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Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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a live journal post-script, i guess
Don't be alarmed. I am not returning to Live Journal. I just felt like making a single post. I didn't *vow* to never make another LJ post... I can make a post every six months or so if I want to. This is America, God damn it!

I've had this long-recurring fantasy about running a vegan commune/collective. As much of a mean, old, disillusioned, misanthropic curmudgeon as I am, I do feel a longing for a sense of community and belonging. In my fantasy-land, I find a large, shabby house in Detroit for cheap. I fix it up, live in it, and rent out rooms to vegan hippie types. My livelihood consists of mowing the grass, fixing leaky faucets, and cooking black bean stew for all to enjoy in the evening. We all live very simply and economically, being self-sufficent as a group and learning the skills necessary to survive the already-beginning, permanent energy crisis. I think this was all as heartbreakingly naive as the time my little brother, at age 5 or so, came up with a plan to ask Santa Claus for a magic wand for Christmas, thereby using it to make our divorced parents a complete family once more.

I found a perfect house recently. (OK, Sarah Jones actually pointed it out to me.) I've actually had my eye on this house since before I moved into my current home. Due to a mortgage foreclosure and disrepair, this five-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house that was sold only a year ago for $77,000 is now being offered for $29,900. It is on a very quiet block in historic Corktown, just one block from the edge of downtown. Anny and I took some photos of the interior:


(Ignore the typo on that page--it's on Bagley, not Wabash. And the first photo with snow is from the realtor's web site since we forgot to take an exterior shot.)

Yes, yes--it is in serious disrepair. It needs a new roof, new windows, new plumbing fixtures, new kitchen cabinets, and a lot of paint. A lot of money and very hard work will be necessary.

After seeing the inside for myself, I immediately summoned the two most reliable, financially-secure vegans I know: Joe and Jason. Surely the three of us combined could fairly divide the necessary demands of money and labor and enjoy equal shares of ownership and liberal hippie rental income.

They initially liked the house. It is built on an oddly-shaped lot, so the bedrooms end up with trapezoid-shaped closets and a triangle-shaped bathroom. This house had all of the quirks and uniqueness that an old home ought to have. But the dilapidation overwhelmed them. The very filthy basement is probably going to give Jason nightmares. I tried explaining that by investing $30,000 into a $29,900 house, we would end up with a house that would be worth over $80,000 (surely most of the problems this house has were still present when the thing was sold for $77,000 twelve months ago). But the smell of mold is stronger than the power of math. Jason turned down the collaborative proposal pretty much immediately. Joe informed me the next day that he isn't, as he put it, my "one-stop loan shop"--although, in reality, it would be most reasonable to obtain a bank loan to get started and mortgage the house once it is up to code.

I don't mean to whine, as if other people are somehow obliged to facilitate my crazy fantasies. The biggest disappointment is how rare a house this big in this location comes along for this cheap. But if I am patient, and pay off my credit cards, car, and roof, I will a) have a ton of credit freed up, and b) be able to save up actual cash, too. If this situation comes up again in five years, I will be able to walk into the bank and apply for the loans (and afford the monthly payments) on my own.

But I won't. I think this event served as my safe warning: "Paul, your vegan commune idea isn't realistic. No one will commit. The people you approach will disingenuously misinterpret your propositions as kissing their asses to get their money." Imagine if I did wait the five years and did everything myself. I'd be up Shit's Creek as the reality becomes clear that other people don't share my enthusiasm for liberal utopias in old houses (and some civil suit is filed against me for stating that I prefer vegans in my Craigslist housing ad).

Again, no one is obliged to give me anything (much less co-sign on thousands of dollars in loans), but I am sad that my last feelings of desire for some kind of social reliance are gone. I'm not sure what made me temporarily backpedal on my past resolution to let my social connections die on their own (and here I am backpedaling on my "ending" this Live Journal), but I think I will be better off by sticking to my original plan.

I told my dad about the house, and he's interested in seeing it, but he does that...gets excited about something i'm excited about and then at the last minute drops it. I need a yard, anyway. I went for a walk through Woodbridge yesterday and there are 4 houses for sale, all stunning. I think I'd rather save for one of them.

The lack of a yard is a drawback, but I would hope the lot next door can be purchased. And if not, it would be a good excuse to not have to explain why I fail at growing my own food.

