Finding Community is a book about visiting ecovillages by Diana Leafe Christian who lives in Earthaven, an ecovillage in Virginia, USA. I will briefly cover what she mentions in the book about visiting ecovillages. I have used her suggestions in my visits and they are always good to practice.
- Call ahead!
- Pack as if camping
- Be ready to work.
- Pets stay at home.
- They just want respect
- Figure out what you want.
Make sure to call before you arrive. Get the address from the person you are speaking to. Never just show up. If you plan on sharing your experience or any photos you take in a blog post or somewhere online, mention this ahead of time.
Do your research
Doing research ahead of time is a good thing. People feel like you’ve done your research, and in this context that’s a good thing. You’re not coming in to it with glassy, overwhelmed eyes and are able to be more present.
Pack as if camping
Of course, this is based on how long you want to stay. If you are going for a short afternoon visit, not much may be needed. For an overnight, bedding is a sure bet. Bring according to the environment. If it’s rural, pack as though going camping. A first aide kit and afterbite is a good idea.Remember that you are going to an ecovillage and the point is to be as self reliant as possible. Set a good example.
Bring work gloves
These communities require a lot of effort to create, maintain and sustain. If you’re planning on staying for any more than a short visit, come prepared to work. By showing a propensity to work, you are setting a good example if you do decide you want to put yourself on the guest list.
Leave pets at home
Different communities have different rules and policies concerning pets. New animals disrupt any existing balance that animals or kids in the community may have. Play it safe and leave your pet at home.
What hosts really want: Respect
If someone came to your home for a visit, what would you expect? You’d expect them to follow your rules of the house, and play easy with others, right? An ecovillage is a large home to many people. Hosts want visitors who come in and treat others with respect. Respect the land, the community and remember you are just passing through. Be very conscientious about how you treat people’s property.
Ask if you can ask questions
It’s a great way to break the ice and establish equal footing. You’re letting the tour guide (who is probably not trained to be a tour guide), know you’re curious and want to know more. You’re also not jumping in and being rude about it. Unless it’s a dedicated tour guide, they probably have other things on their mind.
How to get what you want
You will probably want to get a feel for the regular activities of the community and find out what they do together. What makes their community unique? You’ll also want to know how the community handles conflict when it does arise. Knowing how they handle decision making is also a big question to ask.
Come here, go away
Being a larger version of a person, sometimes communities can get burned out. It’s also easy for one person of the community to snap or severely misrepresent the group and what they are all about. Read more about this complication in the book.
Did you hear about the visitor who…?
You don’t want to make the community stories, in a negative manner. You’ll want to ask questions about alcohol before you come for any duration of a stay as well. And most definitely do not bring a moving van.