What Are the Benefits of Living in a Sustainable Community?

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by Indiana Lee

If finding new ways to live sustainably has become a priority for you why not consider living in a sustainable community? For some, sustainability has revolved around making adjustments to behavior or making purchasing decisions favoring “green” companies. However, if you are looking to go beyond that, perhaps investing in an ecologically responsible and independent way of life is a good choice. 

These communities are on the rise worldwide, as people recognize the benefits of getting out of the city while also positively impacting the planet. We’re going to take a closer look at what it means to engage in this way of living.

What are the benefits of  sustainable communities beyond ecological preservation?

Sustainable communities offer more support

Perhaps the primary benefit of living in a sustainable community is the sense of neighborhood closeness. That doesn’t mean your neighbors will always be stepping on your toes. Instead, there tends to be a greater sense of mutual responsibility and accountability. Unlike in bigger city areas, the result is that you’ll often have greater access to support. 

Support is essential when prioritizing sustainability, as while off-the-grid living can offer independence and environmental benefits, it also requires some expert knowledge to do well. As part of a sustainable community, you get to take advantage of a wealth of practical information from people dedicated to making sustainable living a positive, life-long experience. 

As Joanna Miller wrote for The Organic Prepper: The need for supportive communities in SHTF situations is something we talk about often. People know they need a support network because, let’s face it, in a long-term survival situation almost none of us can do it alone. So, even if the s**t hasn’t hit the fan yet, being part of a stable community before it does will help ensure survival.

Community members reap the benefits of shared knowledge

You’ll also find this support valuable when you’re purchasing a newly built home in the community. It is essential to educate yourself on the processes and standards of new construction; this helps you confirm you’re getting the property you want and saves you money in the long run. The community is likely to have resources to help you be more effective in researching the builders involved and undertaking an appropriate inspection for a sustainable property. Indeed, it is generally the case that the community is dedicated to high standards of building practices and has an in-depth understanding of architectural guidelines for eco-friendly properties.

Inclusivity promotes meaningful community engagement

There is also a sense of shared resources in sustainable communities. Often, as with the Sawyer Hill Ecovillage in Massachusetts, there will be communal facilities everyone is encouraged to utilize. These facilities can include workshops, gym facilities, community centers, and even dining halls. You’ll find access to such amenities tied to commerce in the city. However, sustainable communities tend to be inclusive. Inclusivity helps make sure everybody has the resources and knowledge to engage meaningfully in personal and community activities.  

Self-Sufficiency is often a group effort in these types of communities

For many preppers, the significant benefit of going off-the-grid is the opportunity for self-sufficiency. The same goes for sustainable communities. Though, rather than entirely fending for yourself, you get the best of both worlds. You are not beholden to big corporations for the essential services you need. At the same time, there is a group effort to maintain independence and deal with any issues as a community. 

It is more clear all the time when it comes to utilities, it is not wise to rely on major power companies to provide your energy supply. Demand for services is under increasing pressure, and the U.S. is subject to more power outages than any other developed country. As part of a community utilizing a localized, sustainable energy supply — solar power and wind power are standard options — you’ll generally find the potential for the problems of city utilities are not as prevalent.

Sustainable community agriculture is less affected by shortages

While sustainable communities are often still within easy distance of big-box providers, there is also a focus on growing food and maintaining a community water supply. The Ecovillage in Ithaca is a prime example of utilizing a permaculture approach to community agriculture. A significant amount of the food consumed by the community is grown on-site at The Ecovillage. Sustainable community agriculture puts less pressure on the local ecosystem than industrial farming. However, it also helps the community to resist man-made and climate-led disruptions to food supplies. While supply chain disruptions may result in food shortages in the city, a sustainable, self-sufficient community is less likely to be affected. 

Community members feel more relaxed and enjoy an overall sense of well-being

Sustainable communities focus on the planet’s well-being and provide a lifestyle and resources more conducive to maintaining your wellness. While healthcare facilities are essential, sustainable communities offer a more holistic, long-term positive impact. Perhaps most apparent here is the effect on your mental health. While you’ll still have challenges, there often aren’t the same pressures that can be hallmarks of city life. Eco communities are generally more relaxed, mutually supportive environments.

One of the prevailing problems of living off the grid is that it can often result in loneliness and isolation. But this tends not to be the case in sustainable communities. These villages recognize the importance of maintaining relationships to keep one another accountable for environmental standards and to maintain mental and emotional wellness.  

