That’s ‘villaging‘, not ‘pillaging’- in contrast to what my spell check keeps trying to tell me! I think that’s because villaging is a word we made up. We are using the word villaging to distinguish what many people have been doing for a long time, i.e. living a conscious life that includes taking care of each other and also the planet. Through our research we have identified six elements that make a Village. We consider that moving forward in any of them as villaging. Some people are villaging more than others. These six elements are not random; they each perform a function in the Village they create. So far, we have found only one village in the world that has all six elements, and it is not in the United States.
While don’t have all the answers, presently the Village elements we have identified are the following:
1. Produces its own food supply. It has been estimated that the food that is on most plates in the U. S. travels at least 1300-1500 miles to get on that plate. This is a recipe for tragedy. Aside from nutritional deficits caused by the time and preparation necessary to haul that food those distances, what happens if the trucks or ships for some reason cannot deliver that food to the grocery stores so you can purchase it? Contrarily, what if the produce was raised in the village itself and first of all sold to its residents? Aquaponics and other urban farming processes make food production possible in any village in any climate.
2. Produces its own (off grid) source of energy for electricity, heating, and cooling. A primary goal here is to get off fossil fuels. Energy is abundant in our world. Energy is all around us and we are learning more everyday in how to make use of it. The development of community micro-grids to assist and /or replace our macro-grid and to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel is becoming more and more possible.
3. Has its own (worker cooperative) businesses that employ residents. Few would disagree that the world’s economic system is broken. How to fix it is another question. Some believe that the answer to our broken economy is to develop local worker-owned cooperatives to replace the mega-businesses and corporations that control what products are available, what wages get paid, and the politics of the country. In this Village element, the worker-owners of the Village businesses live in the Village. And the Village residents have access to working in these local worker-owned businesses. The products that are made are first sold to the residents of the Village. Consequently, money stays in the village instead of supporting big corporations.
4. Is self-governing and has a plan for democratic participation and problem solving. Many of us don’t feel safe in general. We don’t trust each other. We don’t trust the government. For any group of people living or working together there needs to be an effective system for solving problems. The very act of solving problems together creates affinity and respect, a community that at best actually likes one another and at worst respects everyone’s basic life needs. All over the world there are intentional communities that have developed ways of peacefully solving problems. They have given us a great gift. For example, the Ubuntu philosophy says,”If it’s not good for everyone, its no good at all.” We need models for how to live together in peace and in supportive relationships. If we do not develop these on a grand scale, what hope is there for us on this planet?
5. Is walkable, without cars and roads except at the perimeter. Developing micro-grid energy systems will help move our culture as a whole off of fossil fuel dependence. Another life-giving idea is to limit and eliminate the number of fossil fuel engines used for transportation. People who work in their own Village businesses do not need to commute to work, and can rent or share cars or use public transportation for other purposes as needed. Village residents have access to products and services within walking distance. Village housing is designed around people instead of around automobiles. This design leaves a lot more living space to create beautiful permaculture grounds and play-space for children and adults.
6. Has a geographic perimeter and calculated capacity. One goal of villaging is to transform our economic structures in such a way that everyone in the Village gets their needs met. not just some people. Each Village has a capacity based on its size and resources: there is a limit to the amount of food it can produce and the number of people it can support. Christopher Mare (The Village Design Institute) suggests that a village needs to have at least 500 people in order to have the diversity and skills available to actually be an essentially autonomous entity. Larger Villages can be sub-organized into 500 person groupings and 50 person “clans”.
Here is a short video about Changing the World with Permaculture featuring David Homgren: