Imagine a place where carers can go away with their families AND their family member with a disability and be supported to have a holiday together. Imagine not having to leave your loved one at a respite centre and being able to receive support and participate in community activities surrounded by caring people who do things out of their Love and who are driven by their passion and desire to be a Change in the world.
The aim of my project is to provide a community space for young people and adults with disabilities to be and feel included in community life and activities; to ease the care burden for parents of special needs children, and to help build our space into one of learning and sharing, music and dance, brain-gym therapies, small-scale mixed crop farming/urban gardening, and sharing time, food and humour. My own passion is to help share sustainability skills and healing pass-times such as crafting with bamboo, weaving and other right-brain activities; and at a local level maintain traditions and promote the value of bamboo as a sustainable building material/resource and enable it’s revival and enhancement in developing countries.
- To co-create a collaborative inclusive family environment to learn, work and play in… Somewhere to be part of a fun-filled commotion of activity and people where skills can be shared/learned/exchanged in a fun environment
- Have like a respite house or time-share set-up that creates an opportunity for us to live and help care for kids also… Where parents can have some “retreat time” and some time with their family
- Provide training for care-givers and staff in higher-care and behaviour management/communication and behavior therapy.
- Share inclusive activities while sharing skills – returning to the basic fundamentals of being human, a sense of compassion and caring for Earth and valuing simply living can be developed and honored and supported by a thriving healthy sustainable co-operative and collaborative business and supportive social engagement strategy
Living the theory/practice of becoming part of the greater process of what is already happening – the inevitable awakening… Stepping out of our fear and greed-programming… Consciously cultivating a culture we want to be a part of. Self-directed learning, co-operative decision-making and a conscious transition from “ownership” to “custodianship “.
Building a Bridge:
Ownership to Custodianship – a Co-operative concept
How many people alive today remember when people lived close to each other and helped each other in an extended family situation? – grew food and gardened together, made craft together, walked to go swimming together, made meals together, looked after their elderly people – together … What does it take to go outside and start growing some seeds, gather fresh produce from the garden? make a meal?, play with kids or build a treehouse or mud structure???!
Maybe just a little organising?…..
What if everyone did for 3 or 4 hours a day – something they actually enjoy doing….?
Whether that’s feeding chickens, enjoying compost, cleaning toilets, gardening, giving a massage, cooking or preparing a meal, play with/educate kids, work on a building, filter water…. What would our lives look like if everyone just DID that?
I imagine living in a community with my daughter and with other families – where I spend time With her doing activities with her for some time most days, but I am not responsible for being her “Carer”. I have my own house/space; my own life: I need to live in an environment where I can be supported in my daughter Freyr’s care needs… I see that through a combination of support staff and helpers/volunteers and collaborating with other parents to roster supervision, a community can be created around our kids that is like a natural village – where it’s not ‘WORK” to look after PWD; it’s not a “job”! It’s just life – in which everyone has a Vital role.
Whether it be in day-based activities with the kids, community support, kitchen, laundry, gardening, cleaning, driving, leading yoga/meditation/sport activities… everyone has a part to play and levels of contribution can vary according to ability and means. Financial and non-financial (in-kind) forms of contribution are greatly valued and enable those who need it to “rest”; Parents get to enjoy spending time with their kids! (and other siblings who often miss out on their parents’ time). So while having “live-in” carers help care for special needs family members; families can have a break – but also spend time with their family member and can still have family holiday together …
In my opinion, south-east asian countries are the perfect places culturally for such places of community-sharing to begin. The way of life for people here is very much more co-operative than in western countries and (as you may notice in my videos) there is more a collective sense of responsibility for everyone around us… something I think western culture must relearn. When you step into the local mindset here, you may notice this and also how work, life and spirituality are all rolled into one here.
I imagine a group of parents getting together to form a Co-operative. this Co-operative manages the decision-making for the village/community. parents make agreed physical/financial contribution to the CO-op. the land is owned/managed/rented by the CO-op and families/individuals “rent” an area of Land and then bring/build their own house (like in some retirement village models) – or have shares in a timeshare in one or more houses. The CO-op could decide to hire a CEO or there maybe someone in the co-op that could perform this role as part of their Contribution to the co-op membership. but there are no external “investors” to syphon off the village’s finances but all income stays within the community… the CO-op will directly manage funds for carers and other funding needs.
I really believe and want this venture to be “non-commercial” and a true social enterprise in that there are not stake/shareholders involved that are interested in what profit they can derive from our children being “disabled”. ALL the benefits; ALL the revenue must go back into the village and to help seed other projects. There would be a subsidised transport hub and a Community Development Plan for building amenities such as a hydrotherapy pool as surplus funds became available. In the long-term people/parents need localised employment; funding can/may be allocated to help seed localised businesses; to help propagate side projects that aim to maintain and develop local ecosystem knowledge, protection and diversity… And to build businesses that are truly sustainable and help sustain local populations and Include people (Co-operative) without being “in control” of them.
Families can have businesses within the village that help to service the needs of the members/inhabitants. There can also be Cooperatively-run businesses that helps fund the village as a whole. For example, there may be a small family-owned transport business which is responsible for Community transport and receives a no-interest start-up loan from the co-op to provide subsidised transport for the village. There may be a cafe/shop/spa/restaurant working on the same principle; a vegetable garden/community farm; school/activity centre for the “kids” that also organises and coordinates therapies/therapists; a business that coordinates care-giving; a natural building/construction social enterprise; a massage/health care/yoga centre. The village as a whole may offer retreats/supported holidays for other families with “kids” with disabilities to come and stay.
Parents can ‘volunteer’/roster their time and be responsible for supervising certain activities for the kids through the day. If everyone volunteers 2-3 or 4 hours a day (depending on needs and agreed contribution) then the ‘normal’ cost of staffing for carers/care-givers will be lowered (dramatically) and kids with similar needs may be grouped together where appropriate and be able to share funding/carers which gives them friendships and group activities to participate in instead of being alone/isolated (eg in a respite house).
The village may also have a volunteer program that accepts “interns” who come and stay and help contribute to the village in areas such as care-giving, food preparation, gardening, natural building, massage therapy, administration etc. Some placements may also offer a small salary/award. Basically though, food and accommodation is provided by the village in exchange for an agreed number of hours/physical contribution in a chosen area. There may be participants with specialist skills who come on an “internship” or for a “working holiday”.
If people did what they loved, and gave/contributed from their heart, imagine what feeling there would be among people…. Of course we still need money and there’s certain things we like to be paid for. But things in general, that make up life, that have become commodified; that are really just very basic and I would even say “necessary” parts of being human – somehow have been relegated to “others” while we spend our time instead in shopping malls, in front of the computer/TV; behind a desk etc. For example, if everyone contributed 3-4 hours/day whether to the Organic Vegetable Garden, Preparing the main meal for the day, Teaching/looking after kids, Natural Building or Natural therapies like massage – we would have a lot of our needs met without having to spend money on things like rent, childcare, buying lunch, massage treatment… We could have a more cultural/sharing experience rather than live purely in a “commercial” world. I feel like, especially for the life of my daughter – I want to experience Real community and Life in Revivement (coming back to life)… not waiting for Retirement (for life to go away).