Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Four R Communities

So how do The Four Rs (see my previous post) work in practice?  How does this translate into community building, for example?

Here is my take on where various communities belong with regard to the four Rs:

Restorative Communities: Most true ecovillages go beyond sustainable to restorative.  For example, Dancing Rabbit in northeastern Missouri (see my posts First Week at Dancing Rabbit,5/28/13, Land Use Planning, 5/31/13, and Thoughts as I Leave Dancing Rabbit,6/14/13) has been trying to restore the prairie land that they're on as well as planting trees everywhere (which I mention in my post on Land Use Planning).  Communities like Earthaven and Red Earth Farms (see my post Red Earth Farms, 6/4/13) function in similar ways.

Regenerative Communities: I think that the 'deeper green' communities are the ones trying to figure out how to be regenerative.  In essence, these communities (for example Living Energy Farm--which I wrote about in a post on 12/8/12--and The Possibility Alliance--which I wrote about 6/11/13) are trying to live off the grid and without using any fossil fuels, the way I and they suspect we'll all need to be living in the future, only they're doing it now.  In some ways they are recreating civilization as well as the landscape.  And besides regenerating the land, communities often generate new communities: Red Earth Farm came from a dispute at Dancing Rabbit (they now work closely together and with Sandhill, also in Rutledge), East Wind and Acorn (see below) were off-shoots of Twin Oaks, and the two new communities in Louisa, Living Energy Farm and Sapling, came from Twin Oaks and Acorn.

Robust Communities: Twin Oaks (which I've written quite a bit about, see especially my posts Real Models 1:Twin Oaks, 9/30/10, and Update 6: Life at Twin Oaks, 12/4/12) has been around since 1967--closing in on fifty years--has nearly a hundred people and has a waiting list to get in.  There are certainly other communities that have been around nearly that long (for example, The Farm in Tennessee, founded in 1971--although with a major restructuring in 1983, Findhorn  in Scotland, which evolved from people who settled there in 1962 but became a proto-ecovillage in 1982, East Wind Community, founded in 1973, and Sandhill Farm, founded in 1974--which I wrote about in a post 6/8/13) but Twin Oaks has existed without major changes (although it has slowly evolved, there are no major change points the way it happened with The Farm and Findhorn) and with a fairly sizable population (unlike Sandhill which has never had more than twelve adult members and had six when I visited them a year and a half ago).  East Wind has also simply evolved slowly, to about 60 adults--but it's probably not an accident that the folks who started it came from Twin Oaks.  And, actually, I see all these communities as robust--and proof that the communes didn't disappear when the sixties and seventies were over.

Resilient Communities: There are probably lots of examples of this--Twin Oaks and East Wind have survived fires and deaths and other things, and, as noted above, The Farm has survived a major restructuring, but if I had to choose one major example of a resilient community, I'd choose Acorn. (For more on Acorn, see my posts Update 2: The Acorn Community, 9/14/12, and Update 3: Life on the Farm, 9/23/12.)  I was told that in their early history, Acorn was at one point down to six members and at another down to two.  More recently, last year Acorn had two major fires. (I talk a little about them in my posts on Snow, Darkness, and Fire, 3/13/13, and Issues in Community: Recruitment, 11/11/13.)  When I visited Acorn last March (see Acorn Again, 3/28/14), they were doing fairly well.  What leads a community to do so well in spite of such setbacks?  I asked one person in an early visit how Acorn got through periods when membership was so low.  His reply was that he thought it was two things--one very committed member and the nearby presence of Twin Oaks.  And that was true with the fires as well.  I was at Twin Oaks when the first one happened and people were quickly organizing to help Acorn out.  One of the reasons for the recovery from the second was also that a crew from East Wind (not nearby at all!) drove out from Missouri to help out.  I think one major source for resilience in Virginia and Missouri is when there are groups of communities that can depend on one another. (See my post on Communities of Communities, 6/9/12, and what I wrote about the Federation of Egalitarian Communities in my posts on Egalitarian Communities, 10/22/08, and Acorn Again, 3/28/14.) To my mind what's happening in Louisa County in VA and Rutledge, MO, would be more amazing if it happened even more places. (Twin Oaks' and Acorn's presence in Louisa County, for example has spun off Living Energy Farm and now, a fourth, brand new egalitarian community called Sapling--see what I wrote above under Regeneration.) In fact, regeneration of communities is a major factor in the resilience of communities.

So how to build more of these communities?  And, especially, how to build them in the city?  That's the subject of my next post.

Quote of the Day: "We are building a zero fossil fuel ... community that demonstrates that it is possible to live a healthy joyful life without the use of any fossil fuel. ... The most powerful sustainable “technology” we employ is cooperative housing in an income-sharing community. ... We have strong support and involvement from members of existing communities in the central Virginia area, and will continue to network with these groups." -- from the Living Energy Farm website

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