Interdependence Project
A Band of  Environmental SuperHeroes

The Theme of a Complimentary Super Talented Idealistic Interdependent Band Fighting for a
Noble Cause Permeates Our Legends and Is the Ideal Metaphor for What I Seek to Create.

    Who is your Hero?  If you seriously entertain that question,  I believe you will find that your "Super Hero" would be someone who embodies your Highest Values.  For me, that begs the question ;  Who on the planet could possibly be more suited to embody Your  Highest Values than You?   
     I'm  Lacy Thompson, Jr. and I have a community vision that starts with a critical household nucleus of  individuals who truly want to have a constructive impact and contribution to the world.   I can no longer be part of the problem, I must be part of the solution.  
    About 15 years ago I started to realize that the business I created was running me and my life was out of sync with my values.  I was very "successful" by our culture's value system, but I wasn't very happy.  Most people chase the carrot at the end of the stick and never get to taste it.  I got to taste it and found out, as many others have before me, that there simply was no real satisfaction in personal "success".   It's one of many, many  "Big Lies" that keep us confused.
    A long period of introspection and personal work led me to some fundamental realizations, chief among them that I had a core desire to contribute to others with shared concerns and values ; and that my two core values were Growth and Contribution.    I came to the conclusion that a truly satisfying life wasn't about "me" at all !   Since that realization I often say... "My life is Not  MY  Life !"  I really think if your life is about "you", you will never be happy or truly have a life of purpose and meaning.  
   We humans evolved in groups of 20-40 individuals and about 10,000 years ago, with the advent of agriculture, it was possible to store grain (accumulate wealth) and then for the first time in history "individual" survival, which simply wasn't possible before became possible.  This monumental and cataclysmic shift gave us "civilization" ... the double edged sword which gave us cities and libraries as well as a host of abominations such as nuclear weapons.  It also severely "mucked with" all of the emotional adaptations evolution had selected out for an interdependent as opposed to independent mode of survival.  Hence the futility of ever finding purpose or satisfaction in this foreign landscape.
    We conquered the lower animal kingdom and then began ..... conquering each other.   The most valuable resource on the planet  isn't gold or oil ..... it's another human.  One who can get you the gold or the oil.... and much much more.   And slavery has shifted from outright physical ownership to the "debt slavery" of the monetary system.  And... unfortunately if you embrace the "individual survival" paradigm, your choices are incredibly limited.   As George Carlin said  " The table is tilted, the game is rigged , they've gottcha by the Balls ! "   Of course the next line is "Nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care", which is for the most part the case.   I am appealing to the exception, not the rule.

      I have been an inventor and  business owner for over 36 years and live on 52 beautiful acres just 17 miles due east of the center of Atlanta, GA.  What pays the bills is a business I started when I was only 22 years of age;  the manufacture and sale of high technology audio equipment for professional singers.  The business is operated out of a large home.   Though I have been successful as an entrepreneur, my spirit is that of an artist.  
     Unless you have some understanding of the debt based monetary system, it's virtually impossible to talk about the actual state of the world we presently inhabit without coming off as a bit "detached from 'reality' " at least the commonly held delusions that serves as "reality" for the vast majority of the population.   Suffice it to say that with each person in the US producing only 1.1 individuals to replace them that if one generation cannot leave to the next 1) Debt Free Housing 2) The ability to feed themselves 3) The ability to meet their energy needs,  4) The ability to educate themselves  5)Transportation , 6) The ability to care for their health , 7) The ability to care for the aging and handicapped ; Suffice it to say that is a pretty "Fucked Up" way to live.... and I don't apologize for my coarseness, it is a gross understatement !
 
    Some of my chief concerns at present are the environment and the gross inefficiency and unsatisfying nature of the existing "drive to work", "spend and consume", "thow-away" superficial lifestyles.   I am also very much interested in personal growth and health and feel we need far better models in this arena as well.   I like simplicity, though you never would know it to look at the multitude of my interests.  I like having time to think and work on my spiritual growth.  One of my biggest frustrations is that most of the people around me and my longtime friends do not share either these concerns or values.  
    I seriously considered selling my property and moving to Earthaven Ecovillage near Asheville.  They appear of all the intentional communities I have studied to be the closest to my values both spiritually and in their use of Permaculture.   I also have studied Village Homes in Davis, CA which is the closest existing development to how I would envision developing the 52 acres should that come to pass down the road.  I would actually prefer a much heavier emphasis on all residents working from within the community and minimizing individual automobile ownership.  In addition I feel a central commercial / office / community center with a theater and community/home-school support is absolutely essential.
     The first stage though is to reorganize my business and my personal life and develop and test a "SuperHouse" socio-economic unit which provides a highly interdependent lifestyle that I hope will yield a higher quality of experience than the drive to work "jobs" of today.   The goal is to blend business and home life in a way that existed in family farms at the turn of the prior century. 
     Only a small percentage of people have heard of  Peak Oil  and  have any idea just how dramatic it is likely to affect our economy over the next  5 to 15 years and make the directions I am going in highly desirable and perhaps necessary.  If my ideas sound a bit "too progressive" all I can say is hold on to your seats, the general economy is in for a *very* bumpy ride.
     Most intentional communities that attempt to grow much or most of their own food and provide jobs and housing are very labor intensive with over 40 hour work weeks.  The twist I am adding is to take a highly profitable high-tech business and couple that income stream with a model that eliminates the need to drive to work,  a more efficient housing structure, a lower tax and income requirement for a quality of life that should be much higher than the individual economic model shown below.
Economics
     I realized how incredibly wasteful our "individual" lives are economically when I ran some numbers and found that for the $30,000 that one employee might make you could  feed 14 people !  Just look at the numbers below for the expenses of a typical American family and I think you can easily see that the cost of the automobile and housing as well as taxes account for over 60% of the expenses.

