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Les squires

Greetings Transition U.S. Social Network, 

If you learned that you had one, or two, or even three wishes in relation to any of the values of the Transition Movement, and that your wishes had a reasonable chance of being fulfilled within a very short time and with the assistance of this whole community, what would you ask for? 

Use Reply to This at the bottom of this page to make your requests known to the rest of the Transition community.


Feel free to let your request be known on any issue.  Your personal goals... new skills... visibility for your Transition company... something new for your geographic locality... a very active virtual discussion... support for your budding ideas... setting up a new service... coordinating activities in a newly defined region... better opportunities for collaboration with other Transitions. Get the idea?  Any interest.  YOU NAME IT!   Declare your interest.  Focus on yourself.  Be selfish for a change.  And "be careful what you ask for", as the old adage goes.


Feel free to respond to member requests (listed at the bottom of this page) offering your advice, requests for further clarifications, assistance, and support.  Let's see where this community wants to go.  See a perfect example of Offers meeting Requests.

Les Squires

Tags: planning, transition wishes, wishes

Views: 46

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I think the Transition movement is doing an excellent job in their communities exploring resilience and how to build it. My one wish is that groups begin to reach out to other community groups, such as immigrant groups, social justice organizations - and invite them to participate.
I think Gregory Greene is spot-on and I'm heading in that direction here in SE PA..

Wish one: I'd love to know that everyone in the Transition movement saw the following (mostly) videos: A. The End of Suburbia B. Natural Capitalism (A presentation by Amory Lovins) C. Chris Martenson's Crash Course (yes, it's a bit long but you can watch it in short chapters).

If you have time and want to do a fourth, it's a "must read" book by Jared Diamond, but also a Chris Smith movie starring Mike Ruppert in "Collapse".

Two: That us refugees from the Relocalization movement are better integrated into transition. That is beyond recommending Post Carbon Cities; an essential companion book to "The Handbook".

Three: That a new category of TT's be established that is different than "mulling". I've been at this game since the Earth Charter got rolling at the beginning of this Millennium. I've had five years of actually working within local government here in Pennsylvania. I have a fair idea of what's possible and what's not possible (at this moment) in my community. We're becoming a Transition Town, doing a lot of the important steps, but not calling it anything. We'll eventually have a great unleashing, but right now our EAC is a soft and gentle grain of sand that precipitates the pearl.

Rob Hopkins, now a Post Carbon Fellow (if I have that right) admits that the Transition Movement is in it's infancy and it doesn't know what the final, or even adolescent, shape it will take. Perhaps we could call it a Hybrid TT to include others who want to use the model but want to be a little different according to local possibilities.

Regional groups need to be linked up. Transition Warminster (Township), when it officially forms (and even now) will not exist in a vacuum. I want to be linked with Media, PA, Cheltenham, PA, and Newtown, PA., and with Sustainable Lawrence, NJ. There are Natural Step communities, co-housing communities (a bit like communes) and other innovative groups. We need each other because they may have gems and jewels that can enrich all of us.

There is a new paradigm emerging in western culture, with different values than the reductionist, mechanistic, white male power structure we're immersed in (and insidiously enculturated by). They value cooperation over competition, inclusion over exclusion, both-and over either-or, etc. We cannot work well in isolation.

In SE PA we'll, by proximity to Philly, we could be dwarfed by this large city of neighborhoods. But they are no less able to form TT's. Although I live in Bucks County, I want to link with Transition Mt. Airy, when it forms (I grew up there), and other entities in the region. I know the sustainability community in the Delaware Valley and there are great resources if we can form the synapses and other connections with local organisations like the Sustainable Business Network, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council's extraordinary EAC Network, the Green Building Council, The local and regional MPO's like the DVRPC, and others.

Although we have excellent forecasting resources that can point to likely trends, we're entering the age of Black Swans. These huge unanticipated events can skew the best laid plans in ways that can undo much of what we build. Probability has left us, but in its place we have possibility, and that is the heart of the Transition Movement as I see it. To visualize the grandest collective vision we can marshall, and be ready to periodically Re-Vision our creation(s) to stay flexible, relevant and possible.

I'd also like to suggest here that some of us explore the rich organizational heritage that exists in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. This 75 year old organization has nailed the non-hierarchical model that honors the rising feminist, or holarchic paradigm that can tune us in to the fruits of the best of our abilities. If you do it, take what you want and leave the rest. There are ineffable jewels in that organization for those who can ignore the dumb stereotypes and caricatures of AA.

This new wish-initiative promises to become an excellent place for us to to gather and express our collective mind. And, it wouldn't hurt to establish something like the old, Coordinators hub, that I found so rich and useful a few years back, if this doesn't quite do it for us.
RE: new thinking such as "They value cooperation over competition...."

