Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

LIBERTYVILLE, Luxury for the Poor

Quality of life may depend mostly on one's attitude, but the material and social environment provides foundation while culture and religion provide a context. Let's assert that all humans deserve a high quality of life, regardless of their peculiarities or contributions. In the recent century people have become increasingly isolated in the lonely crowd of modern abstract culture. Admit it or not, it's a burden to everyone, especially the very young and the very old.

The solution to the problem is obvious: the reconstruction of organic social life through the construction of a new culture of cohousing (p.86) in ecovillages (p.87), whatever form they may take. Unfortunately such a construction is extremely difficult, as one can see from a brief look at the myriad and morass of laws, regulations, business practices, stagnant mind sets, financial interests, and lobbied legislatures. Perhaps people with lots of money, willpower, and skill can get through these barriers. But ordinary poor folk can rarely choose among the liberties of life style. Liberty for ordinary folk needs a special set-aside, a LIBERTYVILLE.

Libertyville Number One, let's assume, is intended to get the wretched homeless people off the streets and out of temporary shelters, and to offer a quality environment for these poor pioneers. We start with the poor not simply because they are most in need, but because they are expensive to police. Also, we want them out of our sight. Even though the same culture design principles apply to all from laborers to the country club set, this first program is designed to remove the burden of the poor from the backs of the taxpayers.

To launch LIBERTYVILLE ONE, pick a price, perhaps ten thousand dollars per person for a few hundred souls. This is less than the yearly cost of maintaining the poor on the streets, in hovels, at emergency rooms, and in prisons where they now burden the economy. This taxpayer outlay may well be one-time expense, most likely a long term net profit to the national economy. Libertyville can be an economically sustainable community needing no charity from the outside. With proper design, the village can also be ecologically sustainable, requiring few resources beyond those in its own modest realm. Any outside resources such as replacement refrigerators, plain grain, and electronic equipment can be traded for its own produce such as weavings, music videos, fine jelly, software, or whatever lilies bloom in this fertile field.

In order to accomplish this noble goal, present laws must be set aside. Libertyville must forsake all other laws, allowing unlimited freedom to reconstruct organic social life. But as a safety measure, the libertyville law must provide a village Ombudsman with the power to unenforce any residual restrictions, to recall outside agencies should that become necessary, to allow a thousand flowers to bloom. Let's call this office and its official, the "LIBERTARIAN", or simply the "LIB".

The LIB has the difficult task of deciding if and when the traditional authorities need to be summoned. Hopefully, never. The community itself can solve most problems. Should the problem of POOPs (p.79) overwhelm the maturing power of the community, LIB can call for help as needed, and also dismiss it when the crisis is over. Let the reader imagine herself taking on the task of the LIB. The essence of social democracy is the displacement of responsibility down the social hierarchy toward the family and the individual, with referrals upward only in emergencies (p.252).

Current governments are essentially the handmaidens of business lobbies. It seems unlikely, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, that present government would move against its own interests.

A few corners of our political culture are especially in need of Libertyvilles: 1. The social welfare system - instead of supporting a portion of our surplus population in urban misery, a one time investment might well put an end to part of this continuing expense. 2. The criminal justice system might also promote Libertyvilles as a form of half-way houses, as Australia once served the Brits. The criminal system is presently not cost effective, costing more than the finest universities to maintain each citizen, and providing even less education in some cases. 3. Some church communities might also promote their own Libertyvilles, in the long tolerated, if not respected, tradition of the Roman Catholics, Mormons, Amish, and various Brethren. 4. Native Americans already have some autonomy and are well situated to take advantage of such a program. We need not and cannot determine or predict how organic culture will reconstruct.

Land is the first need. California, for example, is mostly empty. Most of the land, rolling semi-desert hills, are empty and unused. Currently some economic value is extracted from these lands by agribusiness grazing and logging, but Libertyvilles will be a much higher economic use. Eminent domain compensation can fairly represents their lost profits, which will surely be much less than the produce of a mature Libertyville. The greed of those in control, public or private, must be curbed lest the village become just another slave plantation or hillbilly haven.

