This is a letter from a lost boy in search of his life calling. I read your book Ishmael and I thought I had found the one thing that could give me a rewarding life. I wrote a letter in response to the Author’s note and it was returned to me saying that the current address was no longer in use.

I was extremely disappointed. I then found the sequel My Ishmael and once again had hope. I feel like Jeffrey from the latter. Through my whole life I have searched for those illusive questions that everyone looks for but can find no answer. One of those questions is “How do we live?” I think that my life is meant to be in pursuit of a better American society.

Now my question is how? If your movement could have use for a dreamer like me I would like to hear from you. I am willing to move to wherever I could be needed. I hope to hear from you in the near future.

I am interested in finding any models of new tribal economic ventures that get into the details of how a group in this mode can successfully operate.

For example: How do groups structure decision-making and other tasks that have usually been embedded in hierarchical structures?

Do they place a value (monetary or other) on different tasks in a more complex group, or does everyone share in the success and/or failure equally?

How do groups deal with questions of venture capital? Or is there a more flexible model for funding and investing?

I am troubled by your answer to question #637. Perhaps I am misinterpreting your intent, but as I read your answer you are denigrating the idea that “exploiting natural resources to human advantage” might be a good thing to do for the people that the Peace Corps volunteers are trying to help, that is people who live a marginal or even a sub-marginal existence.

Even keeping in mind that “development” can be, and generally has been, very destructive, your answer seems to exclude any consideration of the possibility of “sustainable development” as a workable and useful concept.

I am writing a short story about a small community in present day California that decides to implement your ideas from Ishmael and My Ishmael (e.g., not locking up the food, laws that work for the way people are, an education system that lets children follow their noses and learn from thier environment, etc.) into their society as social experiment.

I am a fiction writer, and I think this will help me to understand your philosophies. This has been a fun and challenging project.

I was wondering if you have a vision of what a modern day “leaver” society would look like? I would be interested in comparing your vision with my own. I have searched the Q&As to the best of my ability and did not see a specific answer to this question, if there is one, could you point me to it?

I am a U.S. sailor recently returned from a deployment to the Mideast. While I was out there I read a couple of your books—Ishmael and The Story of B. As most of your readers have said, I was profoundly moved by your work.

However, I do not know how to balance my choice of a career with my choice of philosophies. I guess my question is: Do you think it’s worth ruining my future by leaving the service early or should I try to be as active as the military allows and finish my time?

I would love to try a sustainable, healthy lifestyle in accordance with the environment; I would love to live on some isle or a nice chunk of land, taking only what I need just like everything else, completely subject to the consequences and limitations of nature.

I think I need to feel like I’m a part of the greater whole, the greater picture, and that I’m a part of it in such a way that is wholesome and nutritious for the earth, not hazardous.

I’m just sick of being in a place that lacks respect for what there is. I NEED out.

I’m surprised by your answer to question #561 in the Q&A (Jamband Culture). Not even a nod to potential, huh?

Yes, you are correct that the vast majority of the concert goers do not make a living tribally, but it doesn’t mean that many aren’t striving for it. The Jamband Culture has sprouted numerous tribal bands who have undermined the major record labels by starting up their own labels. (These young bands were all merely fans at one point.)

Tribal bands have undermined “ticket bastard” (as it is often referred to) by selling their own tickets on-line (something Pearl Jam could never quite do).

Numerous tribal production companies have started up around the country. Even the corporate amphitheaters are starting to be ignored as hundreds of independent and band-sponsored festivals are springing up around the country.

More and more longtime fans are starting to find ways of making a living through production, promotion, and even writing, with tribal-like websites, magazines, and newsletters.

And as you move further away from the bands, you can find numerous fans finding other tribal ways to live and make a living while following their favorite bands. Over the years, I’ve met “tribes” on the road who supplemented income by vending food and clothing. Once I met a group who made their living customizing VW buses in between tours.

I think the point I am trying to make is that, like you have said before, we have to get our feet wet. I doubt you believe that “tribal businesses,” like you defined in Beyond Civilization are the only way to go.

I’m beginning to look at the Jamband Culture (and others) as hierarchies in which all levels buy into. Those at the bottom of the hierarchy give the least support to the community and in return, get the least back (the excitement of a few shows). Those at the top of the hierarchies (the bands) give the most, and receive the most support in return. In between are various groups offering various levels of support, and receiving various levels of support in return. It is a hierarchy, but a hierarchy without a disgruntled and rebellious underclass.

You say the only thing we can do to save the world is to change our way of thinking, and pass it on to others. I understand and agree with your view of our culture and the state of the world in Ishmael. But I’m so afraid that in a week or two I’ll have read another book, and though I can’t stop thinking about Ishmael soon enough I will forget about it and have done nothing to help change the minds of those around me, other than asking my friends and family to read your book.

I’m just afraid that soon after we all read it, we’ll say, “yes hmm that’s very sad but I can’t do anything” and just forget about it. Even if I change my way of thinking, how will that help stop something like the explosive population expansion, or the way in which farmers destroy so many species to grow our food?

I know you think that if we all change our way of thinking, we will stop destroying the planet, but what can I personally do to help?