A Travellerspoint blog

May 2013

What is Sustainable?

When you really start thinking about it....

Wow, so a lot has happened since the last blog entry. To bring you all up to date, we traveled from Atlanta, GA to The Farm in TN. We stayed there two nights, knowing we weren’t actually interested in living there; it was more of just a stopping point and sight to see since they’re one of the most famous intentional communities. From TN, we drove into Missouri. After many rainy days and nights spent in state parks and a stay at Tracy’s parents, we made it to the Possibility Alliance (PA) on May 6th. They are an electricity-free and fossil fuel-free community with many high aspirations of saving the world through sustainability, love and nonviolence. After a wonderful stay at the PA, we headed to tri-communities area in the far northeastern corner of MO. The small town of Rutledge (population 109 in the last census) is home to three different intentional communities (Sandhill Farm, Dancing Rabbit, and Red Earth Farms), two of which we were staying at. First we were to visit Sandhill Farm on May 13th, a small income-sharing community that was founded in the 70s and is still going strong. They have a large emphasis on growing and preserving their own food, about 90%, which was deliciously amazing, by the way. Then it was off the Dancing Rabbit (DR) on May 20th, a very different style of community, an dense ecovillage, with goals of reaching 500-1000 residents. That’s where we are now.

So we’ve literally come full circle; we’re back in Missouri. And we can’t say that we’ve come any closer to finding that perfect place that aligns exactly with our values, but that place probably doesn’t exist, even in our heads anymore. Since visiting the last three communities, our ideas of sustainability have really been challenged. We’ve seen everything from the PA’s version of radical (and we mean radical) simplicity to iPods running off solar and wind power at DR. We’ve also seen 40 year old no-till organic gardens and we’ve seen people using tractors to fill 2 by 8 foot garden beds. Everything comes into question when you start pondering “what is sustainable?” What does it really mean to live with the Earth? One example, what is the embodied energy that went into this computer I’m on right now? If you don’t know, Wiki’s definition of Embodied Energy is this: “Embodied Energy is the sum of all the energy required to produce goods or services, considered as if that energy was incorporated or 'embodied' in the product itself.” How many parts and people’s lives went into making it? According to a nifty graph made at the PA, we learned that one computer takes thousands of parts, lives, and fuel to make. If one person decided to just make a computer from scratch (and we mean from scratch, like mining for your own metals, scratch), it would take 100,000 years to make it!! That’s kind of ridiculous, we know, but it puts a lot of things in perspective when you really start to think about what sustainability means to you.
For more information about energy usage, check out this site: http://theenergycollective.com/cdemorsella/48566/embodied-energy-measure-sustainability

Another quandary comes up when different individuals in a community have different goals of sustainability. Like us personally, we first think of food, growing and preserving it, as a way of being sustainable, while someone else thinks of solar panels and energy usage, and someone else thinks of biking instead of driving, and someone else thinks education of the masses is best, and so on. It’s endless! What we’ve learned after talking with folks at DR is that it’s extremely hard for people to agree on when “to use” or “not to use” a weed-eater. Everyone has a different level of comfort for what makes them feel like they’re moving towards sustainability and other areas that they are more “lax” on. For example, for Jessica here, she’s realized that she really likes hot showers. She’s not willing to forgo that right now in the name of being sustainable. For someone else, they’re just fine with jumping in a pond and calling it clean. So basically, it comes down to what can we do now? And how can we go to sleep at night without feeling guilty that we’re not doing all that we can to help our planet out?

The only answer we can come up with now is this: yes, to it all. Any level of sustainability is a movement towards being more sustainable as a species and for our planet. We only have one Earth to live on and at our current rate of consumption, resources are running out fast. I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like it. We’ve all heard people talking about the end of oil for decades now. Is it ever going to actually end?? The answer is yes, by the way. Here’s a new fact we just learned from The Humanure Handbook (an awesome book that everyone should read!). If everyone on the planet consumed as much as Americans did, we would need 3 more Earths to sustain us all. We are only 1/20 of the population, but consume like we’re 1/3 of it! So our suggestion for you and our plan (since it can get downright overwhelming at times) is this. Do what you feel comfortable with now, whatever that is. It’s one small step in the right direction, and then when that becomes the norm, take one more step, and one more…..and eventually we’ll all be living more sustainably. We can’t go live like humans did thousands of years ago right now, but we can all start being more conscious of our actions and how they affect others and the planet that we call home.

With that said, we really like it here in the tri-communities area of Missouri, and most likely we’ll end up applying for membership at one of these communities. We’re still in the decision-making process, but we’ll let you all know soon what we decide! Stay tuned!

The Possibility Alliance

Sandhill Farm

Dancing Rabbit

Posted by jessp2386 09:31 Archived in USA Tagged missouri sustainability community_living intentional_communities Comments (1)

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