Ben, my husband, is spending the summer working at an intentional community on Vancouver Island, called O.U.R. Ecovillage. We visited O.U.R. for the first time in September, during one of their regular open houses. We joined the residents for a public event about food security and by the time we left that day, we were hooked. The way those kind and interesting people are defining community is where it’s at.
I grew up in the country and am ever grateful to my parents for deciding to move our family to Vancouver when I was 13. I remember listening to the adults talk at the time about our big move to Lotus Land. I had no idea what that meant but was scared and sad. I was nervous about starting high school in a big city and scared about doing it with no friends. I was totally intimidated by the huge school, the rich kids, and the diversity. I had no idea what the hell was happening on the first day of school and I felt supremely uncool, but man, was I happy to be there.
All this to say that I never ever thought I would move back to the country. Since visiting O.U.R., and then reflecting upon my experience of “the country”, I’ve realized that my memories are a long way from the kind of rural community I long for now. Last summer, as I was pulling a carton of eggs from the fridge at Costco, I told my young daughter: this is where eggs come from. As I listened to my own words, I had to stop for a minute. An industrial fridge in a sterile warehouse is where eggs come from? Ouch. When we visited O.U.R. shortly after my Costco moment, I pointed out a Jersey cow to Sydney and realized that it was the first time she was seeing a cow that wasn’t in a book. And that Jersey cow was so beautiful, I wondered about the last time I’d seen a real live happy cow. Too long.
I’ve been thinking about the absurdity of the way we live for about five years. Rushing to and from work, living in nuclear families in big expensive spaces, seeing friends and family when schedules permit and eating alone most of the time. Since I’ve become a mother, the stakes of our decisions are higher. I want my daughter to grow up amongst our loved ones. I want her to understand where her food comes from and for her to care about her role in our environment. And I want her to know our friends and extended family as well as she will know her immediate family. In the same way, I want to know my friends and their children more than occasional visits permit. I want all of our children to feel that they are surrounded by love, care and security.
That’s not our experience at present. We have lived in our current home for six years and sure, we know our neighbours but we don’t hang out. I would for sure knock on their doors if I needed to borrow something or if I was in danger, but that’s pretty much the depth of our relationships. So over the last year, Ben and I have moved our philosophical chats about our reality and into practical conversations about our future. We know that we want to live differently than we are now. Now we need to figure out how to make that happen.
Ben is in construction and is doing such cool work around green building, off-grid housing, and alternative energy that his path naturally leads to O.U.R. Ecovillage. He’s managing a team of interns this summer and they’re all in for four months of building, learning and sharing. We’re excited and incredibly grateful to the folks at O.U.R. for creating a space for this kind of community-building. It’s a magical place, so be sure to check it out if you’re headed for the Cowichan Valley
Speaking of Lotus Land, I’ve just seen the Wanderlust trailer and it looks like my kind of film. If you’ve seen it, please leave a comment and let me know what I’m in for. Thanks!