Photo:Stream and boulders at Earthaven, Black Mountain NC .

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Discover the Bliss of the Co-op Villages, Communal Housing and Intentional Communities in Western North Carolina

The idea of building intentional communities and cooperative villages is one which has been around for generations and indeed, centuries if not millenia.

Over the years, the Asheville area has been home to several such intentional communities -- some of them continuing to grow and flourish, notably Earthaven Ecovillage in Black Mountain, and some of them not. Yet the desire for community is such an basic and eternal yearning in the hearts of men that the hope for creating a truly sustainable cooparative village lives on.

We believe that it is possible, through the development of both technology and an ever expanding consciousness of mankind, that successful building of a MODERN cooperative ecovillage -- one that is both sustainable and a prototype for the development of ecovillages everywhere -- is within reach.

Co-op Villages: The Next Evolution
"... Envision a world that enjoys the latest technology, yet respects the natural resources of the planet and keeps them intact. Imagine living in a diverse, sustainable Community where everyone is well cared for, with all their needs being met. This is not a utopian fantasy. This IS the next evolution-literally a blueprint for transforming our world through realistic and practical solutions to the present-day political, environmental, economic, and social problems of the entire planet. This book details how a village could house 500 persons on 500 acres to live sustainably forever, while providing all food, utilities, medical coverage, transportation, advanced education and jobs for its residents for life. A Fascinating Thought!

Discover the Bliss of Community through One of the Longest-lived Intentional Communities in Western North Carolina: Celo

Experimental Americans:
Celo and Utopian Community in the Twentieth Century

".. explore the dynamics of intentional communities in America.... This is the definitive treatment of Celo, a major utopian community experiment that endures in modified form to the present. Hicks's ethnographic insights are significant and useful, illuminating the dynamics within the community as well as the reactions of surrounding neighbors to these communal utopians...."

Celo Community
According to a directory entry "... Celo Community is a land trust with 1,200 acres occupied by some 40 households. Members do not own the land in fee simple but purchase "holdings" that carry most, but not all, the privileges of regular ownership. A holding may be sold only to another member or to the community. Plans for building houses, roads, or power lines must be submitted to the Property Committee for approval....The member families live in separate homes and make their livings independently. They come together once a month for a meeting and function on a variety of committees. Now and then they have a "community workday" in which groups come together to carry out community projects or to assist a member family. Lifestyles are simple, and there is concern with ecology and social issues...." CLICK HERE for the rest of the story.

Eco-Tour of North America blog
has several Celo-specific entries which are well worth reading for their 'up close and personal experience" and some revealing photos. This entry is about leaving Celo, so just click on the previous entries for the full story.Some Facets of the
Celo Community

Arthur Morgan School
"... (AMS) provides a safe and loving environment where 27 day and boarding school students in grades 7, 8 and 9 learn to question and evaluate, think creatively and work cooperatively. Students and staff honor the Quaker values of simplicity, responsibility, personal integrity, nonviolent conflict resolution and respect for self, others and the environment. At AMS students grow in capability, confidence and independence as they live, learn and explore the world with staff and their peers.  AMS graduates successfully enter the adult world with a love of learning, interest in self-discovery, social awareness and a sense of personal empowerment..."

Throughout most of his life until his death, Morgan was a Humanist Quaker, a member of the Society of Friends in Yellow Springs, Ohio, as was his son Ernest. Together they founded a humanistic private school named the Arthur Morgan School.

Celo Inn
"... Charles and Susannah Jones built the Celo Inn over a period of ten years. They wanted it to be comfortable and lovely, but not precious; affordable and simple, but not primitive. Details borrowed from countless European hostels and inns—cozy dormered nooks, exposed framing timbers, burnished wood, soft tile—were incorporated into their new/old structure. The Inn's massive 6-lite entry door admitted its first guests in 1983, and the warmth and comfort of the Jones' realized vision has been shared by many since then...."

Camp Celo
"... For over fifty years the Barrus family has welcomed campers to join us for the summer on the Camp Celo farm. The farm setting provides the basis for much of the camp activity with the children caring for animals and harvesting in the garden. There is hiking and camping in the surrounding forests and mountains, and swimming and tubing on the South Toe River. Activities include arts & crafts, skits, wood shop, nature appreciation and big group games...."

