Action Plan

I am outlining a plan as it might be carried out here in Fairfield Iowa, but the principles would apply to pretty much any community. Most of these steps should, in fact, be undertaken by anyone, whether they are seeking a new paradigm or fully enamored with the existing one. My own desire is to witness the arrival of an enlightened age, where ignorance no longer dominates the field of politics. To accomplish this, we must take back the mantle of responsibility from the current administrators, who have shown they are not up to the task. In this respect, all that's required is the right attitude, the right thought. Thought will make this scheme successful.

The action steps suggest two distinct approaches, corresponding to whether a group takes shape within an established municipality, such as the city of Fairfield, or outside of it. The bolder choice is to work from the inside, to confront the establishment straight on. In this scenario, a community patrol would have the greatest effect as it would stand in clear juxtaposition to local enforcement, while community conscience advocates would present a direct challenge to judicial authorities.

The alternative is to set up camp in a separate community, the administration of which requires little contact with municipal officials. The former offers a quicker, but perhaps rougher road, while the latter operates with a longer-term strategy. The reader must decide which of these approaches would work best in his particular situation.

Action Steps, General

1. Connect with like-minded people.

In Fairfield, several organizations and sympathetic individuals might be approached. Clyde Cleveland, author of Common Sense Revisited and advocate for non-coercive government is one. We mentioned Suzanne Stryker's Project Help. Another is the Fairfield group that is working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) of Thomas Linzey. CELDF is challenging the legal structure, the so called "settled law", that prevents communities and local governments from controlling their own quality of life.

2. Gather your forces in one place. Create a critical mass.

For the present, I suggest we not concern ourselves so much with wider sovereign regions, as described above, but instead create local units that are fairly compact and geographically strong. I'm thinking about neighborhood-level cooperation. To launch an effective assault on the paradigm, we must establish a geographic base and commit to making our homes there. Assuming Fairfield is the place we choose, the obvious strategy is to convince folks to move here. When desirable properties come up for sale or rent, we should be promoting them to suitable occupants from out-of-town. We discuss this in more detail below.

3. Establish a garden zone presence. Start a courtesy patrol.

Once a setting is populated, establishing a garden zone presence should involve some of the steps outlined in previous chapters: neighborhood watch, environmental maintenance, landscape management, homeless outreach, etc. One thing that would effectively grab the attention of the community is a courtesy patrol. In Westchester Estates, we scheduled forty volunteers to patrol once a month on a designated day. They wore "Westchester Watch" ball caps, and fixed "Patrol" placards to their vehicles. The idea is to observe and report, as a concerned neighbor might. The patrol was an effective way to cement community coherence with concrete action. Our focus was on service. Cops also observe and report, but they are focused on finding fault. More importantly, cops report to big G, whereas patrollers report to grass-roots leaders and spiritual elders—CCAs, garden zone managers. It is from this shift in authority that the greatest benefit will derive.

4. Connect with property owners.

Fundamental to our plan is that people live close to the land. The land is our anchor, teacher and provider. The last few decades have seen a back-to-the-earth movement spurred by this realization. At the same time, we're witnessing a worldwide land grab by corporate and government interests as the pressures of population growth and the urban lifestyle create an increasing demand for resources and food. By concentrating land into the hands of a very few, society becomes disconnected from a key component of its evolution. To address this problem, I suggest we approach sympathetic landowners with more property than they can use and see if they're open to leasing, sharing or otherwise transferring a portion of their holdings to our group with the idea that permanent, self-sufficient settlements can be established, including homes built by the residents themselves (see the "Residential Stability" and "Intentional Community" proposals below). People holding title to large acreage and multiple lots could win the community's good will by letting go of land that (a) they don't themselves live on and (b) don't use for a purpose suitable to sustainability and permaculture; e.g., organic food production. We should also be searching for ways to phase out the practice of residential rental, to move members of the community toward permanent residency on land and in dwellings from which they and we cannot be evicted.

5. Choose community conscience advocates.

Locate a spirituality czar. Consult with him or her on nominating people to be community conscience advocates and decide on the extent of their service—how many households over what area. Look into how we might compensate the CCAs or otherwise ensure they can meet basic needs. MUM sets a good example with their board plus stipend plans for faculty and staff. People don't get rich this way, but it holds the community together nicely—saving dedicated folks from having to search elsewhere for sustenance.

6. Make informal connections within the wider community.

Explore all the customary avenues of engagement—churches, garden clubs, volunteer organizations. It might, however, be best to avoid involvement with the major political parties, to stand apart from the Republican and Democrat establishment. Why? To avoid being swallowed up by a broken system, to distinguish our approach as completely new, to send a clear message that the usual way of doing business is not working.

7. Put attention on big G.

This is without question the most challenging aspect of the plan. It will test your powers of detachment to put attention on government people while not letting their behavior send you over the edge. The judicial establishment in particular will present a formidable obstacle. One of Maharishi's oft-repeated counsels is that what you put your attention on grows. Focusing attention on big G could thus backfire; it could leave us with an even bigger problem. Like the parable of the dead cat with the pearly teeth, you must hope to find something positive about the local government. If it turns out there is no one in the administration with good incisors, if the by-the-book legalists are too firmly entrenched, we should consider other venues. In terms of Fairfield, the proverbial teeth of most authorities are badly formed. We do, however, have a number of good orthodontists in town, spiritually speaking, and with luck they may be able to correct the malocclusions in our leadership.

Some specific action steps are:

8. Begin the education process. Assume the correct posture.

Assuming the correct posture in the political arena will require patience and indulgence. We're trying to convey the finer aspects of personal interaction. Subtle variations in one's intent will mean the difference between cooperation and antagonism. The idea is to contrast the forceful tenor of our current system with the model we're introducing, which eschews force entirely.

Writing letters, going to meetings, giving talks, hosting forums ... these are all useful for educating big G, but it's equally important to make personal contact, to establish a human relationship with those who presume to take leadership roles. Position yourself such that the spiritual ground you stand on is visible. If the stance is authentic, others should recognize and respect it.

The key to success will ultimately come from raising collective consciousness. With the great number of TM teachers in Fairfield and such a strong spiritual presence, you would think it easy to attract folks to this path. But there may be lingering issues in this regard given that MIU/MUM has had forty years to introduce TM to administrators in the region. People like to have alternatives, so it's worth considering other mind-body development regimens. From my own experience, the safe bet is to go with TM as its origins are clearly rooted in an indigenous tradition of spiritual mastery, with solid research and scholarship verifying its effectiveness and an equally solid body of knowledge to complement the practice.

Action Steps, Specific

Let me outline some specific steps I would like to see taken, either in Fairfield or wherever we make our stand. These recommendations reflect a more personal bias. There will certainly be people with different opinions about community structure; in particular, whom they could and could not adopt as "family." The world is our family, as the saying goes, but differences are natural. Tolerance is fine, but when you're aiming to establish an intimate relationship, a degree of discrimination is in order. Some examples will make this clear.

I imagine there are individuals who can't cohabit or even share meals with people who eat meat. On the other hand, some of us can't put up with strict vegans. Some people are so concerned about the welfare of animals that they would be uncomfortable with a dog chasing down a feral hog for fear of the dog, or even the pig, getting hurt, or who would object to killing a coyote or using traps to rid the garden of nuisance pests ... rabbits, woodchucks. At the other extreme is the guy who would shoot your dog should it venture onto his property, or shoot you if you violated some backwoods protocol. Can a community be structured to accommodate such cultural extremes? I believe it can under the right leadership. Still, no one should be forced into a living arrangement that disrupts their emotional health.

The notion of cohabitation brings up a wide area of potential disharmony. There is a significant difference between having a person with less-than-desirable habits in your neighborhood versus having him under the same roof, or even next door. Depending on your sensitivities, a person's lifestyle can produce wildly different readings on one's comfort scale. Are people okay, for example, with a group household consisting of both men and women? Would they be content with a housemate who kept several cats? Or one who hangs Thomas Kinkade prints in the living room and passes the afternoon watching soap operas? How about a roomy who spends her evenings at a tanning salon and her weekends at a firing range? I wonder myself, could I be happy living with a fan of mixed martial arts, or a dirt biker, or a hip-hop artist, given that their tastes are so different from mine?

By classifying people as desirable or undesirable, we must consider whether we revert to the age where the nobility was segregated from the commoner, and if so, how much evil there is in that. There are certainly some uncouth rednecks out there, but it's not only the rednecks we're concerned about. I know some ostensibly spiritual people, highly educated professionals, with whom I wouldn't live under any circumstance. There are one or two in particular who are obnoxious to the point that it's hard to even work with them. A person can be disagreeable in many ways—bad habits, vulgar, sloppy, inconsiderate—but outright meanness might be the toughest to deal with.

There are a multitude of issues related to how we get along with each other and how we look after the garden zone we share. They all hark back to our initial proposal to elevate courtesy in community life. Again, we must point out the difference between issues of morality, about which everyone has an opinion, and the idea of amorality, where the subtleties of action find their connection to cosmic regions. Courtesy, as we've argued, begins, at least, to approach that delicate area. Our modern day nobility, therefore, ought to consist of those who are more advanced on the metaphysical front.

Let me again emphasize we do not need to re-write laws to accomplish any of this. Indeed, to go the legal route is to cave in to the lawyers, to perpetuate a failing paradigm. If, down the road, after we've implemented our plan, people feel the need to codify it, then let us draft some ordinances. Far more important is to get people to, first of all, think clearly about these things and then to simply proceed with these recommendations regardless of what the current code says or doesn't say. We must, in fact, discard the law books and look instead for guidance from a higher source. If you're not finding that source, then consult with someone who is.

Whether there is sufficient cosmic inspiration in Fairfield and Jefferson County is an open question. Our spirituality quotient is all over the map. There are some saintly, one-in-a-million souls here. At the same time, you find the typical contingent of reactionaries. In addition, there are many who lean toward the urban lifestyle, including a good number of meditators. They are more interested in entertainment venues—theaters, night clubs, cabarets—than in straw-bale homes and backyard chicken coops. Their understanding of culture is skewed by their Western upbringing. The unfortunate side-effect is that development in town tends to serve the wealthy, rather than the poor. Fairfield is becoming less friendly to people in the lower strata, particularly with its ever increasing property tax. It's a definite concern for those of us working toward sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Given all this, it will clearly be a challenge to secure full cooperation for some of the environmental actions we're proposing. Still, the ideas need to be cataloged so we can at least get a read on where the community stands. Keeping courtesy in mind and remembering that what follows is an expression of personal preference, let me outline some measures that would improve the overall livability of the area and keep this Fairfielder happy and committed.

Quality of Life Committee

Whether or not the community conscience advocate program is adopted, the residents of greater Fairfield should consider forming one or more "Quality of Life Committees" (QLCs). As we've discussed, these are groups that focus exclusively on neighborhood issues. Like our ideal jurists and CCAs, they should be spiritually evolved to some extent. They are negotiators, mediators, problem-solvers and garden zone managers. They don't call the police on rowdy kids, they go out and talk to them. They coordinate the courtesy patrol. They understand how to approach an annoying neighbor because they've taken time to know their neighbors. They care about the land, the trees and the critters. They are educators rather than enforcers. They look for ways to serve, to get personally involved. They should be fully committed to life-long residence in the town and committed also to their neighborhood. My own experience in Camp Springs suggests a single garden zone manager could serve as many as five hundred households. The geography of southeast Iowa is different and might call for a smaller number.

A key responsibility of the QLCs will be to act as custodians of silence. They will promote quietness as an act of courtesy, rather than as a legal matter. They will know the acceptable limits for noise, particularly in the older homes that were divided into apartments. It's not that they will drag a decibel meter from house to house; rather, they should have an intrinsic sense of noise that can be disturbing at any time, such as the thumping of a bass woofer, versus noise that is hour-dependent, like late-night showers, piano practice, etc. Knowing the occupants could be strangers, each with a distinct schedule and a different tolerance for disruption, and realizing landlords usually disregard such differences in order to fill vacancies, the QLC can be proactive in educating people about the importance of respecting the quiet time of his housemate. In a case like mine, where the noise comes from neighboring teens, the QLC should help out as a garden zone manager would: by approaching the kids, preferably not in reaction to a disturbance, but in anticipation, knowing how kids behave. They should also be in touch with landlords and be able to alert them about the late-night activities of a tenant. Not with the intent of bringing the law down on someone's head, but to inject a responsible voice into a matter critical to health.

Naming Trees

Another QLC responsibility is to look after the landscape—trees in particular. Recall that I put together a tree survey for my neighbors in Westchester Estates (see MSN section 3.3). Something similar could be undertaken in Fairfield. The city has a number of magnificent specimens scattered throughout the neighborhoods—oaks, maples, sycamores—some of which must be a century old. Around the corner a stately 80-foot maple graced Broadway between Fourth and Fifth Streets. A living relic, it rose majestically in the easement on the south side of the street. One winter day a crew arrived and cut it down. No one was alerted, no one consulted; there was no discussion at all to my knowledge. I'm guessing someone in public works did the job, but at whose order and for what reason is a mystery. As usual, we residents were left in the dark. Not only did the removal leave a gaping hole in the landscape—an ugly void that dramatically altered the vista and, I would argue, lowered the quality of life on that block—it left a hole in our spirit, those of us who walk that street each day.

On Fourth between Hempstead and Briggs, another old maple was taken down, apparently because it interfered with the power lines. My thought is that we need a new outlook. We're always moving nature to make way for infrastructure, sacrificing Mother Earth in the name of growth. It's time to change course. In our new paradigm, nature will take priority over technology. When it comes to choosing between a tree and a power line, we move the power line. Note that I have not yet seen a replacement go in for either of those grand old dames. You wonder if anyone in the Fairfield government appreciates how much these centenarians added to the character of the town.

We have to stop taking the landscape for granted. Young people must be brought up to respect these trees as if they were members of the community. We could move in that direction by giving trees a name. Someone has named the streets in Fairfield after presidents; we could name the trees after ... who? Famous naturalists maybe? Plaques could be affixed to the oldest and biggest. For trees growing on private property, the town could offer to keep up the maintenance if the owner would agree not to cut them down. And if a tree did need to be removed, there could be ceremony. At the very least, those who live nearby should be alerted to the action. The QLC should be proactive, keeping tabs on not only the trees, but on big G, making sure they don't chop things down willy-nilly.

Garden Zone Management

The garden zone management program is discussed in previous chapters (see MSN chapter 5). The key thing to know is that it does not depend on codes or ordinances; that is, it doesn't involve force. The law is not forgotten; rather, it's relegated to a secondary position. A manager's job is technically non-governmental (i.e., an NGO), but as we've discussed, the real governing force in a community has nothing to do with big G's operation. Theoretically, anyone could become a garden zone manager, even a public servant if you could find one with vision beyond the rigid framework of code enforcement, but, as with CCAs, we'd like to promote managers who display some grasp of the spiritual path.

The principle of intimate, familial relations as described in the community law outline must be applied. Garden zone managers should be seen as responsible elders. They're not judging so much as they are advising. It's all about service. They should be well recognized within their community, particularly by kids. A courtesy patrol—walking or driving—would facilitate this recognition while establishing a garden zone presence. We define community to have a strong distance factor (see MSN section 5.6), which in this case means a manager's domain would be limited by the boundaries of his or her neighborhood. In Fairfield proper, we might create several such neighborhoods, with the obvious divisions. Whether we can pay the garden zone managers (and CCAs) will depend on how much support there is. We might petition the residents of wealthier neighborhoods to support a manager who lives in a less well-off part of town, but there should also be a show of support from his own people. The idea is that this is a serious vocation for committed individuals, and they deserve to be compensated for the effort. Indeed, if support does not materialize in a neighborhood, we're better off searching out more fertile ground.

