Tir Tairngire, The Place of Promise, one of the six blessed isles of the Fae in Irish mythology. Understood to be equated with a Fae “afterlife”, it’s where magical beings can rest in a universe devoid of sickness, pain, ageing or hunger. We don’t pretend to be such a place. We do, however, hope to create such a philosophy when contrasted with today’s world. Ours is a world without high-technology, without grocery stores, without bigotry or dogma, without the abuse of synthetics, or high carbon footprints.
“We’re a spiritual community of equals. The land may belong to me, but everyone here is volunteering in an experience, an experiment, if you will. A social experiment to study the effects of living in a communal environment, devoid of economy, bills and high technology. We’re an extended family, not a business, not a municipality. We are the like-minded polarized towards a goal; and that goal is research into the human spirit.”
The community grounds, though privately owned, will be the proving ground for a new kind of volunteering. Where people may be interviewed for their eligibility and like-mindedness, and may become involved in the project. There will be no ownership in The Tir, there will be no private property on a civic scale, and the economy is group-driven. It is an intentional community where the focus is on individuals as being part of a whole cloth which they improve by participation, not the individual taking what they can because they can.
“If, during the course of your day, you did nothing to improve the lives of those in your environment, that day was wasted. If you’ve lived your life towards your own means, without causing a noticeable net-benefit to your community, where your loss would be felt by everyone in it, then your life was wasted. We feel every life is precious, and any participant who volunteers to live among us, will leave their wasteful ways at the gate.”
To put it most simply; every household has a garden, rather than a farm, and every adult has a trade. During the harvest season, industry stops in favor of manicuring the land. We tend crops, manage rotation, compost, what little livestock we maintain, and the preparation of the over-harvest for the coming winter. Each household’s garden, then, is oversized to accommodate harvest losses, and to provide trade material to assist the community as a whole in the form of a public granary.
When the snow falls and harvest stops, all members of the community shift gears, so to speak, to participate in the winter economy, which is focused almost exclusively on heritage crafts. Six major industries are outlined in the current phase of planning: First are our Finish and Rough-work Carpenters with an induction forge powered blacksmith for what metalworking will be required. Our carpenters will be the first and most valuable industry as we develop our heavily wooded community into a series of log cabins and wooden built-ups. Second in value is our twin-textiles manufacture. We are currently exploring a variety of fiber-crops, including flax and hemp, as well as sheep, goats and brushings from our dogs. These fibers will be washed, dyed, carded, spun and twisted in a series of machines manufactured by our carpenters, assisted by our blacksmith industry. These fibers will then be transported, once spooled to our looms and knitting equipment where the materials can be turned into clothes and fabrics to be sewn into garments. Thirdly is our pottery, where the blocks of clay (which sadly will have to be an import) will be thrown into a variety shapes and cured in an on-site wood-burning kiln. Forth, we will have a herbalist shop with will double as an aid station. Harvesting fungi, mosses, plants and herbs from the native environment, growing what is not found within extreme locality, we can provide most of our culinary and medicinal needs on-site. Preparing salves, tinctures, ointments and so on. This master herbalist will be able to cure you with what we grow on-site, with minimal side effects and no need for multi-trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industries breathing down our necks… not yet. Fifth is our main dining hall where community meals will be provided for those who seek such a service. The focus is on community-minded and community-driven ideals, and the notion of eating together, of the food that we grew together, on the land that we broke together, has a certain appeal. Finally, our sixth industry is one of our livestock maintenance, from Spotted Java Chickens to French Angora rabbits to Icelandic Sheep, Spanish Goats and even our Alaskan Malamute Sled Dogs. Tremendous care was taken in selection of each heritage breed, and each of which service a number of purposes from fiber to milk to food to labour. The care of, feeding of, breeding of, and even eventual slaughter when appropriate of our animals must be done with the most paramount of care and will require their own professionals and workplaces. Hunting is also being discussed, where members of the community will have an annual moose hunt for the purposes of food collection, but use of the entire animal applies to all slaughter.
Industry aside, the whole project remains a social experiment. Research will remain an asset, where water consumption rates will be matched with passive and inert water filtration technologies like charcoal, sand or organic water filtration, rainwater harvesting, hand-dug wells and recycling spent greywater after use. Composting sawdust toilets will separate blackwater from greywater, and all waste is recycled. Community living, hard work and even a seasonal menu all remain part of the examination to be undertaken within the walls of the Tir Tairngire community of equals. Accepting the homeless, after some active screening, into our midst with the mission of rehabilitation with new skills and new purpose and so on. We also hope to provide services where community members, pending future-stage financial development, are to do work abroad, and return with members of foreign projects so that we may spread our knowledge and improve our cultural base while reducing our carbon footprint through advancing technology development.
Exhaustive research is currently underway towards the purposes of weather monitoring equipment, that which will measure rainfall patterns, wind direction and speed, humidity, pressure, sunlight intensity, cloud cover, and so on. By keeping these accurate records, including ground-frost penetration, snowfall, and the efficiency of our dwellings in various measures, we may provide a solid raw-data asset, free of charge, to anyone who wishes the resource. The learning opportunities are simply endless.
The “take home message” here, is that Tir Tairngire is not a for-profit-business, is not a municipality, is not a corporate monolith or even a farm in the contemporary definition of the word. We are gardening in a sustainable way, not farming by industrial means. We seek to reduce our carbon footprint to one that is actually smaller than the land we actually occupy, within the 44 acres of land on our proposed site. We wish to create a greater sense of community by redefining the word, and by designing a system that rewards each member for their contribution to the whole, and by focusing on individual contentment with new expectations that exist beyond the understanding of most in the first world.
The groundbreaking is scheduled for late April; with first permanent habitation tentatively scheduled for Fall, 2012. Video documentation will be provided regularly, as well as writings in both a scholarly and informal nature. We will do everything we can to make our mission available to all those who seek it, free of charge, always.
Join us, and follow our journey as we explore what it is to be human by rediscover centuries-old truths with the learning of today to plough our own path and make our own home. We are a community of volunteers who seek to live our own lives in our own way, and in-so-doing provide the benefit of our learning for others.