27 April 2015

Feminist Eco Village "Herland"

IHBG has been introduced to a Feminist Ecovillage project called Herland. The idea is based on the novel by the Charlotte Perkins Gilman who was not only an author but also an anthropologist and sociologist. One of the project members have agreed to tell us what Herland is all about!
The Herland Intentional Community is an organization to design, create and build a new way of life in the form of an intentional community of the ecovillage form. With the express intention of being sustainable both ecologically and socially for the foreseeable future. You may be wondering what an intentional community is let alone an ecovillage. The intentional community movement is about creating a village or town with a purpose. Each community has certain ideals but most center on creating something more community oriented than the current system offers, hence the name. An ecovillage is a community which is designed with sustainability in mind so that humanity can continue into the future working with the environment as a system rather than attempting to conquer it.
Ecovillages are designed to be positive spaces both for the members and the planet in general. They acknowledge that mainstream society does not work for the needs of everyone and should not be the solution to protecting the environment. Typically in ecovillages you will see that houses are built using simple techniques and from local materials so that the craft of house building can be passed down easily from generation to generation ensuring that important skills that support nature are not lost. In contrast Intentional communities that are not ecovillages often use existing buildings often modernizing them by adding solar panels and water collection units, this does have it's advantages as reform means that members don't need to build from scratch however there are obvious disadvantages.
More and more as time goes on the current civilization is changing, inequality increases and this problem is only going to get worse as pointed out by historian Sir Glubb. This results in humanity working longer and longer hours only to be paid less and less, causing a never ending decline in living standards. (Not that the conservative alternative is any better, as it asks women to enslave them selves as both domestic servants and sex slaves aka housewife's). The situation has gotten so bad in fact that people today work longer hours then at any other point in human history, thus in terms of enslavement it can be legitimately be argued that the current system is the worst in history. Not only is this unsustainable from a sociological perspective but also from an environmental one as the current society destroys the planet which it needs to sustain itself, even NASA has been forced to point out that civilization will end relatively soon in catastrophic manner. It is out of these political conditions that ecovillages are born, the desire to protect the environment while also finding more long term safety and security, so that members can live happy and secure lives. As a result Ecovillages tend to be very positive and safe spaces which are ideal for creative and intellectual development as basic needs are dealt with, without the need to slave away in the daily grind known as work.
So what makes the Herland ecovillage unique compared to other ecovillages and intentional communities? Well, the Herland ecovillage is based on the values demonstrated in the novel Herland by Feminist and Sociologist Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915). In the story she outlines a society based in a combination of cooperation and meritocracy, where the long term benefit is always seen as favorable rather than merely short term gain. Other factors that make this community so unique is not just the fact that it is a secular organization with anthropology and intersectional feminism at its core. But also the fact that it is a community for people in the LGBT community (including the T), serving as a much needed refuge, as 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. By including a wide range of people including LGBT people of color, those who are autistic, some who suffer from PTSD, all of whom are particularly vulnerable, the outreach of the Herland community is particularly impressive.
Herland is an independent housing village, each member having their private home available to them. While at the same time there is a community center so members can eat and play together to build on the community spirit. This design maximizes the ability to cooperate and accomplish things together while also providing for everyone's need for space and privacy. While the community encourages interpersonal relationships it does not require the members to be in any kind of relationship and so even those who are asexual will not feel any pressure to be in a sexual relationship if they don't want to. Basic housing is provided by the community however members are both allowed to and encouraged to experiment with different forms of architecture, from tree houses to earthships and every thing in between.
Herland is using permaculture to build a food forest for the members rather than using modern monoculture agricultural methods. This will help it blend into and heal the environment rather than mining the soil and causing harm as is currently done by mainstream society. This is diametrically opposed to modern methods which mine the soil and lead to desertification. It is also another example of looking towards the long term, as over a life time food produced from permaculture requires very low amounts of labor to maintain without pesticides, all while producing more food on less land and minimizing the negative impact on the environment. Even though the term permaculture was coined after the writing of Herland the agriculture seen in the novel closely resembles permaculture, as both have the same core values of protecting the earth and providing good lives for the people not just today but also moving forward for the foreseeable future and beyond.
The location of Herland is also currently unoccupied and so no indigenous people will be harmed and the area will be preserved for posterity. In fact it is the indigenous people who chose the location of herland specifically because they value the project. The location will be in the rainforests of south america in an english speaking location, high above sea level in the mountains. The area is rocky and the soils are poor. Locals are keen to see if permaculture can prove to be a productive system for what considered to be land that is too rugged and poor for most human activity.
While the Herland community is designed to be ecologically friendly and sustainable it is not about primitivism (it is not about returning to the stone age or stifling advancement at all). Members of the Herland community are well networked in the open source world (both software and hardware), working to create the worlds first feminist crypto currency and developing software that will help spread internet access to the poorest people so that more people will have the opportunity to learn from and contribute to the giant library known as the internet. All of this means that Herland is not just a community that offers a refuge for a few but also offers an example to show that women can work together in a practical way to build a better life that is in tune with nature, while also helping to improve the world for the 99%.
As a result of all of this I am sure we can all agree that whether we want to join the Herland Ecovillage or not it is a project of which we can all benefit from in some way shape or form. And as you can imagine there have been a number of people who have tried to stop the Herland Ecovillage and prevent it from forming. MRA's have tried trolling them and conservative Christians have tried demonising them. But the ones who have done the most to try and harm them have been Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists who are both envious of the project but also hate it as it supports Trans women, as a result Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists have tried bullying the trans members taking some transwomen near the brink of suicide. So supporting the Herland ecovillage is not just about supporting humanity, it is also about supporting trans rights.
If you would like to support Herland, the best thing you can do is visit their website www.jungle2jungle.org and follow them on their various social networks. However if you would like to join them then the best way is to join their facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/herlandcommune/ attribution: Shania Foley