Garden zone management creates lines of communication among neighbors who would otherwise remain anonymous. It establishes an accessible leadership who take a friendly interest in people's affairs and in the community environment. Garden zone managers would enjoy regular contact with their neighbors and develop a degree of casual intimacy with them. It's fairly easy to see the plan taking shape in a development where homes are closely clustered, but it's a good deal more difficult to envision it in rural regions, such as that of Jefferson County outside of Fairfield, where homes can be a half-mile apart. Yet it's in these sparsely populated townships where we find the most pressing need for leadership. Hog confinements (CAFOs) and monoculture, GM corn and soy cultivation are ruining the land, threatening our health and polluting the air and water. Society needs bold, clear-thinking speakers to voice the danger, but it's hard to even approach farmers who engage in this kind of industrial operation. They are free agents, remote and disconnected, taking advantage of the vast geography of the American plains. And also taking advantage of the freedom to live wherever you please and make money in whatever way you can, regardless of the environmental or social consequences. We do have roads and we do have cars, so it is possible, albeit inconvenient, to reach out to these folks, but we really need to think about the fundamentals of our economy. One way to establish a connection with rural farmers is to create a regional market for their produce, and, moreover, to discourage the global distribution of agricultural goods.* When producers are closer to their customers, geographically, socially and economically, suggestions about their methods of production will draw a better response.

* Editor's Note: In the fall of 2014, a group of farmers, entrepreneurs and others, including the regional Pathfinders RC&D organization, announced plans for a "Southeast Iowa Food Hub"—a distribution channel that would connect Jefferson County growers with markets as far away as Chicago.

I said that writing code is the wrong approach, but if we wanted to go that route, we could draft an ordinance that required, for example, all pork sold at retail to be organic, prohibiting meat from CAFOs. Whether or not it's enforceable, the law would send a clear message about the community's preferences. Another approach is to instruct the county assessor to dramatically raise taxes on any property that contains a CAFO, the rationale being that the facility is harming the environment, and, moreover, diminishing the value of surrounding parcels. It's widely understood that you can't live within a mile of these hog confinements. A twenty-acre lot with a manure pit is actually occupying a 3.14 square-mile area, stench-wise.

One Quiet Day

We're familiar with the quiet zone for the BNSF railroad line. It's a relief to not have those horns blasting every twenty minutes. A parallel idea is for the city to designate one day where everything shuts down. Stores, markets, schools, restaurants, galleries and all businesses are closed for 24 hours. Ideally, television, radio, Wi-Fi internet and even cell phone connections would be switched off, creating a day of not only auditory silence, but radio silence. No driving would be allowed. Vehicle traffic from out of town would be diverted and rail traffic restricted or re-routed. People can go for a walk, but they should refrain from working: no lawn mowing, no laundry, no house cleaning. Entertainment and recreation should be curtailed—no tennis, no golf, no little league. Video games should be shelved.

Emergency services will be scaled back. At the very least, sirens and horns will be silenced. We'd like to structure a period of complete rest—a scheduled non-emergency day. If it makes people anxious not having an ambulance service at the ready, let them camp outside the hospital for 24 hours.

I see this as a monthly observance in the beginning and perhaps more often at some point. The only allowed work would have to do with animal care—milking cows, feeding chickens. Even cooking could be minimized as people either fasted or ate raw foods. We might also think about turning off generators, air conditioners and non-essential appliances for a day. And why stop with Fairfield? One Quiet Day could be observed nationally, even internationally. It could become a federal holiday, a true one, where stores and restaurants are closed and all work stops, including shipping and transportation. It may sound like a flight of fancy—rendering the entire globe, land, sea and air, silent but for the sounds of nature—but it's a flight worth holding in one's thoughts. If there exist any truly worthy objects for the wishing/verifying technique, this is one.

A related idea is to cease operating 24-hour stores. A city of this size—a city of any size—does not need grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants or any establishment to be open all night. I suggest nothing needs to be open after 10:00 p.m., nightclubs included. I'd even go so far as to shut down 911 service after a certain hour. We are not New York or Chicago; there should not even be emergencies in this town. People are living in emergency consciousness. Just count the number of sirens running back and forth each day. It's hard to distinguish Burlington Avenue from Georgia Avenue, or Michigan Avenue, or Sunset Boulevard. EMTs are supposed to be saving lives, but it seems to me they create more illness than they cure with those howling trucks. If nothing else, we must at least lower the decibel level on those things. Same with the big diesel rigs—their hours of operation need to be restricted.

Residential Stability

In our precarious economic climate, we must take steps to ensure people without substantial assets can continue to reside in the community through periods of low income. It's not that we're promoting poverty; rather, the overall prosperity of the town will make it possible for everyone to stay who wants to stay. The principle is this: Every person should have some spot on the planet, not a wasteland, eminently livable, from which he or she cannot be evicted. He may not hold exclusive ownership of the spot in legal terms—he might share it with friends, family, village and tribe—but there should be no power on earth that can force him or them to leave. By "spot," we would someday want to include fairly large regions because communities living close to the land will depend on an ecosystem that might extend for a hundred miles. But for the purposes of this action plan, we simply want habitation that's forever safe from eviction-minded sheriffs.

As a first step, we must identify property owners who possess one or more rentals; that is, residential properties they, themselves don't occupy. We then assess the desirability of the tenants in the rented properties—how badly do we want them in the community. This is, of course, a delicate exercise. You would like to include everyone, but there exist individuals with such undesirable qualities you'd rather see them living elsewhere. Since opinions will vary in this regard, we should seek the counsel of our CCAs. We then determine which properties are suitable for long-term habitation, which are better as a temporary residence and which shouldn't be occupied at all. The latter might include homes near industrial areas or close to the railroad line.

Having decided which homes are best suited for permanent occupancy, we match desirable properties with desirable occupants. The latter could be the tenant already there, someone living in a shabby part of town or an out-of-towner looking to relocate. For all of them, it's important to gauge how sincere they are in their commitment. They must appreciate that we'd like to establish a permanent, multi-generational community. Finally, we approach the owner with an offer to transfer the property to our candidate in exchange for .... what? The customary medium of exchange is money. However, we want to replace, or at least augment, currency with something more valuable: namely, good will. The owner should know his reputation will be enhanced by the generosity he displays in enabling us to keep a desirable resident here.

Turning to the owner's living arrangements, we must determine if he, himself is desirable. And furthermore, does he want to commit to the community? If so, does he have a place of his own among our more desirable locations? If the answer to the last question is yes, we might begin by proposing that he simply donate his rental to us—specifically, to our prospective occupants.

There will undoubtedly be landlords whose rental income is their means of survival. It could also be that the renter is better off financially than the owner, in which case the latter should be compensated. All of this presupposes there aren't any banks involved, that the property is mortgage free or will be after the transfer. The new occupants should not incur obligations that would put their home at risk, neither for the initial purchase nor with equity loans. My feeling is no desirable property (see below) should serve as a rental, apart from a short-term arrangement.

Here's another possibility: Community members who have more room than they need—extra bedrooms and bathrooms, finished basements, etc.—and who are situated in a desirable spot, should be encouraged to take in housemates. Again, the idea is to place committed people into settings so comfortable they never want to leave. To enter into a long-term house-sharing arrangement is tricky, but it is possible to achieve harmony with this scheme. Along the same lines, folks in desirable locations who own a large lot should consider allowing cottages on the property. We might have to bend some zoning rules, but the benefits to community coherence make it worth the trouble. I'm thinking of owners who have a multi-acre lot with a single-family home and nothing special going on in the landscape. Monetary compensation may be considered, but again, a sense of responsibility should inspire owners to share with an enlightened, committed homesteader.

In the same vein, we need to examine the occupancy laws in our jurisdiction. Restrictions on the number of residents in a household must be relaxed. There are too many homeless, property-less people in the world to tolerate snob laws that prevent the poor from joining the community. So long as a household is quiet, orderly and socially connected, the law should not care whether two people or twenty live there. Similarly, covenants requiring a house to be a certain size or style should be adjusted to accommodate more modest dwellings. A cozy bungalow can be just as attractive—indeed, more attractive—than a twenty-room mansion.

Mapping Desirable Properties

Regarding the desirability of properties, my personal preference is for a quiet rural setting. It doesn't have to be Montana rural, but it should be far enough removed from urban and industrial areas that you can sit on your porch at dawn and dusk and hear the sounds of nature. I suggest homes should be no closer than two miles from interstates, and twenty to thirty miles from major airports. Because of the frequent sirens, you don't want to be near a hospital or a fire station. Sports stadiums and military bases also make uncomfortable neighbors. The commander at Andrews Air Force Base, for example, up and decided that broadcasting bugle calls would motivate the troops, and we started hearing the retreat call at precisely 5:00 p.m. every day. My house was nearly a mile from the base, so you can see how far those loudspeakers carry. Fortunately, I moved out of Westchester Estates soon afterwards, but Findhorn notwithstanding, having a military base nearby will generally render a location unlivable. Also, people who live in a university town can testify that students do not make the greatest neighbors—not if you're interested in getting any sleep at night. Thus, it's best to be some distance removed from a college campus. (MUM might be the only exception.)

Obviously, our strict requirement for quietness is going to exclude a great number of Fairfield's properties, but many more homes would have been excluded before the quiet zone was established. Still, even without horns, there is a limit to how close you can be to those roaring monsters—four blocks is as close as I ever want to be. In terms of busy streets like Burlington Avenue, there should be a one-block buffer on either side; that is, no one should live between Broadway and Burlington on the north, nor between Washington and Burlington on the south. Why? Mainly because of sirens and horns, but also the roar of tractor-trailers and big diesels.

Realize it is possible to go overboard with the quietness thing. A homeowner whose yard borders the trail on the back side of the pond at Waterworks Park posted a sign asking hikers to talk quietly when passing his property. It's not like there are brass bands on that trail. Next they'll be telling people to tiptoe when they approach the front door. Still, it illustrates just how important silence is to people.

The other key aspect of desirability is access to natural green space. Your house should be within easy walking distance of an undeveloped reserve where you can connect with the natural world. In Fairfield proper, the obvious candidates are homes close the trail system, but that trail is so wide it's more like a road than a path. Indeed, they actually allowed people to drive on it when the new section opened near the Maasdam Barns. I'm thinking about something along the lines of Rock Creek Park in Washington, particularly the upper reaches in Montgomery County where the paths feel softer and are nicely integrated with the woodland, while still providing easy access to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Residential Property ... Classes Of Desirability

1. Highly Desirable as a Permanent Residence
Forest quiet day and night. 1 to 2 miles from highways and train horns. 20 to 30 miles from busy airports. Easy access to natural green space (5 minute walk). Enlightened neighbors.

2. Desirable as a Permanent Residence
Quiet. No traffic roar, no air traffic, no sirens, minimal train noise. Reasonable access to green space (8 minute walk). Considerate neighbors.

3. Temporary Residence
Daytime traffic noise. Low-level train noise. Buffered from industrial areas. No easy access to green space. Tolerable neighbors.

4. Undesirable/Unlivable
Harsh, noisy, paved, polluted. Too close to traffic, industry, railroad. No access to green space. Intolerable neighbors.

Figure A.6 Residential Property: Classes of Desirability

Challenging the Culture of Eviction

The stability of a community in the modern credit-and-capital system cannot be guaranteed. Stability requires community members remain in their homes more or less permanently, but in the current order there is always a threat of eviction hanging over the residents's head, put there by the taxing authority. Even if your home is free of mortgage debt, you can nevertheless lose it should you fail to pay property tax. This practice runs contrary to every communal instinct. No responsible head of a household would ever evict a family member—a brother, a spouse, a child—should that relative fall on hard times. On the contrary, you would, if anything, increase your assistance in such a circumstance, do everything you could to help the person get back on his feet. Similarly, in a true community, it would be shameful to throw an individual into the street based solely on financial considerations.

The goal is this: No community member will ever lose his home because of unpaid tax. Note, we refer only to a person's primary residence. Rental properties, vacation homes and businesses are different matters. (But see below for treatment of renters.) The rationale? A loss of a community member is a loss to the community; if one of our own is punished, then we are all punished. Moreover, if an outside agent, a debt collector, can seize a home, he can also force on us a new occupant who may or may not meet our standards of desirability or fit our culture and lifestyle. Such practices destroy the very fabric of community.

The land under your feet is your anchor. It is both a connection to the earth and a conveyance to the cosmos. Restoring this connection goes hand-in-hand with building stable communities. Now certainly, the community (or municipality) has on-going expenses, and there must be contributions from residents in order for those services to continue, but we need to adjust our attitude about how such support is accomplished. It cannot be a forced collection under threat of expulsion as it is now. This ties in with our plan for bringing desirable, like-minded and spiritually-oriented people together to establish permanent "neo-indigenous" settlements. Every individual will have some unique way of contributing, including with spiritual support. The wealthy can contribute with cash up front. The physically fit can contribute with labor. Those with special knowledge and skills can contribute their expertise. People with jobs or regular income can make periodic payments. There's no practical way to ensure everyone contributes exactly the same amount. In fact, if the community persists for any length of time, there will ultimately be members who can't contribute material support at all: the very young, the very old or someone who becomes disabled through illness or injury. This is why it's important to have a good mix of young, old, able, less able, wealthy, less wealthy, intellectual, intuitive, etc.

A word about renters. We should not view a dwelling as the exclusive property of the landlord; rather, the tenant must be seen as a partner in occupying and maintaining the home and the land around it. The tenant may not have a financial stake in the property, but he certainly has a spiritual one. We'd like to move toward a society where evictions never take place, but given the reality of present law, if authorities must go to that extreme, we should at the very least require the occupants be given ample opportunity to relocate, regardless of any lease arrangements. I'd say ninety days minimum. Furthermore, if the tenants are community members in good standing, we should, in fact, help them find another dwelling. We should want to help them, because we want them to stay. The key point is this: No longer will we conduct these affairs remotely, by certified mail. No more will occupants be addressed as "parties in possession," as if they were foreign invaders. There must be extensive personal contact among all parties; that is, among owners, renters, municipal authorities and any third party making a claim. We must act together as brothers and sisters, rather than rivals, as people with common interests, rather than competing ones, as a supportive family, rather than cold, calculating competitors.

Regarding third party debt-collectors who make claims on delinquent taxpayers, we as a community should not do business with them. If a person steps forward to pay someone's overdue taxes and does so out of generosity and compassion, that's a different matter. If he or she continues to make the payments, and the owner shows no sign of acknowledging the favor—that is, by paying back the loan—then we can think about what steps might be taken. Below we'll discuss how the community must be given a say in property transfers.

Controlling the Cost of Living: Economic Equilibrium

In order to secure permanent homes for every community member, it's clear we must control the cost of living. Legislators are forever debating how to make money, how to pay for services and infrastructure, and the answer is always the same: raise taxes. No one ever considers how we might achieve a state of economic equilibrium, where expenditures for community maintenance remain fixed and the cost of keeping up a household never varies.

There is a universal drive among city planners to expand. If the town could only attract more Wal-Marts and bigger HyVees, we'd all be prosperous. They fail to see that Wal-Mart is not here to make the town wealthy, but to make the corporation wealthy. The Fairfield Economic Development Association's (FEDA) website is called "GrowFairfield," but they don't say what we're growing toward. Planners love these big projects, monuments to their legacy: civic centers, jails, swimming pools. We learned recently that a sewer, storm drain and wastewater upgrade will cost the city upwards of $40 million—borrowed, of course, and then repaid by the taxpayer, with interest, over many decades. One wonders whether the people who installed the existing infrastructure fifty or sixty years ago considered its impact on the economy of subsequent generations; that is, was there a long-term component in their strategy?

