Intentional towngreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I have been trying to write this post for a week. Unfortunately my computer keyboard wasn't cooperating. Suddenly the whole middle line of letters quit working. Have you ever tried to write a letter without them. Finally I went out and bought a new keyboard. I have been reading and I'm giving you all fair warning. I have a lot to say. I am making up for a whole weeks worth of muteness. So here goes. I have been noticing recently that because of America's urban migration, there are a lot of towns that have shrunk to little holes in the wall across the US, especially here in the heartland. It seems to me that rather than exercise our right to state secession, why not start at the most basic local level. Why not pick an existing dying town and rejuvenate it into a thriving, self supporting, self feeding, healthy place to live. I am not talking about a intentional community where property and everything else is held in common. I am talking about picking a small already existing town and pumping the assets and ambitions of a committed group of people to restore it to it's once former state of community. An example is the little tiny town we are moving to. This town was one of the first towns established in this area of Oklahoma. It was at one time a busy center of commerce. All that's left there now is one questionable business, and a group of houses. There is also a former high school that is now a "community center", which it seems not many people commune in. It seems to me that a group of like minded people could go "invade" one of these tiny refuges and start a healthy community. I guess what I am saying is why couldn't a new kind of conservancy be started to build one little town at a time into the kind of Countryside place that JD was trying to talk about with regard to an inevitable collapse. Why do we have to wait for something like y2k to come along to begin to create the kind of lifestyle we want for our children? Why if we all come here as a community of individuals, couldn't the same kind of thing be accomplished in a small town that needs a shot in the arm? What is it that keeps Americans from having that ideal? Is it not possible to change directions and pursue something different without the whole country changing at once? Why do so many intentional communtities start with bare pieces of property rather than finding one of these small villages that are dying across the country and building them up? Why can't homesteaders bind together the same way those we are named after did. Recently I have done a lot of reading on the land Rush in Oklahoma. You know when the government opened up this land one day there was nothing the next there was a town. Enid Oklahoma was a town built just that way. Pioneers wrote often about how amazing the transformation was. People staked their claim one day and built buildings the next. I know there would naturally be lots of problems with this that I am for the purpose of discussion simplifying, but maybe that is because we humans tend to make things much more difficult than they really have to be. I guess the real reason I am asking this question is because of the sadness I feel when I drive through a little town that is just a shadow of it's former self, a relic of a once great rural lifestyle that sustained our fathers and our father's fathers before them. I have been reading a lot of diaries lately of various towns in Oklahoma written by those who lived in them and worked in them. The memories of these people really touch my soul when I realize that all those people the sold to, worked for, provided food for, and loved and cared for, are all gone with only a shadow of the places that nurtured those men and women of the past left. I figure that ultimately I can't do much about every town in America, like this, but I can pick one. One place to revive again. One place to start businesses, build churches, and place my heart in. What do you all think of this?
Little Bit Farm
-- Little bit Farm (email@example.com), December 01, 2000
LBF, What you describe works and very well. We are gradually taking back our community by having more church and school centered activities and more folks in our neighborhood are putting in gardens and such. We know that "little changes " are what counts. Think of how we lost those values we all grew up with, a little at a time. So we can bring them back the same way a little at a time, one neighborhood, one community at a time. With the connection of the web, I think your stragedy will work and make a better place for all involved.
-- Jay Blair (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 01, 2000.
I'd help you LBF, but already have one. New Castle, Virginia. Actually we are an intentional county. Ask other Virginians in his forum about Craig County. Most are scared to death to cross the border and we like it that way. All are welcome to visit--come enjoy our hospitality--than leave ! Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints and we can get along.
-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), December 01, 2000.
You know Little Bit; I've thought the very same thing!!! This is a dying community...once the kids graduate they are GONE.Towns just dry up. Theres an honest to goodness ghost town about 5 miles from here; i think it has a population of 25? What is really heartbreaking also is seeing so many good homesites being abandoned. For example there is a cute little green house, looks like 3 bdrm, with a large, fairly new carport. Sits on approx. an acre in the middle of some farmers field. This could be the perfect place for a newbie to homesteading to cut their teeth on! but because no one occupies this home...well, you know how quickly unoccupied places in the country go downhill!
Hanover, Kansas. Thats where i live. Because our population is dying or going into long term care; and because the home place means nothing to anyone anym$re; I've seen houses go at auction for $1,500- $15,000. These numbers are right. If this sounds appealing to anyone wanting to start a loosely knit intentional community; e-mail me!!! I WILL ask on the green house too. Call me conspiratorial minded....but this rush to urban migration...seems tome that if the larger part of society is centralized; they can be controlled so much easier as well. I'll take my "five acres and independence" thank you!!!:)
-- Beth Weber (email@example.com), December 01, 2000.
