25 February 2008


Have had an idea floated before me for setting up a long-term bar-camp/foo-camp/unconference style arrangement in a small country town about 3 hours’ drive from Perth WA.

The idea is to collect a flock of hackers who are happy enough to stay put & would form an undisturbed base-line community which, basically, hacks as it pleases with a background idea to “sponsoring” occasional *-camp style events, either locally or down in Perth (where access is simpler for interstaters/internationals).

ADSL/LAN would be provided (blue cables to each residence, common switches & wireless router), probably a resident server for web & stuff, cheap rent (maybe $100-$150 a week?), basic facilities (laundry, kitchen etc) provided, town has shops, hospital, many broader services (including stuff like parks, a maze, barbecues, skate & BMX tracks, museum, hotel, motels, caravan park, lookouts, historical sites, scenic drives, clubs for golf/trotting/pistols/hockey/ponies etc).

Premises have ample space for growing stuff, so those with a gardening angle should have fun. However, individual residences can be set up to be pretty much autonomous, so a green thumb is far from a prerequisite.

If this sounds fascinating to you, please do chip in with suggestions & ideas: what would you like?

What would make the place attractive for you to spend weeks/months/whatever living at? Aside from peace & quiet, which appears to be ample. (-:

At the moment, no wider community principles have been explored, but as a safe, quiet place — yet not utterly isolated — it seems like a fairly reasonable modicum of facilities & people for raising a family in. For example, the town does have schooling, yet the character of the *-camp would lend itself fairly readily to auto-exploring styles like home education.

Regular transport to the big(ger) smoke also means that more complex facilities are within reach (like specialist shops/industry, jets, boats, oz-wide sports finals, paint-ball, etc), & it seems reasonable that weekly expeditions of a people-mover or so to the city would be likely.

Finally, suggestions for different places (e.g. near Dunsborough or Derby) or features (e.g. more trees, more gliders or balloons) are also welcome.

So... whaddaya think...?


Leon Brooks said...

The lack of response so far is kind of underwhelming.

I’m guessing that environmental concerns (jobs, rellies, etc) might be a lack-of-contributing factor?

Jason Nicholls said...

It's an interesting idea.

1) remoteness: perth is already remote with respect to the rest of the world, now we're talking 3hrs from remote ;)

2) funding: for the core team how are they meant to live?

As a (paid for) short getaway then perhaps it may appeal. For me, as a recent dad, unlikely for quite a while.

For the singles out there a remote location like that may be lacking on the social side.

Have you heard of Rosneath Farm (eco village) before? Might be worth checking it out and talking to some of the residents. The main page is down but you can get to the majority of the content from here: http://www.rosneath.com.au/enquiries/index.html

Leon Brooks said...

jn: thanks for the link.

I’m guessing that “appropriate technologies” would be somewhat less electronic there than those in the Aussie magazine of same title?

WRT remoteness, aside from connectivity that was intended to be part of the point in this thing existing. Remote enough to be isolated from obvious distractions but still with a touch on civilisation for a few of the luxuries like optical fibre for comms.

WRT funding, in my case I’m a Disability Pensioner so funds for rent, eating, the occasional trip aren’t that extreme.

A few others can do the Centrelink fandango (single parents & the like, for example) but for more solid, longer term plans I had in mind people taking sabbaticals (at $100 a week rent, that would be a dirt-cheap sabbatical), or having the place feature as a planned item in some Uni’s or TAFE’s courses.

One possible tangent is having the spot build a rep for being an Open kind of Silicon Valley (IPOF, it is in a valley) by having the occasional genius touch metamorphose in the course of the work done there, then waving that about enthusiastically.

Mention of the locations is kind of cheating, ’coz if you stuck it in Broome or Margaret River & altered the character a bit (more emphasis on surfing or vino), the place would be permanently packed. The down-side would be that character, because less people would be there for a genuine purpose.

Gary Houston said...

This reminds me of one of Paul Graham's essays:
How to Be Silicon Valley

In theory it sounds like a good idea, but it may be difficult to create a setup that would satisfy more than one hacker, given that they tend to be such individualists.

I have an impression of WA as a terrible hot place with loads of tiny biting insects, which could be draining on the productivity.