The Hickory Ridge Land Trust. located on ridgetop land a few miles outside Spencer, is seeking new members.

What, you may be asking, is a land trust? Some are conservation easements, in which legal language is tied to a deed to protect it against future development; others focus on taking land out of the market and providing it to those who need it. Ours is a residential land trust, but the bylaws include provisions for protection against environmental harms such as clear-cutting or drilling for oil and gas.

The residents don't actually own the land, but get lifetime leases for as long as we don't violate the terms of the lease agreement. We do own the improvements (houses, barns, etc). Hickory Ridge has four leaseholds and some common land. Two of the leaseholds are currently occupied; we would like to find people for the other two, to create a stronger community here.

The four of us here now are all activists interested in peace, social justice, and environmental defense. We hope to find like-minded people, with whom we could also share some projects. Each family builds its own house and garden and makes its own rules, but some projects can be undertaken jointly. We use our neighbors' washing machine; they use our truck. We supply fresh eggs; they give us sweet potatoes. My neighbor keeps bees—I like flowers, and I take the needs of the bees into account when choosing them. I would especially like to find someone interested in sharing goats.

So what does it take to join the Hickory Ridge land Trust? We now have a $1000 join fee; beyond that, you need to be prepared to build your own house, except in the case of one parcel which has a fixer-up house. Skills in construction, mechanics, gardening, etc., are certainly helpful but not required as long as you have the physical ability and savings to build a home and homestead.

You need to have an interest in cooperative community, in self-sufficient and sustainable living, and to be harmonious with current tenants. We endeavor to find ways to minimize our carbon footprints—for example, both households have solar power. This is in part an attempt to model what's possible—enthusiasm for this goal would certainly be a plus. We hope to find people at least a little younger than ourselves—our ages range from 56 to 70. But we don't care about race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or whether or not you have children.

To join, someone needs to meet many times with current residents to see if we are compatible—then if everyone wants to go ahead, lease agreements are signed at a board meeting. For more information, send a message to   wildfire@spectrumz.com   or you can also find information and pictures on the intentional communities site, www.ic.org   not only about Hickory Ridge, but about thousands of other communities of all kinds, all over the country and world.

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