Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Beaver Pond Initiative

Welcome to The Beaver Pond Initiative Blog. The goal of this initiative is to build community for the purpose of participating in the shift of our broken culture towards a culture that sees humanity as spiritually and biologically connected to the rest of life on this planet. This is an ambitious endeavor. We are talking of a shift that will certainly be the most significant shift for humanity since the birth of the industrial revolution. At the same time, it is a shift that the children of today, future generations and countless other species will most likely depend on. We need to understand that humans are a part of nature and that our collective ego driven addiction to economic growth is killing the biosphere’s ability to support life. We believe that community may be the most important technology that the western world has to help make the shift we truly need to make. A shift not only away from our consumptive patterns, but towards a deep, authentically connected way of living. Our primary goal is to develop sister ecovillages in Southern Ontario, one rural and one urban.

People come to the idea of intentional community for different reasons. According to a friend of mine, intentional communities have a long history that goes back at least to the time of Pythagoras, some twenty-five hundred years ago. During that time communities have always been formed out of a desire to have unmet needs.... met.

So, it then follows that ecovillages are formed to help meet a need to heal our relationship that we have with the ecology of the earth. For us, it then follows, how do we see our relationship with this ecology? Many well meaning people will disagree on what it is that we should be doing and what we should not be doing in order to repair this relationship.

We have a convergence of ecological crises as well as social, economic, spiritual and certainly now with COVID 19 we have a medical/health crisis. I don't believe that solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars are going to be enough at all. Technologies will play a role in the shift, but these technologies are not benign and we must reduce our ecological footprint in many ways beyond carbon emissions. What I believe is most needed is a deep reduction of our consumption of the earth, or what we often refer to as resources, ultimately, on a larger scale, a contraction of the economy. We will shift from our quantity of consumption to a new quality of life.

Reducing our consumption will be difficult, like giving up an addiction. I believe the widespread development of intentional communities will be crucial in at least three ways that I can see. First we are going to need support, people around us that want to make the same changes. Rest assured, society, family and many friends around us will expect us to continue to participate in capitalism's growth economy. Second, there will be a need for us to shift to do many more things for ourselves, growing and preserving food for example. Like the old adage says: many hands make light work; having others around to share tasks will make the work more social and can potentially allow for specialization. The third way, and maybe the most important, is that we will need to enjoy each other's company, fill our lives with joy in each other, whether through things like work, play or music, and sharing ritual and spiritual pursuits. In the end many of us will need to fill the void left by our decreased consumption. We will replace quantity with quality.

Maybe you think that so far I am a little short on details. Well... it is my desire, of course, to make this initiative a collaborative one.  At the same time I intend to make regular posts on this blog site and go deeper into the details as I see them. I do not see myself necessarily as an expert, however I do have several years experience living in intentional communities and along with workshops and reading, I have learned a few things that would certainly help steer a community initiative towards good strategies and away from some pitfalls. I will also be more forthcoming in later posts about myself, my experiences and my thoughts.

For now, I would like to draw attention to two communities in the US. In terms of these communities there are two simple metrics that I find impressive and for me would make excellent goals for any community that has aspirations similar to myself. The first metric would be personal income and the other would be resource use. According to the book: Together Resilient; by Maikwe Ludwig, Twin Oaks in Virginia and Dancing Rabbit in Missouri both have an average level of personal income below $10,000 and maintain a high quality of life. I want to be clear. I do not want to suggest that everyone must have an income that low, especially in Southern Ontario, where cost of living and real estate prices are higher than in the areas of these two mentioned communities. The point is to show what is possible when trying to create a high quality life with low consumption. It is also discussed in the book that, per capita, Dancing Rabbit uses around 10% of the resources that are used by the average American, To try to sum up, I want to live in community, a community that wants to deeply connect with what it means to be an earthling, a member of the spectrum of life on earth and create something that could attract other people to a new way of living. If any of what I have said here resonates with you. please reach out. 

You can email me at: stephen@ecovillageguelph.org


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  2. It is truly a sign of the times that such an open an honest post is assaulted by ?? I don't even know what one would classify the other two posts, both dated March 14, 2022, as?

    I am just looking around to see if there are any intentional communities in SW Ontario.

    This one is not as of yet fully formed even as a though exercise. It seems Stephen is seeking like-minded beings and will take it from there. So far I have found https://www.junctionvillageguelph.com/ which is also not exactly what I had in mind in that this community is comprised of houses in an existing neighbourhood and street-scape where over the years the home owners have connected to form a community of sorts. There appears to be a shared common house but it is unclear how all this works. I will have to investigate :)

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