Changing the World

Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Afterword

A Vision of a Circleway Village

3. A Trip Downtown

Once through the gate the extent of the little town becomes apparent.  There are quite a few buildings just ahead which are clearly not residences but businesses, shops, studios, offices, and on the right are barns and other farm buildings with wide fields extending beyond.  On the left and a bit behind the central town area one can make our many smaller houses, evidently homes.  Beyond all a tree line rises indicating extensive woodlands.  Just before us there is a large building where we stop.  This is the hostel hotel where we shall stay and where the welcome office is that will be our connection to the Village.

After our luggage is disinterred, the horses and carts are brought away toward the barns.  A variety of sleeping accommodations are available: very tiny private rooms, each with a single bed and window, larger family rooms to which cots may be added, or a dormitory where a measure of privacy may be attained by hospital curtains if desired.  There are no private baths.  The simplicity and lack of luxury allow very inexpensive rates, set not for profit but to be a service.  Meals in the large dining hall are also remarkably reasonable, as well as fresh and organic.  Lunch has been prepared tastefully by people who evidently enjoy culinary creativity.  We are reminded of one of the signs we read upon entering:


After lunch a new guide arrives to give our group an overall tour of the Village.  We are told that if one place or aspect is of special interest to any of us, the guide will find someone to spend more time with that person to learn about that.

Beyond the hotel there is a paved street leading past a number of buildings.  At first, on our right, there is an old-fashioned general store selling a little of everything that a home might want – fresh produce, groceries, kitchen utensils, and various tools and appliances.  The next building is a museum which we will be sure to visit later.

Further along the street on both sides and around the circular common are a number of workshops, fronted by small shops selling the crafts and other products made within.  There is a clothing store in front of the weavers and tailors house, a bicycle store fronting the shop that makes and repairs them.  There is a blacksmith and a glass blower with shops of their wares.  A bookstore stands in front of the publishing and printing shop that produces a weekly newspaper, books, pamphlets, and prints of artwork.  Other crafts such as basket making, ceramics, wood carving, wooden toys and furniture all have workshops and stores of their own.

One building has been given over to electronic design, construction and repair.  Here there a number of people designing hardware, building computers, stereos, television sets, mobile phones, cameras and camcorders, others working on programming, software, creating films and videos depicting the many aspects, issues, and stories of Village life.  All of these products are available to the public in the attached shop.

Also facing the common is a café and restaurant, with outside tables in the rear amid a flower garden and in front facing the common. 

This common has paths like spokes of a wheel lined with flowerbeds all leading to the center where there rises an open bandstand.  From this a quintet consisting of a piano, an accordion, a clarinet, drums and double bass, issues a relaxed stream of music of a style all their own, borrowed and blended from many sources.  A knowledgeable listener might discern elements of jazz and European classical traditions, of klezmer and Sephardic Jewish strains, gypsy derivations from eastern Europe and Spain, Greek, Turkish, Caucasian mixed with colorations from North Africa and the Middle East.  Changing rhythms asserted direction and flow of sound, rhythms that danced out of South America, sub-Saharan Africa, India and the Orient.

A number of people are sitting on the grass or listening from benches along the paths, and a few are dancing.

“Where is this music from?” one of our group asks.

“These are some of our musicians, villagers who have played together for a long time.  The music, as you can hear, is from all over the world.  Many people visit us from many cultures.  Those who play or sing sit in with our musicians and they learn from each other.  Now that we have Circle Way Villages in many other countries these changes are becoming more frequent.  It seems that while each village is creating its own culture, we are also beginning to create a new global culture.”

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