The following is a chapter from Penny Kelly’s book titled ROBES: A BOOK OF COMING CHANGES. I selected this chapter due to its relevance to today. As things are changing quite quickly many are not sure of what the future may bring. The “little men in brown robes” refers to a group of real individuals who gave Penny a book full of changes that are happening now and are in process. After reading this specific chapter (which gives the reader a glimpse into something positive amidst all the various climactic and government challenges) I found a renewed sense of hope in that this design of Family Business Neighborhoods is already in its early stages. Please read on and see and taste the positivity in a possible and probable future for how we may be living in the near future. Please add your comments below…

The Main House…

a chapter from Penny Kelly’s book “Robes”

When my tears were exhausted, I returned to the living room where the little men in brown robes were still waiting. With some effort I closed my eyes again, expecting them to resume their commentary immediately. Instead they projected something else my way, some kind of energy that was warm and soothing and made me feel greatly loved and appreciated. My eyes flew open when I realized they were doing something to make me feel different. For a minute I was going to ask them what in the world they were doing. But I changed my mind, closed my eyes quietly, and basked in their loving warmth.

When they finally began again, I didn’t know if they felt bad that I had cried; perhaps they decided to change their approach, because now we were above the earth’s surface and they were saying very little.

Hovering over the planet from the edge of the atmosphere, I could see for quite a distance and the most immediately noticeable feature was the absence of the huge cities with their long, straight city streets and row upon row of identical, closely set houses. Even the suburbs with their carefully curved streets and deliberately mismatched houses were gone. In their place were a combination of remaining ruins, reclaimed buildings, and a few sites with a whole new set of homes and buildings. Populating this amazing variety of sites were the large families, many with over two hundred people who lived and worked together on good-sized, carefully tended acres of land.

Then we were on the ground again, moving from family to family, looking at how they had reconstructed their homes and their lives during the dissolution of governments and the growth of the large global network.

Some families had built a collection of individual homes near one another. Others were in apartment buildings or condominium-style houses grouped together into a small, private neighborhood. Around this group of homes was open acreage, some of which was used to grow trees, some was under grain or bean cultivation, some was used for vegetable and flower gardens, and some was deliberately left wild.

In the majority of these neighborhood groupings there was a large building that seemed to be there for the support of everyone, and when I asked the little men for more information about it, they commented only briefly.

“What you are seeing here are some early examples of the family neighborhoods and the structures that will evolve to support the family business. The neighborhoods usually consist of a large ‘main house’ surrounded by a variety of smaller, more private houses inhabited by family members. If the family is large there may be a second main house, but either way it is often the place where the major work of the family business is carried on. In some cases, if the nature of the family’s work requires it, there will be complex equipment and processes housed in two or three smaller buildings that are nearby.

“These combinations of family-plus-business structures will help to heal and stabilize life in many ways. Within each family the customs, rituals, and routines will vary tremendously depending on the original beliefs of the group members, but many will have similar characteristics.”

Now we began going into some of the buildings, looking around. The main house of each family compound varied in size but was unmistakably larger than the private homes or group dwellings around it. On the outside, the main house design almost always included a large porch that wrapped all the way around it, with many of the rooms having direct access to the outside.

Inside there were workspaces used for the family business, several offices, and a common area used for relaxing, for informal get-togethers, or family meetings. There was usually a music room, a large central kitchen with dining area, a food processing area, and an area referred to as the healing center. Frequently connected to the healing center was a large exercise room, and in every single case, an impressive and well-equipped communications center. Every main house had a room used as a schoolroom, and all had a small entertainment theater, or even two. There were usually a few private rooms or apartments for those who ran the main building, and beyond this most had a variety of storage areas, a large laundry and clothing area, a repair shop for metals and plastics, a wood-working area, a maintenance area, and a technology shop.

The most striking feature of these main houses was the amount and kind of technology each was using, especially in the communications center. The equipment in these centers was sophisticated and consistently busy. Some of the technology looked familiar, and some was like nothing I had ever seen. In my own life, I was pleased to have a telephone and a manual typewriter! In the world of the future, every main house seemed to have a whole room, sometime two or three, filled with what appeared to be large and small TV screens, speakers, headphones, microphones, cameras, large machines with an array of blinking lights and buttons, an assortment of telephones and 2-, 3-, or 4-way radios, something that reminded me of a teletype, and quite a bit of other equipment that I did not recognize at the time. It reminded me of pictures I had seen in connection with NASA’s space center during the space flights, and according to the little men, most of the equipment was used to communicate over the large global network.

