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UnMeilleurReve

Gearing Up

Hey there guys. I know that it'll be a bit before we can finally get up and move to wherever it is we've decided, and that we're very limited in what we can do up until that point. However, what we can do we should start doing now, am I wrong?

At the moment there seem to be only 4 dedicated people. Selkie, you're looking at 6+ years of college for her doctorate. Vov, you should be finishing high school soon and I don't know if you intend college or various projects. Zee, you've got 1, or 2, years left of college, right? I've got 2 definitely. So we have a 2 year time frame.

So here's the deal. We need to find our urban, and possibly rural, location. It came to my mind that we might even be able to find an unpopulated county and start off there when we go rural. That way, we can establish laws and such that prevent people from making laws, instituting typical American Government, and even regulate who lives there.

In addition to that, we need to have some funds saved up beforehand dedicated to the endeavour.


So the answer at this point seems relatively simple to me. We need to have each of us commit to looking up locations, the respective laws pertaining to our endeavour in each state and city, and the cost of living in the places that are friendly and near something farmable. Alongside this effort on our part comes saving and pladging money as we save it, so that we have some sort of budget and we know how big it is and what we need to allocate it to.

So, with this in mind, can I get the three of you and myself to look up the laws in each of the states? There are 4 of us and 50 states, and there are some states that we'd be best ignoring.... such as Texas.


Now for lists.

List of States to ignore:
Texas (Reveur)


List of states to definitely consider:


Ready? Go!
vov35

http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-...fit-corporation-district-columbia

The reason for considering DC is that it seems to be a center of radical activity...


Also: I'm going through one more year of high school, and then classes for their value for at least a year at the local community college.
UnMeilleurReve

My problem with DC is that there is a strong military and police presence, and a *very* high degree of police brutality notoriety. Whilst this may make it so we are more needed, it also might make our lives more miserable.

How would DC fit in the scheme of having a rural area outside and a urban area inside, and what are property prices like?


It occurs to me that we might should include urban/metropolitan to rural proximity, estimated cost of living, political climate, and property/rent prices, with agricultural and climate added in the case of places near the rural.


My old suggestion: Hamilton, MT. Rural and metropolitan proximity, liberal and hippie-like political climate, lots of small businesses, don't yet know how much property prices are, and decent agriculture with enough rain and flowing water. Additionally, there is an intentional community or two already functioning in the area and an established hOURs barter system.
vov35

SOMEBODY ELSE FUCKING POST FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Baltimore seems like a city always in need of such assistance. fucking murder capital of the nation.
I know rural areas exist nearby (pretty much here). although this particular area is pretty conservative most of maryland is reletively liberal as I know.
Zeerahks

Hey.

I have one year left, during which I will be out in Corvallis, Oregon.  I don't really have plans for after that, so...yeah.  I'll be trying to get a job and stay out there, but who knows what will happen between now and then.

I can take Oregon and Minnesota.  Though I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to be looking for.
vov35

Zeerahks wrote:
Though I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to be looking for.


good nonprofit laws and a need for support of the kind we can provide. I'll take a look at PA next.
glorfon

Well let's rule out Alaska, too short of a growing season.  I'd recommend against the southwest, but you can grow there it just take alot more soil prep and less dense planting.

Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri are all great for farming.  The further south the better the winter.  From my experience they all get blizzards and below 0 temps but the difference is the duration.  I'm currently in Kansas City, the one good thing about KC is the really low rent.  We could rent a big old house (6 bedrooms) for about $1200 a month.  DC has killer land prices.  My sister is renting a place out there for three people and her monthly share is $800.
UnMeilleurReve

Non-profit status in Idaho is pretty easy to come by. However, it's the federal IRS laws that are gonna kick our ass. Whichever state we decide on, we need to sit down for a few weeks with an IRS agent that specializes in this sort of thing to figure out what we can and cannot do.

Anywho, Idaho:

Boise has the highest rape rate in the nation. Abuse runs somewhat rampant because it's pretty easy to isolate people here. The nonprofit laws are lenient, it seems to me, and the big requirements are: have 3 people, have bylaws, have a statement of purpose, and obey your own bylaws. The land is definitely arable, and Boise is restructuring the city to have 20 acres of community gardens. The entire state is pretty "green", and even the advocates of logging have a good reason for it (think of it like a tree that is well-groomed versus one that never sees pruning shears). It's also pretty conservative, but more in that independent economic streak. Not very religiously forceful, but some of the cities have laws that are unfavorable for us.

