Several years ago I was talking with a friend of mine about some sort of co-op homestead. I didn’t have many details thought out but I knew I wanted it to be a working farm, so to speak, with boarding options for those willing to labor. She immediately started talking about hippie communes and eco-villages. Her descriptions didn’t sound even remotely like what was swimming around in my head. I wanted to develop a community that was more organic like a gathering of like-minds, based around sustainable agriculture. I had not determined a desired house size although in my mind I didn’t seen anything over about 800 sq.ft. and even then, those were reserved for larger family units. Imagine then my surprise and delight when several months later I was listening to a sermon that referenced Degania Alef for its work in social pioneering. My vision had already been realized.
PLEASE NOTE: I am neither Jewish by faith or heritage and I am not of Jewish descent. I have not studied Jewish history either so my references to kibbutzim have no religious or political undertones.
According to Wikipedia a kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism. In recent decades, some kibbutzim have been privatized and changes have been made in the communal lifestyle. And so there you have it. Perhaps the most talked about topic in the tiny house world: community. A kibbutz is a collective community. And like that, you have the second most talked about…okay, maybe the third (behind toilets and compost). Kibbutzim were based on agriculture in the same way that many tiny housers talk about a community garden or community chickens. A large part of the modern tiny house movement is after that notion of a kibbutz wherein there is a feeling of shared purpose and community. But what lessons can tiny housers take away from life on a kibbutz?
CONNECT WITH COMMUNITY. From the beginning of building a tiny house there is a need for connection with community. Friends, family members, strangers, may all demonstrate a lack of understanding or even a disdain for what you are trying to do. Connect with community though. Find like-minded people and surround yourself with them. You may not agree on all the minute details but at least you will have a respite from the loneliness that even cities seem to offer. You will find support and affirmation.
HELP AND BE HELPED. Mark 10:25 in the Holy Bible reads, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” The application is so relevant in both the kibbutz and the tiny house world. In our builds, in our budgeting, in our finding a sparking spot…we often need help. Therefore we should dispense help as freely. Life on a kibbutz is not about your work or my work. It is about our work and a common goal or common task.
NO WORK IS BENEATH YOU. Life on a kibbutz meant doing all tasks needing to be done, as they needed to be done. This could mean running a plow or shoveling sh…well, you know. The fact remains, when living and working in community, no task is beneath you. Whether it be tearing down a barn to get some great, salvaged wood or you are asked to build wall frames, no task is beneath you.