A Prospectus - Alpha Farm - 1971

Tags: Alpha Farm, History, Values

A Prospectus AF-A1
Alpha Farm

A Prospectus AF-A1

We call our project Alpha, a beginning. Alpha is an intentional community which has been envisioned and is now becoming a reality. This prospectus is written for interested friends for their understanding and support. "We" are a few people (calling ourselves a family) who have come together over the past year. We are each in agreement that the overall environment in which we find ourselves--physical, social, economic, spiritual-- inhibits us from bringing forth the full fruit of our humanity. We are grieved by a loss of control over ourselves. We seek the opportunity to create , in an atmosphere of freedom and reality, a viable alternative for ourselves and, we hope, for our brothers and sisters caught in similar situations. For this opportunity we have decided to risk our present positions and securities. What action is necessary to unlock the boxes of society and the boxes of our own minds to live more fully? This prospectus for Alpha attempts to explain in a preliminary way our motivations, our initial actions and plans, and our needs.

Why Alpha?

We come to this point of beginning from many directions.

Each of us has spent years in city living, working and hoping for its revitalization. We have spent major portions of our lives and energies working for peace and social change. We have come to realize, however, that our work while necessary and gripping, is outwardly focused. We have sought to change the minds, hearts and actions of others. But the renewal of the social order, we now see, must begin with ourselves and our relations with it. We seek to change our basic assumptions and patterns of daily living; to accomplish this we must alter our patterns of thought. We must live ourselves into the future we seek.

Socially we envision a modified style of family life that overcomes the isolation and rigid classifications of single persons, couples, and separate families. We intend to encourage and succor nuclear families in Alpha, and we consider physical privacy for each individual to be an elementary right and need. Simultaneously we seek to correct the isolation and built-in tensions of the nuclear family which has occurred in the industrial age. Children and adults alike need to share emotional and physical support with more than one or two individuals. Community members of all ages will participate together in the living and growing of each other.

Economically we place greater trust in the strength and stability of an integrated living/working group, than in separate, competing economic units. Recent American experience has bestowed prosperity on many, but some of us remember it not always being thus, and are concerned for the future. We are of the opinion that a family-like sharing of our resources and skills affords greater security than bank accounts. This presupposes a spiritually and psychologically integrated "family," complete with the love, care, and responsibility of a true family. We expect it will be needful, as Alpha grows, to form new "families" within the community to preserve the intimacy that comes with small numbers (we envision 20 persons as being near the ideal maximum for a "family"--although this, as with everything else, would be determined by the consensus of the group). Without retreating into economic isolation, we wish to retrieve some of the self-sufficiency of our lives which is made impossible as single individuals in a society sharply dependent on technology. Technology has made obsolete the romantic era of the independent pioneer; technology has even made obsolete the notion of a genuinely self-dependent nuclear family. A measure of self-sufficiency today can be accomplished only as a group.

Politically we seek a climate which, at least on the local level, is congenial and receptive to new ideas. We consider it important to have open and communicating relationships with people in the area of Alpha. Far from withdrawing into ourselves, the establishment of trust and non-exploitive relations with others is one of the primary aspects of the Alpha experiment. We intend to learn from our neighbors and to share with them both in business and personal relations. Government is important to us also, and we seek local government on a sufficiently small scale to play a meaningful part in it. We are rankled by uncontrolled corruption and the quasi-policy state we now see around us, and desire a situation where our numbers might bring more visible results to our efforts. Such government services as education are important to our children and the family as a whole, and we can not tolerate any longer the gross inadequacies and mis-education that passes for school systems in major cities. Although we will have qualified educators at Alpha, we intend to work through the public system as much as possible, and to participate constructively in other public functions.

Spiritual values are hardly separate, in practice, from social, political and economic values. Just as Alpha is our attempt to build a life around our greatest joys, Alpha also seeks to embody in practice our best spiritual understandings. Most of the members of Alpha at this early stage have come to accept the basic understandings of Quakerism: simplicity, pacifism, respect for the "Inner Light" of each individual, and consensus as a method of working together. We seek at Alpha to be in spiritual community with each other to improve these beginning understandings.