There is also a distinct physical wellness benefit to these communities

Many sustainable communities support pedestrianism rather than motorized transportation. In the U.S., in recent years, there has been a developing demand for walkable communities. Reports show 60% of Americans want to live in areas that focus on maintaining mental and physical health. Indeed, sustainable communities experience less pollution due to fewer vehicles and industries. Not to mention being involved in community projects (building, maintenance, agriculture) keeps everyone active. 

Conclusion 

Sustainable communities are not just beneficial as a reflection of your commitment to the environment. They also offer opportunities to share knowledge and resources and to be self-sufficient while also leveraging local support. Joining a sustainable community can be a positive, practical option for the near future. Would you consider joining a community like this? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

About the Author

Indiana Lee lives in the Pacific Northwest and has a passion for the environment and wellness. She draws her inspiration from nature and makes sure to explore the outdoors regularly with her two dogs. Indiana has experience in owning and operating her own business. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @indianalee3

What Are the Benefits of Living in a Sustainable Community?
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30 Responses

  1. No way. When things go fully awry in the country, there will always be a self-appointed leader (ruler) who will play god over the residents of the community. Believe me, you will be better off fighting the government than to have your daily life organized by someone like that. History is rife with communal experiments. Where are they today? All went poof! This is due to human nature and when laws are no longer enforced, the basest sorts of people tend to rise up to build their own little kingdoms. Just look at the warlords of Somalia, for example. I intend to stay far away from such communities. Family provides a much better and stable basis for community in an end-times scenario. Have a happy day!

    1. Agree, Howard. I am way too much of a private person to be able to live in that type of community. There would HAVE to be rules. And rules beget rules until it is out of control. (Not unlike our federal government.) Your comments bring to mind the HOA which is so popular today. When looking to purchase our home, I was adamant that I would not live in a community with an HOA. They are “little dictatorships.” I realize it’s not exactly the same, but as you sprinted out…there is ALWAYS someone who wants to be “the Big Cheese.”

      1. Exactly. Our POA president is trying to get noise ordinances, gates around this area, pamphlets to get the vax, get your dogs spayed, etc, all kinds of stuff. She definitely has her lil dictatorship going on, and her groupies , that are recent additions to this area. We live in the COUNTRY in Texas, like rural, but still in a POA, and that’s my fault for buying here a few years ago, trying to get out of the city. Didn’t realize they were like the gestapo and we will be voting her out next month. If I could sell and get out now I would, but the prices of off grid properties are extremely high and few and far between. we have made friends here that I think would definitely be beneficial when it comes down to the nut cut, and I’ve met a few other preppers here in this area. I think having some solid people around with skills and resources is great but a commune type deal, no way.

    2. In Afghanistan they had two different types of leadership: 1) Tribal leader (we called them Local Power Brokers, or warlords), and 2) A council of elders.
      The tribal leaders/warlords held territory, and they were responsible for the well being and security of the tribe. Basically a really big extended family. They did not take that responsibility lightly. One, he could not count to ten, but spoke three languages. You do not live to be a old tribal leader/warlord by being stupid.

      Council of elders were not much different. They made their decisions based on the well being of the community.

      Both set had their own laws and rules and enforced them internally. The religion of Islam did provide for many common laws that they all adhered too.

      Point is, look around you now. Whom do you see could be an effective tribal leader or member on a council for what may become your tribe or community? Who could be a problem? Would you be willing to stand up and be one? Do you have the leadership skills to do so?

  2. I won’t argue against the need for groups of people to come together if TSHTF. We’ll all need all the support we can get.

    But many of these places remind me of the communes of the 60’s. They didn’t work then, largely because there were too many people in them who didn’t want to work at all, while enjoying the benefits of those who did.

    If TSHTF everyone will have to work very hard to survive and those who won’t work won’t survive. It will be Evolution in Action.

    1. Like Ray I’m always skeptical because of the failed hippie approaches of days past. It seems it is difficult to have this type of community without an ultra religious approach or the hippie approach.

      1. -Matt in OK,
        What if it was 2 Companies (using the Eco-village Ithaca as an example) of former military types? Not all of them, but at least one house hold member was former military? And the typical military types, not the ones that demand certain MOS’s or religious constraints.
        Think that could work?

