Update on commune plans

Forest library?

I have recently purchased about 1/2 acre of undeveloped forest land in New York state, about 2 hours by Metro North train from New York City. The lot is 1 mile from the train station, so it is accessible from NYC for weekend visits even without a car. It is adjacent to a much smaller lot I previously purchased, on which it was not legal to build because of its size.

I would like to eventually formally give the land to a non-profit, cooperative, or community land trust organization, and develop the site as some sort of school, camp, or workshop with residential capacity so that at least some of the workers or members could actually live there. This summer 2019 I will plan approximately 4 consecutive weekends for clearing and possibly building. Please contact me (jimmy@jmath.read-books.org) if you want to be part of this by:

  1. volunteering
  2. donating materials or money
  3. lending tools or equipment (use of a truck, power tools, etc.)
  4. suggesting helpful ideas for getting started

It seems to me that the most viable business activities of the cooperative are:

  1. (School) A non-traditional, academically-rigorous school or summer camp for kids, teenagers, and college-age students, paid for by parents. The emphasis would probably be: Mathematics, economics, computer science, political science, history. This depends on the participation of scholars with expertise in those fields. My background is mathematics.
  2. (Research retreat) A purely research-oriented retreat funded on a per-project or per-research-group basis by charging research groups (presumably themselves normally situated in a university setting and funded by grants) for specific durations, say from a few weeks to a few months.
  3. (Workshop) A furniture or other type of workshop, funded by sales of the product.

Let me know if you have strong opinions about which direction to take this. For example, I know my brother Jordan really wants to make it a dojo, my friend Josh wants something more like a monastery, Saad thinks it should be a school or camp, and Matthew wants a research center. I have never been to the Nesin Mathematics Village, but from what I’ve heard it sounds like a good overall model for us to keep in mind.

In any case, I think it makes sense to have:

  1. Living space: 1 to 10 beds in private spaces. 1 to 10 showers and toilets. Kitchen.
  2. Library and study space.
  3. Open work or fitness space.

So much of our work can begin before settling the question of what direction to eventually take the organization.

I’ll be drawing up budget plans and seeking funding pretty soon, pitching to individuals for small amounts and hopefully also applying for institutional grants. Again, please contact me (jimmy@jmath.read-books.org) if you want to be involved. In case no real funding comes through, I think over a couple years I would eventually be able to build at least a tiny little library cottage that I would try to operate more or less for the public.

Jimmy Mathews February 16, 2019