Here we see how insidious the old paradigm is...the writer used the term "over" as in conquering one idea with another. Actually, in a paradigm shift to new ways of thinking, we would choose one method as "more useful" than others--always more than two issues, because we no longer think in terms of "black and white" and don't categorize issues as "either this one or that."

I encourage people interested in this paradigm shift to read Riane Eisler's book The Partnership Way. Her other writings lead us to new ways of viewing our cultural thinking. We know we learned to think in terms of "black and whte" so we can learn other ways, too. That's the hope for the future.
Sylveron Cooperative
Affordable, Sustainable, Resilient Community


1. Cooperative Housing. . . . . . . . 2
2. Expanding the Affordability Concept . . . . 2
3. Ecologically Smart = Pocketbook Smart. . . . 3
4. Generating Our Own Electricity. . . . . . 4
5. Live Richer, Spend Less, Cut Pollution . . . . 5
6. Vacationing at Sylveron. . . . . . . 6
7. The Member and the Community. . . . . 6
8. The Sustainable Sylveron Economy. . . . . 7
9. Taxes. . . . . . . . . . 8
10. On Your Feet. . . . . . . . . 9
11. Grow Old Along With Us. . . . . . . 10
12. Resources and References. . . . . . . 10

Cooperative Housing
Cooperative housing has proven itself capable of achieving goals that other forms of housing have failed to achieve. Many inner cities have attractive, successful cooperatives where public housing and rental housing have failed and become blighted. Suburbs have successful cooperatives, often equipped with well-equipped community buildings, swimming pools and playgrounds.
The members' ownership and control of cooperative housing, with members setting policies and judging the co-ops' management, have assured their success. For this reason we have chosen the cooperative housing model to solve today's problems of affordability, ecology, energy, sustainability, social cohesiveness, aging, resilience and a supportive economy.
In addition to providing townhouses for families, as do all housing co-ops, Sylveron will provide a number of additional facilities, detailed below. As each of these facilities is added, members participate in their design and functioning. Individuals with specific goals will find useful advice and resources from among the membership and the professionals of the Co-op. These additional features make Sylveron a different sort of housing co-op, so we call it a second generation housing cooperative.
Sylveron is designed to be a sustainable community, utilizing fresh ideas that have proven themselves in practice.

Expanding the Affordability Concept
Housing is called "affordable" if the departing member-owner's selling price is restricted instead of being negotiated in the open market. Homes are to be used as homes, not as chips in a speculative gambler's casino. The restriction on the resale price guarantees that the homes cannot be used as instruments of speculation. Yes, it is charming if you gain a windfall profit when you sell your house, but that possibility also makes you vulnerable to devastating losses upon resale when the market declines. The housing crisis of 2008, 2009 and 2010 has made this point only too vivid for hundreds of thousands of families who have lost their homes, owing mortgages larger than their home can sell for.
All too often, such windfall profits upon selling a house are illusory, for the profiting family who then must purchase another house will find their purchase price has also risen. The family isn't really ahead of the game. The only winners are the speculators who buy a house and "flip" it, put it up for sale a short time later, without ever living there. These speculators create a housing bubble; they make money without providing a service. This is not business. It is interference with the normal functioning of a free market, and it costs the rest of us a lot of money.
Affordable co-op housing which is funded through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] is available only to applicants of modest or low incomes for the area. However, income is not the whole picture of a family's financial position. A youngster in college with no income may have parents earning millions a year. An elderly couple with minimal income might have in hand the proceeds of the sale of their last house and may wish to put it all into their new co-op home to minimize their monthly occupancy charges. Sylveron will enable prospective members to choose a down payment that makes sense to them, given their circumstances.
Sylveron Cooperative's policy should be to ignore an applicant's income -- thus reducing the Co-op's administrative costs -- and to accept anyone willing to sign an agreement to re-sell their membership and occupancy agreement for no more than the exact amount they paid for it when first becoming a member. This arrangement will produce a mix of income levels, which is a desirable goal. The member who wishes to build personal equity could deposit a fixed amount in a credit union savings account, where the account will earn a good interest rate.
Sylveron will be happy to work with the local government which has Section 8 funds available. Applicants will be accepted if the local government approves and allocates the money to assist the applicant.
In HUD co-ops, affordability is enforced by the language in the co-op bylaws, in the HUD regulatory agreement and the mortgage. When the co-op's mortgage loan is paid off, the regulatory agreement expires, the co-op bylaws can then be changed if the members so wish, and the homes can be re-sold at whatever the market permits. The housing is no longer affordable, but has become 'market-rate.' However, some co-ops, like Penn South Cooperative, in Manhattan, had an extended discussion on the issue and then voted overwhelmingly to preserve their co-op's affordability even though no longer required to.
Those recognizing the need for housing that remains permanently affordable have adopted a new approach which enforces affordability by setting up Community Land Trusts (CLTs) which own the land on which the co-op builds its buildings. The landowner CLT enters into a contract with the building owner co-op which controls the resale prices of memberships. In Sylveron's case, the Michigan Alliance of Cooperatives can serve the CLT role of owning the land and contracting with the proposed Sylveron Co-op to control resale prices as long as the land lease lasts -- forever, or at least as long as our civilization lasts.
Affordable housing co-ops typically enjoy re-sale prices substantially below market prices. This means that the co-ops have long lists of people waiting to move in. Vacancies are avoided and the costs of vacancies are eliminated. The affordable housing co-op can operate with costs lower than those of other multi-family housing. These savings give the affordable housing co-op a stronger economic position.
In a jurisdiction where local government wishes to provide help to families of low income, Sylveron Cooperative will be happy to accept Section 8 arrangements as administered by the municipal or county government.
Sylveron will offer only townhouses for sale under the co-op plan because by sharing party walls and shortening supply lines, townhouses are inherently less expensive than comparable single family homes. Sylveron will also provide maintenance services with its own staff, again saving money for the members in comparison to having to call in outside plumbers and electricians from elsewhere.

