Although our village strives to create a welcoming environment for all who are in alignment with our mission and vision, we acknowledge that Earthaven’s culture is a product of white, middle-class, heteronormative norms, with associated policies and structures. As in mainstream culture, there were and are unconscious biases that have caused discrimination and unintended racism. We are committed to changing this situation.
In 2019, we revised our goals to include working towards partnership culture, towards racial and gender equity, and against oppression in all its forms (see below). While many of us participate in equity work, we are each in a different place on the journey to understanding and acting on issues of race, privilege, power, and oppression. Like people everywhere, people here sometimes behave with sensitivity, awareness, and skill, and sometimes they do not.
We want people of marginalized identities to have this information in choosing whether to visit or live at Earthaven. If you are interested in our developing ecovillage, we encourage you to explore visiting or living here.
Earthaven’s Goal 8 (of 13): To work towards partnership culture1, towards racial and gender equity, and against oppression in all its forms
1Partnership culture is the opposite of dominator culture. In partnership culture difference is valued, power is shared, and people cooperate for mutual benefit. Human relations are based on collaboration, sensitivity, caring, and respect. Economic and social structures are equitable. Nature is highly valued. No one is free until everyone is free.
2White supremacy culture is the idea (ideology) that white people and the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to people of color and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. White supremacy culture is reproduced by all the institutions of our society. In particular the media, the education system, western science (which played a major role in reinforcing the idea of race as a biological truth with the white race as the “ideal” top of the hierarchy), and the Christian church have played central roles in reproducing the idea of white supremacy (i.e. that white is “normal,” “better,” “smarter,” “holy” in contrast to black and other people and communities of color).
3Liberation culture means no one is free until everyone is free. Those of marginalized identities will be centered in the process of understanding and developing liberation culture.
What does Racial Equity look like at Earthaven?
Last Update September 22, 2020
Background. Earthaven has the intention to be welcoming and accessible to all people who align with its principles. We are on a long-term cultural healing journey parallel to the social movements in the United States. While Earthaven states that it will not discriminate based on race, there are implicit Eurocentric cultural structures in the community, and there have been numerous documented racist microaggressions over the past 25 years. These may be reasons that few Black or Brown people have chosen to pursue membership at Earthaven.
So, what does dismantling systemic racism at Earthaven look like? Since 2018, more than half of community members and residents have participated in Racial Equity Book Clubs around the books “Witnessing Whiteness” and “White Fragility.” In addition to study groups, approximately a quarter of Earthaven Full Members have attended local training from the Racial Equity Institute (REI) and/or Building Bridges Asheville.
In 2019, Earthaven recommitted to work towards partnership culture and racial and gender equity, and against oppression in all its forms. See Earthaven Goals. Earthaven formed the Racial Equity Task Group (RETG), which aims to make changes to Earthaven’s governing structures, financial choices, membership process, and membership training.
In February 2020, we instituted Equity Leaps for self-identified Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). Leaps are Earthaven’s alternative currency and are used to track community service hours. All residents support the Earthaven project by contributing labor hours (between 12-16 hours a month for newer residents). The Equity Leaps initiative values the everyday work and emotional/relational labor of BIPOC living in a predominantly white community, by counting it as community service.
Update: The RETG is revisiting this proposal after feedback about the (mis-) use of the term Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and People of Color (POC) in Earthaven’s language and documents.
Looking Ahead. Starting in the summer of 2020, the RETG initiated a “Listening and Learning Project” to get feedback from Black people who have experienced day-to-day living at Earthaven to inform our five-year Racial Equity strategic plan.
As of 2020, the RETG does not have a community-supported budget and is privately funded. The Listening and Learning Project and future initiatives will require substantial funding to compensate Black and Brown participants equitably for their input. The RETG will be requesting community funding starting in 2021, and will also be pursuing private fundraising to supplement the community budget.