Neighboring Sustaining

What Can We Learn from Sustainable Communities?

The word “commune” comes with a certain stereotype. Yes, the word often connotes a hippie-vibe — and perhaps lots of granola. But there are some incredible self-sustaining communities around the country, doing some impressive things. Every community — even the most urban ones — can take away a few ideas.

Household consumption accounts for around 20% of the entire U.S.’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Some off-grid communities are hip to that and place the environment is at the top of their list of concerns.

Breitenbush Hot Springs – Oregon

Breitenbush is an intentional community that maintains a high degree of teamwork and social cohesion. It’s located near Detroit, Oregon, set on 154 acres of land. The community doubles as a worker-owned cooperative, Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center.

During what they call the slow season, the Breitenbush residents total around 85 people. The use of geothermal waters helps heat the complex that includes 100 buildings. The community hydropower plant supplies electricity for the entire community. Clean energy is healthy for everything in the environment.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage – Missouri

Located in Northeastern Missouri, Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is a well-known and ever-growing intentional community. Dancing Rabbit formed in 1997 and since has been a solid off-grid community with its very own eco-town, and it’s bustling!

The homes built in this self-sustaining community are created using natural resources like cob and straw bales. Solar and wind provide power, and the residents handle their own housing, food, and finances. Dancing Rabbit encourages people to barter and, they even have their own currency.

Emerald Earth – California

In 1989, Emerald Earth was founded near Boonville in Mendocino County. The beautiful 189 acres hosts eight full-time residents that share the main common house.

There are also four small cabins on the land that are heated using passive solar and wood stoves. Solar panels and a gas generator provide electricity. Composting outhouses means there is no septic system necessary. Emerald Earth welcomes guests for farm stays of less than six weeks, where they can be a part of farm-related workshops.

Twin Oaks Community – Virginia

Twin Oaks strives to live sustainably, but its mission is more significant than that. They strive to eliminate racism, sexism, ageism, and competitiveness. There are about 90 adults who live in the community, and they all work 42 hours a week within the community for housing, food, health care, and some spending money.

This little community in rural central Virginia heats most of the buildings with locally sourced firewood and solar energy supplies their electricity. Twin Oaks Community generates an income through their crafted items; hammocks, furniture, tofu, and they also index books and provide growing seeds.

Eastwind Community – Missouri

Eastwind is located in the beautiful Ozarks of Missouri. They are most well-known for the nut butter made in the community. They also craft hammocks and sandals too.

Eastwind is also a worker-owned business where community members do their share of work and receive benefits. Housing, food, health care, and an income. The gardens are blooming, and as much as the community can do for themselves is done! It’s a fantastic model for how a thriving community can be run, and believe me; it is a model many strive to follow.

Self-sustainability might be one of the answers to a lot of the problems in the world. That might just be my opinion, but if more people spent time trying to be mindful in all ways, many amazing things could come to fruition. Less waste amounts to more land to enjoy!

-Elaina Garcia

Photo by Pop & Zebra on Unsplash

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Elaina Garcia is a published writer in various niches. She has been studying and practicing plant medicine and natural healing for 15 years now. A New York native living far from her old home, she lives a sustainable lifestyle in her tiny home! Her writing career began a little over 4 years ago starting at the bottom and working her way up. Elaina is the author of children's educational books and a content creator with work on various sites

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