Ecologically Smart = Pocketbook Smart
Sylveron's master plan and landscape plan are sustainable. Sylveron takes advantage of earth sheltered construction: steel reinforced concrete floor, walls and roof with earth berms on three sides, windows on the south side and three feet of earth on the roof. The building will be super-insulated as well as earth sheltered.
Earth sheltered construction saves on maintenance as well as on energy. The building will emit no greenhouse gases. The building requires minimal heating and cooling. Six thousand earth sheltered homes in the United States of America enjoy such savings now, and the earliest have been doing so for fifty years or more. The Alliance's Executive Director Joel Welty and wife Elinor have lived in such an earth sheltered home more than four years to prove its worth and are well satisfied. Some earth sheltered homes in the eastern Mediterranean area have functioned efficiently for two thousand years
The earth berms and the earth on the roof seldom vary from 50 to 55 degrees F. The energy required for heating and cooling is far less than for a building with outside temperatures ranging from 10 degrees below zero to 95 degrees above zero. Also, the concrete lasts longer than concrete subjected to extreme variations in temperature.
The concrete serves as a heat sink, moderating outside changes in temperature. Years ago, people used to heat a brick on their woodstove to take to bed with them. With an earth sheltered building, you are living inside the brick.
The south walls will have high windows to maximize solar heat gain when needed. The windows will have shutters to control heat gain when not needed.
For back-up heat on long, dark winter nights, Sylveron will use a heat exchanger system, with the exchanger itself buried in the earth. This "geo-thermal" system works like a refrigerator, taking heat from the ground and pumping it into the building. In summer the exchanger is reversed, taking heat from the building and pumping it into the ground.
This system also heats water for the bath and kitchen. For a single home this system is expensive, but when serving a row of townhouses the cost per townhouse is low, and operating expense is very low.
Each townhouse and office will have a small woodstove for use during electric outages and to dispose of cardboard box waste which members don't recycle.
All lighting in common areas will be on motion detectors and light sensors, so they shut themselves off automatically when no one is there and also when natural light makes them redundant. All lighting will be light emitting diodes [LEDs] to minimize electric demand. The extra cost of these lights is paid back within a few years by the savings on electricity and the longer life of the bulbs.
Additional natural light will come from clerestory windows and solar tubes. They provide natural light both in private rooms and in common spaces during daylight hours, when electric lights need not be turned on at all. Again, we reduce energy demand -- and expense -- while maintaining the residents' high quality of life.

Generating Our Own Electricity
Because Sylveron's conservation measures reduce electric demand dramatically, Sylveron will be able to meet that reduced demand with our own electric generating system, using wind turbines and photo voltaic cells. The cost of electricity from the grid will certainly continue to rise, while the cost of wind turbines and photo voltaic cells will decline; electricity generated on site will become the most economical source. Electric lines will be run in the ceiling of the interior corridor, not strung outdoors, so they will not be vulnerable to wind damage. Only an exceptional wind could damage the windmills, most of which are engineered to withstand winds up to 100 miles per hour.
The wind turbines to be selected are known in the trade as "small wind." They are not the huge towers being erected to pump electricity directly into the grid. They are mounted generally no higher than thirty feet above the roof line. Government subsidies will pay thirty percent of the cost of installing them.
Photo voltaic cells will generate electricity when the sun shines, supplementing the wind turbines. These cells are very low maintenance, with no moving parts to wear out.
Sylveron Cooperative will be only one of many homeowners who set up wind turbines and photo voltaic cells in Michigan. Most of these will feed their excess electricity into the electric grid, reducing Michigan's need to build coal fired electric generating plants.

