Theressa and I moved into the Portland Permaculture Institute at the end of October, eager to learn from and live in a community working on sustainability, Peak Oil prep, and sharing knowledge and skills with the larger Portland community. The hope was that after a trial period, Theressa could "buy in", to co-own the property with Pam and Joe and maybe others, depending on the ownership model. I had a wonderful time getting to know the land and appreciating the scale of 1.6 acres...so much larger than a standard 5000 square foot lot, but not as overwhelming as 40 acres! 1.6 feels pretty manageable by the 8 people expected to eventually live in the community. (Whether or not it's enough land to feed all 8 people is another question!)
I spent a lot of time outdoors clearing blackberries and ivy, sheetmulching, and measuring and mapping out areas. Most of my time was spent indoors, helping to finalize the tree placements in the main food forest, designing an extension of the food forest under and around a giant 80' black walnut, and researching plants and designing polyculture patches as understories for the various orchard trees.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Theressa and I aren't a fit for the community, so we'll be moving out this month into a new house Theressa bought, half a mile away. Hopefully we can stay connected as part of the larger network of permaculturists and peak oil people in the neighborhood, still working together to do the research and knowledge dissemination to blunt the coming economic and energetic crashes. I'm very excited to see how this property continues to develop, and hope to watch the trees I've planted develop into fruit-producing, integrated elements in the whole site design!
I learned a lot here about living in community, as this was the first intentional community I've ever joined. I've lived with housemates in the past, but there's a huge difference between co-habitation where you all live your own lives, vs a community actively trying to work towards shared goals. Although the key to success in both situations is probably the same: communication. That's something our culture doesn't train us on very well...hopefully what I've learned will help in whatever future community situations I'm in, as I expect that whatever solutions arise for Peak Oil et al, response as and in community is going to be a necessity.