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Walden Ecovillage/Ancillary Businesses
"...as intelligence and invention increase the complexity of social organization, there is a continual growth in the benefits of co-operation, and a continual diminution of the benefits of competition." Bertrand Russell (1954)
Each of our ancillary businesses will develop an individual mission statement that reflects both their unique role in the community and their social entrepreneurial functions.
The Transition: Capitalism to (Anarchist) Communism
Among the tenets upon which this project in grounded, are those that support the concept of cultural evolution and the critical role that institutions play in that process. The primary 'business' with which Walden will be engaged, is the ongoing development and establishment of those (continuously evolving) Anarchist Communist institutions and practices that will replace the current Capitalist system. Additionally, if we are to facilitate the transition from Capitalism to Communism, we must also develop transitional strategies; Walden Ecovillage is a living transition experiment.
"We know whence we came. We know whither we go. But, how to get there? ... both the Devil and God are in the details.”
One of the most challenging (ethical and moral) dilemmas we, as Anarchist Communists face, is the reality that, in order to develop transitional strategies, we must participate in the very Capitalist system we abhor.
We recognize that:
- the modern world is Capitalist, and if we are to develop a transitional strategy from Capitalism that others can emulate, we must begin there;
- Anarchist-Capitalism is a contradiction in terms, and the world we desire cannot be realized by (any version of) the State: comtemporary Socialism is a dead-end;
- if we are to be self-sufficient, in the absence of Communist trading partners, we must generate revenue (in addition to donations) to support ourselves;
- if we are to develop the technologies and skills to actualize sustainable self sufficiency we must experiment and practice in real world settings;
- we will gradually abandon Capitalism.
In order to mitigate the negative consequences of engaging Capitalism, we will:
- share equally in the benefits of our production efforts;
- maintain a horizontal organizational structure (no bosses);
- own no private property;
- facilitate the development of Communist trading partners
- allocate all surplus resources (material and financial) to help disenfranchised and under-served populations and facilitate the development of the Anarcho-Communist federation.
Business Plan Sketch
Although all infrastructure and assets are owned by Trust1: Walden Group, Walden Ecoversity owns, staffs and manages itself and every other enterprise. The basic Ecovillage business plan is: all businesses, both core and peripheral, will be run as profit centers with outside revenues supplementing (or in some cases supporting) our internal economy. The expansion of existing enterprises and the creation of new ones will be based on current and projected profitability as well as community needs and abilities. Situating our campus within a short commute from a small city will provide us with a stable external customer base.
Our goal is to become expert at the practices, skills and technologies that we need in order to develop and maintain our community, and then market that expertise and any related products to the outside world. In this way everyone wins: our costs are subsidized by revenues derived from the outside community, so we'll grow and prosper more quickly (and of course, our internal economy is tax deductible); we are able to hone our skills and develop our production and distribution practices; and we will, by virtue of our success, advance the causes we support and thereby benefit the greater good.
Walden Ecoversity, and all if its supporting entities, are social entrepreneurial (SE) businesses. This means that, in addition to the services the enterprise provides the Walden Community, and its revenue generating function within the organization, each business will also provide services to people not being served by their communities. These services could include: no-cost vocational training, mentoring, various support services during training and low-interest business loans.
For example, the University's culinary arts program could use the Resort restaurant as a training facility. SE Program students would train and work in the restaurant, live in student quarters on campus, receive counseling or other services, and upon completion of their program, secure a low-interest loan from the credit union to purchase 'tools of the trade'. Similar scenarios would hold for any vocational skill our businesses employ.
One of our overarching Goals is to “develop sustainable, comprehensive self-sufficiency”. This objective is vital for a several of reasons:
- We understand that in order to succeed at the role to which we aspire, we must, as expeditiously as possible, pull our own weight. If we are to contribute more than we take, we must develop the capacity to simultaneously decrease our taking and increase our giving.
- Strength: there are significant (psychological and institutional) short and long-term security and stability advantages to having the capacity to provide for ourselves.
- Control: we want to know with certainty, that we are not undermining our own efforts. As we gradually remove ourselves from dependency on current economic, political and social systems (and other adverse cultural influences), we will gradually stop feeding the problems we are striving to ameliorate.
- Costs are lower and it makes for a good business strategy.
- Well... it's just the right thing to do.
We have designed a system that we will facilitate both (expeditiously and efficiently) our transition, from dependency and complicity to sustainable self-sufficiency, and the execution of our (activist, social-entrepreneurial and communal) Mission.
Core and Peripheral Enterprises?
We are, first and foremost, an Ecoversity; our reason for being, is to engage in education and research activities. All of the other enterprises we develop (including the Farm and Wellness Resort) are in service of that primary function.
The reasons for identifying the Farm and Resort as Core enterprises however, and not any other peripheral business, has to do with the focus of our education and research activities. Yes, we are a university, but we are a university devoted to developing systems and technologies for sustainable development. So, to the extent that sustainable development is predicated on agricultural and (human) cultural innovations, we have an expanded core. Additionally, the fact that we live within a farm-based therapeutic milieu has vast implications for our community culture, and highlighting those attributes paints a vivid picture of life at Walden for recruiting and fund-raising purposes.
As already discussed, the Ecoversity is our organizing enterprise; every other activity we engage in functionally supports that institution. The Farm is an extension of the university's Agricultural College. The Wellness Resort is one of the university's research and training facilities (classrooms).
Peripheral businesses are enterprises that contribute to executing our mission but are not our core business. The businesses ‘peripheral’ to Walden Ecoversity will be selected by their ability to: (a) improve our financial position, (b) facilitate our becoming a more comprehensive resource for sustainable socially responsible development, (c) contribute to our self-sufficiency and (d) garner support from our membership.
Artisans, artists, professionals, technicians and tradespeople will be encouraged to develop a variety of products and services that are desirable to internal and external customers; we’re only really limited, in terms of the number and variety of businesses we incorporate, by our ethics, and by the interests and skills of our growing membership.
Our peripheral enterprises could include:
* computer repair services * software & website design services * web hosting * audio-video production & broadcasting * paper publishing services * architectural services * natural building services * building trades services * excavation/ heavy equipment services * building materials cultivation & sales * a nursery * distributorship: solar, wind & hydroelectric * forest products * mycelium products manufacturing * a dairy * Soy processing * cheese-making * grain milling * a cider mill * a microbrewery * a winery * a tavern * wool, cotton & hemp spinning & weaving * glass blowing * clothier & tailor services * a machine shop * a welding shop * wood-working & cabinet making services * furniture repair & manufacturing * jewelry design & manufacturing * a pottery * bicycle manufacturing & repair * a produce market & health food store * a bakery * a laundry * a butcher shop * a medical center * a veterinary clinic * a local mail service * a recycling center * a credit union * a performing arts center * a movie theater * an art gallery
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