If we don't take corrective action, here's what's going to happen: Property tax will increase to the point that only the wealthy can afford homes. Rents will go up, the poor will be pushed out and the town will become gentrified. MUM's spiritual supporters, most of whom are not wealthy, will leave, the artists will leave, MUM will either fold, move to Kansas, or morph into something completely different, some run-of-the-mill community college, and the city will transition to a trashy, industrial dead-end. The vision of these planners is high-tech, urban, industrial, and, most critically, bank-funded and profit-based. And that's where the real blind spot is: the inability to grasp that enlightened development does not depend on material factors at all, but on spiritual ones. The FEDA website is effusive in its praise of the city, but contains barely a mention of MUM, the spiritual powerhouse of the town. Everything that makes Fairfield livable came about because MUM attracted extraordinary people here. These are individuals who were not driven by profit, but by humanity. They didn't come to Iowa to exploit the town's prosperity, but to contribute to it. And the results have been remarkable. What we need now is to channel that energy toward fixing government. If, despite the abundant evidence, conventional planners still don't grasp where we're coming from, we need to replace them with people who do.

In terms of getting a handle on the cost of living, it's clear we must establish a strong bottom-up self-governing group, in which case many costly municipal services can be reduced; for example, the police force. Adhering to the prevention-oriented inversion of our quality-of-life pyramid (see MSN, section 1.2), the emphasis on safety and all that pertains to it—911 call centers, etc.—would be downgraded, if not eliminated entirely. People will adopt healthier lifestyles, hence there will be less need for EMTs, ambulance service and emergency rooms. A spiritually evolved community lives closer to the land, thus the need for an asphalt road grid and all that's attendant—traffic controls, storm drains, parking lots, sanding and salting—could be reduced. It might be argued that in such a community, people are less isolated and behave more coherently. Activities are synchronized, to the point where everyone keeps to the same schedule. Hence, we could do away with cell phones and perhaps land lines as well. Communication within the village, at least, would take place by word-of-mouth. It's also possible to conceive of mental communication, or, at least, mental coordination by intuitive pathways in elevated consciousness. Thus, the bureaucracy required for regulating electronic communication, along with the infrastructure and energy it requires, would no longer be necessary. Since Fairfield already has a fiber-optic network in place (LISCO), if people don't want to abandon their electronic connections completely, one option is to use low-cost voice over Internet protocol (VOIP); e.g., with Skype, MagicJack, etc. The phenomenon of people roaming the land with an ear glued to a cell phone is the symptom of a distracted and, ironically, uncoordinated age. Get rid of your iPhone and come back to the natural world.[1]

Reducing the cost of government is complex, but by no means impossible. If the coherence is strong and simplicity of lifestyle is respected, solutions will emerge. There's a lot of sorting out to do on this topic, but let me offer a few suggestions:

There will certainly be debate about what constitutes a legitimate contribution and which occupations further our self-sufficiency. Some will say that a casino is a legitimate way to support the community. Others might argue for a plastics factory or a grain elevator. Up in Cedar Rapids, where DoD contractor Rockwell Collins is located, people are going to claim that national defense supports the community. City administrators will take pains to keep that defense money flowing in. Juggling these diverse interests will clearly be a challenge, but we must begin the process.

Let me emphasize that lowering the community's cost of living not only involves changing how government operates, but how individuals operate. From the bottom-up perspective, we are the government; hence, if each of us would adjust his own lifestyle with the goal of reducing personal expenses, then collectively our costs would come down. If, for example, a landlord in the habit of spending two weeks in Italy every summer opted instead for a long weekend in Chicago, or a parent who normally pays for his teenage daughter's iPhone account instead bought her a pre-paid unit with limited minutes. If instead of trading in your 10-year-old Subaru for a new one, you opted to repair the older vehicle and keep on driving it; if instead of forking out hundreds of dollars in veterinary care to keep an ancient dog alive, you allowed it to go to dog heaven, not only would you personally benefit, but so would we all. The landlord could lower the rent, the parent could purchase more produce at the farmer's market, the Subaru driver could donate more to local charities and the dog owner could dine at a local restaurant more often. And they would all have an easier time paying taxes.

Farmland for Farmers

In considering how to achieve residential stability, we should think about putting empty lots to use for small-scale crop cultivation. It's widely understood there aren't enough people who farm for a living anymore; at least, not the kind of farms that thrived before industrial operations took over. One obvious obstacle is farmers don't have land to work with. A property owner with a large lot could assist by allowing folks with the desire, but not the acreage to work the fields around his or her home. I suggest the owner consider bartering with the farmer for a share of the crop. The farmer, for his part, could improve the property by transitioning it to organic production. Unused city, county and state-owned land could be opened up for the same purpose. I'm thinking of school lots, undeveloped tracts, parks, etc. Even the town square should have a garden plot. And certainly all of these long, wide easements between the sidewalk and street can accommodate something more practical: vegetable beds, fruit trees, even dahlias. If you're worried about road visibility for drivers, you shouldn't. If anything, we want to make it harder for motor vehicles to move around—to restrict the visibility so that they have to slow down.

There's a wonderful example of sidewalk landscaping at the corner of Fourth and Broadway, where the homeowner has turned the whole yard into an herb and flower bed, including fruit trees. Best of all, it was done as a voluntary service; the city didn't have to pay a dime. A similar project is underway at the corner of Second and Adams. These two are setting a beautiful example for how a resident should use her property, as both of their yards are cultivated with permaculture in mind.

Permanent Market Stalls

Fairfield's outdoor farmer's market extends from May to October. Vendors must set up their own tables and tents in the general area of Howard Park. They can't predict where they're going to be each week as the directors move them around. I suggest we build a permanent facility to accommodate the participants. I'm thinking of a row of booths enclosed on three sides, with a permanent roof over the whole structure. The building can be as rustic as necessary. The main thing is it eliminates the need for people to haul their own canopies every week and allows regulars to have a reserved spot. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for farmers and craftsmen to present their wares. Howard Park is basically an ornament. Rather than worrying about how green the grass is, why not install something that enhances the community spirit.

Land Development and Intentional Community

An intentional community is created when a group cooperatively occupies some spot on the planet. The community takes shape through shared spirit and shared interest, from which common interest activities emerge: dining, home building, celebrations, etc. Let's consider the desirable locations for such a community in the vicinity of Fairfield. Assume for the moment these locations don't already have dwellings on them. By desirable, I mean (1) quiet; that is, safely distant from highways, railroads, industry and nightclubs; (2) having relatively easy access to natural green space; (3) without irksome neighbors; and (4) reasonably close to town—say within five or ten miles. There are, of course, shades of desirability, but our thoughts should tend toward long-term permaculture planning, which could be undertaken anywhere. We'd like to convert Iowa's eroded, chemical-dependent fields back into land suitable for organic production, while at the same time I, for one, would like to be comfortable during the transition. Having mature trees on your property, a nearby stream bottom and/or access to an undisturbed ecosystem can make the living more pleasant right from the start. We must also be cognizant of the codes, covenants, fees, etc. we'll have to deal with. For example, if a stream is running through the property, are we allowed to irrigate from it? If so, is the water suitable for crop cultivation? Could we install a micro-hydro turbine on the stream? Are there any restrictions on erecting wind turbines? Can we dig a well? Can we install a septic system? And if so, what designs are allowed?

Regarding home construction and intentional community, my thought is that groups should cooperate in developing plots, rather than individuals building on their own. Once the settlement is established, community members would make on-going contributions in the areas of agriculture, permaculture, construction, building maintenance, meals, child care and the customary activities of a cohesive village. Most people will continue to work in their own profession, but a few should focus on sustaining the community. The CCA and/or garden zone manager, for example, should probably limit his or her non-community employment to part-time.[2] People with income should make periodic contributions to a common fund from which a stipend might be paid to CCAs and managers.

In more remote communities, the CCA will seldom have to interact with legal authorities. Ideally, no one under his charge would ever cross paths with enforcers. Still, he should endeavor to carry out the educational duties we've described. In fact, it's probably better the community not be too far removed from civilization so that we can establish an educational relationship with big G. There is really nowhere big G's tentacles can't reach, so hiding from them is not an effective strategy.

When the CCA isn't managing the garden zone, serving as a legal interface or wearing his educational robes, his primary responsibility should be to look after the spiritual continuity of the group. This will involve keeping in touch with qualified spiritual teachers. If the community is fortunate, it will attract one or more of such to take up residence. In the long term, the group should establish a tradition of elders developed within the community itself. It's a utopian vision, but one that people should hold quietly in their thoughts.

Regarding property ownership, an entity should be formed such that the group as a whole can have a say in how individual lots and homes are sold or otherwise transferred. You would like to think everyone intends to reside in the settlement permanently, but situations do come up, and it may happen a person is compelled to move. If the group is well enough off, they can buy the property back. If not, it should be marketed with the provision that the community be allowed to decide whether a buyer is suitable for its character. Compensation to the seller should be commensurate with what he or she put into the home. The idea is not to make a profit, but to carry out a fair exchange. We'd like to move away from the paradigm of real estate as an investment and think in terms of permanent homes and homesteads for ourselves, our family, extended family and future generations.

In terms of intentional community, having individuals hold exclusive title to separate parcels is not the most advantageous arrangement relative to our admittedly ideal aspirations. A better plan is to not subdivide the development at all; rather, let the entire parcel be owned by a trust of some kind, and community members have a piece of the whole, perhaps through a lease arrangement. Complying with laws that govern ownership and property rights takes us into complex territory: who owes how much tax, who earns capital gains, how the property is assessed, resource rights and so forth. It's an area you want to simplify to the greatest extent possible, and having one entity to own one large parcel is the logical way to do that.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of forming an intentional community, but one that is nevertheless critical to its long-term success, is setting the guidelines for membership. Thus far we've only asserted that we prefer individuals on the spiritual path (see MSN sections 4.2, 4.5 and 5.5). One slight adjustment we might make is to welcome folks who exhibit an affinity for Mother Earth and a refined character, regardless of whether they've embarked on any spiritual quest; in other words, people who are already enlightened to some degree.

In the appendix I've listed a number of recommendations that are more specific. By necessity they reflect my personal bias. People have to decide what they are comfortable committing to; that is, a life-long commitment as if you were adopting a family. The folks you choose to live with should be of such caliber that you would share all of what you have with them: time, money, resources, knowledge, attention and love. It's difficult to make such a commitment when the community's cultural biases conflict with your own.

Urban Renewal and Intentional Community

An alternative to the from-scratch model of intentional community is to locate a group of homes spanning one or two city blocks that can be acquired all at once. I'm thinking of blighted urban neighborhoods where the properties have been abandoned. In the current real estate downturn, several cities are suffering such problems. If a group offered to buy, say, an entire block and to occupy the space with green building, gardens and permanent residents, the municipal authorities might provide some enticements, like tax breaks and zoning waivers. It should be possible to adjust the plot delineations to suit the arrangements of our communal land trust so that we can, for example, construct a home or greenhouse that straddles what had previously been a property line. The advantage of this approach is utility lines are already in place. The disadvantage is it's going to be tough to find a spot satisfying all six of our initial selection criteria: spirituality, urbanization, crime, proximity to industry, environment and resource availability. We could find ourselves in a high crime area, in which case the canine members of the clan would likely be deterring burglars rather than rabbits. Crime issues aside, could a suitable parcel be established as a green refuge in a post-apocalyptic landscape? It would certainly be a worthy cause to champion—the re-greening of a previously paved and poisoned land. Whether this plan would work comes back to comfort. If people are not content in their own living environment, they can't offer much toward improving society as a whole. If you're trying to be positive, to grow the good, it's not wise to seat yourself in a position of suffering. Better to find a spot where your contentment can radiate. One thing that might help is if the urban location had a continuous wildlife corridor connecting it to natural green space (see below). You'd be living at the end of a long green peninsula, essentially.

Fairfield is probably not the place to attempt this kind of urban renewal because there do not exist sufficiently decrepit but desirable areas, and the non-decrepit ones would be hard to acquire. On the other hand, there are perhaps enough enlightened people already residing here such that we can identify a section of town where everyone passes muster. We just have to get them all on board.

One thing we could try is a desirability upgrade program, where we take ugly lots and turn them into something good enough to inhabit. The tract left behind by Wal-Mart and HyVee in their move to the new stores has possibilities. It's radical, but wouldn't it be sweet to tear up the asphalt and restore a living habitat to those fields?

Community Involvement in Property Transfer

When we speak of attracting desirable people to the community, the question that naturally arises is how to go about it without offending. We want to be inclusive, but our standards for courteous relations and our desire to associate with people on the spiritual path require that we make our preferences clear. Once an undesirable person takes up residence, be it a John Gotti or a J. Edgar Hoover—yes, one was a criminal and one a crime fighter, but the mentality is the same—it's much harder to deal with any issues that come up. The wiser course is to avoid the introduction in the first place. It's not so much a problem for an intentional community, where people must be invited to join, as it is for the community at large, where anyone can purchase and occupy any home that goes on the market.

With regard to expressing our preferences, most would think in terms of the law. The customary view, as we've discussed, is that you can bend people to your will through the application of codes and covenants. But in our case we are neither dictating nor enforcing; rather, we are sharing our personal desires for the purpose of attracting like-minded individuals. If we ever manage to install some enlightened leaders here, the city should, in fact, create a brochure that lays out our spiritual orientation, our plans for green development and our hope that new residents would participate. We should furthermore be communicating these ideas to real estate professionals. I bumped into an agent leaving the house next door a while back. The renters had moved out and the owner put the property up for sale. I asked the agent whether she consulted with area residents about what sort of neighbor they might prefer, or if she were in the habit of informing prospective buyers about the character of the people living nearby. She looked surprised and replied in the negative. But my house shares a driveway with that house; our dwellings are only twenty feet apart. Irrespective of any laws that apply, it's simply polite to consult with the neighbors about property transfers. There's no invisible wall separating the neighbor's universe from mine. They and I will be sharing a small, but significant piece of the planet, possibly for a long time. I say significant because my garden zone existence is intimately linked to that of the neighbor. Whatever its value in the grand ecological scheme of things, this tiny half-acre is a critically important platform connecting us to the land and to each other.

This is a key point. It's something any community planner must seriously regard and that should be widely advertised. We can no longer support strict anonymity and autonomy in real estate transactions. Whenever a property changes hands, residential property in particular, the transaction should involve not just money and documents, but interaction between the new occupants and the community. The very nature of community demands this. The character of the newcomers must come under scrutiny. Owners who sell to a party who requires greater spiritual education, to put it politely, should compensate for the imposition. This is not a tax, but a voluntary adjustment based on a variable that directly impacts the community's health: the character and good will of its residents. Indeed, in some cases no amount of compensation would suffice.

Let's be clear this policy should include rentals. When a landlord is considering new tenants for his property, he or she should consult with other residents in the building and with the occupants of nearby homes. I would even argue that the neighbors should have veto power over his selection. Landlords, tenants and neighbors must be on the same page spiritually and culturally.

Since we've established a corps of CCAs to assess character in judicial matters, we could also call on them for a similar service in real estate transfers. The difficulty is that a CCA will have little opportunity to become acquainted with a newcomer. As we've pointed out, character is something you influence even as you assess it. The other option for handling people who come from out of town is to ask for personal references—not a perfect solution, but better than anonymity.

A CCA might recommend that the owner decline to sell to a particular buyer not for any weakness in his financial condition, but because the buyer's character is weak. Obviously, the owner is under no obligation to comply, but the community must make its preferences known. We need a committee that assesses neighbors and neighborhoods, informs agents about their findings and reviews candidates for their suitability.

