Friday, October 10, 2008

Discovering Eco Village

(The dining hall at Eco Village of Ithaca)

At about this time last year, we were planning a trip to Ithaca. Problem was, it was Parents Weekend, or something like that, at Cornell University, and every single hotel room in town was booked. Except for one. That was at the Wild Goose Bed & Breakfast.

It seemed too good to be true. Sure, it was a couple of miles from town, but it was less than half the price of the Holiday Inn. We pulled off Route 79 onto a dusty dirt road called Rachel Carson Way that wound through fields of an organic farm. The Wild Goose was in Eco Village, an "experimental community" that we saw as a cluster of modern, angular homes. You can't just drive up to the houses; you have to park and then haul your bags on foot into the village, which is for pedestrians only. (We found out later that there are carts lying around that anyone can use to haul stuff.)

No one was home at the Wild Goose, but the door was open. Eco Village is a place where people don't normally lock their doors. We followed Post-it notes up to our room, which was small but cozy. We had to share a bath with another room, but for the price, it could hardly be beat.

Later, we met the innkeeper, Gail Carson, a former opera singer, who filled us in on Eco Village, how it got started, and who the people are that live there. Although they do have a dining hall and take turns cooking meals for the community (mostly vegetarian, $6 a person), Gail assured us that the folks did not go out in the fields, hold hands and chant at the moon, or do any other such things we might associate with the communes of the 1960s. These are pretty normal people who just happen to like living in a close community of caring neighbors.

It is not, however, Utopia. That's because it is inhabited by human beings, who make everything difficult.

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