Hey Joel: I grew up in Giles Co. and my parents still live on their farm there. Was up there for Thanksgiving and will be back the 2nd. week of Dec.. Have been looking for a place closer to the folks and kind of overlooked Craig Co. (easy since it does not get a lot of press). I have looked for land as far up as Highland Co. but not much looking in your neck of the woods. New Castle certainly fits the bill of I would like in an intentional town. If you can, let me know thing I can track down before the next trip ie. newspaper, relators, etc. God bless. Tim in the low country.
-- Tim Price (TimNCaseyPrice@aol.com), December 01, 2000.
Our big town is 12 miles east, Elizabethtown. I would love to do all my business in our small town of Rineyville, 5 miles NE. But the business there charge sooo much more than in E-town. They don't want to get our daily business, or they would sell at a decent price.
We had one Western Store that migrated from the MALL come to Rineyville. But GEEZ what they charged! Dog, horse, cow shots were outragious! And feed was almost double than the Mill. I tried to give them my business, but they wouldn't work with me, even if I bought in quanity. I know what they paid for feed cause my good friend drove to Clarkson and got it for them, even cheaper than the Mill. And they jacked it up. Clarkson is only 30 minutes south of me. If they sold it say 20 cents more a 50# bag, tons of people would buy it rather than drive 1 hour. I would if they promised to stay. They are now putting the business up for sale. Someone of you guys come buy it!
I was just thinkin yesterday I WISH Tractor Supply was in Rineyville, I WISH the Mill was in Rineyville. I dread going to E- Town. Funny, but Tractor Supply is right smack dab in the middle of our NEW business area, Super Walmart, Super Target, Super K-Mart, Super Lowes. Tractor Supply has been there forever and the town built around. Maybe they will move out this way for us farmers or move down by the Mill, south of town. The Mill and TSC are separated by LOTS of traffic right thru town.
I called trying to find a garage in Rineyville or Vine Grove to do the tires and adjust timing on my truck. Charged a fortune. So yesterday I drove to E-Town to Firestone and they did it really reasonable, 1/2 of what I was quoted and they were great.
We also have a country store in Rineyville that changed into a One Stop kinda place. Way too Expensive. I would just love to have a small town I could give my business too. How do we start? How can we get around the fact that Country Stores are expensive and City Stores are cheap?
-- Cindy in Ky (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 02, 2000.
Cindy in KY
I am not sure if I understand you correctly about the "Western Store" in Rineyville. You want the owner of the "Western Store" to buy the feed in Clarksn haul it to his store Rineyville and only Mark it Up 20 Cents a bag? If he was only Marking it Up 20 Cents a bag over what he paid for it in Clarkson he would have to sell 10,000 bags (1/2 million pounds) a month just to make a $2000.00 profit on the feed. Than he has to pay for his truck and fuel to haul the feed, rent for his store, electricty, phone, employee's wages, taxes ect..... How could a person ever make a living with such a small profit.
A small businees person cannot buy his products as cheap as the big stores like Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply and Kmart. For example lets say Mr. Jones the owner of the local Quick Stop Store sells 300 cans of green beans a month, when he replaces his green bean supply he has to order from a regional distriboter. Wal-Mart sells 3 millon cans of green beans a week he orders his directly from the food producer. Who buys the green beans cheaper?
If every Wal-Mart in the country burned down tomorrow I would not shed a tear. The Wal-Marts of the world have ruined the small town business person!
-- Mark in NC Fla (email@example.com), December 02, 2000.
Well, I agree with you ,Cindy.Here in EKY, some of the local businesses still act like they got the market cornered,like they did years ago.They don't think abt people now being able to buy off the internet for example.They charge real high,I think higher than they need to, as well.
I can't say they offer better service either.Now one small town I lived in, had a hardware store.His prices were a little higher, but he offered about anything immaginable.When you came in the door, he jumped up and asked if he could help.And if he didn't have what you wanted, he'd hunt it down for you and get it shipped in promptly.Now that's what I called service.Guess what, he did a thriving business, while another in town, closed shop.There's the difference. Specialty shops can still compete, if they will give good service.Most of mine here do not, because they still think they have a captive audience.They do not,and they will fail.
So, what to do for down town revitilazation in these little towns? Regular retail isn't cutting it, for reasons stated.Speciality shops & small professional offices are what I've seen work out in other towns.Now, how do you get the go with the old standby types to see the light?
-- sharon wt (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 02, 2000.
