Founder and Realtor Shares on Acquiring Community Property

We know you wear many hats, and one of them is as a Realtor.  Can you tell us about why you are passionate about Real Estate?

I bought my first house in 1999 as the rental market seemed to be getting too expensive for me and I wanted to freeze my rent for 30 years with a fixed mortgage. After a year of fast equity growth and a growing interest in real estate towards a method of financial freedom, I bought a duplex in San Diego.  Since then I have been buying rentals, did a flip, ground up condo builds, and investing in businesses.  I love the concept that I can fill my life with interesting work (Navy SEAL, Firefighter, Realtor, overseas contracting, took a few years off) and change careers as I am inspired and allow the investing to be my retirement.  I also get to do passion projects like help communities secure their own properties in a co-ownership model.  It is not easy work for me or for the budding communities but I feel that it is really some of the best work I get to do.  I also help my larger community in buying or selling single family homes and use all the experience of my investments to help create a sound transaction.  

Tell us about some of the community properties you have sold.

The first thing I ask of groups is to Diana Leafe Christian’s book, Creating a Life Together.  It is sort of the bible on the process of starting your own Intentional Community.  In my own community of The Emerald Village i felt like the book didn’t really have the pulse on the concept that a community may start with ten people, end up with 2 near the end, realize they have to move to middle America, find a few new members and then head off and make it happen.  At Emerald Village our 10 people visioned and bought our property all within 3 months.  I really wanted to share this process and creative financing with as many people as possible.  In the first community I helped buy property they ended up closer to Diana’s realistic journey when they had 7 people start the 30 day escrow on 3 houses near downtown San Diego and in that month they lost 5 members and had to finish with just 2.  From my history in creatively financing properties I thought money was the biggest hindrance to purchasing cooperative property but since then I realize it’s communication.  Imagine you were going to marry 9 other people on a real estate deal, for possibly decades, and all the agreement fields, governance questions, and unknowns that might come up for you in this very legal transaction.  I find most people don’t actually know what is wrong or what the questions are, it is just that the deal has too many unknowns.  So when helping groups I try to guide them in the direction of meeting and discussing these issues, show them what smooth meeting facilitation can look like, and trying to get real about the unspoken.  
What are some things for people to look for when acquiring land for an Intentional Community?

Many people and groups come to me with a dream property that they see listed and all they know is they want this one somehow.  They need to figure out who the group/buyers are, how to finance it, what sort of community ideals they connect with, and why they are doing this.  The last property that was interesting for community and a good deal also went pending within a week, so not a lot of time to solve the current desired property.  I suggest groups use an inspiring property to rally around and discuss all needs and then figure out a plan and when the plan is totally in place then we can look around.  There are really so many things to look for in property and it really has to do with specific needs of the group and a need vs. wants mentality because everyone can’t get everything they want.  What is most often considered is distance to work / shopping, bedrooms, kitchens, privacy, well water, ability to expand, and ability to finance.  When Emerald Village visioned our desired property I would say 95% of the things we wanted could exist on property, like even a helipad, and the things that could not were things like a crystal cavern.  Or at least we have not found that cavern yet.  The nice thing about doing a visioning with groups I’ve worked with and writing down all the aspects each person wants in an intentional community is that it actually brings together a group that felt they maybe didn’t have a lot in common.  Most people want the same thing, a nice place to live.  Where they feared there might be incompatibility, such as vegan / meat eater, I witnessed that both sides were happy to ensure the other side felt they were afforded anything they needed to support their choices.  I highly recommend every group try a visioning similar to this.  
In the end it takes quite a bit of work to solve a real estate purchase of a community property.  Meet and figure out what the work is, split the tasks up between each other, and please reach out to me for support.  

Dave Booda, Resident Musician

Dave Booda, Resident Musician

EVO: So Booda, tell us a little about your EVO experience so far? What brought you here? Is it everything you hoped for?

Booda: Well, I first heard about EVO and took a tour in 2014, since then intentional community living has become a huge value in my life, so a few years ago I decided to get serious about it. I was like most of my friends, I had been talking about community, but I hadn’t actually taken the steps to get real, first-hand experience, so EVO was a great opportunity for that. My initial plan was just to stay for a few months, but I ended up really enjoying living here — the people are excellent and I really got into living in the country.

EVO: Ye haw cowboy! So what it is about EVO that makes you feel like you’re living in the country?

Booda: Well, for example, the first thing I do almost every morning is I go feed the chickens and goats. I also chop wood and make a fire every night in my wood burning stove, but most importantly — I’ve been wearing a lot more flannel and leather — adopting the “EVO style”, as mandated by Kyle Shinners.

EVO: Does Kyle police your fashion choices?

