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Winter 2011 Newsletter

News from the Village

by Debbie Lienhart

Max Vermeulen McLeod was born November 5th at 11:55 am to Earthaven members Mana and Johnny McLeod. Max is the fourth baby born at Earthaven.


Welcome Max!

Earthaven member Lee Warren, was married to Matthew Walker in a private ceremony on November 5th. Many of us celebrated at the White Owl Cafe the next day.

Congratulations to Rudy Ballentine who celebrated the release of his new book, “Kali Rising” with an Indian dinner and reading at the Council Hall on November 20th.

Residents and neighbors gathered in the Council Hall December 4th for the annual Bizarre Bazaar, a time to sell and trade handicrafts as well as share an afternoon of good cheer.

Kaitlin Lindsay Hetzner was ordained as a Dianic Priestess on December 11 by her mentor and teacher Ruth Barret. In a women-only ceremony she became a Priestess of the Seasons and Cycles of Her Spiral. A celebration for all followed. 

Round Mountain Builders, led by Mihaly Bartalos, completed the renovation of a cabin in Bat Cave. The year-long project used wood from Earthaven clearings and employed several Earthaven members, residents, and neighbors.




Debbie Lienhart is a member of Earthaven Ecovillage living in the Village Terraces neighborhood. She is co-owner of Useful Plants Nursery, Culture's Edge secretary, and a partner in the Forest Garden Learning Center.

Farewell (For Now) Farmer

by Diana Leafe Christian


Farmer and NikkiAnne in front of the MicroHut (Farmer's residence at Earthaven) at Gateway Neighborhood. Photo taken Summer 2010.

On Tuesday night, Nov. 16,,

Earthaven member Chris Farmer (often called “Farmer”) threw a farewell dance party in the Council Hall and said goodbye to Earthaven . . . at least for now.


“I’m leaving for the indefinite future,” he told friends in the packed Council Hall.  “I may be back, and I’d like to come back, but I’m not making any specific plans about it.” He’ll be living in Santa Barbara, California, close to his sweetheart, an environmental activist and former Earthaven work exchanger. Farmer has been an Earthaven member for 13 years.


Chris Farmer (left)

with Brian Love.

One of Earthaven’s earliest advocates for agriculture, Farmer is co-owner with Brian Love of Gateway Farm, as well as their business, ArtiSun Construction. He co-founded the Forestry Co-op (1998- 2004): felling trees, mastering timber-framing carpentry, and innovating the use of a geopolymer concrete substance as well as a wall-truss system with wood milled from thinner trees.  He built a timber-framed 12’ x 12’ x 12’ “micro-hut” with chip-slip walls in the Hut Hamlet, and later built a similar hut in Gateway neighborhood in the hybrid natural/conventional style he and Brian innovated.


Farmer has stimulated and entertained Earthaven members, friends, neighbors, and visitors with his “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” “Clueless Honky,” and “Open-Source Mythology” raps. (See videos.)


Farmer in a large goodbye hug at his farewell party.

Farmer was Earthaven’s Firekeeper (president) in 2007, where he lead us in dealing with state officials re water quality and distribution standards. He has served on Land Use/Site Planning committee and on the ad hoc Council Document committee, and is one of Earthaven’s best facilitators.



We’ll miss you Farmer. We wish you all the best!


Earthaven member Diana Leafe Christian is an internationally known ecovillage activist, author of Creating a Life Together and Finding Community (New Society Publishers), and publisher of Ecovillages newsletter. Click here for her website.

Big Changes at the Council Hall

by Suchi Lathrop


The Council Hall all dressed up for Yule, Solstice, and Christmas activities.

Three years ago, Earthaven rented its first central office at the Trading Post. It served as our office, Internet café, information center and snack depot. This month we move the office to the Council Hall which helps us save money (rent to the Trading Post) and also centralizes our records in the same location as our meetings.



Suchi and Paul load the Taylor Water Stove from the outside.

Another fantastic change is our new Taylor Water Stove, which sits outside and is fed by wood stored nearby (no more messy ashes or hauling wood inside to deal with). We now bask in the warmth of radiant floor heat, which keeps the building at a constant temperature.


An intimate “lounge” outside the office invites us to enjoy videos, get online, or play a board game in our (ahem) free time.


Kimchi sits in our beautiful new office space.

But maybe the biggest change has been an addition onto the Council Hall which houses a flush guest toilet and a small kitchen complete with propane stove, plentiful hot water (the Taylor provides this too), and a place to wash and store dishes and other kitchen basics. It was a challenging project, as the builders had to adjoin it to the load-bearing straw bale wall and connect electricity and plumbing to a system laid down twelve years earlier. Yet Thanksgiving and Solstice, as well as other small parties have been easier and more joyous due to our indoor facilities.


Ohbeeb and Sue playing a game in our new lounge.

As a result of all these changes, not only has the office moved, but Yoga and Qigong now take place there as well as our weekly, Tuesday morning “Coffee and Trade.” Potlucks are more fun in the cozy Hall and our newly improved “one-room-serves-all” facility continues to be a great location for classes and celebrations of all kinds.


