Analysis of the property

 

The site is 18 acres of mostly wooded land, which includes a newly-built, almost completed common house, established hugel-kultur gardens, accessible building sites for tiny houses and huts, two large decks for various uses, a wet-weather creek and swimming hole and yurt-like structure.

The land lends itself easily to have clustered living arrangements so that most of the land can be made into food forests and areas where the native vegetation can be encouraged so that we can make the least impact on the land. Thus a prototype for the E.O. Wilson’s “Half Earth Solution” can be implemented.

The land is located on the edge of Living Springs,  a rural neighborhood comprised of about 700 acres of land where the owners envisioned that Christians would move from all over the world to own individual parcels of land while creating an ideal community that demonstrated how living out Jesus teachings together could result in a kind of heaven on earth.

About 50 people (including about 9 children) live in the neighborhood, and  are not required to be Christian. Many are not. Although some people might prefer that only Christians live on the acreage, residents co-exist peacefully with some people interacting in very cooperative ways, including Christians and non-Christians.

More information on the Living Springs neighborhood can be found here.This website has not been updated since it’s inception, yet you can still learn a lot about the Northwest Arkansas region, Madison County, and the vision of the founders/owners.

Huntsville, Arkansas, 20 minutes away, is in great need of support because it has many impoverished residents, increasing amounts of drug usage, and corruption in the family court and the school system.  The local history is very distressing, with Native Americans being forced to leave Arkansas during the 1800’s Indian Removal. African Americans were also forced to leave many cities, and the former headquarters of the KuKlux Clan is only about one hour from our community. Learn more here about this tragic history. Much healing is needed in this area, as you can tell. Learn more about the land and its surrounding area here. 

Vegan Visions Teaching Center and Intentional Community is intended to be a place were we exemplify sustainable living in the eco-centric, life-enriching culture f normalized nonviolence of the future., while also showing how the world can transition to such a culture in the current environment. As such, it should demonstrate the integration and marked improvement in the lives of the local community.

Making a right livelihood. 

Because the site is relatively remote, being one hour from major area cities, we need to create businesses that are online and connected to the land.  Developing a coaching platform to support people in making a transition to the new cultural norms we are wanting to establish is one idea in the works. Growing abundant food which can be sold to neighbors and nearby towns serves the dual purpose of making money and helping people eat a heathy, nutrient-dense, plant-based diet. As people are increasingly downsizing and simplifying their lives, my experience with leading teams in radically transforming hoarder’s environments will come in handy. Helping people create hugelkultur gardens and food forests using vegan permaculture principles will also be a great business to develop.

In addition, we will be inviting people to do projects which are in alignment with our values, and their investments in leasing the land (but not buying) will add to our income.

We will be an income sharing community, in alignment with the gift economy that we envision creating. The Federation of Egalitarian Communities has a wealth of information and member communities who have thrived using the shared-income model. I am overjoyed that I had lived at East Wind, one of the oldest intentional communities in the USA where I was able to experience first hand the egalitarian model. Learn more here.

SWOT Analysis of the Community Site

Strengths

The property, including soil, water and plant resources, have been, for the most part, lovingly cared for with no pesticide use over the past 15 years.

The site is located on a dead-end road and thus we have little traffic on the private road where we are located.

There is land directly adjoining the site which has a beautiful waterfall and a large “hollow” with stunning bluffs and natural beauty with no road access.

The community building is only two years old, and could be used for kitchen, co-working, sound/video studio during spring/summer/fall. With minimal investment, a wood heater could be installed along with insulation both already purchased) so that at least part of the building can be warm and cozy.

An old but weather proof 16 x 32 foot trailer is available for office space or living space.

There are virtually no building restrictions on the land because we do not plan on building septic tanks and traditional plumbing. Compost toilets are completely acceptable.

We have a variety of solutions for getting water for irrigation, showering, and cleaning that can be relatively quickly formulated.

High speed internet is immediately accessible.

Electricity from the grid is accessible,

Fenced hugelkultur gardens have been installed over past two years, and fertile, organic soil has been built up over the past 10 years.