Keep an eye out for city code that goes something like this: No more than 3 unrelated persons can live in the same household together. Pocatello has one.
glorfon

I've found out that what we're looking for is call 501(C) exemption http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501%28c%29.  This is federal tax exemption status.  There are 28 categories, it seems like 501(C)3,5, or 7 could work for us.  I'm currently poking around the IRS website trying to understand the requirements.
UnMeilleurReve

What I've been thinking is inserting it into the bylaws that there are going to be 4 classes of members. Class A is for the people that are in it for the long haul, and thus have slightly more say in how things run. Class B is for people that will be in and out, or are only checking things out. Class C is reserved for clients, with some minor rights reserved of some sort for people staying in the sanctuary. Class D is for contributors, who have little to no say whatsoever in what happens, but gets information about the general status of things that we're doing and updates into knowledge we'd like them to have.

The significance of this is in allotting living space on-site permanently to Class A residents, having a provision for the in-and-out or temporary status of Class B residents, having it provided that we will be operating as a sanctuary and advocacy program to take in Class C residents, and to be able to accept donations and have an official-seemingness for class D residents. I think we might also see if Twin Oaks is 501(c) and if they have managed to make their land and housing as part of their nonprofit status. Then again, it appears that they took an easier route out and simply pay taxes with the revenues brought from hammocks, furniture, tofu, and indexing.

Anywho, my ultimate worry is that the things we'll find ourselves facing "excessive profit" bullshit because the IRS will be out to fuck us. Let's hope not, right?

I think 3 is a possibility, 4 would be preferable, 5, and 7. In 4 we might be able to get defined as "social welfare". Maybe...
UnMeilleurReve

Under the 501(c)(4):

To qualify for exemption under section 501(c)(4), the organization's net earnings must be devoted only to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. In addition, no part of the organization's net earnings may benefit any private shareholder or individual. If the organization provides an excess benefit to certain persons, an excise tax may be imposed. See Excise tax on excess benefit transactions under Excess Benefit Transactions in chapter 5 for more information about this tax.

I think we might be able to make it swing that it's not benefiting any "private shareholder or individual", but we might have to have separate residences to make it really fly.
UnMeilleurReve

As an interesting note, if we decide we wish to promote the creation of similar societies, it'd be pretty freakin' easy to get 501(c)(10) status as a domestic fraternity. We'd have to operate under the "lodge" system, but that's friggin' easy to tailor to our own needs.



*edit*
So, these are the rules for a fraternal organization.

To be exempt under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 501(c)(Cool, a fraternal beneficiary society, order, or association must meet the following requirements:

It must have a fraternal purpose. An organization has a fraternal purpose if membership is based on a common tie or the pursuit of a common object. The organization must also have a substantial program of fraternal activities.
It must operate under the lodge system or for the exclusive benefit of the members of a fraternal organization itself operating under the lodge system. Operating under the lodge system requires, at a minimum, two active entities: (i) a parent organization; and (ii) a subordinate (called a lodge, branch, or the like) chartered by the parent and largely self-governing.
It must provide for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to the members of such society, order, or association or their dependents.
An organization that provides benefits to some, but not all, of its members may qualify for exemption so long as most of the members are eligible for benefits, and criteria for excluding certain members are reasonable.
To be exempt under IRC 501(c)(10), a domestic fraternal society, order, or association must meet the following requirements:

It must have a fraternal purpose. An organization has a fraternal purpose if membership is based on a common tie or the pursuit of a common object.  The organization must also have a substantial program of fraternal activities.
It must operate under the lodge system. Operating under the lodge system requires, at a minimum, two active entities: (i) a parent organization; and (ii) a subordinate organization (called a lodge, branch, or the like) chartered by the parent and largely self-governing.
It must not provide for the payment of life, sick, accident, or other benefits to its members. The organization may arrange with insurance companies to provide optional insurance to its members without jeopardizing its exempt status.
It must devote its net earnings exclusively to religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, and fraternal purposes.
It must be a domestic organization, that is, it must be organized in the United States.


Now that I've posted that terribly long bit of information, here's my thinking.

The Urban Commune, provided it occurs, will be the Parent organization. The Rural commune will be the first chapter, and anything else we do expansion-wise will count as chapters. I think we can get temporary exemption status as a non-profit under the Fraternal codes if we declare that we need to be able to start up in the first place as an organization before we can have an expansion. We'll include in our bylaws everything that governs the creation and existence of the chapter, and we'll even create the entire organizational framework for the chapter.

As our fraternal purpose, we intend to 1)explore avenues of providing subsistence for people of various population sizes and cultural backgrounds and 2)develop and exercise means of curtailing the trauma and secondary trauma that inevitably occur worldwide.

