Today is my last day living at Neighborhood Zero for the foreseeable future. Though I’m certain I’ll eventually return, I’m heading back to my home in Toronto, Canada to begin a new job.
I’ve spent 8 months of my life living on this specific slice of Earth. That’s 2.79% of my existence. In the process, I’ve encountered some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, many of which I had the pleasure to live with and I now consider life-long friends. I’ve also learned a few things about what makes this place so special, which I’ll now try and put into words.
There’s a good balance of solitude and socialization here. You may spend a week or two being one of the only people on these 29 acres, then switch to sharing it with 8 others that arrive for back to back build weeks. I’ve liked this, as when combined with the daily rhythm of independent work and communal dinners, it allowed for a healthy mix of personal and social time on small and large time scales.
Deep work pods, a sauna, an outdoor gym, a cold plunge, countless trails, meditation decks, a library, fire pits and a communal kitchen—that’s me naming the bulk of the facilities here (and if you feel one is missing… you can build it).
The variety of amenities at your fingertips allows for near infinite custom daily routines. If you’re anything like me, this really gets you going. Over the course of my months here, I settled into a daily practice that had me making consistent progress on my long term goals. In the next point, I’ll outline the main driver behind what I landed on.
A full day spent on the laptop can leave you feeling mentally zapped, while a full day spent working with your hands can be physically exhausting. Yet, both modes have their benefits and contribute to a feeling of satisfaction at the end of your day. I’ve found that Neighborhood Zero lends itself well to a morning/afternoon split of knowledge and manual work.
The distraction free environment, pleasant sunrise over the hill, and morning clarity of mind all acted as catalysts for my morning deep work. I would spend this time working on long-term digital projects that demanded my full attention. By noon, I’d have exhausted my ability to focus intensely and would switch to builder-mode, slowly regenerating that ability through spending time outdoors on less cognitively demanding tasks.
By the end of the day, I’d have made progress on my knowledge work as well as my physical environment. The tangible work I’d have done with my hands that day made up for the amorphous feeling of progress in my knowledge work, while that same progress would have helped me advance my career in a way that building another wall doesn’t.
There’s a saloon on each end of the road that connects to Neighborhood Zero. I’ve only been to one (apparently the other is for a much older crowd) and they always have great local artists performing live music. That’s a 5 minute drive from here, as it’s the closest place you can go to on a night out. There’s also Dreamland, which is a 15 minute drive and home to the best mini golf course I’ve ever seen. It’s huge. They also have pickleball courts galore — this place is a real gem. Oh, and Austin is about 50 minutes away.
The point I’m trying to make is that out here, “going out” doesn’t happen as frequently as in the city. There’s a lot more activation energy that needs to be overcome in order to drive to some place different for the night. I’m actually not complaining here. I found that it made the nights that we did go out much more special, saved me a bunch of money, and also had us really take advantage of everything this place has to offer, first.
At our current stage in development, you don’t come across this project unless you are on the edges of the internet. Of those that do, even fewer will decide to actually move into the woods and live with strangers from the web. 100% of the time, those that show up at this place are true independent thinkers: each saying “yes” to rural coliving for their own unique reasons.
I define these kinds of people as high agency, and they’re the best people to be around. The amount I’ve learned about life, business, and communication from the people that have passed through here is comparable to the amount I learned in my 5 year university degree. Everyone come with a unique perspective and a willingness to discuss complex topics. Thankfully the sauna has a way of teasing out our best takes.
I’m extremely grateful for @jon and Lauren’s kindness, hospitality, and friendship during my time here. They are incredible people and model hosts. As a citizen, you’re able to come to Neighborhood Zero 7 days out of the year. I highly recommned the pilgrimage.
We’re building something really special y’all (Texas has clearly rubbed off on me). I’m looking forward to seeing where we take it from here, the start has been extraordinary.