Changing the World
A Vision of a Circleway Village
6. The Homes
It has been a full morning – a lot to take in – but now it is time to relax, have a buffet lunch at the hotel and talk with each other about what we have seen. We have a lot of questions, but our guide proposes that we wait, feeling that we will learn much by only seeing the whole, and that our questions will be better informed after we have viewed the entire scope of the Village.
After lunch there is free time, for a siesta or socializing or walks in the fields we came through on the way or any of the places we visited. We are asked not to go yet to places we have not been with our guide.
A new guide shows up in a couple of hours and our tour continues. We go back behind the last buildings we visited and are shown the fire station, the snow plows and a building for construction, repair and general maintenance, the barns, stables and other farm buildings, beyond which extend the fields where we can see potatoes, corn, wheat, and soy growing. Standing high beyond them are three wind turbines slowly revolving, and we are told they produce more than enough electricity for the whole Village.
Above the farm buildings are maple sugaring and cider pressing houses and the orchards of apple, pear, peach, cherry, walnut, pecan and a few other nut trees. We cross back through the flower gardens behind the culture center and see many different styles, including an English garden, a French garden, a Japanese garden, a Chinese garden, a rose garden, a tulip garden, a rock garden, and a great labyrinth maze of thick hedges nearly three meters tall.
Beyond the flower gardens are the vegetable gardens. Again many styles of cultivation are on display in rows and various geometric forms. Many greenhouses too. Of course all growing in the Village is organic, our guide tells us. Only natural methods of pest control and fertilizing are employed. No pesticides or chemical additives anywhere.
The gardens are quite extensive, enough to supply the homes and restaurants and schools of the village with vegetables and berries. Next to the gardens are also buildings for canning and preserving produce.
After the gardens we can see many residential houses, the homes of the villagers. It’s hard to tell how many there are because they spread over several meadows and hills and disappear up in the woods. Some are grouped around several ponds – or perhaps they are dammed up sections of one stream. The houses are varied and imaginative works of art, fashioned with loving and playful care clearly expressing the personalities of the occupants, who doubtless had a hand in the design – and probably the construction. The houses were of varying woods, stones, brick and other materials, with fanciful doors and windows, towers, turrets, cupolas, oddly angled wings, dormers, porches, balconies. Clear, opaque, and colored glass placed in surprising and joyous abandon. Some houses seemed a rethinking of older traditional designs, some seemed from a magical story land realm, and others had reference only to the designers’ wild and free imaginations. Many had solariums alive with greenery. And all displayed solar collectors and water heaters on their roofs.
With our guide we were able to stroll one street that circled in and out of the near houses. The people in these residences were accustomed to a few small groups being led past them about this time every day, and some came to their doors or looked up from their flowerbeds to waive to us. Behind us were two more little tours, with German and Japanese speaking guides. Some of us held up our cameras, and the villagers smilingly and proudly posed for them in front of their houses, which made us feel welcome and a little connected.
We noticed that some of the houses were very tiny, able to house only one or maybe two adults, and others were clearly larger than single-family homes. Our guide explained that some people prefer to live quite alone and simply, others live with one other person in a very close relationship, perhaps elderly or very new couples, or same-sex couples who may not choose to raise children. Some of the larger houses accommodate other types of relationships: several people living together as a family in open non-monogamous sexual arrangements, which might be hetero, homo, or bi-sexual in nature. There were also larger buildings for people who prefer apartment style living, sharing common social rooms and perhaps common kitchens and dining rooms as well. A few of the larger buildings were children houses where young people could choose to live together with friends of their age. These were provided with a family of adults who could assist in their need but the children would have their own circles and decide for themselves most of the conditions of their living. The adults would of course keep an eye on their health and safety and help out where children might get stuck in relating to each other – or to other adults. But we were surprised – maybe shocked is more accurate – to learn that the children also could decide for themselves if and when and whether they should seek out avenues of their own education, go to school or not, and we are looking forward to hearing more about the Village learning programs when we visit the schools later.
We were also shown a community house – there are many of these – where people from the neighborhood gather to play or work together, to hold community dinners, to watch special films or programs together. We asked about television and were told that a few people have their own, but most do not, finding most programming insidious invaders and thieves of their precious time. Computer games there are not about violence and competition, but show much creativity in games about caring for people, the environment and animals, about music and stories – fantasies of adventure, love, and spiritual development.
Now we enter a path leading into the woods that lie directly behind the Village. People in our group are abuzz with comments on the open acceptance and easy melding of various sexual lifestyles in a quaint little town that up to now had appeared fairly traditional. A lot of giggling and some quiet deep thinking are going on.