My forthcoming book, Dwelling in Resistance, will be published Rutgers University Press in 2017. This book examines The Farm, Twin Oaks, Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, and Earthship Biotecture as illustrative case studies of the potential for changing relationships among humans and between humans and nature via alternative technologies and forms of material organization. In the book, I argue that the choices to live in these alternative forms of residential life are not motivated by alternative environmental values, but by values that correspond to more traditional American values regarding freedom and community. It is through alternative practices rather than alternative values that the people living in these communities dwell in resistance, and in doing so offer real solutions for changing social relationships and environmental impacts through the adoption of alternative technologies, communities, and practices. For more information, see The Rutgers University Press site.
Cover photo by Savannah Fox. used with permission.
Some examples of communities I write about in this book and include:
Earthships are a particular model of off-grid home. Part business, part social movement, and part subculture, architect Michael Reynolds developed the Earthship concept in the 1970s and has spent the past four decades constructing Earthships with his company, Earthship Biotecture. I am interested in how Earthships can be used to understand the politics of technologies used for residential dwelling considered historically, lifestyle choices and social values of those living in Earthships, and the organizational dynamics of Earthship Biotecture. Photo by author.
Twin Oaks is a labor sharing, income sharing, egalitarian community. Every member is required to work the same number of hours per week and is provided the same material resources in exchange, although there are a lot more options for work than most Americans experience! Twin Oaks is interesting to me because they have decades of success in offering an alternative economic model in an efficient, walkable village where they grow much of their own food, manage their own water system, and treat their own waste. Most importantly, people who live at Twin Oaks do not talk about their lives as requiring sacrifice – rather, they see their systems of sharing as a source of abundance!
The Farm is most well known for midwifery, but the community provides a vibrant mix of alternative technology, alternative education, permaculture and organic food production, and spiritual communion and care, all in a very large natural setting protected as community land and preserve. For decades, community members have been caring for the land, the processes of birth and death, and one another, with a commitment to simplicity and connection. It’s a wonderful place to visit, and a model for what rural communities could be!
DANCING RABBIT ECOVILLAGE
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is the most newly formed intentional community I’ve studied, located in rural northeastern Missouri since 1997. Community members abide by a series of covenants meant to represent the most environmentally sustainable practices and technologies, and the community operates through a system of voluntary cooperatives so that people can choose to share access to materially and economically intensive resources like kitchens, bathrooms, tools, and gardens. The community emphasizes the importance of social connection and interpersonal growth as key to sustainability, is ever evolving and has big plans to grow!
These are certainly not the only examples of vibrant, successful alternatives for living in more sustainable and connected communities in America – there are more possibilities than most of us ever know!