Picture this: A park-like setting, with trees clustered within open pastures; fibre-bearing animals: sheep, llamas and alpacas roam and graze. Just inside the entrance gate to the property, a farm store is bustling with activity. It sells organic fruit and vegetables that are grown on the community farm. Boxes of vegetables are being prepared for distribution within the community, at the same time a number of visitors have called in to pick up their own food boxes. Itís always busy here on Fridays!
Delivering the boxes of vegetables to the community is easy though. The community residents are not only on the same property, but they all live within a stoneís throw from each other and in any case, the food is being delivered to the village common house for a shared meal this evening. The common house beats like the very heart of this exceptional village. Barely a day goes by when it does not witness, at least a few moments, in the life of each and every resident. Shared meals are available in the common house every single evening, although participation is optional.
The common house provides facilities that can be shared by everyone. The community laundry means the village requires around 30 fewer washers and dryers. Guest rooms are always available, which reduces the need for every house to have one of its own. Likewise childrenís playrooms, a music room, work rooms, storage and office space and ultimately, a kitchen and dining room that serves food for any resident who wishes to dine there in the evenings. Sharing equipment, tools, space and even vehicles drastically reduces the cost of living for every household. It also makes an enormous difference to the ecological footprint of the village as a whole.
A small horse trailer trundles past the farm store, on its way to the veterinary clinic. This clinic not only serves the local neighborhood, but it caters for the many animals being cared for by this same community. The sheep and the llamas are seen by the vet when necessary, but the onsite clinic spends a lot of time caring for the other residents of this unusual village, the horses and donkeys living in the Large Animal Rescue & Retirement Centre. This is a large organization and expensive to run, but it is all managed by people who actually live in the village and paid for by generous donations and fundraising, as well as by the people who request that their animals be cared for by the centre, should they become too ill to do so or leave this earthly life before their animals.
Standing at the entrance to this 160 acre park-site, you will see, not only the cluster of residential houses, but another group of buildings, especially the eye-catching pavilion at its centre. This is FAB, the Fibre Arts Bootcamp, an educational facility dedicated to the promotion of natural fibers and the fibre arts. Fibre is not only collected from the animals onsite, but the mill and fibre processing centre serves hundreds of natural fibre producers throughout British Columbia. This centre provides employment for many of the residents. Jobs are frequently shared and can also be rotated to allow residents to learn many different aspects of the fibre world. The business sector of the community is cooperatively run and provides a Ďjob for lifeí for all of its members.
An unusual development like this attracts a lot of interest. People come by the coach-load, from all over the world. Sometimes, there are many more visitors on the grounds than residents and it could become overwhelming at times, if it were not for the strict privacy rules and the careful work of the visitor management team. Thereís even a visitor centre that offers information and advice on how this type of community can be replicated almost anywhere. The RV park and camp ground welcomes visitors to come and spend some time learning about this strange alternative to the normal, consumer-driven, every-man-for-himself, society that most people find themselves living in, whether they like it or not.
This isnít a new concept, co-housing and EcoVillages have been around for decades. There are over 700 co-housing developments in Denmark alone and they are so popular, there is always a waiting list to get a place in one of them. North Americans have been slower on the uptake, but with around 150 well proven communities, their popularity is expanding at a rapid rate. Residents describe improved health, greater happiness and more a meaningful life as just a few of the unseen benefits of living more intimately with other people. This isnít communal living though, privacy is usually respected to an even greater degree than normal. Neither is this Utopia; we are still human beings, we still have our challenges and we still have to learn how to get along with each other. However, differences between residents are usually patched up quickly and with considerable local support. Nor is this a New Age settlement; teachers, engineers, farmers, a landscape gardener, a writer, builders, an auto mechanic, in fact, professional people from all walks of life live here. Single parents often describe this as the perfect solution; every child has a hundred parents and because there are so many people milling around at all times of the day, this is a safe environment in which children and adults thrive. There is no bias toward age or ability, we all have our gifts to give and a community that deliberately sets out to find those gifts is the richest community in the world.
This is just one vision of a new society in which we can all live and share in the abundance. The difference here though, is that this vision is already being manifested in many places around the world. This isnít a pipe dream, this type of society really does work. Not is this about ideology; even in the perfect world, we would still have differing opinions. However, our own perfect world places man and animals as equals on the ladder of ascension and within the theme of the enterprise that we envisage within this community, residents would need also to share this belief. Bring your own God, bring your own personal beliefs, bring your own abilities and disabilities, share your gift. Other than the desire to create a more ecologically sustainable, socially respectful and responsible way of life, this is still a way of life like any other.
Does this vision appeal to you? A few highly motivated people, are all that is required to get this project out of the ether and onto the ground. Join us in designing and creating a community just like this one. We feel quite safe in saying that it will not be an easy journey, in fact it will probably be a long and bumpy road. However, the rewards reach far beyond this single community. To establish something that demonstrates to so many people, what is really possible in life, can truly be an event to change the world.
This community is designed to encourage sharing and to provide for the welfare of all the residents, both human and animal. It reduces environmental impact, as well as money dependency. It specifically develops individual and social responsibility and by catering for the needs of all, both young and old, it offers a sense of purpose and direction, when for most people, there is simply nothing.
We believe itís possible. Are you one of the highly motivated people who will join us and make this happen?
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