Booda: “Police” isn’t the right word, he’s more like a girlfriend who wants to have sex with you every time you wear her favorite shirt. So at the end of the day, it feels like your choice, but it’s really not. He also bought me a leather hat when we were in Idyllwild that has been nothing short of life-changing since I started wearing it at music gigs. Everyone loves it.

EVO: It’s a really great hat. Speaking of music, can you talk a little about what you’ve done with the EVO Tea House? 

Booda: Sure! Last year I converted the Tea House into a rad music venue. It still functions as a community space, but now it has a stage, lights and a great sound system so we can have legit music shows there, kind of like the one we have coming up!

EVO: You must be talking about the show on April 26th with Adam Knight and Angus Wilson! 

Booda: Indeed I am, it’s gonna be so fun — those guys are really talented, and we do the shows “in the round” style, which means we’re all on stage together, but we alternate playing songs and telling jokes.

EVO: You are pretty funny, Booda.

Booda: Aw, thanks! I mean, mostly I just say stupid things then put my foot in my mouth. But people seem to enjoy it.

EVO: Yeah we do. Alright, so besides converting the Tea House into a music venue, you’ve also hosted a huge Roman toga party in the pool house, created EVOlympics and now you have a new tiny house and it’s barely been a year. What’s your secret to being such a prolific resident? 

Booda: Well I wouldn’t say “prolific”, I just have fun and do whatever brings me joy. I’m just a regular guy.

EVO: Whatever Marie Kondo, don’t sell yourself short — people have been saying you’re the new “Lauren Kennedy”, and that’s a pretty high compliment. 

Booda: I’ve never met Lauren but I’ve heard great things, and I probably don’t deserve that kind of praise. 

EVO: Humility isn’t exactly what you’re known for, why this sudden change of demeanor? 
Booda: I don’t know what you’re talking about, I feel like you’re assuming quite a lot. 

EVO: Come on buddy, you’re “Dave Booda.” All the ladies want you, and the men want to be you. You’re practically a local celebrity.

Booda: This is getting ridiculous, I’m really not even sure how this interview got so off track, I thought we were going to talk about community?

EVO: We already talked about that.

Booda: Okay, so are we done? 

EVO: I have a few more questions, and a wish.

Booda: A wish? What do I look like… a genie?

EVO: I was just hoping you could play and sing my favorite song.

Booda: No, I’m sorry, maybe another time.

EVO: Come onnnn. Just one song!

Booda: It’s never one song, and you know that.

EVO: But it’s my favorite song.

Booda: You already said that.

EVO: Ugh, fine. Whatever, Mister “local celebrity”!

Booda: I didn’t even say that — you’re quoting yourself. I can’t believe this is happening.

EVO: I didn’t say that, you did. Fake news!

Booda: Really?!? You’re bringing “fake news” into this? I can’t even.

EVO: So just one song? Please?!?

Booda: No, I’m going to back to my tiny home and locking the door. 

EVO: I know where you live. 

Booda:I know, we live on the same property. 

EVO: Okay bye! See you soon!

Booda: Good bye, please don’t publish the last part of this interview.

EVO: I won’t.

Bianca Heyming on Community Life

Bianca Heyming on Community Life

What is the work you do?
Currently, I am getting back into sustainable education and program development, after taking some time off to focus on being a mom.  10 years ago, it seemed like I used to teach or facilitate a gardening or homesteading workshop every weekend.  Since having my son and moving to EVO, I’ve been focusing more on design work for landscapes and innovative workplaces.  It’s been great working with clients to help them express themselves and get inspired by their living, growing environment.  

I’m also involved in community organizing, helping bridge between disparate groups around common goals such as gardening, health and wellness, and family. I know it sounds crazy, but I love working with county and municipal officials, because there’s always grassroots ways to help them in their roles as civil servants.  Many people find bureaucracy boring, but to me it’s fascinating and I love the challenge of finding consensus between groups that are traditionally in opposition to one another.

How does living in community support or inform the work you do in the world?
 I feel like it gives me perspective and insight into a more traditional way of living.  A hundred years ago, most people lived like this, and for the majority of human history we knew our neighbors and could rely on them for everything from food, to festivals, to good old fashioned barn-raising.  Most people don’t get that kind of connection with their neighbors any more, but here at EVO we regularly come together to build and break bread.  So we’re kind of a throwback to that way of being, and when I’m out there helping people connect with their gardens, or organizing an initiative, I bring that sense of remembering to the people I work with and it really scratches an itch many of them didn’t realize they had.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned from living in community? 
The greatest lesson I’ve learned while living in community is to listen more and be as present as possible to other people.  In fact I believe this is a way to avoid many unnecessary conflicts or misunderstandings.  If we really take the time to put the cell phone away, maybe close the door for less distractions, or square away personal time with another person- that person may feel really seen and respected.  However, it is when we don’t take the time to be present with someone that we miss the opportunity to understand where they are coming from and that their intentions are more often than not very pure and relatable.

