The Crestone Eagle, May 2002:

EarthArtVillage: Pioneers in Living & Learning

EarthArt Village (EAV), located between Road T and Villa Grove off CR 64, is framed to the east by the burly peaks of the Sangres, and embraced from the southwest by the vast openness of the San Luis Valley. This yin/yang topography creates a fitting backdrop for an experiment in marrying the homesteader’s individualistic spirit with the synergy of community support.

One of three ecovillages in Colorado (the other two are in Boulder and Paonia), EAV is a cooperative association for land and building ownership, with a sister organization, the EarthArt Institute (EAI), providing educational programs. Linda Joseph and Kailash are the founding pioneers of this ecovillage, a demonstration project designed to energize through life practice the buzzwords “sustainable living” and “creating community”. Ecovillages provide a point of intersection for those who wish to take principles of stewarding our natural environment and meld them with intentional community living.

According to Census 2000, the number of U.S. citizens living alone has jumped to 26% of our 281 million people. An ecovillage offers a counterpoint to this societal anonymity, an answer to our nation’s crisis of emptiness no mall can fill. Or as noted by one Danish ecovillager in the Global Ecovillage Network’s International newsletter, “… they have abandoned the lonesome rat race of modern society, and are rebuilding traditional communities using newer methods and knowledge. They are doing so to regain control over their daily lives, to live in harmony with nature and with fellow human beings, and to create a future which, contrary to the depleting energies of the “mechanical” world, can be sustained indefinitely into the future.”

The ecovillage concept can be visualized as a tapestry of three interwoven plaits, each representing one of the core principles of ecology, community, and spirituality. Like hand-woven tapestries, no two eco-villages are alike, as each community integrates these elements in a manner that reflects its uniqueness. As Linda puts it, “Ecovillages are actualizing unity through diversity”.

The breadth and diversity present in the ecovillage movement is remarkable: the Global Ecovillage Network based in Denmark reports there are 100 ecovillages in Europe and Africa, 80 in Oceania (Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands), an estimated 10,000 ecovillages in Sri Lanka, providing a strong presence in South Asia, and 1,200 in the Americas. The ecovillage movement finely illustrates the maxim, “Everything old is new again”—while Western civilization views this philosophy as a radical and new phenomenon, it is grounded in sustainable living practices followed by indigenous peoples for millennia.

Linda and Kailash’s journey into the ecovillage movement thus far has been a combination of realized intention and synchronicities. According to Linda, “Beginning in 1992, we knew we were on a mission that focused on environmentalism, community, and spirituality —we just didn’t know what the mission was!”

Linda’s introduction to ecovillages came while in her former position as Executive Director of the Manitou Institute. Based upon their perception that Crestone/ Baca could be considered an intentional community, Denmark’s Gaia Trust invited Manitou to participate in a think tank that ultimately led to the inauguration of the Global Ecovillage Network in 1996. Linda was Manitou’s delegate, and as she became more involved, she and Kailash realized they had “found something that pulled it all together – environmental sensitivity, social balance, spiritual vitality and economic sustainability.”

Ironically, as they learned more about the nature of ecovillage living, they recognized that Crestone/Baca, where they lived for 6 years, is more of an “unintentional community”. Kailash noted, “Rather than working together to co-create, individuals pursue sustainable practices in a fragmented manner, plus, because it is a subdivision, there are restrictions on animals and water use. We couldn’t enact a holistic, harmonious lifestyle on a two acre lot”. Linda added, “Crestone has a lot of resources, but its community glue stems from rugged individualism.”

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