Possessions and sharing

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To each according to his needs; from each according to his abilities. This statement was identified by 75% of US high school students as being part of the US Constitution. So despite who originally wrote it, it seems a good idea to many!

However, such a simplistic socio-economic model is not without problems. In The Tragedy of the Commons, Garrett Hardin made the observation that property held in common is typically abused.

For example, every New England village had a "commons" in the middle of town, where anyone could turn their grazing animals loose. Of course, everyone did so, and the result was a useless mud-hole. Modern examples abound: air, water, public lands, even public health care, to some extent -- all are abused, because no one feels they benefit from efforts to improve resources held in common.

What to do about this tragedy? The traditional remedy is property ownership. But this is a wasteful way of allocating resources -- why should everyone own a car that they drive just a few minutes a day? Why should everyone live in 200 square-meter houses, when most of the area is unused much of the time?

To protect it from the commons, each resource needs a steward. The steward may or may not be the person who paid for a resource (the "owner" in the traditional sense), but the steward acts in that resource's best interest.

A resource can be anything, tangible or intangible: a book, a watershed, a population of wild animals, a concept.

A steward is a single person responsible for the best interest of a resource, and is an advocate and champion for that resource. A steward specifically is not a committee or governing body.

If sharing is noble, stewardship is divine. We need to combine the best features of sharing and ownership.


Here's something relevant from 2004 Community Solution Conference Proceedings (Harvey Baker Presentation: Lessons from Intentional Communities). --Jan Steinman 13:44, 31 Jan 2005 (PST)


Here is an interesting thought from Mountain Wings:

Hole Ting, Hole Ting, Hole Ting

That's what my two-year-old says.

He has developed the habit of wanting it all.

My wife will often offer him a spoonful of food from her plate.

I will break off a piece of what I am eating and hand it to him.

He shakes his head.

He emphatically says, "Hole Ting."

He doesn't want a piece.

He doesn't want a spoonful.

He wants the whole thing.

I wondered, "Where did he get such behavior?"

Who taught him that?

Where did he pick it up?

Hole Ting?

Why didn't he want to share? Why wasn't he satisfied with what was given to him? Wasn't the piece sufficient? The piece was plenty and he could get as many as he could eat.

Why did he want the whole thing?

Was he acting like a child or an adult?

As I watched other children, I saw that it was more innate for children to want the whole thing.

They wanted the whole toy without sharing. They wanted all of mama's attention. They wanted the swing or the tricycle all of the time.

Hole Ting

Many of the conflicts and wars are over the same thing.

People don't want to share.

They want it all.

Hole Ting

It's not just for kids anymore.

~A MountainWings Original~ --Carol Wagner

Work Sharing (Karma Yoga)

Karma Yoga means selfless service, for the good of the whole. We can use the term to describe the daily work we do in the ecovillage, for the common good.

Following is one idea of how we could divide the work load in the ecovillage:

Every month all the villagers come together to figure out the jobs that need to be done over the next month. Most months will have certain constants (for example, kitchen duties & clean-up in the common areas) but other months will require more focus in certain areas (for example, in harvest season, the gardens will require more attention than in the middle of winter). The stewards of the different resources/ ecovillage componants can post the jobs that need to be done along with an approximation of how many hours of work that job will require to get finished.

Each villager commits to an equal amount of Karma Yoga hours.

Each villager will write his/her name and amount of hours beside the jobs they would like to do. If need be, we can draw names from a hat to set the order of people signing up.

Chances are, the mundane jobs like dishes and cleaning toilets are going to be the last positions to be filled...in which case every villager agrees to take an equal share of that work load.

The advantage of this system over a system that requires every individual to take an equal share of EACH job, is that people will generally be able to do what they enjoy. If a person’s niche is working in the garden, they can sign up for most of their hours there... instead of having to work in the kitchen cooking dinners if that's a job they don't care for.

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