#community ideas

[below is an email i sent to my friends Yolanda, Susan, and Fili to explore some ideas related to creating a sustainable spiritual community/center near chicagoland]

 

here are a number of aspects about the community and some ideas for each of them. please let me know how all of you [or y’all, down heres in the south] feel about them. if something is totally off from what you’re envisioning or wanting, please let me/us know. if some parts really resonate, please say which ones so we can focus more on defining those. there are a lot of potentials, and a lot of the details i wrote will be more long-term based.. to start, a solution for housing and growing some food would work (which could be as simple as building a self-sustaining earthship home and sharing the space, or getting a lot of land to park a few tiny homes and grow food around them).
 

alignment / intention — we’ll have to collectively decide + determine what the overall intention is for the community and base our creation of it on how well each aspect is aligned with the intention/purpose. [i don’t want to have too many rules or limitations, though it’d be good to find a way to make sure what we’re all doing is energetically aligned with the community intentions and flows smoothly]

overall — the community/center could be a blend of some or all of the following: a self-sustaining off-grid community, a spiritual retreat center, a holistic health / wellness center, an organic farm, a tiny home / alternate / experimental housing development or resort, a natural park/garden, an ashram

sustainability — all aspects of the community should consider sustainability (and self-sustainability) as an important criteria in making decisions.

farming — both fields + greenhouse(s) to grow a variety of edible plants. fruit-producing trees would great too. i’d highly prefer not to have animals on site (especially any that cause strong odors), though possibly free-range chickens could be considered for egg production. food production would go to provide food to those living on the community grounds, for community meals, and could be sold at events to anyone visiting the community (and we could possibly have a farm stand on the main road / community entrance or have pickup/delivery of produce for local restaurants).

off-grid — depending on location, could consider water collection, re-use/recycling, waste treatment (earthship homes have a good approach using the water 4 times). on-site renewable solar + wind energy would be good. for heating + cooling of permanent buildings, an earth-bermed approach (like earthships or bermed monolithic domes, with windows facing south) would be good to eliminate the need for usage of most/any energy to heat/cool.

nature — ideally the surrounding area would be very natural, such as a preserve or park, or possibly agricultural (plant-based, preferably organic or non-spray). if we have an abundance of land with a large acreage, we can keep a natural area around the edge of the community as a preserve (with nature trails). a pond, creek, or other water area would be nice if possible.

location — quiet, peaceful, safe, natural, away from pollution sources (including air, noise, emf/emr, main roads, industrial/commercial areas, etc). i would describe the ideal setting as what one would find in a quiet national park/forest, followed by a rural or semi-rural area. ideally the land will be quiet + private, yet not too far from health food stores, flowering heart center, etc

meditation gardens — a nicely kept garden for meditation or nature walks would be beautiful. depending on how we want to run/design the community, this could be something that we could charge admission to (or request donations from) for the public. a labyrinth or other meditation circle would be neat to have too.

nature trails (walking + biking) — nice quiet trails around the community would be great for exploration, walking meditation, exercise, etc. depending on landscape, potentially a boardwalk like found in nature parks. a lookout tower or elevated walkway would be great where one can see the surrounding nature, sunset, and parts of the farm or community. treehouses could be neat to have as a space for meditation, gatherings, or camping.

landscaping — ideally landscaping will be kept natural or with minimal impact to the environment. landscaping should not require use of any gas-powered lawn care equipment that causes noise + air pollution.

