Community by Design (Part One — Preface)
In the spring of 2014 a discussion amongst friends centered on how we would go about starting a rural community in the United States if a large sum of money happened to fall into our laps. We thought about the need for intentional design and considered the logistical reasons as to why community development has not yet happened successfully for ISKCON in America.
When, in the fall, devotees from an urban temple expressed their desire to start an ISKCON rural community someday, my thoughts precipitated as a four-page letter which was meant to express my initial, rough understanding as to why ISKCON in America, due to limitations inherent in its federal tax-exempt church status, could not be the entity to establish such communities. I also shared information about an alternative legal structure which potentially could work—one referred to by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as “501(d),” or tax-exempt “Religious or Apostolic Association,” which, according to the Internal Revenue Manual, is for the purpose of operating a “religious community where the members live a communal life following the tenets and teachings of the organization.”
I later met devotees in several places who fortuitously engaged me in conversations about rural community development. I found, however, that when I tried to explain my thoughts and understandings regarding the 501(d) legal structure, many responded with blank stares, doubts or objections. I realize now that before someone can accept the 501(d) model as being worthy of consideration, one needs background information concerning the need for, the purpose of and the nature of community—particularly, the type of rural Kṛṣṇa conscious communities that Srīla Prabhupāda asked for, which he referred to as “our farms.” Thus, after further research, that original four-page letter has evolved into the form of this paper.
Although there are various types of communities that could be developed (e.g., “eco-villages” and the like), this paper only addresses the establishment of the type of communal farm projects which Srīla Prabhupāda specifically asked for, namely, examples of daiva-varṇāśrama-dharma (DVAD) communities. Many devotees sincerely wish to establish such DVAD communities pursuant to Srīla Prabhupāda’s desires. This paper was written particularly to dialogue with them. For such communes to manifest in America, this paper argues that the 501(d) legal model is the best suited. Those interested in establishing other styles of communities will likely not find the 501(d) model practical or attractive—quite understandably.
We find that when Srīla Prabhupāda spoke about revamping society so that people in general would be able to live a simpler, God-centered life, he consistently said things like, “Take some land from the government. You produce your food. Where is the difficulty? Keep some cows; you get milk,”  and, “Everyone should possess some land for growing food grains and some cows to take milk,”  and, “…if one man has got a cow and four acres of land, he has no economic problem…Let the people be divided with four acres of land and a cow, there will be no economic question. All the factories will be closed.” 
Notably, Srīla Prabhupāda found modern man’s employment in factories and the like to be detrimental to the mission of human life. Thus, he prescribed that “everyone” should possess land and cows so as to independently solve their economic needs.
However, when he spoke about “our farms,” Srīla Prabhupāda did not advocate that devotees get their own land and work independently, even if they were householders. Rather, he instructed that the devotees work communally and cooperatively on our farms:
And all who would reside on our farms would be equally provided for. “Anyone who comes to our Society we give shelter, we give food, we give instruction, we give dress, everything, without any condition. You please come and live with us. For such a nice building we have taken. Our farms are so nice, you can go and see how they are doing.” 
Srīla Prabhupāda wanted us to show by example how to become freed from dependency on city life and satisfied with the village idea. “But we are not going to develop a competitive farming enterprise for making money. The basic principle is to become independent of artificial city life… Gandhi had this idea, the one defect was that there was no Krishna in the center. So the same idea of village organization, but keeping Krishna in the center should be introduced on our farm projects.” 
The purpose of this paper, Community by Design, then, is to churn discussion on Srīla Prabhupāda’s desire for devotees to establish communal farm communities which strive for self-sufficiency, sustainability and Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Herein we primarily want to address the aspect of design regarding American communities, for communes are indeed so by design, not by impersonal chance.
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 Lecture–Aug. 5, 1974
 Lecture–Feb. 6, 1975
 May 11, 1969
 Aug. 1, 1975
 July 14, 1976
 May 27, 1974
 Letter–Oct. 14, 1976