Joining Forces for More Sustainable Communities

Throughout the U.S., neighbors discover strength and security as they embrace a do-it-ourselves approach to more sustainable communities. These seven Homestead Hamlets can serve as models for creating more resilient neighborhoods.

Simple Home Community

The Simply Home Community in Portland, Oregon, is made up of tiny homes encircling the backyard of a shared hub home, creating a true "bedroom community."

Photo by Guillaume Dutilh/Tiny House Giant Journey

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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.