Living in a dome tent while building a straw bale home.
Yes, there are communes, ecovillages and intentional communities still thriving in the USA and abroad. Fellowship for Intentional Community publishes a directory of them, which is now available online.
On my cross-country music/storytelling tour in 2000, I spent July 16th at the amazing Lost Valley Educational Center in Dexter, Oregon (just south of Eugene) and made a blog post on my old web site.
I did not get around to posting about Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and Sandhill Ecovillage, both just outside Rutledge, Missouri, which I visited the following October. Sandhill’s roots are in The Farm, originally founded by Stephen Gaskin and his followers in the early 70’s, and now the world headquarters of the Global Ecovillage Network, forty five minutes drive from Nashville, Tennessee.
Sorghum extractor at Sandhill Eco Village
Sandhill’s economy sustainably rests on bottled honey and sorghum; they grow their own produce, and they house the office of the Intentional Community Directory.
Kurt at the Intentional Community Directory office at Sand Hill
Dancing Rabbit’s Gen Y founders came from a housing co-op near Stanford University, and visited Sandhill to learn more about sustainable land based intentional community. Sandhill’s folks wasted no time in finding them a suitable piece of land in the neighborhood and helped them start a land trust.
“Truth window” inside a straw bale house at Dancing Rabbit
The rules at Dancing Rabbit: no new lumber, only scavenged, recycled lumber and renewable building materials, including strawbale and cob.
Exterior of straw bale house, naturally insulated for snowy winters and hot summers, like the prairie sod houses of a century ago
No gasoline or individually owned cars; everybody shares the bio-diesel powered vans. Guests who are interested in becoming residents may stay on a trial basis and then are voted in as residents by the whole community. Members can be on the governing board after five years residency.
Susan, Rachel and Allette at Dancing Rabbit
I saw a cool little business going within the commune. Allette Brooks, a singer/songwriter, lives at Dancing Rabbit when she’s not on the road. Susan and Rachel, who live at the community, do her booking and publicity, and the three split the income from Allette’s concerts three ways. The women get a cash income they wouldn’t get living so far from town, and Allette gets a staff that works on spec, since they aren’t burdened with the overhead common to city living.
I noticed that the Rabbits worked hard, enjoyed each other’s company, had fun, and ate well. They invited me to come back and live, and who knows, maybe someday I will.
Historic Note: found this page on Drop City, one of the first intentional communities in the mid-’60’s, and the subsequent title of two books, one a memoir by community member Peter Rabbit, and the other a somewhat mean-spirited novel about an imaginary commune by T.C. Boyle.