Is this discrimination?

Absolutely! And it's perfectly justified. If anything is unjust, it is the present system of qualification which relies exclusively on credit scores, income and material holdings. It's absurd to think a community would rather have a wealthy, but ignorant person in their midst, instead of a poor, but enlightened one. People can't be expected to welcome with open arms a Russian tycoon, a Saudi Sheik, a Warren Buffett or a Donald Trump merely because they carry large bankrolls. Anyone who arrives in town in a chauffeured limousine should be considered a bad risk based on the limo ride alone. People who display such an extravagant lifestyle are not living in harmony with the land. I'd be more impressed if Mr. Trump and Mr. Buffett arrived on an Amtrak train or, better yet, on bicycles, and began their home search not by touring the mansions in town, but by connecting with the enlightened residents of, say, the trailers in Utopia Park.[3]

What Makes a Community Member Desirable?

At various times in our discussion we've touched on the idea that one must be selective about one's neighbors, to be discriminating when adopting an extended family. It's perhaps easier to work from the other direction—to assume everyone is desirable and consider what might take a person out of that category. This exercise is by necessity a personal one, to express bias is very much appropriate. Everyone has his comfort zone, and yours might be different than mine. We'll talk more about this in the appendix, but let me offer a glimpse of my own feelings in this regard.

Obviously, people who cheat, steal, lie and abuse your confidence have to be given close scrutiny, although, I will say that none of these faults must automatically disqualify a person. I, myself am guilty of having committed all of these sins at one time in my life. People can grow out of these behaviors. Moreover, there are cases where an individual might resort to cheating and lying because he or she isn't properly grounded. He's on his own, floating in space, without social connections, and these tactics become a survival mechanism. Perhaps the person isn't among the most savvy, the most intellectual; he requires a bit of support to negotiate the complexities of modern life, but the community isn't providing it. If there weren't such isolation, if people were more closely integrated in a grass-roots network, they wouldn't have to resort to dishonorable behaviors. Hence, we cannot and should not rely on those ever-expanding databases, the registries big G maintains where "ex-offenders," as they're called, are branded and paraded electronically through the make-believe streets of our make-believe Internet communities.

This brings up what I consider to be the most critical criterion in assessing desirability: how judgmental is a person. It's a catch-22. Here I am judging those who judge; I should by all rights disqualify myself! Still, at least I don't force my judgments on people, and that's the unpardonable sin. You can be as judgmental as you please about the sins of others, but to administer those judgments, to stand on the dais and destroy a person's reputation while maintaining your own righteousness makes you the greater sinner. Those who declare themselves the arbiters of other people's destiny, conjuring up rigid opinions and then installing themselves as our overseers, people who will not only kill your reputation, but will literally kill you in pursuing their moral agenda, present far and away the biggest obstacle to community coherence.

And who are these people?

The prison keepers, the drone dispatchers, the spooks, goons, marshals and sheriffs; the Dick Cheneys, the Joe Arpaios and yes, the Barack Obamas. And they are not just national or international players; rather, they are present in every town and every municipality, including Fairfield Iowa. These guys need to get the word. They must understand that they are destroying not only the targets of their judgment, but all of us.

Figure A.7 What makes a community member desirable?

Land Reform: Restricting Foreign Ownership

Taking the thread of community partnership to its logical end, we must begin thinking about how we treat property ownership in general. There's a trend rising across the globe where governments collaborate with business enterprises to push local populations off the land, replacing ancestral villages with commodity farming, factories, mining, etc. Countries that hand over their arable acreage this way are giving up their most precious resource. The situation in Brazil and Indonesia may be different, but in small-town America, thoughtful land policy at the local level can go a long way toward checking this trend. First and foremost, we must restrict land ownership to residents of the community. No foreign ownership, nor even out-of-state ownership, including banks. I suggest requiring Jefferson County landowners live within the southeast Iowa region, and perhaps within the county itself. Draw a circle of, say, twenty miles radius, with the county courthouse at its center. If you own land within that circle, then you must live within that circle. Live means to spend most of the year in a home as your permanent, primary residence. This rule would uphold the sovereignty principle of community law. You can't establish sovereignty over land owned and controlled by outsiders.

We would certainly allow—indeed, encourage—someone to move here and purchase property, provided they meet the requirements for desirability, pass character muster and are intending to make this their permanent home. Hopefully, they would spend not only their own lives here, but bequeath the land to people of similar mind when they depart.

Regarding commercial property, I would again suggest the principal owners and chief officers of a business must reside within our circle of sovereignty. To have mines in Zambia owned by Chinese businessmen, Ecuadorian oil wells owned by multi-national corporations, and Indonesian plantations run by Australian conglomerates violates deep human principles. Now, if the Chinese businessman wants to move to Zambia and make that his permanent home, and the Zambians welcome him into their community and are happy with his operation, that's a different story.

There's a tricky issue that comes up regarding property leased to outside interests, or where an outsider's business takes place on your property. CAFOs, for example, raise hogs that are actually owned by Cargill, Tyson, etc. The meat producers don't own the farm, but the facility is an integral part of their operation.

The solution is to not permit the renting of land, buildings or facilities to entities from outside the region unless the community grants an exemption. This would include housing and/or processing an outsider's materials in your facility. In Iowa, hogs come to mind, but there are other industrial products you'd want to restrict. This strategy will certainly collide with established law—the constitution's "commerce clause," for one—but we must not back down, lawsuits notwithstanding. Restoring local control over enterprise is a key component of the bottom-up paradigm. Of course, we're aiming for voluntary compliance in all of this, so it doesn't really matter what the current law says or doesn't say. If we violate the law, we all violate it together, and that creates new law. When our own spirit changes, the spirit of the law changes with it. As for the letter of the law, that's for lawyers to hash out.

Short-term residential rentals, for students, visitors, tourists, etc., are fine, but leasing your land to a gold mining company is not—not without special dispensation. We might grant such dispensation to, say, HyVee to rent a building and set up a supermarket or to Siemens to build a wind turbine factory (like they did in Fort Madison), even though their chief officers live elsewhere. How we decide who qualifies for dispensation brings up issues of sustainability and environmental protection. We want to attract companies that will enhance our own self-sufficiency. If an outfit comes in, hires people and then moves their operation to Thailand, it will cause a disruption in a community that has grown to depend on it for jobs, tax revenue, etc. If their product is inherently anti-evolutionary, like, say, tobacco, there will, moreover, be karmic penalties to pay for hosting them. This is the ultimate solution to the CAFO issue. Local authorities must be allowed to decide whether an enterprise meets their standards for environmental stewardship, spiritual integrity and sustainability.

Regarding long-term residential rental, that's a separate issue. We want to change the culture of people passing their lives as temporary residents. See the discussion on residential stability above.

Land Reform:

Setting an Upper Limit on Property Ownership

The other crucial issue respecting land reform is whether a limit should be set on how much acreage one individual should own, and whether the needs of the community should be considered in making such a determination. Before I go too far into this, and before the property rights advocates get up in arms, let me reiterate that we do not force compliance on anyone; it's all done voluntarily. Still, I am saying that the responsible heads among us must give attention to the issue of extravagance, excessive consumption, the squandering of resources and so on, and the forum where this discussion takes place must be the local community. When you have corporations, investors and foreign governments buying up thousands, even millions of acres around the globe, not for the purpose of conservation, but to exploit natural resources, it's a spiritual blow to the indigenous population. Yes, the Chinese must eat, but to do so at the expense of people in Argentina, the Ukraine or even Iowa is insupportable. Similarly, when one individual or family buys up dozens of residential homes for the purpose profiting from the rentals, a shrill cry should go up from the community's residents.

With our intentional community plan, this point might become moot, assuming we adopt a scheme where we all own the property collectively. Speaking in general, how a person uses their land is a key consideration. Someone who has thirty acres, but covers it with high-bush cranberries, choke cherries and apple trees and then feeds the community with what he produces has a better claim to the land, in my opinion, than a golfer with a private nine-hole course or a farmer with acreage in GM corn and soy. Looking outside of intentional communities at the general public, in a rural region like this, my instinct is to limit non-farm residential ownership to an acre or two. No one needs more than that for a house. Even if you're growing your own vegetables, two acres is quite enough for one household to manage. Again, when we talk about limiting ownership, we're not saying it should be codified. It's only with a non-coercive approach that a true paradigm change can be accomplished.

As for ranchers and farmers, that's another issue. The entire field of agriculture and food production requires a major overhaul by deep-thinking people. We need to do for agriculture what climate science is doing for fossil fuels—spur a transition to something completely new. We must, first of all, divorce food production from the global economy. Food staples must be sourced locally, regardless of where on the planet you live. Local depends on geographic factors; it could mean ten miles, it could mean a hundred. This ties in with our move toward sovereign regions, as discussed in the community law outline. Considerations of money should not enter the picture with something so fundamental to life. Still, farmers must be compensated. The farming profession does not get the respect it deserves. Let Fairfield and southeast Iowa be a model for how agriculture should work in the 21st century.

I won't try to address mines, oil wells, factories, shipping terminals, etc. in this discussion. The use of land—or should we say, the abuse of land—by modern industry takes place at such colossal scales that it's frightening to even think about. Yet we at the local level can assert ourselves in a significant way by controlling what we consume. We'll talk more about this when we discuss self-sufficiency. Regardless of the scale, local authority must be respected in such matters; provided, that is, the authority derives from groups who are strongly and authentically spiritual—a neo-indigenous people. With the return of indigenous knowledge, the leaders of industry will have been raised to respect and nurture the earth, rather than exploit it.

Connected Green Space

Industry and crime aside, any city could be made livable provided we could do enough un-developing such that natural green space becomes integrated with the urban infrastructure. I'm thinking of wildlife corridors that make their way into and through the heart of the city. These are not city parks, but native greenery that is managed, but not manicured. The corridors should be sufficiently wild to allow critters to take up residence, or at least provide routes along which they can travel, and should include trails for humans to navigate. The trails should only be cleared to the extent that hikers are protected from picking up ticks. They are narrow footpaths that exclude motorized traffic and even bicycles.

The corridors themselves need not be very wide, but they should be as continuous as possible and should connect to wider expanses outside the urban heart. The idea is to allow urbanites convenient access to nature—to fields and forest. It's important the trails be accessible—a short walk from people's homes. Even the guy who resides in an inner-city tenement—indeed, especially that guy—should be afforded access. I suggest households be located not more than a half-mile from green space, and preferably closer. To allow every resident such convenience will, of course, necessitate an extensive network of trails. Suburbs theoretically provide this kind of integration, and some do it pretty well, but in my experience they lack two key elements: continuity and untamed habitat. Suburban development tends toward fenced-off lots and golf course-style landscaping, which has its charms, but does not provide a suitable ecology for many creatures.

The barriers of modern infrastructure make it difficult to retrofit corridors like these into existing dense development. But new developments keep on going up, and access to nature is so important that we must prevail strongly on planners to shift their priorities toward a healthier environment. There have been studies showing that city dwellers living near green space do indeed experience better health.[4] [5] There's something deeply refreshing about walking a dirt path through the brambles, among the grasses or under a canopy of tall trees. It's one of those perceptions you don't need a scientific study to confirm. Instead of miles of unbroken asphalt and concrete, with humanity crammed into lifeless high-rises, we should be thinking in terms of a web of continuous green, where the movement of wildlife is granted the right-of-way over vehicle traffic. [6]

In Fairfield proper the obvious choice for integrated green space is the alleys. The railroad route is another possibility, although wildlife will no doubt find coal trains as obnoxious as we do. I would even go so far as to tear up a few streets. I'd gladly give up paved access to my house on Fifth Street if the block could be replaced with woodland. Can this be practically accomplished? Not overnight, but the intent should be there. There should be a map of an "Ideal Fairfield" displayed in the library highlighting which properties would have to be acquired and which streets and alleys converted. If there were people willing to give up their homes to accomplish this, the community could help by finding them an equivalent place elsewhere in town. When key properties come up for sale, the community should have a fund available to procure them. It may, in fact, not be necessary to vacate homes at all. It might work for people to let their yards go native while granting permission for the trail network to traverse the property.

The main thing is to get our politicians thinking clearly about what development should mean. Their vision of the world's geography is urban and industrial. They are fixated on a style that caters to the hip, the mobile and the wealthy: galleries, hotels, entertainment, sports venues. They celebrate a ten-mile highway bypass, such as Route 34, and trumpet convention center developments, such as the FACC. They cheer new strip malls and rave about high-speed Internet, while completely ignoring nature. Nature for them is a brick sidewalk and a concrete planter. Looking at what we've created, the transportation system in particular, it's clear we must direct our efforts toward a softer earth-centered goal. Green development should mean more than solar panels. Green technology is good, but what we're lacking is life—trees, plants, birds and critters. Rather than more highways, we need more dirt trails. Rather than high-speed rail, we need low-speed rail and low-speed living.

Once again it must seem I'm stating the obvious. What intelligent person wouldn't want to live in a natural environment? But the unfortunate reality is that people today apparently don't desire this, else we wouldn't be seeing these sprawling, lifeless urban expanses. Can developers convince an entire nation that shopping malls are preferable to nature trails? If so, then perhaps we can convince them of the opposite. By setting a compelling enough example in rural Iowa, we're hoping that city dwellers can be brought around to a more hopeful view.

Urban Ecotourism

Fairfield benefits from tourism. Visitors from around the globe travel here for spa treatments at the Raj, conferences at MUM or to tour the art galleries. But unless they have a special interest in industrial agriculture, our local ecology is not high on most people's agenda. Jefferson County Park is pleasant, but it's not something tourists would go out of their way to see. If we could imagine something they would go out of their way for, it would have to be a feature of the ecosystem unique to the region. The idea of restoring the tallgrass prairie is a distant dream given the realities of modern agriculture, but one wonders if there isn't some ecological restoration we might undertake on a smaller scale that would promote us as having given at least cursory regard to such dreams.

With the vast sums we spend on urban development and "renewal," you would hope a few dollars could be raised for native renewal. Perhaps a conservation group could be persuaded to buy up acreage in the county; say, if we unencumbered it from taxes, gave it zoning protection and so forth. We could further commit to be stewards of that preserved land (as with a land trust) and to link it with our own city-wide network of green corridors. I'm thinking there could be a lodge where visitors might stay while they helped with the chores that such a stewardship entailed. People staying in town could maintain the green corridors. Outside of town, at an intentional community, for example, they might assist with trail maintenance, soil conservation, landscape and garden work, etc. Tourists would understand their visit had an ecological purpose. They would specifically choose Fairfield because we demonstrated unusual resolve in reversing the trends of urbanization. If we were successful in restoring something that resembled prairie habitat, however small, it would be a great attraction.

Carrying this thought to its logical conclusion, we can envision not just small towns like this one, but our biggest cities—New York, Chicago, Los Angeles—as urban ecotourism sites. Cities of all sizes should be designed from the outset to integrate with the ecology of their region. The point is so obvious that one wonders how we could have allowed such a basic feature of human habitation to slip away.

Pavement-free Development

We mentioned the "Shared Space" plan that eliminates traffic controls. Certain European cities have been successful with this scheme. The idea is that a city's common areas, streets included, belong not just to motorists, but to everyone. Whether this could work in Fairfield needs to be looked at, but we must certainly address how well we accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Adding bike lanes to Burlington Avenue was a help, but we need to think about how the town might function without cars at all. This is another paradigm-breaking notion. Given a city of 10,000, with another 5,000 living within a ten-mile radius, can that group thrive and prosper without requiring motorized transport—or, at least, with a minimum of such? Can we convince people to give up their cars, at least for trips around town? It's not going to happen overnight, clearly, but there might be steps we can take to spur the transition.