        1. Maybe if they allowed free thinking, not demanding things of my wife, maybe not requiring things even he didn’t meet in his short peacetime military career or didn’t talk straight trash about law enforcement for decades but now wants that experience for his own personal use. Little things like that outta the way and it might work or NOT. Lol

    2. Indeed, those 1960s hippie communes are quite the historical lesson in how not to build a successful community. The founders of those communes weren’t all raving Marxists by any stretch of the imagination—many were agrarian-minded “back to the land” types seeking to return to the kind of tight-knit rural communities their ancestors had arguably enjoyed—but the noble-sounding ideals on which they founded their communes almost invariably led to a socialist collective which inevitably failed for the same reason all socialist collectives fail: ostensibly taking “from each according to his ability” and giving “to each according to his needs” motivates everyone to demonstrate minimal ability and maximal need. Throw in the distinct tendency a lot of hippies had to overvalue their leisurely arts and crafts and undervalue the kind of plain old-fashioned hard labor necessary to an agrarian lifestyle (trying to trade “poems for tractor plows” as I remember one former hippie putting it), and you’ve got the recipe for rapid failure that nearly all of them experienced.

      Meanwhile, overseas, it’s worth noting that Israel in the 1960s had hundreds of kibbutzim that didn’t look too different on their faces from some of those hippie communes—and yet now only a tiny handful of the hippies’ communes have survived to the present, while Israel still has hundreds of kibbutzim. The secret? Actually, a fair number of kibbutzim died out too, having contracted a fatal case of socialism just like those hippie communes; but a great many more survived and thrived by privatizing and thereby giving their members some incentive to pull their weight and do some honest work in return for the benefits they receive.

      If people want these “sustainable communities” (as the kids are calling them now) to succeed, they need to learn from each of these examples, as well as others that preceded them. There’s actually a Biblical precedent for some of this in Acts 4:32-35 (which states that a new community of Christians started sharing their money and possessions and distributed them to each other according to their needs), but the same text goes on to say in the very next chapter that their possessions had always been theirs to keep or sell and the money from any such sales theirs to save or spend or donate as they saw fit. Also, the Apostle Paul would later clarify further in his second letter to the Thessalonians that he who will not work also shall not eat.

      Long story short: you want to share your possessions to form a tight-knit self-sustaining agrarian community something like the ones your ancestors had? You can do that—but heed the Bible’s disclaimers and history’s warnings, and follow the ways of the successful communities which required their members to pull their weight. Be like the early Christians and the medieval monasteries and nunneries and the modern privatized kibbutzim, and not like all those socialist hippie communes.

  3. I agree and have commented in the past that the need for community just may be key to long term survival.
    As my wife says, many hands make light work.

    I did review the Eco-Village Ithaca website and the application. They seemed to acknowledge the need not only for community, but for privacy or the ability to be by oneself. Having lived in urban, sub burban and rural and even barracks living conditions, being able to get away from everyone sometimes is a necessity. And working with someone all day, then having to share the same living space, not so much a good idea. The Ithaca Eco-Village reminded me of some European like villages. Based off how long that village has been around, they seem to be a success.
    Granted living like that is not for everyone.
    Personally I think the Amish arrangement would be a better fit. Everyone has their own separate homes, farms, but still with a very strong sense of community.
    I did watch a documentary about a commune in VA. It was meant to spin the commune in a positive light. But they allowed two males to be interviewed and if you paid attention, you could hear the under laying tension of the sexual nature. Then they introduced a very young lady and it was quite obvious she was using sex as a power. They also had some rather strict ideological view points that if someone did not conform to, out you go.
    I would not be a good fit for such a place. Imagine that.

  4. My entire adult life I have been intrigued with the lifestyle of “living green”. I love the idea of the sustainability of solar, wind and hydro power. Clean air, water and food are of course most important. Even though I don’t believe in global warming concept the way it’s being sold to the people of the world.
    I’ve always thought I would love to live in a sustainable community even now but I think there would be constant bickering among some. Friends, some family members or even those committed to the cause would make it impossible to live a peaceful life.
    I try to obtain as much sustainability in life along with some creature comforts.
    The TV series of “The Waltons” comes to mind as a more simpler life to strive for.
    D

  5. Pure nonsense, what this has to do with prepping as we are rapidly becoming a Communist Country beats me? As a Christian, I worship the Creator, not His creation.