housing — i see multiple potentials.. parking spots for movable tiny houses, small permament housing, shared housing in larger homes or dorms. anything built on site should consider sustainable building methods + energy-efficiency, such as passive house standards, monolithic domes, earthships, etc. ideally, the feel of any buildings (and the entire community) should invoke peacefulness, relaxation, sacredness, serenity, etc. minimalism in design would be good. a feeling closer to a nice resort would much be preferred rather than an art colony (though perhaps both kinds can exist on different parts of the land). this resort feeling doesn’t necessarily mean high-end expensive materials/finishes, but rather a clean, minimalistic, calm, flowing experience. this part is a little trickier – i don’t want too many rules or for everything to conform (as i don’t like the limitations of things like HOA’s), though good design considerations will help the overall feel of the community. i think a part of this will depend upon the density and placement of the homes. if homes are further apart in the woods / fields / nature, then there’d be more room for differences in home types / looks [though at the same time, a row of closely-spaced + brightly colored tiny homes could be neat too]. ideally the buildings should blend in or work well with the natural landscaping and be able to keep as much of the surrounding trees, plants, etc as possible, and there would be natural areas between each building / home. [some of these ideas are starting to go in different directions, exploring other possibilities i’ve imagined, such as master-planned residential developments/communities done with tiny homes or alternative housing types.. if these aspects aren’t aligned with what we are all looking for, i’m open to excluding them]

community areas — an outdoor gazebo or field for gathering would be nice, as well as a place for a fire pit/circle for social events or spiritual rituals.

community hall — a large hall would be great for various community gatherings and events. this could be rented out to (or profits split with) other conscious/spiritual teachers/groups to help cover the community expenses. a shared kitchen in the hall would be great so we could prepare meals for events and regularly as a community [we could also invite others whom don’t live on site and request donations for the meals].

business model — the ideal classification may be a non-profit church to avoid both property taxes and taxes on donations/revenue. regarding ownership of the grounds + buildings, it may be best to have everything owned by the community non-profit organization with rooms/homes or parking spaces for tiny homes rented out to those staying (one idea to explore would be classifying the stay as a spiritual retreat, as this may give us more flexibility compared to a more typical apartment/land lease, and potentially may be required if the organization is a non-profit or church). we could work something out where those of us starting/running the community or working the farm can live on site for free or at a reduced rate. another potential business model to consider would be that of a campground where spots are rented either short term or monthly/annually, and there can be park/destination models that are more permanent, as well as lodges/cabins or tiny homes / rv’s that can be rented from the campground for anyone who doesn’t have their own to park. or, if we are more farm-based, we could model after (or be part of) WWOOF where individuals volunteer on the farm in exchange for accomodation and meals. in the future if there are events that will bring in people from out of town and if we are to have a housing building with multiple rooms, we could run part of it like a bed and breakfast, dorm/hostel, or resort. regarding housing, we may be able to partner with a tiny house company to get free homes to rent out and split the proceeds (i know of one company currently distributing homes for this purpose).

income sources — rental of rooms, homes, or parking spaces for tiny homes. selling meals + extra produce. renting space in community hall for events/workshops. donations from those visiting the gardens. hosting our own workshops, classes, and other events. potentially a shop selling artwork, cds, books, crystals, etc. other donations, investments, etc.

roads — internal roads should be carefully considered (and minimized) so traffic does not become a hinderance to the quiet natural space of the community. to avoid air + noise pollution, it’d be good to consider only allowing zero emission vehicles on the internal roads, and having a parking lot/area near the main road / community entrance for internal combustion engine vehicles and visitors. during winter months when temperatures are below freezing, we could consider allowing any vehicle to use the internal roads if the grounds are large.

activities — community members could lead various activities such as meditation/blessing circles, community dinners, drum circles, sound healing, nature walks, yoga, qi gong, kai chi do, movie night, chanting, reiki share, etc. conscious celebration, singing, dancing, theatre, comedy, performances, and other fun activities would be great too (as long as they are aligned with the overall intention of the community). it’d be good to have both planned events and spontaneous activities that are inspired in the moment or that day. one idea might be to alternate between days of planned activities and quiet days, so anyone who wants to embrace silence and simply be has the quiet space to do so regularly. silent community meals would be a neat practice [it doesn’t have to be for all of them]. we could get a bus and go on community field trips to go explore local places. [the bus could also serve as a way to pick up a group who’s traveling to our community from the city or elsewhere via train]

education — the community could have regular classes for anyone whom lives on site or nearby (or online). the classes could be in the areas related to what we are doing, such as sustainability, spirituality, wellness, healing, etc

density — i see different levels of density available. there could be a row of closely-spaced tiny homes or buildings for a main street type feel, as well as larger buildings with individual rooms/units rented out. these would be near the community hall. there would also be buildings or tiny homes spaced out on larger pieces of land. these would have room for one’s own yard if one desires and natural or farm areas surrounding the units. some could be spaced much further apart with plenty of natural area around for the feeling of being completely immmersed in nature yet be walking or biking distance to the other homes + hall [this is ideally what i would like for my spot].