There were always a number of spaces devoted to producing the family product and these spaces were large and well organized, For some this was simply a specialty food or herb and the kitchen was larger than usual or designed to handle this. For others, the family product was a piece of furniture, or technological equipment, sometimes cloth, or dishes, perhaps windows and doors. For some it was music, for others it was news, education, or programming that was broadcast over the large global network.


All of the families worked directly with the large global network, compiling, evaluating, adding to, or disseminating the information found there. Where the family business involved the making of unusual ceramics, plastics, cements, or chemicals, there was a separate building away from the main house. These families were larger than average and I was impressed with their technological expertise, the esthetic designs of their homes and work places, and the completeness of their attention to detail when it came to creating their product then using or transforming all by-products.

I was surprised at the look of most of the offices in various main houses and the casual atmosphere with which they were used. I had worked in numerous offices since graduating from high school and they were always cluttered with books and papers. Worse, they were invisibly stamped with the territorial aggressions of supervisors and managers. In contrast, the offices in the main house looked quite bare and were used by anyone who needed one for the day. Without money there seemed to be no bookkeeping or accounting, but complex inventories of supplies-on-hand were kept and updated regularly, trade records were carefully maintained, directories of other families that were communicated with frequently were kept in printed form, and personal records of education, health, and individual development were common. Other offices were used for settling misunderstandings, counseling sessions, private meditation, special educational tasks, or some aspect of trade required by the family business.

In the large central kitchen there was always food for those family members who did not have the time, the kitchen, or the inclination to prepare their own. Most of the foods were fresh from the gardens and consisted of a tremendous number of salads and vegetables. Breads were baked for everyone, sometimes using grains I did not recognize, and a variety of condiments that looked like jellies, jams, catsup, mustard, pickles, relishes, and sauces were made there.

A sumptuous variety of fruits and many vegetables were continuously harvested from the gardens and frozen or dried for use during both winters and hot seasons. Root crops of all sorts were grown and stored in great quantities. Herbs were also grown, dried, and stored in large quantities, and many families kept a few treasured animals such as cows, goats, sheep, or chickens for the milk, eggs, and meat. I had always been a big meat-eater and was surprised to see very little meat in the average diet. Neither could I find anything that resembled a box of Trix, Cheerios, or Rice-a-Roni. Quite a few foods were eaten raw, most others were made from scratch and this included breads, butters, yogurts, and cheeses as well as juices, soups, pastas, and casseroles.

Near the central kitchen in each main house was a healing center.  This group of rooms included a massage room, an exercise room, a music room, and several single-bed rooms, each with an attached bath containing a whirlpool tub, showers, or sitz tubs. Sometimes there was a sauna or hot tub as well. The exercise room was spacious and contained mats for floor work, a variety of free-weights, and sometimes physical therapy or body-building equipment.

The music room also had multiple uses. Individuals utilized it for music therapy, for giving impromptu concerts, or playing music by private individuals. It often held “old fashioned musical instruments” like pianos, trumpets, guitars, and such. Otherwise most musical instruments looked like a box with a typing keyboard, yet made a variety of sounds from violin and clarinet to harpsichord and xylophone.

At least one of the rooms in the main house of the compound was a schoolroom and children would spend an hour or two in this room several times a week. Accompanied by an adult, I was astonished to see them sit back in a lounge-type chair, wearing what looked like headphones, sometimes a set of goggles over their eyes, or perhaps other headgear that looked like a helmet. It appeared they were watching something inside the goggles!

At other times they watched pictures on the large TV screen. Occasionally they talked on the telephone to someone whose picture appeared on the TV screen, or typed on a keyboard that looked like a cross between a typewriter and a keypuncher’s unit.

The rest of their education was experiential and hands-on in nature, and every child was involved in a variety of useful projects mentored by several adults who acted as part-time teachers.

Frequently located next to the schoolroom was the entertainment center which resembled a tiny theater having a dozen or so comfortable chairs that adults relaxed in to watch programs or listen to concerts coming from elsewhere. At times this room was used as an extra education area for adults, and in some smaller families the schoolroom, entertainment center, and music room were combined into one.

Within the main house there were always a few private apartments set aside for those who ran the kitchen, the healing center, and the communications center. Other individual rooms were given to visiting apprentices or guests, although at first there were precious few people traveling or visiting openly.

Elsewhere within the main house could be found a laundry area that resembled today’s public Laundromats but with several washers and dryers that were dramatically smaller than the machines I was familiar with.