Although my communal living idea is dead, I will still want to renovate a building and create private, individual apartments one day. Repairing corporeal, tangible objects is infinitely more satisfying than entering numbers into a spreadsheet.

(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-06-30 01:07 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - saragene, 2008-06-30 01:18 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-06-30 01:30 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - saragene, 2008-06-30 02:07 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-06-30 02:34 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - saragene, 2008-06-30 02:37 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2011-03-14 10:17 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Someday, when I'm rich (or at least richer than I am now), I would love to contribute to your vegan commune. Even if I'm not a vegan, I like the idea that you want to take something yucky and make it really good. ::applause::

It wouldn't be a nonprofit charitable organization. It would have been the community supporing itself. Some day I would like to restore a dilapidated house. The things I've done to my own house probably only count as "upgrades". Steve Flum did most of the real renovation.

(no subject) - lershee, 2008-06-30 02:12 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-06-30 02:29 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - lershee, 2008-06-30 02:34 pm (UTC)(Expand)
wow i'm sorry it fell through, but perhaps you'll be more likely to execute your dream if you don't have to depend on other people. maybe sometime in the future?

anyway, good luck. it was great to see an update from you! i hope all else is well with you and anny!

Next time I get a wacky idea like this I'll pay you to run a report on comps in the area to prove that I'm not *totally* insane. Normally I would prefer to undertake things like this alone, but I'm impatient! I will simply have to wait a few years to be in a better position.

Sorry I never sent you the broken tile like I said I was going to. And now my girlfriend wants to use my broken tiles to make stepping stones in the garden.

I hope all is well up in Ferndale-land! :D

(no subject) - helloamythyst, 2008-06-30 03:36 pm (UTC)(Expand)
I'm really glad to hear from you, believe it or not. Just yesterday as I was walking through the park with Zane I found myself talking to him at length about our time at Farm Sanctuary so many years ago, mainly about how everyone used to go to bars in town at night and you and I would be stuck amusing each other with hand puppets and home videos about rabbits. Sometimes I think it would be nice to be so removed from society again for a month or so. But then I remember that most days I only end up talking to other humans in person for maybe two hours and the rest of the day I'm completely alone. It's nice.

Anyway it's good to hear from you!

Don't count me out just yet. Besides I'm 1 million times more vegan than Joe. Anyway, I guess I'm just really stingy with money. I don't understand it, I need to see everything laid out. Like how much would windows really cost? We had no idea. So if we could really buy and fix that house for $60,000 I would be in, but that number is kind of just picked out of the sky.

Yes, and although Jason is one million times more vegan than I am, I am still vegan enough to like your idea. I would not be a "one-stop-loan-shop", this is true, but I would be willing to kick in money and help with the right plan and organization, as Jason is requesting. And also I would be willing to live there if it was The Local Crew of vegans with one or two at least that we already know. My wariness of living there was if it were to be a situation where I'd be having to find new roommates all the time as the primary inhabitant and in a similar spot I was at Kingston. There are many shades between "absolutely no" and "I will pour all of my life and blood into your vision".

(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-06-30 06:29 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-06-30 06:14 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - hunchentoot, 2008-06-30 06:55 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-06-30 07:13 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - istopi, 2008-06-30 09:53 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-07-01 01:20 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - hunchentoot, 2008-07-01 09:27 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-07-01 01:22 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - saragene, 2008-07-01 06:03 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-07-01 11:19 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - hunchentoot, 2008-07-01 11:46 pm (UTC)(Expand)
You should continue to make posts, because I enjoy reading about someone else with utopic visions for Detroit. Yours are politically polar from mine, but they are utopic visions nonetheless.

Eh, I don't know if your views are politically POLAR from mine. I mean, you're not advocating prayer in public schools and the privatization of city parks, right?

(no subject) - aloneuntilldeat, 2008-07-01 01:51 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - aloneuntilldeat, 2008-07-01 02:04 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - vegan27, 2008-07-01 02:40 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - aloneuntilldeat, 2008-07-01 03:09 pm (UTC)(Expand)

Re: We should explore all these houses

you stay away from that first one, i've got dibs! If it's for sale when i've graduated and found a "real" job, it's MINE. (You should totally go see it anyway though so that I can come too)

(Deleted comment)

Re: Hi Paul

Sure, here you go: five_khandhas[at]yahoo[dot]com

Talk to you later! :)