Our lodges will be the site of our communes, the Parent being the one that we're looking to create. Class A members will be the ones who are chosen to make the executive decisions during counsel meetings as well as members who participate and contribute that voluntarily forego the right of making executive decisions. All Class A members will be required to reside on site at the lodge in order to perform agricultural and societal tasks, which is integral to the exploration of the aforementioned venues.

I think many people here will view the second part of the second sentence in the previous paragraph. I'm coming to find that there are people who tend to fit into the "dominant" and "submissive" role archetypes, and people should have the decision to behave in a way that they feel is most natural to them. I'm more than willing to discuss this in-depth with anybody here, especially since I think you guys are the most qualified to dispute such a notion of anybody I've talked with.

Anywho, thoughts?
*/edit*





Additionally:

All of the organizations listed above must submit evidence with their application that they receive 85% or more of their gross income from their members for the sole purpose of meeting losses and expenses.

Basically, if we're not selling anything, and we're buying things only to contribute to our commune and organization, and we have lots of people we help, we should be able to do this really easily. We'll have more exhibited expenses than profits, mostly because what we do to generate income will be to counteract costs of operating.
UnMeilleurReve

Should I edit instead of add?

Anywho, an excess benefit is any benefit given to a person who has 35% control, a family member of a person who has influence or control of  the organization, or "Any person (at any time during the 5-year period ending on the date of the transaction) in a position to exercise substantial influence over the affairs of the organization."

I think that the bylaws should include a requirement  for Class A persons to hold primary residence on the site of the commune and advocacy/sanctuary. The intention for this would be to make it so that a person who has "substantial influence" isn't simply taking advantage of the organization by residing there, especially on paper. Having a body of members who aren't Class A vote in support of this would make it so that the initiative was not made as an excess benefit decision by a disqualified person. Also, showing the bylaws and the stuff that we've decided on for the commune to the IRS will tell us whether or not we'll receive approval.



Additionally, we can have Class A members contractually hired as employees, I think? They are then paid compensation for their services in whatever way.

"An applicable tax-exempt organization (or entity that it controls) is treated as clearly indicating its intent to provide an economic benefit as compensation for services only if the organization provides written substantiation that is contemporaneous with the transfer of the economic benefits under consideration. Ways to provide contemporaneous written substantiation of its intent to provide an economic benefit as compensation include:
The organization produces a signed written employment contract,

The organization reports the benefit as compensation on an original Form W-2, Form 1099, or Form 990, or on an amended form filed before starting an IRS examination, or

The disqualified person reports the benefit as income on the person's original Form 1040, or on an amended form filed before starting an IRS examination."


Then again, it might not work because of a "conflict of interests" in the members who have control over the organization. They benefit from access to and use of property in the way of housing and agriculture, and if they vote or decide to make this so, the conflict of interests arises. Possibly another way of bypassing this is arguing that there is not a conflict of interests for all members of the governing body who are not the member being voted on. Thus, if compensation or regulation dictate that housing and access to the facilities of the commune is granted to a member by the other members, with the member specified having no say in the matter, we might be able to get away with it. Also, Class B members who don't live on site (Class B2) could vote on it. Class B members could have the role of securing resources for the commune.


Additionally, non-profits that normally generate less than 25k in gross receipts don't have to file a form 990. However, if they do... well, the instruction manual for the 990 is so long it makes me want to cry, lol.
glorfon

Nice work.  One thing which will help us avoid having an apparent excess of profit is if we distinguish between things done privately and things done as part of the commune.  For example if I make and sell a piece of art while living and working at the commune, the profit should not be part of the corporations finances but I could spend that money on things for the commune but it would be a donation.

I'm concerned that having permanent residences funded by the group may disqualify us from many of these classifications.

I like the four classes but outside of the written law I think we should come up with less hierarchical names for them.

Also it seems we'll need to become an association [ulr]http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=96120,00.html[/url] before we can get non-profit status.  But this requires registering in a specific sate.  So that will have to wait until we have a clearer plan and a set location.
UnMeilleurReve

Private housing would have to be self-provided. HOWEVER!!! In part V number 1a on the form 1023, we can list the actual or proposed compensation for Officers, Directors, and Trustees.

I agree with you about the less hierarchical classifications, too. We could give them fun names. Class A, hereby referred to as Berthas, class B hereby referred to as Goatees, class C hereby referred to as Snarks, class D hereby referred to as Wicked Witches. Very Happy

And we need to become an incorporated association, corporation, LLC, or non-profit organization or charity in the state in which we register. DC and Idaho seem to have pretty lenient laws, so far as I can tell, and I think most states follow a similar pattern.

