All too often we travel through life on autopilot, going through the motions with each day passing much like the one before, and the one before that. Participating in the ‘rat race’ often means we forget to stop and notice the truly important things, with several years passing by without us really noticing.
It has been said that in order to truly live life we should be living in the moment and enjoying every second of it. This means doing things like taking time to appreciate nature, allowing ourselves to love another with all our heart, and discovering what is really important to us.
The 2 communities below live quite differently to the vast majority of us, but embrace many values and beliefs that we could all learn from, including an appreciation of nature, community and family.
The Protestant theologian Enerhard Arnold, his wife Emmy, and their sister-in-law Else von Hollander founded the Bruderhof in 1920 in Germany after becoming frustrated by the silence of the established church during the post war chaos.
Inspired by the example of the first Christians in Jerusalem, they moved from Berlin to a remote village and set up a small community. There are now more than 20 Bruderhof communities worldwide, with approximately half of these being like self contained villages where between 150-300 people reside.
The Bruderhof place a strong emphasis on family and community, and believe that regardless of ability or background, everyone has something positive and valuable to contribute. Parents have the primary responsibility of raising their children, although are supported by access to excellent schooling and childcare from an early age.
To become a Bruderhof member, you must take a lifetime vow of obedience and poverty, giving away all property before joining and agreeing to contribute your talent and skills for the benefit of the community, rather than for financial, personal or professional gain. This is to give all members of the Bruderhof community the chance to stand on an equal footing.
Bruderhof families believe the natural environment is of paramount importance and believe in protecting the environment by using sustainable agriculture, producing meat and vegetables that are free from pesticides and harmful chemicals and recycling materials wherever possible.
Freegans are people that believe in living with minimal participation in conventional economy, and embrace community, generosity, co-operation and sharing. They believe this is in direct opposition to the rest of society, which is largely based on materialism, conformation and greed.
Freegans employ a number of strategies for practical living, based on their strong principles. These include:
Waste Reclamation – Consumers are continuously being told to replace goods they already have, in an attempt to increase sales and profits for the sellers. This produces an enormous amount of waste. Freegans capitalise on this waste and forage instead of buying new, rummaging through the garbage of retailers, offices and other facilities for useful goods.
All goods recovered by Freegans are safe, usable, clean and in perfect or near-perfect condition. Freegans will then share their discoveries openly with each other, or anyone who wants them along the way.
Waste Minimisation – Freegans recycle everything they possibly can. From repairing rather than replacing, to composting organic matter into topsoil.
Eco-Friendly Transportation – Some Freegans eliminate the use of fossil fuels by converting their cars to run on biodiesel, others avoid the use of cars completely.
Rent free Housing – Freegans strongly believe that housing is a right rather than a privilege and will ‘squat’ in unused and boarded up houses as well as converting abandoned buildings into useful structures such as community centres and art centres for children.
Working Less – Most peoples lives are focused on working hard to pay bills and buy more stuff. Freegans believe that by taking care of the basic necessaties of food, clothing and housing without spending a dime, they can greatly reduce or even eliminate their need to constantly be employed.