Ecovillages are found all over the world, and each one is unique. When I visit them, my usual reaction is to be really impressed with them right away, my eagerness to just move out and give it a try coming on strong. But the problem is always the same. One, there aren’t enough kids in the range of our own kids, or two, there’s no easy way to make a living from such a place.
The cottage industry lifestyle of an ecovillage is under-utilized as a product line, I believe, because it’s so hard for people in remote locations to connect to global markets. The pipeline from ecovillage and farm to hip organic consumer culture is yet unbuilt. That’s a project to keep in mind.
I went to Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina with the intent to write about it and to study the model. I was surprised by how much I felt inclined to just move there. What a nice place.
I arrived on a Saturday morning, just in time to go on the weekly tour of the grounds. I had heard many good things about Earthaven, but I didn’t even know the specs of their village. It was much bigger than I realized! The tour was very informative, covering most of the main areas. We saw several types of housing that was there, lived in by permanent residents/members and interns, renters, and prospective members. They weren’t lacking for infrastructure.
The land was breathtaking. Multiple creek convergences on property, with springs aplenty, and still leafless (though budding) deciduous forests covering the gently rolling hills. Such a beautiful slice of paradise.
Earthaven began in 1994, created by like-minded friends who had money to pool, developing organically for the last twenty three years. As far as I have seen, they are among the more successful stories of such a venture becoming a true village that can take care of itself. Earthaven had high scores in all categories.
I had planned to camp for one night, but I soon decided to add another night and spend a bit more time. I enjoyed a lovely lunch with the people at Medicine Wheel, which is a neighborhood of Earthaven. Earthaven has some 13 neighborhoods which are each their own sub-village, with different terms of living with or near each other. Mostly these neighborhoods are just houses and farming. They raise many kinds of animals at Earthaven, and they have a solid product line, as far as food goes.
Their form of government is ultimately consensus based, and they have a council that meets twice a month to manage all the business. Several businesses operate out of Earthaven, from an educational program, to farms, to a nursery. They made it clear that it was hard for most people to make money living there, unless they had some already, or had some way to work from the internet.
Many people I met had been there for more than ten years. I had a wonderful chat with Patricia, who has been at Earthaven for twenty one years. The senior resident! She seemed really happy with her decision to invest herself there. She was part of Medicine Wheel, which has a large house and some fine gardens. Patricia and I walked through the gardens, watching the ducks and chickens, talking about permaculture and community.
I also talked with Lyndon, who worked at the nursery. We had a nice discussion on camera, which I will include. It was good to get to know some of the people who live at Earthaven. I got a really good impression of the community there, and I hope to go back for some time with them in the future.
I camped at their campground, the only guest there. My new tent worked out quite nicely. It got cold at night, but my bag is nice and warm. I woke up not long after the sun and went for a walk into the forest. I went to the morning yoga class, which was led by River Otter, who coordinates all the visitors, so I had met her the day before. It was a great yoga session, and I needed it, after much car time and computer work. It got me nice and limbered up for a walk up to Catawba Falls, just a short drive away. What a beautiful spot! The Appalachian Mountains are so gorgeous!
After that, I hit up Asheville, just to walk about. Nice city. Plenty going on in the daytime, and colorful with the flare of artistic, alternative culture. My kind of town. I went to the coop for lunch, and I bought some more food for the road. I was staying one more night at Earthaven, and then it would be on to Charlotte.
A more detailed piece on this Earthaven is called for, but to do such a place justice, I will need to take more time than I have available as I continue my tour, so for now, an introduction will have to do. It’s a place worth visiting, if you’ve not been. This was one of the finest examples of agorism and local economics that I have seen in an intentional community.
Many thanks to those at Earthaven who took time to talk with me. Many thanks to those who are taking time to follow the story I’m crafting, here on Permagora. I’m seeing the world differently, and I’m bringing my impressions on all this to you, directly. I suppose my brand of journalism is a bit personal, insomuch as I narrate my journeys as I go. What I am attempting to convey, in my own way, is that this kind of life that so many of us want, the dream so many have dreamed, is real, and can be done. I’m looking to folks who are pulling it off, one way or another, and I’m bringing their stories to you in the hopes that they will inspire you to bring into your own life that which you aspire to the most. I am awed and inspired by the many masters I have seen and learned from, spinning forth such beauty and abundance, such simple truth. We can empower ourselves if we but focus our thoughts and our daily practice.