Other 'industries' and services of
Celo (or Celo vicinity) include:

Mountain Gardens
'visionary ecological theater'

" For the past 25 years, I have been engaged in developing a Paradise Garden on several acres of mountain woodland in western N. Carolina. For me, Paradise Garden is both a place to live and a way to live, and, above all 'visionary ecological theater.' I am trying to act on deep instincts and archetypal images related to human habitat and niche as a way of providing a sustainable values system with sufficient appeal to challenge the dominant consumer culture. The philosophy of this project is outlined in the Paradise Gardening article; it is the mother of all the other projects here...." Joe Hollis

The process of Paradise Gardening....
-Extricating our life-support system from civilization/the Economy (bluntly, money), and reattaching it to the natural world of garden and neighborhood. This will be a gradual process requiring a real analysis of our needs and expenditures. Thus, for example, cars and gasoline are not needs but only the means to the satisfaction of needs. The solution is not gasohol but reducing the reason for traveling (usually the getting and spending of money). Concerning this the Tao Te Ching says "The country over the border might be so near that one could hear the cocks crowing and the dogs barking in it, but the people would grow old and die without ever once troubling to go there". (Ch. 80. See Needham, Science and Civilization in China, vol. II for a discussion of " the political program of the Taoists: the return to cooperative primitivity.") CLICK HERE for the full essay.

Some photos from Mountain Gardens ... the grounds and buildings ... the tinctures and herbs ... the celebrations.

Some more wonderful photos of Mountain Gardens ... including some from the early building phase back in the 1970's.

Celo Health Center,
The Toe River Co-operative Art Gallery (on Rt. 80, open May thru Oct) and a Celo Members Only Food Co-op next door to it that has a 'farmers market' in the summer outside... with fresh trout often available... and a great bulletin board for announcing community events, Troxell's Trout Farm & Art Gallery, Many artists make their home either in Celo, or in the vicinity. These include. You can visit these arists during the semi-annual TRAC tour.

Former Residents of Celo

Noted and Prolific Novelist Anne Tyler "...Her parents, a chemist and social worker by profession, were practising Quakers in search of a simple, non-competitive existence, a basic tenet of the faith. Toward this end, Anne Tyler's early childhood was dominated by her parents' search for a commune or “blessed community” where such a lifestyle could be adopted. The Tylers settled in the Celo community near Burnsville, North Carolina, where Anne and her brothers were home-schooled. In addition to the traditional “three Rs,” Anne was first exposed to farming, folk-crafts, classical music, and great books (thanks to the periodic Bookmobile visits) in this environment. In 1952 the Tylers left the Celo community and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where all four Tyler children were educated within the public school system..."

Intentional Communities in the Asheville and Western North Carolina Area

Mountain Mission Farms Ecocommunity
"... Creation of an off-grid community using the latest technology mixed with old and proven strategies to induce sustainability while creating the smallest environmental footprint. Develop a sustainable agriculture system within the land that will generate income while remaining in harmony with nature in a balanced Permaculture. Start and maintain a continuing education facility for sustainable agriculture, green building opportunities, and alternative energy systems. Use existing structures and systems as a live model of alternative and sustainable choices. Create an assembly point or distribution capability for alternative energy products, green building products, bio-generated alternative petroleum products, as well as to offer alternative systems design consulting, The initial Mountain Mission Farm Eco-home is planned as the first of up to seven homes to be built on sixty-six acres of land in Ashe County near West Jefferson, North Carolina. This home will become the first model which will feature traditional design and contemporary amenities found in most common homes of today, yet be fully supported by alternative energy systems. In addition, this home is significant because of its use of alternative choices in building materials, construction, and design. The home will feature the advantages of a passive solar design and airflow concepts that will eliminate much of the need for conventional heating and ventilation systems. Finally, the home will use "green building products" that will maximize the concepts of recycling, extended life cycle, and elimination of toxic aspiration and residue. Each of the additional homes in the village will be updated with the most current and advantageous technologies and building systems...."

".... is a 30-acre radical homestead adjacent to the Pisgah NF in Madison County, Western NC. (about 45 minutes from Asheville). Our focus is on experiential learning and living, while practicing, developing and sharing skills for rewilding and reconnection.
At Wildroots, we live off the grid, carry our water, and practice "earthskills", or earth-based lifeways. Our interests include permaculture, gardening by the moon, natural and primitive shelter building, hide tanning, herbal medicine, nature crafts, and wild food foraging. These skills are rapidly falling into disuse in our throwaway culture, but we see them as crucial to our future survival, and we intend to help keep them alive. Some of these skills are as old as the human species itself. The surest way to protect earth based lifeways, or "earthskills", is to practice them, and pass them along as we move through this alienated modern life. Just as we can propagate endangered native plants in the ecosystems from which they have been displaced, or re-introduce wolves into areas from which they have been extirpated, we can reclaim our species' lost knowledge of living with the earth...."

