¥ Urban Living
¥ Rural Living
¥ List of Communes
If you are in a city without a place to stay, ask the first group of hip-looking folks where you can crash. You might try the office of the local underground newspaper. In any hip community, the underground newspaper is generally the source of the best up-to-the-moment information. But remember that they are very busy, and don’t impose on them. Many churches now have runaway houses. If you are under sixteen and can hack some bullshit jive about “adjusting,” “opening a dialogue,” and “things aren’t that bad,” then these are the best deals for free room and board. Check out the ground rules first, i.e., length of stay allowed, if they inform your parents or police, facilities and services available. Almost always they can be accepted at their word, which is something very sacred to missionaries. If they became known as double-crossers, the programs would be finished.Some hip communities have crash pads set up, but these rarely last more than a few months. To give out the addresses we have would be quite impractical. We have never run across a crash pad that lasted more than a month or so. If in a cit, try hustling a room at a college dorm. This is especially good in summer or on week-ends. If you have a sleeping bag, the parks are always good, as is “tar jungle” or sleeping on the roofs of tall buildings. Local folks will give you some good advice on what to watch out for and information on vagrancy laws which might help you avoid getting busted.For more permanent needs, squatting is not only free, it’s a revolutionary act. If you stay quiet you can stay indefinitely. If you have community support you may last forever.
In the city or in the country, communes can be a cheap and enjoyable way of living. Although urban and rural communes face different physical environments, they share common group problems. The most important element in communal living is the people, for the commune will only make it if everyone is fairly compatible. A nucleus of 4 to 7 people is best and it is necessary that no member feels extremely hostile to any other member when the commune gets started. The idea that things will work out later is pig swill. More communes have busted up over incompatibility than any other single factor. People of similar interests and political philosophies should live together. One speed freak can wreck almost any group. There are just too many day-to-day hassles involved living in a commune to not start off compatible in as many ways as possible. The ideal arrangement is for the people to have known each other before they move in together.Once you have made the opening moves, evening meetings will occasionally be necessary to divide up the responsibilities and work out the unique problems of a communal family. Basically, there are two areas that have to be pretty well agreed upon if the commune is to survive. People’s attitudes toward Politics, Sex, Drugs and Decision-making have to be in fairly close agreement. Then the even most important decisions about raising the rent, cleaning, cooking and maintenance will have to be made. Ground rules for inviting non-members should be worked out before the first time it happens, as this is a common cause for friction. Another increasingly important issue involves defense. Communes have continually been targets of attack by the more Neanderthal elements of the surrounding community. In Minneapolis for example, “headhunts” as they are called are commonplace. You should have full knowledge of the local gun laws and a collective defense should be worked out.Physical attacks are just one way of making war on communes and, hence, our Free Nation. Laws, cops, and courts are there to protect the power and the property of those that already got the shit. Police harassment, strict enforcement of health codes and fire regulations and the specially designed anti-commune laws being passed by town elders, should all be known and understood by the members of a commune before they even buy or rent property. On all these matters, you should seek out experienced members of communes already established in the vicinity you wish to settle. Work out mutual defense arrangements with nearby families-both legal and extralegal. Remember, not only do you have the right to self-defense, but it is your duty to our new Nation to erase the “Easy-Rider-take-any-shit” image which invites attack. Let them know you are willing to defend your way of living and your chances of survival will increase.
