How to set up a Living Community.
How to set up a Living Community. Or not….
(The following is a tongue in cheek review of the past year of searching and engaging with many people and properties, and is not exhaustive of the scenarios we have had presented to us.)
For more than a year now, Manuela and I have been working together at this idea of setting up and founding an Intentional Cooperative Living Community, here in Umbria, Italy. We believed that this idea is in high demand given the current world situation. Individually we had both spent many years of our time researching and planning, and being directly involved in various community ideas and projects in the UK. We are by no means experts, but we began with very firmly established ideas about the function of a community and in particular cooperatives, in forming the joint project you all know today as the Share-It Community. To this end we have clearly and determinedly described the aims of our vision, and the routes we would take to achieve the outcomes. We have been exceptionally transparent in our actions, dialogues and behaviour, towards leading by example how we believed the ideas could come to fruition. Many of the people we have met and interacted with have expressed their admiration for this attempt to be the change we wish to see, and hence we have made some great ongoing friendships from this over the past year or so.
“I have a dream” said Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech for freedom, social justice and equality in Washington D.C. on August 28th 1963. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” he went on to say.
The relevance of this quote here is that “We have a dream”. “We have a dream, that all Share-It Community members will be treated as equals, despite their financial assets, skills and talents, resources, gender, country of origin or religious identity, provided they understand the ethics of a sharing cooperative living community.”
We have written a comprehensive website of information to reveal these ideas, our dreams, to anyone taking the time to read them. We have carefully planned and researched ideas about how to fund and run this community with a strong respect for your individual needs and requirements, alongside the security of any assets invested. We offer sound plans for the sustainability and ongoing operational requirements of these aims and the potential beneficial outcomes for all involved, if you take the time to read what we are offering to do. We would sincerely hope that you might also share our dreams in these regards, whilst understanding if you don’t. But we cannot seriously adjust the aims and vision of the Share-It Community to suit each new individual person interested, without destroying the beauty of the fundamental difference between Share-It, and any other collaborative living venture. We do what it says on the can!!!
A few points have come to our attention during recent interactions that we feel we need to clarify before we go forward. We have never offered a share of a property by amount of money invested, where you get to choose a large or small apartment or rooms. The plan has always been to divide the spaces available into what would be possible with the property we collectively decided to buy. This might mean that some people with certain needs have a ground floor residence for example. Nor are we offering a catered for retirement home plan for people to come and go as they please. We do not pretend that we can solve all of your immediate or longer term life choice conundrums either. We have all got a life behind us, had problems and so forth and so there are no easy resolutions to a myriad of wants you may have, despite our best efforts to try and help create a safe space for this. We are simply two human beings with a passion to treat the next stage of our lives in collaboration with other like-minded people, in a way that can reduce stress and anxiety, loneliness and purposelessness, whilst living in harmony with nature and as self-sustainably as possible.
If you seriously do not believe that the resources and money you have now are gifts bestowed upon you by the Universe/God/Supreme energy, for you to be the guardian of those, to be used in the benefit of others also, then you DO NOT understand the motives behind the Share-It Community model. It is not for us to become wealthy at the expense of others’ hard earned labour, but to show by example that sharing is the way to a happy and contented life for all. Sadly the world as it is, teaches us to think separately and of self rather than others, whatever they claim. “Actions speak louder than words”, my grandmother always told me. This same world that victimises those without resources, in a way it does not with those that have accumulated material wealth is self-evident. Here we are trying to encourage a new way of being in the world that can dispel the lack for some, by extending our hearts and minds to see a novel way of living in harmony, with a dream of the nature spoken about by the late MLK Jr.
Every person is free to decide what is the best way for themselves of course, and we respect this. It is just that our ideas are NOT like the mainstream of conscious thought about value. We do not believe that we own anything in the conventional way, we are simply guardians of that material whilst we share it for the good of all. Why would we want to be the wealthiest person in the cemetery? Better to be the wealthiest person in the world with many loving friends who trust and believe in us, even if we appear poor to the social construct of success. We make no attempt here either, to belittle or diminish the efforts of anyone reading this in regards to the Share-It Community, or lecture on rights or wrongs. We simply needed to point out certain observations that we have had and remind the reader that we have always set out our proposed timelines for outcomes and what we would then do as each passed.
