Much work and thought has been put into creating new communities, as well as restructuring and rebuilding of older ones. Asking about the conditions for sustainable civilization requires one to explore the potential of ecovillages, the impact of “sustainable development” (as it is currently called), and emerging communal structures such as urban homesteading and urban agriculture. Transportation options, town planning, social structures, communal and spiritual values all play a role in developing the kinds of sustainable communities that would have to compose an enduring civilization. Policy recommendations will address the privatization of public goods, use of public monies, and policies that promote or undercut particular types of communal arrangements.
Genesis Farm is an ecological center with 226 acres of preserved farmland, located in Blairstown, New Jersey. A project of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, Genesis Farm was founded in 1980 by Miriam MacGillis, OP, who remains its Director. Genesis Farm is dedicated to understanding the Universe and Earth as a single, unfolding scientific process, one that offers profound insights into our public, private and spiritual lives.
Genesis Farm offers diverse and innovative experiences that inspire a comprehensive approach to personal and social change through its educational programs and its commitment to action. The project and facilities are open to all who are interested in exploring its sacred land, mission, and work.
Genesis Farm houses two guest residences, a library/media area, resource center, art studio and program offices. Founded in 1988 by Genesis Farm and the local community, the Community Supported Garden is one of the oldest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in the country. It grew from half an acre to over 125 acres of farmland, and currently has more than three hundred members. For almost three decades, the farm has been working to eliminate inequities, injustices, and ecological devastation resulting from the present economic, political, and social systems by offering an alternative model of sustainable food production.
To learn more, please visit the Genesis Farm homepage here.
Dancing Rabbit is an ecovillage, sustainability demonstration project, and robust and growing intentional community in rural northeast Missouri. At Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage (DR), a diverse group of people live ecologically in a community committed to living more simply, sustainably, gently and harmoniously with one another and the earth, modeling the movement toward a more ecological civilization.
Residents live in a variety of housing arrangements, including egalitarian and co-housing communities as well as individual households, and work on a variety of projects. Their goal is to grow to a town of 500 to 1000 residents committed to radical environmental sustainability. In the following video, long time resident Thomas describes the cooperative spirit in which residents live and work.
To create a society, the size of a small town or village, made up of individuals and communities of various sizes and social structures, which allows and encourages its members to live sustainably.*
To encourage this sustainable society to grow to have the size and recognition necessary to have an influence on the global community by example, education, and research.
*Sustainably: In such a manner that, within the defined area, no resources are consumed faster than their natural replenishment, and the enclosed system can continue indefinitely without degradation of its internal resource base or the standard of living of the people and the rest of the ecosystem within it, and without contributing to the non-sustainability of ecosystems outside.
Working for Social Change
Part of the broader intentional communities movement, Dancing Rabbit describes its primary social change goal as follows:
to demonstrate one possibility (certainly not the only possibility) of a sustainable lifestyle and culture. In many ways just living at DR is social change work (see our DR Culture section). We’re mindful of the way we function as a group and organization so we can be an example of positive, intentional social change. We also have to rethink our economy, both internally and as part of the wider culture.
…“How do we let people know what we’re doing here?” Our mission becomes one of education and outreach, working to change people’s hearts and minds. We do this by a number of means. So far we have work exchange opportunities through which people can come for 2-6 months to live at DR and learn about sustainability and community while working on specific projects. We also hold workshops on topics ranging from strawbale building and earthen plasters to cooking. We hope to expand our workshop program as our infrastructure and human energy allows, someday having DR be a nexus for ecovillage education. While participating in an ecovillage project may be outside the scope of some of our website visitors we have compiled a list of things people can do to live a more ecologically sustainable life, right where they live, right now.