First off I want to define what I think community is. To me, community is a group of people coming together to achieve a common goal or provide support for each other in common beliefs. Traditionally we think of a village or parish group that works together and lives within close geographical proximity to each other as a community. A family can be thought of as a type of community, a microcosm of the greater group, as well. Technology and the internet has drastically changed this though. In the modern age communities can be built over dramatic expanses of area, bringing together folks from different corners of the globe with such diversity in language, income, age, and religion that the possibilities are literally limitless (well not really, but you get my point). While these conceptual communities provide for emotional and ideological support for their members we as humans still need that physical link to be whole, and healthy members of society. We need each other! It’s part of who we are as people.
Having someone who is there to help with the harvest crops or process livestock is imperative to our success as homesteaders. No matter how capable you are at some point the shear logistics of the amount of work needing to be done will overwhelm your capacity to get those things accomplished. We need to be able to depend on each other to provide that assistance. Sure a large family with lots of children will go a long way to alleviate those problems, but there are diminishing returns there. The fallacy of the lone wolf, pioneer seldom met with success in reality. Even if you could manage to plan everything out so that you could provide entirely for the needs of you and your family without any assistance, it just doesn’t seem like that would be a very enjoyable life. There needs to be some down time, some sort of recovery period, and heaven forbid you fall ill…. then what? This concept of total self-sufficiency, that we can get by without anyone else, is foolhardy at best and dangerous at worst. Sure I imagine it could be done, but the practicality of the thing is just not there.
Now if you want to consider the idea of a self sufficient community, well then, now we’re talking. Locals coming together to help one another out and provide support in times of need, well that sounds ideal to me. Not everyone can effectively or efficiently frame a barn or butcher a hog or deliver a baby or…. We need to realize our strengths and weaknesses and play to the former. This is what the true pioneer spirit of America was all about. Small, dispersed communities, providing for their own needs without the interference of “outsiders”. Sure luxury items would be brought in from far away places with the infrastructure to cast iron or what have you, but the needs of the community were provided for from within.
If you want to consider this in a modern context think about how dysfunctional modern society has become especially large towns and sprawling suburbs. People don’t know their neighbors, or don’t treat them with dignity or respect, and as such there is little community to be found. Even within modern church communities there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the members. People turn a blind eye to abuse and neglect. There are constant power struggles, back bitting, and cliques forming. This is no way to live our lives. That is a part of the reason why we chose to begin our journey on this path where we did. Sure I realize that these things can be overcome, and that we really should be the embodiment of the change that we want to see in the world, but sometimes it’s just a whole lot easier to do that from the countryside. The rural areas of this country still tend to retain a good deal of those traditional values surrounding family, faith, and community, so they really are an exceptional place to create the type of community that we need so much to thrive in this word. Sure there can be the “small town” politics, or the “good ole’ boy” networks, but these things can easily be overcome or avoided. These decisions are personal and should be made with a fair bit of serious discernment, but for us moving to a remote location was the best choice.