"... is an intentional community in formation. Zim Zam is a word coined to express our desire for vibrant physical, mental and emotional health. Zim Zam means being "in sync"; being connected with our world; flowing, growing and living in tune with the earth...."

Explore the Bliss of Building Intentional Communities

Building Powerful Community Organizations "... Author Michael Jacoby Brown has created a book with very detailed information on how to organize, create, and lead a community organization. In it he clearly explains all the steps necessary to create an effective organization that can resolve problems. The various areas discussed include the theory of how a group should work, the chemistry involved, the seven basic steps for building an organization, developing a mission statement, goals, and objectives, designing the organization to last, recruiting others, mobilizing, raising money and taking action. Throughout the book are case studies and exercises to help you not only understand how it all works but also to help you work through developing your organization correctly. If you want to change the world and know you need help to do it then you will appreciate this book. Building Powerful Community Organizations is easily the best book on the market today on this subject...."

Click on each of the dozens of categories to the left to uncover what makes the Asheville area so vital, so intriguing and so, well, UTTERLY BLISSFUL!


Prototype of Sustainable and
Green Building and Living

Earthaven Ecovillage

"... an aspiring ecovillage in a mountain forest setting near Asheville, North Carolina. We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living, and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture...."

Imagine it's summer at Earthaven, an aspiring ecovillage settlement nestled in the forested slopes of the Southern Appalachians. Along with murmuring streams and birdsong, you hear the sounds of human activity, of people building their common future together, of children at play...

You hear the sound of power tools and home construction, often with lumber from trees felled on the land. This is the sound of liberation. Using our own lumber and hiring each other to build our homes frees us from banks and the timber industry while keeping materials and money within our village economy. These are radical acts. We're learning to practice ecologically responsibile forestry and agriculture; to develop natural building systems that sustain forest health, create jobs, and generate renewable energy through good design. We intend to become empowered, responsible, ecologically literate citizens, modeling bioregionally appropriate culture for our time and place.

Founded in 1994, Earthaven is located on 320 acres in culturally rich, biologically diverse western North Carolina, about 40 minutes southeast of Asheville. We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture.

We govern ourselves with a consensus decision-making process and a Council and committee structure. We own title to our land, which we financed with private loans from members. Members pay their share of the cost of the land by leasing homesites from the community.

We value sustainable ecological systems, permaculture design, elegant simplicity, right livelihood, and healthy social relations. We are spiritually diverse. We have both vegetarians and omnivores; some members raise livestock.

Our small ecologically sound businesses include a permaculture plant nursery; carpentry and home construction; tool-rental; solar system installation; plumbing and electrical installation; candle-lanterns and other wooden craft items; and consultants and courses in permaculture design, natural building, creating new ecovillages, herbal medicine, women's health, and women's mysteries.

We teach workshops on starting an ecovillage, and designing an ecovillage.

Sustainable building at Earthaven:

We build passive-solar heated buildings of natural Earth-friendly materials and generate our own off-grid power. We practice sustainable forestry and preserve many of our wilderness areas. We are not yet growing and raising most of our own food; however, this is important to us and is one of our next steps.

Natural Buildings. Earthaven's passive-solar community buildings and individual homes are built of mostly natural materials, and usually with metal roofs for roof water catchment; two have living roofs. Most are built with lumber milled from trees on the land, and are either timber-framed or stud-framed, with either earth-plastered exteriors or clapboard, with insulation and thermal mass from walls of straw-clay or chip-slip (wood chips and clay), or insulation from recycled cellulose or cotton.

We also have an Earthship, a strawbale cabin, an adobe-brick and cob home, and a home built of plywood from recycled fruit juice pallets. As of 2006 we have about 30 buildings, distributed throughout most of our 14 neighborhoods.

Passive Solar Heating. All of our community buildings and almost all of our residences are passive solar buildings on south-facing slopes, heated by the sun and woodstoves or propane heaters as back-up. Some of our buildings have radiant floor heating.

Off-Grid Power. Earthaven is 100% off the grid. Our central village area operates on hydro-power from a micro-hydro system in Rosy Branch Creek. The Hut Hamlet Kitchen and every individual hut, residence, or business operates on individual or shared solar electric systems. To run power tools, our construction crews use generators or batteries charged by the micro-hydro station. During a series of rainy, snowy, or overcast days, homes and businesses can run low on electricity, so most of us use electricity conservatively.

Many of us use propane for refrigeration. We are planning at least two more micro-hydro systems in the future, and our long-term policy is to provide electricity to every neighborhood.

