A Life Requirement

There is a lot of talk, in the circles I live in, about the concept and practice of intentional communities.

The idea is attractive, in many ways: a group of likeminded people choosing to live together according to a shared philosophy or common goal.

  • I know people who live in the inner city for the purpose of renewing struggling communities.
  • I have friends who live and work towards sustainability in eco-communities.
  • I have friends who live in multi-generational community with family for the benefit of old and young alike.

At BootsnAll, we value travel


We spend a lot of time thinking about how to further people’s efforts towards their dreams of longer term travel, and it’s among our shared dreams that every single person would have the opportunity to travel the world and learn.

That got me thinking:

What would it look like if everyone in an entire city, or town, had traveled?

What kind of intentional community would be populated by journeying citizens?

It’s among our shared dreams that every single person would have the opportunity to travel the world and learn.

I posed this question to my family on a Sunday drive, my daughter snorted, “Well, it would have to be a gypsy settlement, now wouldn’t it? Because you know that no one would be able to stay put!”

And perhaps she’s right….

The logistics of our town

Town square

The town would be arranged around a central square, where people could walk in the evenings and picnic on long afternoons, or play hacky-sack and frisbee.

At the center we’d find a big fire pit where spontaneous gatherings would coalesce as the sun went down. Music would be played, on every sort of instrument, because everyone plays something. Playing well is not a requirement: coffee cans or trash cans will do for drums, spoons are welcome, guitars need not have the conventional number of strings.

“And no one would mistake our dideridoo for a bomb on the way into town, either,” our musical daughter points out, referencing our difficulties getting it into the USA (3 times) this winter.

The food

Street food

The food would be fantastic. Of course there would be world class dining, but most of it would happen on the sidewalks and would come wrapped in paper, hot off the top of a fifty gallon drum stove manned by a chef with street creds.

Can you imagine? Pad Thai, German sausage, doners, pho, fried (pick a thing), tacos al pastor, those little quail egg & corn yummies, scallion pancakes, fresh naan, falafal, camarones Veracruzana, fish and chips, that chili laden north African bread that’s baked in clay pots over three stone fires… my mouth is watering.

Can you imagine a whole town of world travelers and their street food. Yes please.

The transport

Tuk Tuk

Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers would be the most highly educated and highly paid people in town. Why? Because they have to know everything and everywhere. They are worth the money, in transportation, entertainment, and information. In a just world, these dudes would be at the top of the economic food chain.

Driving in this town would be a blood sport, another reason the tuk-tuk drivers should be treated like gods. An international driving license would be required, and to acquire it you’d need to demonstrate proficiency on both sides of the road, with animals in play, without the ability to read the road signs, a flexible speed limit, with passengers at at least double capacity, a big bus bearing down from behind with it’s horn blaring, and dodging potholes while driving in an absolute drenching monsoon.

A pedestrian license would also be required: to qualify for that, you’d have to prove you’d mastered street crossing in Hanoi. In light of the traffic irregularities and difficulty in licensing, public transit would be a must, but laws regarding capacity and safety would be flexible. Walking would be normal. Bicycles would be ubiquitous. Hitchhiking would be an acceptable way to get to school.

The education


Schools would be open to all, regardless of age or experience. The teachers would be the folks who are passionate about what they know. The most sought after courses at the local high school would be languages, geography, and history. The most popular degrees at the local university would be Entrepreneurial Studies and Political Arts (which replaced political science since everyone knows that national and international relations are far more of an art than a science!).

Street performing would be a perfectly legit career, while being reduced to office work would be assumed to be evidence of some misdeed in a past life.

Street performing would be a perfectly legit career, while being reduced to office work would be assumed to be evidence of some misdeed in a past life. Lawyers would continue to be suspect.

Libraries would be replaced by book swap shelves in every public place.

The lifestyle


There would be coffee shops on every corner. Why? Because travelers get cultish about their coffee, and everyone knows they’re the only place to get decent wifi and some work done!

Denominational/factional churches would be replaced by “the church of each other” with a perpetual lecture series contributed to by persons of varying philosophical and religious differences. The goal of which would be increasing compassion and mutual understanding.

The very civilized practice of siesta would be considered sacred. Pot would be legal.

Surrounding the city we’d find a variety of small scale farms producing food and a variety of goods to support the inhabitants. Of course they’d fill the shelves of the shops in town and populate the thriving market style shopping scene that replaces grocery store chains. They’d also provide the opportunity for new arrivals to spend some time WWOOFing while they found their place in the community. Working hand in hand with the schools they’d help to provide a well rounded, real world education for young people and older people alike.

Factories would be replaced by larger scale cottage industry and cooperative efforts. Recycling and upcycling would replace big box store goods. Everything for sale would be fair trade.

The barter system would replace much of the traditional economic structure, with goods and services changing hands at a value determined by the partners. ATMs would dispense a range of currencies, with no hassle. Bubble gum and drink machines would take all of the pocket change that builds up over a long journey at current conversion rates. Bitcoin might actually work.

Travel agencies would be regionally focused. Located in the back of every coffee shop they would be staffed by volunteers who were chosen based on their local, first hand knowledge of the destinations they feature. Travel posters/guidebooks are replaced by photos taken by the travel agent on his iPhone!

Are you a traveler? That makes you an honorary citizen… what would you like to add to the community?

manifesto - options over possessions

Photo credits: Randy Pertiet, twicepix