EVOlympics!

EVOlympics!

It was a cool and windy day when the dawn finally arose.  There was stillness in the air, the crackling of anticipation hanging like a twig in a burning fire.  After months of banter and chitchat, the battle had finally arrived.  It was a battle of strength, of stamina, of ultimate dominion and dominance to decide who was the deftest and daintiest and most determined of the day.     It was of course the highly anticipated EVOLYMPICS and would be held between the ten Founding members and a combination of past, present and future Residents of the same number.

Each team had a fearless captain and they would compete on the hallowed ground of Gopher Canyon in a variety of events sure to test even the greatest warrior. There would be ax throwing, archery, wood chopping and everyone’s favorite, “catch the chicken and carry the egg “.    Each team had five men, and five women and scores would be tallied whilst bones would be bruised.   In addition, style points were given for the team that looked the best.   According to sources close to this reporter, no expense was spared as founders and residents clamored for the cup.

At the opening ceremony, the Residents walked out dressed up as their favorite Founder.  You heard it right ladies and gentleman, each resident had usurped clothing from the cupboard of their muse and was parading it like a show pony at the Kentucky Derby.  This reporter had to take a drink as the Founders marched in dressed as Viking Warriors armed to the teeth with metal and leather looking mean and green.   The two teams faced off head to head as the judges separated them, the class struggle palpable.

 The games were opened by a competitive game of ax throwing as the Viking Cloverias ousted Nick while the artist pretending to be Amy defeated her doppelganger the stunning, yet out of practice Red Warrior Queen.  I’m not afraid to say that this reporter has a serious crush on the RWQ and had to take a couple more sips off the ole hip flask to curb his enthusiasm.    The event finished as the oddly shaped Bianca defeated Flavius Nicolais while ReBonHomme tied it up for the Vikings with a stellar win.

Unfortunately for the residents, the wheels of the horse drawn cart began to fall off as they took a stinger in the ringer in archery, and got a bopping in the chopping, putting the Vikings clearly ahead at the end of the individual competition.  Showing judges and spectators why they have so much fur in their closets, the Founders were clearly a force to be reckoned with.

By the time the chicken and egg relay race came upon us, this reporter had more than his share of Meade and progressively passed out.  Upon waking up it was revealed that the trophy had somehow been given to the children, who were beating up the inflated sumo wrestlers on the main lawn.  Everyone was laughing and celebrating, toasting to healthy competition and a jovial day.  Tune in for future fun and games from the Emerald Village.  Over and Out.

A Peek Into EVO Life: Fall Retreat 2018

A Peek Into EVO Life: Fall Retreat 2018

Let’s have a meeting.

What do you think about when you hear that phrase?

Do you imagine a boardroom and a bunch of people listening to powerpoint?

Do you imagine a fresh cup of coffee with friends?

Do you imagine someone has proposed this because “we need to talk”?

Are you excited?

Are you nervous?

Are you looking forward to it?

Are you dreading it?

Regardless of your association, we would all agree that having meetings is inextricably linked with being human. Every collaboration, every tribe and every baby being born all came from some kind of meeting. Meetings can be creative and exciting or they can be routine and boring — but at the end of the day, we need ‘em. And when you live in community you need lots of ‘em.

On Sept 22nd and 23rd, we had a meeting. We called it our fall retreat, and it was a chance for us to come together to discuss what we learned and where we’re going as a community.

Since we have a lot of meetings we like to make them fun, so for example, during our “year in review” in which each circle shares about what they’ve been up to (a circle is a group of people responsible for a certain aspect of life here at EVO), the members of the circle presented their information in a fun way. Some circles sang a song, some did an interpretive dance, some put together a slideshow, and everyone had a grand old time. See what our Human Relations Circle shared about our last year together.

For many, the highlight of the weekend was showing off how much work they had done on their zones. How it works at EVO is each family (and residents) have areas of the property we’re responsible for maintaining. To make things a little more fun and competitive, we all threw in $10 and voted on our favorite zones (you couldn’t vote for your own zone) and the winner got to keep all the money. Although it was a tight race and everyone was very impressive the winners were Jonah, Rebecca ad baby Raewyn, who added an intangible cuteness factor that tipped the scales in their favor.

Speaking of meetings, our monthly potluck brunch is coming up on Sunday October 7th. It’s a great chance to come see all the work we’ve done on the land and get some quality community time! We work on the land from 10am-11 (or you can take a tour during that time) then we brunch hard at 11am. Kids are totally welcome and we look forward to seeing you there 🙂 Sign up HERE

Lots of love,

Team EVO

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