Live Richer, Spend Less, Cut Pollution
Because the Sylveron building is earth sheltered, exterior maintenance costs will be reduced to a minor fraction of the costs of exterior maintenance of conventional construction. Roofing and siding need never be replaced, repaired, or repainted. Window trim will be vinyl, and never need painting. Reduction in exterior maintenance costs can save members as much money as the savings in energy.
Water conservation is a growing problem, not just in Arizona and California but even in Michigan, where lake levels and the water table have fallen and our thirsty population continues to grow in numbers. We will undertake several measures to reduce water use, again improving everyone's standard of living while lowering the cost of living.
Instead of using flush toilets, Sylveron will use Clivus Multrum composting toilets, eliminating nearly one-half of the amount of water used in most residences. When people first hear about composting toilet technology, they often think that it is like bringing an outhouse into your bathroom. Not so. The biological processes of composting toilets are quite different from those occurring in outhouses and septic tanks. Composting toilets utilize aerobic decomposition (no smell) instead of the anaerobic decomposition (very smelly) that takes place in an outhouse or a septic tank. These toilets have been in use since 1939 and have proven themselves. No drain connections are required and there is no worry about contaminating ground water. The cost of installing them is far less than the sewage treatment plant for the entire structure of townhouses, offices, and common areas that would be required by the health department. Clivus Multrum toilets convert human waste into a harmless mulch that can enrich bushes or gardens. There is no noxious sewage sludge such as is produced by conventional sewage treatment plants, a problem which has begun attracting more concern by sanitarians.
Installing Clivus Multrum composting toilets costs about the same as septic tanks and drain fields, but they are environmentally superior and have no operating costs. Sylveron staff will remove the 5% composted mulch on a regular schedule.
Sylveron also saves water by installing a gray water system that filters and re-uses water from kitchens and showers or bathtubs, to sprinkle on gardens. The gray water system costs more for the initial installation, but once installed, the gray water system does not cost any money to operate, as do municipal water supply systems.
Rain water will drain into the central pond, where we will raise fish for members to catch. The central pond is a feature of the scenery making Sylveron attractive.
Only a very small area near the main entrance will be put into lawn. The rest of our landscaping will be private gardens, private orchards or left natural. Reducing the size of lawns eliminates the need for any pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers and water. And the expensive labor of regular mowing. In conventional multi-family developments, all that contaminated water finds its way into our streams and lakes, poisoning the very stuff of life. So we will reduce the area of lawn to a negligible amount, again reducing expenses.
Total water usage at Sylveron will run about 40% of the level of water usage in conventional residences. This savings comes while maintaining the highest standard of living and meeting the most advanced ecological standards.
The net effect of these measures is not only to reduce our impact on the environment but also to reduce the operating expenses of Sylveron, benefiting the members by enhancing their standard of living while keeping their monthly occupancy charges -- "rent" -- low. Each ecological measure helps make Sylveron more appealing.

Vacationing at Sylveron
Because Sylveron has so many unusual features for people to understand and appreciate, we need a method of introducing prospects to the character of life there. Sylveron will offer small townhouses, about the size of motel rooms, for transient use by vacationers, giving prospective members a close view of how the place works before they need to commit themselves to a purchase.
The annual membership fee should be small, to encourage people to take a small taste at little expense. We will offer holiday events involving transients as well as residents, such as plays, concerts, medieval festivals, hot-air balloon gatherings, astronomical observations, nature hikes, and anything else we can think of to attract visitors. Non-resident members will hold full memberships, may run for the board and may participate in all policy questions, as they may wish.
Leaflets explaining what Sylveron is all about and inviting transients to join will be readily available. Resident members and staff will be primed to answer questions frankly about Sylveron.
Sylveron can expect the same thing to happen which already happens at many lake resorts. Prospects will visit for a holiday or a week's vacation, come back for specific events, purchase a motel-size townhouse for vacation use, and gradually settle into the community. Many employers are willing for employees to commute by fax, phone, e-mail, and video conferencing. So the member may decide to move to a larger townhouse and use it as a primary residence, with a small place in the city to use when a physical presence is required at a company meeting. Upon retirement, they may sell the city place and retire to Sylveron. Entertainment at Sylveron should always be suitable for people of all ages.
We expect much public interest in the kind of cooperative society enabled by Sylveron, so we would conduct seminars about what we are doing and offer certificates to our graduates, in the hope they would then go elsewhere and duplicate the Sylveron concepts and program.

