The healing of communities

by | Feb 23, 2012 | Uncategorized | 18 comments

I visited the eco-community of Earthsong last weekend for a book launch. Here’s the title of the book by Vivian Hutchinson. It’s full of stories about social entrepreneurs, and the difference they have made in their New Zealand communities. Earthsong is a good example of how a vision can become reality.

 You leave your car on the road when it’s a big event, or you can use the visitor carpark.

Some of the houses can be glimpsed from the entrance, through pine trees that no doubt will be replaced by native trees at some stage.

 The driveway is deserted enough for the children to play on,

although everyone takes care.

 This is the common house, where the book launch was held,

 and here, through the ripening apples, is a view of some of the houses, which are in individual ownership. They are built of mud brick, with timber cladding. Solar panels sit on the roof, and everyone’s power bills are very low.

The community has just set up a pen for its first chickens, which everyone wanted to look at.

And in the common house, there is plenty of room (this is only the front row of seats) for events like this, or to share a meal twice a week.

It felt that summer had finally arrived, with a hot, sunny weekend.

At Earthsong, the gardens are flourishing, and despite all the inevitable challenges, so is the whole project. I drove home, rejoicing in the ripeness of the season and the power of community.


  1. lifeonthecutoff

    I could just feel the good energy bursting forth in your post and viewing Earthsong, Juliet. You must have had such a wonderfully uplifting day. Besides the commitment of the community and all that it stands for, the ripeness of the season really comes through in your pictures.

    I just saw a film called “The Greenhorns” last week. An area garden club, not mine, was featuring it and some of went to see it. It is about sustainable farmers across the US and how they are working their small farms. They are all very young farmers; recent graduates from college or leaving jobs behind. I thought of you as I watched it, thinking it would be of interest to you. The club bought the film and there were strict rules as to how they could use it. Well, I’ve rambled on. See how your posts inspire me?

  2. juliet

    Penny, thank you for this very full comment. You can ramble all you like as far as I’m concerned! I’m enjoying our exchange of inspiring books, films, activities. Yes, Earthsong is very uplifting, and I’m most interested in the film ‘The Greenhorns’, and will let my friends know about it.

  3. Ruth

    It’s good to learn about this inspiring community.

  4. juliet

    Hi Ruth, yes just to know they exist is so helpful. They show what can be done and open the doors for others to follow.

  5. Hotly Spiced

    What a wonderful way to grow up. I love the powerful sense of community and the communal chickens and gardens, and the house of course. It looks very idyllic.

  6. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet .. how interesting .. I love the mud house and cladding – sounds like one of my houses in SA – mud walls lined with corrugated iron and a tin roof – back from the early days of mining – they were railway cottages …

    The community does seem blessed and will be so interesting to hear more – cheers Hilary

  7. juliet

    Thanks, Hotly Spiced. The whole place has a very cheerful atmosphere. My son and family lived there for a while, and I have several friends there.
    Hilary, interesting to hear about your SA house. The insulation from the mud bricks plus cladding is very good.

  8. Marja

    Oh I just love communities were people share and work together to work on a better future. isn’t it wonderful to have a place were children can play freely (free range lol) and can watch the animals. My grandfather had some chickens and a peacock running around. We loved it.
    Here in chch we have timabanks coming up everywhere were people can exchange jobs. Love it

  9. juliet

    Hi Marja, yes it’s great for the children, collecting the eggs and caring for the hens. I grew up with animals around too, and loved it.

  10. Joan

    How wonderful. Love the little girl watching the chickens. I would love to live in a community like that.

  11. juliet

    Joan, yes I could just see you there!

  12. Lynley

    The book looks very interesting. We do need new answers to many of the challenges we face in this country.

    The gardens in your photos are so lush and abundant Juliet

  13. juliet

    Hi Lynley, the book is excellent and can also be obtained on line for no charge. It’s very hopeful in the stories it tells.

  14. Lynley

    Wow. That is generous Juliet. Do you have an online link that I can follow to request a copy please?


  15. Lynley

    Thank you Juliet. I will look it out.

  16. growMama

    thanks for this juliet, i lived for years in intentional community – then i was based at in the US for years and was the executive director of the federation of egalitarian communities of north america …so there is a special place in my heart for such books. x

  17. juliet

    thank you Anissa. I think you would enjoy this book a lot, having had those experiences.


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