• Peter Macfarlane

Communing with Nature, Part I: The Call of the Land

Are you curious about ecologically-centered communities? Wellness Period presents a new series by Pete, our resident Naturalist, as he journeys his transition from the city to life on a self-sufficient community in rural Alberta. In Part I, Pete explores the call of the land and some of the considerations in deciding to live communally.


I recently visited a plot of land in rural Alberta to visit a friend. She was moving to join a self-sufficient community inhabited by a small group of people and an assortment of animals, living in two yurts and a tiny home. She was planning to build a straw bale house for her dog and herself.


I didn’t plan to stay long. I went to see what she was up to and to help haul some straw. I planned to wish her luck and return to city life. But the land had other plans for me. An unexpected storm set in, the roads became impassable for my motorcycle; I was stranded.


A couple graciously offered to share their yurt with me for the night. Insects sang us to sleep and we awoke to bird calls, reminding us it was time to stoke the fire.


By morning, I knew I wanted to live there.


This decision was sudden but filled with clarity and certainty. It is one of those decisions that simply feels right. I feel like I belong here, and that deep-rooted feeling is all I need.


So here I am, living on the land.


I’m currently staying in a loft built by Matt, land-owner, genius, yogi, while we build my structure. We are doing this as a collective: Matt, Kevin, Angela, Sarah, William, Alexander, Lauren, and I. The decisions are made together, the work is done together, and we all reap the benefits.


I acknowledge that living communally is not a straightforward or simple process. There are many considerations, including:

  • Practical - how to build a natural structure that stands up to the central Albertan climate and meets my basic needs.

  • Social - how to flourish within a small community when I’m used to coexisting within urban centres.

  • Personal - am I willing to put in the work required to sustain myself when I could easily pay for these conveniences in the city.

  • Political - how we choose to govern ourselves as we grow and evolve as a community and as individuals.

  • Generational - how do we see this project continuing on through future generations.

  • Environmental - how can I play an active role in reversing the course of climate change that I’ve been complicit in fueling.

  • Philosophical - what created the sense of belonging that made me decide to stay, and what will come from exploring that deeper.

I believe all humans benefit from a close-linked relationship with nature. Modern life and technologies are damaging this relationship. It is my hope that through communal living and self-sufficiency, I can re-connect and repair my relationship to nature. Over the forthcoming series, I will chronicle our pursuit toward self-sufficiency, explore the connection between humans and nature, and share lessons I learn along the way.


Thanks for reading,

Pete


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