Monday, October 7, 2013

Dreams of a modern viking...

One of my Facebook friends made a post the other day asking people about their dreams. Not “hey, do you have that dream where you’re in front of the class in your underwear”, rather if money or real life allowed, what would you do?
A particular dream of mine came a number of years ago when I made a flip offhand comment to some of our close friends “Man, what we really need to do is start up our own commune!”
I was surprised when they looked at me and nodded, wide eyed at the idea.
The incident got me thinking, and we talked about it some with my Household. I would love to take a plot of land… decently sized, with a combination of woods and field… and turn it into an actual Wolfhaven steading. I don’t want to do a fully Viking era thing… the intent is for it to be livable and modern. But I would want to run it as a steading, with houses for each family and a great hall or common building for all to use. Farming could be done cooperatively, with all providing labor and sharing in the produce. It wouldn't be fully self-sufficient, I am sure that most would still have an everyday job (I know I wouldn't leave MY job). Bills would have to be paid, and running a truly self-sustaining farm is very difficult. It would really be co-housing or an intentional community. Some folks I know in the SCA have done something similar with Camelot CoHousing in Massachussetts. What they have done isn't exactly what I intend (in my fantasy world), but it is still awesome, and an inspiration.

We already live in a somewhat communal fashion in our Pennsic encampment. Personal space is allotted for each person, but there is also a large common area where meals can be shared, people can hang out, and projects can be worked on. I picture this as a larger extension of that model (but obviously with larger personal space, private kitchens, etc.). I like the community feel we have at Pennsic... when things need to be done, we all pitch in. Our House is a fairly closely knit bunch, and I trust everyone in it... I would not want to do this with folks who were not truly invested in it. This would not be a true commune anyway... resources (personal monies) would not be pooled, though labor would be. The idea is closer to cohousing, a grouping together to create something closer to a closely bonded neighborhood with common values and goals.

Problems with the idea are plentiful… startup capital would be difficult to come up with, the House is already scattered about due to real world jobs, and there is not the job base to draw them back to the area. Once the land was acquired, there would be common area and homes to build, land to clear and cultivate. How the group would be organized and run would be a question, and how people would “buy in” and what happens if they leave…

Were I to come up with a large chunk of money, I would do it. No question… I would simply buy the land and charge in blindly. Allow House members to build on the land, carve out their own space in return for working the common crop land and building projects. The common hall would double as a feast hall for events, and we would be able to host some pretty excellent SCA events.
As it stands though… it is just a pipe dream.

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