inspiration — the center/community can serve as a model for others to follow to create their own sustainable communities elsewhere. [in the future, we could also expand our community and create our own additional locations] we could host workshops or tours to show and teach others what we’ve done and how well its worked, and potentially offer consulting to anyone who wants to start their own community up.

 
here’s something i wrote earlier this year (scroll down to the very long paragraph) that has some additional ideas in it:
markmarano.com/2018/01/29/17928/ (Fili, i already sent this one to you back when i wrote it)

Once again, I find myself desiring to create some sort of inspirational center. There is such great energy at the Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago, and lots of fun activities happening. Though, will I find this community in other places as I travel? I yearn to have such a connection wherever I may go. Especially as I travel to nature, and experience the beauty of the land. Perhaps what I must create is an escape, a place where one may experience a retreat for their own growth and creativity. Those who live in urban places can still explore what remains there, though when they need to take a break, and escape from the chaos found in the city, they may go visit the inspirational center I desire to create. Whether it be a long or short visit, friends and exploration will await at the inspirational center. Some may choose to live there for extended lengths of time or permanently. Everyone can share their talents and inspire others, while absorbing the high energy of a beautiful, natural setting. This is the place I seek. The place I will create. The center will also grow its own food and be completely self-sustainable so those who visit will have an abundance of fresh food to live off of and not have to worry about the basic necessities as they take a moment or two to visit during their journey of life. And a part of the entire experience will be learning to live in a unique setting, very much an alternate to the conventional city life. This unique experience of disconnecting from the ordinary, everyday life may be the catalyst in inspiring someone to follow their path, their passion.

 

here’s an exploration looking at what i really desire in a new home..

what i most desire is somewhere peaceful, sacred.

[it’s interesting to see how this exploration unfolded.. this morning i awoke excited with some ideas of visioning what i wanted in a home here in florida since i’ve been looking and looking and not finding anything totally ideal. i began writing about what/where i was looking for a home, and as i continued to elaborate on the details and what all it could have, it started to flow into a grander vision of what could be created for a community, a vision i’ve been meaning to re-visit, explore, and write for quite some time.. it’s funny how the divine can work like that and how one thing can lead to another unexpectedly, especially when following inspiration..]

(scroll down to the very long paragraph at the end for the community ideas)

to me this means natural, quiet, safe, away from disturbances of traffic, not near big power-lines with emf/emr pollution/radiation nor any other industrial/commercial source of pollution or noise, not near any areas of crime or parts of town that are run down or unpleasant to look at. it’d be nice if its somewhere not overly developed, or if its developed, its planned out nicely or kept up.

i’d like somewhere that is right by a nice trail (or small roads) to bike on, where i can bike to a local nature park or preserve without taking or crossing any major roads (or seeing any stores, gas stations, stoplights, etc). (this is why the lansbrook area is nice, as i can get to both the local park and john chesnut park without going on or to east lake road, and some of the trails/sidewalk to the local park are wider and have nice landscaping, where you don’t really see the homes, and the homes you do see are newer/nicely kept. both parks are also quite nice being right on the lake, and john chesnut itself being large enough to provide plenty of space for bicycling within it and exploring on a couple trails)

