Following My Eco-Dream: Intentional Communities in Missouri – Josh Baigelman

10463901_813481422003325_7437534598358580259_nMy name is Josh Baigelman and I’m on a journey visiting intentional communities in Missouri to learn practical skills that will help me live more sustainably and to become a piece of the symbiotic networks which I take part. While on the trip, I’m gathering audio samples  to produce a musical piece including people, sounds and nature at these intentional communities. I am also researching for a thesis paper. There are many skilled and inspirational people I’ve met along the way, and who I’ve yet to meet. It’s been a month and one week since i’ve started my journey, and I’m already feeling empowered!

Believe it or not, there are a bunch of intentional communities in Missouri. Many of the people that live there are innovators in sustainable housing, consensus decision making, and are champions for food sovereignty! I will be visitng Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage,  Sandhill Farms,  Red Earth Farms, and East Wind Community

10388104_10152120813531923_6608637853053728869_nI’ve been staying at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, Missouri for a little over a month now doing a work exchange. For the first three weeks, I cared for 70 chickens, 50 ducks, 5 goats, 4 sheep, and a donkey (animal populations fluctuate). I worked on a straw-bale house that is one year underway and have thoroughly been experiencing ecovillage life. After the first three weeks, I worked on preparing and applying natural plaster to the interior of a two-story home, and helped install a 1700 gallon cistern. Some foreseeable projects for the remainder of my stay here are reinforcing the outer walls of a root cellar and laying soil on the roofs of two homes. Hopefully I will get to take part in planting seeds on the living roofs!

 

When I leave Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in August, I’m going on a sound recording adventure along the meandering Fabius River where I will use a field recorder to capture audio samples of the river, wildlife, and weather events. I’m going to layer these sounds into a musical piece with samples extracted from interview sessions I have with members and residents at the communities I visit, and music recorded while there.

After the sound recording adventure I will be interning at Sandhill Farms for the months of September and October. Sandhill is only 3 miles from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and Red Earth Farms and is an egalitarian community with a focus on food sovereignty. I’ve heard that 80-90% of the food they consume is grown on-site! My guess is that I’ll be doing a lot of food preservation throughout September in preparation for the colder months. In October, groups will come to Sandhill Farms from Twin Oaks and East Wind Communities to assist in commercial scale harvesting of Sorghum. They will turn the Sorghum into syrup which is extraordinarily delicious. I eat Sandhill’s sorghum syrup with oats and peanut butter every morning and love it. Sandhill also practices beekeeping; produces maple syrup; and has woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, and music studios (all of which I look forward to utilizing)!

The Galactic Garlic Festival at Sandhill Farms, Photo from Sandhill Farms Photo Gallery.

The Galactic Garlic Festival at Sandhill Farms, Photo from Sandhill Farms Photo Gallery.

I hope to travel to East Wind Community in southern Missouri after the Sorghum harvest in late October and attend their 3-week visitor session. East Wind’s shared income comes primarily from manufacturing nut-butters and rope sandals. I am curious to see how their business model functions and interplays with their social and physical environments. I really like peanut butter and I’ve heard there is a gorgeous river to swim in near lots of gardens: I’m excited.

During the winter I’ll produce the musical piece I was talking about which will include audio samples of peoples, places, and events among Missouri intentional communities and the environments within which they exist. So stay tuned! Here are some links to music I’ve produced if you feel like listening to something in the meantime. Here is my Ambient Electronica Page and an Experimental Hip Hop collaboration with Windy City Youthbuild.

I believe that there are communities in urban, suburban, and rural environments that are becoming sustainable through acting upon their visions and goals. The people that make up these communities relentlessly work toward their ideals, and their communities functions to support them in their work. The “communities movement” means to me that people are willing to reorganize themselves to perpetuate functionality, or at least try.

Emerald Village EcoVillage outside of San Diego, California.

Emeralad Village EcoVillage outside of San Diego, California.

Please take the time to learn about intentional communities near you by visiting the Fellowship of Intentional Community website at  www.ic.org or Project Nuevo Mundo’s soon to be launched network. It is likely that you will find a group of people in close proximity to you that is focusing their energy on an ideal you are interested in. I suggest contacting them and asking questions, or arranging a visit, because they may become your partners in action. And when people work together, their impacts are magnified!

DREAM BIG. Imagine a perfect world! Write it all down, talk about it with others, debate about your ideals. Explore your understanding of what it means to “succeed”. Don’t be bashful even if people tell you they think you are wrong, or crazy; idealistic, or naive.  I think it is healthy to do this while you’re young because it gives time for a person to come to conclusions, hash out plans of action, then ACT, and finally reflect and celebrate.

I’ve had dreams of taking this journey for about two years, and it has changed shape and form many times over. But now that i’m in it and am seeing it take physical form I understand that if I had not been brave enough to admit and acknowledge that I wanted to do something “different” and “crazy” many years ago, I would not be having the wildly inspiring experiences that I am.

Talk about your dreams. Share them with your friends and family. Listen to their feedback and take it to heart. Take leaps of faith and one can learn to fly.