The third essential characteristic of the alternative way is that it must be very communal, participatory and cooperative. Firstly, we must share many things. We could have a few stepladders, electric drills etc. in the neighbourhood workshop, as distinct from one in every house. Many goods and services would be produced by cooperatives.
We would be on various voluntary rosters, committees and working bees to carry out most of the windmill maintenance, construction of public works, child minding, and basic nursing, educating and care of aged people in our area. These activities would also deal with many of the functions councils now carry out for us that would remain, such as maintaining our parks and streets, and in fact energy, water and “waste” systems. Working bees and committees would maintain the many commons. We would therefore need far fewer bureaucrats and professionals, reducing the amount of income we would have to earn to pay taxes. (When we contribute to working bees, committees and community activities, we are in effect paying some of our tax.)
Especially important would be the regular voluntary community working bees. Just imaging how rich your neighbourhood would now be if every Saturday afternoon for the past five years there had been a voluntary working bee doing something that would make the locality a more productive and pleasant place for all to live.
These arrangements and activities would generate strong community bonds. People would know each other and be interacting on communal projects and committees. Because all would realise that their welfare depended heavily on how well we looked after each other and our ecosystems, there would be powerful incentives for mutual concern, facilitating the public good, and making sure others were content. The situation would be quite different from consumer-capitalist society where there is little incentive for individuals to care for others, for their community or their ecosystems.
One would certainly predict a huge decrease in the incidence of personal and social problems and their dollar and social costs. The new neighbourhood would surely be a much healthier and happier place to live, especially for older and disadvantaged people. All would have interesting, worthwhile things to do, important purposes, and much time for artistic and personal development.
Our life experience would mainly be enriched not by our personal wealth or talents, but by having access to public things such as a beautiful landscape containing many forests, ponds, animals, water wheels, gardens, bamboo clumps, little farms and firms, projects and leisure opportunities close to home, a neighbourhood workshop, many cultural and artistic groups and skilled people to learn from, community festivals and celebrations and a thriving and supportive community. This much more “collectivist” orientation need not have any negative implications for important personal freedom. There is no reason why we should not also retain much freedom for individuals to pursue their own private interests.