We need to first of all cease the harassment of cyclists with traffic tickets and police action. There must never be fault assigned to a pedestrian or cyclist in an encounter with a motor vehicle. Cars and trucks must always give way, whether on a city street, in a crosswalk, a parking lot or anywhere else. The other day I watched a driver in a club cab blast his horn at a lady as she pedaled west on Burlington Avenue. The cyclist was riding the white line that separates the bike lane from the vehicle lane, and the guy in the pickup was annoyed that he had to move over a couple of feet to give her clearance. How did he know she wasn't trying to move into the travel lane to make a left turn? Maybe she was avoiding debris. Drivers seem to believe the road belongs to them alone and that anyone who impedes their progress is fair game for abuse. This attitude is reflected in the pronounced bias among city administrators against non-vehicular modes of transportation.

Protecting pedestrians and cyclists is particularly important in the winter. The footing on snow-covered walkways is treacherous. The city does not plow sidewalks, but they do plow the streets, usually covering sidewalks with what is thrown off the snowplow blades. Around the corner from me, in the block approaching the old Drugtown, I've seen the plows come back two days after a storm and cover over a second and third time a sixty-foot walk the neighbor had paid someone to clear, by hand, and one that I, myself have shoveled many times. Maybe they expect pedestrians to walk in the street. That might be okay on side roads, but summer or winter, no one would risk walking or biking in the travel lanes of Highway 1 or Highway 34. Even streets like Pleasant Plain and Glasgow are tough to negotiate given how fast people drive. Now that I think about it, you don't see many pedestrians in Fairfield, other than MUM students. People are always in a car, no matter the season. I suppose you can't blame them—even in town it's a challenge to cross the street in some locations. I crossed between Yummy's and the old Wal-Mart recently, and it was not easy. Whoever planned that intersection at Burlington and 20th never walks anywhere. By the looks of it, the new HyVee location is not any better—no sidewalks, no crosswalks. You encounter the same thing in every city. The layout of these malls discourages anyone from approaching on foot.

You have to wonder what exactly motivates these planners? We have politicians cutting ribbons to celebrate highway openings, and administrators in Washington and Des Moines calling for more roads, more rail lines and more infrastructure. It's all supposed to ensure America's growth, but these people are not thinking fully through the consequences of such growth. The way we design the urban grid reflects a bias toward faster movement, ever more connections, highways crisscrossing ever wider expanses and products moving ever greater distances. We derive a sense of permanence from laying asphalt. Progress, it seems, has been linked to motor vehicles, and motor vehicles are linked to pavement. It's ironic because the effect on society is just the opposite. From a community perspective, pavement is not permanent. It's materially solid, but it's missing the spiritual glue that solidifies our connection to the land.

If we stick with our mandate for solving global problems at the local level, we can envision Fairfield as a pacesetter in this regard. The extent of car-oriented development in big cities is so vast it's beyond anyone's ability to address in the short term. It could take centuries to undo what we've done. But Fairfield is still small enough that significant corrections might be applied. Here's one idea: Close off Burlington Avenue, say between HyVee on the west and the square on the east. Move the gas stations to the outskirts of town, tear up the asphalt and convert the street to a long green corridor, leaving just enough trail space for cyclists. It's radical, but it would make the town stand out dramatically, especially from the angle of ecotourism. It would send an unmistakable message about where we're headed and how serious we are.[7] HyVee has, in fact, moved closer to the square, just about within walking distance, but the new super Wal-Mart is further out. It goes against common sense to keep on building, and then tearing down, and then building again. It seems these strip-mall developments are disposable. If we must have a Wal-Mart, why not a scaled-down version in the middle of town? If they need more shelf space, make it two stories. Indeed, there already exist some older buildings with that amount of space. Wouldn't a spruced-up warehouse be a unique shopping venue? It's crazy to think of shopping Wal-Mart for the ambiance, but that's what such a venue would provide.

My dream community would do away with asphalt entirely. Impermeable road surface would end at a parking garage at the city limits. A pool of vehicles for traveling to neighboring cities would be parked there, along the lines of Zipcar. Transportation within town would take the form of walking, biking, skiing, carriages, rickshaws and horseback. If we did have motorized transport, it would either be battery-electric or powered by biogas that we, ourselves generated.[8] People do like their independence, and not everyone is disposed to walking a mile for groceries. I'd be hard pressed myself to forgo the use of my pickup during dahlia season. But someone needs to figure this out, to find some way to set a forward-thinking example for the sustainable use of motorized transport. There is enough creativity in this town to make a go of it. The aim is to find our lost indigenousness, to regenerate the culture of our ancestors. Pavement is simply not suitable as a cultural growth medium. On the contrary, it presents a barrier to the very source of culture by covering up the earth under our feet.

I cannot leave this topic without saying a few words about parks and nature reserves. Growing up in Massachusetts, I would often see vehicles sporting a bumper sticker that read "This Car Climbed Mount Washington." It was a cool thing, I thought, to be able to drive to the top of the tallest mountain in the Northeast. It didn't sink in that an asphalt road was needed for those cars to get up there. Visiting Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi, you again find that tourists can drive to within a hundred yards of the top and then walk a paved footpath. The tallest peak in the Appalachians is handicap accessible. Here in Fairfield, we have a sweet little park called Chautauqua just east of town. It can't be more than twenty or thirty acres, but it has a paved road running along the perimeter. I assumed the road was for maintenance purposes, but as I was walking its length one day, cars kept passing me. It seems there are people who go for an outing just to drive that tiny little loop! They even have turn-offs on the back side. At this rate, we'll have a road to the top of Mount Everest, with a restaurant and gift shop at the summit.

There is a propensity among planners for creating an artificial, antiseptic environment. It seems they want to turn the world into a living room, a glass bubble where people can lounge on their recliners and watch nature from a safe distance. God forbid we should have to step over a tree root, or swat a mosquito, or come home with mud on our shoes. This ties in with catering to the helpless, of rewarding weakness instead of promoting health. We'll go into more detail below. I'm not suggesting we all start living in tents and cooking on campfires, but if we could limit the extent of pavement in town, we will demonstrate that it is possible for society to function in a manner that connects us to nature rather than separates us from it.

Changing the Car Culture: Professional Driver Corps

I don't have the statistics, but if I had to guess, I'd say nine out of ten auto accidents in this state are preventable. If a deer bounds into your path, there's not much you can do, but in every other case there's human error involved. We've become so used to wrecks and collisions that we treat cars as disposable. We fit them out with air bags, seat belts and impact protection zones and let people play demolition derby on our streets. So what if this exquisitely tooled, precision, high-tech conveyance gets mangled? We'll let the insurance pay for it. We smash up $30,000 vehicles like they were Tonka toys. The law requires a plethora of safety devices, but we completely ignore what is by far the most important safety feature of all: the skill of the driver. The click-it-or-ticket punishers in Des Moines will levy a steep fine on a driver with a flawless record whom they happen to catch without his seat belt, but they allow complete imbeciles to continue on their blissful way so long as they buckle-up. It's like our obsession with security. The protection we derive from surveillance cameras and metal detectors pales in comparison with the security of personal trust. In both cases our thinking is impaired. Synthetic safety devices can never substitute for the power of a human being when that human is the least bit responsible.

We have to start treating motor vehicles like they were made of diamonds and rubies. Build these cars out of glass crystal such that the slightest bump will make them shatter. Treat them according to the royal sum they cost to build—an amount most of the world only dreams of ever possessing. When cars become respected for the luxury items they are, we'll see some change in driving behavior.

In the meantime, we need to get the amateurs off the road. And the way to do it is not with more enforcement—that hasn't worked. We have to educate people. If a driver displays a lack of such education, simply get him or her out from behind the wheel. Don't write tickets, just get him off the road until he displays some ability for the skill. I see countless examples of driver incompetence: irresponsible, discourteous, distracted, lacking knowledge of the rules of the road ... there's not enough room in this treatise to describe them all. And yet they get away scot-free with their ineptitude because the ticket-happy cops are obsessed with speeders. When will anyone ever speak up about the yahoo who backs out of a parking spot without turning his head? Or hangs inches from your bumper at 70 miles-per-hour? Or doesn't understand the protocol at a four-way stop sign? And I won't even talk about the idiots using smart phones. We need education, and a thug with a badge and a radar gun does not make the best teacher.

Let's establish a new vocation: professional driver. A public chauffeur, if you will. Let the pros do our driving. These guys will be as skilled as airline pilots. They will treat the vehicle as an extension of their bodies, meaning they don't want it to experience any pain. Will this take away some of our freedom? Perhaps, but look at it the other way—it frees us from mundane chores and allows time for more important tasks. Moreover, getting out of cars will compose our lives; it will slow us down in a beneficial way. The pace of modern life is frenetic, and this condition is exacerbated when each and every person is zipping around town in his personal motorcoach.

We're not about to start seizing cars, but maybe we can take things a step at a time. If we offered a convenient alternative, people might voluntarily give up driving, at least for routine trips. For example, those who normally drive to their place of employment could be picked up every day, along with anyone else who works the same hours. Similarly, a group going to the dome for program could be collected and transported in one vehicle. There are half-a-dozen regulars who go right by my house with just the driver in the car. I've been walking to program of late, and rarely do any of these people offer me a ride. It's clear we need some coordination. The rest of the developing world is moving into automobiles. We, as the trendsetters, as the cutting edge of evolution, should be moving out of them.

Local Passenger Rail

There are something on the order of sixty trains a day passing through Fairfield, carrying tons of coal east and empty cars west. They run 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year without interruption. The one passenger train we see—the California Zephyr—does not stop in this town, although we do have a defunct station for it. Why not add a passenger car to the BNSF trains to serve travelers taking short trips; say, to Ottumwa and Osceola on the West, or Mt. Pleasant and Burlington on the east? The accommodations can be simple: benches on either side. No tickets are required—the city pays the railroad a flat fee for the service, and anyone can use it. Not every train has to offer this—just enough so that people wanting to commute to Mount Pleasant or Ottumwa can head out in the morning and return in the afternoon. As long as these trains are operating, we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to get people out of their cars.

Barrier-free Development

Along with pavement-free development, we need to consider measures that do away with other pedestrian barriers. Specifically fences and walls, but also any structure that inhibits how we move across the earth. Highways take us from point A to point B, but they do so in a way that disregards our connection to the planet. It's as if we've constructed an artificial world and tacked it over the original. Fences, for the most part, belong to the artificial side. We use them to designate who is lord over this or that piece of land and to restrict the access of anyone else. Property ownership is a complex issue, but for the purpose of this discussion, I simply want to point out that fences at the neighborhood level are mostly unnecessary and almost always detract from the beauty of a residential setting. It's much more cultured and elegant to walk out to the yard—front or back—and meet an open vista extending down the glade. The idea of fencing a lot to delineate your private micro-kingdom springs from a limited worldview. Communities are about coming together, communicating, taking joint responsibility for the commons. Fences work in the opposite fashion—keeping you deliberately apart from your neighbor. If the neighbors are so obnoxious you must install a barrier against their intrusion, then you shouldn't be living next to them. If your sense of self-importance is such that you must separate yourself from common people, you should consider moving to Malibu. Now sure, if you live next to a parking lot, a gas station, a factory or some other obnoxious offspring of industrial development, then build the highest fence you can build, but realize that someday we'd like to eliminate those industrial elements from the ecology, or at least separate them from living habitat.

Regarding privacy, there are better ways to accomplish it—such as with screening shrubbery, which creates the effect of an outdoor room. But you don't want to go overboard with the likes of boxwood and Leyland cypress. They can create a barrier that detracts from the vista almost as much as a fence can. As for ladies who want to don their swim suits (or doff them, as it were) and lay out in sun, I suggest there are plenty of options, public and private.

I'd like to think you don't need legal contrivances to convey the spirit of this. Indeed, Fairfield is fairly tolerable in terms of fenced-in yards. You don't find nearly as many here as you do in Camp Springs. That's why it's distressing to witness a nearby neighbor erect a stockade fence in back of his house—apparently to keep his dog confined. This is a guy who used to have the animal chained out back but was not happy that passers-by were feeding it. The result is an odious artifact that will stay there for many years, affecting not only the desirability of that house, but of those surrounding.

Regarding vastu fences: If the mavens at MUM insist every property be enclosed by an unbroken line, it will clearly create some disharmony, regardless of whatever fortune the building supposedly produces. It's not only that the fences present a barrier to movement, most of them are just plain ugly. With MUM having such a prominent presence in the town, it behooves us to address an issue like this early on lest we commit ourselves and then come up against interference from that side. The problem is in the Global Country's inflexibility on this point, and indeed, on every aspect of vastu design. I suggest as a compromise that people who want to adhere to the vastu recommendation make their fences very low and close to the building. There's an example of this at the Amy Ram building on Fourth Street, and also at the Maharishi Peace Palace in North Bethesda Maryland. The building is vastu constructed, and the fence is no more than five or six feet from the foundation. It is furthermore low enough that you can step over it. You have the best of both worlds—adherence to the Vedic guidelines, while not compromising an open landscape.

Pet-free Development

The topic of dogs and fences leads us to remark that society has gone a tad off the deep end with regard to pets. Our dogs and cats have become anthropomorphized, and Fairfield is a pacesetter in this regard with, among other things, the Noah's Ark rescue center, the Rescue Waggin' pet relocation program and the "Bark-in-the-Park" Artwalk. At the latter, residents come to the square with their dogs dressed for a parade, and a local cleric blesses them. You can even consult with a "pet communicator," who will intuit the feelings of your furry buddies! I suggest our new paradigm requires a different view, a dehumanizing of pets. Not that animals are abused, but they must be treated as a different class of creature. Dogs and cats are not playthings—toys for our amusement; rather, they are working animals. We'll discuss this later in the context of intentional community, but the principle applies generally. Animals have their place and humans have theirs. Again, I don't think I need to prove this. Like so many other moral issues, it's a cognition, a sense that develops as you evolve. The idea of needing a dog as a companion, for emotional support suggests a spiritual shortcoming. Keeping a dog does not cure that shortcoming. If people want company, they should try connecting with their neighbors. A surprising number of us are pretty good people, and it's much more rewarding to have a relationship, even a casual one, with a human.

Dogs should be out in open spaces and allowed to run—to chase down hares, to leap into bogs after geese, to corral sheep. Having a dog in an apartment or chained in your backyard is bad form. I speak from experience, as this is how our own family pets were kept when I was growing up. When I say it's bad form, I don't mean it's bad for the dog, but that it indicates a lower level of consciousness. The idea of a pet owner carrying a scoop and a plastic bag as he trots after his Pomeranian is even worse form. Yes, we have a leash law, and it's a good one, and no, you should not allow your dog to employ the neighbor's lawn for its toilet, but the whole operation is flawed from the outset. No person should spend even one minute of his precious time picking up dog poop. If you live in a place where dogs must be cleaned-up after in this fashion, then dogs don't belong there. Should we institute a total ban on pets within the city? Perhaps, but it's more important to educate people about the animal's role. Canines and felines must serve a purpose for you and the community both. It's a cultural issue that should be built into community structure. The message is this: If you're going to keep a dog or a cat, have a good reason. Entertainment and diversion are not good reasons.

Given the current state of society, I'm likely to be in the minority on this issue, particularly in Fairfield. For example, a neighbor here remarked that her beautifully landscaped yard was not "dog friendly." Has it really come to this? Must we now worry about where dogs relieve themselves when we arrange our perennials? Another friend has no shortage of companions, two legged or four, but argues that taking care of a dog makes her happy—petting, grooming, etc. I felt like saying, "If you need to pet someone, I'm available. I'll even go for a walk, and with me you'll have no need for leash nor poop-scooper!" Still, it's hard to counter the happiness argument. After all, who am I to deny someone's personal joys? One can only hope this person discovers a more socially conscious outlet for her affection.