If you’re headed for city living, the first thing you’ll have to do is locate an apartment or loft, an increasingly difficult task. At certain times of the year, notably June and September, the competition is fierce because of students leaving or entering school. If you can avoid these two months, you’ll have a better selection. A knowledge of your plans in advance can aid a great deal in finding an apartment, for the area can be scouted before you move in. Often, if you know of people leaving a desirable apartment, you can make arrangements with the landlord, and a deposit will hold the place. If you let them know you’re willing to buy their furniture, people will be more willing to give you information about when they plan to move. Watch out for getting screwed on exorbitant furniture swindles by the previous tenants and excessive demands on the part of the landlords. In most cities, the landlord is not legally allowed to ask for more than one month’s rent as security. Often the monthly rent itself is regulated by a city agency. A little checking on the local laws and a visit to the housing agency might prove well worth it.Don’t go to a rental agency unless you are willing to pay an extra month’s rent as a fee. Wanted ads in newspapers and bulletin boards located in community centers and supermarkets have some leads. Large universities have a service for finding good apartments for administrators, faculty and students, in that order. Call the university, say you have just been appointed to such-and-such position and you need housing in the area. They will want to know all your requirements and rent limitations, but often they have very good deals available, especially if you’ve appointed yourself to a high enough position.Aside from these, the best way is to scout a desired area and inquire about future apartments. Often landlords or rental agencies have control over a number of buildings in a given area. You can generally find a nameplate inside the hall of the building. Calling them directly will let you know of any apartments available.When you get an apartment, furnishing will be the next step. You can double your sleeping space by building bunk beds. Nail two by fours securely from ceiling to floor, about three feet from the walls, where the beds are desired. Then build a frame out of two by fours at a convenient height. Make sure you use nails or screws strong enough to support the weight of people sleeping or balling. Nail a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood on the frame. Mattresses and almost all furniture needed for your pal can be gotten free (see section on Free Furniture). Silverware can be copped at any self-service restaurant.
If you are considering moving to the country, especially as a group, you are talking about farms and farmland. There are some farms for rent, and occasionally a family that has to be away for a year or two will let you live on their farm if you keep the place in repair. These can be found advertised in the back of various farming magazines and in the classified sections of newspapers, especially the Sunday editions. Generally speaking, however, if you’re interested in a farm, you should be considering an outright purchase.First, you have to determine in what part of the country you want to live in terms of the climate you prefer and how far away from the major cities you wish to locate. The least populated states, such as Utah, Idaho, the Dakotas, Montana and the like, have the cheapest prices and the lowest tax rates. The more populated a state, and in turn, the closer to a city, the higher the commercial value of the land.There are hundreds of different types of farms, so the next set of questions you’ll have to raise concerns the type of farm activity you’ll want to engage in. Cattle farms are different than vegetable farms or orchards. Farms come in sizes: from half an acre to ranches larger than the state of Connecticut. They will run in price from $30 to $3000 an acre, with the most expensive being prime farmland in fertile river valleys located close to an urban area. The further away from the city and the further up a hill, the cheaper the land gets. It also gets woodier, rockier and steeper, which means less tillable land.If you are talking of living in a farm house and maybe having a small garden and some livestock for your own use, with perhaps a pond on the property, you are looking for what is called a recreational farm. When you buy a recreational farm, naturally you are interested in the house, barn, well, fences, chicken-coop, corrals, woodsheds and other physical structures on the property. Unless these are in unusually good condition or unique, they do not enter into the sale price as major factors. It is the land itself that is bought and sold.Farmland is measured in acreage; an acre being slightly more than 43,560 square feet. The total area is measured in 40-acre plots. Thus, if a farmer or a real estate agent says he has a plot of land down the road, he means a 40-acre farm. Farms are generally measured this way, with an average recreational farm being 160 acres in size or an area covering about 1/2 square mile. A reasonable rate for recreational farmland 100 miles from a major city with good water and a livable house would be about $50 per acre. For a 160-acre farm, it