I have been working on the issues of sustainable living and affordable living in combination with an aging population that is seeking new alternatives and how to help our veterans, this is my vision…
Winds of Change Ecovillage:
Supporting Vibrant, Sustainable, Living Opportunities for
Mature Adults and Veterans
(Disabled/Homeless/Transitioning & Transitioning Single Parents)
By Beverly Sandlin, Spring Valley, MN
Age vibrantly in a community setting that nurtures the individual, the community and the land. A self-governing, self-sustaining, and self-reliant community that provides the opportunity for individual residences within an idyllic permaculture rural setting that nurtures the land, includes the arts, and provides income producing opportunities.
We can make it a reality!
Whispering Winds is a 3 acre permaculture farmette located in a quiet residential neighborhood within the city limits of Spring Valley, MN owned and operated by Beverly Sandlin. The three bedroom, 2.5 bath, Victorian cottage is set in a fairy tale landscape of lush permaculture perennial flower gardens, herbs, and edible fruiting bushes, with fruit bearing trees woven into the landscape as well as annual and perennial vegetable gardens. Horses, free range hens, ducks, and white doves grace the property which is surrounded on three sides by woods, sheltered from the western winds by the old railroad trestle, and bordered by the stocked trout stream, Spring Valley Creek. It is adjacent to Spring Valley Creek Park and the 8 mile round trip paved walking/biking trail.
A small barn features retail space and a loft which could be used for teaching a variety of activities or workshops. A detached garage is becoming a community space with carpentry and mechanic’s tools. The current master suite of the downstairs of the home has a private entrance that could be utilized as a business incubation office. A primitive private campsite is available in the back pasture which could be ideal for community building. A dog park is on premises.
Fossil hunting ecotours generated through the website Bluffcountryfossils.net and in conjunction with the Eagle Bluff Skills School through Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, Lanesboro, have been part of the venture since 2012. The upstairs of the home is currently being utilized as a Five Star Airbnb (the campsite “Woods Edge” is also an Airbnb.com and Hipcamp.com site) to generate extra income, now in operation for one full year generating a modest income. Whispering Winds is part of the international Wwoof.org network of organic and sustainable farms hosting students and other individuals, with Wwoofers scheduled from April to August, so far, of 2018.
The desire is to establish a 501c3 Nonprofit or link with an established nonprofit, and start small incubating community, workshops, ecotours and sustainable businesses at this property in order to purchase, cooperatively own, or collaborate with another landowner on other property to create Winds of Change Ecovillage. Whispering Winds would remain as a public demonstration project (the desire is to put this property into a Trust) as part of the Ecovillage and as a business and service link to the community of Spring Valley.
Whispering Winds Upstairs Balcony Suite – Airbnb.com
Winds of Change Ecovillage is envisioned to be a nonprofit prototype, a movement toward/for, the creation of intentional, self-governing, affordable living communities, designed to provide vibrant sustainable living opportunities by combining independent residential community life, via sustainably built tiny homes, with income producing cooperative and independent ventures. The Ecovillage would create an environment of healthy social relationships where people can live, and work with others cooperatively, while maintaining financial independence, and to promote mutual care and respect, that can be replicated with a variety of populations (homeless, mentally, emotionally or physically disabled, low income, etc.) in other locations. Under the http://www.wurrukan.org/web/ model, it could be done on the private property of like-minded owners who would like to help others and improve their property.
Individuals, couples and families live independently in small sustainably built habitats (cottages and alternative buildings) while sharing daily life, meals if desired, and cooperative economic activities in common use buildings. Tasks include:
- Providing affordable independent residences (resident, workshop or community built), that support a healthy community life to the target population helping them to participate fully in the world as contributing citizens;
- Caring for the earth through sustainable and healthy methods of consumption, agriculture, and natural resource use with a focus on alternative, sustainable power such as solar, wind and geothermal energies;
- Creating arrangements within the greater community designed to nurture the individuals and families at Winds of Change Ecovillage to contribute their time and skills according to their capabilities with all community members receiving sustenance based on their needs.
Housing would be divided into thirds:
- Permanent living facilities for the stable Ecovillage population who conduct the day-to-day activities of the community;
- Transitional homes meant to be 3 month to 2 year stability residences, or habitat for Wwoofers;
- “A Taste of the Ecovillage” lifestyle rentals that produce income for the Ecovillage or for individual residents depending upon who built them and who maintains them.
Financial Thoughts at this Point in Time
Permanent Residents would contribute 5 hours per week to maintain and manage the Ecovillage and split 50% of the proceeds of all common business ventures they choose to partake in (workshops, wood fired pizza nights, ecotours, dog training/grooming, vacation rentals, technology support, farmers markets, CSAs, childcare, etc.), with the remaining 50% returning to the Ecovillage nonprofit budget.
Transitional Residents would contribute 20 hours per week to the daily tasks of the Ecovillage, pay or work off in whole or part, to receive room and board during their stay, with self-created options for income or to work off-site. Or they could just rent an affordable tiny home with a minimal 5 hour per week community commitment of maintenance. If they choose to build a home there (according to covenants and whether it is portable or permanent) and contribute 10 hours per week of service they would receive one year of “lot rent” and be eligible for permanent residency.
