Why These Projects?
Since ARSAN's purpose is to demonstrate possibilities of a new, sustainable way of life and the organizational focus is on the development of a sustainable, local food system, we needed to define projects that would represent key elements of what we want to address. These projects needed to demonstrate viable alternatives within our reach. They also had to be economically self-sustained, relying on consumer money. In addition, it was important that they be interconnected, showing various synergistic links. We wanted to create a new system of demonstration projects with ARSAN, the non-profit organization, at the centre linking them all together. It may look like a very complicated and confusing endeavor but this is also representative of the wholistic approach and a demonstration of how wholistic thinking can produce results. The whole we develop should make sense and it is up to the public to assess if it does.
The way we plan our projects is also different from what is commonly done in the mainstream. An organization such as ARSAN that doesn't have large and guaranteed funding cannot make fixed, long-term plans. Planning needs to be about following more detailed paths guided by the Purpose and within the Organizational Focus. These should lead to developing a Vision that serves as a frame for potential projects, which can be filled as the resources and involvement of right people allows. Planning needs to be, in a way, opportunistic, which doesn't mean at all diverting from the chosen path but rather finding the right time, right people and available resources to move forward. This will determine which projects should be addressed first and how to build support for other projects that fit the frame.
We identified four areas in which we wanted to develop projects:
- Sustainable farming
- Alternative rural living
- Traditional food processing
- Local food business
Together they offer a chance to create an interactive system that can demonstrate principles of a new sustainable way of life and ARSAN's focus on the development of a sustainable, local food system.
We have been searching for and want to demonstrate alternatives that are unique and attractive to many people and organizations. There is no point repeating what has been done somewhere else. That's why each of our projects has some strong, unique, creative elements that make them different from what others have done. This way, we can contribute to the effort of all other organizations which, like ARSAN, seek solutions to our common problems and searching for sustainable alternatives to our future.
There is one important and common aspect of ARSAN's projects. They need to represent realistic paths to their economic sustainability. They cannot be planned as continually depending on public funding or private donations - that is not going to work for any project. ARSAN, as a non-profit organization, will always seek and welcome external funding to support its ongoing projects and explore possibilities of new ones. However, all the projects we develop clearly show how they can be eventually sustained with consumer money. These may come from selling food, offering food service, tours, events and learning opprtunities, accommodation and even buying into cooperative housing opportunities.