Emerald Village Observatory

Emerald Village Observatory- EVO







Location: Vista, California in a valley in San Diego county.


They have 9 full-time adults and 7 children and 5 volunteers


They’ve been established for three years.


Land size: 9 acres of dry, hard soil.


Emerald Village or EVO is like the younger, beginning version of The Hummingbird Community. These young talented professionals met at a music festival and teamed together to create their own community and culture. The residents and volunteers truly trust and rely on each other.


Mission: To share a thriving home connected with their land and seasons where they support each other physically, emotionally and spiritually. Through play, learning, and growth they create a nourishing and inspiring community.


Social Dynamics:





Almost all residents had jobs off the property. They share dinner on Tuesday and Friday and have a Sunday brunch.


Residents and volunteers take turns cooking the meals.

The community's main focus is on the children and embracing the child within us all. They were all very playful and the adults all co-parented the children. This meant that the children could come to any adult and receive attention, comfort, love and guidance. This practice is also called alloparenting. Studies have shown that the more trustworthy adults a child has in their life, the better chances they have to thrive as adults socially, emotionally, physically, and financially. It was wonderful to see children so happy, respected, and well-looked after.


Infrastructure:





This land was previously a winter home for a wealthy Bellair hotel owner.


It came with two houses, a giant storage space, a bunkhouse and a covered pool house.


When forming their village, they had frequent meetings where they sat down together around a whiteboard and wrote down every single thing they hoped for when it came to what kind of features they'd like on the property they purchased. This process allowed them to have a clear vision of what type of property they were looking for and this property had everything the members were looking for.


They have a few natural structures such as teepees and mud and branched formed gathering areas built during some of their workshops that are now used for community events.

Electricity:


They use solar panels for much of their energy, supplemented by being on the grid. They moderately use highly efficient electrical appliances.

Water: They have a spring-fed well that runs dry due to their frequent severe droughts.


Dishes are washed using the 5-Step - 4 bucket system

1. Scrape your plate of as much food as possible into a compost bin

2. Dunk and scrub your dish in a bucket of very hot, soapy water

3. Dunk in semi soapy bucket

4. Dunk in clear water

5. Dunk in vinegar water disinfecting solution.


Then dishes are dried on a rack. This is a simple way to wash dishes and it uses much less water and still sterilizes all utensils and dishes. This method is used in just about every village we visited.

Waste Management: They are currently on the city water grid. They also use low-flow toilets. They also have a port-a-potty on-site for events that is clean but unpleasant due to splash back of chemical water when deposits are made.

Farming: As it is very dry here and the soil was contaminated by a nearby avocado grove, they only grow a small number of basic vegetables. They supplement with local, organic produce. Most food is purchased in bulk to save on cost and waste.

Animal Husbandry: They have goats, chickens, bees that provide food and manure.


4 dogs and 2 cats were loving pets to the entire community as well.


Watch this video about the benefits of migrating goats

Resident Artist: The resident artist, Rebecca Goodman, creates welded pieces and decorates the property. She also hosts a crafts night for the community.


She also is the host of Inside Community podcast. This gives an inside look at all of the beautiful and messy realities of creating and sustaining community. In the podcast she interviews community builders, residents, educators, and experts on a variety of topics all with the goal of providing useful information and insight on how to do the “community thing” successfully. She's also documenting her own community journey as she and her family and their partners build a new community from the ground up in Southern Oregon.

Health and Wellbeing: Almost all of the residents appeared to be very healthy. They hold weekly yoga classes that most residents participate in. Healthy eating and frequent exercise was a main priority. They all practiced homeopathy and used herbal remedies to treat and prevent allergies and colds.

4 of the residents that had outside jobs appeared more stressed. The happiest and calmest were those living and creating on the land full time.

Conflict Resolution: They have a monthly segregated men’s and women’s group meetings and bi-weekly meetings where they are encouraged to resolve conflicts and plan for their future.

Children: The children were very happy, confident, and intelligent. They were involved in growing food, making food, helping with chores and decision making.

As mentioned earlier, they are co-parented meaning all the adults took on the responsibility of being caregivers to all the children and have many trustworthy adults to rely on and learn from. The mother of one of the residents is also the daytime babysitter when they need extra help.

Highlights:

Volunteers: EVO has young volunteers from all over the country working with them. This was significant as these volunteers bring knowledge and experience with them and what they learn from EVO, they take that with them to their next stop. At this point on the trip, we realized that explorers are like gardeners collecting seeds of knowledge and planting them from place to place. The more seeds we collect, the richer more fruitful our forest will become!

Community Kitchen & Living Room: This spacious, well-equipped area was the place where all the volunteers and residents shared all of the food in pantries and refrigerators. Cleaning up after yourself was very important and they had frequent group cleanups.


The living room featured a large carpeted space, couches, a large bookshelf, instruments, and they have a projector that plays movies on the wall.

Unique Features: They had the only aquaponics with tilapia set up we saw on our trip. This was really more of an educational piece than a fully functioning setup. It produced beautifully but it’s a very small plot.


In very basic terms, the water in the fish tank rises up into these plants every few minutes and then drains back out. The plants filter the water and the fish add nutrients.

New Things Considered: Clear and frequent communication between the volunteers and “owners’ is necessary. Some of the long-term volunteers felt unclear about how to engage and wanted more involvement in decisions that affected them.


Living near GMO avocado farms during a serious drought is very difficult to farm in. As mentioned earlier, the lack of adequate water and contaminated soil took a major toll on their ability to sustainably feed themselves.

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