Back in November, we proposed a social experiment. A diverse temporary intentional community, where you can record your next album, write your novel, develop your start-up, grow your own produce, showcase your artwork—whatever you want to do. Summer Commune will provide you with an audience and potential collaborators. The talent in the community we build this summer might help you to create the next stellar web start-up, or serve as a social network for finding new jobs in the future.
Our plan was to spend June-August between the coasts – somewhere where rent is cheap, the weather is pleasant, the streets are walkable, and the WiFi is unwavering. While a lot of people expressed interest in coming, a few of us have kept the ball rolling into the next phase of planning by picking three potential locations for Summer Commune 2012: Hudson, NY; Iowa City, IA; and Moscow, ID.
In order to keep moving forward with this project, we need to pick a location by February 22nd. As much as possible, we want the decision of where to live and all other decisions this summer to be made by consensus (our process is inspired by the General Assembly model of the Occupy movement). Vote for the location that most appeals to you by following this link to our online poll.
We’ll announce the winning location and send Dispatch #4 (with details about our Kickstarter campaign & planning committees) at the end of February. You can also like our Facebook page for updates, to share ideas, start a dialogue, etc. before then. To be added to our mailing list, just respond to this email.
HUDSON, New York
I think we should spend our summer in Hudson, NY. First off, Hudson Hawk is one of my favorite movies. Seems like a super small, super quiet, bed-and-breakfast tourism town where people come to peep the river, hit up the local wineries, and get speeding tickets on the country roads. (There’s also a bus system.)
The main draw for me is that it’s quiet and rural, but within driving/carpooling/hardcore biking distance of NYC (130 miles) and Boston (164 miles) for when we feel the need to get metro or if there is a cool event or someone visits or something.
Hudson, NY is on the Hudson River so if it pleases us, we can take a dip at any time.
There are two state parks, Rogers Island Game Management Area and Greenport Conservation Area, right outside of town.
The Columbia County tourism website basically says that it has the kewlest country roads and bike trails in the whole wide world.
The downtown main strip is about 1 mile long so we can easily pub crawl the whole town in one night if we wanted to. Errythang is walkable. There’s also a mall for when we get Orange Julius cravings.
A quick look at Craigslist says that housing costs about:
- 1BR: $700-900
- 2BR: $900-1300
- 3BR: $1300-1500
Pros: Vicinity to NYC and Boston. River and nature shit. Sweet roads. Bus system. The Hudson Valley, NY Craigslist Casual Encounters page.
Cons: As far as jobs go, it’s a very small town so I don’t know how many of us can get jobs bussing tables or working at grocery stores or whatever. Might be hard to find housing (the Craigslist page is for many surrounding towns, not Hudson itself).
ProCons, depending: Small town-ness means we’ll probably be the talk of the town and that could lead to some media coverage. Montreal is only 254 miles away so if you hate Canada, your Canada buffer is kinda small. (Editor’s note: We love Canada.)
IOWA CITY, Iowa
I am proposing Iowa City because it is a highly regarded college town, with abundant affordable housing and an existing community of forward-thinking people.
Iowa City is centrally located. It is easily accessible by car, bus, and plane. Megabus services Iowa City to Chicago (4 hours, $28 r/t), Omaha (4½, $10), Des Moines (2, $10). It is 30 minutes from Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa Airport (CID). Flights from the west cost between $300-500 to fly into CID. From the east cost between $285 - $450. From Canada cost between $630 - $800.
Housing is affordable in Iowa City. A quick look at Craigslist shows that a 1 bedroom apartment costs between $350 – 620 a month, while a 5 bedroom house can cost between $1800 - 2500. (How much is your rent in Brooklyn again?)
If you need to find a job while you’re there you can fill the service positions that college students abdicate during the summer. (I also have a contact at the Olive Garden.)
Iowa City has a vibrant community of artists and intellectuals. University of Iowa is home to the esteemed Iowa Writer’s Workshop and masters programs in Art and Art History. As well as the famed Prairie Lights Bookstore.
There are many summer festivals:
I like the town because it is easily walkable and very bikeable. Several large city parks flow along the Iowa River. Lake McBride State park is 30 minutes away.
The community has garnered international acclaim: Utne Reader ranked Iowa City eighth in its 1997 survey of “America’s 10 Most Enlightened Towns.” Iowa City is Forbes Magazine’s second-best small metropolitan area for doing business in the United States. UNESCO designated Iowa City as the world’s third “City of Literature.” The Advocate ranked Iowa City third of fifteen “Gayest Cities in America.” And it’s CNN Money’s 68th of 100 Best Places to Live.
Let’s spend our summer in Iowa City. Plus Iowans are so nice…
It’s Moss-CO not Moss-cow. The most exciting things about having Summer Commune in Moscow is that the city is totally walkable and bikeable, the University of Idaho is huge and beautiful, and there are city, state, and national parks in like 15 different directions.
There are 17 city parks in Moscow alone (and a skate park, bros), and a paved walking/biking trail system connects the U of Idaho to the U of Washington (8 miles west, along a creek!). This same trail continues 12 miles east of Moscow to the city of Troy.
There is FREE public transit and an extensive bike path system.
There’s a farmer’s market every Saturday in Friendship Square, Rendezvous In the Park featuring Dumpstaphunk in July, a winery, and several theaters & galleries in town and on campus. Plus, I have it on good authority from a native Idahoan that Moscow is “A LOT OF FUN.”
Spokane, WA and Coeur D’Alene, ID are the nearest metro areas. Spokane is an 1 hr 45 minute’s drive, and from there you can take Amtrak to Seattle or Portland. Spokane also has sports and cultural events and other typical city-stuff. (Fieldtrips!)
Also within driving distance are a shit ton of national parks: Coeur D’Alene National Forest (1 hr 35 min), Saint Joe National Forest (40 minutes), and Wallowa National Forest and Whitman National Forest are also nearby.
You can fly into Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport (4 miles/6.4 km), or Spokane International (90 mi/145 km).
Rents in Moscow & Pullman:
- 1BR: $300-500/month
- 2BR: $500-800
- 3BR: $600-1,100 (townhomes & apartments)
Cons: Honestly the only con I think of worth mentioning is that this part of the country isn’t super diverse…But Summer Commune can change that, at least temporarily.
See y’all in a few months!