“Mission: To create a village which is a living laboratory and educational seed bank for a sustainable human future.
Vision: In the midst of planetary change the Earthaven experiment helps inform and inspire a global flowering of bioregionally appropriate cultures.
- To promote and ensure the long-term structural integrity of the community.
- To catalyze local and global change through learning, teaching, and networking.
- To shift from wasteful to regenerative use of resources.
- To use and develop ecologically sound technologies for water, waste, energy, construction, and other essential systems.
- To develop and support a thriving local economy.
- To grow, raise, and trade our own food, medicines, and forestry products in an environmentally responsible, bioregional network.
- To practice fair, participatory, and effective self-governance.
- To encourage an atmosphere in which diverse spiritual practices, conscious connection to all beings, and progressive social action can thrive.
- To nurture personal growth, interpersonal understanding, and mutual trust, as the foundation for a deeply connected human community.
- To practice healthy, holistic lifestyles that balance self-care with care for others.
- To create a culture of celebration, beauty, and pleasure.
- To use capital and labor resources to provide common infrastructure and meet our collective needs.”
Here we go, into the lush temperate rainforest elevated by the southern Appalachians Mountains. We traveled on winding roads that slithered across the landscape. The human sitting beside me operating the craft was a blessing from the universe. I was looking for a ride to Earthaven this weekend to try and attend their White Owl gathering, and the next morning be given a private tour of the land.
I only had one option for a ride, but they bailed last minute. Then here comes this beautiful mature man asking me when I was going to Earthaven – we had previously talked about me going. I told him my dilemma. That I needed a ride to the EcoVillage in a few hours and I also need a ride back tomorrow afternoon. He without hesitation he gave a quick ,”I can do all of that”. My smile reached the heavens as I hugged and embraced this man. We were to be traveling companions for the next day.
After much anticipation we arrived at a narrow road leading further into the bush. A little wooden sign assured us we were in fact here. We were engulfed under a forest canopy. A break in the forest revealed open spaces, some with structures. Other spaces looked to be used for cultivating food.
Coming to a small bridge we decided to go a bit further and drive up this spiral driveway to a large natural building. As we approached what seemed to be a natural courtyard formed by the conjoined curve of the two structures we notice a man tidying things up outside. We both got out of the automobile and walked up to greet this man. The very second my space entered his space I felt a very loving energy. The total attention he was giving to the moment, the space of love he was holding. His positivity was quite pleasant to be around.
We were informed that we were right where we needed to be – The White Owl. These natural structures standing before us were created years ago by one of the founding members of Earthaven. This place has been unused for some time now. The people living here want to see this space be reborn into a cultural hub of the village. Events like the one we have arrived early to today will help this transition take place. We greeted most of the people around and sat down for a meal before things were to get crowded.
There was to be a healthy amount of people attending this gathering. As the time passed humans from many lands came to join us in the sharing of a space of love. This gathering was intended to be a musically intimate sharing of each other’s gifts and was hosted by two very talented and grounded experts. They were very good at being organic in holding a space of love with their music. Beautiful interactive exercises that included the audience’s full participation captured everyone’s undivided attention. Everyone was blissing out on each others collective harmony. We sang and played as one. We were in a bubble where separation didn’t exist.
The White Owl had invited a eastern European gypsy band to play for a few hours tonight. Once they got jamming, the people started dancing. I later joined in the sweaty fun. The bands fluctuating tempos had everyone burning in a dance fever.
I was able to connect with a number of individuals and communicate my purpose here. I got nothing but admiration from these kind souls, but I did not feel this was the space to hold a structured ambassadorship. I was coming here to organically enjoy the space they created and to make divine connections with my fellow humans.
We had come to Earthaven with the idea that we were going to pitch tents up for the night. The generous White Owl residences gave everyone the option to sleep inside for the evening. I received their offer with much gratitude and got to lay my sleepy head down on a comfy mattress. I had a big day tomorrow. My private tour of Earthaven was just around the corner. I closed my eyes with a thirst to learn.
I awoke to all my new friends lounging around taking in the morning air. Some of the early risers were hard at work preparing breakfast for all the people that stayed the night. I found myself with little time before the tour started. With a rested focused mind I made myself a quick snack and headed to the meeting spot. There were three other people that were taking the tour today – a middle aged couple and a young woman. The tour guide joined us moments after arriving. He was a middle aged man, who wasn’t part of the founding crew but had been a resident here for almost 10 years. I introduced myself with my title. He was a bit curious and asked what other EcoVillages I will be traveling to. I answered his question as we had a quick dialogue before the tour began.
