Cultivating New Community Members Starts with New Roots
by Arjuna da Silva
Among the many new and exciting things life in an ecovillage exposes us to—new ideas, new diets, new techniques and technologies, new celebrations—one of the most vital are the new people we meet! Our gate is open to visitors who may come for a tour, a workshop, to visit friends or family, or with the clear intention of finding their niche at Earthaven. Some stay or return to do work trades or internships, or to get the ball rolling toward membership.
We call the newest residents at Earthaven our “New Roots.” They come from far and wide, often are under 30, and participate in a variety of ways: as work exchangers, interns or apprentices, as long-term guests of family members, or as employees of on-site businesses. Generally, they’re all here to discover if Earthaven is the place to settle.
Thirteen New Roots, including New Roots Committee member (also an Exploring Member) NikiAnne Feinberg (left, bottom row) along with Community Service Coordinator Lyndon Felps (center, black tee shirt), got to know Earthaven and each other better at a recent check-in.
The New Roots are mentored both by the individual members who host New Roots and by the New Roots Committee. At periodic check-ins, New Roots get a chance to meet and discover how each other are handling living in the woods, coping with so much that is new and different, such as staying in tiny houses or communal set-ups, using and conserving off-grid power, reusing and recycling like crazy (including their own pee and poop), and shopping at the Free Store. Their adventures are life-changing!
Almost a quarter of those present at a recent check-in said they were interested in getting on the “membership track,” which begins with an Exploring Member interview with the Membership Committee. The interview also includes suggestions about what the potential Exploring Member might need to learn about Earthaven before joining. Exploring Memberships last up to a year, and Exploring Members are encouraged to attend (and sometimes join) committee meetings to learn about work going on behind the scenes. Financial commitment also expands at this time.
Within that year, the deeper commitment of Provisional Membership (the last step before the “jump” into Full Membership) is under consideration. Although not everyone takes the journey to Full Membership, just about everyone becomes part of Earthaven’s extended family, returning for long or short visits again and again.
Arjuna da Silva, a co-founder of Earthaven, has been a writer, editor, counselor and communitarian since before she can remember. She’s been focusing on a newer passion—natural building—for the last ten years or so, coordinating courses and a natural building internship program at Earthaven, now in its fifth year.