The Beautiful Mind Ranch is a multi-use, self-sustaining community targeting the growing non-labor force population to engage in social impact projects, including ecological restoration activities, global education initiatives, and other issues as adopted.
“Across the globe, centuries of unsustainable activities have damaged the aquatic, marine, and terrestrial environments that underpin our economies and societies and give rise to a diversity of wildlife and plants. SER is dedicated to reversing this degradation and restoring the earth for the benefit of humans and nature.” [Ecological Restoration Society’s vision]
The BMR community focus is to empower its members with participation in the growing Geotourism, Ecotourism, Sustainable Communities tourism, and WWOOFer travel industry markets.
Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
Community involvement: Base tourism on community resources to the extent possible, encouraging local small businesses and civic groups to build partnerships to promote and provide a distinctive, honest visitor experience and market their locales effectively. Help businesses develop approaches to tourism that build on the area’s nature, history and culture, including food and drink, artisanry, performance arts, etc.
Community benefit: Encourage micro- to medium-size enterprises and tourism business strategies that emphasize economic and social benefits to involved communities, especially poverty alleviation, with clear communication of the destination stewardship policies required to maintain those benefits. Protection and enhancement of destination appeal: Encourage businesses to sustain natural habitats, heritage sites, aesthetic appeal, and local culture. Prevent degradation by keeping volumes of tourists within maximum acceptable limits. Seek business models that can operate profitably within those limits. Use persuasion, incentives, and legal enforcement as needed.
Land use: Anticipate development pressures and apply techniques to prevent undesired overdevelopment and degradation. Contain resort and vacation-home sprawl, especially on coasts and islands, so as to retain a diversity of natural and scenic environments and ensure continued resident access to waterfronts. Encourage major self-contained tourism attractions, such as large-scale theme parks and convention centers unrelated to character of place, to be sited in needier locations with no significant ecological, scenic, or cultural assets.
[National Geographic’s Mission Program: Center for Sustainable Destinations]
Eco-tourist destinations are places where visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture while respecting nature and the geographic area’s local traditions.
A sector of tourism, ecotourism is travel to natural areas that provide environmental, cultural and economic benefits to local communities and host countries. It’s about harmoniously interacting with the local people, customs, languages and ecosystems and improving the welfare of the local community.
Ecotourism is the fastest growing market in the tourism industry and continues to flourish, according to the World Tourism Organization. At an annual growth rate of 5 percent, it accounts for 11.4 percent of global consumer spending.
Community construction will meet Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) and CALGreen standards using two or more renewable energy systems; water conservation management system, including gray water recycling for ground cover irrigation, and anaerobic digester to covert wastewater solids and other organic waste into energy and/or bio fuels.
Homes will range from micro-homes and tiny-houses to full size family homes. Community kitchens and washrooms may be shared by micro-home residents and visitors. Covered picnic areas will be equipped with stone fire pits for bar-b-ques and campfire gatherings.
The community will develop a permaculture system to rehab the property to its original eco-system structure, and include some grazing crops for rotation. Dairy cows and chickens will be incorporated in the system, providing milk, eggs and cage free roasting chickens for community consumption. Organic waste will be collected and added to the anaerobic digester.
A micro-enterprise for the production of organic fruits and vegetables will use professional grade greenhouses to provide protection against harsh climate variation, insect and predator damage, and improve water conservation practices. A portion of production surplus will be donated to local food pantries.
All food waste will be composted and used to maintain the health and vitality of the permaculture system.
Housing distribution projection: 60% affordable housing units, for sale or lease, 10% low income housing [set aside for people with disabilities, the socially disadvantaged, and persons in transition, 15% moderately priced housing units, and 15% visitor accommodations for Ecotourism, Agritourism, and Sustainable Community tourism, in addition to Voluntourism.
The community center will accommodate performing arts presentations, art expositions, education programs, and community gatherings. The community workshop will provide tools and supplies for members and visitors to express their creative talents. Tools will include video and recording equipment, computers and software applications, hand and power tools for new invention projects, and various art supplies.
