The pressure cooker has become an essential part of feeding 10 people cheaply. At first, I was a little concerned about explosions (and associated people becoming drenched in super-heated soup), but as it hasn’t happened yet, I’ve lowered my guard.
Tonight, we’re trying a dahl recipe, to eat with baked potatoes. Due to the variety in people and palates, we often serve two meals that have a DIY component to them: build-it-yourself burritos, and baked potatoes with lots of fixings. To mix it up a little for the sake of the adults, sometimes the potatoes have a chili option, and sometimes a dahl option, but the kids usually prefer yoghurt and bacon bits.
We are two families and one bachelor, who decided that we were done with the rat race and curious about exploring the feasibility of living in a way that was more in line with our values. We are concerned about food security, climate change, and the negative impact our lifestyles are having on the world. Some of the parents wanted to spend more time with their children, and some of the parents wanted to spend more time in the company of other adults: thus the Mad Plan was born.
The Mad Plan: to incorporate a company, buy land, and use that land to grow as much of our own food as possible, allowing us to work in traditional jobs as little as possible. If we found that an aspect of this project was particularly fun and lucrative, we would grow food for sale so that those that wanted to could quit their city jobs. If we found that it was not fun, we would use our multiplicity of talents to figure out how to be our own employer in another field (Employment counselling? Permaculture planning? Teaching? Building? The future is full of possibilities in creating a patchwork existence.)
We toured parts of BC, met some wonderful people that showed us the best of where they live, and did their utmost to convince us to be their neighbours; we wanted to live next to all of them! In the spring of 2013, however, we went to Sooke, and fell in love. We loved the people we met, we loved the proximity to family, and we loved the way that, if a person even seemed to hint at wanting to cross the road, cars stopped. A long growing season, plenty of moisture (for the west-coast-born moss-dwelling rain-lovers in our crew), and a vibrant local food movement sealed it; Sooke was the place for us.
In the summer of 2013, each family sold their house in Coquitlam, shed many of their worldly possessions and packed the rest into a shipping container, and moved to the Sooke Potholes campsite. After a few weeks, we met a lovely person that was agreeable to us camping on her lawn and sharing her kitchen and bathroom. Living outside got colder, darker, and wetter, and though the moon was lovely and the company congenial we decided that we’d rent a house in Sooke for the winter.
In our minds, we would move to Sooke, find property to buy, and then.. have a wonderful life. The inbetweenness of this current time, once we’d sold our houses but not yet bought anything, was not a big part of our planning. Living in close quarters is working well, and provides lots of opportunities to talk about plans and dreams, work on our social contracts, and learn to live together. This house, however, is not where we plan to stay, and is definitely a little cramped for 10 people. We all want to start building and digging, growing and learning; living in this liminal space is an exercise in patience.
We have a few properties in Sooke that we’re looking at, but we’re all wanting to get a few details ironed out before we make any offers. We are all getting along well, given the close quarters, but we all want to know what will happen if someone decides that they want to leave. We also want to have a legal structure to buy the land, and to figure out how (should they want it) we can easily pass ownership on to our kids.
We initially thought (due to the advice of our marvelous and thorough family lawyer) that we would go with a generic corporate structure, but after talking to the BC Co-op Association and a lawyer that was more knowledgeable about co-ops, we are thinking that a co-op structure would suit our needs better. We’re talking to an accountant to see how to best meet our need to avoid unnecessary paperwork, and a Co-op Developer to help with figuring out the legal structure. And soon, we hope, we will be done with all this boring stuff and on to actually Getting Started.
And that’s where we are, right now. Are you thinking about doing something like this? Do you know of anyone we should talk to? Want to correct my use of The Semicolon? Comment on, folks, comment on.