How Alpha Was Found--And What It Is

The family is an association of equals committed to the Alpha experiment of living. Those of us actively participating at this time are few; more have expressed interest in becoming part of Alpha; many others have voiced interest in the general idea.

In March, 1971, a few of us discovered in each other a kinship. We started meeting regularly as a dinner group of six and as the months passed, became increasingly a natural "family." We shared with each other many of the ideas expressed in this prospectus, but also realized that without positive action they would remain dinner-table conversation and fantasies. Were we prepared to risk the patterns of our comfortable lives? Yes, we decided, and in October five of us set out in search of a location.

The initial area of our choice was the vicinity of Eugene, Oregon, a beautiful area characterized by its moderate weather and good growing season; good multi-crop agricultural land; West Coast location but away from earthquake prone zones; excellent educational facilities; progressive government and relatively comfortable political climate("flexible within a structure"); and a social climate that seemed to be as tolerant of new ideas as any area of the United States. After much discussion we agreed that Oregon, especially the Eugene area , was the most propitious in the country.

After an intensive time of looking, the group came upon a farm and town combination. Working with a friend, a real estate agent in the area, we found a finger-valley for sale in the Coast Range, 20 miles from the coast and 35 miles west of Eugene. The valley and farm used to be a stagecoach and mail stop on the old route 101 between California and Seattle. It's name, still frequently found on road maps, was Alpha, a name which seems suited for our beginning. The farm totals 360 acres, with approximately 200 in timber and the remainder in tillable, valley-floor pasture. The sale includes a large farmhouse, a very large barn, eleven other smaller farm buildings, and farm machinery. The valley is secluded from immediate neighbors, and a steadily flowing stream flows through for about a mile of the farm's land. Standing in the valley, almost all the land visible--from mountain to mountain--is Alpha. The farmhouse is large enough for six bedrooms to house early settlers; many other beautiful sites are available for the construction of A frames, geodesic domes, or whatever structures the forming, growing family needs. We intend to raise much of the food the family would consume, as well as a cash crop.

Ten miles from Alpha valley, on route 36 between Eugene and Florence on the coast, we found the town of Swisshome. In this small lumbering community of about 200 people on the Suislaw river we found for sale as a unit: the large general store(with gas pumps); the post office; three houses and another small rental unit; an area prepared with sanitation facilities for two mobile homes; and adjacent land suitable for development. The combination of farm and town seemed to mesh naturally, both economically and socially. The store would provide a market for foods and crafts from the farm-- as well as income for the family. Swisshome would also offer family members a variety of occupations, accommodations, and room for expansion. Swisshome would also offer family members a focus of outreach and would require the family to relate to the community. Most important, Swisshome offers a challenge and an opportunity to work together with others to bring into reality specific community ideas--economic, political and social.

We feel confident that, with thoughtful planning and focused energy, Alpha (talking together under that name both the valley and Swisshome) will become the setting for personal and group growth. But we do not underrate Alpha as a financial challenge, especially because our numbers are still small and the "family" young. Overall purchasing costs of Alpha valley are as follows:

Purchase cost $92,000

1st year living expenses $8,000



Long range:
20 people at $5,000 each $100,000

Short range: (Preferred)
Long or short term, no- or low- interest loans raised from individuals and agencies interested in this experiment in living. ................ $64,000

$5,000 initial investment by 7 adults and 1 child

( $1,000 ) .............. $36,000


Short Range: (alternate)

Loan from Land Bank $40,000

2nd mortgage from current owner $22,000

To be raised by 12/28/71 $38,000


Overall purchasing costs of Swisshome:

Asking price $60,000 plus inventory

Offering price $50,000 including inventory


Long range:
10 people at 5,000 each $50,000

Short range:
Long or short term, no- or low- interest loans from individuals and agencies interested in this experiment $50,000

Having come this far into Alpha, you know there is much still to be said, to be decided, and to be done. The immediate need is to raise money; and we prefer to pay interest to friends who share our purposes, than to a bank. (Most banks do not share our purposes, and to enrich them unnecessarily would run contrary to "Alphan" economic ideas.) We must have at least the down payment for the valley--$38,000-- in hand by December 28. We know that there are many questions friends will need to have answered, and we welcome your reactions by letter, phone, or in person.
The Family.
3607 Baring Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
(215) EV 6-2532 evenings and weekends