Self-Portrait Of A Village A-Borning

The members of a learning center put down roots

One of the articles in Being A Planetary Villager (IC#1)
Originally published in Winter 1983 on page 49
Copyright (c)1983, 1996 by Context Institute

Around The Chinook Learning Community, on the south end of Whidbey Island, a village has begun to grow. We have been invoking this village for many years – to be a larger cultural context in which to live out our values of attunement to spirit and service to the Earth. Lately, many who share these values have been drawn to participate in building the village.

As always when invoking and envisioning a new creation, there is a bit of awkwardness, a feeling of presumption. A few of us scattered around the south end of Whidbey Island are hardly a village in any physical sense. But at Chinook, we have learned the power of invocation and of vision, and in this last year the village has clearly begun.

For the past several years a few who owned land to the north of Chinook called themselves the village, mostly for inspiration. They have been buying land, building homes and starting families. And they are the village’s first neighborhood.

A larger group of members and friends who are dispersed around the south end of the island have begun to feel a part of the village. In some ways they are the oldest group of villagers. Some of them have been building the Community and envisioning the village for ten years.

But the sense of village has quickened this last year with the purchase of 50 acres of land adjacent to and west of Chinook. These lands are now owned by 20 community friends and members in two partnerships. The Homestead across the road, the oldest house in the Valley and 23 acres, was bought by 9 friends and members. While they have not had the challenges of developing land to bring them together, the challenges of sharing one house are quite enough. They are planning to build a cluster of homes as they move their livelihoods to the island from Seattle. The Homestead has twenty acres of good farmland, which will be a great asset to the village.

The other partnership has named their twenty five acres on the western slopes of Killion Hill, Drummuir. They are 4 families and 3 individuals, most of whom did not know one another before they came together to buy the land. The level of trust and cooperation of this group of virtual strangers has been truly remarkable. At least as remarkable has been their ability to work together to discern such difficult issues as how to divide the land, how to build the road, how to bring in electricity and where to drill the well. Out of this process of surveying, clearing land, and getting to know one another, a neighborhood community has formed.

Last year we bought the Dodge Building, in Clinton, the nearest town. With 7000 square feet of space there is room for other village businesses as well as Chinook’s book store, offices, and educational resources.

There are other lands around Chinook that we expect will become part of the village. There are forest lands to the south and west of Chinook that we are working to place into a land trust as a green belt. Other lands will continue to be bought by friends who share the vision and values of the village.

But it will be asked, what makes this a village, rather than another development, a neighborhood, a collection of friends? Once again what is essential is invisible, and potential. To call ourselves a village continues to be an invocation of a way of life we do not yet fully understand. But we do know what some of the qualities of the village will be, and we do see those beginning to emerge.

These qualities arise out of our values, our commitments and our vision of the future:

From our awareness of our place in the Earth Community we are committed to creating a way of life which contributes to solving the critical problems of our time: the healing of our global ecology, conservation of the Earth’s resources, eliminating the threat of nuclear war, and caring for our human family. We know that these global problems must also be solved locally. In fact the village may be thought of as a strategy for global change from the local level.

Our commitment to the Earth and the call of Spirit also includes ourselves, leading us to envision a way of life that nurtures our individuality, our creativity, our relationships, our families, our learning, the meaning of our lives, and our awareness of the sacredness of each moment and all of life.

Invoking these qualities, we can see the outlines of what the village will become, what is already present, and what creative work we have ahead of us.

The village will be ecologically sound. It will develop ways for villagers to live within the cycles and interdependencies of nature. Presently, many of us have entered into a land covenant that commits us to stewarding all of our lands as a single whole. We are looking into land trusts and permaculture as ways of working together to find our special place in our local ecology. We know we must learn to live in ways that go beyond not harming our ecosystem, to actually nurturing the living fabric of nature. In this we have very much to learn.

Village life will allow us to decrease our consumption of natural resources by sharing resources and becoming increasingly self-reliant. Community gardens already exist and are planned to expand. We have a computer cooperative, a shared truck, and a village tractor is being invoked. Our book store is the first of our many envisioned village businesses. Again, we have very far to go to gain self reliance.

Since the most beautiful view from our village overlooks the Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, we are constantly reminded of humanity’s critical choices – evolution or extinction – and of our commitment to work for world peace. As the village grows we envision increasing political action and social outreach. We are now developing a network with other communities and villages around the world in order to become an effective agent of global change.

We also know that our commitment to peace must begin with ourselves. In the village we are learning new forms of conflict resolution and decision making. We include the voice of Spirit in our decisions through attunement. Discerning the most appropriate ways to build roads and share resources has been a testing ground for our collective wisdom. We are learning to live together in the shared awareness that we are all part of a single whole and no part can be harmed or nurtured without effecting the rest.

The quality of our lives depends on the constant development and discovery of our unique gifts and paths. The opportunities for learning, and creativity, are already extraordinary. Chinook’s Learning Center brings people from around the world who expand our horizons. The village includes many talented people teaching and learning everything from computer programming to dance, poetry to carpentry. And of course the education of children will be a central focus of village life.

The very fabric of the village will be the many rich and nurturing relationships we form. Already for many of us, these relationships are more committed, and supportive than any we have known. We will also be learning the essential patterns of families and of parenting children. We are aware that the vitality and strength of our relationships depends on deepening their spiritual dimensions. This conscious nurturing of relationships is being built on the commitment and trust of living together for many years. Most of us fully expect to grow in these relationships, on this land, for the rest of our lives.

How these qualities of the village actually develop we can not know. The village is being built on the faith that many diverse individuals acting out of the shared values of attunement to spirit and service to the Earth will organically create a way of life much more responsible, more nurturing, and more creative than any of us could imagine.

In one sense though, our village is not unique. Many such villages are emerging around the Earth as part of the evolution of human culture in our time.

Of course, those who are called to build the village must be ready for the risks, hard work and challenges.

This new way of life we are invoking will require us all to change and grow. It will not be easy. But it will be very fine.

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