For more information about this exciting 'experiment' in sustainable living, CLICK HERE

Visiting Earthaven

Permaculture at Earthaven

Privately Sponsored Internships
and Work Exchange Programs

High Cove

"... We propose to create a village that is a model for practical environmentalism and sustainable community development.  Our plan provides for the development of facilities and amenities necessary to sustain a lively and diverse community, while maximizing our ability to conserve the natural and historical qualities of the land.  As the site design, architectural codes, and initial building designs have evolved, our efforts have focused on finding an appropriate balance between community life and conservation.  

"The village will encourage and celebrate creativity and whimsy, aesthetic design, and quality construction in the built environment; an environmental ethic based on the idea of creating a sustainable balance between the ecological footprint of a varied human habitat and the natural ecology of the region; and a social ethic based on respect, toleration, civility, and appreciation of differences.

"The site plan and associated codes, guidelines, and restrictions, reflects the best principles and practices of traditional neighborhood development and conservation design.  The settlement pattern is to be compact and set within well defined limits, carefully arranged to maintain views, protect significant plant and animal habitats, and conserve features that reflect the natural history of the area.  

"The site plan provides a range of building opportunities for community members: from a pastoral farmhouse to a cabin in the woods, from detached houses clustered around a secondary conservation area to cohousing facilities and live-work artist studios in the mixed-use center of the village. 

Blog "From the Porch at High Cove" by Olga Ronay

Discover the Bliss of Creating Community through These Books Written by a Member of the Earthaven Community
Creating a Life Together "... is the only resource available that provides step-by-step, practical "how-to" information on how to launch and sustain a successful ecovillage or intentional community. Through anecdotes, stories, and cautionary tales about real communities, and by profiling seven successful communities in depth, the book examines "the successful 10 percent" and why 90 percent fail; the role of community founders; getting a group off to a good start; vision and vision documents; decision-making and governance; agreements; legal options; finding, financing, and developing land; structuring a community economy; selecting new members; and communication, process, and dealing well with conflict. Sample vision documents, community agreements, and visioning exercises are included, along with abundant resources for learning more...."

Finding community "... is as critical as obtaining food and shelter, since the need to belong is what makes us human. The isolation and loneliness of modern life have led many people to search for deeper connection, which has resulted in a renewed interest in intentional communities. These intentional communities or ecovillages are an appealing choice for like-minded people who seek to create a family-oriented and ecologically sustainable lifestyle -- a lifestyle they are unlikely to find anywhere else. However, the notion of an intentional community can still be a tremendous leap for some -- deterred perhaps by a misguided vision of eking out a hardscrabble existence with little reward. In fact, successful ecovillages thrive because of the combined skills and resources of their members. Finding Community presents a thorough overview of ecovillages and intentional communities and offers solid advice on how to research thoroughly, visit thoughtfully, evaluate intelligently and join gracefully. Useful considerations include:

  • important questions to ask (of members and of yourself)signs of a healthy (and not-so-healthy) communitycost of joining (and staying)
  • common blunders to avoid.

Experimental Self-Reliance Education Center

Long Branch Environmental Education Center ".... a small educational institution located (map) in Buncombe County's Newfound Mountains, about 18 miles northwest of Asheville, North Carolina. Set aside in 1974 as an ecological sanctuary and land trust, it has developed into an educational center for sharing positive strategies of local self-reliance in the areas of environmental design, organic food production, renewable energy, shelter design and construction, appropriate technology, resource conservation, recycling, wildlife protection and improved environmental quality..... experimenting with strategies of environmental design and Permaculture,organic farming and orcharding, aquaculture, passive solar shelter design, attached solar greenhouse construction and horticultural use, domestic solar water heating, micro-hydropower systems, recycling, composting, and waste utilization, and compost toilet systems..."

Asheville Area Groups Interested in Bringing About Intentional Community

Asheville Communities Network (ACN) Yahoo Group!
"... This group is a community network base, where people can connect, communicate, and share information pertaining to all forms intentional communities in Asheville and the Western North Carolina (WNC) Region. Through this group it is our mission and intention to strengthen the network of community we have in the area through communication, education, connection, and support. This group is sponsored and moderated by the Asheville Communities Network, a group that formed one year ago and has been meeting regularly over the past year. The ACN meetings have been focused on bringing people together, introducing them to community living, and supporting groups interested in forming intentional communities in Western North Carolina..."

New Unity Intentional Community
This church has 22 acres, and are open to creating an elder-rich community on part of it – a beautiful slope beside a creek, with about 2-3 acres of floodplain for a garden.  Anyone is welcome. The group is seeking folks of like mind, but the Unity way is to welcome people walking all spiritual paths...." Unity Church, 2041 Old Fanning Bridge Rd., Fletcher, NC 28732

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