What is a Rainbird Village? ...How does it work?
Updated: Jan 25
A response that I often get when talking about Rainbird Villages is: “You are building a whole town??? Wow, there is just so much there, how can you do it all at once? It’s a Regenerative Agriculture Business, it’s a Holistic Health Business, it’s Education, and Retail and Hospitality and a Business Incubator… How can you hope to do all of that?”
We are so accustomed to seeing businesses in silos that we can hardly imagine them otherwise. Each business has its own facilities and parking lots and accounting services and marketing team and there is very little coordination with the greater community. But, what if we changed all that and shared the services which are needed by all, so that each could benefit from the greater efficiencies thereof? Small business holders want to do what they are passionate about and don’t like getting bogged down in all of the support services. What if they didn’t have to do that? “But, but,” you say, “…what about the relationships…?”
Not just a dream…
Before you start believing that this is all an idyllic dream, please allow me to point out that diversification is a strategy that is used by large companies and investors almost universally to mitigate risk. Rainbird Villages are Cooperative Associations within a Municipal Corporation. The Company owns the Village and the villagers own the Company. The point of whole systems design is that it is more effective, efficient and resilient than the fractured economy that we currently have. Remember when Amazon was an online book store? Regardless of the moral, ethical and extractionist failings that you may see in the company, the fact remains that it has grown to being one of the world’s largest and most prosperous companies through diversification and stacking of functions.
Cracks in the current systems…
The past two years have shown the cracks in our current systems. They are too complicated and the consequences of our individual actions are so far removed from us that we don’t even know what they are. When you buy a bottle of vegetable oil at the grocery, do you even know that your purchase contributes to deforestation in another part of the world? When one part of the supply line is disrupted, there can be enormous consequences for people downstream from it. Whole industries can be disrupted by a shortage of a critical raw material. Our dependency is on people and institutions that we don’t even know. …and we are worried about getting along with our neighbors?
To be sure, Rainbird Villages have strategic plans. Each property will have strengths and weaknesses, and as we do the assessments, we will look for early wins. As we build the infrastructures for the first businesses, we will be looking to how we might best expand the back office functions over time to include the new revenue streams and opportunities which may arise. Over and over, we will ask: What do we need to be doing next to improve the overall capabilities of the village. After that, we will ask: What else can we do with what we now have? Increasing diversification and stacking functions will continue to take us to the next level. And, because we have planned ahead, we can add the additional functions effectively, and with the efficiency that is characteristic of whole systems planning. Regenerative systems spiral upward and produce minimal waste, because the outputs of one part of the system are the inputs of another part. Closing the feedback loops conserves energy and creates abundance.
Focus on Essentials…
Rainbird Villages focus attention first on that which is essential. We have learned that these are the items that we don’t want to take for granted. When there was no toilet paper or tissues of any kind on the store shelves, and many of the other offerings that we thought would always be there disappeared, we felt vulnerable. To increase regional resilience, it is important to rebuild local and regional supply lines for essential items. It might be nice to eat raspberries in January, but if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you most likely won’t be getting them locally. When other more essential items are not available, why would we care about raspberries? So, if we can strengthen local economies, then when we trade with each other, it will be out of strength and not from weakness. The focus on essentials is not belt-tightening as much as it is decluttering. As we live well in communities of friends and team members, we lose a lot of the anxiety of being alone with our wants and needs. We are now a part of a complex adaptive system full of emergent properties. Aspects of the businesses may rise and fall and rise again, but the buffers that are natural parts of the system will allow the people to continue to thrive overall. It is important to keep the communities reasonably small so as to maintain close bonds and workable relationships without politicization, and as the community grows, it will, like cells in the body, divide and create new communities. After essential services and products are established, the business incubators may provide some specialized production as well. All of this will establish healthier community productiveness and mitigate risks.
So, what problems do we solve?
Well, let’s start with poverty. Poor quality food. Dirty air and water. Expensive housing. Long commutes to work. Loneliness and disconnection. Unsustainable extractive businesses. We could go on, but I think that you get the picture. So, Let's have a little fun...
Let’s do a little quiz here to see if you are suited to creating solutions in a Rainbird way.
1. In the future, how do you want to obtain your food?
a. Go to the supermarket and buy what is available there. Not knowing where it comes from.
b. Participate in food production. Maybe just help with planting or harvest, but knowing where your food comes from, what’s been done to it, and how fresh it is.
2. Which would you prefer for housing?
a. Mortgage holder for a home where you pay for it monthly, do all of the repairs and upkeep, pay taxes and insurance. On average 40-50% of your income to service it.
b. Have stewardship of a home as a benefit of employment. No interest, taxes or insurance. Money saved is partly invested in the business for growth potential.
3. What kind of healthcare do you prefer?
a. See a doctor when you have problems and receive prescriptions, surgery or radiation.
b. Be part of a system to optimize health and well-being. If problems are found the emphasis is on causation and remediation thereof.
4. What of your employment?
a. Work for a big company, for a good wage and benefits, with specialization of skills. May have long commutes, uncertain future and separation from family.
b. Be a company owner, with wage and benefits according to outcomes. You may participate in multiple revenue streams according to your talents and interests. No ceilings. The company is a part of the community with friends and family close at hand.
5. What sort of education interests you?
a. A standard public education. Expensive collegiate or skills-based learning.
b. Individualized education focusing on personal talents, interests and practicality. Learning how to survive and thrive. Example: Integrated life-based education where geometry is taught along with carpentry. Science, philosophy, history and ethics are taught together.
6. What kind of community do you prefer?
a. Each person/family lives in semi-seclusion, providing for their own needs.
b. Collaborative neighborhoods where people get to know and care for each other. Planning festivals and recreation. Localized production and interaction.
7. How do you prefer to be governed?
a. Centralized lawmaking at the Federal level. b. Decentralized lawmaking at more local levels.
Scoring the quiz: Add up your a’s and b’s and rank yourself:
How many B's?
Rainbird or not???
You might be a good fit for Rainbird Villages.
You might be better off in the suburbs.
Best stay in the city.
How did you do?
We readily admit that Rainbird Villages aren't for everyone, but we feel the need to provide alternatives for people who really want them. A Rainbird Village is an employee/owner BUSINESS, and our business is whole systems village building. Each village will concentrate on improving regional resilience, and will have localized governance with appropriate specialization. Linked together, these villages may gradually transform the social landscape ecologically and economically.
We will continue to update you with new information and please talk to us if you have questions or suggestions.