Yesterday, I identified the three central attributes of building a green hill as being:
Let’s look at lifestyle. Lifestyle is about the flow of daily living. It is not about the grand mission and purpose of the community (that’s the program), but rather, it is the community’s values, norms, and expectations. A good demonstration of lifestyle (as opposed to program) can be seen in the cohousing movement.
The modern cohousing movement originated with a group of people who felt that conventional housing creates isolated and disengaged societies. They desired to enjoy close, lasting relationships with their neighbors. To that end, these people founded a community based on a few basic principles, designed to promote community interaction while maintaining individual privacy:
- Shared dinners
- Shared community responsibilities (grounds maintenance, administration, meal preparation, etc.)
- Private homeownership
- Central common facilities (dining hall, cultural center, etc.)
Since then, several other cohousing communities were built on those same four lifestyle principles.
These principles help highlight the difference between lifestyle and program. Some cohousing communities have strong ideological programs — religious, ecological, back-to-the-land, etc. Others have no program at all. However, they all share (to varying extents) a lifestyle of community interaction combined with private residence. The lifestyle guides day-to-day interactions, while the program governs ideological thinking.
Mormon settlements during the Utah period depict a similar separation of lifestyle and program. As I understand it, church activity rates were remarkably low (25%-ish?) in many Mormon Utah settlements during the late 1800′s (I am not a church historian — somebody please correct me if I’m wrong). Nevertheless, members of these communities likely self-identified as Mormon. In other words, these were settlements where the Mormon lifestyle was strong, but the Mormon program was weak. When I get to program in a later post, we’ll see that a sustainable community has to maintain a level of separation between the lifestyle and the program — we cannot expect 100% of any group of people to participate in a program.
What would the lifestyle of a green hill community look like? Of course, the answer depends on the vision and desires of its residents. In my green hill, however, the lifestyle principles I hope to encourage are:
- Spending time with friends and family
- Learning through observation and experience
- Exposure to great works of media (i.e. art, dance, literature, cinema, etc.)
- Active engagement in creative projects
These basic lifestyle principles — friendship, wonder, appreciation, and constructive works — would act as signals to potential community members, helping them determine whether it’s the sort of place they would want to live and raise their children. More dramatically, a community’s lifestyle principles guide the physical construction of the community. We’ll look at that in more detail (and lots of fun pictures) in the next post, on “space”.