Transition Ottawa

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The Town: Architecture & Physical Community reDesign Discussion, Idea & Dream Mill


The Town: Architecture & Physical Community reDesign Discussion, Idea & Dream Mill

natural buildings; "third places"; new medical facilities; off-grid systems; transport; wetlands/blackwater/swales; infrastructure/land re-use/reorganization (i.e., sewers, highways, malls), etc.

Members: 9
Latest Activity: Aug 23, 2014


Occupy Ghost Town

Guest post, by Caleb McMillan


For as long as unowned space has existed, people have been “occupying” it peacefully – with distressingly little success. States, taxation, inflation and illegitimate monopolies are a constant reality for peaceful acting individuals. Too often, these injustices are met with little or no response, regarded simply as “the price you pay” for civilization. As a supporter of the Occupy movement, I believe that everyone is entitled to occupy unowned space. Not only is this possible – it is essential for building a strong and lasting movement.
It's no secret that the 1% who wrecked the economy are protected by state power. The less a society relies on social power, the less effective they are at peaceful social order. As the economic depression worsens, we must be careful not to replicate the State's tactics. The message is clear: peace in all realms of human action.
For individuals differing in colours, genders and political persuasions to participate equally in the Occupy movement, we must abide by the non-aggression principle. We must declare our own individual sovereignty on unowned land. We know that state harassment and assault will continue (participation in the fascist system is mandatory, after all) – but there is power in disestablishing ourselves by going off the grid and living sustainably. As the movement grows, it will become harder for state power to overtake social power.
In solidarity with those who are already squatting off the grid and promoting the idea of liberty, I call on all General Assemblies of the Occupy movement to adopt “disestablishment” as an effective tool for serving the interests of the 99%. By occupying ghost towns we are giving individuals two options: live under the poverty of the State or come help rebuild society sustainably and peacefully.

Disestablish yourselves.
Voluntary = Victory.
Occupy Ghost Town.

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Comment by Caelan MacIntyre on August 23, 2014 at 10:14pm


With regard to the below April 13, 2014 entry:

The church was sold-- (oddly, apparently for twice the asking price!)-- and there was insufficient interest in either trip-- at least for this summer... Which is in part why I will keep the entry up:

When things really take a turn, economically-speaking for example, and start to bite, interests and priorities will shift and maybe some of them will find a home here.

Balaclava, other churches and various established ecovillages, etc. won't be going away anytime soon. Nevertheless, and as a note of caution, it can be worth giving ourselves an extra push or reconsideration sometimes, before other forces do it for us.

Comment by Caelan MacIntyre on April 13, 2014 at 6:34pm

Announcing a proposal for one or two trips-- one to Balaclava, Ontario (open to considering visiting other ghost towns that might be in the area) and/or one to Bridgetown, Nova Scotia for sometime this summer (2014), in the interest of investigating the possibility/feasibility of creating a permanent settlement of different sorts at either or both places-- in the case of Balaclava, perhaps along the lines of Christiania (See below for a video of Christiania).

It is imagined we would camp or "B&B" on location, or in nearby locations.

If you might be interested, or are just curious and have some questions or comments, or even just want to tag along without any commitment, please feel free to drop me a line. Depending on things, I am considering listing the ideas and places with both the Fellowship for Intentional Community, as well as with the Global Ecovillage Network. At the very least they might make fun, interesting and insightful trips.

Balaclava water mill interior:

Description, History & Benefits (From

"Balaclava fits the Hollywood version of the 'picture perfect' ghost town... The remains of Balaclava also include an impressive old water powered sawmill, one of the last to operate in Ontario. If you look closely, you can still see pieces of machinery and wagon wheels inside the building..." ~ Jeri Danyleyko
"Ontario has more than 200 ghost towns but only one has the distinction of having a 'classical' ghost town setting. Balaclava has that distinction for it is the site of one of Ontario's last water powered sawmills... Much of the town still survives but without inhabitants." ~ Henry Chenoweth

Bridgetown with church-in-question in the distance:

Comment by Caelan MacIntyre on April 13, 2014 at 5:38pm

For those who might find a few commoner ghosts to be less enticing than one Holy Ghost, here's a church for $50 000 that I just found out about that looks like a very good deal over here in Nova Scotia's Holy Wine heartland, Bridgetown, Annapolis Valley: am currently in Halifax.)