Housing is a first requirement. Everyone, especially the honest builder, knows that adequate, even elegant housing should cost about a tenth, perhaps a hundredth of present prices. LIB will be obliged to eliminate building and zoning codes. A cluster of large passive solar homes meandering over the hillsides can cost about a thousand dollars per person. The walls might be made of straw bales, styrene foam, or adobe concrete. The floors of tile made by the children, the roof frames of local timber or cheap steel. Materials purchased from the outside will be a minor expense: a concrete mixer, cement, new and recycled windows, plumbing and wiring materials, appliances. Keep in mind that with over ten people in each large house, appliances are very efficiently utilized. Yet building is so inexpensive that privacy is adequate.

Utilities will be almost entirely independent - probably no need for buying electricity and water from the outside, given the new photovoltaic systems and the ease of deep drilling. The community produces most of the high quality food, with only inexpensive mass produced foods imported. A one-time investment in ecologically sustainable utilities is technically easy and economically feasible. Here again LIB must protect the community from the network of businesses and lobbyists, who may resent the loss of their imagined profits.

A community center focuses the village. No need to determine or predict community activities, but imagine a variety of facilities: A meeting room, a dining hall, a cafe, a barn, a concert and drama stage, an auto shop, a major electronic terminal, a laboratory, a tool bin... .

The initial construction may need help from the outside, but not much. The program will attract some people who already have skills at building; and if they are able to forget most of what they have learned, they can be very helpful. Also, starting with the poorest of the population means that minimal public education has not ingrained the helplessness of useless learning. People learn fast when they have exciting shared tasks. High-tech information is at-the-ready for any particular task, the computer facility having a higher priority than the indoor toilet.

Crime and abuse will decline. No money would be wasted on prisons, since crime will more likely be remedied by compensating the victim than by expensive incarceration. Since everyone knows everyone else, very little crime will occur. What crime does occur will be handled within the household and village. Should such organic systems break down on occasion, the LIB may feel obliged to call for help from the sheriff or other legal or administrative last resorts. Libertyville solves the crime problem.

The tax laws may apply as usual, but the actual state and federal taxes will gradually decline because the amount of money actually transacted will decrease. As the LIB economy develops, the money economy and taxes will contract. The freer the lunch, the healthier the society. The value of a very old person and a child growing vegetables together is priceless. LIB might be obliged to intervene minimally to prevent tax harassment. From the outside it will look like economic stagnation, but from the inside, a flourishing culture.

Automobiles will be largely unused. Whether they are kept by individuals, small rental firms, or shared ownership need not be predetermined. If Libertyvilles spread, the roads will gradually empty making essential travel to concerts and friends on the outside easier. Shipping will be greatly reduced, since much is produced locally or not needed. With proper design, walking will replace driving, and cholesterol levels will drop. If the American economy collapses and petroleum is no longer available, the small passenger cars might be electric and run off the photovoltaic system, while the heavy machinery and vehicles might run on local alcohol.

With good fortune, schools will be forgotten. In the beginning, children will work as appropriate on the countless tasks and projects of the initial construction. As the infrastructure nears completion, more time can be spent on learning the finer points of food, energy, clothing, utilities, as well as singing and dancing. Infinite information is available from the outside through computer and satellite services, so instruction will rarely be appropriate. Since each citizen is constantly learning and group concern is built into most activities, no distinct school will be needed. The community contains a complex of groups and a plethora of concerns, but nothing resembling the pathetic educational institutions which now damage the minds of young.

People will be in a position to take more responsibility for their medical needs. Rare requirements for special treatment can be taken to the outside hospital. Good health and well-being will become inherent in the culture. The real cost of the medical care will drop.

The village may seem provincial or primitive but to the contrary, life can be quite cosmopolitan. Access to world communications will increase as usual. Since most transportation withers away because of its inefficiency, the roads and airlines will be available for higher purposes such as cultural exchange, world community activities, business and educational trips, and gene pool expansion.

Whatever develops from the seeds of Libertyville, the objective principles of culture design offer a valuable and healthy direction for the reconstruction of organic cultural life. The reason for LIBERTYVILLES will change from "Let's get rid of all those poor people, get them out of sight and off the public dole," to: "Every human, no matter how poor or rich, deserves a healthy and wholesome environment, a rich culture, and the comfort of *`Living well with style' in a stable and sustainable ecosystem."

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