Journal of an Incoming Member
by Jonathan Swiftcreek, Earthaven provisional member
Jonathan and eli Swiftcreek are on a membership track at Earthaven Ecovillage. Their search for community began in 2007 with a shared living situation in Asheville and continues on with their life at Earthaven.
After living in the shared house for one year, we decided we were not getting our community needs met, mostly we felt we were not part of a core group.
In October 2008, eli and I shared the news with our housemates that we would not be buying the house, and not continuing with the community. We grieved the end of the project, dream and life, but also celebrated the new paths open to us, namely the freedom and limitless possibilities created from closing a door. Our futures were suddenly more malleable. With joy and relief we ended our full-time jobs, as we no longer needed to be mortgage worthy. Our full-time efforts would now go towards finding a new place to live.
Our first step in the process of creating our new lives in community was to analyze the Communities Directory for any potential communities that met our criteria (see previous article), especially the ones located in the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic regions. As we researched communities and talked to people who had lived at or visited the communities, we soon realized our list was getting short. Part of the shortening of the list had to do with discovering more of our needs, including a community’s position on children. For example, Twin Oaks community, in Virginia, was very attractive and interesting to us and we planned to visit but discovered their fairly strict policies regarding children. Deeply dedicated to children and the raising thereof, they don’t take child members lightly. Members must apply for and be approved to have a child; incoming members generally need to live there for a few years and form relationships with community members before bringing children into the mix. Though likely a conscious and important guideline for Twin Oaks, we needed more space and freedom on this issue than they were able to provide us at this time.
Looking back we realize that Earthaven, even though it was the closest community to our Asheville home, hadn’t made it onto our short list of prospective communities. We hadn’t considered it because we had formed negative impressions based on some input from ex-residents living in Asheville at the time. When we became conscious of this, we questioned our unfounded dismissal of Earthaven, and decided we had little first hand experience with which to judge it. We committed to go on a tour and check things out for ourselves.
The extensive 3-hour tour just touched the surface of things and left us wanting to learn even more about the village. At first look, Earthaven seemed to meet many of our criteria and needs, and we became hungry for more information and experience. We read as much as we could, and planned to visit again to start meeting people. Our enthusiasm and eagerness in learning more about life here was naturally slowed because winter was approaching which meant less social opportunities at the community. During each visit during the winter we gradually met folks. Our evolving perception of Earthaven became entirely the opposite of a few months before! I couldn’t stop thinking about it, imagining and projecting a life there.
We decided to give Earthaven a solid commitment of six months of living there, to test it out. Any other communities we had been interested in, we pushed into the backs of our minds. We endured the joyfully painful wait for May to come, when our house lease would end, and we could move to Earthaven to begin trying it out.
To Be Continued…