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The Green Persimmon Online Community
Discussing a Cooperative Life in Norman, OK
Recent Entries 
7th-Aug-2005 09:12 pm - A BIG VISION
So, here's how I'm seeing it. Withlyn, I love you and your mom's house is great, but I just don't think it's going to work for a co-op. I don't think we can get around the zoning, and besides, I would really really like more land to farm and do experimental structures on. Then we could have more than one house on the same property for pet and no pet people or even lots of little houses like those domes you saw in Davis.

What I would really like to do is use OSN's 501 (sooooo much easier) and have them be the "board of directors" and us be the "managers of the project(s)" This way they will be "hiring" us to run the project, we can get free housing and food and even get paid with no problems. What we do would simply depend on what grants we apply for. There are all sorts of grants out there for sustainability research and education.

A project like this requires a real commitment. Buying a house is a long-term decision and should be made considering all of the facts. If we all have to change our last names and start a religion to make it work, is that feasible and will it last? I'm looking for the easiest way because I know how bad burnout can be trying to bend over backwards to make something work that just won't.

I'm trying to get in touch with Seneca, the president of OSN to see if they would even be interested in a this kind of thing. The OSN board is made up of a whole lot of cool people, some of which I have lived in co-ops with before. Any way we do this we will be accountable to someone for financial and tax purposes. I would rather it be cool people that I know than dealing directly with the IRS.

I want to make this BIG. I want to build, experiment with different building matterials, passive solar, electricity generation, water collection and recycling, renewable fuels for vehicles (I want a bio-bus!) I want a big organic farm with fields of grain, animals (not possible without farm zoning), experimenting with different composting processes and mulches and bed building. I want to experiment with native Oklahoman plants for food and medicine. I want an educational facility for both adults and children. I want us to have health insurance! I want real permaculture, which requires careful placement of buildings, trees, fields, water, etc. to utilize every aspect of nature.

This has actually been my dream for a long time. I've been trying to take baby steps to work up to this, but when talking about purchasing land, I want it to be a place where all of this is at least possible. As Withlyn has said, we don't have to start out with everything, we can't be perfect. But with the right tools we can build up to it more and more at a steady pace. I hope I'm not freaking anyone out. One of my most difficult problems has been finding people as enthusiastic about actually doing these things as I am. People who aren't just looking for a cheap place to live, but are interested in working cooperatively toward long-term goals. I look foreward to everyones responses.
7th-Aug-2005 12:10 pm - Real estate value & property taxes
I've been mucking about at the Cleveland County Assessor's web page, looking for information about property taxes.  It doesn't really have a very good explanation of exactly how property taxes work, but it has a calculator which suggests that property taxes here at my mom's house are about $2500 per year.  She pays them as part of her monthly mortgage payment.

Also, the Assessor's office web page has some records about the house, including assessed value, square footage, and aerial photographs.  Not all of it is right (0 rooms?) but I'm guessing that what seems reasonable is right, except that there are definitely 4 bedrooms, not 3.  You can see this info here.  The parcel number is "NC29LEWB2 2 2001".
6th-Aug-2005 08:04 pm - Solutions and Problems
For questions relating to 501 status I strongly suggest everyone take a look at the "instructions" from this website: http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=130145,00.html
The computer I'm on right now doesn't have Adobe Reader so I can't point out the exact sections that apply, but look for the descriptions of the different kinds of non-profits and the tax exempt rules.

I'm getting the feeling that some people are very confused at this point and looking to Withlyn and I for answers, but I think it would be best if I step back for a bit on this issue since it is helpful for people to come to conclusions on their own isntead of having them handed to them. I also strongly suggest that everyone look at http://nasco.coop. These two sites should provide plenty of info to get everyone caught up to speed.

One issue that Withlyn and I just remembered about is the single-family vs. multi-family zoning. This is a serious problem for Brendan's house since it's very difficult to get one house in the middle of a single-family neighborhood to change zoning. Actually, there are laws in Norman prohibiting more than three last names in a single dwelling, even if it is multi-family. We would have to apply for a boarding house permit, and for that we would have to be in multi-family zoning. Oops.
5th-Aug-2005 06:19 pm - easy street
Alright, so I've been thinking about the profit vs. non-profit and money making issues and I think I've come up with the most applicable solution. If we devote ourselves to educating people (including ourselves) about sustainable living we can easily get the Oklahoma Sustainability Network to let us use their 501(c)(3) status. We could provide workshops ,put together informational packets ,maintain a website, etc. (easy enough) We could apply for grants or even charge for the workshops. Any money we bring in is tax free.
The last two co-ops I lived in operated under the Oklahoma Cooperative Housing Association. This already has non-profit status with the state of Oklahoma and an Employer Identification Number(which you need for utility accounts and tax stuff). However, we currently owe a large sum of money to Cox, but we'll have that cleared up soon. I think. We could use that, or start another organization, which isn't hard.
Let me know what you all think. I'd like to get the ball rolling on this stuff because it might take awhile to get Bylaws written and accepted by OSN, if we're going that route. It will take even longer if we try to get our own 501. If we get it going though we could start applying for grants before we even move in and have some start up capital (a big plus). That's one thing that worries me about the for-profit route, where would we get enough capital to start a business?
2nd-Aug-2005 04:59 pm - Acreage
gizer and I just measured the front yard here at mom's house, ant it comes out just a little over half an acre, between 21,000 and 22,000 square feet (It's not square, so a really accurate area is hard.)

I'll make a floor-plan sometime in the near future, and put that up, so that those not familiar with the house will know the layout, and so that those that are familiar will know all the parts they've never been in.
31st-Jul-2005 09:50 pm - New things
We had our first meeting tonight at the Library (drinky-drinky motion).  In attendance were withlyn, tank182, amargyle, ibn_rafferty, aurora_thelbine, amusedtodeath, victorzinc, eustacia42, flyingindie, superfly39, and gizer.

I'll try to summarize the topics we covered in three groups groups: goals/ideals that are important to one or more of us as we start this venture, issues that came up, and ideas that were put forward.

-homegrown renewable energy
-self-sufficient food supply
-honest communication and consensus-based decision-making
-alternative building techniques
-cleanliness and order
-animal rehabilitation

-profit vs. non-profit legal organization
-transportation for those working outside the house
-division of household labor
-pets vs. allergies
-sound isolation/scheduling
-television in public rooms
-broadband Internet
-frequent guests
-space and living arrangements
-non-residents being a part of farm/organization

-databases/bulletins for where things go, work schedules, transportation, vacations
-in-house jobs
-straw-bale buildings
-use withlyn's mom's house
-household music group/activity (e.g. Sinus Iridum)
-wood shop
-cash crops (honey, mushrooms, etc.)
-living expenses averaged across months, with padding for disaster/improvement fund
-communal library
-some suggested crops: basil, tomatoes, cucumber, peanuts, soybeans, wheat, sunflower, flax
-multiple houses
-conflation with other Norman organizations, e.g. Greenbriar Collective. (new Kathaus)

Finally, as you can see, I named the community green_persimmon, after the big crop of green persimmons in my mom's front yard.  It also seems to me that there's something symbolic about the fact that persimmons do not ripen until after the leaves have fallen off the tree.  This isn't a serious suggestion for the name of our house or organization, I just needed to come up with a name that wasn't already taken.

If there's anything I've left out from the meeting, please let me know.  Also, if there's anything that should be added or changed about the info page, display options, etc. 
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