect civilization prepares men only to accept the bare necessities of life or to follow the principle of the best use of a bad bargain. Our material bodies and our lives in that connection are bad bargains because the living entity is actually spirit, and spiritual advancement of the living entity is absolutely necessary.

(Purport continued):

30 (Purport continued) Human life is intended for the realization of this important factor, and one should act accordingly, accepting only the bare necessities of life and depending more on God's gift without diversion of human energy for any other purpose, such as being mad for material enjoyment. The materialistic advancement of civilization is called "the civilization of the demons," which ultimately ends in wars and scarcity.

(Purport continued):

31 (Purport continued) The transcendentalist is specifically warned herewith to be fixed in mind, so that even if there is difficulty in plain living and high thinking he will not budge even an inch from his stark determination. For a transcendentalist, it is a suicidal policy to be intimately in touch with the sense gratifiers of the world, because such a policy will frustrate the ultimate gain of life.

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