Keeping a dog for protection is not necessary in a town this small. Indeed, it's hard to imagine where it would be necessary. If the level of crime is such that you need a German shepherd to guard the house, your community is not fit to be lived in. People strolling the sidewalks with Dobermans and pit bulls should be politely informed that their underwear is showing. If you don't want to appear ignorant or, to put it constructively, if you're trying to appear cool, having a big mean dog is the wrong way to go about it. On the surface it's a gross behavioral issue, but it touches on the spiritual realm, and we are a spiritual town. Perhaps this point should be addressed at school. Should the curriculum of public schools reach to this level of culture? Maybe not, but someone should reach it.

Life Close to the Ground

Somewhere along the path to modernization, the architects of our cities deemed it proper to arrange human habitation into great tall stacks of concrete cubicles. As technology progressed, we stacked them ever higher—so high that residents could no longer reach their dwellings without a motorized lift. Whether for reasons of conserving space or energy, or convenience to the workplace, these high-rise developments have become the norm. Not only have we grown accustomed to living up in the air this way, people actually look on these structures as beautiful, praising, for example, the Chicago skyline as an architectural marvel and work of art.

Here we have another symptom of society's disjointed state, an entrenched cultural policy that demands intelligent intervention. The engineering that goes into skyscrapers is stunning, but there is an equally stunning lack of spiritual development evident in the thinking of these city builders. They and we have lost touch with our own nature. No human being should live more than three stories off the ground. I can't offer much in the way of proof for this other than to say it's a cognition. It has to do with being a terrestrial creature whose nature is to walk two-legged on the planet with the sky overhead and the earth below. High-rises separate us from both—blocking the sky and displacing the earth. A two-story house with perhaps an attic dormer is the tallest we should ever build a residential home.

Must we enact building codes to enforce this restriction?

No. The code is not at fault; rather, it's the thinking of the people, urbanized as we are, without proper spiritual orientation and lacking any deep cognition about life on planet Earth. We must reorient the developers and urban planners who are building these high-rises. More importantly, we must reorient the urbanites who willingly inhabit them. If young people could be brought up to appreciate life closer to the ground, developers would have no takers for their high-rise condos.

Permit-free Development

In Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, Helena Norberg-Hodge's illuminating film about life in India's remote northern territory, she relates how every person in that ancient kingdom knows how to build a house. They do not hire architects, consult manuals or study codes for this knowledge; rather, Ladakhi children are raised to understand and assimilate the best, sustainable methods for not only home construction, but every aspect of their indigenous tradition, including food production and water management. The knowledge is programmed into their lifestyle. To construct a home in some other way would jeopardize their existence. As a result, Ladakh's traditions have persisted for centuries. This kind of self-sufficiency goes hand-in-hand with a strong spiritual element in community life, expressed in large part through the influence of Tibetan Buddhism.

Contrast this with how we Americans go about constructing homes. In the first place, very few of us know what's even required. Take your typical high school or even college graduate—one in a hundred, maybe, would attempt to build the most rudimentary shelter. Fewer still know how to design one. Second, our raw materials must be trucked in from far away places. Like everything else, the building industry has become globalized. Third, we have this cadre of local, state and federal enforcers who will not allow the most basic project to go forward without approval. You can't even partition your basement without a permit. Finally, there is not one iota of spiritual content in the government's operation. Rather than helping, educating and providing service, big G puts obstacles in your way.

If we can't trust community residents to build a dwelling, or even something larger, there is a shortcoming in our social structure. Young people must be brought up to understand the correct way to go about these projects—the most sustainable, earth-oriented, socially conscious methods. These will vary from place to place depending on environmental parameters. In Florida, for example, you would do well to consider hurricanes when you install a roof; in California you have to think about earthquakes; somewhere else you would worry about flooding and groundwater.

It's not just in home construction that we encounter this issue. We keep on running up against the question of government regulation: how much is needed, how to go about enforcing laws, is self-regulation possible, etc. But the deeper issue is, why is there regulation to begin with? In a truly prevention-oriented society, we would know instinctively what the healthiest practices were, almost as if the knowledge were contained in our DNA. Whatever we didn't know by instinct would be assimilated from respected elders.

The building industry is complex, but we might yet recapture some of Ladakh's indigenous spirit where man and nature function in harmony. If there's any solution at all, it must start locally, including with locally sourced materials. How do we foster a generation of home-builders and other professionals—farmers, electricians, mechanics, chefs, decorators—who can be trusted to conduct their operation in the most sustainable, environmentally friendly fashion, masters of their trade who don't need government to stand over them with a club and for whom no inspector's permit is ever necessary. Just the opposite, in fact—who teach us the right way. Let the wiser heads of the community put their attention on this fundamental question.

[PR]2: Project to Restore Personal Responsibility

I read recently that the state of Colorado in a privately funded program has been supplying free IUDs—long-term contraceptives—to low-income teens and young women.[9] And several New York City high schools have begun dispensing "Plan-B" morning-after pills to students.[10] This is a new addition to their birth control arsenal, as they've been giving out free condoms for years. Family planning advocates see these programs as an effective way to reduce teen pregnancies. I see them as conveying an unmistakable message to young people: Have as much sex as you want, have it with whomever you want, and don't worry about pregnancy because we've got you covered. Plan-B, in case you're not familiar, is an over-the-counter, next-day contraceptive that alters a woman's hormonal system, carrying with it a distinct set of side effects—we're talking about fourteen and fifteen-year-old girls. And did I mention? The parents don't need to be informed.

I bring this up not to moralize about sex, sex education or the problem of unwed mothers—those topics will keep for another time; rather, I would like to highlight a broader trend in society that has come up in various contexts. I'm referring to our neglect of personal responsibility as a component of legitimate administration. Increasingly in the modern world we rely on top-down controls and automated mechanisms to protect us from the consequences our own bad decisions. We as a society have come to assume that human beings are helpless, that individuals are unable to behave in a responsible, civic-minded way on their own. We just now talked about construction permits and big G's need to oversee the most basic remodeling project. Before that we discussed how seat belts, air bags and auto insurance allow the most careless drivers unfettered access to the highways. And then there is the whole security field, where we go to extraordinary lengths and spend billions on public safety, but disregard simple trust, the element that renders other measures superfluous. Below we will talk about establishing a Credit-Free Zone to eliminate the need for credit reporting, and an ID-Free Zone that does away with cataloging your biometric data. The common thread among these diverse concerns is the need to counterbalance big G's refusal to consider, or even acknowledge, the role of personal responsibility in self-governing administration.

There is an initiative being promoted in Iowa called "Blue Zones," where communities are rewarded for preventive health practices: walking, biking, healthy eating and so forth. I suggest we need a "PR Zone" project that encourages communities to move away from the top-down, big-brother-cares-for-all model, and toward the new paradigm of elevating individual responsibility. Let's call it [PR]2 for "Project to Restore Personal Responsibility."[11] As we've discussed (see MSN, section 1.2), prevention involves more than a rearrangement of priorities. It's a different mode of thinking and functioning. Let's recognize those among us who comprehend to even a small degree the critical role personal responsibility must play in community life.[12] Right now we're doing the opposite; we are rewarding people who abandon responsibility, who are lapdogs to the top-down political order, like those adolescent girls in New York who go out and get pregnant—in previous eras and in other cultures they'd be branded as ... I don't need to tell you. In America today, we give them a pat on the head and a pill to take.

An even scarier example of our abandonment of responsibility in personal relations is the one-a-day H.I.V. prevention pill approved by the FDA.[13] That anyone would even consider developing such a medication is proof of how convoluted is the thinking of society's leaders. Here we are thirty years after the AIDS epidemic began, and we still aren't conveying to young people the most basic lessons of civilized behavior: Don't have risky sex, know your partner well, be monogamous, and if you can't adhere to these guidelines, then don't have sex at all. We're not even asking them to get married. It's not even morality we're instructing, but simple precaution. If people can't control themselves in this elementary fashion, then, frankly, they don't belong in the community. Ship them all to Siberia. Put them on a spaceship to Mars. Do anything, but for God's sake, don't hand out medications that reinforce an irresponsible lifestyle.

Consider how we cater to the morbidly obese—those electric shopping carts you find in supermarkets and chain stores that permit fat customers to ride up and down the aisles. In a responsible community, we would require those people to walk—not out of malice, but out of concern for their own health.

I have two friends who contracted hepatitis C years ago and subsequently required liver transplants. One was covered under a policy funded by the municipality he worked for. He suffered complications that hiked his bills so high he hit the lifetime ceiling on coverage: a million dollars. The other was a veteran whose transplant was done at a VA hospital. I happen to know both of these men engaged in risky health practices in their youth: drug use, needles, unsafe sex, multiple partners. Now, thirty years later, we taxpayers are forking out millions to make up for their negligence. And this is not the end of it, as both are receiving disability checks. So again, we're rewarding bad behavior, comforting those who could not or would not take responsibility for their own actions.

One simple example of how the [PR]2 initiative might be applied is in reporting water usage. There was a controversy in Fairfield over the installation of wireless RF meters to replace existing equipment. We had a lot of back-and-forth between homeowners and city officials on safety, cost and possible alternatives to those devices. But none of the decision makers gave any thought to having the customer read his own meter. The suggestion was brought to the council's attention, but no one took it seriously. In the eyes of your typical big G administrator, a resident could not handle this responsibility because residents in general are incompetent, unreliable and untrustworthy.

Here's another example: An Amish family who are regulars at the farmer's market were selling jugs of homemade cider one Saturday morning. Some snooty lady took exception and threatened to report them. To whom I don't know, but she had the idea that home-brewed beverages were prohibited and was intent on making things difficult for the girls who were vending it. The lady was a typical legalist. I don't know what, if any, authority she had, but she exuded the hard-nosed, by-the-book venom that is the hallmark of big G. Instead of encouraging and rewarding people who take the initiative, big G continually finds ways to punish, to control. I bought some of that cider. It was excellent. I'm confident those good people know what they're doing. If someone who knows more about cider making wants to get involved in helping this Amish family, if they have tips to share about the process and can offer friendly, tactful advice, then by all means, let them support local self-sufficiency. But to crack down on a creative enterprise sends the wrong message. Again, it says we can't handle things on our own, not even the must basic human activities.

Here's a slightly different [PR]2 application: Growing up in Arlington Massachusetts, I recall that friends would change the oil in their cars and pour the used liquid down the sewer. I'm sure I did it myself more than once. At some point I learned this was a bad thing to do. Someone clued me in, and despite my youthful ignorance, I saw the wisdom of this advice. Nowadays we have laws against dumping oil like this, but, again, what kind of people, what kind of community would require such a law? Given what we now know about the toxins in used motor oil, shouldn't every teenager with a car be taught to understand the dangers? Kids should be raised in such a way that they would never even think of dumping oil. Environmental responsibility should be so deeply ingrained that a law would not be necessary.

Let us then make our own cider, report our own utility usage, build our own homes, recycle our oil and, above all, keep our own peace. This is far and away the most critical area of personal responsibility: self-control as it applies to peaceful administration. It's the field least understood and most grievously abused. The notion that police and the military must be deployed in order to control a population—a city, a country—is deeply flawed, yet how often do we hear of security forces "taking control" of a region, imposing peace with their weapons. The very idea is ludicrous, but this is the mind-set that exemplifies big G, including in this town. Our administrators have no appreciation for the enormous power of personal responsibility. On the contrary, they're afraid of it. We need a new paradigm, where people who can keep the peace without force are elevated to leadership roles, where those who demonstrate true restraint are rewarded. In terms of an action plan, we must first of all get rid of the guns—that much is clear. If we require police at all, let them be weaponless.

Simplify the Message: Action Plan for Pastors

The conflict in world society, though perhaps diminished in recent decades, is still far too high for anyone's comfort; that is, anyone with the least inclination toward the spiritual path. We've argued that the administration's reliance on force perpetuates a paradigm of continuous conflict. We've also seen that when you delve into morality, you get trapped in a quagmire that is very difficult to negotiate. Watching the news, listening to the experts, browsing the Internet, it occurred to me that we need to greatly simplify these questions if there's to be any hope of enlightening the public. By far the most urgent message to convey is killing is wrong. It's wrong in all circumstances, wrong no matter who carries it out, no matter how it's carried out and irrespective of the justification. There is no greater sin, no greater trigger of karmic consequence than to take a human life. The mere threat of killing is wrong—wrong in every nation, in every culture and at every level of administration. Those who wield deadly weapons against other human beings are violating a fundamental law of nature. People argue that it's okay to kill in this or that circumstance: to defend the nation, protect the innocent, in self-defense, and so on. It's all intellectual hair-splitting, confusing the ignorant, who do not fathom the enormity of such a sin. It's profoundly disquieting to even think about killing, to imagine carrying out the bloody deed: witnessing a man's life ebb, watching his spirit dissolve, seeing him expire in front of you. A person who engages in such horror is clearly a lower form of life, a creature who can't be trusted to make rational judgments. But the greater sinners are those who dispatch our young men and women for this purpose, training them in the deadly arts and letting them loose to wreak bloody havoc. Look, there exist people who invite attack, who are such a detriment that society would be better off without them. I'm not talking about terrorists or radical fundamentalists; rather, there are individuals right around us, including many in government, whose behavior can send you over the edge. But no matter the provocation, you must endure. You must bite your lip, unclench your fists and turn away. Restraint is what distinguishes the cultured man.

Is there such a thing as righteous killing, as in a righteous war? Maybe, but the vast majority of people, including, and especially, our politicians, have no concept of what absolute righteousness (i.e., dharma) even is, let alone whether it should bring about war. There are no Arjunas among our political leaders.

Clearly these arguments will not have much sway with the brass at the DoD. The military-industrial complex is so vast and the bureaucracy so deeply entrenched that one despairs of even entering that arena. Locally, however, there's a better chance of success. Why? Because we have personal access. I suggest we recruit local clerics—pastors, imams, rabbis—to join us in promulgating this message. No doubt most are already following this line, but I'd like them to go further than mere talk. Clerics must issue an ultimatum to their congregants: Give up your violent ways, or you will no longer be welcome in this house of worship. We will not marry you, bury you, pray for you or bless your new-born children. You will be excluded from our rituals, ceremonies and sacraments until you put aside your gun and renounce the killing ethic. This admonition applies to everyone, but particularly cops, sheriffs, soldiers and anyone who uses, or threatens to use, deadly force against his or her fellow human beings. Moreover, if you command such people as a government leader, you too will be prohibited from worship. Pastors must be clear and uncompromising. Deadly force is wrong, it's against the rules ... no exceptions. Local clergy must speak this message with one voice. Not just speak, but act; to put their money where their mouth is.

Notice how this ties in with our proposal to recruit pastors into garden zone management (see section 5.10). We remarked how it might be difficult to find common ground among different faiths. Here we propose a foundation for agreement. Our plan follows the line of promoting courtesy at the grass roots. People who threaten deadly force clearly exhibit gross dis-courtesy. Finally, this plan reinforces the shift toward a bottom-up paradigm, replacing the authority of a remote, aloof bureaucracy with that of respected elders in your own backyard. If you want to tackle the military behemoth, to do something about cruise missiles, drone strikes and cluster bombs, you must start in your own community, with your own local enforcers.