We said that after one full year of trying to get the investors and members interested enough in the Share-It aims, we would decide if suitable and verifiable progress had been achieved, to be able to purchase a property and begin the project. It has not. A full year had passed at the end of October 2022, so we reviewed the objectives. We had said that if this occurred, then it was inevitable that we would do something else, and put the aims of a community as a secondary stage to our personal needs until they were suitably met. It is not an act of wisdom, to continue doing the same thing expecting a different outcome. We have invested all of our energy and a lot of our financial funds into our dream of setting up the Share-It Community, not just in the way of property viewings but more importantly by arranging personal meetings large and small, both in Italy and Germany, regular group Zoom-Calls as well as continuous communication via phone, email, Zoom and other means.
We understand that we cannot continue to use the same approach and expect to achieve a different outcome so we have decided to adapt our strategy and furthermore are going to purchase a house with our own funds, in preparation for providing the base for the next phase of the Share-It Community. We are not giving up easily, we are simply changing gear for the time being and starting small and with a chance to expand when genuine interest and commitment are evident. Don’t forget, it is not simply about what each person wants or needs, it is much more about what a person can bring, offer and share with others in the community. We hear so much about what people want, what they have to have for their basic sanity and we do genuinely understand why they may want those things. It is not a crime to want things. But the Share-It Community has realised that the primary focus on the wants, has crushed any hope of this project ever seeing a home. The average wants of the people we have met so far cannot be realised in any substantive way here in Italy unless we have an investment amount of around 200,000€ per person/couple. After visiting (‘til today) over 50 separate properties in person and viewing around about a thousand on the internet this past year, we are sure that any likely attempt at the community will involve much of those wants being transformed into a much more realistic need based outcome. The right property simply does not exist that could fulfil all your expectations, and be purchased from the funds that have been pledged.
Added to that, we have found it almost impossible to gather the essential information we would need to buy a property. Many parties have stated that they were interested but have not provided us with a figure of how much they could invest and when. If we cannot speak openly about money (which is just a means to an end) at this early stage, how can we reasonably envisage living together in a transparent and open way? Now, we simply have run out of energy to continue in the same way. If people don’t respond to the questions we have asked them, or give feedback about properties we have presented, then obviously we cannot find on your behalf anything to suit those requirements. Believe us when we say, there is very little you can tell us about the property buying process here in Italy, and the requirements to look out for regarding resources, legal arrangements, costs etc. that we have not already tried, thought of and lost the will to live over…
And once again we would like to reiterate that finding the right people has always been more important to us than merely sourcing the financial means, the right property or even the location of our project. For us, true sharing only starts with the material resources that we require to set up a physical space for our living community. But even more important to us is the sharing of skills, of willingness to support, of working selflessly together, of using each of our strengths to create a much more powerful outcome than each of us could ever achieve individually. In a nutshell: sharing…
Have you ever considered what you can offer to the community as a service? Service to others enriches life immensely and both Manuela and I have been blessed to experience this over the last few decades. Have you seriously considered how far you could get in terms of self-sufficiency or building maintenance or enhancing your surroundings or supporting the abundance of nature around you as an individual or a couple compared to living together as a group of people? There is a vast difference and we believe that these are the underlying reasons for many people who are interested in joining a living community. However, it is our observation that these underlying reasons seem to get forgotten in the process of setting up the community, when it comes to actually providing our energy and our resources for the realisation of the project.
Connection is much more important than separation and we would hope that all of us will be able to direct our focus on the things that connect us (and all living beings around us) rather than directing our focus on the things that separate us. This is not an easy task, for us included, but this is where we see the future: Respecting our diversity and individual freedom whilst living in unity and collating our strengths to make a positive difference in our lives and in the world.
It may seem like a cruel indictment of your interests in the Share-It Community, but we are not kidding, we have done everything we could to found and establish a sharing living cooperative community during the last 12 months. Some of you who have only joined us more recently would have not felt our commitment as strongly as those who have been with us on this journey 6 or 8 months ago, but this is simply due to us using up our energy reserves as time went on.
We seriously hope that you will take notice of what we have diligently said both now and throughout the whole of our webpages and correspondences from the past year. It is all there in clear objective detail, you simply need to read the words on the pages.
Going forward: If you can accept the tongue in cheek nature of our message here, and still find our ideas really interesting, you have a desire to make the world a better place for many people and inspire real and even radical change for the good, then stay in touch, come and join us in person at our new home for a few days or so, to feel the power of the Share-It Community in action once more.
With our love and hugs, in peace. Namaste.
Peaceful Warrior and Manuela. xxx