"Why Are You Doing This?"
By: Jim Costa
Chapt. 1 (Co-Op Villages - The Next Evolution)
“Why Are You Doing This?”
How do you?
How do you? Change the world? Help many instead of the few? How do you? How do you? Stop the madness? Find peace within yourself while surrounded by insanity? How do you?
I had spent years asking myself this same question over and over again; pushing for answers; squeezing out “you must be out of your mind” solutions one at a time. But now I was really stuck. No answer was forthcoming no matter how many times I asked myself, “How do you . . .” Nothing.
I had been so consumed with the “how do you” that I dropped out of the workforce ten years earlier and walked around with my head in a proctologist’s workspace visualizing the details of the “how do you’s.” But I was seeing it. It was real - a true doable solution to the madness. Now to tell the world was all that remained to be done. But how do you? Who do you tell? How do you tell somebody that even though society can’t seem to be able to solve just one of its problems that it can solve most of them at one time easily? That’s like saying you can’t pick up just one jack by itself but you can pick them all up on just one bounce of the ball. How do you tell somebody that?
Then I knew. Who, that is. He was a nationally renowned attorney who had taken up the plight of the world himself. Well connected nationally, an environmentalist, a philanthropist. Above all, one of the most intelligent persons in the area. If I was on the wrong track he could convince me to give it up. I respected his thinking. However . . . if I was right he could tell me who to deliver the message to. Mike could resolve the “Who do you tell” dilemma and send me to that person.
God almighty! Always just one more “how do you.” How do you reach the busiest man in town? Reach someone way out of your league who doesn’t even know you? Reach someone who has been out of state for two months on an international case? How do you ask someone to help you get $2,000,000 in sixty days for your crazy idea? How do you get your letter to his attention knowing he is finally coming home one week before Christmas with two months of mail stacked on his desk? God almighty! Always just one more “how do you.”
Mike was my only hope but I knew it was a lost cause. I resigned myself that our Co-op Village land offer would just have to expire; no down payment; no saving mankind. It would just expire, like we all do eventually.
Then an angel appeared! He looked just like me. He was my brother. I have seen him in action many times. He’s the finest outside salesmen I have ever seen. He can talk his way into any office. They actually welcome him when he breaks through. He’s amazing. He knows everybody.
I am eating my guts out and tell him that I’m packing it in because I can’t figure out “how do you.”
“No biggie,” John told me. “He goes to such and such church. Just give the package with a short cover letter to his pastor and tell his pastor your problem. Don’t compete with the magazine renewals on his desk.”
Dear Mr. -----:
Please forgive me for the way that you have received this package. I am just the messenger here and feel that you are the only person who will know to whom to deliver the message. I knew of no other way to bring this to your attention.
This package is part of our website showing how to house 500 persons on 500 acres sustainably forever. This Co-Op village will provide all housing, food, utilities, health benefits, transportation, job training or advanced education and living wage jobs for life for its residents. The cost to each resident is $40,000 and we hope to finance that for those who need it. This is the culmination of years of work.
I believe that after one village is built, hundreds, then thousands of others will pop up around the country since this will be the only viable option that millions of people will have to live in dignity. This will transform the country. These villages will provide what our culture and governments promise but cannot deliver.
These villages will produce their own organic food, produce their own utilities, reduce oil demand, and truly be concerned about the land they live on. Governments can’t change the world but a grass roots movement such as this can. It’s the only way the ill affects of global warming, globalization, and governmental manipulation by multinational corporations can be reversed – on a local level.
This is probably the only current viable option for mankind to mitigate the disasters that lie ahead globally both financially and environmentally. Cowboys know that you can turn a bull’s body simply by turning its head; so too can the world be turned if the U. S. culture can be turned. This project is a means to accomplish that quickly before governments can stop it. Currently we are just silently marching towards a cliff. But if enough villages are built, society will then have an option to choose how it will create its future.
We have designed a village for which there is a strong demand, is a sound business investment, is blueprinted so that it can be replicated anywhere, and economically dovetails nicely with our current capitalistic system. Our local think tank has advanced this idea as far as we can go by ourselves. We are now ready to give it to the world but do not know to whom to give it. We are prepared to build the first village in Marianna, Florida, but may need some investor financing to continue on. We need to be picked up on a national level by someone who will understand the value of this project. We need a hero for the planet!
I hope that you will see this for what it can be and hope you will pass it on to who you feel needs to see it. We have no intent of ever making money on this idea. However, whoever you pass this to could make quite a deal in brokering the land or by providing a minimal amount of financing for the villages that follow.