I am very fortunate in the farming county I live in to have a farm supply store owned locally who sells cheaper than TSC or Quality Farm or any farm supply store I've ever been to. Their service is wonderful, they are friendly and helpful and if you want something they don't have, they will get it for you. They have been here for years so if they can do it, why can't others? I would imagine their rent or property in small towns wouldn't be near as high as in a larger metropolitan area so I would think that would be a big help. On the other hand, most of the other local stores here are higher so I do not patronize them although I would like to.
-- bwilliams (email@example.com), December 02, 2000.
LBF I have to agree with you about the little towns dying. I live about 3 miles from a town that is holding on by a hair. There is a hardware store like the one mentioned that will help you with anything and provides great service. I think they will survive, but the rest of the buildings are deserted. There is a restaurant that had to close, bad service and bad food, we used to eat there every Friday night until the new folks bought it. The bar has become a low income apartment house, there's a beauty shop or two and the rest of the brick buildings are slowly deteriating. I've thought of buying the south side of town and fixing up the buildings before they're totally gone, but then what. The community is not large enough to support any kind of store, i.e. clothing, gift, etc., so what does a person do. Overhead today eats up a huge amount of the income in those kinds of stores, and it's very seasonal.
There is a small town called Blanchard about the center of the state (Mich.) that someone started a craft store in and is now really booming. I don't know how they did it, people come from all over to buy decorating stuff. If the economy takes a dive though, it will probably be struggling to survive too. This is a real problem across the nation. Maybe if we all put our heads together we'll find a solution. I'm open for suggestions!
-- Betsy K (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 02, 2000.
LBF I had this very same thought. In fact I sent an e-mail about this idea to Steve about six months ago. THought it might come out in the magazine. I plan to retire in 8 years and will have a comfortable retirement which will allow me to pretty much live wherever I want without having to worry about having a place of employment so I have been researching to find out where I would like to move to. This is turning out to be a lot harder than I thought. I realize how difficult, if not impossible, it is to try to move to a town and try to change everyone to your way of thinking. What you mention is the conclusion I came to as well. It seems a lot smarter to get a bunch of people together who are willing to make the move and then find a place that fits the bill. Kind of like the pioneers did with their wagon trains. You would have to establish what the goals are and then research to find a dying location and head there. The biggest difficulty would probably be that too many people would need a source of income and a dying place cannot provide that. That is why it is dying. So, I expect that you would have to make the wagon train from people who can earn their income on the internet and therefore can live anywhere or of those like me that don't need an outside source of income. If you can get a group like that, you may have something. Keep me in mind, as I would be interested. Great thought though.
-- Colleen (email@example.com), December 02, 2000.
Mark, these small stores have lots of stuff there. Saddles, clothes, horse supplements, hats, stoves, lots of stuff to make more profit on, not just the feed. And when you buy in tons, you get a really good discount over what I would normally pay. There's allready a markup for retail so to speak, but if you price things much higher than normal, no one will come. I just ment that if I paid a little more getting it closer I would. Cracked corn is about 7.00 a 100# and one small town store sells it for 8.00 a 50#. If you priced all your stuff reasonable, you'd sell allot of everything.
-- Cindy in Ky (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 02, 2000.
My dad once said he liked doing business someplace where it was 'Hello, Mr. Scharabok, how are you?" rather than "Hello, who are you?"
If you are rummaging around a used paperback book store see if you can find a copy of The Harrad Experiment. Don't remember author. Premise is a group of college students all move to a particular state after graduation and then gradually start to take over that state's government.
-- Ken S. in WC TN (email@example.com), December 04, 2000.
There are almost whole towns in south Florida that have been occupied by people of a common belief, I don't see why it would not work for homesteaders. But, judging by the vast differences I have seen on this forum, I am wondering if we are not all a little better off being scattered about.
-- Diane Green (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 04, 2000.
Diane, I am with you, since I agree so little with the christians, etc. on this forum. Glad I am far from most of the folks here, myself.
But still monitor the conversation.....
-- Anne (HT@HM.com), December 04, 2000.
Those interested in local sustainability, please see my post on the Forum titld, "Solviva anyone?". Also, the Rocky Mountain Institute has a program specifically designed to make small communities economically sustainable, keeping as much of the town's money in the town instead of being drained off by imports. I will try to get more infomation about this and will post it when I do obtain such.
-- John Fritz (email@example.com), January 27, 2001.
Little Bit - What and where is this little town in OK that you speak of. I like to research an area before even daydreaming about a move. Do you mind sharing the name and location with us? I emailed directly to you , but it bounced back using the two addresses I found. Jackie
-- Jackie(NE TX) (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 31, 2001.
You know, if we each did this in the community we live in the world would be a better place. Our intentions (intentional community) matter, wherever we live. Sigh. If it were only that easy. Love one another right?
-- Anne (not a real e-mail address) (HT@HM.com), January 31, 2001.