    I guess garbage thinking like this is why it is known as , “The LEFT coast”?

  6. It is intriguing but there would be bickering all the time.
    Living like “The Waltons” sounds peaceful.
    Slow paced quiet lives.

    1. @D, The Waltons was a wonderful example of a multi-generational Christian family. Thanks for reminding us of the simple “Country” life. Of course they were vastly different than living in a Commune passing around the communal bong and eating sprouts for breakfast.

      We ( my family) belongs to a group that sings together, often shares meals together, and I know that I can count on when the SHTF, it’s called a CHURCH.

      God Bless you and yours

  7. Sounds ideal, I’d love any info or resources on how to find communities like this. I am a single mom of 2, they are 8 and 4. For the last 2 years I’ve been praying for a path leading us to a for ever home to finish teaching and raising my children in ways we were meant to live. Where we can heal and feel safe after the realization of our worlds corruption. I’m so overwhelmed.

    1. HI, well I am now older and my 2 kids are grown and gone living their own lives. I am retired from teaching pre-school to the 3rd grade and tutoring also…I sew by hand, I cook, I do many things through learning, and living all this time with experience in many things.
      I now have a good gut, lots of common sense and wisdom comes with age from above. I trust the LORD, however I do tend to think somewhat as you are doing now. I am now divorced after a 33 yr. marriage from a ex that went thru his male mid-life crisis and had to have 3 affairs. SO I divorced him and he married the 3rd woman and they were together for 9.5 yrs. when he passed away at age 64 and that was in May of 2011. I have NOT remarried. A good man is hard to find that is monogamous and patient and accepting of my age…SO I love children and am a good teacher for them. None of the current trends of CRT or Woke or any of these new things is in my curriculum…Just plain old fashion learning and teaching behavior, respect as well as teaching them how to think for themselves…I also have been praying for a path leading me to a good man or a forever home as I hate being alone. Some days my dog is all I see human wise or animal wise haha…YES we need a place “we’ll call it home”, where we can heal and feel safe after things go belly up and the poop hits the fan…I have a feeling that won’t be that far into the future regrettably…And Julie it seems to me MORE than overwhelming,, just totally mind -boggling and some days we just wanna put our heads under the covers and now come out…I am with you…IF you want to connect you can…[email protected]. That is my current email address…I will be looking for JULIE, hope you connect. I am educated, wise, safe, friendly and alone…Blessings, Wandakate

      p.s. What state do you live in Julie? I live in the mountains of North Carolina right now…all typos are blessings, it’s after 10 here and I am sleepy…

    2. JULIE, I tried twice to message you and the site keeps sending it off into cyberspace.
      Just email me please b/c we are on the same page here.
      [email protected] and I live in N.C. am a retired teacher (female) and Christian too. Thanks,
      Wandakate

  8. Well the Waltons had an advantage. They had lots of able bodied family. These days families aren’t usually that big. Plus a lot of people have a sedentary habit. At least if people are in an intentional community they would be prepared to meet the physical demands of the work involved in producing food and keeping up with chores.

    Re Christianity vs socialism it could be argued that early Christians were themselves operating in a socialist manner to some extent.

    Ref: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.biblegateway.com/passage/%3fsearch=Acts%2b5:1-11&version=NIV&interface=amp

    There are probably lots of great role models for a cooperative and sustainable type of community. It might be very worthwhile to study the good ones and learn what they did or currently do right and what might be improved. Knee jerk references to Jim Jones and hippies etc. do nothing but distract from a realistic and thoughtful inquiry into realistic options for living well in these times.

    1. Also I agree with Seminole Wind re church. Some churches are closer knot than others. But even with neighbors we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. And to forgive. So if we treat our neighbors like the Bible says we need to, well maybe that is itself a foundation for a sustainable community.

  9. “Would you consider joining a community like this?”

    Have been in a community like this for years. Three members. Me,my wife,and my father. There is a very strict vetting process for newer applicants.

  10. I’m leary of an HOA style dictatorship. My little group is church based friends/family who have helped each other for decades.

    Others in my tiny rural unincorporated community are helping each other as they are able. I in return help all I’m able. As neighbors age or health fails others dig deeper and help out.

