How this intentional community lives sutainably
By Caroline DiGrande
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live off the grid with a community of like-minded individuals? Rainwater Collective is a small-scale eco-dwelling in Cedar Grove, NC that provides the opportunity to do exactly that in the name of environmental values. The members of the Rainwater Collective live in sturdy dwellings built by hand and use electricity only for essential tasks, such as charging devices, using power tools, and accessing the internet.
They use rainwater and firewood for cooking, and their diet is aided by foraging for edible resources on the land and raising ducks. Members of this intentional community prioritize forming relationships with local vendors and neighbors and eating a regional diet. I had the privilege of having a conversation with founder of Rainwater Collective, Rachel Watersong, who explained some motivations for pursuing this lifestyle. She made it clear that “living in this way isn't like some grueling sacrifice. . . that it's actually a more connected and alive way to live.”
“I was interested in living in an intentional community because I love people and being around people and being interdependent with people I like. . . but I also like to be in nature. It was also really important to me not to just own land, because the reason I have access to land is because of white supremacy. . . I'm not a better human because historical factors led to me accumulating some money that led to me buying land. So that's not an institution that I wanted to participate in. Having an intentional community is one way of dismantling that way of relating to land. . . It's like, this is mine and nobody else is allowed to mess with it and I can destroy it if I want to, but you know, I don't want to do that.”
When asked about the future goals of Rainwater Collective, Rachel voiced that the future depends on the vision of the members, and what they can create based on their shared values and agreements. Rainwater Collective at full capacity would be 10-15 people. Currently, 3 people reside there with woofers joining seasonally. Community member interactions include growing crops and building infrastructure together, while learning and sharing knowledge and culture and connecting with local people in the area. “We want to be like a little seed of knowledge and culture of how to live a post-industrial lifestyle”.
Adjusting to Climate Change
Living at the Rainwater Collective is a small-scale solution to living more sustainably, starting with drastically reducing fossil fuel use and reliability. Currently, they are using solar power as a transition technology, though Watersong voices that switching to renewable power alone will not end climate change on a large scale.
"What's left out of the conversation a lot is that we just need to drastically reduce our use of electricity. It's not sustainable to have, you know, 8 billion people using an American amount of electricity. . . regardless of how it's manufactured. So, basically our strategy here is to have a very small solar system. . . and we have agreements about what we rely on it for and what we don't. So we try not to rely on the electrical system for things that we actually need to survive because we don't see it as long-term sustainable.”