Community Land and Utilities: Participants’ interactions

10 min read

The three agencies in the Land and Utilities Bureau control all land that the community uses to produce food, develop the physical campus, extract raw materials, and provide utilities. Of this, the Community Land and Utilities Agency owns the land on which the physical campus is built, and its mirrored blocks outside the community.

Community Land and Utilities

The physical plant/ campus is the built-up area that contains village buildings, district buildings, hubs, streets, and the storehouse. Outside the physical plant, in the mirrored blocks, there are industrial blocks used as factories, warehouses, grain reserves, logistical centers, and concentrated animal-feeding operation units. The Community Land and Utilities Agency also facilitates participants’ access to utilities – gas, electricity, and water.

Community Land

The community’s physical plant is built on land measuring 1.44 mile2. An identical size of land contains the mirrored blocks. Therefore, the entire built-up area measures 2.88 square miles. All participants live here. While some, such as those who work in external resorts, distant pastures, farmland, and mines, spend half their time outside the community, they still spend 2 weeks a month in the community to allow them to participate.

The physical plant roughly consists of two sections – a residential area – the villages, which are served by hubs for basic needs including convenience stores and emergency centers, and the central buildings and storehouse, which is a sort of a downtown where most big social events, recreation, and commercial activities happen. Each of these areas is mirrored on the outside, to make up the built-up community.

The Community owns this land through the Community Land and Utilities Agency. The agency uses the capital invested by the Capital Bank[1] for operations, including the downpayments it needs to secure loans to buy land and develop it so that relevant agencies can put up houses and other facilities.

A key concept of NewVistas is that communities do not look for virgin land in remote areas or farmland to build up communities. Instead, communities are supposed to be developed on reclaimed land, such as urban sprawl, and other land that is currently used in unsustainable ways. This helps the community not only restore and live in harmony with the environment but also prevents it from worsening one of the problems it aims to solve – sprawl.

Village buildings are constructed and maintained by the Human Relations Agency. The agency leases the land from the Community Land and Utilities Agency. District buildings are the responsibility of the Health and Nutrition Agency, while the hubs and streets are built and managed by the Stewardship Agency. The storehouse is built and owned by the Commercial and Community Banks, which are responsible for specific parts.

The Community Land and Utilities Agency provides all these agencies with the land they need on lease. The agency uses the fees that the agency pays to repay the loans that it took to acquire and develop land, as well as paying a return on the capital that the Capital Bank has invested in it.

The mirrored blocks outside the community are also built and managed by other agencies, which obtain the land under lease from the Community Land and Utilities Agency. This means that participants do not directly engage with the agency as far as land is concerned.

Utilities – energy, water, and waste management

The Community Land and Utilities Agency ensures participants’ access to gas, electricity, and water. The agency does not directly provide these utilities. Instead, it provides the infrastructure through which service providers channel commodities.

Each apartment building has a fuel cell powered by natural gas, that powers each apartment. Often, the fuel cell produces more power than participants in that apartment building need. The surplus power is fed to the grid, which is set up and owned by the Community Land and Utilities Agency, to stabilize the power supply and ease access by participants in different parts of the community.

The fuel cells that the community uses run on natural gas. They are quiet, with no movable parts, and are highly efficient in their utilization of natural gas or other fuel – they produce electricity, water, and carbon dioxide. The water produced in this process is utilized domestically in apartments. The carbon dioxide is channeled to greenhouses and vertical farms where it is used to boost plant growth. Another byproduct is heat. This heat is used for other activities, including waste recycling, in apartments.

Electricity use in the community is mainly used to power devices and lighting. Energy-intensive activities such as farming are still performed, but only minimally. This is because participants are encouraged to either eat out or order food. This benefits the community in various ways. For instance, ordering food creates jobs for delivery businesses, the restaurants where the food is prepared, and packaging material producers, among others. It is also likelier to be healthy, with ratings and community agencies’ monitoring playing a key role. Eating out also helps in socialization, and saves time that could be used more productively.

Water use in the community is highly efficient. For instance, bathrooms are fitted with a shower that instantly recycles water and avails it, meaning that the net water usage even for a long shower is minimal.