    In the worst circumstances the church family will mostly help one another. I have one family especially close who give up time and comfort to treat me as if I were a parent in their family. An exdaughter-in-law and grown grandson will drive 25miles to help anytime there is a need.
    I will do anything I can for them also.

    A planned expensive community I would not trust nor could I afford them.

  11. Sounds awful when you really think about the nitty gritty, daily aspects of it.
    When you can water your garden, what decor you can have in your front yard, who can grow what, who’s going to take up the slack for Marylou whose sciatica is kicking up, how will Bill and Tom be compensated for fixing the roof of the dining hall, whose turn is it to cook this week… it’s an HOA with YOU doing the maintenance.
    Hard pass… thanks.

  12. I think there is the lost of art of respecting other’s rights. Of allowing people to be who they are, giving personal space, excepting and seeing the value in people.
    Embracing the differences. Not always magnifying the differences.
    It would be a pleasant and peaceful community as long as no one was overstepping boundaries of others.
    Isn’t this what we all deserve and desire in life?
    D

  13. The representative republic was in many ways based on the Iroquois confederacy. Each tribe in the confederacy sent representatives to speak for and vote for their group. That took care of all interrelated business. To go to war was even more serious. The wives and mothers voted on that because their future depended on their husbands and sons. If they died in war the women suffered for whatever time they had left to live. So going to war was very serious business. If attacked yes by all means defend your people but to go to war over something had better be supremely important. It’s life and death to your dependants.

    I figure my life decisions and circumstances are that important to me. A leader was a servant. A good one is looking out for the good of all and responsible for the weakest member to the strongest member. Each did what they could for the good of all. In the old ways some gardened, some gathered, some hunted, some built structures, some watched the little ones while mothers nursed their young babies, and so on. Older men and women taught the younger ones. There were healers and religious leaders. A well rounded group.

    Here my closest friends live in a mobilehome I own on my land. I provide power for their home, for a sons tiny home, and assorted work shops. My solar array has been down for a long time so I have an extension cord for one lamp, tv, fridge, and washing machine until I can repair or replace the array. Then I hope to take the other residences solar. One well hopefully solar and the other on commercial power to meet a county need.

    My friends kept us going by meeting our needs while I was so sick with covid. He repaired equipment and vehicles. One or the other drove us to the city as needed. He was my prepping buddy. I bought him ammo. He treated me like a mother or sister. He died of covid 9 months ago. She still helps me every way she can. He’s burried in our family plot on our land. My best friend died a month after her 39th birthday. She’s there with my parents and late husband of 33 years. My spot is saved between my late husband and my parents. My current husband wants go be cremated and burried with me. We can do that.

    I garden and gave them a lot of seedlings for their garden. I’m helping her learn to prep. She’s raising three little grandchildren. The oldest has just started kindergarten. We share meals back and forth depending on who’s doing what. She’s finally putting back food for her little family. I help with that as I can. We’re family by choice and by faith. When I need help caring for my husband with alheimers she’s there. When he fell and I couldnt get him up, her grown son hurried down to help. He lights my propane water heater or things I can’t see to do any more. He also carried in all my heating pellets last winter and split wood for his mom.

    Another neighbor saw that dogs had scattered my trash. He picked it up bag bagged it. Now he comes every two weeks to take our trash along with his to the transfere station over 4 miles from here. Another neighbor I’ve known since he was a teenager has been homeless. He cookes for his 92 year old mother a few days a week. While I was still so weak he brought us warm lunches the days he cooked. It’s a good little community. We all watchout for each other. I heard a strange rhythmic sound as another neighbor drove into his yard two weeks ago. A tire peeled. I called to ask tire size. I have 5 ok used tires that size I saved for spares for my truck. I asked him to meet me at my driveway. I gave him one to put on his truck. It’s what neighbors here do. It isn’t aIways tit for tat. Each just does what they can to help others

    I like my little unincorporated community. It’s a mix of young and old, churched and not churched, a few alcoholics and some drug users and some very straight laced folks. A retired chief of police who grew up here is back in retirement. He halls off my trash. Is it perfect? No, but it’s pretty darned good.

    1. My friend from the UK lives there. Wants us to come down. We’re in our 70’s. She loves it there. San Miguel. Lots of US expats. Some are pro Vax, some aren’t.

  14. What about using an Amish model? I don’t know enough about it to know if it would work for something like this.

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