Average Family Expenses - US        

Income Before Taxes 

$49,430  

Income / Person

$19,772

Number of People per Household

2.5      

Number of Wage Earners

1.4 $16.97

<Hourly Income

Average Number of Vehicles

2      
         

Total Non Tax Expendatures

$40,675   Running $19,772
Item Total % % Total $ / Person

Housing Total Inc Utilities

$13,282 26.9% 26.9% $5,313

Presumed Federal, State, Propt Taxes

$8,755 17.7% 44.6% $3,502

Transportation Total

$7,759 15.7% 60.3% $3,104

Food Total

$5,375 10.9% 71.2% $2,150

Pensions Life Ins - Social Sec

$3,899 7.9% 79.0% $1,560

Health Care

$2,350 4.8% 83.8% $940

Entertainment 

$2,079 4.2% 88.0% $832

Apparel and Services

$1,749 3.5% 91.5% $700

Cash Contribuitions

$1,277 2.6% 94.1% $511

Miscellaneous

$792 1.6% 95.7% $317

Education

$752 1.5% 97.2% $301

Personal Care Products / Services

$526 1.1% 98.3% $210

Alcoholic Beverages

$376 0.8% 99.1% $150

Tobacco

$320 0.6% 99.7% $128

Reading

$139 0.3% 100.0% $56

     There is a rhyme and a reason to the totality of the set-up and the efficiency of its functioning.  There is a specialization to the business functioning and to the "Life Support" functions of running the household.  For example when the weekly shopping errands are done.... both business and individual items are picked up for all members by the person(s) tasked with the errand.  All members support each other in some capacity.   Some provide primarily income - or business support functions and others provide primarily cooking and cleaning or Permaculture cultivation, and household improvements and maintenance.    When is the household too small?...... when adding another person will make everyone's quality of life and the financial picture better.   When has the household grown too big?....   when the last person added doesn't improve the quality of overall life by lightening the individual burden.
 Salaries and Compensation -  Initially I am starting out at $6 hour but am seriously considering a more flexible structure.  It really might work out that everyone's collective quality of life goes up with a much bigger household ( more "life support" personnel and shared auto usage, etc. ) for food production and cooking, etc. than could be provided if everyone drew a salary when effectively virtually all of your monetary needs were met by the living / work arrangement.  With the $6 hour salary for a 30 hour work week ($180/week)  the bulk of one's food is supplied by conventional grocery store purchase at present. As the permaculture and hydroponic and food production become more productive and personnel is available, a lower income would be in order to offset the resources channeled into these areas. Hopefully it results in a net gain in time and quality of diet.
 Ownership and Control  Reality is that I own both the business and the property .  Ultimately my goal would be to arrive at a  power-equity sharing arrangement but am not sure how that would work or if it is workable at all.   The model itself has to be proved workable and sustainable first.   Really, my gut tells me the likely change would be to neuter the power differences by trying to put the property into a charitable trust with the trust remunerating equity to the prior owner, protecting the property in perpetuity.   The primary concern I think people would have long term is feeling the comfort that the efforts they put towards this project had a future and a destiny not governed by individual caprice.
       Bottom line.... I am focused on making this thing work long term and I would like to see my efforts out-live me.   If it appears after some years of trying that my ideas are unworkable, hopefully I will adapt to a workable form but failing that, who knows?  Benevolent Dictator is the best I can do at the outset ;-).
I would like to produce something that outlived my lifetime and made a contribution I felt worthwhile.

My "Super-House" unit seeks to provide work and living space in the same environment and reduce work week to 25 hours allowing time for life and contributory pursuits.  Community focus is personal growth and contribution and reducing our collective "environmental footprint".   Shared access to shop, tools, library, gym, vehicles (with limitations).  
  New Housing Design.  The goal is a "SuperHouse" with very high levels of personal privacy mixed with common social / work areas.  We are taking the fact that humans appear to have evolved in groups of 30-40 individuals as a basic unit of household organization.   The property is large enough to support at least a dozen such "SuperHouses" with a potential community size in excess of 300.
     Demographically we seek a model that is representative of the typical population of the US.  When one runs the numbers on  36 individuals one comes up with some surprising demographics, particularly in the elderly age group.

  Demographics  
    36
Age Percent Per House
0-9 14.7% 5
10-19 14.6% 5
20-29 14.8% 5
30-44 24.2% 9
45-59 18.5% 7
60-74 9.0% 3
75-95 4.3% 2

The Property: 52 Acres just outside Atlanta, GA.

 

A Half Mile of Runway - Looks Like a Golf Course!   

Current Position Openings:
1) Office - House Manager

2) Facility and Grounds Construction and Maintenance

3) GreenHouse - Kitchen Manager

4) Computer Tech - Web Manager

5) Floater - Jack of All Trades

Environmental Impact
   Each person we add is one less person having to drive to work.  Every dollar one spends on the economy external to the community is energizing the existing inefficiencies.   We are estimating  that the marginal economic impact of each individual is about  one third to one fourth what currently exists.   That impact needs to be discounted further when one considers that the community goal is to have a positive contribution through activism and artistic contribution.

Contact Info:   Lacy Thompson, Jr. (770)482-4836  ( 8 am - 5:30 pm EST) 

 

 


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