Community members are encouraged to participate in the protected lands easement efforts, including the recruitment of volunteers; creation of environmental awareness education videos and music productions; contribute to the maintenance of the property; and rotate in shared community meal cooking and common area cleaning duties.
Unsure: [see Mitra Ardron’s blog below for list of business options]
Community governance will consist of a 5 member council and operate democratically by consensus in decision making. An administrator, secretary and accountant will be hired by the council to manage community business. The micro-enterprise and subsequent cooperative businesses created within the community may have separate management bodies.
Some members with specific professional skills will be invited to join the community and contribute their talents to members as needed. These may include medical, legal, and skilled trades.
All members will be offered the opportunity to create a living will with advanced directives and burial preferences. A memorial will be constructed to accommodate members who wish to have their ashes laid to rest on the ranch.
From Mitra Ardron’s Blog
There a number of legal structures, and planning instruments that can be chosen, a very brief overview is below, just so that you don't miss an option inadvertently. The basic idea is to take the answers to questions above and ask a lawyer what legal structure you should have. If a lawyer is reading this, and wants to disagree with my Pro's and Con's below I'd appreciate hearing from you! Most legal structures come with a base set of assumptions, and then ways that you can work around them with side-agreements etc to get what you really want.
The simplest structure.
Con: Hard to deal with almost any detail, like for example inheritance. No limited liability.
Pro: The biggest pro is flexibility, it’s possible to turn a company into almost any structure you want. For example our MO [membership organization] is a company, each member is a shareholder, the shares give the right to build and occupy a house, the directors have almost no power which devolves to the member's meeting [directors control decision making]. The common house etc are assets of the company. Company finances are totally separate from members.
Con: It’s hard to get a mortgage on the individual shares/blocks.
Pro: the default is closer to what you probably want than a company
Con: it’s really hard to vary the default, for example to give different shares, different voting power based on investment.
[Boston Community Cooperatives (BCC) is a non-profit organization formed to build community through cooperative living, member education, neighborhood improvement and collective action. Members participate in a group-equity model of communally owned, democratically controlled and affordable
Structure and Vision: Inspired by similar organizations across North America, BCC was founded in 2001 in order to allow the Boston group-equity cooperative housing sector to serve more people by forming multiple coop houses under one umbrella organization. This streamlines cooperative overhead. By sharing governance, legal fees, administrative functions such as bookkeeping, and other operational systems, coops can realize efficiencies and free up more time to pursue their missions. This model has proven very successful in several places, such as Madison, WI, where Madison Community Cooperatives manages a network of 11 houses with over 200 residents.]
Trust / Foundation
Pro: This is typically used usually to take the land out of the speculative real-estate market
Con: It makes it hard for a departing member to get a value out that allows them to buy into somewhere else, creating a poverty trap where some people want to leave, but can't afford to.
[Red Earth Farms is an intentional community of homesteads sharing a 76-acre land trust in the rolling hills of northeast Missouri. Our community’s mission is to creatively explore and evaluate sustainable ways to meet our needs in accordance with our guiding principle: “Love the land; love your neighbors.”
Members choose how they personally want to pursue this mission. As a group we value diversity, cooperation, and nonviolence; make our decisions by consensus; and do our best to live with honor and respect for all the beings around us.
We see Red Earth Farms as one positive alternative to an increasingly unsustainable and isolating mainstream culture. By building and valuing our connections with the land, with other people, and with ourselves, we believe we are helping to create a better future. If this vision speaks to you, we invite you to contact us about a visit, participate in our activities, and consider joining us as a member.]
http://www.redearthfarms.org/about/ This is a very nice read.
Excellent community model: Occidental Arts & Ecology Center
References: CNN: 'Smart village' ties modernity with sustainable living Smart Villages-Malaysia (sustainable communities); Agua Dulce Farm (Aquaponics Farming); IEEE Smart Village (off grid micro utilities); Smart Villages Initiative (UN Global Initiatives); Micro Grid Competition (US Dept. of Energy); Vertical Gardening (Sky Green, Singapore); Space Age Gardening (Aquaponics, Aeroponics and Hydroponics); Bio Gas Recovery (EPA Statistics).