In order to build the first village we are seeking a $2,000,000 construction loan pledged against a $40,000,000 asset at a high interest rate to be repaid in five years. Hopefully you will know who will recognize the potential and need of this project.
Thank you for your time.
Finally a response - those magical words. I have been told that during wrecks, horrible accidents or emergencies, time seems to slow down. The actions seem to take forever to unfold and somehow lock themselves in your memory forever, one frame at a time. Then later it just replays itself as a perfect recording, no flaw in the memory, transporting with it the physical and emotional feelings from the original experience. So too those magical words keep playing back in my mind.
“’lo, Jim, this is Mike ------. We need to talk today.”
_______ _______ ______
We agreed to meet at the sushi restaurant at 11:45. The last thing Mike said before hanging up was “Just what is it you want from me? Do you want me to set up a meeting with some investors for you?” This was like dangling a dead fish over the water at Sea World! Yes! Oh, my God, I thought. I hit the jackpot. This is exactly what I wanted. Just a chance was all that I needed; just a few minutes in a room with a few deep pockets to plead my cause. The two million would give us the land down payment, make all the land payments the first year so that we could focus on building and give us a million for infrastructure. Fish can be so beautiful.
“No, Mike.” I heard my voice say it but it couldn’t be me saying it. It couldn’t be. Maybe I was just hearing things. “This thing has gotten much bigger than I could have ever imagined,” I said. “I just need fifteen minutes to tell you what’s not in the package.” I needed direction. . . .
Our meeting started with the normal pleasantries. I had to ask him to order for me. I’m just a common slob. Then he asked those six little probing questions. The same ones I had heard him ask twenty times before. “How are you going to admit residents?” “Is anybody else doing this now?” And so on. But then he asked a question that told me he had only read half of the package. Why just half?
_______ _______ ______
Around the age of forty-five, about four years before I stopped working, I began to open up as an intuitive, a psychic. I denied it until a few months before I quit working. When it started I would see business meetings a few days before they occurred. In those visions I would see everyone’s positions, arguments and personal feelings. It was like seeing another card player’s hand. But the strange thing was that usually these meetings were with total strangers! I could understand it if they were with persons I had prior dealings with. But these were total strangers and there was no way I could have guessed the things I saw beforehand. There was no way. So I just ignored it and figured I was just a good guesser until I realized I had to deal with it because it was real. I quit work, slowed down and developed that gift. I learned to listen.
Many a night during the two months before we met, I woke from dreams visualizing our discussion. He asked those exact same questions over and over again. Each time I answered them better than before. Then one night out of the clear blue he hit me with it, that one question. Until then I had had the whole world figured out. With that one question he destroyed ten years of work. That one question rocked my very foundation. My footing was gone and I collapsed. Why did he have to ask that? He asked the question. I couldn’t think of a thing to say in response. I just sat there. Mike got up and walked away. That was how the dream ended. He just walked away and I had no response. Why did he have to ask that question? “How can just a few of these villages change the nation?”
I was depressed for about a week after that dream because I still had nothing to say to him in response. Nothing.
_______ _______ ______
Then he went higher with the questions. I saw those coming too. The answers were exactly as I had rehearsed them. Then he started moving to THE question. I could feel him going there. He asked why I thought there might be a financial meltdown in this country. In about a minute I summarized the six-page paper I did on it the prior week in trying to figure out how I was going to respond to that big question he was pushing me to.
I told him about the baby boomers overloading the SSI system in 2008 and how the big people were predicting that SSI, Medicare and Medicaid, federal, state and municipal pensions would probably have to be cut in half.
I told him about petro-dollars and how oil is sold in U.S. dollars only and causing foreign countries to invest in business and real estate here in order to get those dollars. I talked about how the rest of the world was beginning to feel our dollar may not be stable enough and may start quoting in Euro dollars and how that would cause those investors to pull out of the U.S. and wreck our economy.
I told about our overwhelming trade deficits and how the big people are saying our dollar may go the path of third world currencies.
I told about global warming and how it could destroy our economy if we tried to stop our damaging acts.
I told about globalization and how it was destroying our jobs more each year.
And then. . . . I told him about how our economy for the past 100 years had been based on cheap energy and now that was a thing of the past. Our suburbia was and continues to be built based on cheap fuel, and now cheap fuel is becoming a thing of the past.
When I had finished he corrected me and said the dollar would not be replaced by Euros but instead by the Chinese yen. We were seeing the same thing.
_______ _______ ______
Then he discussed how the village could help people. He could see the benefit of villages. He agreed that they could provide jobs and dignity for the working poor and the middle class. “A village would be a great socio-economic experiment,” he said.
