Hello, my name is Per and I am a resident in Denmark’s first and only experimental village. A cozy place among the hills, where there has been built the finest and most beautiful small town. We live here with circa 400 people, and most of us have our work here in town.
I’ll show you around a bit. We start at the square; it is large and made of beautiful natural stone. I stand in front of the village hall, the largest and nicest building in the old style, with shutters and many small windows. When you enter, you see the common room and a large kitchen, a library and an office. Doesn’t it look great? But let’s go back and look round along the square. On the left side there is a retraite center and a health center. On the right side we have a shared studio and next to it a shared working place with all kind of tools. And this building over there, with the large windows, that is our hotel and conference center. There we give smart educational workshops and business consultancy, and we have many customers from all over Denmark and also from abroad, all year round.
Now we’ll have a look around the village hall and see what lies behind. Here you have our small park, and then there behind it starts our agriculture. You can see many fruit trees there in a large area. To the left are vegetables, to the right large amounts of spices, and then two farms with animals, potatoes and rye and grain fields. We also keep bees, on the left, where the forest starts. But let’s go back to the square. We have now seen half of the square, but there is more. Now we stand in the middle of the square. To the right, there are some shops. This here, it’s the food store. Everything we produce ourselves, we can come and get for free here. Like potatoes, onions, vegetables andsoon. Next to it you’ll find our import shop. Here you can get everything we don’t produce ourselves, so what you buy here costs money. How we handle money, I’ll tell you later on. Next business, it’s a sort of a second hand shop. A kind of recycling shop where you may deliver what you no longer use; you get points for those things, and those points you can use to buy something else in the shop. It is very populair among the women; they just can not help exchanging their clothes all the time. And the last shop on this side, this is where guests can purchase our products.
Over there, on the left , you will see a small cafe with a terrace and petanque. There we play cards and chess, backgammon, and of course there are children games. There is also darts. Next to the cafe is a shop with all sorts of things we do not produce ourselves, like building materials, paint. These again cost money. And there, on the other side of the square, is our school, with a football field, and tennis and playground behind . The school is not quite an ordinary school because we do not have so many children in basic school age here; it is a kind of a free school with many fun things for the kids.
And behind all this you’ll find people’s private homes. There are circa 300 of them, many for single people, many for families with children, and a few houses for groups. They are for people who do not like to live alone; especially the young like to live in them. When you come to live here in the village, you choose a house. It’s free, no rent has to be paid, nor energy and water, if you have your work here in the village. Only those who have their work outside the village pay for it. You can always swap house if you feel like it and find someone else who would want to swap. Or you can move into one of the group homes. We currently have a group house inhabited by two families with children; they also have two foster children, so now there are 8 children, and I can tell you, they have it fantastic together.
Ah, now I totally forgot to talk about energy. There are two wind turbines behind our fields, and all homes have solar panels on the roofs. Heating of the houses is done with geothermal energy. That’s why it is free. Yes, many of the houses are new ; but there are still some of the old ones. It’s also fun , some people like to live in such an old charming little house and rebuild it exactly as they please. And, you’ll also find some studios for artists there.
Transport? We have shared cars for those who work in this town; those who work outside the village have their private car. Most of our shared cars are electric.
Where do we live from? Well, basically from our own energy, and our agriculture. All extra, what we cannot produce ourselves, it must be purchased, so to pay for it, we need to produce something that can be sold. So we sell honey, spices, self made clothes, ceramics, art, poetry, literature and journalism, and whatever else people can find to produce. Then we earn a lot with our hotel with its conference center, business consultancy and educational workshops. The only duty here, is to do 4 hours a week communal services. For the rest we have jobs here in which one can be active, or one can be productive in private work. That’s up to ourselves, what we want. Each person registers for themselves, how many hours a week we work either in one of the jobs or in private productive work. All revenues from our work are gathered into the villages common fund. Then everyone gets paid per registered hour of work. Sitting and thinking about some work related problem, or practicing and experimenting, also counts as work, of course. And yes, the amount is the same no matter what kind of work it is. There is no work that nobody wants to do, except maybe that which we all take care of in the 4 hours per week communal service; but most of us are having fun enough with common cleaning, collecting waste and that kind of thing.
How many hours a week are people working? Well, that is their own decision. We have circa 40 fulltime jobs that simply have to be done, to get the whole economy to work. We have circa 200 that want to work in our jobs in the city, circa 50 who work outside the city , and the other 150 are private productive. So that would be 1 day per week per person for those who want to work in our jobs. Do you think it ‘s strange that it can be done with so little work? No, but it is not. When your house is free, and you have free basic food, free transport, what would need to be added to the budget? Here in Denmark, it wouldn’t be more than some 200 to 300 euros a month per person, to be able to buy other things we don’t produce ourselves, go on a holiday and enjoy some other things we would like to do. So it’s somewhere between 1 and 2 million euros a year we have to earn all together. We do so with the sale of products , rent payments from those who work outside the village, and with our hotel and conference center.
Well, how can that be? This is because there is no waste of work at any time. There is no bureaucracy and everything is productive. And now I’ll tell you something : Do you think that people are sitting on their asses in the other 6 days a week? No they don’t. There is just so much going on here, it’s unbelievable. People show a lot of initiative, and that means that we expect to end this year with 4 million income from our productivity, and next year we even expect much more! So we give a big party here outside, on the square, in August , with music and grill and cozyness and dance. What we do with the surplus? Ah , but that must be clear right? Now we can all get double money for each hour we work; 100% raise in salary, isn’t it wonderful? And the rest we use to start some new things in the next year.
Why did Denmark invest in something like that, and what did it cost? Well, it didn’t cost anything, because many people living here used to receive social welfare benefits. These benefits cost the State 7 million in benefits a year, plus the costs related to case management, control andsoon. The construction project of the village cost 60 million dollars, so the whole project will be earned back by the State in less than ten years. It was us who said to the State, you know what? We ‘ll take care of each other, 400 people that won’t cost you a penny, and we’ll pay taxes on top of that. They thought it was a great deal. Did you like the tour? You are welcome in our beautiful hotel, and you are also invited to our party in August. Do you then want to live as we live, work how we work and live in peace and quiet with everything you need and more, start your village. We will be happy to help.
NB: This is a story about an imaginary village; it is all a fantasy. Is it too good to be true, or is it good enough to become true, would it be a way to evolve to a new kind of economy starting within the context of existing economy systems?