Wisdom of Communities
This month in “What’s Up..?” there are no celebrations, trips or events to report on, so we’re going to focus on our latest learning in the quest to create community.
Thanksgiving isn’t a national holiday, here in South Africa, but we celebrate our gratefulness every day. Besides the blessings we have mentioned before, like the freedom of home schooling, the simplicity of our life in Graskop, and the ample time we have together, as a family, we want to express our deepest gratitude for the education available to us via the internet.
After completing the “Ringing Cedars of Russia” series, all of which were available as free downloads, we made our first official textbook purchase, “Wisdom of Communities,” a four-volume compilation of articles from “Communities” magazine, spanning the past 40-years, published by Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC).
At only $60 (US) for digital download, these volumes have already proved invaluable, and we’re only half way through volume one!
In fact, this investment has saved us hundreds of thousands of potential dollars and years of regret and disappointment!
“How?” You may ask.
Well, here’s one example:
If you’ve been keeping up with our story, you may remember the Lydenburg property we were interested in back in March-May, 2018. The feel, the layout, the location, the buildings, ammenities and landscape all seemed perfect for our plans. We wrote up a preliminary investment proposal, some of you may have read it; we hired an attorney to prepare an investment contract, and we got a renowned appraiser to evaluate the property. Unfortunately, we were told that the asking price was several times the value of the property, and were advised that it would not be a wise purchase. So, we withdrew our active pursuit, tried to convince ourselves it wasn’t the right place, and hoped the sellers would drop the price to a figure that we could negotiate.
Boy are we glad THAT didn’t happen! “Why?” you may ask.
Well, one of the draws of this land was that it’s located about 15 km off the main road in the heart of a mountain valley. To get to it, one must drive down a narrow dirt road, through several other farms on what is called a road easement (in the US) or a road servitude (in SA)—we didn’t know these terms or their ramifications at the time. To us, the distance and easements were a plus because it ensured greater safety and future stability as no one would venture out there uninvited.
This property remained in our minds as ideal until... “Neighbor Nightmare in Northern California.” This article, about a couple of seasoned communitarians, speaks of their purchase of a piece of rural land to be used for similar purposes to our own. A spiritually and ecologically motivated center for gatherings, workshops and retreat. It was far enough from neighbors that their activities were not disruptive, they were getting permits for building use, and their intentions to give to the greater community gave them a sense of assurance. But that was not the case.
Despite the legal adherence, some neighbors (one in particular, who didn’t even live within sight of the property) did all they could to thwart progress. When it came down to it, the only way to legally prevent activity was to deny easement access. They state, “Basically we were advised that we had a 50/50 chance of getting the Home Occupation permit. It’s allowed and legal in our zone, but the only reason it wouldn’t be granted is because of the easement with the driveway, if that neighbor objected. My advice now is: if there’s a driveway [or road] easement, don’t have a community there…So it’s been a lot of emotional stress and grief and regret, really. I feel like if we could do it all over again we wouldn’t have done this.”
This information was enough to completely dissuade us from considering the Lydenburg land. In retrospect, when we consider that the property was once a thriving retreat and education center but has been inactive for the past six-years, and considering that the adjacent property was declared a conservancy in the past few years, we don’t doubt that the easement/ servitude issue proved to be a problem for the owners.
Whew! That was close! Thank you, Lord that the property was WAY over-priced!
Another thing we’ve learned is the statistic that less than 10 percent of attempts to create community succeed, for various reasons, legalities being only few among them! And we found that starting a community is a LONG process, so our seemingly slow progress is typical and not to be disconcerting or discouraging. We’re on the right track, and so far, we’re doing everything right, from establishing the legal entities of The Omni Foundation NPC, and Soul Sanctuaries Pty Ltd., creating a website, hiring professionals, clarifying our vision, mission and goals, and taking our time to thoroughly research.
The articles in these volumes address all the potential problems of starting a community. They offer clarity, guidance and very sound advice. With this information we are becoming well equipped with the knowledge necessary to move forward with confidence and a keener awareness, so we can avoid the many pitfalls and heartaches associated with starting community.
Thank you, FIC!
Within the next couple of weeks, we’ll be putting together preliminary policy and agreement documents to further clarify our plan, vision and goals, and establish more credibility. Again, thanks to FIC, and specifically, Red Earth Farms homestead community, who have posted their documents to share with other burgeoning intentional communities.
Other future plans and events include:
- A family holiday in the Drakensberg. We had a great time last year and look forward to doing it again.
- On January 25 I’ll be debuting as Open-mic night hostess at Canimambo Restaurant!
- The new book writing has proved much more of a puzzler than expected, so it won’t be out by Christmas. We’ll aim for Mother’s Day, as the theme is spiritual encouragement for women.
-The potentially significant event we're waiting for hasn’t materialized. We were told, in early October, that it would happen within 60-days, but it hasn’t yet, so we’ll see….
The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the development of intentional communities and the evolution of cooperative culture.
The FIC meets constituents’ needs through multimedia Publications, Online Resources, Events, Mentorship, Modeling, Meetings, Development, Fiscal Sponsorships, Archives, and Experiments.
Earth’s fever is rising at an alarming rate in an attempt to kill the infection that originated in the hearts of humanity and has spread into all other systems. Our illness can only be healed if we immediately change our over-consumptive, self-destructive habits and lifestyles, but too few are willing to change. Only a miracle of massive proportions will heal our hearts and land. A miracle giving sight to the blind and resurrecting the dead.
Our hearts have been healed, our eyes have been opened, we have been raised to new life.
We believe in miracles!
And that's what's up with Omni
Would you like to join our family? There are many ways that will be available to participate in this vision, whether living in community, volunteering, donating, investing, or purchasing our books. Think about it, pray about it, meditate on it. Listen to the leading of your heart.
Infinite Blessings to All!
Cameron and Leah Kirrane
The Omni Foundation
(Registration no. 2017/109176/08)
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