The agency is responsible for recycling or otherwise disposing of waste. Each apartment building has its waste management facility, which handles liquid and solid waste. Using the heat generated by the apartment building’s fuel cell, waste is either broken down into materials that can be used again, such as water, carbon dioxide, or carbon, or restored for repeated use.

The community does not allow landfills, since it applies advanced technologies to recycle or otherwise process all waste into useful byproducts, such that a landfill is unnecessary in the first place. In some instances, recycled materials or byproducts from recycling processes may not be used immediately. They are stored in warehouses located in the mirrored blocks until a business needs to use them.

The entire waste management process is managed by the Community Land and Utilities Agency. Not only does the agency have an interest in ensuring no pollution, but it also sees the potential in recycling and reusing materials, deriving more value from them.

Grey and black water is recycled, with waste being broken down into carbon dioxide and carbon. These are used in farming as soil additives environment enhancers, or in manufacturing. Therefore, there is no centralized sewerage or waste disposal system.

Each apartment building has a water supply that caters to instances where water generated through recycling and the fuel cell is not enough. Each apartment’s tenant pays a standard charge for the water supply, with additional charges accruing on actual usage. The water can be used to irrigate kitchen gardens and other activities that may require intensive water use. The infrastructure to connect apartments to water supply is developed by the Community Land and Utilities Agency. It leases the infrastructure to businesses that supply water.

In addition to the fuel cell energy that largely sustains apartment buildings, some limited partners also run power-generation businesses. These include nuclear reactors, hydroelectric power, geothermal power, coal, oil, and other sources as a community’s physical location and resources may allow. The energy produced is fed to the community’s grid for distribution. It is mainly used to power industry, but may also be used to alleviate shortages inside the community.

Community Land and Utilities

Hydroelectric power, generated through dams, is usually not the principal motivation for constructing dams. A dam is a capital-intensive endeavor and would need the community’s input, through the Community Land and Utilities Agency. If constructed, such a dam, in addition to generating power, will also be used for flood control, irrigation, and recreation. Different limited partners are competitively awarded contracts by the agency to run these businesses. For instance, a business may offer irrigation water to farms in the vicinity, though the infrastructure to get the water there will be leased from the agency by the business.


Participants interact with the Community Land and Utilities indirectly through the buildings that they use, which are built on land owned by the agency. They interact directly with the agency in accessing utilities. The agency does not have operational presidents who, in some of the other bureaus, implement the agencies’ strategies and policies. Instead, the agency relies on its automated system, contractors, and, where necessary, branch presidencies (captains) for its interactions. Below are illustrations of such illustrations.

Illustration 1

Priya and his husband, Rohan, emigrated to the US a few years ago after her husband landed employment in a tech company based in California. There, he was in charge of software development, a field in which he was highly skilled, and where he had worked since graduation. Priya did not have a degree or other skills by the time they emigrated. However, in the period since she has sought qualifications as a nurse and has been practicing for a few years. Together, the couple has 3 children, 2 of whom are teenagers, and a third who is in the early stages of his education.

Community Land and Utilities

The family has joined the community, and Rohan helps businesses maintain and improve the apps they use to interact with their customers. He also develops apps independently, which he sells to customers after adjusting them to meet their needs. His biggest clientele is restaurants and clothiers, whose apps are used by clients to place orders and pay.

Priya, on the other hand, has a business as an ER nurse. She collaborates with a doctor who runs an ER in the village’s hub. He also collaborates with other doctors and nurses in other parts of the community and has authored a few training modules for upcoming nurses who wish to understand how nursing practice is different in the community.

Due to the nature of their professions, the couple often finds that, even when not working, they are on their devices, interacting with peers, clients, and friends in informal settings. They had tried to carry over the Indian way of life, but quickly found that coalescing around an Indian or south-Asian identity was not viable – there were too few of them, and the community actively encouraged them to venture out of their culture.

While Priya would like to prepare food for her husband, this is not possible most of the time due to work and the different activities they have to engage in. Besides, there are several culture-themed restaurants and a family of foodies, they cannot get enough of what is available.

