Hey everyone! This was written by Trisha Barnes. Trisha and Bruce stayed on our land in their RV for about six weeks as guests. Thank you for contributing, Trisha! I invite anyone who lives or has lived at East Wind to write for the blog, just get in contact with me. -Sumner
We found paradise at East Wind Community, a hippie community in the Ozarks! Who knew? We surely didn’t expect it to be so perfect and peaceful and profusely rewarding.
It has taken me several attempts and edits to write about it because the three week experience was far above and beyond our expectations and imagination. It’s like trying to explain how falling in love or holding your newborn for the first time feels; or trying to find the perfect words to describe why sunsets and mountains and forests make me cry. It was THAT amazing!
Bruce and I stumbled upon the East Wind Community when we bought a jar of almond butter and noticed it was made in Missouri, in the little town listed as one of the fifty best hippie towns in the US. We were curious and eager to find out more.
It was no accident, us finding East Wind – it was the Universe planting seeds in the fertile soil of our adventurous minds. Soon, the familiar conversation which always begins when a new opportunity comes before us started. “Have you ever?” “Nope!” “Do you wanna?” “OH Yes!”
We did our research – reading everything on the East Wind Community website and our eagerness grew as we poured over all the information, read the history, learned about membership and viewed the pictures. But, just as I’ve said so often about the spectacular places we’ve been able to visit … nothing comes close to actually being there. Images of the Redwoods will make you gasp at their beauty, but standing among those giants will make you fall to your knees. And so it was to immerse in living and working and communing with this remarkable group of contented and happy people. We felt their heartbeat of freedom, of peace, of oneness and it impacted us deeply.
I felt the presence of peace as we began to meet the members. It was noticeable and tangible to me; and maybe it was because I was an outsider who wasn’t in the throes of daily living/working in the community, but that strong sense of peace in itself told me that this three week experience would be more than just a summer camp type of adventure.
And it truly was, even though I had some wondrously fun experiences feeding the ducks, the calves and even forming a bowl on a pottery wheel!
I was and am still astonished and in awe at how well this egalitarian lifestyle works. It’s definitely an escape from the money stresses and struggles that permeate the “outside” world. However, it’s not for everyone; this lifestyle does require sacrifices of one kind of freedom to gain a different, even greater freedom – just as our roadtrip lifestyle does. Membership application and approval takes time so that everyone, both members and applicants, can see how well the “fit” is.
People come to live at East Wind for many reasons. I loved hearing why and how and when they made this their home. One young man expressed how secure and peaceful he feels now that he left society’s hectic pace and scramble to make money.
Another woman shared that she left her law career to come here in order to avoid the stress and exhausting work load she witnessed destroying the lives and dreams of so many of her mentors. Some members have been here for decades; some for a few months. and there is a healthy balance of young and old.
Here at East Wind, all the basics like shelter, food, and even clothing from the community closet are provided. But the treasured jewel of this community living, I believe, is how this lifestyle helps each member develop an intrinsic purpose of contribution for the good of the whole community. It is like a well-oiled machine with many moving parts.
Everyone works here, that’s a requirement. It’s necessary, but it is so off-the-charts better than any “job” I’ve ever had in the 8-5 world. Why? Because you get to do what you love and if you change your mind and want to do something else, you can – even if you don’t have the skills or experience. There are so many different jobs available that boredom and burnout are not issues. You have the opportunity and are allowed to switch jobs. You pretty much set your own hours, take breaks when you choose as long as you fulfill the required number of hours each week. Most of all, you feel immensely satisfied that your work is valued, no matter what you do. It ALL fits together to benefit everyone.
During our three week visit, we were completely satisfied and happy weeding the herb garden and helping out with washing dishes. In return, we were fed the most nutritious meals we’ve ever had prepared by members whose “job” that day was cooking for 60 people.
When we left, we told everyone that we wouldn’t eat this well until we returned for another visit. Every meal was a banquet of scrumptious healthy dishes of garden vegetables and while we were there, we feasted on the meat from a freshly butchered hog! We enjoyed fresh milk, cream, yogurt, kefir and cheeses. We had access to an abundance of herbal teas and tinctures, formulated and prepared using the herbs from the garden. Freshly baked bread was almost a daily treat. Such abundance, such love and care for all the food and animals and people abounds here.
Throughout the community there were places to gather and relax with others. Our favorite spot was in the herb garden, under the newly built yurt. It was constructed with cedar logs cut from the community’s forest and it supported a massive and intricate growth of wisteria, providing shade and shelter to all who gathered. And all who gathered ‘round the table there, who shared stories and conversations with us, we loved. Our hearts are woven together now – always with us no matter how great the distance that separates us, and always tugging to pull us back to East Wind.
Our perception of community living was greatly expanded, enriched and reshaped during our visit so much so that we are open to making East Wind our home; but not yet. We still have more wandering to do. But, the members at East Wind have shown us a better way, a different way, a more fulfilling way to live. The value of contributing and serving to the benefit of everyone, the equality of worth among all members, and the quality of life provided from the sustenance of the land are what will bring us back to East Wind as regular visitors until our nomadic lifestyle is done.
Post and pictures by Trisha Barnes (find more from her here: nakedhippiesroadtrip.us)
Sumner’s three cents: 1) For someone who lives here for several weeks and then moves on I can see how East Wind seems a ‘paradise’ but I don’t think any of the members who live here year round would think of that word first to describe our living situation 2) I call East Wind an ‘income sharing community’ and not a ‘hippie community’ and 3) as far as an ‘escape from money stresses’: things are certainly going well here, but just like everyone else we have to pay the bills, taxes, etc. and running your own business can indeed be stressful! I’m speaking as the sales, purchasing, and ‘general’ manager of our East Wind Nut Butters business. I like to keep it simple and easy, but there are plenty of projects big and small that people with energy and an entrepreneurial spirit can plug into! Come help us out! =)