Chapel Hill: Opinion

Blair Pollock: Blunden’s generous vision

Giles Blunden is a creator of worlds.

A community builder, a designer, a tinkerer, father, grandfather and architect. He’s a man who makes what he wants to see in this world.

After envisioning and developing the two very successful co-housing communities of Arcadia and Pacifica in Carrboro over the past 20 years, Giles, at 72, continues turning his head toward the future – that future being Generosity Farm.

Though “retired,” Giles says he cannot sit on his butt because, to quote him, “I’ll get splinters.” He’s now developing the concept of a farm capitalized by a group of retirees who will live there and invite young, undercapitalized small farmers to work the land and over time become economic and social partners in the venture, building their own wealth and gradually taking possession of the fields they’ve worked.

He believes based on the obvious attraction of older people to the co-housing model at Arcadia, that there are many active retirees or near-retirees in our community for whom a future in a retirement village, even one as nice as Carolina Meadows or Carol Woods, does not appeal. But neither do they want to be isolated in their own homes or necessarily live under the same roof with extended family.

Coupling that observation to his experiences over the past two years partnering with Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute in building first their communal teaching kitchen, then more recently the Honeysuckle Tea House, Giles saw the use of food growing, preparation, consuming and sharing as the natural basis for community.

Right now Generosity Farm is just that – a concept with a Kickstarter site that’s already raised most of the initial $15,000 in funding to do the research and write this guidebook or roadmap so that this concept could be developed anywhere. But it’s clearly a natural outgrowth of his 25-plus years of building community through the act of collaboratively designing and building first Arcadia in the 1990s and then Pacifica in the early 2000s along with many other local homes, additions and other projects.

It’s hard to paraphrase his cover letter for Generosity Farms so instead I’ll just quote it generously,

“I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 for a book that I will complete this year. It’s a book about a new kind of retirement community that brings together young organic farmers and active retirees. I need help with this project, in order to complete it by January, 2015.

I plan to publish this book and give it away. I don’t care about making money on it, but I can’t lose money, and I’d like it to be a community project. I’m willing ... to write the book, which I’m calling ‘Roadmap to Generosity Farm.’ I think it could have some value as a model for communities faced with the dilemmas that confront retirees and young farmers today.

Please click and see what you think, …..As you know, I believe that cultural change comes from the grassroots – us. By joining me in this project, we become a grassroots movement that will make a collective statement about purpose, social capital, and shared values.”

Giles’ belief that altruism is important to our well being leads him on. His individual vision is honed by the desire to not work for others and, as he also told me, a Robin Hood spirit of building and sharing social capital rather than just accumulating material wealth.

So check out Generosity Farm online, maybe we’ll be living there someday.

You can reach Blair Pollock at