Because not all communes have crazy religious leaders slipping you Kool-Aid.
The School of Integrated Living (SOIL), has announced its next Earthaven Experience Week — a program which immerses environmental enthusiasts in the everyday life on SOIL’s campus, Earthaven Ecovillage. Nestled in the Woods of Asheville, North Carolina, this off-grid intentional community has attracted the region’s barefoot, earth-loving hippies for the last 23 years.
The young adults and emerging environmentalists who participate in the Experience Week will join the homes, lives, businesses, and farms of the Earthaven community to grow and eat organic food, learn about renewable energy systems, and connect with nature.
With $3,000 per month big-city rent, the masses of people glued to their phones, and the growing custom of not knowing your neighbors, people are increasingly seeking out communities and opportunities like Earthaven Ecovillage and its Earthaven Experience Week to return to the basics of a simpler, more meaningful lifestyle.
What is an intentional community?
Intentional communities are planned, residential settlements of people who live together, share common priorities, values, and beliefs. They stray from the traditional living style of a family structure household and enrich the lives of their residents with more meaning, intention, and sense of belonging.
There are different types of intentional communities, each model serving a different purpose for its residents. A few different categories of intentional communities are outlined below with corresponding real-life places you can visit or apply to live in.
Ecovillages: Bhrugu Aranya
Bhrugu Aranya is an international ecovillage located in southern Poland, whose completely vegetarian or vegan residents are composed of artists, healers, authors, gardeners, herbalists, and musicians.
Like all ecovillages, Bhrugu Aranya has a strong ecological focus and prioritizes sustainable living practices. They also practice organic farming, which produces between 50–75% of the community’s food, while the remainder is locally sourced.
Although this community is considered “on the grid,” and has access to WiFi, 25% of their energy comes from solar power, which they plan to increase in the coming years.
What makes Bhrugu Aranya so unique is their non-denominational spiritual practice of Agnihotra, a meditational fire ceremony performed at sunrise and sunset every day.
Residents have seen the biodiversity and wellbeing of their land significantly increase in correlation with their practice of Agnihotra and the spreading of its daily fires’ ashes. The community’s land even supports an abundant population of an endangered frog species, which does not exist anywhere else in the region.
This interesting find has been replicated in a study led by Dr. Ulrich Berk, Assistant Professor in Konstanz University, done with fertilized seeds with both regular control ash and ash from Agnihotra. This study’s “results also clearly showed that Agnihotra ash gives better germination (root length, shoot length, and total weight) than control ash.”
To learn more about Bhrugu Aranya and their environmental practices, watch their in-depth Youtube video. You can also check their Facebook Page to inquire about visiting or applying for residency!
Communes: Acorn Community Farm
The defining factor of a commune is its internal economy — residents in these types of communities share nearly all or 100% of their income, which is usually generated from conducting a business or selling a product from within the commune. This eliminates the societal lifestyle of working for wages in a traditional job setting.
Acorn Community Farm is a Virginia-based commune composed of 30 members who transcend the need for a nine-to-five job (or any job for that matter) by equally sharing the income earned from their thriving organic seed business, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
Acorn Community Farm has no owners, bosses, investors, or supervisors. Residents are required to contribute 42 hours of labor per week, “work” which includes growing and harvesting food and herbs on the commune’s working farm with chickens, cows, goats, and pigs, helping with the two daily communal meals, or even the accounting and office work required for their seed business.
Because everyday tasks, such as cleaning or cooking dinner, can be counted toward their 42 hours, residents tend to have more free time than the average working person. They are allowed to create their own work schedules and are trusted to contribute in whichever aspect of the commune their help is most needed.
To learn more about Acorn Community Farm, visit the their website or their Intentional Communities profile.
Cooperatives: Philadelphia Service Co-op
Cooperatives, or co-ops, are smaller communities of people who usually live under the same roof and reduce their cost of living through shared expenses, but not shared income.
The Philadelphia Service Cooperative (PSC) is an intentional community of eight people who cohabitate their Victorian home in West Philadelphia. Like most co-ops, PSC creates a strong sense of kinship through family-style dinners, weekly movie nights, and equally shared household responsibilities and decision making.
PSC’s members are artists, dancers, and professionals who share their belief that that “service, community, and inclusion” can bring people together and inspire them to contribute and be part of their communities. Additionally, each community member commits to at least two community projects per month.
Patrick Colleton, PSC’s founding member, believes that the co-op’s focus on service not only helps the larger community of Philadelphia, but also strengthens the relationships between members of PSC.
“Service is good for the community,” Patrick says, “because as one former housemate put it, ‘when people live together, we’re inevitably going to see each other at our worst. Service is an opportunity to see each other at our best.’”
To learn more about PSC, check out their website or join their Facebook Group.