The Member and the Community
Some say that a strong individual is incompatible with a strong community, that a person must either be a strong individual or docilely conform to the community. Not so in Sylveron. It is strong individuals who build a strong community, and a strong community which fosters strong individual characters.
Many aspects of the Sylveron program will encourage building friendships and strengthening individuals. For example, the Wild Carrot Restaurant will offer two types of tables: small ones with two or four chairs intended for private dining, and large round tables with eight chairs where you sit if you want to indicate you'd welcome someone else, stranger or friend, to come sit by you for conversation while dining.
The hobby rooms will be provided on the understanding that they are open to all, and habitués will understand that they should smile and welcome anyone visiting a hobby room for the first time. Children and youths coming to a hobby room will be mentored by their elders, guided to preserve their safety, and coached in how to do whatever is being done in that hobby room. Circles will develop around pottery, weaving, hooked rugs, carpentry, photography, sculpture, model ship building, archery, metalwork, painting, gardening, birding, welding, auto repair, beekeeping, computing, and any other interest members may develop.
Master gardeners will be given high status by those of us with less knowledge of nature's ways. Permaculture principles will have their enthusiasts and will guide Sylveron's landscaping. Singing groups of varied skills will form, and those interested in classical, romantic, or jazz music, or Broadway tunes, will find their fellow aficionados. The Sylveron auditorium and lounge will be busy with home talent.
Classes will be offered in all the many activities and hobbies members pursue, broadening each members' opportunities to meet others and make friends.
The Benjamin Franklin Library on site will host discussion groups, all of them open to members and guests. If a member doesn't see a discussion group that's attractive, s/he can start a new one, and perhaps others will enjoy sitting in.
A wide range of activities will be available for children and youths, to train them in scientific gardening and nature study, as well as for animal care and environmental concerns. 4-H programs will be popular.
Many of the hobbies can be turned into mini-enterprises, producing products for sale in the Sylveron Gift Shop or at the Barter Fairs.
Each new member will attend orientation sessions showing how to take advantage of all the various programs offered by Sylveron Co-op Community, how to participate in group decision-making, how to use the hobby rooms and the business incubator and how to enjoy a cooperative community.
Sylveron is what a community ought to be:
1. nurturing of our natural environment,
2. supportive of the individual member's needs and wishes,
3. sustaining the cooperative attitude,
4. accepting everyone who wishes to join, regardless of political or religious views.
We seek solutions to problems by working together and building friendships. We want to enhance the quality of life for each member and enable members to live as unique individuals within the cooperative community.
Sylveron encourages socializing, but also recognizes the individual's need for privacy and solitude at times. Each member's home -- or vacation cottage -- is inviolate and protected against intrusion. Each member determines when, or whether, to take part in social activities, or not.

The Sustainable, Resilient Sylveron Economy
The Sylveron business incubator will provide:
1) advice and consultation to any member considering starting a private enterprise,
2) work space, office space, with support such as receptionist, phone, fax, copier, computer, video conferencing, until such time as the new
business needs these things full time, and no longer wishes to share,
3) marketing through the Sylveron Gift Shop or other Sylveron services, both on site and on line and by Sylveron Newsletter to members,
4) accounting, bookkeeping services, audit service,
5) coordination with other members doing similar or complementary things.
At the heart of the Sylveron business incubator will be the fully licensed community kitchen, where members may bring garden produce to preserve it for family use or for sale. Old family recipes for relish, salsa, jam, cookies, breads, snacks, casseroles and whatever will find new happy eaters. Members may wish to exchange ethnic foods, old family recipes.
At the same time, some members may set up community supported agriculture programs, supplying other members with comestibles, raw or cooked. Some members may provide Sylveron's Wild Carrot Restaurant with supplies.
The hobby rooms will no doubt turn out a variety of hand craft items. Members may offer various personal services such as nursing, tutoring, home repairs, etc.
To accommodate such commerce, Sylveron will hold barter days, when people can admire each other's work and negotiate to acquire it on reasonable terms.
Barter days work best if Sylveron's business incubator provides its own local currency. IRS provides rules for determining ones income from barter and from the use of local currency, which Sylveron will provide to members to keep them straight with the feds. A typical barter day would allow the use of US currency, but as people get used to the local currency -- which we'll call "barts" -- we will find it being used more and more. This strategy has been useful in several communities, where enthusiasts brag about its success: called BerkShares, Ithaca Hours, Time Dollars, LETS (Local Exchange Trading System), and many more.
Sylveron will last a long time. It could be that in times of recession or depression, US currency will be in short supply in members' hands. At such times, the common acceptance of "barts" could keep the Sylveron local economy functioning in spite of a scarcity of US currency.
Another problem, which we usually don't think is an economics problem (but it is) afflicts Michigan: we are using up our land at a ferocious rate. People buy a parcel of five, ten or twenty acres and build a single house in the middle of it. Providing services, such as fire and police protection, ambulance services, and the like are all made more expensive because the houses are widely spread.
At Sylveron, the townhouses are clustered on a small area within the acreage we buy. We preserve a substantial part of the land in a natural state where wildlife can flourish. Each townhouse will have a patio with a high wall, nine feet tall. Each member can enjoy the outdoors in privacy. The high garden walls will keep deer and other species we share the land with from devastating the gardens within the patios. Members who have dogs can let them run loose in their own patios, avoiding an all-too-common problem in housing co-ops where disputes arise about controlling dogs -- and cleaning up after them. Also, the dogs do not chase the wildlife when restricted to the patio.
We take great pride in preserving the beauty of nature while enjoying the gifts of nature.
Note that a substantial part of the Sylveron productive economy -- gardens, crafts, community kitchen, personal services, etc -- are local, and not reliant upon employment at corporate owned factories. Indeed, much of Sylveron's economy is also independent of the traditional money economy as well. Life at Sylveron is more abundant, without requiring high dollar incomes.
As the world goes past peak oil, and the end of petroleum causes major problems within our oil-addicted economy, Sylveron will make the transition to the end of oil with resilience.

