It was almost three decades ago that Gabriel of Urantia and I, with our infant son and two-year-old twin daughters began the journey of striving and struggling to create and maintain a culture more sustainable than the one that dominates Western civilization and increasingly the rest of the world. With others who joined us in our commitment to a vision that we all shared, we have participated in the unfoldment of what has become Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage, an intentional community of 120 people that continues to expand on many levels.
For us, simply stated, sustainability encompasses values, decisions, and actions that have a proper regard for all living things and their place within the divine pattern of the Creator. We are committed to living together cooperatively, solving problems nonviolently, and sharing our experiences with others.
On this 220-acre Garden-of-Eden setting in the borderlands of southern Arizona, we have worked hard to bring diversity and health back to the soil and pastures that for years had been used unsustainably. Now all of the pastures have been transformed into gardens and orchards or cultivated plots of combined grasses and grains for animal grazing.
Our Earth Harmony homes are surrounded by vignettes of plants and trees that not only serve as food for the many birds, bees, and butterflies that pollinate our gardens but bring beauty, shade, and food for us humans who also live on this land. Though we continue to face the difficulties and challenges of alternative living, our lives are rich with friendship, good health, meaningful work, intellectual growth, and spiritual upliftment. And daily we have visitors who come to work, learn, and socialize with us.
It is hoped that the culture we continue to create and maintain can be an inspiration and model for others to implement in their own particular circumstances. We encourage application of universal principles within divine pattern that can be applied in diverse ways to synchronize with the people of an era and their place on this planet.
Following are random events from a typical summertime week in my own life at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage, each reflecting an aspect of sustainable living.
One early morning… as I sat under an ash tree enjoying the quiet and peace of my regular time of solitude for reflection, prayer, and meditation, I welcomed the interruption of the cry of a red-tailed hawk as he swooped down into the adjoining desert savannah for his daily morning hunt.
On that same day… I had to ask a friend’s forgiveness, for I had been too defensive with her when she tried to share a concern with me.
Five afternoons, around five o’clock… I did some exercise for a change of pace from working alone in my home office—either swimming laps in the community pool or briskly walking in the neighboring riparian area. I was always in the company of others—including one time my three adult children swimming with me, another time an eighty-year-old woman joined me in a walk, and once a new mother and her baby strolled the banks of the Santa Cruz River with me.
One morning… an out-of-town friend visited Avalon Gardens where she met several community members throughout her day here. We spent some time relaxing by the pond, basking in the cooling breeze under willow trees, listening to the comforting farm sounds of quacking ducks, bleating goats, clucking hens, and crowing roosters. After a two-hour conversation, we shared lunch in the community dining room, feasting upon vegetables, fruits, and grains, all organically grown in our own gardens. In the afternoon my friend experienced soothing rest with a massage at our Soulistic Healing Center.
Another morning… I had an hour-long breakfast with ten other individuals at one of the community homes I visited. We sat around the table together, eating from the garden’s cornucopia of gifts, laughing at the humorous "human" things that come up in our daily comings and goings and shaking our heads in frustration and sadness over the stupidity and cruelty of what we observe in our discussions of current world issues.
One evening… on my walk to a class where we study the philosophy and theology presented in The URANTIA Book in our university on campus, while enjoying the song of harmonizing coyotes in the not-too-far distance, I encountered my neighbor, a beautiful bobcat, crossing the path. He stopped for about five seconds to say a quick hello by looking me in the eyes before meandering into the mesquite bosque.
In another evening class… where Continuing Fifth Epochal Revelation in The Cosmic Family volumes is studied, I felt deeply moved by what several people shared of their own inner conflicts and processes as they struggled to become better human beings.
During our regular Wednesday mid-morning planetary prayer… I experienced spiritual elation as I united with about two-hundred others in a prayer for peace for all peoples on this planet and for inner stamina to continue being peaceful and compassionate beings ourselves.
Early Tuesday morning… during our Hands-In-The-Soil time, I picked blackberries with a boisterous group of community members and visitors who had come to work in the gardens with us.
That evening… for after-dinner dessert, we feasted on blackberry cobbler made with those very same berries, and I thanked God for the gift of healing foods.
On a late afternoon… I dropped in on one of our Global Change Bands rehearsing for an upcoming gig at the Peace Fair in the nearby city. As I listened to them singing about world peace and sustainability for all of the planet’s human habitants, I thought of other musicians all over the world who sing out for environmental responsibility, reconciliation amid diversity, fair distribution of the world’s resources, and justice for all of God’s ascending sons and daughters of this earth.
One afternoon… I attended another rehearsal, which was for our children’s upcoming presentation at the "Annual Celebration of Education.” This year the children planned to perform on stage through song, dance, and poetry. As I watched the children—from toddlers to teens—sing, play musical instruments, dance, and recite their poetry, I recognized in each one of them a sense of confidence and self-respect that is a result of living daily in a supportive, loving, joyful environment. It does indeed "take a whole village to raise a child."
As I reflect back on my week’s activities and interactions… I realize that sustainable living is artful living on all levels of reality—material, mindal, and spiritual—and continues to unfold through the choices we make in how we live our moments and how we relate to all around us.
Niánn Emerson Chase
Niánn Emerson Chase co-founded Global Community Communications Alliance, a 120+ member intentional community located in southern Arizona. Niánn is the Director of the University of Ascension Science and the Physics of Rebellion, as well as serving on the Board of Elders. She is a counselor and a pastor.
Niánn is a spiritual leader, educator, activist, and a prolific author with many articles on culture, society, spirituality, and sustainability. Her spiritual-based philosophies and peace-motivated efforts have positively impacted countless individuals worldwide.
Her personal ideals and pursuits are to fuse revelatory spiritual teachings with the philosophical and spiritual truths from all cultures and religions into the classroom and into mainstream consciousness.
Niánn shares her visions and teachings to reveal a global outlook toward a future of world peace and harmony as one planetary family.