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EarthStar Foundation: Real Solutions for Sustainability
Creating Supportive, Sustainable Community PDF Print E-mail

Community togetherness, not individualism, is the source of our species' success.True community is something that's missing from many peoples' lives. We are encouraged in the course of school and life to be rugged individualists, to strike it out on our own, to make something "for ourselves" and provide for a family alone. This notion of provision of resources for the family unit isn't necessarily a negative one, but the concept of the "lone wolf" struggling against a harsh world struggling to drag home game for his hungry pups is one that's being rapidly replaced by the idea that we're "all in the same boat". Human beings since the beginning of society have been creatures of, well, society. We are social beings and even Charles Darwin in his second less-touted volume admitted that the ability of our species to cooperate in order to acquire resources, share information, protect ourselves and just make each other feel belonging are the very skills that brought us to the top of the food chain on this planet. There has never been any species more successful in the history of this world and it's cooperation and community, not individualism or selfish thinking, that got us there.

Material culture has reached an apex, but the concept of individualism contradicts the cooperation that got us here.Despite the fact that cooperation developed our species to the point where our civilization could threaten its own existence, there has been a sort of computer virus injected into the thought systems of global civilization that has corrupted reason and caused people to lose sight of this important piece of our heritage. This isn't random or entirely the fault of your everyday layperson, it's a policy that's been set and even enshrined since the early days of industrialization, when Darwin first published his controversial materials. The very same industrialists, politicians and social engineers which promoted the "survival of the fittest" or laissez faire rationale that protected their own actions and profits denigrated Charles Darwin's Ascent of Man, for rather obvious reasons in retrospect - it flew in the face of their vision for a society they were comfortable with. The case can be more-than-reasonably argued that were it not for this mentality of separation from the rest of humanity and from the Earth itself, the kinds of ecological and economic devastation, slavery and warfare that we see today would not be possible.

So here we are in the year 2013, a planet at war abroad and at home, having been propelled to this point by a fusion of communal society values and rugged individualism. There is a veneer of community because we cluster our houses together and vote and get together to work and socialize. The concept of really living together, however, is foreign to most people. We're taught that for two families, and now often even two people in charge of one family, to get along forever is practically impossible. This is reinforced by the media which subtly injects everyday conflict into the things most people watch every day, and it has happened so slowly and so gradually that many haven't even taken notice. I personally can't bear to watch most movies today because nobody warned me that in 2009 they would stop making blockbusters that didn't have an all-out fist-of-cuffs of some kind. If this trend of normalization of violent conflict continues, I am frightened to think of the world our children may inherit... one in which it's not even safe to live in your own family.

The Earth is a community.The call for secure and friendly community is felt stronger than ever, even in those not fully aware of its pull, and I have personally talked to so many young families who wish there was an intentional community in their area that I am confident that if we build it, they will come. There are already many such places and more like it are emerging everywhere all the time. One such place is the Port Townsend EcoVillage, and we commend the creators of that operation for their efforts to create harmonious, sustainable community. People the world over are hungry for real human connection, healthy relationships, community bonding, and a safe place where they can be themselves without fear of scorn. They are just as hungry for the sustainable methods we will be employing across the board and the kind of security that goes with it. Having kids myself, I know how valuable it is to have extra caring hands around and find myself wishing that I lived in such a community; this is a huge source of my drive to create such a place here in Sequim where I've made community connections already.

One vision of the community we have in mind.We hope to have 2-3 families with kids and 2-3 single individuals living on the property at first, helping out. Individuals will be responsible for 4 hours a day 5 days a week for room and board and all the food they can eat themselves; families will have to contribute the equivalent of 6 hours a day for 5 days a week, shared between the partners, with the idea in mind that they are doing very important work, raising the next generation. Any work done besides this gets a paid wage.

There will be a huge dinner in the main house every night and dancing and music at least every week, but probably more often than that. All kinds of activities will be encouraged to foster a sense of real community that makes a village more like a big loving family. If conflicts arise, attention will be given to understand the roots of how the involved people really feel and what drove their actions, rather than the actions themselves. We hope as such to practice and develop methods of peaceful conflict resolution that empower everyone and leave no one feeling un-addressed. Social ceremonies such as "talking circle" (when a given object, sometimes a creative "talking stick", is held by the person speaking and everybody else listens attentively) will be used periodically when meetings need to occur so that everyone can speak and can be fully listened to by the group.

Community creates things that individuals can't accomplish by themselves.There will be a home school co-op where the families can spread out childcare duties, and everybody in the community will have a share in educating the next generation. Kids will never be seen as a nuisance around the farm; obvious safety hazards aside, they are there to learn and we are there to teach. We will not run the risk of turning the kids off to the work we're doing and possibly upset lifelong learning. The idea is by encouraging their interest in these practices, most of which are totally safe and awesome activities for kids anyway, children become an asset to the community and begin learning to be helpful members of a society.

 
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