A living laboratory for a sustainable human future.

Firekeeping for the Commons

by Kimchi Rylander


As Firekeeper (aka President) of Earthaven for 2014, I am excited to announce that we will be turning 20 years old this year! Earthaven has been an intentional community seed bed all these years, attracting villagers to settle and explore what it means to take responsibility for the care of our land, our natural resources, and each other. Over the past two decades, we’ve gathered some magnificent things to share—harvested from our experience developing practices and norms for stewarding what we share in a way that will benefit its future stewards.

This week I read an inspiring work by activist and writer David Bollier, who looks at the study of “the Commons” as a new paradigm of economics, politics and culture. These days, when most of us think of “the Commons,” we are likely to be referring to open source software or Wikipedia or even the Internet. However, Bollier says that “…a commons arises whenever a given community decides it wishes to manage a resource in a collective manner, with special regard for equitable access, use and sustainability.” This touched me deeply in my core, as it dawned on me that building Earthaven is a vibrant expression of commoning!


Visitors on a tour of the Earthaven Commons, which includes hundreds of acres of forest.


Commoners are determined to open up new social and political spaces in which people can make their own rules, negotiate their own governance, and craft solutions that are tailored to their local circumstances.

Some of our recent news highlights what friends and neighbors have been up to recently to make life more meaningful, common resources more accessible, and the future more abundant. Earthaven is commoning all of the time…!

I invite ya’ll to explore your Commons. Just start small. It can begin with organizing a neighborhood work party. Bring snacks to share. Build relationships in your community one neighbor at a time. And, as most of us learned in kindergarten, it turns out to be true that—to have a righteous good time—“You gotta share, and… everybody gets to play.”


Kimchi Rylander, an artist and permaculture activist, has been practicing sustainable living for decades. She’s lived at Earthaven for the past 13 years and when she’s not organizing a work party in her neighborhood, she’s out with her rabbits, or tending her compost shrines.

commons, David Collier, firekeeper, Kimchi Rylander, resources

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