- The most important aim of our sustainable community is to recreate the human support network which was the greatest advantage of our old joint family system, but faded away with the advent of nuclear family. We want to bring it back to suit modern day living where freedom and execution of one’s free will assume paramount importance.
- Secondly, help people to plan and setup necessary physical and occupational infrastructure to manage one’s own old age, the responsibility of which was once believed to be that of our offspring, but fast disappearing nowadays with several old parents left physically and emotionally lonely to confront their destiny.
We have several other ideas that will help create a sustainable community. In a world which is increasingly moving towards violence, lawlessness and lack of civility; decreasing levels of mental health with advancing generations, we are destined to live in a stressful and risky situation which has become the order of the day. We’re left to watch this frightening scenario helplessly owing to our inherent weakness as lonely individuals. Even a small group of hooligans can destroy the tranquility of any family in the country. There is no agency or system whether social, governmental, legal or organisational, to support and salvage the individual thusly subjected to tyranny. It is here that an organized sustainable community of several family units become extremely relevant.
At least in Kerala, most of the families are nuclear in nature which consists of a man, his wife and one or two children. The parents strive hard to provide the best education to their children which eventually gets paid off when the children successfully secure good jobs in reputed corporations in far off countries like US or UK. Parents are usually proud of their children until they realize the sad fact that there is nobody to help them when one of them wants to have an open heart surgery or suffers senile dementia. I know several parents, now stuck in India, are no more desirable for their offspring. Most of the non-resident children do not want to come back. Things have fallen apart and have reached a point of no return. Many huge mansions in our state have only an old couple living in solitude and waiting for the footsteps of death anytime rather than that of their returning children.
Although we’ve witnessed this malady around us everyday, many of us do not think that the very same fate is waiting for us. In fact, we have trained our children to behave exactly in the same manner as told above. Still we try to make believe that it will not happen to us. However, during private talks, I found a few persons have already started realising this inherent danger in our family system.
It is a cultural problem now enhanced by globalization and human migration for better career prospects. Therefore, the need of the hour is to adjust our parental aspirations in a different way to suit the situation. It is time for us to take charge of our old age ourselves instead of thrusting unto our children. If we’re prepared for it, I am sure, the children will only be happy to visit their parents often because they are sure that there is no unpleasant trouble waiting for them. One of the principal aims of the sustainable community initiative is to assist the members to take charge of their old age, help find better and enjoyable occupational solutions to live happily till the end.
Main features of the community
- Eco-friendly and affordable dwelling units.
- Common facilities for:
- Rain water harvesting and water management
- Waste management
- Security system
- Organic vegetable garden
- Dairy farm
- Poultry farm
- Library and community hall
- Telephone exchange and cable television
- Primary health center
- Yoga club and game room
- Creche and kindergarten
- Infrastructure for geriatric entertainment
- Transport service for children to schools, adults to work and shopping
- Small server room to provide internet facilities and to keep replica of company servers
- Revenue earning facilities like shopping centre, homestay to attract tourists, facilities to hold small conferences.
- Engage in organized and scientific farming to make the community self-sufficient and earn more revenue. The community shall become an employer for several people thus helping the marginalized womenfolk around this area.
- Paid nursing service shall be one of the priority items of the community to manage the old age population among us.
- All the common activities will be undertaken and managed by a society of community members.
Broad action plan
The first task is to procure a larger plot of virgin land somewhere near our company at an affordable price and set up the community in the land. For that to happen, we propose the following guidelines. Readers may kindly critically evaluate, express their comments and make suggestions in the space provided for the purpose.
- The land shall be divided into plots of varying sizes like 10, 15, 20, 25 cents (which will be 4.05, 6.07, 8.10, 10.12 ares respectively or 405, 607, 810, 1012 sq.meter respectively) each and sell to intending members of the community.
- We might hire an architect who has done extensive work on sustainable and eco-friendly communities around the world to plan, design and execute our our dream project. Kaveh has told that there are very good architects who are willing to associate with such a movement at an affordable compensation.
- We shall not create concrete blocks imitating the West in the name of making dwelling units which are highly unsuitable for our tropical climate and geographical conditions. Instead, we will adopt widely accepted, scientific and eco-friendly technologies for constructing our houses so that it supports usage of less energy, permits sufficient air flow, help avoid artificial lighting during day time.
- Luxury is not the aim of our homes, instead, affordability is an important parameter with emphasis on comfort and conveniences.
- We will have four different kinds of plans for homes, members may choose one among this depending on their funds and requirements.
- Since minimizing the usage of petroleum products, cement, steel, other non-degradable or ecologically sensitive items like sand in construction is one of our aims for sustainability, we will avoid paint and plastering wherever possible. In any case, we will have exposed bricks outside.
- We will use as much local material as possible like terracotta, normal kiln baked earthen bricks, bamboo for reinforcement of concrete instead of steel, refurbished wood so that when the buildings are demolished after a few decades by our inheritors, most of the materials will be degraded and absorbed by earth. It is our prime duty to hand over this planet to our successor generations as much as in the same condition as we’ve obtained from our predecessors.
The following three items shall be setup from the very beginning.
- Water management and distribution
- Waste disposal and recycling
We shall prioritize the rest of the items, a consensus arrived among the members and setup one by one, in any case within two years from the start of the community.