There were many natural fibers and fabrics in use and this was quite evident in the sewing area, which was in almost constant use and frequently included small but automated weaving or knitting machines. Although the idea of doing one’s own weaving and sewing struck me as old-fashioned in concept, it was clear that these weaving and knitting machines were highly advanced in their design and operation. Some of the families even had a small machine that you stood in front of which somehow took a picture of a body then created a set of basic patterns that were used to make an individual’s clothing. The finished piece could be viewed on one of the TV screens and small details changed—a different collar, a higher or lower neckline, a particular kind of button, shorter or longer length—until it was exactly what you wanted. Another automated cutter then cut out the pieces and someone quickly sewed them together.

To keep all of this technology going there was always a maintenance and repair shop, sometimes two, that worked with everything from metal to plastic to wood, and a technology shop where some of the communications equipment was created, while some was repaired.

Besides the main house and the individual homes, there were a variety of storage buildings, and often a small animal building which also housed farm or garden equipment. The farm equipment appeared to be very small in scale and many of the pieces looked like toys compared to the large equipment I had grown up seeing!

Now I began to watch more closely what people did in the course of day-to-day living in one of the family business neighborhoods. Especially noticeable was the fact that everyone was involved in growing food, and within the larger families there were individuals or small groups who took additional responsibility for making special food items like unique sauces, jellies, pastas, or spice mixtures. A few people grew trees, herbs, or flowers for use by everyone, while others focused on gathering and preparation of special plants used in healing. A central kitchen with someone who loved to feed people often produced tasty snacks and meals, and the three-meals-a-day concept seemed completely absent. People ate whenever they were hungry.

I had the impression that disease and illness were rare. However, when some unusual or unknown health condition appeared, a regular procedure was followed. The ill person’s finger was pricked and a few drops of blood were placed on a series of slides. These were then taken to the communications center and run under some kind of scanning machine with lights, all of which seemed to be connected to some kind of data source somewhere in the large global communications network. The blood was analyzed minutely for dozens of possible diagnoses, and then recommendations for correction or balancing were given. A variety of healing techniques were used from lights and sounds, to foods, diets, and herbs. If unique formulas or plants were needed, the names, addresses, and communication numbers of where they could be found were sent with the recommendations, along with directions on the best way to use or prepare the substances. Sometimes the directions were given in a brief movie format that appeared on the large TV screen via the same network.

In the midst of watching what people did from day to day I began to notice some of the individual houses that family members lived in when away from the main house. Homes and apartments were similar to today’s homes, although all were clearly more energy efficient. Some had unusual domed or rounded shapes, with a tough fabric stretched over them, which was then sprayed with something that looked like stucco. There were no garages, but everyone had an outbuilding or two, a basement, and a small cellar where foods were stored.

The interiors of the individual homes were only slightly reminiscent of today’s homes, and space was used in a different manner. Surprisingly, not every home had a kitchen. Those kitchens that did exist were larger and looked quite commercial. Usually they were part of a home that housed two or three families, a family often consisting of one to three people. The unique aspect of these kitchens was that most were oddly designed to be partly indoors and partly outdoors. There was usually a comfortable eating area designed around several tables and chairs, with one in the indoor area and one in the outdoor area. Cupboards were smaller and contained things I did not recognize, probably because of the absence of mass packaging, and it was obvious that diets and foods were much different.

Almost every individual home had a small, relatively soundproof relaxation room where meditation was practiced or music was used as part of the healing routine. Individual homes also had a full communications room that doubled as an office. Like the one in the main house, it was filled with television screens, radios, telephones, and other equipment as well as a desk or two, chairs and a table, and perhaps a storage cabinet for printed records, although there still seemed to be a shortage of paper around.

A number of private homes had exercise rooms similar to the exercise room in the main building. Gone was the large “family room,” there was no sign of a living room in most homes, and there was a complete absence of the traditional dining room.

Bedrooms were slightly larger and most of them were more like suites with a small sitting room and spacious bathroom attached. I was quite surprised to see that bathrooms were much larger, more complex, and were frequently called “healing baths” or “the healing room.”

Another thing that intrigued me was that, like the main house, almost every room in every house opened directly to the outdoors onto a large porch that encircled the house. Around most porches were small salad gardens. Even second floor bedrooms opened onto an outdoor deck, or at least a large landing-with-stairway that descended to the lower porch, allowing everyone to come and go privately, without going through the main part of the house which was usually the kitchen area if they had one, or something resembling a common lobby if there was no kitchen.

In the cold regions, a small section of the porch facing south was often glassed in and people used it to sit in the sunshine even in the winter. There were no roads as we currently knew them, and it appeared that the requirement set out by every urban and suburban building code that houses be built on a public road with a certain amount of frontage was no longer in effect. I intended to ask the little men what happened to the roads, but my curiosity was too intense to allow questions at the moment. I left to walk along one of the wide footpaths that connected dormitories and private homes to the main building, the gardens, and in some cases to the homes of favorite family members, so I made a mental note to inquire about roads later.

