I’ve been thinking about what I want for my life, spurred on by the encouragement of various friends and commenters. It’s never been an easy one for me, as I tend to be interested and inspired by many things; distracted by the next dream or possibility… I’m going to think seriously about what I want my life to look like in 5 years time, and I may or may not post on that in time, but for now I want to try and bash out a recurring dream…
My two terms at l’Abri have had a profound affect on me, as I know they have on many others. But the following idea, while added to and flourishing in that environment, has been germinating in me for years. Each new encounter is a new form of inspiration, an new bit of clarity; developing a sense of “like this, but not like that…”
So what’s the dream? Well, I am still trying to pull the hazy distant imaginings into a describable reality, but as far as I can sketch at the moment…
The dream is a farm, run by a community of like-minded individuals, living a shared life together. It aspires to self-sufficiency, and even an abundance, so that the product of the land can be crafted, shared, even sold. It grows organically, perhaps using permaculture principles, but certainly trying to steward the land in as efficient, diverse and environmentally sustainable manor as possible. It aims to have the minimum possible carbon footprint; hopefully even managing to be a negative generator of CO2.
The community is centred on the shared belief of the fundamental creative nature of all of us, and seeks to express that in everything it does. In terms of food production, it aims to take control of as much of the food cycle as possible, and produce in-house food of the best quality, from seed to table. It would seek excellence in all areas, and aspire to creative, wholesome, nutritious and desirable production, for the enjoyment of the farm, the local community, and beyond.
The farm would be an artistic fellowship, seeking to be a place of communal artistic expression, a cradle and crucible of talent. Residents and guests would work part of their time on the land or the products of the land, and part of their time in the pursuit of creative expression. It would be a place of music, of sculpture and painting, of photography and film; a melting-pot of ideas, inspirations and the result of shared artistic endeavour.
The community would aspire to follow the inspiration of the Arts and Crafts Movement; not necessarily in terms of style, but in terms of seeking to produce quality, hand-crafted works, and the high value to aesthetics and the goodness of beauty. Like “Morris & Co.” it would seek to develop craft-based production of beautiful things: hand made furniture, book binding and printing, clothing etc. Perhaps in time it could be a place of fostering new ideas and principles in art, architecture, education etc.
The community would be based around a shared life, in the belief that we are more human when we are not isolated and live in fellowship with other human beings. Or, to quote Christopher McCandless: “Happiness is nothing if it is not shared.” It would seek to work together, eat together, play together and laugh together. There would be a common commitment to a ‘slow life’, to a reducing of the intense, depersonalising, technology-driven nature of our western life. It would, especially, seek to be an alternative to consumerist materialism.
Last, for now, and by no means least, the community would seek to be a place of shelter. The phrase that comes to mind is “freely you have received, now freely give”. It would seek to welcome strangers into its midst, and to be a place of refuge for those that need it, for as long as they need. The community would aspire to growing, not as a hand-picked collection of friends, but as any and all who need to be there, and can commit to the shared values and vision. Inspired by the monastic orders of old, the community would practice salvation through work; that labouring with and for the community can in and of itself be a healing thing.
There is probably much more to write, but that is enough from me for now. This is a rough outline of a steadily growing dream, and it is by no means my exclusive proviso. If this is ever to develop out of the hazy imaginings of my own mind and into an achievable, concrete reality, then it will do so with others, and the perspectives of others will be as valid as mine. So, what do you think? Are there others there for whom this is a shared dream? Does this picture, or parts of it , resonate with you? What would you add, what would you take away?
And, just as importantly, how do we get there?