Shanti-town, in my imagination,
Is a hobbitlike hamlet on the Southwestern outskirts of Portland, housing visual artists, musicians, circus performers who share subtle sensitivities and that which are commonly called ‘spiritual’ inclinations. To call it a sober place, isn’t quite accurate, as lighthearted silliness abounds. It is however, a place where dependencies on drugs, alcohol, gambling, and other addictive behaviors are not supported and do not thrive. People instead address existential suffering with compassionate self-discipline, mutual care, interest and concern.
Creativity, transcendent art, are lushly provided for.
It’s a woke place, where diversity is savored. Cultures are shared and honored. Conscious, non-violent communication is practiced.
The grounds are biodiverse, with rolling hills, brooks, ponds, broad fields and forests and orchards. The landscape is carefully nurtured with biodynamic and perma-culture growing principles guiding the way. The work of gardening, food preparation, community, event and household management is shared by all and meticulously accounted for. Everyone puts in time and effort for the whole – at least ten hours a week, some more.
It’s designed to be self-sustaining food production for the community. Extra is shared with the greater community via farmers markets, food banks, CSAs, and freely with those who travel thru to help with farming.
Learning, education, and self-mastery are greatly valued and continuously attended to. It’s a place of growth-ful evolution where everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher.
It’s like any small village with the full range of ages represented. Mostly children are ‘home’ schooled, and upon aging past the teens, many young adults venture into the world as in the Amish ‘rumpspringa’. Some will travel with the traveling performers, some will further their education in formal institutions, some will travel the world as peace workers. It is improbable that those who grow up here will be inclined to fight in wars, although all are trained in martial arts and self-defense.
Each has small private space, while community space is greater. The great hall, has a kitchen running north south, like a long house with a bank of eastern windows. The dinning area is on the south east side, and open to the cooking area on the north west. Herein, all participate in food production. To the north east, attached by a hallway, is a grand a wood paneled library, with skylights and ladders up tall walls of books. Off the library is a special room for computers, internet, and digital creations. Above the kitchen are music practice rooms and rooms for viewing and making videos. There are visual art studios with perfect northern diffuse light. There is a cozy, quiet meditation room, a gym for body care with traditional weights, gyro and pilates equipment, a room for dance and yoga with a floating Marquette wood floor. Here are community dances and acroyoga events. A second floor houses dormitories above and around the library.
Separate but nearby is the glittering crown jewel of a performance space. The ceiling is a faceted glass dome, out of which varying colors can be seen emanating during night performances. Inside the dome is a spider-web network of scaffolding the acrobats make good use of. The floor is sawdust. Occasional horse events are followed by good cleaning and fresh layer. The space is offered for seasonal Pow Wows freely for Indigenous people. Riser seats can be placed from one side or around the oval room beneath the round dome. Balconies from three sides open onto rectangular galleries for visual arts and a shopping area for guests. Off the eastern wall is the textiles, costumes and sewing studio. A short distance across a field behind that is a shop for scenery, wood working, metal working, robotics and ceramics. (Although, most of the farming is done with horse power.) Public entrance is from the Southwest.
Farther east, away from public access, a bathhouse contains a float tank, an indoor/outdoor pool, and greenhouse. Aquaponics integrate with a pond which is used for recreational swimming in the summer months. A fire pit is centered in a circle of trees, a living gazebo. In rain season it can be covered in a clear open cone, with transparent walls around the trees for warmth – small, private community version of the performance dome, with platforms next to the trees, and hammocks swinging between them.
A handful of tiny houses and dorms are reserved for visiting artists and teachers, who either pay or are granted spaces. They also share in community work, some of which is sharing the fruits of their creativity and efforts. This is often a first step in joining the community. Other tiny houses are owned outright by people who have been vetted for several years or who grow up in the community.
All are free to work outside for money but must put personal effort into the maintenance of the community, and supporting each other thrive. All efforts, for the community and individuals, are accounted for digitally, and confirmed by a second member. All participate in regular business meetings and are aware of each others contributions.
People from outside come regularly for community art and educational events, seasonal performances, community supported agriculture and healing arts. They come for holistic and natural healing, acupuncture, bodywork, herbs, meditation, body care and lifestyle counseling. They come and bring their children for art, dance, music, and circus arts classes. Opening night for traveling shows are popular with discounted tickets, as kinks are worked out. Closing night returns from traveling are special and reserved for those with more equity in the community, as performances are fine-tuned and personal tales of the journeys are shared.
The land is held in trust by all. Each participates in creation, administration, and maintenance in the benefits corporation that manages the property and businesses attached to it. Accountability is transparent. While some specialize, all learn enough about each task to understand the efforts required and the value created.
The ideal size is maintained wherein economic/ecologic/and social connectivity are healthy. When it gets too large, the ideas and practices are transplanted, elsewhere they might thrive.