Part of what I was hoping to do with this gearing up thing is get started on the actual organizational and financial plans that we want to use. This necessitates research in things like the (goddamn sonofabitch fucking) IRS laws.
UnMeilleurReve

Ahhhh, this is what I needed. Instructions 1023, appendix A. Conflict of Interest Policy. Check it out. Smile
glorfon

Say what you will about Washington, I find their websites very user friendly, even if the tax code isn't.  Regarding housing.  If the houses are part of a building owned by the group then how is that handled legally.  Would we have to rent the houses to ourselves?

Since we seem to both be coming back and forth through here I added you on skype.
UnMeilleurReve

I think you have the general gist of things. For tax purposes, I think the fair market value of our residence is the amount of compensation allocated to ensure we're not violating excess benefit. It would be counted as "compensation" in kind for purposes of reporting it as intended compensation for executives, etc.
Zeerahks

Hey, just stopping in.  (Glad to see you're back, Glor!)

I honestly have no head for legalities; it's not my forte, and it makes my brain hurt.  If you (two) would be willing to shoulder that (massive) responsibility, well, I'd be very grateful.

That said, I'm willing to help out wherever I can, no matter what's needed (I would simply fuck something up if I had to deal with laws and such).

Lastly, all of this sounds wonderful; my only concern is that I'd like to see the bylaws/rules/etc re-written every 10 years or so (some arbitrary number), rather than simply piling amendments onto them.
UnMeilleurReve

Sounds like a good plan. We should also write the rules with a lot of leeway and leniency in regards to commune members and their collective powers.

It also really looks to me like doing the lodge system and getting incorporated as a fraternal domestic organization will be the easiest. Doing so would make the switch from urban to rural natural, and we could run advocacy out of the urban and sanctuary out of the rural. The reason the switch would be natural is the lodge system requires a parent lodge and a subsidiary "chapter" lodge. Each lodge is almost entirely autonomous, the parent lodge having the role of oversight and managing the creation of more lodges.

We'd be like the Masons, except radical, non-spiritual, and more like monks, what with the whole living where you grow your food and all.
Zeerahks

Hey all!  

A quick little note about rents etc.  In the boonies (read: farm country) of Minnesota it's possible (firsthand account) to rent a full, three-story, five-bedroom house for 500 a month.  Unfortunately, a lot of the land out here is already owned and farmed on a massive scale.  

However!  Considering that we're not growing sugar beets or feed corn, and are actually growing food for ourselves, I reckon we need less land than most industrial farms.  I bring this up because every so often it's possible to find small parcels here and there; people selling off small lots of extra property, but not the whole farm.  

There's actually a really interesting place in a town called Milan (pronunciation butchered, of course) that goes by the name of Easy Bean.  They're basically a farming collective that sells shares (boxes of vegetables) to people around the area.  People buy either a full share or a half share, and every week they drop off the boxes.  You can check them out here: http://easybeanfarm.com/  (Another side note: if we're interested in something like this, perhaps in Idaho or wherever, they do offer apprenticeships; might be something to look into).
vov35

This is interesting, but I'm not sure what the present revision of our plans for a commune is....
Zeerahks

Lol, me neither.  Smile  I came across the info and thought I'd throw it out for consideration later down the line.
vov35

I feel like we'd stand to benefit from being near a major city, and I don't know how possible that is in Minnesota... Razz obviously we want a chunk of rural land, but we need humans to be in our proximity as well.
UnMeilleurReve

Up and at 'em

I just shot everybody in the memberlist a PM, whether they've ever posted or not. I'm going to wait 2 weeks and then we'll start trimming down the 0 posters, summing up, and discussing, or so I hope. Can I get a PM from everybody, active or inactive, so we can start discussion in earnest soon?
glorfon

Wow, I didn't even notice the PM but entirely on impulse decided to check out the forum for the first time in months.
Zeerahks

I didn't get the PM either.  I stop by every now and again though.  Let's get this going again!
glorfon

Indeed, let's get this going.

I say we should stick with UnMeilleurReve's plan and wait two weeks (from his post) to find out who is still involved.  Then we can either clean up this site or chose a new format for planning (google+, reddit, skype, etc.)

I feel like in the last two years I've gotten a better feel for how the world works and how to go about this.  I've also gained experience gardening, farming, and building.  I've gotten involved with the activist community of Kansas City and may be able to get some help there.
UnMeilleurReve

Ha, sorry guys, I only sent the messages to the members that hadn't posted almost ever or only posted like 5 times or such. Glor, Vov, Zee, I didn't send you guys one.
glorfon

Well, it's been two weeks, actually more.  It seems that it is just the three of us.  So where do we go from here?
UnMeilleurReve

Alright, so we need to delete all the profiles that haven't posted at all. It annoys me.