Then Mike asked THE question. He had been playing with me. He had been stalling. He had set me up. And now he was going there. “How can building a few of these villages save this country? It won’t make that big of an impact quick enough,” He said.
He was right. It would take ten years, in my mind, to make an impact. If we had a meltdown in six months it would destroy our economy. Ten years would not help anything. For a month I brooded over that question of his. But now I was prepared. He had pushed me in my dreams and he had inspired me to once again ask “how do you.” In my dreams Mike had pushed me to give him the answer he was looking for.
“When we build the first village we will write operating manuals on food raising, building a local commerce, utility production, alternative health care systems, truly sustainable living, sharing, etc.” I said. In the event of a meltdown our manuals could be used to retrofit suburbia across the U.S. in just a few months and bring up a new economy. This country could survive.” I said.
We briefly discussed the how’s and wherefores of the retrofit and concluded desperate people will be willing to do desperate things, but all in all it might work.
Then Mike said “Of course this will never happen because as oil gets harder to get there are alternative fuels, so suburbia is safe.”
I immediately responded. “All of the big people tell us that it will be at least thirty years before alternative fuels can be brought on line. Mike”, I retorted, “in the meantime we have no at-worst fall back position.”
The conversation was over. Another word was never said. That was the longest ten seconds of silence I ever heard. Our meeting was through. It was decided. We had talked as equals but that too was over. For the next fifteen minutes Mike did all of the talking. I listened. I hung on for dear life. I was way in over my head. He tore into me.
Finally, after that long ten seconds, “This is how it works.” Mike said. “You need two million. Ten people will put up $300,000 each. But Jim, you have to put up first. You have to publish your idea in a book. As soon as you publish you will have your money.”
“But Mike,” I protested, “I’m not a writer.”
“Look,” he said, “you have already done all of the detail describing the building and running of the village. All you have to do is download your website and add three chapters in the front. You have already done all of the hard work so just finish it. Until you publish you do not exist nor does your idea exist. Finish it.”
Then he stopped being nice. I soon learned how an old rag-doll feels when it is no longer a child’s favored toy. He came after me like a banshee. He was merciless and wouldn’t let up. I never saw it coming in my dreams. I never got a heads up. I need to talk to somebody about that.
“Jim, why are you doing this?” he asked. Then he pointed those steel eyes at me. I don’t know where they came from. I hadn’t noticed them before. Maybe he put in contacts?
“I was born to do this,” I said. “I opened up as an intuitive when I slowed down after not working anymore. I started seeing the village in dreams. I went there in my mind. I can’t stop seeing it. I have to make it real. I have no choice in the matter – I have to do it.” There. I said it. It’s hard to tell people you are weird. But I couldn’t lie to Mike. I had to tell him my predicament.
“No. That’s not what I mean. Why are you doing this?” he repeated. There he goes; those eyes again.
I don’t even remember what I told him. I went higher, I know that. My instincts took over - autopilot. Something about people living with dignity, having security, grandchildren having an option. I think I probably said something like that. I see myself as saying things like that, thinking how I would answer that question if you asked me that now. So I suppose I gave him something kind of like that. I guess. Whatever I told him I felt good about it. There, I gave him a great answer and now he will stop with the eyes.
“No. Why are you doing this?” he demanded. Then I saw it. His forehead had wrinkles when there were none before. His voice had anger in it. His eyes were now squinted a little and his face was clearly red. What had I done? Why is he upset with me? What the heck is going on?
What does he want out of me? Maybe he wants the highest answer I can give him. If I can just calm down I can give it to him and he will go away. I took a deep breath of air and let it come out of me. Let’s get this over with. “A snake has to shed its skin in order to grow. Maybe what’s been holding us back is our economic system. It’s causing us to step all over each other. It’s making us physically ill from the stress. It’s killing families. Its making us consume more because we are afraid of losing it. It’s making us kill the planet we are standing on.”
Oh, God. Now he’s madder than ever. He’s leaning over the table coming after me. Those eyes again. He sticks his finger just a foot in front of my face and demands again “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?”
So much is randomly going through my mind. I have no control of the thoughts. I haven’t felt like this since high school, standing on my feet wondering myself why I never studied, all while a nun was going after me. I saw an image of a punch drunk fighter trying to keep balance on his legs. I saw several episodes of Perry Mason and how the badgered witness suddenly confesses to murder. Yeah, like anyone would really be so stupid as to say that in court. I wished that cute waitress would walk back by so maybe he would sneak a quick peek, but I knew he wouldn’t. I felt defenseless and exposed. The only way I could have felt more exposed was to stand butt-naked on the court house steps at high noon.
