As reported earlier, we OTG’ers recently pulled off a minor miracle (October 12 to February 13). We pulled together and bought the community ‘some land’. Twenty acres. That purchase was NOT accomplished by an ‘association’ or society getting a grant or signing up for a mortgage. No, this was a cash-on-the-barrel-head purchase.
The ‘overall’ challenge required $165,000.00 and we came up with that in four months. That is totally amazing. Remarkable in the extreme. A miracle.
And the reason I say that is because those folks who contributed were, in the majority of cases, living at or below the official poverty line. The average household income out here is somewhere around $30 – 40K a year. (I am guessing) But, of course, it was not achieved solely by way of ‘po’ folks giving up their lunch money. We had some very generous contributors who not only ‘kicked off the campaign’, but others like them added significant chunks at just the right time to keep the momentum going.
We also had a single person living at $20K a year ‘pledge’ one third of her monthly income for as long as it took. C’mon! That is a bigger gift than if Warren Buffet contributed a billion dollars!
It all started with the sellers. These people offered the property to the community for significantly less than it was worth (to loggers). That kindness and generosity was immediately followed by another well-off couple who immediately ‘matched’ that discount with a $50,000 ‘starting contribution’. By doing so, they acted like real community leaders, set the bar high and did not push it on others in the least. And then seven others contributed $5,000 or more almost immediately. There was no canvassing, no constant appeals, no marketing efforts…nothing like that…..
…..First off, most everyone out here knows what’s going on most of the time, anyway. We really do have the ‘jungle telegraph’ out here (and a monthly newsletter). Secondly, they are all so bloody independent-minded that appeals, promotions and ‘pushing them’ would have been counter productive. Thirdly, hundreds of others NOT EVEN LIVING OUT HERE chipped in and together made a major contribution – no ‘marketing appeal’ was going to reach them. They were from all over. Hell, some guy from Germany who Woofed, made a huge contribution.
This was as close to a real grass-roots effort as I have ever seen and the bulk of the credit has to go to the first few people in…that initial response was quiet, almost-anonymous, generous, self-less leadership at it’s best.
So, why write about it….now that it is done?
There is now a bit of community momentum. We have all been invigorated by our success. Understandably. Even I am invigorated and you know what a cynic I am!
But, what do we do next? Buy more land? Develop something (like housing)? No one yet knows. But we are clearly NOT lacking from good leadership. We are not lacking from vision, either. Consensus is always a question but a victory-under-your-belt helps build consensus. And, from what I just witnessed, we are NOT lacking support. We are NOT lacking support even from those who don’t live here or even come here!
The only thing maybe missing is enough ‘young blood’ and even that is slowly changing. We have more young people than before and more inquiries about ‘homesteading’ than ever. This little ‘odd’ community OTG is doing pretty good and that, in itself, makes me happy.
Well, OK…..less grouchy.