Because Sylveron member-owners benefit from local public services, we should pay local taxes like everyone else, and participate fully in local fire, ambulance and police services. Sylveron member-owners will be found on local boards, commissions and charitable programs. We will contribute at least our share of effort, thought, money and time.
However, the business incubators in other communities not only generally do not pay taxes, their expenses and capital costs are often paid for out of county revenues as a way of strengthening the local economy. We might negotiate exemption from local taxes for some activities. The Sylveron Little Theater players -- all unpaid volunteers -- might also deserve tax exemption on their ticket sales, but the local movie house pays taxes and may have a legitimate complaint about this.
Member-owners of Sylveron need to understand that there is a difference between being non-profit and being tax exempt.

On Your Feet
We design our buildings. Then they design our lives. When we designed the suburbs sixty years ago, we thought we were each getting a little piece of nature, with lots of green lawn around us, space for a few flowers and fresh air. What we got was the necessity of driving a car everywhere we had to go: the store, the job, the school, church, and, oh, yes, the state park where we could see what remained of nature, staked and chained.
And we got rush hour traffic, stop and go, sitting and waiting for traffic to creep forward while our cars exhausted more carbon dioxide and fumes into the air we were breathing. Being on wheels was advertised to us as a delight, with commercials showing a single car speeding through mountains or prairie, seashore or green farm land. The reality was not all that much fun, and while we sat in our cars we began thinking wistfully about getting back on our feet.
Anyone who lives at Sylveron, and works at one of Sylveron's businesses, can walk to work in a minute or two. And can walk to the Wild Carrot Restaurant, the Benjamin Franklin Library, the Victualry ["vittle-ree"] Food Store, the hobby rooms, the auditorium or a friend's home.
Every townhouse will be equipped with a personal grocery cart, tucked into a closet designed just to hold it. When we want to shop for groceries, we roll the grocery cart down the interior hallway to the Victualry, fill it up, check it out, and roll it back home again. We don't even need bags for the groceries since we don't have to transfer the groceries from the cart into a car.
Having a problem keeping weight down? A little walking would cure that. Especially if you walk to Sylveron's exercise room.
Commuting to work for most of us today means being isolated in your car from the moment you leave your house to the moment you park in your employer's parking lot. At Sylveron, you are likely to find neighbors also walking to work down the hall.
Life is different when you are on your feet.
Bike paths outside, through the natural area, are available for bicycles. Walking paths are available for strolling.
It is likely that some members may decide they don't need to own a car. They generally can walk where they want to go. When they do need to drive somewhere outside, they can rent a car from Sylveron.
The high cost of gasoline in money and pollution is not likely to go down, only up. We made a mistake in making ourselves so dependent on cars. Sylveron can make us independent of cars, if we wish.

