It is commonly understood that the human being is a social creature. As such it is imperative for out psychological well being to be engaged in some sort of community. Whether that looks like a small town, church parish, online forum, or large family we need this interaction to be healthy and productive. Here on the Traditional Catholic Homestead I am attempting to foster as many of the elements of community as I can. I recognize that through the power of community we will be able to create the kind of lifestyle that we are meant to live here.
Living in community can be difficult. You have to deal with all of the different personalities, the power struggles, being dependent on someone else, along with a myriad of other not so obvious issues. Community is no bed of roses. You’ll have your friends, relatives, acquaintances, and people you just don’t like. Sometimes those categories will be blurred together and sometimes they will remain singular. The challenge is getting all of these people to mesh together in your life to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. You don’t have to like someone to work with them and get along for the betterment of everyone. We should be helping each other because it is the right thing to do, we don’t need to prove our own worth to someone else and they shouldn’t have to do the same for us.
On the homestead communities of life work together to create abundance, but they don’t always get along well. Chickens need to be separated from the pigs, pigs need to be kept away from the dogs, dogs from cats, cattle from sheep, etc. The interaction of working all of these animals on the same land at different times creates a holistic abundance that can really make a degraded piece of property sing with abundance. Communities of people can work together to create a better whole if they can be orchestrated to the same goal. This is the magic and the difficulty of community. The homestead can easily be managed for this kind of abundance with proper observation, care and instruction, the same can be true of our interactions within the community.
Community members can pool together resources, time, labor, money, etc. If one person has a tractor, another might have a truck and trailer, if those people work together there is no need for either of them to purchase the other. By reducing redundant purchases and working together the community as a whole becomes more prosperous. There is no need to mandate participation or sharing of time or goods, these are voluntary associations. Either party is free to disassociate themselves at anytime, but the true participant in the community would be willing to make that sacrifice both for his benefit and the good of his neighbors. I know this sounds like pie in the sky idealism, but on a small scale (especially in a rural setting) this ideal is totally achievable. I can say this with confidence because it has been successfully implemented. From the pioneer days of our past, the modern amish communities, to the kibbutz movement in Israel, to modern monastic life community will, does, and has worked for us. The sprit of self sacrifice and a willingness to work together is imperative for our success. The key here is direct intimate knowledge of the community members by the community members, not relying on some far away disassociated body to distribute your time, talents, and resources for the greater good. These relationships and shared beliefs are what make community work not some mandate by law makers, to be enforced through fear and greed.
I firmly believe that through cooperation of like minded individuals with a common goals, values, and ethics, true sustainability and abundance can be had for the participants. If communities were set up like this on a large scale, widely distributed, and left to self regulate with free association, then abundance and regeneration would be the natural by-product of such a system. This is my vision for our little slice of Eden… now just to make it happen!