It's a community where pocket neighborhoods meet the homestead movement. (Please note: not a crazy commune.) Think 8-12 homes clustered around a commons area and then surrounded by shared pastures and woods. The best of both the suburbs (nice neighbors and kids playing outside together) and the country (plenty of land and freedom).
Intentional CommunityI've been intrigued by pocket neighborhoods ever since Molly introduced the idea to me. Wikipedia explains, "A pocket neighborhood is a grouping of smaller residences, often around a courtyard or common garden, designed to promote a close knit sense of community and neighborliness with an increased level of contact." I really like how intentional it is about fostering community, and I love the front porches!
|Beautiful, and big enough to send your kids outside to play on even if it's raining! |
I love that being right on the road and having a grassy commons gets rid of the need for a lawn. A common playground would also alleviate the need for each family to have their own, further freeing up the back yard to be dedicated to whatever edible or agricultural pursuits the family desires. While the little kids play together on the swingset and the big kids play soccer on the commons, the grown-ups can chat on the benches or in the airy common building.
|Common building on right|
That's where the monthly neighborhood potlucks will be, and it is really a central gathering place. All the mailboxes as well as the trash and recycling bins will be there - a bit of a hassle at first to go there every day instead of the end of your driveway, but another way to encourage community. While there you can talk to a neighbor, glance at the announcement another neighbor wrote on the chalkboard, and pick up a couple zucchini that yet another neighbor left on the table to share.
|The natural swimming pool will be nearby. |
Intentional SustainabilityThis neighborhood is designed for the family seeking the homestead lifestyle among a like-minded community. It's only intended to be a stepping stone for those desiring full self-sufficiency - an opportunity to get their feet wet and hone their skills before moving on. (It's not intended to provide a family's primary income - that could indicate a disproportionate use of community resources). But it's a great place for a family like mine, who would like the homestead lifestyle but realistically will never do it all on their own.
It's a place with backyard freedom! Chickens and clotheslines, goats and bees, raised beds and orchards, fire pits and compost piles - pretty much anything except a conventional lawn
|Sheep and sheets in the backyard? Sure! |
|I so want chickens among my fruit trees. |
The pastures are shared and animals are encouraged, though the community will have to determine some way to keep from having too many for the land, and to keep them out of the neighbors' gardens.
|This is discouraged. |
|I'm really hoping there's a cow or two so we can get our milk from them! |
The homes themselves will be very green, without necessarily being tiny or ultra modern looking. They still need to have some character! Efficient homes combined with enough solar panels will be able to cover all of the neighborhoods' energy bills. Rain barrels, permeable roads and good planning will mean rainwater is well-handled. Root cellars will encourage food preservation. The houses might be prefab, site-specific - really whatever the creative developer dreams up!
|Reclaimed lumber to make my library? Great! |
|I'll take some sweet flowers on top of my rain barrel, please. |
Finally, the homes will be able to accommodate large families - even if that means lots of built-in bunk-beds.
|Hello, bunk room. |
Intentional Families Seeking ChristThis brings us to the most important aspect of the community: Christians who embrace children. So often these type of ideas seem to be relegated to new agers or people who wouldn't dream of having more than one or two kids - and that's a pity. It really is possible to love God and want a large family and want to care for the earth. Perhaps by including something in the indentures about good stewardship of God's creation and people being the earth's greatest resource, we can indicate the appropriate philosophical outlook to potential residents.
|A statue of St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers, might also do the trick. |
Sometimes I think I'd like it to be all Catholic - then we could have a rosary garden on the commons and various statues around and the neighbors won't think we pray to idols. And we could all go to the same parish and the kids that aren't homeschooled could carpool to school together.
|An understated Rosary Garden. |
This all really boils down to living in a community that wants to care for families and creation as best they can. A group of people that is intentional about fostering community, intentional about how they treat the world around them, and intentional about their faith.
Won't you be my neighbor?