In the October 1872 General Conference, President Brigham Young expressed an idea that captured my imagination and has led me to ask, “Why not?!”.
“We want to see a community organized in which every person will be industrious, faithful and prudent…. But if such a community could be organized, to show the Latter-day Saints how to build up the kingdom of heaven on the earth, I would be glad to see it—would not you?
“If this could be done I want to say to the Latter-day Saints, that I have a splendid place, large enough for about five hundred or a thousand persons to settle upon, and I would like to be the one to make a donation of it, with a good deal more, to start the business, to see if we can actually accomplish the affair, and show the Latter-day Saints how to build up Zion.”
So, if you were to ask me, “OK, Jesse, given all you’ve read and pondered about building Zion, if you could build a pre-Zion community right now, how would you go about it?” the steps below represent my current response.
NOTE: You’ll notice these steps are decidedly temporal/economic. I’ve found over 500 quotes by early LDS leaders about building Zion. One very clear theme among the quotes is that building Zion is as much (if not more) a temporal/economic effort as it is a spiritual one. As Apostle Daniel H. Wells put it in 1861, “To build up Zion is a temporal labor; it does not consist simply in teaching: teaching is to instruct us how to properly apply our labor, the sooner and better to accomplish the end in view. Bone and sinew is required to build up the kingdom of God in the last days.”
1. Follow John Taylor’s example and establish a Zion’s Board of Trade.
2. As a board, we’d prayerfully follow Lorenzo Snow’s example by:
c. Using the co-op’s profits to set up still others in business making other products to sell in the co-op.
d. Priority would be given to producing items crucial to the operation of a self-sufficient community.
3. All the while, hold workshops on how to purify our hearts.
4. We could then carefully transition from being a virtual community to a real one, eventually integrating all the co-op members into one brick-and-mortar community on, say, 160-400 acres of land — not in haste, but with prudence and in wisdom. Perhaps in this order:
b. Erect various forms of water sources (wells, solar water stills, etc.).
c. Plan and plant a large forest garden to eventually provide most of the community’s food.
d. Build the community’s first (multi-family?) off-grid home.
e. Build a central warehouse for the co-op store.
f. Start building facilities for the various manufacturing units of the co-op.
g. Build more off-grid homes for those whose jobs we’ve moved on-site.
h. Continue tweaking until the community is as close to self-sufficient as possible.
5. When Babylon falls, help build additional Zion-like communities.