We’re on a roll! Now that we’re cozy inside, we can look to landscaping the plaza in front of the Hall. And here’s a wish list to help us outfit the Village Center: A storage shed for occasionally used items; stackable folding chairs for sixty; assorted folding tables; quality pots and pans; and labor and materials for a Welcome Center Kiosk.

If you have something to offer, please contact Kimchi (828 669-3937, ext. 2,



Suchi Lathrop, an Earthaven member, shares a household at the Tribal Condo. She gives tours, is on the visitors committee, created the Peace Garden, and has been a leader in social organizing. She started the Coffee and Trade event as well as the weekly happy hour, and has helped run the Trading Post for the last three years. Her current project is a workers’ cooperative building a code kitchen.

Learning Consensus at Earthaven

by Diana Leafe Christian


“This is harder than I thought!” exclaimed Ohbeeb. She was in front of the room practicing facilitating a meeting. She was saying, “Excuse me; would you like to get on the stack?” to another participant who was having fun pretending to be mildly disruptive.

It was our annual weekend workshop, “Earthaven Governance & Consensus, and Introduction to Facilitation,” held in the Council Hall November 20-21.

I continued to coach Ohbeeb, who practiced this phrase several times, interrupting the person who was acting disruptive.

“You need to hear yourself saying this phrase, over and over,” I said,  “until you create new neural pathways.” Ohbeeb practiced stopping the disrupter several more times until she began doing it quite well.

We hold this workshop once a year for people on our membership track. This year’s participants included Troy, Norm, Ohbeeb, Carly, Liz, Susan, Evelyn, and Curt.

Saturday was about consensus, and included Earthaven's governance process (our Orbos, committees, and managers), and consensus essentials — strong agendas, well-crafted proposals, skilled facilitation, trained participants, evaluations — among other topics.

Sunday was an overview of the facilitation process, and time for practice. This is where we got to see 

people’s acting abilities, since when someone practiced everyone else played the role of meeting participants — often hilariously.

Jonathan, as guest instructor, described the process of facilitating complex topics.

People gathered in small groups to practice creating proposals. They described what they’d like to change or improve about Earthaven, and we noted which of these ideas fell under Earthaven’s governance and could be addressed by a proposal, and which would not be governance but addressed by a private project. People in small groups practiced creating and presenting proposals, and the whole group gave feedback.

In the “Name the Member” game, people called out the name of Earthaven members and I described what official roles each member has played in the community, the committees they’ve served on, and the projects they’ve initiated or managed, plus other myriad ways they’ve contributed to Earthaven. New folks always seem impressed by our governance, and the many ways our members have given and served Earthaven over the years.

Several participants told me the workshop because gave them a much better sense of Earthaven’s governance and how they can participate. “It shouldn’t be called a consensus training,” Art said after the 2009 training. “It should be called, ‘How to Become Empowered at Earthaven’.”




Earthaven member Diana Leafe Christian is an internationally known ecovillage activist, author of Creating a Life Together and Finding Community (New Society Publishers), and publisher of Ecovillages newsletter. Click here for her website.


Visitor Immersion

If you are interested in living more sustainably or potentially joining Earthaven, this program will help you learn about our ecovillage.



June 11-17

at Earthaven Ecovillage


Details here.





Try a new twist February 14th

by Arjuna da Silva

If you’ve ever survived an awkward February 14, when others fuss over romances and secret crushes, while your “significant” relationships seem humdrum…or worse…you might like this practice as much as we do.


The concept came to us from Twin Oaks Community in Virginia and, for years now, we take the time to appreciate one another on February 14, which we now call “Validation Day.”


Our project involves making collage cards a month ahead of time with cut-out pictures and words that evoke each person. Once complete, fellow community members sign the cards—it can take weeks to get to them all!


On the 14th, we gather over a hearty feast and give out the cards. Some folks report keeping theirs close by all year as welcome reminders of how others appreciate them or of sweet connections to others. It’s quite a boost.

You can do it too, with your family, people at work, classmates—wherever the opportunity seems right. May you experience heartfelt validation this year and always!

Steve's New Camera

Here's a Steve's-eye view of Earthaven in December of 2010.














Here's the photographer:




Steve Torma has been a member of Earthaven since 1994. He lives in the Village Terraces Cohousing Neighborhood and is serving Earthaven as Firekeeper in 2011.




Earthaven's got a Facebook page. Finally.


Stay in touch with us and others interested in Ecovillage Living.


Find us here.

It Never Snows in NC

This and other hard truths at the BLOG on:



Ecovillage Life - Living Sustainably and Creating Community.


Visit the blog here.

About Us


Lee Warren is the editor of the Earthaven newsletter. She is a writer, farmer, herbalist, and  so-far surviving 12 years of community living. She came to Earthaven in 2001.




Arjuna da Silva is the assistant editor of the Earthaven newsletter and a founding member of Earthaven. She is finally taking a break from Earthaven administration and focusing on her beautiful new earth-and-straw home, "Leela House," and a long-awaited stretch of time for creative writing.





Earthaven is an aspiring ecovillage in a mountain forest setting near Asheville, North Carolina. We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living, and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture.


Visit our website.

Earthaven Ecovillage • 5 Consensus Circle • Black Mountain • NC • 28711
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