i’d like a good size lot for the privacy and space it offers. when i look out my windows or doors, i’d like to see nature and not other houses, streets, or signs of anything manmade. i’d like something without any deed restrictions nor hoa or any other special rules so i have as much flexibility to build and do what i want. (however, as above, i’d like it to be in a nice area where everyone keeps everything looking nice/clean but just doesn’t need the rules telling/limiting them what to do) i’d like to have plenty of room on my land for various projects, such as growing food, building a greenhouse, making a meditation garden, building a treehouse or lookout tower, etc. i’d like somewhere where i can first start off parking a tiny home, large travel trailer, airstream, or other rv so i can live in that before i build my home to make sure i like the lot and area (and to have somewhere to stay in the interim). i’d likely still keep the rv/home somewhere on the land to be able to travel with up to the flowering heart center in illinois in the summer months (which hopefully the new center has a spot where i can park and have at least a couple hookups for water and electric, unless there’s enough of us in the community there that want to have community living space soon that we build residential options on-site or nearby).

i’d like my home and land to be very peaceful, natural, and enjoyable as i’d likely spend a lot of time there. daily i’d wander out for a bike ride on the beautiful local trails to the nearby park, or go for a drive to a local park. other than going to parks or nature preserves, i’d mostly just go out to the grocery or health food store, local spiritual communities, or on occasion some local restaurants with good vegetarian options. when i meet a nice, beautiful spiritual/conscious/awakened girl with a good/flowered heart who desires a committed relationship, i’d also often spend time going to visit (until we live together) or going out exploring with her. my home shouldn’t be far from health food stores nor from the flowering heart center in clearwater. my home need not be right by the water though it’d be nice to be close to the gulf, or at least a nice lake or wide open field, as i often like to go see the sunset regularly.

my home would be my own little private ashram, a sacred space where i can be present, relax, or work undisturbed.

the air will be very clean as i like to keep my windows open most of the year when temperatures permit. it will be quiet in the sense of sound, quality of air, etc on the physical plane, and it will also be quiet in the spiritual/mental/emotional planes where i wouldn’t feel any disturbances of lower consciousness anywhere on my land or in the surrounding area. my home will be a very peaceful place where it will be just me and the divine, and i can dissolve into the divine presence daily. everyone and everything nearby will feel and live from a deep sense of peace. it will be more of a mountain cabin or vacation home that one might seek, except it will be my primary residence during the cooler/moderate months in florida where i can easily live and enjoy a simple life. when i feel like going on adventure or interacting with the world, i’ll get in my van (or other exploration vehicle) and go for a ride, wandering as i feel called to. when i get tired of being on the road and just want to rest, i’ll come back home and relax and can feel very refreshed/renewed.

the home itself will be constructed of something very strong and resilient, such as a disaster-proof monolithic dome, so i can leave it for as long as i like and regardless of weather or anything, i know it will still be there safe when i return. it will be energy-efficient and have eco-friendly healthy materials. the styling will be modern, simple, clean, and elegant, either bright or rich in tone, and perhaps with wood or other natural materials in the inside. it’ll be constructed for longevity and to require little to no maintenance. it’d be nice to have off-grid capability in terms of rain collection and solar/wind power, with perhaps the water re-usage capabilities/treatment of an earthship. it’ll have a nice deck/balcony with portions enclosed by screen and portions open, both with magnificent views of trees and nature as far as one can see. it’d be nice to have a jacuzzi and/or sauna to relax in. my home will be a bit of a retreat center where i live simple, relaxed life for as long as i feel called to, between adventures, explorations, and gatherings with beautiful communities. all components will be made of quality, built with care and love, feel solid, and work very well without need for any repair nor maintenance visits.

if my acreage is quite large or huge, it need not necessarily be right by a park as it will essentially become its own park that i can make trails on to explore and bike around. the views from my home will be quite stunning as i see, feel, and sense that i am surrounded by nature. wherever i walk in the home, as i’m going to the kitchen, through the living room, sitting at my desk, lounging in a chair, etc, i will experience glimpses and sights of the natural beauty through the windows or glass doors, as i feel the fresh breeze lightly flowing through my home bringing in quiet natural sounds of birds, the air, water, etc.

the lighting, both inside and outside of my home, will be quite nice. there will be different options for mood, such as dim intimate lighting for romance or sacred space, dimmable lights that light the entire ceiling of the dome for a nice glow, candlelight throughout, more typical modern lights, including under cabinets, etc. there will be nice rope or christmas lighting (perhaps inside and outside), and torch and/or sidewalk lights outside (perhaps lighting various paths on the acreage to be able to wander in the meditation garden).

