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The EcoVoyage

This is now a site in stasis.  I’ll make no more posts or updates until I set out on a new adventure.  When that happens, I’ll write about it again, and share my experiences with all who want to hear them.  My next backpacking journey will probably be in South America- I already have the Lonely Planet for it, so I’m strides ahead of where I was when I set out for India.  Right now, though, I’m roosting in New York and working on a novel called The Narrows that’s coming out in late july.

I may eventually take the stories from this blog and turn them into a novel of their own.  There were so many adventures I had last year that I never even wrote about, so many things I saw and felt and experienced.  If there’s anything here that resonates with you, let me know.  If you have any questions about Auroville or Ecovillages in particular, feel free to e-mail me at maggie.e.craig@gmail.com.  I’m currently writing a thesis on the success of intentional communities, with Auroville as a case study, and another thesis on Urban Ecovillages in the United States.  Enjoy!

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Another Option

(Leaving Auroville, Part One)

Whenever I talk to someone about ecovillages, whether the person is a self-proclaimed environmentalist or not, at some point the conversation involves the other person getting defensive and insisting that my utopian visions will never become a reality. No one’s going to give up their privacy to live in a community. People are stuck in their ways, and they won’t ever change. You can’t just tear down all of the cities and suburbs that already exist and move people out to a bunch of communes in the middle of nowhere… I used to find this incredibly frustrating. I couldn’t put my finger on it before, but I always felt like I was missing an important part of the puzzle, like there was something that I just wasn’t saying.

Yesterday I went to talk to Priya, the British woman who started a twelve acre organic farm called the Buddha Garden. She settled down there after the Aurovillian sub-community she helped to found ended up being less of a community than she thought it would be. Before that, she’d lived in two other communities, one of them also in Auroville. After Priya told me about the problems she’d faced in her past communities, I asked her if she had any advice for people looking to start their own.

“Start with something you’re passionate about,” she said. “Or find a few other people and do something you’re passionate about together.”

That, and working together (everyone at the Buddha Garden works on the farm from 6am-9am and then eats breakfast together) are what she says are key. For a community in the city, she suggested focusing on recycling, but it could be anything.

It was during this conversation, right around when Priya said, “I knew that I wanted to live in a community, you see,” that I found my missing puzzle piece. Ecovillages are not a New World Order, but another option. Think about it- how often do we narrow down our living choices to city, suburb, or rural? Then we either live with our family, alone, or with a few roommates. But do we really need to settle for such a paltry buffet of lifestyles? That’s what ecovillages, or communities, are for me- a chance to eventually live in the way that I choose, instead of opting for one of the few options presented by society and the common paradigm. Priya touched on the beauty of this idea when she said that passion should be at the center of a newly forming community. Our passions are as varied and unique as I hope our lifestyles to someday be. What’s right for me may not be right for someone else. All I’m saying is, why aren’t we asking whether or not city/suburb/rural is really the best recipe? My argument is not for a world made up of ecovillages, but for a world where each person can figure out their own unique needs and then achieve them. And that brings me to part two.

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