As we drove from the mountains of West Virginia into the flatlands of Ohio, the trees were turning, and beautifully so. Mountainsides were swathed in green, orange, and red. As we approached Columbus and the flatlands of the prosperous state of Ohio, at first we enjoyed the open farmland with a scattering of trees and farmhouses and the browning corn ready to be cut. Then about 25 miles from Columbus, we ran into urban sprawl. “Planned” communities clustered around golf courses where sprinklers kept the lawns green and beautiful.* What we call the house machine had been running at full throttle in the area, as it has around many of the nation’s large cities.
We believe very strongly that there are two types of communities that genuine pagans should invest in.
1. A farming community where a group gets together to run a farm. We have spent hours upon hours advising pagan/Wiccans on the challenges entailed in such intentional communities. Gavin is a country boy brought up in rural England, and we had our own farm in Missosuri in the early 1970s. We do know the problems, and we know a lot about shortages in cashflow.
2. In another trype, the ashram, a group gets together and cooperatively buys a larger old downtown mansion that can be rescued and turned into several spacious apartments. Such a cooperative does a lot to save inner cities, especially in smaller communities, in what is called infill housing. The infill approach recycles land within urban areas instead of paving over yet more farmland or woodland just for the sake of conspicuous consumption. The apartments made from such older homes usually have spacious rooms and high ceilings and make much nicer living space than modern crackerboxes. A good sound group can share such things as the kitchen and the laundry room, enabling its members to put in high-quality commercial-style equipment that requires very little maintenance. The cost-effectiveness of such an infill arrangement is obvious, and of course it saves a few acres of contryside from the all-devouring house machine.
P.S. This is not a flame of Columbus. Columbus is only a typical example of what is going on over the entire nation. Every year a new area the size of Indiana is paved over. Many pagan/ Wiccans dream vaguely of buying their own piece of unimproved land. If that is your dream, to make such a commitment and to run a small farm, we strongly suggest that you place an ad in the local paper of the nearest easily accessible farming community, something to this effect :
“Volunteer free labor on your farm on weekends.”
Most farmers work 24/7. A little extra help and a little time off is a real bonus for them. In this way you will get, as they say in Missouri, your boots into the pig muck (on the coast of North Carolina it’s getting your oars into the water) without a huge painful outlay of cash and a lifetime’s commitment. Doing this may save you a great deal of heartache later, because you will get a glimpse of what modern farming entails in the real world. It will offer (one of Yvonne’s current favorite phrases) a reality smack.
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* See S. Steingraber’s “Living Downstream” for a nightmare description of what golf courses do to the planet’s health. At least a million gallons of water per day per course … and the incidence of prostate cancer in greenskeepers is six times as high as in the general population, because of the lawn chemicals that go into the land to keep it picture-perfect. Aren’t you proud to be a taxpayer?