At Kalu Yala, similar to many organizations, jargon is used to describe the company. Words like sustainability, human capital, localization, smart growth and naked development. For someone that does not know anything about the company it could be confusion about what these concepts are or why they are thrown around so much. It is curious how recent generations have sort of created these terms: sustainability, localization, naked development. It is even more curious to understand that these terms had to be created; new words to describe new models of living that break away from the way we have created communities in the last several decades.
Being a real estate development initiative at its core, Kalu Yala is looking to create a community, a new town of people that live together. I believe this value is the most important, the most fundamental of all the initiatives that will one day create Kalu Yala; that the development will consist of people that live together. This is what we are investing in: the creation of citizens.
Most of western society these days is centralized, that is, most of our solutions and services come from specialized providers or people. There is a place and time for everything and those times and places are regulated efficiently, in many cases with the clock becoming our ruler. These days most of our country patronizes specialized developments like the suburbs; we are nearly 100% dependent on specialized exterior corporations to mold our communities and provide our basic needs. We are consumer minded individuals that believe that our problems should be solved by outside institutions that specialize in a specified area of need. This mindset eliminates the diversity of localities and communities. Instead of being regional individuals in a community with diverse skills, we are a people of specialized skills hoping that some “invisible hand” of some “market” will put the right solutions in the right places. It seems to me we have used individual liberty and independence as the excuse to look the other way while our problems that are both diverse and complex continue to grow. I don’t believe citizens inhabit most of the Western world; I believe we have become mostly co-habiting, passive consumers that just happen to live on the same piece of land.
“Customers” have several characteristics:
- Give away power
- Allow others to define their needs
- Consuming not creating
- Thinks in terms of “I”
- Feel entitled
It has been made clear by science, sociology, medicine, and our human tradition that belonging to a community is a significant part of living a healthy life. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the USA. 90% of people that commit suicide have a treatable mental illness at the time of death. One of the leading causes of suicide is untreated depression; one of the main causes of depression is isolation. It seems that what we normally call problems (low performance, high costs, poor morale, unsafe streets, poor healthcare) are really symptoms of the breakdown of community; of togetherness. Community, often confused with culture, is most often treated as an afterthought, left for specialists to worry about.
We believe that by changing the way we build communities, start businesses, and engage our neighbors’ citizens are created. As opposed to customers, citizens have a more powerful stance in the community because they are involved in the decision making process.
- Accountable for and Committed to the well-being of the whole
- Determines the future Active. Doesn’t wait for it, beg for it, or demand it.
- Exercises power Doesn’t give it away to others
- Acknowledges that sustainable change only happens when citizens are involved and committed to that change.
Citizens are people that take an integrated approach to solve a problem. People that are not afraid of each other; independence marks them as people who are free to work together. We believe citizens that operate with decentralized power, regions that are self-reliant and self-protecting, hold the future. It is an old approach that we believe will make for a promising future. Kalu Yala is investing in a community similar to what Thomas Jefferson wrote about:
“As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end.”
The following 11 minute video is one of the finest examples of citizenship I have seen.