TuffEnough (sp?) indicated that she's definitely still interested, so we should probably continue to account for her. Vov has indicated he and his lady are definitely interested. Hopefully those three will start contributing some meat to the discussion again.

As for what to do, I think that we can do some real world testing on alternative energy methods. I'm going to try for a fun one pretty soon (make magazine's wind generator, it's windy as all hell in Pocatello).

As for research, I think our top priority should be looking for an urban location we'd like to use. We need to get some ideas for ways to make an urban area much more our own and productive, as well. I mean, sure, we can all pitch in together to get uber-cheap housing and then find jobs, but gardening (and testing different foods and crops, pepper-pesticides?, etc.), building community, testing mass-print methods (if we want to make documents), and figuring out what we'd consider to be a solid foundation in an urban environment would be good.

In the research area for the rural, more research into energy would be cool. For example, I found a sterling engine that runs on water in a closed system with a condenser up top so that it goes much, much longer on the same amount of water.

Any other suggestions?
glorfon

You have administrator access, right?  You can delete the inactive accounts if you want to.  Do we even want to stick with the forum or should we switch to a different means of communication?

Real world testing is a good idea.  I'll start looking for a project I can do.  I've been trying container gardening with little success.

As far as an urban location my support still goes to Kansas City, and not just because I'm already hear.  There is an insane amount of empty lots here.  There is already a great deal of urban farming happening here.  We could squat some lots and buildings and seriously have acres of gardens spread across a few blocks.  If anyone wants to know how we'd go about squatting I can fill you in.
UnMeilleurReve

Well darn, Moderator only I am.

Anywho, Kansas City sounds as good a place as most. We should definitely arrange tours of the most favored proposed cities. Seeing as how there are 3 or 4 of us, it's likely there'll be 3 or 4 proposed cities or more, unless there are those with no preference/suggestion. And Kansas has a great growing season, or so I heard somewhere Wink

We'll be working on the raised beds today, hopefully, and see how that turns out. Pictures to come.

Also, interesting factoid. My dad is off the grid in the Las Vegas valley. They invested in a 300w solar panel which he has hooked to some batteries, and he has light and can play his stereo (not on full volume). He's getting water from his mother's house. No idea how he's doing water/sewage/trash or cooking...
Zeerahks

Hey guys.  I removed everyone with no posts/ one post a few days ago.  I was, and am, in a hurry though (on my lunch break) so I failed to post an update.

I'm cool with Kansas City, or really anywhere else.  I'm currently working a career/salary job (doing software development), and all I can say is that wherever we are, I'm not waking up until nine/ten EVER.  lol.

Anyway, gotta run back to work.  I'll try to swing by this evening again.
glorfon

You did? Oh, then I deleted some more last night.

I'm on skype right now and I'll try to be on more often.one want to talk in real time.
UnMeilleurReve

You know, considering the advent of modern lighting methods, it never made sense to me why people don't take the time during the evening or night, when it's nice and cool, to do their work....

And you do software development? What languages are you familiar with?
Zeerahks

Hah, agreed.  Even more than that, I'm simply not productive when I have to wake up early. Not conducive to the corporate environment...

My main language is Java, but I'm fairly fluid.  I can do work in C/C++, Perl, Shell, and pretty much anything else as long as you give me enough time to learn it.  lol

I'm down for realtime chatting, though I no promises on when I'm free.  I've only got a tiny bit of free time these days, and it tends to get snapped up pretty quickly. Sad
glorfon

From my time at Arcosanti I found that the best daily schedule was to work at dawn and dusk and siesta from about 11-5.  That siesta can be time for inside, creative, less labor intensive work as well as napping playing and eating.
UnMeilleurReve

I find myself working at dusk and throughout the night. If I get up at dawn I'm just clumsy, my words come out slurred, I can't think clearly, and I stay that way throughout almost the entire day.

The research out there is starting to say that everybody has their own circadian rhythm, and that learning what it is and going with it is usually the best idea. Some people are nocturnal, diurnal, or have bimodal or trimodal sleep schedules. Some people get their sleep done in 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 or so hours. Most people benefit significantly from a nap, and sleep usually has about 8 (if I remember correctly) REM cycles. The cycles can be distributed throughout multiple sleeping sessions, and the real thing that messes with people's sleep is interrupted circadian rhythms.

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