Taste of the Ecovillage housing would utilize the Airbnb model of “live like a local” with the abodes being built via alternative building workshops hosted by the Ecovillage or by individuals.* These workshops could include, but not be limited to, tiny homes, cordwood homes, log cabins, pallet houses, strawbale, adobe, cob, stone, hobbit homes, yurts, tree houses, etc. with or without solar, wind and geothermal workshops. These workshops could start at Whispering Winds and then be transferred onto rural acreage to create the Winds of Change Ecovillage.
* Individuals would retain ownership of their work if it is transportable.
All work to be approved of by the cooperative/landowner.
Possible Cooperative Financial Model
Add up all the bills:
Mortgage (if land/homestead is purchased or being purchased by an individual, land cooperative, etc.)
Common Vehicle Cost or Payment & Insurance– use of vehicle 60 cents a mile to be kept in separate kitty for maintenance/replacement, fuel.
SUBTOTAL and ADD 1/3 for maintenance/repairs, replacements/extras
= FINAL TOTAL
Divide by permanent residents + 5 hours a week of common cleaning and maintenance of property.
As of this writing there are 2 people (transitional third person) involved on Whispering Winds, a mortgage free property, so living expenses are at a very affordable $1200 per month for two people, with enough entrepreneurial opportunities on the property to potentially make living here FREE, or to even make money, on top of minimal Social Security income.
Beverly Sandlin, B.A., is the owner/operator of Whispering Winds. She is a 63 year young disabled (2 strokes) grandmother. As a divorced single parent she built her own home on 8 undeveloped acres and in 4.5 years had the home completed and the property mortgage free. She was the Coordinator for the Sustainable Farming Assn. of SE MN for 5 years, was a Fillmore County Master Gardener, taught many community education classes and workshops, has written extensively on homesteading, amateur paleontologist, has attempted to live her life utilizing the 3Rs – Recycle, Reuse, Reduce – and is currently an Airbnb SuperHost.
Bob Benter is a Vietnam era Army Veteran, 63 years young, retired, has worked in the plastics industry most of his life, loves riding his Harley, is a volunteer driver for SEMCAC, has a fire wood business, and is committed to helping other Veterans. He is collecting pallets and working on developing a model pallet house in the garden and pallet cabin at Camp which may be built via workshop, and/or with Wwoofers in 2018, which will become Airbnb demonstration models at Whispering Winds and generate additional income.
Paul Hurtado, transitional, is a disabled Army Veteran on temporary assignment at a local wind farm who is interested in tiny homes, living affordably, and is curious and supportive of this vision. He has built a “man cave” out of pallets, is building pallet furniture, and will be helping to remodel the just purchased ice shack into the tiny home “Dreamin’ Tiny” which will become an Airbnb tiny home demonstration model at Whispering Winds.
All labor to be assessed at a living wage of $15 an hour.
If a person can’t do their share of work for the week they are assessed $75 for that week. If they are gone from the co-op (not part of making the mess to clean) half that at $37.50 for maintenance chores OR to be made up in time within 30 days if the person is able-bodied.
This works for a single dwelling or commons,
separate residences the individuals are responsible for their own maintenance, utilities, heat, etc.
Individual or Cooperative Businesses
within the Ecovillage Cooperative
Entrepreneurial ventures are ENCOURAGED to promote self-reliance and self-esteem.
Individuals doing childcare, services, use of the office, etc. on common ground or areas assessed at 10% to the co-op.
Arts, Crafts, etc. sold in the cooperative consignment shop assessed at 20% to the co-op.
Individuals using the co-op garage to fix cars for others and charge them, co-op shop to build things for others and charge them, co-op crafting areas, kitchen, etc. to teach skills or create things for sale to others, etc. 10% back for the use of the facilities.
NO ASSESSMENT for people working out of their own space providing services for others OR working off premises.
Initial assessments will have to be determined to provide a sustainable working fund for the Ecovillage cooperative to be determined over time by the permanent residents. Then these funds will be used to build additional facilities, remodel, invested in new ventures, add to tools, etc. in proportion to the funds collected and redistributed if not used: ex. Mechanics need a lift in the garage to make more money; seamstresses need an embroidery machine, childcare needs play equipment, builders need a planer, bakers need a commercial refrigerator, etc.
Any unused funds will be apportioned back at the end of the year in early December fairly to residents: ex. The consignment shop doesn’t need anything so the artists selling out of it get their money back proportionately, the mechanics don’t need more tools, they get their money back proportionately, childcare doesn’t need anything they get their money back, etc.
Currently opening sites in 25 states.
L’Arche Communities, International
Dancing Rabbit (in Missouri)
Gould Farm (in Massachusetts)
Temescal Commons (in Oakland, CA)
Camphill Communities, International
Tiny Digs Hotel, Portland, OR
Beautiful Train Caboose Inspired Tiny House at Portland Hotel
Consulting with Dr. Lyla Brown, Boston, MA