General philosophy of the community
Please add more to this list:
- Fresh water is precious. So, we will harvest all the rain water as much as possible without allowing even a single drop going to the ocean. Either it will recharge the earth which will improve already fast depleting water tables or will be collected in a huge lake specifically made for the purpose. The water thus collected will be purified and used for human consumption and all other purposes.
- We will recycle all the organic waste to make bio-fuel for cooking. Food waste and animal excreta from dairy are excellent ingredients for bio-fuel generation. The slurry obtained after generating fuel shall be used as manure in farms. An anaerobic baffled reactor will be setup to degrade wastes from toilets to convert into water for gardening. It may also be used for bio-gas (cooking fuel) generation.
- We will ban plastic and related stuff in our community. If for some reason, plastic gets into the community through any material supplied through post or courier, we will collect all those items and will carefully transport to such agencies engaged in recycling.
- We will encourage all the healthy individuals to use bicycles for local transport as far as possible and discourage the use of fossil fuel driven vehicles.
- LED lighting shall be used wherever possible or solar lighting shall be adopted if found economically viable so that consumption of electricity is minimized as much as possible.
- Discourage air-conditioning as much as possible except for the use of patients.
- Self sufficiency in vegetables, milk, egg and poultry is a top priority item in our agenda. We will maintain our own organic vegetable garden, banana and tapioca plantation that will seldom use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers; our own dairy and poultry farms.
- Instead of ornamental gardens, we will go for tropical fruit bearing trees/plants like mango, jack, papaya, pomegranate, berries, pineapple, etc., so that we are always endowed with different kinds of fruits of the season.
- Educate and empower women to enjoy equal rights and opportunities in home and society. Social change is possible if and only if women are ready to embrace it.
- Story telling nannies. We grew up by listening to fairy tales from our grandparents which helped blossom our imagination. But these days, no children have that luxury since their parents cannot afford to keep grandparents within the family for a variety of reasons. Our community will help invite the parents to live with them in a healthy and entertaining surroundings. This will enhance their longevity, make their life much more entertaining and mental health of children will improve vastly because of the constant and loving interaction with their grandparents. This provides a new avenue for exploiting the story telling abilities of some of the nannies. We will video the story telling sessions of someone skillfull in that art and stream it community-wide with the help of modern technologies, thus extending the happiness across all children in the community.
- Listening is loving. There is a world wide movement to listen to old people telling their challenging and memorable incidents in their lives, how they faced challenges, what kind of challenges they faced, etc. (Please take a look at StoryCorps for more. Also there is an iPhone/iPod application, StoryCorps). Patiently listen to one of our elderly brethren, record the story, edit if needed, post in the community blog and stream if possible. It will spread the emulatable stories of our predecessors apart from providing an insight on the unusual human situations which our past generation passed through, among our younger generation to make them more healthier individuals.
- Cross-cultural interactions. Many of our non-affluent Western friends have asked about home stay facilities available here. Most of them are well informed and knowledgeable individuals. I have found the interaction with them can only enhance the cross-cultural understanding and sharing of ideas between people of different civilisations. Our home stay program should promote this aspect.
- Usage of free/libre software. It goes without saying that our stable operating system is GNU/Linux. We would solely depend on free/libre software for our computing needs. We have an idea of allowing or inviting each year a small number of free software developers around the world to visit us, stay with us for free and work on a project of usefullness and relevance to the humanity.
- Work from home. One of our dreams is our members who are also part of our company should be able to work from home exactly in the same fashion as they would have done at work. They always have the choice of working from home or company any day. This is to remove the segregation of work, leisure and entertainment into different compartments and mix them in an unusually curious mixtures which humans alone can do with the result of life becoming more exciting every day.
- Counselling assistance. E Krishnan, our mathematician friend came up with a very useful idea for the community. We have both elderly couples and young couples. These days, young couples have more problems of maladjustment and understanding wherein elderly couples can step in to help their younger brothren by providing marital couselling.
- Celebrity visits. It is my dream that Richard Stallman and Don Knuth might address our children one day.
- Butterflies, birds and squirrels. Need not do anything special to attract swarms of butterflies, birds and squirrels. If we avoid pesticides, plastic, synthetic fertilizers and encourage fruit bearing trees and plants, the community is going to be a haven for butterflies, birds and squirrels. Our company campus itself is a good example of this.
- People who have an innate longing for making quick money may opt to get into this community looking forward to reaping the benefits of capital appreciation of the property when the community blossoms into a self sustainable entity within a few years. It can result in capital appreciation to the tune of 500-1000%. The greedy members will be irresistibly tempted to sell out to someone who has scant regard for the values upheld by the community thereby treating as a commodity. We need to be eternally vigilant against this phenomenon and formulate necessary measures to save rest of the community.
- Some of the factors that divide human beings in our society are god, religion and caste. It seems like god and religion are the biggest killers of human beings at the moment, even diseases might be second to god and religion. So we shall not entertain any kind of activities relating to god, religion and caste in public. Instead, let people do it as a private affair limiting all the religious activities within their homes. Indeed, worship of god need not be a public activity at all, true spirituality does not demand it anyway.
- Usually communities in the past followed a cult, god or godmen for their survival and propagation. However, we emphatically refuse to accept the necessity of a godman or cult except a democratically elected leadership which is expected to seek members’ mandate at regular periodic intervals. We will strive hard to get rid of our tribal and feudal traditions from our mindset so that our children can grow and live as healthy modern universal citizens.