would be $8,000, which is not an awful lot considering what you are getting. For an overall view, get the free catalogues and brochures provided by the United Farm Agency, 612 W. 47th St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112.Now that you have a rough idea of where and what type of farm you want, you can begin to get more specific. Check out the classified section in the Sunday newspaper of the largest city near your desired location. Get the phone book and call or write to real estate agencies in the vicinity. Unlike the city, where there is a sellers’ market, rural estate agents collect their fee from the seller of the property, so you won’t have to worry about the agent’s fee.When you have narrowed down the choices, the next thing you’ll want to look at is the plot book for the county. The plot book has all the farms in each township mapped out. lt also shows terrain variations, type of housing on the land, location of rivers, roads and a host of other pertinent information. Road accessibility, especially in the winter, is an important factor. If the farms bordering the one you have selected are abandoned or not in full use, then for all intents and purposes, you have more land than you are buying.After doing all this, you are prepared to go look at the farm itself. Notice the condition of the auxiliary roads leading to the house. You’ll want an idea of what sections of the land are tillable. Make note of how many boulders you’ll have to clear to do some planting. Also note how many trees there are and to what extent the brush has to be cut down. Be sure and have a good idea of the insect problems you can expect. Mosquitoes or flies can bug the shit out of you. Feel the soil where you plan to have a garden and see how rich it is. If there are fruit trees, check their condition. Taste the water. Find out if hunters or tourists come through the land. Examine the house. The most important things are the basement and the roof. In the basement examine the beams for dry rot and termites. See how long it will be before the roof must be replaced. Next check the heating system, the electrical wiring and the plumbing. Then you’ll want to know about services such as schools, snow plowing, telephones, fire department and finally about your neighbors. If the house is beyond repair, you might still want the farm, especially if you are good at carpentry. Cabins, A-Frames, domes and tepees are all cheaply constructed with little experience. Get the materials from your nearest military installation.Finally, check out the secondary structures on the land to see how usable they are. If there is a pond, you’ll want to see how deep it is for swimming. If there are streams, you’ll want to know about the fishing possibilities; and if large wooded areas, the hunting.In negotiating the final sales agreement, you should employ a lawyer. You’ll also want to check out the possibility of negotiating a bank loan for the farm. Don’t forget that you have to pay taxes on the land, so inquire from the previous owner or agent as to the tax bill. Usually, you can count on paying about $50 annually per 40-acre plot.Finally, check out the federal programs available in the area. If you can learn the ins and outs of the government programs, you can rip off plenty. The Feed-Grain Program of the Department of Agriculture pays you not to grow grain. The Cotton Subsidy Program pays you not to grow cotton. Also look into the Soil Bank Program of the United States Development Association and various Department of Forestry programs which pay you to plant trees. Between not planting cotton and planting trees, you should be able to manage.
LIST OF COMMUNES
The most complete list of city and country communes is available for $1.00 from Alternatives Foundation, Modern Utopian, 1526 Gravensteur Highway North, Sebastopol, California 95427. The phone is (707) 823-6168. The list is kept up to date. For all communes, you must write in advance if you plan to visit. Almost every commune will give you information about the local conditions and the problems they face if you write them a letter. Here is a list of some you might like to write to for more information. Avoid becoming a free-loader on your sisters and brothers.
– ALTERNATIVES FOUNDATION-Box 1264, Berkeley, California 94709. (Dick Fairfield) Communal living, total sexuality, peak experience training centers. Dedicated to the cybernated-tribal society.
– BHODAN CENTER OF INQUIRY-Sierra Route, Oakhurst, California 93644. Phone (209) 683-4976.. (Charles Davis) Seminars on Human Community, IC development on the land, founded 1934, 13 members. Trial period for new members. Visitors check in advance.
– DROP CITY-Rt. 1, Box 125, Trinidad, Colorado 81082. Founded 1965. New members must meet specific criteria. Anarchist, artist, dome houses.
¥ New Mexico
– LAMA FOUNDATION-Box 444, San Cristobal, N.M.
¥ New York
– CITY ISLAND COMMUNE-284 City Island Avenue, Bronx, NY. Visitors check in advance. Revolutionary.
– ATLANTIS I-RFD 5, Box 22A, Saugerties, NY 12477. Visitors and new members welcome.
– FAMILY OF MYSTIC ARTS–Box 546, Sunny Valley, Oregon
– TANGUY HOMESTEADS-West Chester, Pennsylvania. Suburban, non-sectarian, co-op housing and community fellowship.
– MAGIC MOUNTAIN-52nd and 19th Streets, Seattle, Washington. (c/o Miriam Roder).