i will experience much financial abundance and easily be able to pay for the land and home (and continue to add new aspects later, such as the gardens and outdoor areas or structures), as well as easily purchase quality food, travel/adventure, health/wellness experiences, pay for taxes/utilities/ongoing expenses, etc, and be able to generously contribute to spiritual communities and causes that resonate with me. i’ll also be able to start intentional/spiritual community living centers.

some may see aspects of what i wrote above as unnecessary or a bit excessive.. while it’d be nice, i wouldn’t necessarily need dozens or hundreds of acres all for myself, and…

i’d be happy to have all of the above as part a spiritual retreat center or ashram, with a smaller home nearby on a quiet section of the land for myself. then i could spend quiet time in my home as i felt called to, and easily go for a short walk over to the common community areas where we’d have beautiful gardens and shared spaces to meditate and explore together. we’d have plenty of community events: dinners, gatherings, fires, crystal + tibetan bowls, performances, etc. the main community center/temple could be quite large to hold many people for bigger events and would be a nice gathering place for community members to sit quietly, meditate, or meet with friends. i see the main center being one large room in a white dome building. there’d also be smaller buildings, adjoining or nearby, with restrooms, classrooms, a community kitchen, meditative spaces, etc. community members would help with keeping everything neat and clean, growing/harvesting food, gathering/preparing supplies, cooking, gardening, maintaining, etc. we would all live and function as one, in harmony with each other, the space, and the divine. it will be a beautiful space with everyone living at high levels of consciousness and anyone who steps on the grounds or anywhere nearby will be awakened and have their hearts flower. the community will grow to have multiple locations throughout the country or world. i see myself traveling between the locations, at first between the flowering heart centers in florida and illinois as i do now, and then to wherever the centers may grow. my adventures will be the journey between the communities, stopping in nature and other beautiful places, and while at the community centers, i’ll have my own homes and feel at home surrounded by the community family. it will be an extraordinary experience and many beautiful souls will feel called to join, participate, and help elevate consciousness. the communities will experience much abundance in all aspects, and be able to be completely self-sustainable. no longer will any of us have to do anything we feel forced to do just to survive. the divine will provide effortlessly, and the communities can help be a model, inspirational centers, for others looking for alternative ways of life than what currently exists in most of the world. there’d be various living options, exploring sustainable and alternative ways of building, such as building with natural materials, earthships, monolithic domes, yurts, tiny homes, treehouses, etc. some homes would be closer together for those who desire the neighborly small town feel, and some further apart with more natural space between for those who prefer the most monk-like silence. there could also be larger buildings with suites/dormitory/hotel style living for anyone who prefers those, and there would be both temporary and permanent spaces for living. the community could be a retreat center where one could come and stay for a few moments, hours, days, weeks, months, years, or a lifetime. the daily activities and gatherings would be there for those who like or need a schedule or routine, though the atmosphere would be very relaxed and if one missed a class or activity, one could easily pick up where one left off whenever one returns. if anyone is in need of any guidance, spiritual or otherwise, there would always be someone there who could be present or help, though the divine presence itself would so abundant that there likely wouldn’t be the need to specifically hold space for whatever someone may be going through. one would heal simply by being there. there could be a dome room/building where solfeggio frequencies and other sacred sounds are continuously being played where one could sit or lie down in and heal or relax. in other spaces, community members could share various modalities, such as yoga, tai chi, kai chi do, qi gong, reiki, sound healing, oneness processes, exercises from the avatar course, etc, etc. besides cooking community dinners, some members could teach and share how to cook, prepare, and eat healthy vegetarian, raw, or plant-based foods, how to use essential oils, breathing techniques/meditations, and other wellness-related perspectives. there’d also be teaching and workshops of how to apply sustainable principles to create new communities. visiting or living at the center would be an incredible learning and growing experience.. it could almost become a resort or theme park for spiritual wellbeing (but without any consumeristic or detrimental aspects that may be found in those typical sort of facilities). it would be a place