by David Cameron, Nancy Sherwood, (updated Jan. 2011)
EarthSea was a small Shamanic Ecovillage started in 1997, and disbanded in 2007.
The founders, Nancy Sherwood and David Cameron relocated to their new home on Zwicker Lake, Upper Vaughan, in Hants county, Nova Scotia, where they continue their life-work mentoring individuals and groups interested in intentional community, sustainable building/living and shamanic practice.
Hundreds of people were touched by and learned from the bold experiment in environmentally friendly community, and the founders made the decision to move and shift the focus of EarthSea with some sadness. However, out of this will come a new EarthSea entity, a registered non-profit Society devoted to Sustainable Spiritual Community. This Society is in the visioning and planning stages now. You are invited to join the fray to help shape the Society and usher in the New EarthSea! Send us an email request to be put on our EarthSea list to receive notice of ongoing activities such as Traditional and Celtic Sweat Lodges, seasonal ceremonies and Sundance support activities.
EarthSea was officially founded as a community in 1997 on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The past nine years were amazing years of learning and growth for those involved. Literally hundreds of people spent time in the community greatly enriching the experience of community members and supporters and finding enrichment in turn.
The experiment was a stunning success in the shamanic aspect. Our maillist of active associates contains over 200 names. Group support allowed EarthSea members to attend and participate in Sundance Ceremonies over a number of years. EarthSea, as a dispersed-but-connected community, lives on in the hearts and minds of hundreds of people who have tasted the future that could be.
In the ecovillage aspect, the results were mixed. We shrank our ecological footprint mostly by sharing spaces, utilities, appliances, vehicles, food purchases and our lives. We lived “low on the hog” and went a long way in learning what is “enough”. And what is NOT “enough”, too!
We did some organic gardening including the planting of food perrenials, some grafting and lots of wildcrafting. Alternative construction included the main straw-bale, hybrid house: various privies; a solar greenhouse utilizing a gray-water system; a “tree-house” using mostly recycled materials; teepees, traditional sweat lodges and a Celtic sweat lodge. We did a lot with very little.
A big piece of the ecovillage work involved learning to live amicably and supportively together. We studied non-violent communication and A Course In Miracles-based “clearing” method. We met twice a week for process work and logistics planning.
Our monthly full-moon celebrations, sweats, seasonal celebrations and birthday celebrations kept us group oriented. Our outreach activities resulted in a public profile-“those EarthSea people sure know how to have fun!”- and identity that also created group solidarity among significantly more that just residential members.
Members helped one another create and operate businesses that enriched way beyond the bottom line. A Shamanic Dance Troupe, a spirit-oriented travel business, a studio for shamanic, psychotherapy and herbal counselling, a cross-cultural interactive education business, a crafts retail business, a drum-making concern and a retreat business are some of the ventures we have been involved in with one another.
So, you may ask, why did we wind up the ecovillage experiment?
The underlying flaw was the land-base ownership. The founders owned the core property and counted on the use of adjacent family property for day-to-day village activities, member shelter and village expansion. Shortly into the experiment, extended family needs for long-term land-use changed, rendering long-term village sustainability and even immediate expansion impossible. This discouraged potential members since opportunities to create adequate shelter were diminished and no long-term assurances of village viability could be given. People were naturally reluctant to invest significant resources, effort and time in an enterprise without a solid future. In part because of the inappropriate ownership situation, EarthSea attracted many people with relatively few resources and short-term ideas of commitment. We learned a great deal from one another and had terrific good times together and shared a lot of love. However the short-term nature of many of these relationships often undermined an already weak resource base. Many life-lessons, business lessons and intentional community lessons were learned at EarthSea Shamanic EcoVillage. As mentors, Nancy and David are always happy to share those lessons with those intent on creating sustainable situations for themselves and our relations.