By this we mean all the opportunities that Foldehampton offers people for earning a living/creating their livelihood.
I have been attracted to the idea of living in community for most of my adult life, but the few times that I have tried it I have been put off, mainly by a particular group of people who, in my experience, seem to be attracted to certain types of community. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky; maybe there’s something that I do that attracts certain types.
I spent some time at a community down in Devon (it’s not there now). It was based in a splendid old house which someone had made available. But the house was slowly crumbling for the lack of anyone willing to do any maintenance. Lots of meditating; no chores. There was a big garden, and earlier in the year someone had planted some vegetables which had grown quite well. But when I was there it was high summer in a hot year, and those poor veggies were wilting and sad. There was a hosepipe, and my friend and I went out into the garden and watered the plants. We found a wonderful mature compost heap, full of rich damp compost, and we got a couple of garden forks and mulched all round those vegetables, and probably saved their lives—but to no end, I’m sure, because no-one there could be bothered to tend them, or water them, or harvest them, or even eat them.
We used to say that those people had their heads in the clouds, but they needed a bit of balance: some feet in the earth would be good, too. Nobody in that community seemed to take any responsibility for themselves, or anyone or anything else. I can’t be doing with things like that, and I’m determined that Foldehampton won’t be that way.
Everyone needs to be responsible for their own livelihood—and the community needs to take responsibility for ensuring that livelihoods are available for everyone. And that if there are people who are struggling, they get the support, help, training and empathy necessary for them to work through their difficulties, and become contributing members of our particular society.
Which is why we see it as vital that there are opportunities and encouragement for entrepreneurs to set up businesses, and the necessary training and development for people who aren’t entrepreneurs to work in those businesses, if they want and need to.
I’m not a Buddhist, but the phrase “right livelihood” keeps springing to mind. Not a mind-numbing, nose-to-the-grindstone job, but also not an airy-fairy pastime that is of no value to anyone—everyone should be making some sort of a positive contribution, that they find fulfilling and rewarding.
Given our underlying goal of making sure that everyone’s cost of living is kept as low as possible1, it should be possible for people to make a modest but fulfilling living, because businesses should be able to afford to employ Foldehampton residents.
At this point I sort of dried up writing this. I want to write a piece about “Commons”, which won’t make much sense until I have written it, but I think I’ll then be able to come back here, and finish this.
Since I first wrote this, in 2015 (it’s now October 2017) we have been introduced to the work of David Fleming on Lean Logic, and Helena Norberg Hodge’s “The Economics of Happiness”. And Sebastian Parsons has developed the ideas of the Commons Corporation. These will all inform this chapter, sooner or later!
I’ll post in the diary, and on the FB page, when I’ve made some progress. Sign up, or LIKE on FB, to be kept up to date.
Notes for me
… We need to find a way to balance people’s sense of autonomy with their sense of responsibility for themselves and to the community.
Conflict resolution. Expulsion from the community.
Constitutional change, conflict lock.
Lot’s still to be written here: maybe not until we have a core group, or a constitution sub-group of the core group.
1“What about the minimum wage?” someone asked today, and I’ve not yet got an answer to that.