Music Studios for the Public

Fairfield has become a Mecca for the spiritually inclined and, not so coincidentally, for artists and designers. We have an astonishing array of galleries for a city this size. Almost any space can become an art studio, but it's not as easy to set up a music studio, primarily because of the noise. No matter how talented you are, you can't expect the neighbors to tolerate many hours of practice. If you are a student or someone who, for whatever reason, can't remain long at a residence, it's difficult to keep moving a piano from place to place. A few years back a group got together and purchased a Steinway grand for the Sondheim Center, but only a handful of the most accomplished pianists have access to it. I would like to see a building dedicated to music study, with several practice rooms and perhaps some basic recording equipment. We might have to do some screening to make sure folks who use it are responsible, but if the city can maintain swimming pools and exercise courts, not to mention parks and libraries, surely we can support a facility for music.

In the interim, we should look into maintaining the pianos that are already available. There's an old upright at the senior center that's badly in need of tuning, and another at Thai Deli in similar condition. I'm guessing the owners would allow some practice time in exchange for having their instruments tuned and repaired by a competent technician. With a minimal investment, we could get these and perhaps a few other pianos around town into shape.

Anyone but Wal-Mart

We suggested above that a gentrified Wal-Mart could become a tourist draw, but the more socially responsible choice is to dispense with it altogether. The Wal-Mart global distribution network represents the worst aspects of modern economy. It's an octopus strangling the planet. The way to break the grip of such a monster is to starve it, to stop pouring our consumer dollars into its maw. One thought is to create a list of products Wal-Mart carries and one-by-one identify an alternate source. Most items can likely be purchased elsewhere—at a higher price perhaps, but with greater benefit to the community. We could publish the sources and set up a phone number people can call when they need something not on the list. We might take a survey to determine what staple items Fairfielders most often purchase and accumulate a stock of those. The key to success will be in educating consumers about the benefits of quitting their Wal-Mart habit. This is something our civic leadership should be promoting. They and we should be coordinating with the schools to ensure kids understand the importance of supporting locally-owned enterprise.


Perfect self-sufficiency is not possible given how dependent we've become on the conveniences of modern technology. Still, someone should be putting thought into what a community like ours could do in terms of supplying the products and material we need. It's not really enough to stop shopping at Wal-Mart since every other retailer relies on the same sources. If we are serious about maintaining a viable indigenous "tribe" through subsequent generations, we must come up with ways to reduce our reliance on goods made in distant lands. Understanding this does not require deep thinking; common sense is enough to reveal the shortcomings of such a system. I'm an ordinary working Joe. I'm concerned about providing for my family, keeping a roof over my head, raising my children and so on. But the world works in such a way that these key aspects of my existence are tethered to a global economy whose operation is beyond my influence or control. Clothing, food, energy and building materials must all be transported thousands of miles and handled by middlemen who have not a jot of interest in my comfort or my life. One glitch in the supply chain can put me in a bread line. One blip in the derivatives market could cause my retirement account to disappear.

It's not just fear of disconnect from the supply chain, it is also concern for the environment that makes us think about self-sufficiency. We need to reverse course. Rather than mechanization and centralized production, we must establish regional or even municipal centers of industry and skilled production of goods where we actually know the craftsmen who create the life necessities upon which we depend. We must work toward a world where local production renders container ships, tractor-trailer fleets and coal trains obsolete. The relentless urbanization of the planet must cease, including in Iowa. Progress in rural America equates to highways, cell-phone towers and high-speed Internet connections. There's really nothing rural about it. Fairfield is a scaled-down version of Chicago, complete with a utility grid, a mini-downtown, mini-suburbs, business and industrial parks, and even a country club. Take, for example, the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center (FACC). The $4 million loaned for the project was guaranteed under a USDA "rural development" program. The implication is that we are somehow helping rural communities with these kinds of loans, but it seems to me such development destroys the very thing that makes rural America attractive. Rather than turning small towns into concrete tourist traps, we should go into big cities like New York and Los Angeles and replace pavement with greenery; tear down old buildings and rip out some of that lifeless asphalt. Rural development should make the urban more rural, not the other way around. Restoring our connection to the land will do more for long-term self-sufficiency than any addition to infrastructure.

Regarding technology, the fundamentals of self-sufficiency are straightforward. What you can build, build. What you can't, buy. If you can't buy or build, barter. Whether the item is manufactured by you or procured from elsewhere, be sure it's either made to last a long time or can be maintained, repaired and/or easily replaced by people in the community. By "long time" we should think in terms of centuries.

There are three considerations: materials, facilities and knowledge. Materials that require expensive high-tech extraction methods and which cannot be sourced locally should be allocated very carefully. When a product containing rare substances reaches the end of its engineered life, its materials should be recycled into its replacement. But even the toughest materials break down over time; oxidation, ultraviolet radiation and even acid rain are agents of decay. Without reverting to the stone age, can we come up with materials that will not break down in this fashion? If not, can we arrange our lives so as to minimize our dependence on mines, drilling, etc.?

In terms of manufacturing, it's not practical to simplify the process—not for high-tech products, at least. What's more important is that we simplify our lives. Self-sufficiency in manufacturing is obviously a complex area, but if we were clever enough to create the complexity, we are clever enough to reduce it. And if we do have products that can be fabricated locally, we should not be concerned so much with generating revenue; rather, our intention should be to maintain the manufacturing capacity into future generations regardless of how the market changes. We don't want to end up like Detroit or Pittsburgh, whose economies crashed when the global market turned elsewhere for cars and steel. For this to happen, industry leaders must be motivated by something other than profit.

An example of effective simplification can be taken from sub-Saharan Africa where there is a serious problem with malaria. A big drug company is working on a vaccine, but it has taken decades to develop at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, and this is before delivery even begins. In contrast, treated mosquito netting offers equal protection, lasts longer and costs only $10 per net. I might suggest we take the process a step further. Let the communities in affected areas manufacture their own nets. Further still, find a way to do it using locally sourced material, including the insecticide. Maybe there's a naturally occurring pesticide that can be extracted from a plant in that region. Pest and disease control are not just issues for Africans. What, for example, could we do here about deer ticks and Lyme disease? Anyone who works outdoors has to be vigilant about venturing into tick-infested areas. Growing a field of dahlias behind an old farm house on B Street one year, I was constantly finding ticks crawling up my pants. I even found them in my bathroom and bedroom, having hitched a ride home. Is Lyme disease a serious enough issue that we should consider long-term plans for dealing with it? Are there environmental approaches for managing the tick population? The deer population? These are questions that must be fully thought out. One thing is certain: Laying asphalt to eliminate ticks is not an option.

Fairfield is ahead of the curve in terms of simplifying one key aspect of life: health care. Ayurveda is among the most effective of alternative therapies, and the Raj is the premier ayurvedic spa in the country. In terms of technical knowledge in the field of health, Fairfield is also fortunate in that MUM is a training center for ayurvedic modalities, including the core practice of Transcendental Meditation. TM is as little dependent on high-tech as you could be—the only equipment required is a comfortable seat.

Can the same simplifying methods that make low-tech ayurveda an attractive option be applied in other areas? The two key principles are prevention and economy of action—the "do less and accomplish more" principle. A third, which underlies both, is clear thinking—allowing yourself to take full advantage of the power of thought. We've already proposed a number of applications in the areas of law, justice and government. We could, for example, eliminate the enforcement technology of sirens, guns, radar, radios and a host of other apparatus, including our fleet of police cruisers, as well as the entire Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center with all its high-tech accoutrements. If our act were truly together, the town's businesses and homeowners could get rid of their private surveillance devices. All of these security policies are made necessary by bad education, poor community coherence and the reactive bias of big G. Who among us could conceive, for example, of a town library that's open 24 hours without attendants, scanners or even a check-out procedure? Can we imagine a community where everyone could be counted on to borrow and return their materials on their own, in a timely fashion, without the threat of fines? This takes us back to the [PR]2 idea—instilling a sense of collective responsibility in our kids. It simplifies life tremendously when artificial controls are eliminated.

We talked above about abandoning our cell phones and perhaps land lines as well, substituting a voice-over-Internet device like Skype or MagicJack, with the LISCO fiber network as the backbone. Of course, this still requires cables, routers, cameras, computers, and so forth, none of which could be practically manufactured in a small community. But the main thing is we're setting a limit on our requirements. Rather than open-ended expansion, with regional, national and global networks that continually morph into ever more complex ways of delivering information to our already over-stimulated brains, we're identifying our bottom-line needs, zeroing-in on what technology would serve us best at a minimal cost to the environment. If other communities followed suit, it would change the economic paradigm, take us beyond the idea of unlimited growth and move instead toward perpetual equilibrium.

Another obvious candidate for simplification is agriculture. Organic farmers already know how productive farms and gardens are without the least bit of high-tech pest control, weed control and synthetic fertilizer. With a minimal amount of technology—such as steel-framed hoop-houses and sheet plastic coverings—farms can produce a good deal more in a cold climate. For purposes of self-sufficiency, we would thus require perpetual access to frames and plastic. Frames are not so much an issue, as they last forever and can be built with materials we ourselves might produce, like wood, but plastic must be replaced every few years. Say we decided greenhouse production will be essential to community maintenance. How would we sustain it?

There are three options: (1) stockpile 300 years worth of plastic; (2) build our own plastic sheeting factory and make sure we can access the raw materials (petroleum) for 300 years; or (3) come up with a substitute—say, a plastic that doesn't break down. The alternative, of course, is to surrender to the globalized economy—keep on ordering the plastic from elsewhere and hope it stays available and at a reasonable cost. None of these options are very appealing for a small community or even a region. Nevertheless, the creative minds of the world's icier climes, including America's upper Midwest, should be giving thought to these questions, because food production is clearly a key element of self-sufficiency. Every human settlement must possess the capacity to feed itself. Having to rely on producers on other continents or even at the other end of your own continent for your daily sustenance is insupportable. It's not even the vagaries of the international market that force this point; rather, it's the innate knowledge that as inhabitants of the earth, in this location, in this particular ecosystem, our human role is to cooperate with the plants, the critters and the land in keeping us all alive and healthy. It's such a critical point that someone, somewhere needs to take a stand on it.

What would I do were I the food czar of Fairfield?

Keep on ordering plastic sheets and at the same time start putting up glass-windowed greenhouses. Think also about establishing our own window manufacturing facility. Become experts in drying, canning, freezing and pickling so as to preserve what we can over the months of limited production. Root cellars are a must. Raising livestock is key, cattle in particular. And clearly we need to think carefully about long-term sources for water.

Speaking of window manufacture, a pane of glass is not a pane of glass anymore. This too has become a high-tech item, with sealed double-pane frames specially coated to improve insulating characteristics. They call this a "green" building supply. The advances in glass technology are impressive, but I still question whether such high-tech appliances are truly sustainable and truly green. Say a community invests in high R-factor glass, a lot of it, for every building in town. Fast forward 100 years. When the frame loses its seal, as it eventually will, the result is no longer a window—the glass becomes permanently fogged, and the insulating value is lost as well. How will the community of 22nd Century Fairfield deal with this? Perhaps we'll still be relying on the same Chinese factory to supply replacements, which means the same chemical companies, the same bauxite mines, the same oil wells, the same deep-water shipping ports, the same container ships and so on. Is this the world we want to sustain? And the question of window glass is just the tip of the iceberg. Is anyone thinking about how society will meet the needs for copper, steel, aluminum, etc. in the next century and the century after? Should a small community like Fairfield be thinking about it? Mining the moon, after all, does not hold much appeal when your intent is to harmonize with nature. For that matter, neither does mining the plains of Mongolia or the mountains of Bolivia. Heavy industry and the infrastructure it requires directly oppose any rational considerations of long-term sustainability. If you want evidence of this, watch the parade of coal trains that come through town. Mile-long caravans, each carrying a mountain of black rock, twice an hour, every hour, 365 days-a-year. The scale is staggering. This can't be how man was intended to live.

Unfortunately, our scientists and engineers tend to think otherwise. They believe technology will somehow move us forward. You wonder if these people are blind to the damage technology has already wrought. The cosmologists of the world—Carl Sagan, Freeman Dyson, Lawrence Krauss and others—want to define civilization by energy use and equate consciousness with information processing. The position is so profoundly uninformed it scarcely deserves comment. A thought is not a computer instruction. Intelligence can't be measured in material units or defined in objective terms. To state that we live in an "advanced technological society" is another example of misleading language. Society at its core has nothing to do with technology. Indeed, modern technology weakens society; it severs the natural bonds among humans and between humans and Mother Earth.

This is the kind of obstacle we're facing—intellectually brilliant people who have no intuitive feeling for the infinite and, hence, approach social problems from an exclusively material angle. Their solutions, therefore, are not earth-centric and their long-term planning is destructive to the planet. They screwed-up nature using technology and now they think they can fix it using technology. Still, we don't want to abandon technology; rather, we must be smart about how we use it. The question is complex, but the approach is not. Think long term, identify the top priorities and then simplify, simplify. I envision the formation of committees in Fairfield and neighboring municipalities, say within fifty or a hundred miles, that cooperate in this endeavor—the aim being to coordinate resources and address the issue from a regional perspective. The most important considerations are, obviously, food, water, clothing, shelter and energy. If an Iowa community could become locally self-sufficient in even two of these categories, they would have taken a big step toward establishing the new paradigm we've been discussing.

One other point on self-sufficiency: The decision makers at the USDA have approved a number of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be grown as food crops, allowing unchecked proliferation in the environment. Once the foreign genes are released in crop fields, it's inevitable non-GMO varieties will be exposed. Equally scary is the development of genetically-modified fauna, such as mosquitoes that cannot reproduce. They're releasing these lab-grown bugs into areas where dengue is a problem, including the Florida Keys.[14] It's a well-intentioned effort, but do we understand the long-term consequences of eliminating an entire species, or even modifying one? We're tinkering with the infinite with these designer organisms, incorporating ecological changes that could never happen in nature and can never be reversed. Never is not merely a long time, it's a cosmic amount of time. It's God's time, if you will. Our technologies have taken us to the point of playing God.

Ultimately, we'll have to deal with the ignorance that's driving the biotech industry toward irreversible DNA manipulation. It's like dealing with tobacco companies—the only way to keep them from making more cigarettes is to stop smoking. Farmers need to stop buying Monsanto's seeds. Here again is an opportunity for local activism. Let's identify the people who are growing GM crops and show them that organic can be grown with the same success.

300-Year Plan

Opening up the papers or switching on the radio, you hear about this plan or that proposed by various groups in town. There is the city's "Go Green" initiative for energy usage, the "Buy Fresh Buy Local" program, Hometown Harvest's greenhouse, MUM's Sustainable Living Center and others. What I'm wondering is, how far into the future these initiatives are looking. Three hundred years may sound like a long time, but it's a mere blip on the geologic scale. Even on the scale of human civilization, it's not all that long. Consider that more than five hundred years have elapsed since the Europeans began their takeover of the continent. How have we fared in this time? From an environmental standpoint, the colonization has been a disaster. From an economic standpoint, it is questionable at best. As for culture, ask the Cheyenne, the Lakota, the Apache, the Cherokee, etc. how they feel. Clearly we cannot rely on the national leadership to be caretakers of the land. The record of destruction is too blatant, and there is no indication their behavior is going to change. I suggest local administrators must seize the initiative. We must talk about a three-hundred-year plan in the context of regional self-sufficiency, not just for resource conservation, but from a spiritual perspective. Regardless of whether we come up with credible solutions, just the exercise alone, of adopting a multi-century view will have the effect of orienting people properly for both long and short-term decision making.