for very clean, pure, divine living.. a heaven manifested on earth. there could be group adventures on a regular basis, to take a bus out to a local beach, natural park, local festival/event, healthy restaurant, or to simply wander about public places and radiate blessings and joy to whomever is there. the spiritual retreat center could be like a small town with beautiful walkways, trails, and common areas between the various unique homes and community buildings. divine love and peace would be felt and seen all throughout and within. there could be spaces where community members would regularly exhibit their divinely inspired creative talents, art, writing, speaking, etc. in places that are cold for extended portions of the year, such as the midwest, the center would have indoor facilities to grow food throughout the year, and there could be long heated hallways or tunnels between buildings so one could access most, if not all, of the structures without needing to step out into the cold. in temperate but rainy places, such as parts of hawaii or somewhere else tropical, there could be covered walkways made of bamboo or other natural materials that are open and airy between the buildings. wherever the location is, there would be many beautiful tree-lined trails, walkways, and streets (though motorized vehicles, particularly ones that create noise or pollution, would be kept and driven outside most of the walkable or bikeable areas). the grounds of the center/ashram/town would span hundreds of acres or more, and be surrounded be undeveloped nature, farm, or preserve in a rural area (but not necessarily far from a town, city, or suburban area). as the community and presence grows, the energy emanating from the space would be felt throughout the entire region, causing other beautiful divine manifestations to unfold in their own unique ways nearby (which would help elevate consciousness and flower the heart of those not necessarily interested in a spiritual retreat center or any of the modalities or perspectives offered). there would be a number of unique, beautiful, and serene places to just hang out, sit, walk, or meditate throughout the grounds. there could be a nice observation deck or lookout tower where one could look out into the horizon over the trees, a beautiful pond or lake where one could go for a swim or canoe/kayak ride, and many places to see and experience the natural beauty of the sun setting and rising. there’d be dark open fields to gaze up at the star-filled sky at night. the gardens would be beautifully kept, a meditation just in walking through them, and could become a single reason some come to visit the grounds. there could be a labyrinth, rock gardens, meditation circles, and many places to get lost exploring (with perhaps even a garden/hedge maze for fun). on some parts of the grounds, there could be some subtle ethereal music playing as well as nice lighting and water features or fountains. as one awakens there will be many joys and much beauty to explore and discover, both natural and human-made. there could be large open house events where many come to the center for workshops or a visiting spiritual teacher. during these events, naturally some new visitors may decide to stay for a while, and there’d be plenty of rooms available for whomever feels called to. one may feel drawn or guided toward certain modalities, workshops, or activities offered, or one’s process may simply be to take in the energy, embrace nature, or relax in the community jacuzzi, sauna, or other amenities. whatever path one may be on, one will discover exactly what one needs. there could be a community library of donated books, or little libraries throughout where one might just happen upon the perfect book having the exact answer or question one needed next. if there are families and children residing on the grounds, the education will come from a higher level of awareness, teaching spiritual principles and how to live and interact in the body as a spirit/consciousness, rather than most typical education/memorizing currently taught in society that focuses on programming the mind. one wouldn’t be forced to learn anything, and learning would be more of a discovery process where one could explore and learn whatever anyone felt called to. naturally and organically, some would feel inspired to explore creative aspects of life, some would learn technology, some would learn sustainability, growing food, building, connection, spiritual or healing modalities, teaching, etc, etc. everything that is needed will be divinely inspired and unfold. the spiritual center community will be a place where miracles will unfold on a regular basis. one will feel lighter and more peaceful simply by stepping on the grounds. it will be a safe place where one can be vulnerable and truly embark upon one’s personal/spiritual growth process, whether it be by healing through a process in the loving presence of the divine and other community members, or by simply having a place to dissolve into the void and slip into samadhi to explore higher planes of existence. the boundaries of separation would dissolve and we would all live from our highest divine nature, letting our light shine forth to the world and universe.