The Sanctuary Project

First Guiding Principle:

The primary guiding principle for the design of these sanctuaries is this. “Everywhere possible, utilize common, abundant, free materials and volunteer time and labor over that of money.”

With growing trepidation I have long observed how we citizens of industrialized nations are intensely conditioned to consider the purchasing of products and services as the most practical means to meet all our needs. Buying is now so quick and convenient that for most of us it has admittedly become our first and only recourse.

I see this as a potentially dangerous, in-the-box mindset naturally encouraged by industrialization. This mindset is powerfully seductive and has long tempted us to work for money rather than work to meet our own needs as did our pioneering ancestors.

Some of us not entirely caught up in this mindset still enjoy the challenge of meeting a few of our own needs through hunting, fishing, gardening, sewing, etc. Yet there are times when we do-it-yourselfers just end up spending more in the process because, the fact is, the vast majority of us are now simply too ill-equipped to completely transcend this mindset. In a sense, we have become trapped in it.

Inevitably, as more and more have succumb to temptations born from a love-of-money, products and services have become overly-laden with built-in profit, some to the point of absurdity. At the same time finished goods have decreased in quality and durability, and now quickly end up as junk in landfills rather than heirlooms pasted down through generations.

The gradual eroding effect this love-of-money has on the economy creates a self-perpetuating cycle where the value gained from an honest day’s labor keeps shrinking while financial insecurity, and the desire to accumulate wealth as a buffer, keeps growing. The only way I can see to insulate these sanctuaries from this burdensome greed-and-fear cycle is to minimize their use of, and reliance on, sold products and services.

This primary guiding principle was adopted as a means to help achieve an effective and maintainable level of economic insulation through self-sufficiency. Natural-building and the gleaning of socially-worthless, commercially-abandoned parts are both environmentally-conscious methods of utilizing abundant, common, free materials, and can rely heavily on volunteer manual labor rather than the use of expensive machinery.

Also, applying a smart combination of solar and recycling techniques will further insulation these facilities from economic instability. Every effort, even the smallest, when applied now to the design of these sanctuaries, will add up and compound over time.

Many animal shelters and sanctuaries started out struggling and continue to face financial difficulties at least in part because of a naturally-encouraged adherence to conventional methods and designs, which evolved primarily around the convenience of purchasable products and services, not necessary because these methods and designs are what is best, sustainable or even responsible.

This project provides a unique opportunity to start from the ground up with an outside-the-box perspective. The challenge for all who wish to contribute to this project will be to remain consciously aware of this primary guiding principle and not slip back into that old familiar mindset.

“The thinking that got us to where we are today is insufficient to solve the problems that exist today. To solve today’s problems requires a new level of thinking.” – Albert Einstein

In order for this project to achieve its greatest impact, we all must try our best to avoid reverting to conventional thinking, which is more often easier said than done.

Second Guiding Principle:

The second guiding principle for the design of these sanctuaries is “ask not much-from-few, but little-of-many.” A tremendous burden becomes insignificant when shared by a multitude.

Imagine for example that a large local charity, fighting for a very worthy cause, needed office supplies and decided to repeatedly hit up a small office-supply store for donations simply because it was nearby and convenient. Now imagine that a sister charity needing the same supplies took the time to request smaller donations from several manufacturers and distributers of each type of office product. (Even a single paperclip is a more costly donation for a retailer than for a manufacturer.) Is it easy to see which effort is more likely to form permanent, enthusiastic partnerships and garner sustainable, long-term commitments?

Following this principle requires much more effort and patience, but is worth it for all concerned. Also, distributing the load provides more opportunity for others to enjoy that good feeling which comes from being united with many as part of a strong positive force. The formation of this open project is an example of this second principle in action.

If all goes well, adherence to these two guiding principles should result in a sanctuary template, developed within a large, open project that did not overburden any one person, and from which one or more sanctuary networks can emerge that will not overburden the donating public.

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