Grow Old Along With Us
About 90% of us old geezers (yeah, including me, Alliance Executive Director Joel Welty) want to live in our homes, and in our communities, as long as possible. The problem is with the design of our homes. We find all too soon that door knobs are difficult to deal with, when our hands are arthritic. Steps are about as threatening as muggers. The way we have designed our homes to date is not geezer friendly.
Sylveron will be built upon "Universal Design" principles throughout. Universal design simply means that the room layout, the equipment, everything about the building can be operated by any person of any age. Instead of door knobs, doors have handles which can be operated by an elder no matter how crippled his/her hands might be. Homes are all on one floor, with no steps. Showers, toilets, tubs are all equipped with grab bars. And so forth.
The interior corridor, which goes to every part of the building, is for wheel chairs and pedestrians only. It will have a handrail an elder can grab when needing to balance.
A common problem for older adults is the feeling of isolation, of being cut off from friends. Part of the problem is transportation, because many old folks don't want to drive. Another part of the problem is the weather. When there is snow and ice on the sidewalks, many elderly people feel imprisoned in their own homes, not daring to walk on ice. That is why Sylveron has an interior corridor linking every part of the building. Even when there is a seventy-mile-an-hour blizzard outside, it will be easy to walk down the corridor to the Wild Carrot Restaurant. Want to go to the Benjamin Franklin Library? Just walk down the corridor. Everything is readily walkable.
There is no need for an elder to move to a special facility for old people; they are already there.
We expect there will be health care professionals living at Sylveron who are happy to provide services to those who need it. And there will always be neighbors to call on when needed.
Resources and References
All the above concepts are being tried and proven around the world. Here are the contacts. Feel free to check them out yourself if you wish.
Joel Welty, Executive Director

Your comments on this presentation: e-mail:

Housing cooperatives:

Affordable housing:

Earth sheltered home design:

Universal design:

Local currencies:

Other cooperative communities:

Local food:

Local Electricity:

Environmentally Sustainable, Resilient Economy
Joel, it looks as though this was originally a Word or Adobe file. It would be better to create your reply and then ATTACH the file (similar to what you do in email attachments). You may want to create a short executive summary for your reply. That would explain what people are receiving when they download their own copy of the file.
Wish: a Compassion Speakers Bureau which would advocate for speaking about Compassion, train speakers, and pursue public speaking opportunities on the subject of Compassion. All of our problems can be attributed to a lack of interest and appreciation of the essential importance of Compassion in our lives, and those problems will begin to be corrected only when we correct this deficit.
I wish for an end to pesticide/herbicide use, an increase in attention to soil fertility and health, and better attention to the important ideas of Vandana Shiva, Sepp Holzer, Geoff Lawton, Toby Hemenway, Larry Santoyo, and others active in promoting harmonious ways for humans to live with others animals and plants. I want to be part of healthy communities. I am blessed to live in Portland where there are many others with similar interests. I need to be more focused about cleaning my house. It's so much more fun contemplating how to clean up the world outside my house.
Oh, wow, Les is this a tall order. But i love the way you are managing this -- great job!

1. Any transition movement must also be "transformational" which means making an evolution in human consciousness and moving into other dimensions of awareness as to who we are and what it means to be human at this time. We must question as to whether we here today have a different role to play in the overall big picture than did those who went before us? And, if so, then we must ask whether or not we are willing to make the gigantic leap into "future think" that will allow us to create a new paradigm built on love and cooperation rather than to continue on with business as usual which has taken us down the path to war and hate.

In order to do this, we must learn how we are programmed to think by significant others in our lives from the time prior to birth to the time we are 7 - 10 years of age. Where once this type of programming served us well, it no longer does as it prevents us from taking in new information and applying it in ways that are "life-enhancing." Of all the information available to us today, 75% has become available in the past 25 years. Information is now doubling every 1.5 years and is what is most important if we are to move into the future in health and wellness as it is what is most applicable today that is what is most important and will contribute to our survival. So, we must each make a conscious choice as to how we want to operate and then set about reprogramming our minds in ways that are conducive to our survival in this new world that is fast-changing.

2. Since what is most at stake today is whether or not the human family can rise to meet the challenges of this time and move beyond into a new era, then as a collective consciousness/unconsciousness, it seems that we must begin to look at our situation critically and designate the most important things to be done NOW. And, i see two priorities:

1) Food: as the price of oil escalates, the trucks will not be able to roll from point of production to point of consumption at a price the consumer can afford. This is particularly important with regard to food, water and medical care.

2.) Public Safety: Far more dangerous than a Mexican migrant or a terrorist is a U.S. prison inmate being released into the population from a system that is based on punishment and not on rehabilitation. We are currently graduating more inmates from prison than we are graduating from our universities and at far greater cost. What a system based on punishment does is put inmates together in a way that fosters their learning how to be better criminals, which when they are released they are going to apply. Particularly when they are released into an economy such as this one.

Over the next year the State of California is being forced to release 40,000 prisoners they cannot afford to house. Other states are not far behind as prisons all across the country are overcrowded, many being housed in spaces holding double the number they were built to hold. And these people, most of whom have forgotten what love is, if they ever knew, are going to walk out into a world where there are no jobs for them with five counties in California having an unemployment rate that exceeds 20%, with the only thought in their mind as to how they are going to survive and their best bet is going to be drugs and crime as they join the high numbers of others who are homeless and hungry.

