A revolution attempts to change a system that seems flawed in a relatively short amount of time, many times resulting in violence, while a re-evolution is a peaceful solution to finding change through education, even if it’s only one person at a time. To re-evolve is to accept our shortcomings and give ourselves a second chance to learn where we previously failed.
Emerald Earth, an intentional community where I’ve been living since early July learning how to build earthen homes, consists of residents intentionally re-evolving. They have chosen to leave what some might call a normal lifestyle for an alternative one because mainstream society is not palatable anymore. They take from the land only what they need in an eternal battle to lower their footprint, locally and globally. They are dedicated to experimenting with options that aren’t accessible to many of those in current living situations. This includes building earthen homes with local materials, raising animals for dairy and meat, using solar and hydro power, recycling grey water, and turning human waste into food for trees.
Days can seem fast-paced with endless amount of work and stress (similar to mainstream society) yet there are also layers of a complex lifestyle that suggests a higher level of consciousness; this layer observes, listens, reflects, evaluates, and makes ethical decisions based on what’s best for the people and the land. Although everyone is constantly busy milking, gardening, building, cooking, cleaning, fixing, you can always find adults spending quality time with children. There is a commitment to educate others about natural building through work parties, week intensives, and an apprenticeship program. A common fiber is shared by everyone; they have chosen to be here because they want to to live differently. This choice, I would argue, results in a higher level of happiness. It’s not that things are perfect or that there is no conflict, but at the end of the day the residents seem to move through stress with a greater sense of peace and higher level of tolerance and acceptance than our mainstream counterparts.
Intentional communities are thrown into categories as easily as fast food. Most people would probably use the words dirty, hippy, or free love to describe intentional communities. I confess that I have little experience, but I do know that these communities can vary tremendously; some are small and some have thousands of residents. Emerald Earth, even with only thirteen full-time residents (9 adults and 4 children) and some seasonal work traders, have timelines, endless chores, weekly business and sharing meetings, discussions, and appointments to keep. Most residents are professionals, body workers, builders, educators, have master degrees, have worked in mainstream society, and some still put in hours (in their professions) during the week. They eat extremely well; almost everything is local and mainly organic but they do rely on food not on the property. The residents share one kitchen, one refrigerator and a freezer, an incredible task, but imagine the amount of energy saved by not having a refrigerator for each family! Obviously, by sharing this space, it means that meals are communal, which is quite nice. There is social time with music, pizza nights (in the wood-fired cob oven) sauna time (in an earthen structure with a wood stove) guests that visit, celebrations, a trampoline, ping-pong table, a pond for swimming, and an occasional movie night. The residents rely on the land to provide and it seems each person here is an expert in a variety of areas. Whether traveling or living in similar communities, they have learned useful life-skills that some might categorize as homesteading skills. They make clothes, soap, yogurt, cheese, kefir, buttermilk, bread, process acorns, practice animal husbandry, process animals, pick wild mushrooms, garden, etc. They also build earthen homes and structures. In the end, Emerald is simply a group of people conscious individuals living harmoniously with the land, and as far as I can see, their lifestyles are healthier and more prosperous than city folk. They are people trying to do something about the finite resources that we, in mainstream society, take for granted and so easily waste. They are the ones making the decisions that many of us don’t have the guts to make and so, if all these things equate to dirty, hippy, and free love, I’d say most of us better start taking notes.
Visit the Emerald Earth photo blog