Changing the World
A Vision of a Circleway Village
5. Village Facilities
Passing through the gardens to the right we are led around to a group of large buildings that stand behind the shops we passed coming in. The first is a water treatment plant that recycles wastewater from the Village, filtering it through tiers of earth and plant life, also purifying some through distillation, with ongoing experiments in new ways of treatment. Next to this building is the heating plant, which supplies heat to all the buildings in the Village, including the homes. One source of heat at present is wood chips supplies by sawmills and construction supply houses in the region as well as from the Village woodworking shops. Smoke from the burning is filtered and treated to reduce air pollution. The main source of heating is vegetable oil heated by the solar collectors, which can be seen on every roof. There are also various new experiments going on to produce heat from renewable sources.
Next to this is a fitness center with indoor pool, sauna and steam rooms, basketball, handball, racquetball, squash and tennis courts, weight rooms, a four-lane bowling alley, and rooms for yoga, martial arts, and other physical training. Outside there is also a pool, plus volleyball, croquet, shuffleboard and bocce.
Someone remarks about all the expense that all these facilities require.
“In the beginning,” the guide replies, “one of the resistances people had to living in a rural community was that they would not have access to various things they want in their lives, and the founders felt that whatever anyone wanted that added to a good life could be available. We especially want to have physical fitness and having fun in the center of our lives, so this building and the sport fields and playgrounds are very important to us.”
Moving on we discover a substantial library, with computers for research, and books, recordings and films for borrowing. Here also are rooms for meetings, such as literary, writing and discussion groups on many subjects. We are informed that on Friday evenings there is usually a movie at the main theater, the best films of many countries, or sometimes one created here in the Village, a joint project of all the arts groups.
The last building of this group, the one closest to the Hostel Hotel again, is the Village museum. In this we see photographs and memorabilia and exhibits in many rooms, exhibits of the history of the universe, the evolution of life on earth.
As we walk through the rooms the guide explains, “Here we can follow the stages of humankind from the early humanoids millions of years ago, through the emergence of, homo sapiens sapiens, our peaceful tribal ancestors and early civilizations to the rise of domination and violence that gripped the systems of human intercourse and conquered the tribal peoples, the struggle of people through the ages of civilization for freedom and equality, and finally the coming together of people in small groups to return to the peaceful tribal ways of human caring and cooperation. These new tribes assist each other in many networks around the world of which the Circle Way Villages are only one.
“When the first Circle Way Village was begun, the planners understood that human beings are fundamentally tribal. That is, that they are the most human when they are living closely with other human beings, sharing their thoughts and feelings, their hopes and fears and desires, and cooperating for the highest welfare of all. They understood that their forebears had lived good lives tribally for millennia before their circles were conquered and broken. A few hundred million people still lived in or were connected to their tribal heritage. Most of the billions of people on earth had long lost all connection to any tribe, or they were a mix of many cultures with perhaps some sentimental attachment to one or another. They had really no idea what living in a cooperative and intimate circle of people would be like. But they knew it would only be in such small circles that they could have true equality, true democracy, and have a chance to make a better society. It would be up to them now to create totally new tribes. That meant learning what was best and essential about old tribal ways and adapting them to the modern world.”
“What did they think were essential in those old ways?”
“Respect, equality, closeness, and cooperation.”
“They must have been very brave to just step out of society and, well, make a whole new one.”
“I’m not sure they thought of themselves as especially brave, though it must have been sdfary for many of them. But they felt the soul-killing force of the systems that ruled the world and simply could not live under them any longer. They recognized that all oppression has an economic basis, and that to be free meant to be self-sufficient, to step away from the dominant economy. They understood that by producing and consuming as a part of that economy they were contributing to their own oppression. And they saw many examples around them of how communities may become self-sufficient simply by cooperating, pooling their energies and resources, and sharing with each other.
One room shows the early evolution and migration of peoples across the earth, one room deals with the changes from peaceful, cooperative, egalitarian cultures to the cultures of violence and oppression which succeeded in a ten thousand year era to conquer the whole world. Other rooms show the return of peaceful, cooperative, egalitarian communities, their early struggles to survive the dominant culture of violence and isolation which continues still in the outside world. In another room the history of religious and utopian communities is displayed together with the writings of social philosophers and spiritual leaders. Finally one room is devoted to networks such as ecovillages and co-housing and the story of the development of Circle Way Villages. Here we are greeted by another quotation:
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.