As the founder/designer of Future Dawning Enterprises, i am coordinating a program to create prison reform, beginning here in the State of California, along with the Academy of Holodynamics, founded by Dr. V. Vernon Woolf. The model we design here will then serve as a model for the rest of the U.S. and other countries around the world in need of prison reform. The program will also include the related issues of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse.

It must be noted that almost half of the prison population is comprised of people who are mentally ill. And people who are mentally ill need to be treated in the same manner as someone who has cancer, i.e., medically. Incarceration in prisons may be considered "cruel and unusual punishment" for people who need medical care. There have already been some related legal proceedings filed in this regard and i expect there to be more.

Another related issue is that of rehabilitation facilities to which local, state, and federal agencies refer parolees and others for rehabilitation. Little, if any, screening for mental illness is accomplished prior to sending an individual to one of these facilities, many of which use only a religious program (approved by the state by the way) for anyone referred to them. What this means is that thousands of individuals who may actually suffer from a mental illness are sent through these programs that have little or no ability to address their needs and then are released back into the public domain with the facility they went through making a large profit in many instances. The local rehab center near me, considered to be one of the best in the county, has a recidivism rate of 35%. This is totally unacceptable as Dr. Woolf has worked with people in Federally Funded programs where the rate was 0%.

So, knowing what is possible, should we not be aiming to help people develop their full potential, especially when it is the most cost effective way to approach this challenge? We must include the "core" homeless here as well -- statistics reveal that approximately 30% of the core homeless, many of them veterans, are also mentally ill.

And, to just quickly wrap this up now -- the program we will be using in part to accomplish transformation with these groups of people is based in food-raising. We will be developing programs that are based both within prison walls and beyond them. On the outside we must find dwelling places for people for whom their will be no jobs and as well, must also have land upon which they may raise their own food. Excess food can then be made available to hospitals, homeless shelters, the elderly, the disabled, and children. Along with food raising we need to teach other skills such as nutrition and how to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. Back in 1968, Dr. Linus Pauling, a 2-time Nobel Laureate wrote that all mental and physical illnesses are the result of poor nutrition. We have for so long lived to eat, it is now time to "eat to live" and stop the dis-ease.

Thank you for allowing me the space to present this vital information. I do hope some of you will join with me in this most important endeavor to ensure that all are fed and well. .
Mary Rose:
Your thinking is very perceptive. To achieve your goals, we need a supportive, resilient community in which each person can feel anchored and can feel she/he belongs. The faceless suburbs and urban centers fail to provide such psychological support, so we need to work in developing more supportive communities where each person can find a place.
RE linking issues to untreated mental illnesses

I am a former Steering Committee member for implementation of Santa Cruz County's Mental Health Services Act in California. I would like to hear more from you about Future Dawning Enterprises and how you include mental health issues in your planning.

I currently work with the population through Loaves and Fishes, a Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry.
Hi Cecile - Thanks for your comment and information provided. Right now, i am forming a team to address prison reform in the State of California. Among prison inmates it is estimated that 30% are mentally ill. And, i do believe it is a violation of human rights to place mentally ill people in prisons which are not prepared to handle the mentally ill and as a result are abused.

Since the State of California is now forced to release 40,000 inmates over the next year into an economy where few will be able to find jobs, we have a crisis of mega proportions. And, since there is not adequate screening of inmates to determine whether they are or are not mentally ill, it is my feeling that we-the-people are going to have to find a way to handle this in order to assure safety in our communities.

And, i believe that prison reform can provide a way of handling the crises. However, we need people who have the ability to screen inmates for mental illness. I am working with someone who has handled situations like this 20-years or so ago in federally-funded programs and has the expertise to oversee the program once we find funding. But we need to find people who are willing to aid us in putting the program proposal together for submission to Gov. Schwartzenegger.

The main feature of the reform program would be for all prisons in the State of California to begin raising their own food using inmates to do the growing, and, beginning with a model program at Donovan State Prison here in San Diego County where i am located. We would also institute a rehabilitation program in the prisons that has been proven over many years to be 100% effective even in the treatment of the mentally ill.

Would you be interested in working with us on this program?
My three wishes are these:
1. That people would stop thinking in terms of money and economics and only think about what humans need to do to be useful to the future without consumption.
2. That we first think in terms of the minimum amount of labors we need to do to raise food and provide shelter for human beings, rather than modifying the capitalist economy, which is based on frivolous labors under the direction of those with money.
3. That nobody ever again puts a credential after their name. You are either useful and intelligent or not, and it will show in your words and actions, not on any piece of paper.


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