The road to the community and the driveway are easily accessible by any kind of vehicle.

There is an abundance of materials ready to be used for creative people who want to do creative inventions, build tiny homes and huts, and do  artwork.

A wet weather creek increasingly flows and keeps the small swimming hold full of water as we get more rain.

The main inclement weather in this areas are tornados, and they rarely damage the hilly areas.

A 40 acre private lake, Prayer Lake, is accessible for swimming and non-motorized boating located 10 minutes away by driving, 1/2 hour by walking.

A small dock, volley ball court, basket ball court and picnic park with outhouses are located at the edge of Prayer Lake for residents to use.

The Ozark Mountains are usually lush, green and beautiful. Just the drive, and walking around the land, is inspiring and uplifting.

There is only one other vegan who lives in the neighborhood, Cliff Mikkelson (my former husband and present close friend). His land is adjacent to the site, and he wants to cooperate. He has over 50 years experience in organic gardening and is passionate about promoting veganism especially as relating to the oneness of all life.

Weaknesses

Because of mistakes my family and I made in the past, there is some trash including old paint and chemicals that we collected, that need to be disposed of.  Much of this work has already been done because a generous donor helped pay for the work, but still some works. needs to be done.

There is minimal parking at this time. We do hope to have community cars and trucks that people can cooperatively utilize, so we won’t need a lot of cars. However, visitor parking needs to be considered.

There are two dwellings that are falling apart–and eye sores–a fifth wheel and another house. They need to be either restored or completely taken off the property.

There is a large amount of construction debris that needs to be cleaned up around the community building, with some in side.

It is unknown as to how much it will cost to completely finish the community building. It is a sturdy, weatherproof structure, but there is a deck that needs to be sealed, and water is leaking into the kitchen area. This needs attention, and I am not very good with construction. My second former husband Robert, has committed to repair it, but weather has not been good.

Although I have studied, lived in and visited intentional communities, and facilitated groups over the past 45 years, I have never taken on a project of this scope. The legal process of developing an LLC in itself is daunting. Covering every area of community living before we encounter difficult problems is my goal-and this is a lot of work.

The road leading from the driveway down to the Community Center needs repair. It is where the phone connection is buried and it might be starting to be exposed.

Although there is an area where a bathhouse is planned, there are no showers or clothes washing facilities on the land yet.

Opportunities:

With all the weaknesses I have listed, if the right person(s) came along who has some building and business skills, I have great hope that we could get something very beautiful up and running by spring 2020

Since the community center could have up to 20 people utilizing it, residents could live in tents, tree houses, and other simple dwellings so they can have privacy for sleeping. They can still get their needs for everything else met by utilizing the community building 24/7.

Living Springs neighborhood has a community center where showers and laundry facilities can be used by residents.

The neighbors might be open to doing something like Time Banking, work parties and potlucks. Neighbors have lots of talents including mechanical and building. Neighbors live relatively near by and feel safe with each other for the most part.

A larger community of alternative-minded folks could be interested in participating in events that we host, including potlucks, workshops, retreats and drumming circles.

There are beautiful hiking trails in the area.

An increasing number of people are interested in veganism and/or a plant-based whole food diet who will want to learn from us.

The land next door to us, with the waterfall and beautiful bluffs, is for sale.

With the right group of people, we could make a powerful contribution to the Vegan World 2026 endeavors and help spread the word in Northwest Arkansas and the world.

Future Steps

We definitely want to learn more about expanding our gardens and creating food forests. This link is helpful.

Completing this blog with every consideration of what needs to be done before even one person can join me in this endeavor.

Getting a clear estimate about what can minimally be done in order to get the basic infrastructure up and running so people can live on the site comfortably, without having to spend all of our time just surviving.

Finishing the LLC papers so that the land can be clearly owned by the LLC.

By the time I finish this blog, hopefully by Sunday Feb. 2, I will have a large to do list to make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by Patricia Mikkelson

I'm starting a Christian Universalist Monastery for women. I am a professional organizer and I enjoy helping people virtually via Zoom, FaceTime, etc. Vegan, conservative, Trump Supporter.

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