Then I felt it. I knew what I had to do. Now I was mad. The adrenalin kicked in. I was on top and I knew what I had to do and I was going to do it, by God. I was in total control. In my mind’s eye I saw myself jumping up and saying “I did it to Mr. Mustard in the library with the wrench!” I had to stop those eyes. “For God’s sake, Mike, to stop war!” I hollered out.
I would like to say I stopped him. I would like to. But I can’t.
He calmly leaned back in his chair and softly began talking about Thoreau and his book Walden Pond. He said something about man being at peace, serenity; finding self, contentment, joy, away from materialism. I remember hearing some of those words but not all that he was saying. I was still trying to figure out what had just happened.
Mike said, “Jim, you did an amazing job describing the village and how it would work. Now you have to add three chapters in the front discussing the higher philosophical approach as to why the village. Philosophically tell the reader all that you just told me. Oh yeah, add a chapter comparing and contrasting the village to the Amish, Jim Jones, The Farm (the large commune leftover from the hippies), Kabutzes in Israel. Then you got it. How hard can that be? Then you got your money. I’ll monitor your progress. Got to go, I have a one-fifteen.”
Mike stood up and pushed his chair back. I looked up at him and said. “The rush is on, but the first one cannot be a premature ejaculation.” He calmly looked at me but didn’t say anything. He put on his sunglasses and headed towards the front door. I got up and turned and took two steps towards the back door.
“Jim,” I heard. I turned around and saw Mike two paces from the front door. He took off his sunglasses and held them in his right hand. With the same hand he pointed his index finger angled down towards the floor. With each word said, his hand went towards the floor and bobbed back up again. Looking right through me he slowly announced – no, declared – no, ordered:
“This . . . . . experiment . . . . . . MUST . . . . . be . . . . . done.”
_______ _______ ______
Write a book. Yeah, easy for you. I can think Philosophy, I think, but I can’t write it.
What he’s asking for is what Jack Reed did. Now that was a great job! His book, The Next Evolution, now that was something. In it he described the philosophical needs for such a village. He challenged the world to build just one. The challenge: Put 500 persons on 1,000 acres to live sustainably forever. But he never described the makeup of the village.
That’s what I had been seeing: the makeup of the village. When I read Jack’s book I knew I had to write down all that I saw. I didn’t know why. I just know it felt good writing it. But that’s technical writing and anybody can do that.
“How can I do this?” I asked Jack. It was easy for you. You did such a great job of it. But how can I do that?”
Jack had infected me with his dream – to build a village. We were both addicted. Couldn’t swear off it. But it would take so much backing and no banker in the world would touch the first one.
“No problem,” he said. “Let’s cooperate. Rip the first three chapters out of my book and stick it in yours. Mike will never know the difference!”
_____ ______ ______
I told Jen about Mike then about Jack. “Great”. She was so enthusiastic. She lives in Virginia where Andrei is stationed in the Navy. She spent four months home last year while he was in another Navy school. She was a Godsend at our meetings. About twenty-six, I guess. Finished in art history and philosophy, I think she said. What the heck can you do with that?
I only called Jen whenever I got cut or scraped in our meetings and the group wouldn’t do “right”. She was always so supportive. Always said she wished she was here so she could contribute. It was the same every time. “What can I do to help?” Of course, what could she do? She was there - we were here.
I don’t think she ever got it. Simply by asking she always did. Just to hear her say, “can I help” was more than enough.
But today it wasn’t to be. She sounded terrible. The cold made her voice sound husky; I could actually hear her nose dripping over the phone. “Babies are just incubators for germs” she said.
“Mike said I had to write a book first. I’m not a writer. I flunked English comp,” I freely admitted.
“What can I do to help?” she asked.
“He even said I have to compare and contrast the village to other eco-villages, communes, etc.,” I said.
“Great! That I can do from here. Any particular style? How long do I have? A few days? A week? A month? How many pages?”
“Yep,” was all I said. “Call me when it’s finished. All I have to do now is explain all of this.”
Where should I say that we would build the first village near Pensacola, Florida, starting in the fall of 2007. I will just have to work that in somewhere in the book. It will come to me. We were actually going to do it! God! We are actually going to do it!
Because of the time constraints I knew we would have to let our land option die. But now we had money and could purchase land near home. That would be so much easier and safer. The Marianna land seller, a broker, already had a back-up buyer in the event we couldn’t make it. He was happy. He agreed to finance our new land purchase once we found the new site.
We are actually going to build it!