— Lists —
Interested in helping to build Oakwood? Interested in living there once it opens? We have two listservs, one or both of which could be for you!
The public list is for those who are interested in Oakwood and would like to stay updated about the project but do not wish to be actively involved in any planning. Those who wish to have a stake in the project or collaborate on work related to town planning may wish to join the private discussion list, a more active high-volume list. You may join one or both of the lists. Requests to join the private list must be manually approved by a moderator. If you explain why you are interested in joining the private list, you will help the moderators expedite your request.
— Timeline —
- 2019-2022 — Property Search & Planning - Montana, Wyoming, Nevada
- Day 1 — Property purchased, including all easements
- 2 weeks — full property assessment, esp. with regards to water
- 3 months — water utility constructed
- 4 months — property lots defined
- 6 months — basic startup electricity meeds satisfied
- 7 months — infrastructure planning complete, start building roads, etc.
- 9 months — Central Office bldg. built and CLEC paperwork filing complete
- 10 months — trunking to CenturyLink (or other ILEC tandem) built
- 12 months — permanent electricity and gas solution reached
- 13 months — farm(s) established to grow some local food and produce, raise livestock, etc.
- 14 months — first resident homes built
- 16 months — Post Office solution established
- 18 months — local radio station(s) launched for news/weather and classic hits (40s-early 80s music)
- 19 months — local newspaper established
- 20 months — open to mainstream public
- 30 months — upgrade from T1 to analog carrier (L/N-type, etc. carrier)
- 40 months — all property lots occupied, possible future expansion
— Conference Calls —
The Oakwood planning conference is held weekly at 7:30 p.m. Mountain Time. The access number is (407) 564-4224. If you hear ringback when connecting, you are the only party in the call at the moment. Please wait for others to join.
— Costs —
Estimated Startup Costs:
- Land (~$69,000 + tax)
- CLEC Fees (~$800)
- Moving Costs ($10,000)
- #1DSS ($2,000)
- SxS switch ($10,000)
- Central Office
- Driveway construction costs
- Power installation costs ($1,000)
- Standby generator and Installation ($10,000)
- Telephone outside plant
- Fiber-optic cable between C.O. and tandem ($1-$2/ft. if plowed, $7-$8/ft. if directional bored; cable itself $0.38/ft.)
- Residences for planning group
- Driveway construction costs
- Power installation cost
- Well drilling cost
- Septic installation cost
Estimated startup costs could be approximately estimated by totaling the above amounts.
We are always seeking donations and funding! At this time, there is no online campaign set up. Feel free to drop us a check if you'd like to contribute a few bucks please make checks payable to "Mountain Pacific Telephone Company" with "Oakwood" as the MEMO. Please contact us if you are interested.
— Preliminary Work —
In the summer of 2021, a road trip is planned amongst several telephone collectors to relocate several electromechanical switches to Montana. They will first be relocated to the present headquarters of Mountain Pacific Telephone Company in Butte, Montana, and will later be relocated to the town of Oakwood itself (to the town's central office, which will be near the new headquarters of Mountain Pacific Telephone Company).
— Logistics —
Property taxes dependent on the size of your property and buildings (house, office, etc.) will cover the cost of living in Oakwood. In addition, a number of both white and blue collar workers will be needed to operate the town, e.g. telephone operators, central office technicians, mailmen, newspaper deliverers, telegram deliverers, milkmen, delivery men, plumbers, electricians, postal clerks, sanitary workers, lawn and maintenance workers, etc. You may also work in town at the grocery, deli, meat market, butcher, etc.
— Legal Organization —
It may be more practical to keep Oakwood privately owned rather than trying to attempt changing laws and taking the risk of losing control in the community by having it open to public vote. In addition, remaining privately owned would allow Oakwood to operate more freely and truer to its original purposes and intents without worrying about legal and regulatory complications as much.
Input from E.S.
I know of many privately owned resorts and camp grounds that have permanent residence as well as streets and addresses. These are gated communities, they provide amenities for there guest and resistances ie. water, power, waste removal, internet. They have the final say on ALL rules and regulations, they also have the authority to remove anyone who breaks these rules. With this model you could allow seasonal guest to stay in cabins, RVs, campers, and tents while allowing permanent residence to construct a home on leased land. You could also construct cabins or chalets yourself to be leased for short and long terms. If you don't like the phrase "camp ground" you could change it to something like resort community, or private town, use your imagination. There's no reason you couldn't provide all your residences with telephone service and bill their long distance calls while providing basic service as an included amenity. You (could) even charge a message rate for local calls outside your community ie. 5¢ per completed local calls, without having to be subject to all of the regulations put on public telephone companies. You could still be a CLEC, going that route. There could still be businesses within this community to serve the residential needs, stores, restaurants, barbers, etc. This is sort of similar to how most army bases are structured. You might even be able to give your permanent residence the option of working in town in order to pay their rent. You could have your own work credit type of currency, or possibly give them the option of owning their own business inside of your community. I've saw the USPS partner with private business to provide what they call postal stations, they're not a full post office but still provide mailboxes and sell postage, while bearing the name of the community. That way your post office can be privately owned without (all) the bureaucratic red tape of the federal government.
Another route to go, would be to make this community a nonprofit organization based in scientific research and or spiritual needs. I know that universities have created places like this and other private organizations have as well. Nonprofit organizations are exempt from paying any taxes on property and earned income. So all the money that your nonprofit community acquires could stay in the community without being subject to federal or state tax and regulation. Literally everything that your organization buys and sells is tax free. Your research could be based in vintage technology and the health benefits of a radio free environment. With this model you could accept donations and possibly even state funding for research. It could be stated, that all of this research is long-term in order to fully study and understand how these variables or lack there of, affect people. You could also pose it that your religious beliefs require your private community to abstain from certain modern technologies and could also serve as a foundation for private education and a kind of governing body.
I recently watched a documentary about a nonprofit organization in Oregon that was using sustainable building techniques to help give homeless people a place to live. Their organization allowed people in a certain income bracket to come to their community and assist in building their own tiny home. It was a combined effort of other community members and the prospective resident to build the home. Of course, there were restrictions on how many people could live in each house and community rules that had to be obeyed. The residence co-owned their home as long as they wanted to live there and obeyed the rules. The caveat was they partially owned their home but not the land. The rent that they paid for the land and utilities was based on their income.
One reason why I courage you to consider allowing temporary and seasonal guest, is because, I feel like there are a lot of people that would enjoy visiting a retreat with a vintage aesthetic, slower pace of life, electromechanical telephone switching and reduced EMF health benefits. A lot of people aren't willing or able to commit to make rural Montana their permanent home but they would love to visit for a couple months and bring their money (I'm one of these people). This would be particularly important in the early days while you're starting up your community. Remember, you can always restructure at any time based on your needs. There may come a time where you outgrow the guest model and can only accept permanent residence.
There are techies working on the West Coast that are paying big bucks for a non-modern retreat. It would definitely be one of a kind! Your not completely disconnected in your town but rather connected just enough. Also, the PR and word of mouth from your guests can help to bring in people that will permanently stay and dedicate themselves.
I strongly recommend that you look into the nonprofit avenue. Money and legality will be your biggest stumbling blocks and by becoming a nonprofit organization you can avoid a lot of legal headache and be able to acquire tax-free assets. NPO's are allowed to have hourly and salary paid employees. I don't think that financial gain is your driving force but it wouldn't hurt to be able to make a living doing what you enjoy while helping other people in the process. — E.S.