The alienation and affluenza so prevalent in our society can sometimes seem overwhelming. Happily, we’re aware of some amazing alternatives. As MOTHER’s readers dig in and put their homesteading skills into practice, they realize that the work of self-reliance often goes better in community — more DIO, “Do It Ourselves,” than DIY. Partnering with neighbors, friends, local governments and faith groups, they’re applying self-reliant skills to create paradigm-changing approaches to community living. We’re calling these communities “Homestead Hamlets,” a term that arose from an inspiring article in our April/May 2014 issue about Hawley Hamlet in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Read Homestead Hamlets: Neighborhood Gardens That Create Community Food Security, or watch a brief video about Hawley Hamlet’s development.)
In all of these groups, “community” is understood as more than congenial chatter over the potluck table. It involves sharing both burdens and benefits in practical, material ways. As society has grown increasingly fragmented, this sense of mutual aid can sometimes seem altogether lost in an impersonal world. The encouraging news is that the spirit of fellowship and connection is alive and well in communities throughout the country. The seven groups we’ve selected to feature as the 2015 Homestead Hamlets — the first group in our inaugural Hamlets feature — are doing their part to nudge our society toward lifestyles that are wiser, more eco-friendly and way more fun.
2015 Homestead Hamlets
• Bryn Gweled Homesteads; Bucks County, Pennsylvania
• Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage; Cincinnati, Ohio
• Green Bridge Farm; Effingham County, Georgia
• N Street Cohousing; Davis, California
• Phinney Neighborhood Association; Seattle, Washington
• River Road Resilient Food System; Eugene, Oregon
• Simply Home Community; Portland, Oregon
K.C. Compton is senior editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and formerly was Editor in Chief of our sister publications, The Herb Companion and GRIT. A huge fan of the food chain, from molecules to meals on the table, K.C. is passionate about the idea that most of what we need to be healthy can be found in the garden.