The guide didn’t waste anytime as he oriented us to the land. He began to identify all the landmarks and structures nearby. We all walked over to a roofed information stand where a map of Earthaven was displayed. Pointing out where we were and the different sections that made up the EcoVillage he started to tell the history of Earthaven.
He was giving us a brief rundown of the stages of development when I heard a very unfortunate truth. Years ago Earthaven was inspected by the county. An ultimatum was presented to the EcoVillage as a result. They were in violation of the counties building and zoning codes. In order to comply and remain fully intact Earthaven was given the option to be constructed into a subdivision with street lights, signs, and paved roads. Many changes would have to be done that would definitely hinder the EcoVillage experience.
This was not in the best interest for the people here. Thankfully a loophole was found. They found out that if they created little subdivisions of their own, banding certain sections of the land together with a calculated number of families living in each one, they could bypass the codes – tiny villages in a village. Therefore, these new tiny separate(but not so separate) communities did not have enough people to enforce subdivision building and zoning codes. A happy day I bet that was for the people here.
This is an unfortunate truth for many EcoVillages being developed today. They spend all this time and energy into erecting self-sustaining communities, but in the eyes of many counties these EcoVillages are a violation. If these groups of people do not comply to the zoning and building codes, the city comes and destroys everything these people have worked for. Gone! What took years to build, took only days to flatten.
This is the resistance that we are facing today which is why I’m so excited to be affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Sustainability Center. We are working to replicate the low-impact development model. This model was proven successful for the Lammas EcoVillage in the UK. Through this framework we see an example of working with the local governments to give way for the creation of low-impact development aka EcoVillages. This is a very powerful resource. We are giving effort to duplicate this model throughout the world.
Earthaven did find a way, but at a cost. In having these little communities in a larger community, it created a bit of separation in my opinion. From the information that was presented to me. The EcoVillage comparatively to a EcoVillage like Twin Oaks, is much different in their daily Interactions with the community as a whole. If two humans were to live on opposite villages on the land, they would be less likely to interact on a daily basis with each other. They do have weekly communal meals and markets that the whole EcoVillage participates in.
The history briefing was completed and we started to walk the infrastructure of the land. I was very impressed that about 90% of the structures in Earthaven were naturally built. I had many natural building techniques being displayed before me. We identified Cobb, plaster, straw bale, straw clay slip, natural lafting, locally sourced timber and lumber framing, green roofing, and many other realities that weren’t resisting nature.
We all had the pleasure of getting to meet one of the residents. She was a spunky older lady. I could see a fire of passion in her eyes. She was dedicated to a sustainable lifestyle that lives in harmony with the environment. It warmed my soul to see this older generation be so pumped for sustainability. As with every other time I feel a fire of purpose from someone, it sends a gust of wind to my inner flame of purpose and gives me a burst of passion. I live for these moments.
The tour was polished off and we all parted ways for the afternoon. I found myself walking into the community center to bear witness to a spectacular view. All the people that had stayed the night were all inside the center participating in an intuitive improve dance to music being played by a few people in the group. They were creating points of contact with each other physically. Moving in a flowing like manner they remained in contact with their dance partner on any body part they could use. It was quite the sight to come upon. I joined them in the dance session and later sprawled out on the floor to relax and close my eyes to the music. The vibrations recharged my soul.
This went on for about an hour. At the end I met up with my traveling companion and we set out to explore the grounds. He didn’t get to attend the tour, so I gave him a brief rundown on what I had learned. We then later met up with the White Owl tribe at the nearby river. They were giving their own tour of Earthaven for all of the guests.
We joined them just in time for a clothing optional dip in the big creek. It was very refreshing to feel the water of the land. All of us gathered around to be given a little introduction of Earthaven. Questions were answered and we packed up to take a walk of the EcoVillage. I was grateful for this second tour of Earthaven because consisted of different places that I didn’t see in the previous tour. We visited the medicine wheel house which would have been the place I would plug in at if I was to choose to stay. It was this awesome permaculture based cohousing community that took in travelers for work trade.
Our tour then took a detour on a nature trail. The things I got to witness on the nature trail put me in awe. The abundance of life, the fertility of the soil, the levels of ecosystems, they all appeared to be very healthy. I got to capture with my camera many forms of fungus that I spotted. We even had the pleasure of having a local mycologist with us on the tour. Much of our tour fell behind while discussing different species that were identified. It was quite the learning experience. On the first tour I got to feel the EcoVillage. The second tour I got to feel the land. It could not have gone any better.
We all returned to the White Owl and me and my traveling companion said our farewells to the many people we got to connect with. I was feeling very satisfied with my visit to Earthaven. It was just what I needed to carry on my journey.