At home, therefore, the electric cooker that the family has leased from the community is rarely used, besides some culturally important days when Priya insists on cooking for the family – including Diwali and Holi. Once in a while, their eldest daughter wants to experiment with a recipe she has learned and will use the kitchen, which is otherwise used for heating meals, and storage (refrigerator).

The couple and each of their kids have at least one device. Each of the five family members has a smartphone. In addition, the parents and the oldest two children each have a computer that they use for business and other times, for entertainment or education. Rohan has another computer that he uses to train his son in software development and coding, which is not as powerful as his main laptop. Rohan and Priya have also leased a mule, for which Rohan makes the lease payments. The mule helps them get around the community quickly, especially in the case of medical emergencies for Priya.

These devices, plus lighting, constitute the bulk of the family’s electricity use. They use two apartments, each for each parent, which they have combined to form a household module. Other uses include heating during winter, which may sometimes outstrip the amount of power the fuel cell generates. In such circumstances, the family turns to the grid, which provides privately generated power delivered through the Community Land and Utilities Agency-owned grid.

The family has a kitchen garden that they use to grow spices. While they like ordering food from different restaurants and delis all the time, they still want their food to have an authentic Indian feel.

Many of the spices need significant amounts of water. The fuel water available through the fuel-cell operation is only sufficient for domestic use. To water the garden, the family buys water that is delivered from a dam constructed on a river that flows in the surrounding area. The system that delivers the water is owned by the Community Land and Utilities Agency, while a limited partner who sells water delivers it.

Illustration 2

The community that Priya and Rohan’s family belong to is located in an area that has a major river but is otherwise arid. After the community was fully established, and with floods being a constant menace, the community constructed a dam. The dam brought instant reprieve for the community but also provided sufficient amounts of water for irrigation.

The dam was constructed by the Community Land and Utilities Agency, which took loans from the Capital Bank. To pay these loans, it needed to ensure that the dam, beyond the obvious flood control and irrigation purposes, generated an income sufficient to repay the loans and pay the bank a return on its investment. At the time, a limited partner with expertise in electricity generation. He would generate hydroelectricity, which the agency would evacuate into the grid, and channel to industrial blocks. The power generation business would pay the agency a fee per megawatt generated, and would also lease the distribution infrastructure.

While the power generation business earns the agency a significant income, it is not sufficient to pay its loans, let alone return a profit as a going concern. The agency needs to come up with innovative ways to earn more money. First, it encourages limited partners to run businesses taking participants on boat rides, and teaching them how to handle different types of boats in the lake that has formed behind the dam.

Community Land and Utilities

The agency also charges participants to fish in the lake and have picnics by its banks. Often, Rohan takes the family on picnics near the dam, where he and the boys sometimes get on a boat to catch some fish. They pay for the boat, oars, and bait that they use, to different businesses. The service is not directly offered by the agency. Instead, it licenses businesses that manage the picnic areas, and others that manage the lake’s ecosystem, preventing over-fishing, controlling invasive species, and charging people who engage in fishing activities. The businesses that run this operation differentiate between leisure fishing, like Rohan’s, and commercial fishing.

Another business is given a license to sell the lake’s water to farmers and businesses in the industrial zone. The business also supplies irrigation water to the community for hobby farmers. While the water is purified, it is not chlorinated, and is therefore safe for agriculture, Businesses also purchase the water to maintain street gardens where fruits, among other vegetables, are grown. The infrastructure used to transport water from the lake to the different users is leased from the Community Land and Utilities Agency.

Through its automated system, the agency monitors the lake and also maintains its relationships with the businesses it has granted rights to offer businesses there. In addition to the automated system, the agency routinely contracts professionals to perform audits on how the lake is utilized. They may recommend changes, including in licensing, based on how well businesses are adhering to agreements with the agency. In addition, the agency hires businesses that specialize in sediment control to ensure it does not pose a problem to the lake’s output and health.

[1] The Capital Bank invests limited partners’ partnership interest in all agencies, including Community and Utilities Agency.