Dreaming of An Eco-Commune: Creating A Better Life Together
Travelling for some, isn't always about endless weeks of life on the road, leaving behind a sense of family and familiarity, actually making many feel more grounded and fulfilled than ever, especially when you find yourself putting down roots on alien soil; sometimes when we explore the world, we seek a community-centred life that we couldn't find back home.
Taran was telling me the other day, about a graphic he once saw, which compared neighbourhood's in America with ones in Iceland. It highlighted that many Icelandic communities grow their own produce, whereas hardly any do in the USA.
The difference across the world between those living sustainably, community-driven lives and those living wastefully and selfishly, is woefully exemplified in this comparison.
It got me to thinking, how great it would be if more people in my own country were more focused on creating a self-sufficient community lifestyle.
And also, how lovely and sensible a community more like the Icelandic one would be, a place with values focused around helping each other; goods and services would be plentiful for everyone.
I do kind of envision it in a certain dreamy way:
Every person within such a community, would have a sense of purpose and a position; something to give and something to strive for.
General everyday wastage would be reduced. Recycling would be a lovely side-effect of a culture of sharing and giving. Healthy foods would be grown and tended to with care.
People would share their talents, and learn new ones from each other. Communal meals would be made up from each and everyone's contribution.
Life in such a place would be fulfilling, comforting and peaceful. And fun. And friendly, for the world and for the people.
Places like this do exist but I am yet to really experience one
I remember when I was young, playing with all the kids from the road I lived on, but rarely did these connections go beyond our childish ability to make easy friendships and have an afternoons fun. We would all still return to our homes as darkness came, sit inside our isolated little boxes with our dispersed, distracted families and ignore the world (and people) outside of it. Which makes me kind of sad.
So, serving as some of my inspiration for this community project daydream, is this place: Töfrastaðir, Iceland.
"Töfrastaðir (Icelandic for a magical place) is a permaculture project, about making a better life, advancing agriculture, creating abundance and building a community that cares" - Mörður G.Ott.
Established by Ott, he describes the idea behind the community:
"Most important to us is to be a home for those who need a place to belong and feel loved. The best compliment we've had so far, is: "Being at Töfrastadir feels like being with the family I didn‘t know I had".
The foundation of perma-culture is caring for the people, for the world, and recycling everything back into the system for re-use. So it's encouraging to read about this Icelandic project, as this really lends itself to developing permanent eco-communities.
Led by Ott, this group of people, disenchanted by fast-paced city life have built some amazing, something to aspire to and build on.
A community which is more close to my vision, a small and happy one, is situated right in the U.K, Brithdir Mawr, in Wales.
Established in 1993 by a young family, this eco-commune was dogged with legal issues which fought to destroy it and yet today, it thrives. This place also embodies the values of sustainability, the sharing of skills and knowledge, and people, all fostered within this small humble farm.
Much of the time, in the western world, we are almost encouraged to live somewhat insular lives, ignorant and intolerant to our direct neighbours, let alone our distant ones across the world. Materialistic consumption and preoccupation with our career ladders, and financial aspirations, means a sense of community is not likely to find its way into such a busy and self-absorbed lifestyle.
Don't get me wrong, I don't always want to live in the pockets of other people. I, like many, value the alone-time and space to be creative and recharge. But I have mornings where I'd like to pop next door to share a cup of tea with my neighbour. I'd like to have the option to open up my home to people who want company. I wish we weren't all such strangers.
Sometimes however, on the days where I sit huddled in my warm room on my laptop, it's easy to forget about how wonderful a more giving and open community would be to live in. But there are so many benefits to it, with the concept of outsiders or difference of religion/sexuality/skin colour, irrelevant.
I suppose I want to live somewhere that strikes a balance; a sustainable community, welcoming anyone/everyone to live within it, bringing an end to isolation and loneliness, creating a new outlet for self-expression and fulfilment. Every person is useful and wanted. Judgement and bigotry are simply absent.
You might say, the place I imagine is somewhat radical, because it's not a community about 'I' or 'me', it's all about what 'we' can all do for each other on a daily basis. Simple things like swapping vegetables with your neighbour to cook your Sunday roast, or baking cookies for a child's birthday party. I guess a lot of this fantasy relates to food...
A community that is less reliant on big business and government, supermarkets and shopping centres, and able to depend on itself to not simply exist within the bounds of what is financial and material, but what is real.
Yes it's about the 'eco', treating the world more kindly with the elements of recycling and less wastage, harvesting your own communities food. But it also goes back to the core of humanity and, love.
Elderly people with an audience always ready to hear their stories, children with an abundance of lessons to learn from every adults wisdom and experience, natural beauty cultivated by the hands of many, and a sense of safety, with everyone looking out for one other. Suddenly friends and neighbours are family. That's something amazing. Families are what makes this life worth it.
I guess this post is quite relevant in the lead up to Christmas, where I hope everyone can find their own peace and happiness amongst loved ones for the big day. I might as well have titled this post, 'I wish it could be Christmas, every dayyyy' cause what time of the year better evokes a sense of community, family and love.
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at Nomad'erHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!