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Late Autumn 2011 Newsletter

Celebrating Men

Many of our newsletters are by and about women.


We dedicate this one to the men who have been crucial in building our community.


Familiar Earthaven men (from left to right), Tom, Troy, Steve and Andy, rolling a water tank up a very steep hill.



The Tree Climber

by Mana Vermeulen-Mcleod

Johnny McLeod is our resident tree climber. He loves hanging out high in the canopies, often overlooking some amazing vistas here in our Blue Ridge Mountains.


He started his climbing career in Arkansas some ten years ago and brought his skills to our ecovillage. These skills are much needed around here where trees and houses sprout out of the ground side by side.


We need trees cut for so many reasons. The biggest reason is solar access. Most of our buildings have a passive solar design as well as a large photovoltaic system to support  electricity needs. Another reason to cut trees for sunlight is ever growing gardens. South facing slopes have been chosen for houses, photovoltaic systems and gardens. Of course we use wood to build structures; we aim to use as much of it from our land as we can.


Johnny also loves to cut firewood. It’s his obsession really. After a long day cutting trees he comes home in the evening to work at his hobby of cutting firewood! Luckily he got himself a hydraulic splitter some years ago and that makes it all go much faster. 


The community has already been hard at work through this spring and summer to get enough firewood split and put up for our long and recently snowy winters.


So the next time you come to visit us, keep your eye out for a tree-climber. He has our one-year-old with him on some of these woodsy adventures. If only they made baby ear protection and little chainsaws!



Mana Vermeulen-Mcleod and her husband, Johnny, the Tree Climber, are raising a family at Earthaven. Mana says "Right now I'm a stay-in-the-woods mom and I'm so glad to raise my boy surrounded by all this natural beauty. When my kid(s) are a little older I'll get back to what I love doing—creative carpentry."

Profile of Geoff Stone

by Davene Wasser

Geoff Stone

Geoff Stone’s wife, Sue, had been reading about intentional communities for years before he paid much attention. He already considered community to be an important part of his life and had always been active in community groups, local festivals, and church groups. When his corporate career was about to end, he realized that his lifestyle was going to have to change. “I was in the corporate world and I decided that it was not for me, and I started to think how we could make that work financially if I left.” That’s when Geoff decided to think seriously about intentional communities.


Geoff and Sue paged through the communities directory, made a list of potentials and then systematically visited them to narrow down the options.


Geoff can often be seen tooling around the village on his solar-powered golf-cart.

“It was a process of learning that was kind of interesting and fun…learning about ourselves and matching it up with what was out there.”


They decided on Earthaven and arrived in 1999. Initially, they ate three meals a day in the Hut Hamlet Kitchen and got a real taste of community life.

“I had a lot of romantic notions of what community life would be like, being all together, cooking together. We became aware of how important it was for us to have a little more routine, more control over our own lives. It was communal living and that is an experience everyone should go through to understand themselves a little bit and say, ‘Gee this is something I love’ or ‘I need some boundaries here.’”


Sue and Geoff Stone beside their tire wall.

Geoff and Sue decided to build an Earthship (house of tires) based on a workshop they took years before. Geoff said the process was pretty straightforward with detailed instructions from the architect. “I said to myself, ‘I’m not a builder but I can do this.’ I am proud of what we built. I feel that what we did is something other people can take pieces of to maybe build their own and make the world a little better.”


After twelve years of living in community, Geoff feels fortunate to have his own space and at the same time, be a part of something larger. “We’re so wasteful here in the United States and I see Earthaven as being a tiny step in the right direction. We’re walking our talk to some degree and that feels good.”





Davene Wasser came to Earthaven in April 2010 with her family to simplify her life and live more closely to nature. She is a writer, editor, educator, and artist. After a year and a half at Earthaven Davene and her family have moved on—to Central Virginia.

Our Future Men

Lots of babies have been born at Earthaven or to neighbors lately with the large majority of them being boys. We welcome them to our village and eagerly await who they will become.


These photos were captured by eli at a playgroup get-together at the Council Hall (except for photos of Forest and Heron which were sent on by their respective moms.)




son of Tom and Johanna, was born February 2010.


son of Chad and Renee, was born

October 2009.


son of Tiffany and Temple, is 3 and a half.


son of Peggy and Otter, was born December 2009.


son of eli and Jonathan was born March 2011.


son of Mana and Johnny was born  November 2010.


The newest arrival:



son of Julie and Andy (of Yellowroot Farm fame) was born in August of this year.

He can often be seen around the village carried on the front of mom or dad.

Welcome Forest.

Musings on Membership

by Todd Edward



Having taken this step in the community's membership process, I find myself with a few (mostly new) notions about my place in the community and in the world.


Primarily I am now better poised to more fully participate in the exciting exchange of ideas and opinions that are the backbone of our sub-subculture, as well as being afforded more opportunity to contribute directly to the governance process. This in itself was one of my major motivations in applying for membership. As a result of all this, it seems I am taken more seriously in my attempts to socially and energetically establish myself here.


Further, I am becoming a bit clearer on what it will mean for me to simultaneously lead an autonomous lifestyle while still being inextricably connected to, and largely dependent upon, my neighbors and community.


Most importantly, I feel that I have come one small step closer to realizing my ultimate (mostly-attainable) fantasy of complete energetic detachment from that world which exists outside the safe, sensible, cozy bubble that is our home. And yes, you're damn right, I am (to some extent) willfully hiding my head in the sand.

2012 Workshops

Culture's Edge is growing! Stay tuned for news an exciting array of classes and workshops in 2012!


There'll be Saturday afternoon adventures (after the tours) in permaculture, natural building, forest gardening and other essential ingredients to a forest community adventure.


While the weather is chilly, look for indoor activities in healing and creative arts. Then from spring through fall our calendar promises to be woven with events and trainings across the wide spectrum of local, global and bioregional sustainability.


Stay tuned at:

Fall Flowers

Expecting photos of the glorious fall foliage?


Well, you'd be amazed at the number of plants with petals you'd see when you take a walk through our land in October.


Freezing temps have hit the last few nights but even now some of these lovely blooms are hanging on.


Spring is not the only season for flowers!


 White Aster








Morning Glory




 Purple Aster


 Smart Weed




 White Clover




Pink Yarrow


Thanks to eli Swiftcreek for all the wonderful photos.


Ancestor Feast

On Day of the Dead (November 1-2), which is celebrated in so many cultures, we hold an Ancestors Feast. It includes a ritual of sweeping out the old and setting intentions for the new year, many wonderful songs, an ancestral potluck feast, and stories and toasts to those who've gone before us.


 Silent meditation before the altar with photos of ancestors and mentors.

About Us



Lee Warren is the editor of the Earthaven newsletter. She is an herbalist, writer, cofounder of the Village Terraces Cohousing Neighborhoodand, and manager of Imani Farm.





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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