I would like to introduce you to a model and a vision that I am completely aligned with. I first discovered the Community Land Trust (CLT) while reading an issue of Yes! Magazine about a year ago. Then, in December of 2015 we had the opportunity to meet Poki Piottin, co-founder of both Gaia Gardens & Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust.
While Poki was visiting Boise we gathered for a community screening of the documentary film about Gaia Gardens, Bringing Food Home. We learned a lot about the problems facing urban gardens and farms.
Poki had been a member of the Evergreen Land Trust Board of Directors in Washington State from 2000-2003, a model I had found while doing some online research. A lunch gathering was organized to learn more about the community land trust model from Poki, who at that time was still in the process of forming the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust. I’m writing this blog to celebrate the creation of this land trust, filled with inspiration and hope for our future!
Borrowed from http://milabrazoscommunitylandtrust.blogspot.com/p/vision.html with permission.
In nature’s economy, the currency is not money, it is life. -Vandana Shiva
We live in times of pressing challenges. Global temperatures are rising and biodiversity is decreasing at alarming rates. The way we currently consume resources and exploit others is directly proportional to how we as humans separate ourselves from each other and the larger ecological web of life. In order to achieve the transition to a sustainable society, a radical change in technologies, institutions and worldview is needed.
We believe that true wealth springs from sensitive and skillful relationships between humans and natural resources. With thoughtful and proper planning, human and biotic growth are capable of not only being compatible, but life enhancing in myriad ways. This paradigm shift requires a personal and intimate connection with the environment, as well as a willingness to live and work with the natural rhythms and cycles that form our world.
The Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust’s (MACLT) mission is to create a low-impact intentional community in Northern New Mexico. This community will provide affordable homeownership for individuals and families wishing to lead a land-based life, while simultaneously contributing to local communities, economies, and eco-systems. It is our belief that these elements are critical in order for society to shift towards a more plentiful future.
Developing and employing ecologically responsible practices to preserve, protect and enhance the land’s natural attributes is paramount to MACLT’s purpose. We aim to serve as a model of low impact development that rejuvenates Northern New Mexico’s communities, landscapes and economies. We plan on becoming a reference point for future sustainable development possibilities in the region.
MACLT recognizes that the well-being of humans is inseparable from the well-being of the earth. The project recognizes the rich history of Hispano, Native, Chicano/a, and Anglo people in Northern New Mexico. In recognizing that our region has a long history of conflict over land and water rights, as well as struggles with rural poverty, we strive to create an environment which does not repeat the violence of the past.
MACLT welcomes people of all backgrounds to our community, and we aim to integrate ourselves respectfully into the local community.
The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope. -Wendell Berry
Vision for Community
The MACLT plans to provide a supportive framework for residents to minimize their ecological footprint and maximize their integration within the local community. Residents will endeavor to substantially meet their needs from the site through agriculture, horticulture, forestry and cottage industries.
The MACLT site will be comprised of mixed fields and woodland, with an intention to create an integrated human settlement designed and run on permaculture principles. The land will be developed to improve the synergy of the different habitats across the site, simultaneously enhancing bio-diversity and leading to an increased and sustainable yield from the land.
The community will strive to create its own electricity from renewable sources. It will supply its water needs through rainwater harvesting and the use of a spring, well or stream. The community will welcome and manage visitors in such a manner as to minimize traffic impact.
The site will be managed to create an accessible educational center, and will feature a variety of self-built eco dwellings, centered around a community hub building and permaculture farm, using best practice design and technology, combined with local natural materials.
The land will be owned by MACLT, whose role it will be to oversee the community’s development and ensure that the founding principles and objectives are maintained.
Community members will adhere to a set of community agreements stipulating the ways in which they participate in community life, infrastructure building and maintenance, and various educational activities mandated by the MACLT mission statement.
Joining the Mil Abrazos Community
Aspiring community members, once their application is accepted, will go through a minimum one-year trial membership, during which their compatibility to live and work within the existing community will be evaluated. Priority will be given to low-income families with children, people experienced with land-based community living, farmers, as well as young people and elders wishing to access affordable home ownership.
Once accepted in the community, members will have an equal voice in the running of the community and, if available, able to purchase equity in a living dwelling on the community land. Equity can be purchased in an existing dwelling (stand alone or room(s) in common house) or, if zoning codes allow, permission may be given to member by the community to construct a new dwelling, which size and cost will be determined by the community agreements. Community members purchasing or building a dwelling will be issued a 99-year lease on the land that their dwelling occupies.
A community member choosing to leave the community can only sell his/her equity in a dwelling to an approved member of the community. A dwelling cannot be sold on the open real estate market or speculated upon. Its resale price is determined by the “resale” clause in the community agreements. Residents have some essential benefits of home ownership: lifetime security, a limited fair equity for their investment, and a legacy for their descendants.
Model for Sustainable Practices
The MACLT aims to demonstrate the viability of low impact development as a model that has the potential to rejuvenate the Northern New Mexico landscape and economy while act as a reference point for future sustainable development possibilities in the region.
The project will be carefully monitored to provide evidence of the level of achievement of targets and criteria, as well as to provide a research resource to inform and promote the wider uptake of low impact living.
The project, by virtue of its innovative approach will attract publicity and interest. MACLT will support visitors within a structure that promotes sustainable travel solutions and balances the needs of visitors with the needs of the residents to maintain a degree of privacy in their lives.
We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. -Aldo Leopold