The church was initially placed on the market at over twice the price apparently, and I am thinking that some may be passing it by (assuming it is noticed, though) because of the taxes which look to be about $433 a month. A mortgage, if needed, might be about $240 a month, assuming 10% downpayment and a 4% interest rate, and then there'd be the utilities, maintenance and misc.. Given a reasonably-sized bunch of us, I imagine the church could eventually be inexpensive, nicely subdividable, with maybe the main cathedral part kept as-is and turned into a year-round local farmer's' and artisans' (etc.) market, and/or even meeting-place and entertainment venue, etc.. Think of a bunch of stalls/kiosks, for example, on either side along the length (remove the left and right pews), with tables & chairs & couches along the length's center (and/or some or all of the center's pews) for a food court/lounge/hangout/meeting-place kind of idea, with the altar where the priest stands as the place for entertainment/messaging, and so forth. (Maybe you have better ideas.) The back of the church, alone, seems to have a 'house' that is almost its own building. The steeple might be convertible into another nice place, perhaps reminiscent of living in a converted lighthouse/tower.

The land is big enough, such as out back, to  do some gardening, and the river is tidal and, ostensibly, the town used to build boats, which means it's also navigable/accessible to the ocean by sailboat if one were so inclined (I am). One might need a hinged or collapsible mast, though, but they may exist. :)

So anyway, consider, in part, a Converted Church Co-operative (or 'hostel' at first-- check out the kitchen!) that also could function as a community/business/artist/etc. centre... and help revitalize one of the many towns (and quality-of-life, etc.) to boot that have fallen victims from Walmart and mass exoduses of people into such places and jobs as the Alberta oil sands... Nothing like helping to wreck and cook the planet while you live in a corporate mobile home park... But, ya, I realize I'm preaching to the choir... So then let's get more into the congregation! ^u^


~ Caelan

Comment by Adam F. on April 10, 2012 at 10:09am

I am putting together an online showcase of green homes in Ottawa.  If  you have a green home or know someone who would be interested let me know!  You can post your own stories, videos, pictures as well as volunteer to be video interviewed for the site.  Here it is:

Comment by Caelan MacIntyre on February 1, 2011 at 3:49pm


Meeting To Discuss The Development of An Ecovillage in Eastern Ontario

Comment by Dominique Larocque on December 9, 2010 at 8:25pm

I invite you to visit the Creative Wheel Centre. Website below.

I will be looking for serious volunteer builders this summer. I have a ton of recycled materials that I need to build a 100% recycled bike repair shop / off-grid cappuccino bar this summer with a bunch of Duke of Edinburgh (GOLD residential program) - if you can help, let me know!

Nature - MOVEMENT - Art | Natural movement is an art!

Comment by Caelan MacIntyre on November 16, 2010 at 8:05pm


Meeting to Develop the Eco-Village Vision:

Lanark Eco-Village, Ontario

Comment by Caelan MacIntyre on September 6, 2010 at 3:29pm

Accessible Human-Scaled Redesign: The Seedbomb Dispenser

Comment by Caelan MacIntyre on September 4, 2010 at 6:49pm

Treehouses for The Whole Family: La Cabane Perchee

Comment by Caelan MacIntyre on September 4, 2010 at 6:39pm

Ghost Town-To-Ecovillage?

Here's a video of Balaclava, a ghost town in close proximity to Ottawa, which seems to show a relatively and remarkably-pristine interior of one or more of the buildings, complete with extra wood in some sections, a ladder and leftover hardware. The interior structures appear of timberframe post-and-beam integrity such that you can't really get anymore without a high price, and such that would be relatively easy to do up beautifully. These heritage treasures wasting away are highly valued and sough-after, especially given our current bankrupt spiritual, financial, ethical and cultural climate. Imagine a self-contained, self-sufficient ecovillage with a pre-existing heritage component...


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