“Picture Heathcote “community” since last summer…. Total: 15. When this group shares common goals, clarified by frequent discussion, the members feel in “community.” But this is not easy. Time and patience are necessarily.
But even if the warmest, most understanding bonds existed among these 15 persons, would that be “intentional” community? Not really. For of necessity community involves land, buildings, financing, “title”, legality, education and other “external” aspects. Questions arise: Shall “communiteers” use the buildings without cost? How shall land be allotted, at what cost? What part of “control” shall those have who contribute to Heathcote (but do not want to live there)? Shall the goals of these important supporters be implemented or ignored?”
–The Green Revolution Journal. April, 1968. Mildred J. Loomis
School of Living and Its Land Trust Movement Economics
The School of Living economic model was heavily influenced by social reform movements of the 19th century, including the single tax movement built on the ideas of Henry George. According to this model of moral economics, social inequalities are produced by profits on unearned inputs, such as rent derived from land ownership. School of Living is an application of this single-tax community vision, including a socially beneficial land trust system and self-help cooperative.
Heathcote has a 99-year lease on School of Living property. School of Living’s core mission serves informal self-directed education, diffusion of organic agriculture methods and products, and promoting urban/rural homesteading.
Heathcote hosts both intentional community resident members and a center for non-resident member and partnership participation.
Land Trust Communities in the United States
The land trust community is and idea based on an intentional formula for land tenure, with characteristics of ownership, organization, and operation to meet varied project needs; These needs can include homesteads, homeless shelters, agricultural communities, cooperative businesses, land and habitat protection and management, combined use, and combined income housing.
The ability to specialize has given the movement resiliency despite changing circumstances and needs. While there were an estimated 277 land-trust communities in the United States in 2020, there were many more during the pre-World War One era, some of which are still operating:
- Fairhope Single Tax Corporation was established in 1894 in Fairhope, Alabama as the Fairhope Single Tax Colony. It is the oldest surviving single-tax colony in the United States and a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation.
- Free Acres is a 75-acre community founded in 1910 in New Jersey. Self-described as “interesting and free-thinking”, many early residents came from Greenwich Village and its bohemian milieu.
- Arden was founded in 1900 in the aftermath of the ‘Delaware Invasion’ of 1895/6, where Geoist single-tax advocates entered the state from different parts of the United States to turn the state into a single tax refuge.
The largest land-trust community in the United States as of 2020 is the Champlain Housing Trust of Burlington, Vermont, housing over 2,000 residents in rental apartments, co-ops, and shared-appreciation or single-family homes and condominiums.
The Land Trust movement outside the United States
The land trust’s economic model has existed most successfully outside of the United States. For example, Singapore relied heavily on the model to rebuild in the aftermath of British colonization. Today, 90% of Singapore’s land is held in common single-tax lines, contributing to the country’s social peace and leading economic development. Other notable land tenure schemes that influenced the American land trust model include examples in Israel and India.