The little men had continued to escort me through these rooms of the future and finally they spoke up again, this time zeroing in on an unexpected theme.

“In the coming times you will have many chances to change your perspective, your priorities, your lifestyles, your goals, and your basic system of values, self-governance, and self-development. Although you will all change depending on which stage of the transition you are in, do not expect someone to suddenly appear and insist you make these changes. An unalterable law of survival is adaptation. It is best for you to recognize this and make change part of the flow of life rather than wait to be told what to do. Those who refuse to see and acknowledge that life on a daily basis is gradually forcing them to give first priority to good food, sustainable shelter, communication, and health will simply die and disappear.

“Those who see the changes that are required will come to divide their time between growing food, developing their potential and wisdom, and producing a product or service to be shared with others, with the priorities in that order.

“Over time you will all begin to ask several questions. ‘If the goal of human experience is to develop each individual’s power to express love, communicate, and become aware of their creative potential, and if it is necessary for both men and women to pursue their own development, then who will have time to give birth to children? Who will raise these children and nurture them until they learn how to continue their own self-development?’ Slowly you will realize that to give birth to a child is a monumental decision and commitment, and one that might best be made for an entirely different set of reasons than you now tell yourself.

“We will come back to the subject of giving birth in our next visit, but for now we will point out that in the fully developed human there will be no need to regulate or make laws regarding birth, abortion, or the limiting of population, for fully developed human beings have no neurotic drives to reproduce in order to find the love that supplements the missing connection with the Self. Self-governance around this issue will be a matter of personal development.

“To try to pull together some of what we have shown you so far, imagine, if you can, a planet on which there are no giant cities and where daily life has become a combination of old and new life-styles. The huge, powerful institutions you once knew are gone and in their place is a large communications network that links people all over the earth. Most of the information that was once held in the large institutions is now held in this network and many of the functions once performed by these institutions are now planned and completed via this network.

“Through this network a small family producing a product west of what was once Lake Michigan may send their goods to another family in old Virginia, to a second family in the south of what was once Spain, maybe a third family along the east coast of Africa, and another southwest of where St. Louis once thrived.

“Imagine a way of life in which money as you once knew it is gone, there are no taxes, no schools as you once knew them, no factories, shopping centers, or office buildings, and you do not ‘go to work’ every day. You live in a family instead of a town, and your goal is to contribute to the survival, health and well-being of the family.

“The pace of most days is steady and relaxing compared to your present ‘rat race’ and your time is divided among tasks that take you into the garden where foods are grown all year, into the exercise center as part of your own health maintenance routine, and the communications center or perhaps the school room where you pursue learning and self-development on a continuous, life-long basis.
“If you are directly involved in producing an item in the family business, you might spend time working toward that end. On other occasions you might spend time meditating, or working in the healing center with a private mentor. This mentor will teach you to develop a particular healing skill or therapeutic technique.

“If you were a repair person, you might linger at home, going off to get tools and repair something only if someone called on your skills. If you were a child in the group you might spend some time helping your mother or father feed the animals. Later you might tag along with a favorite adult for a while, then go into the schoolroom to watch an educational film, and still later end up helping in the central kitchen.

“If you were a teen, you would see very little difference between your life and that of most of the adults except that you would spend time with one or two mentors developing your ability to plan and execute a useful work or research project.

“As part of the group you might attend family meetings, celebrate the birth of a child, prepare for the passing of a beloved old one, or enjoy an impromptu picnic on the porch. You would be committed to open, honest, and loving relationships, and to helping one another nurture the development and gifts of your human potential.

“Over the next fifty to one hundred years there may be times when you are tempted to look at the world and see only violence, destruction, and suffering. We would ask you to see correction instead. You will not be able to see these changes as corrections unless you are correcting your own life. The violence, the suffering, the destruction—all are results of your former way of life and the breakdown of the connections and communications within the human, among humans, and between humans and nature. This must be corrected or you will not survive.”

The little men paused and we looked at each other for a silent moment. I wondered if they were waiting for me to ask a question or acknowledge the information in some way, but before I could come up with even a nod, they remarked in a very pointed way, “And we most definitely want you to survive. That is why we are showing you these pictures of the future. Again, if you do not have some concept of a better future, a clear picture of what you are moving toward, then you may not have the strength to carry on when the troubles are at their worst.” With that, they were gone.

Reprinted with permission from Penny Kelly, from Robes: A Book of Coming Changes (