Changing the World
A Vision of a Circleway Village
2. Entering a New World
We pull into the parking lot just as a bus from the train station in town is unloading a score of visitors to the Village, as it is known here. They come from all over the globe – an international mix. Some are obviously tourists, couples and families, bearing mobile-phone cameras and camcorders. Some are students working on theses about community, especially the phenomenon of global Circle Way Villages proliferating everywhere, societal change, ecology Some are wanderers, looking for a place to call home, or just adding another experience of the world’s variety, and some are members of other Circle Way Villages with a particular skill to offer, or learn. There is also a small group come to study how the Village functions in order to set up a new Circle Way Village of their own.
Other people are parking their cars, - commuters who live in the Village and work at their shops in town, where are sold organic farm products
and handcrafts of the villagers.
These head for the rows of bicycles that stand free for the use of all and head off down the narrow road to the Village which lies just out of sight below the hill.
We join the other visitors on a large rubber-tired horse cart like an immense surrey with open sides and a fringed roof. The driver makes sure all are secure, and then urges the pair of sturdy horses to follow after the bicyclists. When we have cleared the crest of the hill and begun to descend, the noises and smells of the highway behind us disappear, and we are suddenly in a world of quiet breezes whispering across the meadows, of insect humming, birdsong, and wildflowers smiled upon by a kindly sun from a clear sky above.
A woman from the Village is with us to welcome visitors and be our guide. Interest in these communities has spread so that now the thousands of visitors a year provide a dependable additional business. We ask her how far it is to the Village.
“Not so far. When we top that next hill you will see it below us. The fields around us here are part of the farm, but these are in their fallow cycle this year. If you look over there you can see a flock of our sheep.”
“Are they for food or wool?” a man asks.
“Wool. The animals we have are also villagers, and we love them as part of our family. We don’t eat our animals, we take good care of them and see that they have good lives, as we do.”
“Are you all vegetarians?”
“Not all. Most of us are, but there are also some carnivores. There were many councils about that in the beginning, with very committed people on both sides of the issue. No one wanted an autocracy – we work with consensus. Everyone agreed that the treatment of animals by the meat industries is an abomination, so we found an agreement that carnivores may hunt and fish for their own use, with reverence and gratitude to the creatures who answer our prayers. Those people feel good in following the ways of our ancestors in harmony with the cycle of life. Of course we vegetarians think we have evolved further, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we joke about it a lot with each other.
“But you do use animal products – like wool.”
“We discuss that a lot and try to use our best thinking together. Many of our animals have been domesticated for ten thousand years. They would not know how to survive in the wild any longer. So we take them as co-villagers and care for them as we care for each other. But each of us does something to support the whole family, so we have sheep and goats and others giving wool and milk. Some people eat no dairy products but they don’t object as long as we are so thoughtful and caring of the animals’ total welfare. We also have hens giving eggs for instance, and horses pull wagons and plows and sleighs, also dogs for herding and cats for vermin control.”
“You don’t use farm machinery?”
“Yes, we do, but it is generally very simple and old-fashioned. Basically, we don’t like internal combustion and fossil fuels. Too noisy and smelly. We love our clean air and the soft sounds of wind and songbirds. Naturally we are completely organic and use no poisonous chemicals, only our own natural compost. And it feels so good to walk beside our horses, plowing, planting, and harvesting together.”
“Look, there it is!”
We turn our attention ahead again and see below us a thick tall hedge running across the meadow and beyond it the rooftops of a cluster of buildings above which a bell tower rises. As we come nearer we discern in the hedge an elaborately carved wooden gate above which stand out the words: