I last visited Earthaven Ecovillage in 2001, when I came down with some other Twin Oakers for an FIC Art of Community conference. I was this fresh faced 20 year old communitarian, and it was my first substantial point of contact with the FIC, visiting a community that at the time was only 7 years old. Now here I am, 18 years later, the Executive Director of the FIC, and Earthaven is now 25 years old and has really become a village.
Eathaven just emerging from a 7 year process of restructuring legally and has come up with a creative solution involving a Homeowners Association, neighborhoods organized as Housing Cooperatives, and a Non-Exempt Non-profit corporation, which you can read about in an article by Diana Leafe Christian in the new issue of Communities magazine on Community Land.
They’ve also changed their decision-making to only require 85% rather than 100% consensus. It sounds like the effort to reach consensus hasn’t really changed, but removing the ability of one person to block seems to have brought a more relaxed, cooperative atmosphere to their process.
Their economy has really developed in the last 18 years. There are numerous agricultural efforts, a couple businesses, and the community uses a combination of US dollars, internal currency called LEAPs, and barter.
It’s also great to see the outreach and education efforts, as well as the movement building efforts by some of the members of Earthaven. There’s the School Of Integrated Living (SOIL) and Culture’s Edge. Diana Leaf Christian is well known for, among other things, her books on starting and finding intentional community and sociocracy trainings. Lee Warren works for the Organic Growers School, who’s Spring Conference this year includes extraordinary community agriculturalists Pam Dawling from Twin Oaks and Ira Wallace from Acorn. And Zev Friendman works with Co-Operate WNC, which is working to apply mutual aid and permaculture principles on a bioregional scale through a network of centers.
Speaking with Arjuna, one of the founders, she spoke to feeling like the community is still fulfilling its original intention, even if it looks different than they thought it would, which, of course. Earthaven seems to have managed to stay in touch with and maintain a continuity of its sense of purpose that’s engendering a strong level of caring and participation. And with some the new legal structure now in place they’re more able to start bringing on new members and developing new neighborhoods.
One of the things I’m most struck by seeing this community again after 18 years is now much more relaxed they seem to be around their idealism. They don’t seem to hold their ideals any less strongly, but there’s a flexibility that they’ve matured into that has allowed them to adjust things to suit the circumstances. And as they settle down after some big changes they seem ready for a whole new chapter.
Earthaven Ecovillage – Vision, Mission, Goals
Vision: In the midst of planetary change the Earthaven experiment helps inform and inspire a global flowering of bioregionally appropriate cultures.
Mission: To create a village which is a living laboratory and educational seed bank for a sustainable human future.
- 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.