Book 5. Who are we? (2001)
Making it come true
First of all I had to determine whether there were any people willing to get involved in the building of an eco-community and then to work in it. I asked the Anastasia Foundation for Culture and Assistance to Creativity, based in Vladimir,1 to circulate information on the building of an eco-village according to Anastasia’s design. A scant two months later, one hundred and thirty-nine people had responded, declaring their interest in building the future community — including Russians who had emigrated abroad. Once this book is out, telling about the future of Russia and giving information on Russians’ new lifestyle, that number may well rise a hundred or a thousandfold, and be spread over a number of regions of the country Hence the organisational work of building the communities should be able to start in different regions at the same time. In regard to this, the Anastasia Foundation, which as an information clearing-house has reviewed the existing laws on the subject and suggested that any readers sharing Anastasia’s views proceed as follows:
First: Start with your own region by organising a spearhead group that could eventually be given legal status in accord with prevailing legislation.
Some regions, possibly, already have readers’ clubs or com-munity organisations bringing Anastasia’s readers together,
which could get the project off the ground there. But if you don’t happen to know of anything like that in your region, you can get in touch with the Anastasia Foundation, which receives a lot of correspondence on this and can provide you with addresses. Overall, I have a lot of faith in entrepreneurs. They have more experience in organisational matters and so, even if community organisations are already set up in some areas, you should still try and get in touch with entrepreneurs.
You should appoint an authorised representative, at least temporarily or on a trial basis — someone who can act on your behalf in dealing with the authorities (submitting applications for land allotments, calling meetings when required, etc.). Provide a small honorarium for your chairperson. The representative’s role can be filled either by an actual person or a corporate body.
In the latter case you might want to appoint, for example, a well-known construction company, which could subsequently enjoy priority rights in the awarding of contracts for erecting single-family houses, as well as infrastructure buildings. Such a major contract will be extremely profitable for the construction company, and so it may agree to take on the job of applying for land-use permits and compiling budget estimates.
Second: Submit a formal application to your region’s local public authorities — and directly to the official at the top — for a single allotment of land with an area of no less than 150 hectares. The size of the allotment will depend on how many interested participants you have, as well as what kind of local resources are available.
You will need to consider that in the future your community will be home to quite a few families, and so it should include a school, club and medical facility, and these are best supported by a significant number of people. Small communities may not be in a position to create the required infrastructure.
Third: In applying for an allotment, you should contact land surveyors, architects and builders to draft blueprints for the settlement. Another important reason for this is that you will need to find out the depth of the water table under the allotment, with a view to drilling wells to supply each house with running water, to determine what depth house foundations should be as well as the feasibility of constructing a small pond in each domain. Drawing up a good overall plan for the community is also important in determining the location of the future school and play areas, as well as where the access roads should go.
The Anastasia Foundation has already commissioned com-petent specialists to work out a model plan, and if it is completed before you launch your spearhead group, you can consult with the Foundation — it will cost you less. But then you will have to adapt the model to your own locale, introduce your own modifications and share them with other spearhead groups. Successful proposals which have the greatest appeal will be adopted by other groups, and eventually we shall jointly put together a master design.
Fourth: After completing the design for the settlement — and this is something not only specialists but also future residents can participate in — you will receive a detailed set of schematics, including an overall plan highlighting the individual plots of at least one hectare each. Every participant should be formally assigned a plot of land, perhaps by drawing straws. Land use entitlement should be formalised with an appropriate legal document, drawn up in the name of the individual owner rather than the organisation, as was the case in the Auroville community in India.
And so here you are standing on your own plot, on your very own hectare of land. This is your kin’s domain, the place
where your descendants will be bom and will live. They will fondly remember its founder, their family patriarch, and they may even rebuke him for certain mistakes in planning out the place.
Right at the moment the design of everything to be situ-ated on the assigned plot is completely up to you. Where will you place your family tree — an oak or cedar, for example — which will keep 011 growing for as long as 550 years, and may be looked upon by the ninth generation of your descendants as they remember you?
Where will you decide to dig a pond, plant an orchard and a small grove of woodland trees, build your house and set up your flower beds? What kind of living fence will you create around the perimeter of your kin’s domain? Maybe the one Anastasia described, or maybe it will come out even more fanciful and functional than the one depicted in my previous book. It can be started even now, even before you get the official documents, even before a spearhead group is organised among the people who share your vision. You can start the building process in your thoughts, pondering what will go in each corner of your future kin’s domain.
You should remember that the house you build, even one of fairly solid construction, will last about a hundred years and then fall into disrepair. The living structures you set up, on the other hand, will only become better and stronger, thriving more and more as the ages pass. They will convey your living thoughts to your descendants for centuries, and perhaps even for millennia to come.
You can start building right away, and not just in your thoughts. Even now you can plant the seeds of your future majestic family trees in a clay pot on the windowsill. Of course you can also buy grown saplings ready for transplant at a specialised nursery, or dig up young shoots in the forest without damaging the growth around, especially in places
where the forest growth needs thinning out. That is possible, of course, but I think Anastasia is correct here — it’s better to grow the sapling on your own, especially when it comes to your future family tree. A sapling from a commercial nursery is like a baby from an orphanage. Besides, you need to grow not only one sapling, but several' different ones. And before planting the seed in the pot of earth, you need to infuse the little seed with information about yourself.
I realise that support on a national level may be needed to overcome bureaucratic obstacles in certain regions. Or if not support, then at least an absence of opposition. Appropriate changes in legislative policies are required.
Instead of waiting around idly for this to happen all by it-self, waiting for at least one of our existing political bodies to mature into a state where it will support such a project, the Anastasia Foundation, at my request, has worked out a draft constitution for a new political party, a party of land-users. This germinating social movement has been called Co-creation (Sotvorenie). Its platform, which still has to be discussed and finalised, comes down to one central theme (as I see it): The state should grant to every willingfamily one hectare of land for lifetime use, for the purpose of establishing their own family domain.
This movement is still young, and nobody is really in control of it at the moment, but I think that in time we shall see literate politicians coming on board who are capable of working out a relationship to the new movement on the level of federal policy-making. For the time being the Co-creation Party functions mainly as an information clearing-house. A legal department will get started as soon as sufficient funds become available. For now the party’s administrative affairs are being handled by the Anastasia Foundation for Culture and Assistance to Creativity
The regional spearhead groups set up to organise new communities will be quite successful after they gain the support of the local public authorities. This should happen once the authorities see the substantive benefits which will accrue to their region. And these can be pinpointed right now. They do exist and they are indeed substantive. Try to get a discussion of the project going in the local press and see if you can get specialists — ecologists, economists and sociologists — to weigh in on the specific influences the project will have on your region.
In an effort to do my part to help — at least in some way — in getting land allotted for the purpose of setting up kin’s domains, I have decided to publish in this book an open letter to the President of Russia.