When I say local administrators must take the initiative, I'm not talking about big G; rather, we in the community must take it. For, it is we who will bear the burden of failed policies. When the economy goes south, it's not government employees, and certainly not the upper class that will suffer, but the people who occupy the lower end of the economic spectrum. In an installment of KRUU's "Dream Green" sustainability series, they interviewed a resident, a businessman, involved with Abundance Ecovillage. He was described as one of the handpicked "stakeholders" initially called together for Fairfield's Go-Green plan. When I heard this, my thought was, what about me? Am I not a stakeholder? Isn't anyone who makes a commitment to this town a stakeholder, regardless of wealth or social status? Not according to the plan's organizers. By their standards, if you have no wealth and own no property, then you have no say, no relevance in the planning process.

There are some interesting features of Abundance Ecovillage. One is the MSV design requirement and another is the permaculture theme. The stakeholders up there are living at a level most of us can't afford: $300,000 homes on $40,000 lots. I would question whether it's appropriate to apply the term permaculture to such an exclusive development, irrespective of how many fruit trees they plant. A valid permaculture plan must include dwellings; community members must have roofs over their heads—that means all members, not just the wealthy ones. Moreover, people should not be browbeaten into the vastu technique. Maharishi's sthapatya veda program has a political aspect that homeowners don't always recognize, focused as they are on the advertised benefits. In the context of a multi-century plan, it would be quite restrictive to expect every community member and all of his descendants to abide all those vastu rules. When you implement a permanent blueprint for the housing of future generations, you are tinkering with the infinite, with cosmic time. It's good to be thinking long-term, but if you're going to jump into something like that, it's best to have your eyes open.

Debt-free Existence

A key aspect of sustainability is freedom from debt. Neither the government nor individual community members should owe money to outside interests, which is to say, banks. When we locate desirable residents, in addition to matching them with desirable homes, we should help them dispose of any debt they carry. This might involve recruiting wealthy patrons to, again, exchange cash for good will. Individuals may, in addition, avail themselves of debt-relief strategies through court action. The community could help by organizing legal assistance. Unfortunately, the most important enterprise in Fairfield, MUM, survives in part by putting people into debt; to wit, with student loans. I doubt there's much chance the university would alter its business strategy, but the topic should be raised.

Regarding debt tied to property, it would be fascinating to witness the reaction if we announced that we are no longer allowing residential foreclosures, that the enlightened jurists in this part of Iowa are not going to process them anymore. As a slightly less dramatic move, we can inform lenders that judges will hear their cases, based on money, but they will also give weight to (a) the character of the lender, (b) the character and desirability of the debtor and (c) the desirability of the property as part of a sovereign, neo-indigenous enclave. In situations where we have a desirable occupant in a desirable home and the lender won't be seriously hurt by a default, the judge should be strongly biased toward giving the person a break; he will allow the lien to be satisfied with a minimum of financial pain.

As we suggested earlier, enlightened lenders are those who don't force repayment or demand interest, but lend as a civic gesture. Borrowers of good character, on the other hand, recognize the good will of the lender and do everything in their power to repay him. This is not to say we advocate ripping-off lending institutions. As sleazy as they are, banks must nevertheless be dealt with honorably. (Debt collectors, on the other hand, deserve no such courtesy.) However, we're not going to force borrowers to honor the terms of a loan contract. We're striving instead to create a society where people don't do business with professional lenders in the first place. Let's gather our own group of financiers who will become part of the community, as committed as everyone else, and they can carry out whatever lending the community requires. Their incentive will not be financial profit, but the respect and good wishes of their fellow citizens, a far more valuable commodity.

I'm speaking from a strictly local perspective. As for our staggering national debt, it's so far beyond my comprehension that I can't offer any intelligent comments. Consider that every man, woman and child in the country is currently burdened to the tune of $56,000, and rising. Why aren't people concerned about having this huge obligation hanging over their heads? Yes, the government owes it, but we are the government; we are the source of its wealth. I've yet to hear a clear explanation of how this perpetual borrowing makes the country better off. Politicians believe that growth, so-called, will pull us out of the hole, but it seems to me growth is what has put the planet in jeopardy. I suggest Fairfield and other small communities must get their own act together—to become as independent as possible, financially and politically. We must find a way to replace never-ending growth with a model that perpetuates economic equilibrium. If that's not practical at the macro level, we should at least strive for it in our local economy.

Credit-free Zone

Debt-free existence brings up a related idea: Let's eliminate credit reporting entirely. Neither the city nor its residents should participate in the Equifax, Experian, Transunion or similar credit bureaus. Neither should we access the information in those databases, nor contribute reports to them, positive or negative. Landlords and employers should be discouraged from searching the credit history of prospective tenants or employees. Disconnecting from credit agencies goes hand-in-hand with disconnecting from the globalized economy and also from top-down government. It's all part of the shift in thinking about society and wealth.

ID-free Zone

Think back to your youth and imagine the following scenario: You stay after school for some activity—say, band practice—and visit with a friend before heading home. It's a bit late when you get there with darkness descending, and you find the front door is locked. Not having your key, you ring the doorbell. A minute later a woman cracks the door, but before letting you in demands to see an ID.

"But Ma, it's me!" you exclaim.

"Sorry," your mother replies coldly. "Rules are rules. After nightfall no one enters without showing identification."

Who are you? What sets you apart from the other seven billion people on the planet? Currently the distinguishing marks are a passport, a driver's license and a social security card. Throw in your credit history, and the formula is complete. You've been alchemised into a database record—a sequence of bits and bytes electronically archived on a server in some government data center. In big G's eyes we are no longer living beings. Our dreams, desires, passions, personality and community history have no place, no relevance in their catalog. One's earthly existence has been reduced to a file entry, starting as a birth certificate and ending as a death certificate.

Let's consider a person's date of birth. Many folks, this commentator included, aren't happy revealing their age. The older you get, the more irritation you feel on the point. Yet there it is for all to see, printed on every identifying paper you carry. Everyone wants to know it, from banks, to schools, to the lady at the voter registration table—library cards, police reports, medical forms. In a single visit to the VA hospital in Iowa City I was asked no less than four times for my date of birth; every station, every desk required it. I received a four page survey in the mail from the USDA (how they even knew about my tiny dahlia operation is another mystery) where they wanted me to report pretty much everything I'd ever done, or was planning to do in agriculture, including my sex, my income, property holdings, racial category and, of course, my date of birth. I left the latter blank, though they threatened—what else is new—to telephone or even pay me a visit if the form weren't filled out.

It is so typical of these government people sitting in an office a thousand miles away to demand this personal data, when, in fact, they have zero interest in you as a human being. What right do any of them have to collect this sensitive information? And what difference should it make? One looks at person, talks to him, shakes his hand and realizes what he is through face-to-face interaction. Your height, weight and country of birth have nothing to do with it.

With this in mind, I would like to propose an "ID Free" program for the city. Local authorities will no longer record your date of birth, place of birth, the color of your eyes, the places where you lived, etc. All that will matter is you are a member of this community residing somewhere in greater Fairfield. You can drive, work, vote, drink, hunt, travel, attend school, get married, visit doctors, run a business and generally live as a human lives without having to prove your worth by way of an ID card. As long as Fairfield is your home, your identity will be determined by the fact that the responsible community elders recognize you as a member of our clan. We can fabricate a Fairfield badge of some kind for residents who wish to be distinguished as such, but people cannot command you to show it. They can politely ask if you have a badge, and you can present it if you wish, but the ultimate proof of your identity is based on personal acquaintance. We want to provide an opportunity for people to drop out of big G's global identification network, to allow a person to go through life as a person rather than as a document, to present him or herself in totality as a living element of an organic society. Fingerprints and DNA testing are not compatible with this philosophy. The DHS may dispatch their agents to force such constraints on us, but we don't feel obliged to do it on our own.

As for scheduling the usual rites of passage, I don't foresee any problems. When it comes time for you to go to school, your parents will know enough to send you. When you're old enough to get behind the wheel, the community will recognize it. The timing of your retirement will be up to you—how your health is, whether you can keep up the workload, etc. With regard to identifying professionals in their fields, there shouldn't be an issue. No one ever asks to see the license of, say, an electrician or a plumber. People in those professions are well known in the community. Driving might require some finagling for those who want to travel. The solution is to petition the state to allow Fairfield to issue its own printed license, minus the personal data usually encoded on it. The state, in turn, could enter into agreements with neighboring states such that cops will respect the license as legitimate, if, in fact, we're still allowing cops to demand your license at all. Beyond the state level, we don't want to consider. National and international authorities have no business tracking the lives of individuals.

This last point is another paradigm-breaking notion. There should not even exist international authorities. International law is a community leader's nightmare, a tribal elder's most apocalyptic vision. This irony is that people in big G continually refer to the "international community." It's another example of the abuse of language, and, more fundamentally, the convoluted thinking of political leaders. It will take some major restructuring to dismantle the international network of law enforcement, but it follows with our vision of spiritual regeneration, bottom-up government and local self-sufficiency. Again, the thrust of this program is to put back-pressure on the top-down bureaucracy.

You would not force a person to go without an ID; rather, we will provide the means and the opportunity to do so if he or she wishes. Parents would make the decision for young children. Folks already registered can try to have the information purged. Resident aliens might have some reservations about dropping out this way as federal law requires them to report every move. Applying for citizenship would solve this, but that just reinforces the Big Brother paradigm. I'm afraid those of us already in the system are probably stuck there. For this reason, our efforts should be focused on the future. Let's start raising a generation of unregistered kids.

Community-based Social Security

The main obstacles to the ID-Free Zone relate to money. How does big G collect individual taxes? How does the SSA know when to issue retirement checks? How does an insurance company know when your annuity has matured?

Regarding taxes and social security, there are a couple of possibilities. First, the community could pay taxes as one entity. We would estimate our total income for the year, calculate what we collectively owe, and on April 15th issue one payment for all of us to the state and one to the federal government. Knowing that Mr. Smith the plumber usually nets around $25,000 per year and knowing he has worked steadily for ten or eleven months, we'll invite him to contribute a flat percentage to the community fund, and we can handle the tax filing for him. A portion of the remittance would be allocated as a social security contribution for the whole community. Each year we'll take stock of our population, gauge how many are of an age where they should retire and tell the SSA what we need in terms of support for seniors. The SSA would issue one check, and we would divide it among the recipients we counted.

The other alternative is to create a retirement fund of our own. Inform the SSA that the town will no longer need money from them and that they should stop sending us checks. We, for our part, will no longer pay into SSA coffers. Support for the community's retirees will come from ourselves as we make contributions to a common fund. This will, of course, be a voluntary program.

Naturally, most folks will not want to give up the income they now receive. If people qualify for that income but can live comfortably without it, they could continue to accept the money but turn around and deposit some or all of it into the general fund. Still, I believe the best course would be to go entirely local with the program, to disconnect not only from SSA, but other federal subsidies—food stamps, subsidized housing, etc. Not just for philosophical reasons, but for practical ones. SSA is predicted to run out of money around 2037,[15] which is well within the lifetime of most people alive today. Given big G's track record of deficit spending and debt accumulation, younger workers should be very concerned. Better to start thinking about retirement now than to wait ten or twenty years when the financial landscape might be worse.

A word about health insurance: With all the debate surrounding Obamacare, you never hear mention of actual health; rather, the discussion is about money and disease care. Certainly we need to deliver babies, remove appendixes and set broken bones, but the greater cost to the community comes from ailments connected to unhealthy lifestyles. Given our sedentary habits, our unnatural routines, our diet of processed food, not to mention our substance abuse, it's unlikely that a small community could ever become fully self-sufficient in health care. It might be that we'll always have to rely on outside support to care for the sick. Nevertheless, we must endeavor to live healthier lives. Transcendental Meditation is particularly important in this regard as it normalizes and balances the physiology, averting problems before they come up. Diet is also huge. Let's start thinking about closing down the McDonald's, the Burger Kings and the Pizza Huts. With all the wonderful non-chain alternatives in town, we won't miss the fast food joints at all.

Health care aside, it should be remarked that true social security need not involve money. If we provided our seniors, and all of us, with the necessities of life, a comfortable, natural setting in which to enjoy them—a place so beautiful you wouldn't want to leave, not even if Florida beckoned—and an extended family that included the entire community, there would be no need to distribute checks. Here is yet another alteration to the current paradigm. The economists will tell you that income equates with quality of life. They suggest, for example, that people in developing countries commodify their production—convert their arable acreage into biofuel crops or palm oil plantations and market their product to the developed world. The funds they bring in would theoretically lift them out of poverty. But there is a price to pay from this sort of industrialization, a cost born by our souls and the soul of the land. We're exchanging an earth-centered security with gross insecurity in the global marketplace, replacing a system that evolved over millennia with one that is inherently destructive and short-sighted. Even more damaging to the soul, planners approve casino resorts that extract money from their own population, often from those who can least afford it. They do this under the banner of community development, disregarding the corrupt character of an economy based on gambling. To imagine that the gaming industry could ever benefit the economy contradicts the very meaning of the word. Economy implies conservation, efficiency, best use of resources, best practices. Throwing away money at a roulette wheel represents the polar opposite.

Money in itself is not bad. The evil lies with those who make a career of manipulating money: the bankers, speculators, insurance companies and so forth who accumulate wealth for the sole purpose of being wealthy and then force the rest of us into financial servitude. Bankers and moneylenders profit from their neighbors' in-security. No one should ever be cold or hungry; no one should ever be afraid; no one should ever be without a home or be alone in the world. No one should ever suffer or even witness suffering. To accomplish this requires the cooperation and support of family, friends, neighbors and community—support that cannot be purchased.

[1]. To get an idea of the dominance of the cellular industry, try locating a phone booth, or a public phone of any kind in this town. If you do find one, take a picture, because it will likely not be there long.

[2]. See the section on "character" in Community Law for a description of a CCA's duties. See MSN chapters 5 and 7 for a discussion of garden zone management.

[3]. Oprah Winfrey arrived by private jet when she visited MUM in October of 2011.

[4]. Maas J, Verheij R, Vries S, et al., "Morbidity is related to a green living environment." Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. jech.2008.079038v1

[5]. Lindsay Abrams, "When Trees Die, People Die," The Atlantic, Jan 22, 2013, discusses a study by the U.S. Forest Service investigating mortality rates in counties infested by the emerald ash borer. They found a correlation between the loss of trees and the demise of residents.

[6]. Narrow corridors may not provide much help to wildlife. The jury is still out on whether wildlife corridors improve genetic diversity and species survival. It may be that much larger tracts are needed for that purpose. Here our interest is not so much in wildlife, as in making habitat for humans livable.

[7]. Local environmentalists made a big deal of the bioretention swale in front of the new Kum & Go. It's a welcome modification, but it's a bit like putting lipstick on a pig. Never mind the fuel, check out what they sell inside: every variety of processed junk food you can imagine. The embodied energy and environmental cost in producing those products must surely exceed any benefit derived by catching run-off from the asphalt out front.

[8]. See, for example, the city plan of Kristianstad, Sweden, population 80,000, which produces biogas from municipal waste to heat homes and fuel city vehicles.

Elisabeth Rosenthal, "Using Waste, Swedish City Cuts Its Fossil Fuel Use," New York Times, December 10, 2010

[9]. Anna Almendrala, "Colorado's Teen Birth Rate Fell 40 Percent Thanks To A Free Contraception Program," The Huffington Post, July 6, 2015

[10]. Anemona Hartocollis and Michaelle Bond, "Ready Access to Plan B Pills in City Schools" The New York Times, July 11, 2013

[11]. Cf. section 5.8 on grass-roots responsibility

[12]. Cf. section 4.5 on growth of character.

[13]. Denise Grady, "Taking Truvada to Prevent H.I.V. Also Comes With Risks," New York Times, May 14, 2012

[14]. Andrew Pollack, "Concerns Are Raised About Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes," The New York Times, October 30, 2011

[15]. Timothy Farnam, "Social Security, Medicare Face Insolvency Sooner," The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2009

© 2015 Alexander Gabis