Village life is rich in culture, art, music, literature, dancing, satisfying relationships and yes, work.
While the people of Ordinary trade with other villages and the people of other lands, they produce much of what they consume in their village and on the land surrounding. Like the Ladakh, they take no more from the land than it can give. They tend their resources carefully to assure continued abundance, and they manufacture much of what they use–food, clothing, tools, housing materials.
Respecting the habitat and land needs of the wild animals in their region, they are careful not to overgraze, over-fence, or overbuild. Villages in the world of Ordinary are small, surrounded by enough cultivated farm and ranch land to provide the basic food, water and industrial needs of the villagers. The cultivated land is surrounded in turn by much more wild land, affording plenty of room for native plants and animals to flourish and wane with the seasons as Nature provides.
While some villagers choose to use no materials made of animal products, and some choose to eat no meat, others enjoy the bounty of husbanded flocks and herds. Children are taught almost from birth to respect and love the animals whose flesh nourishes them and skin, muscle, sinews and bone provide tools and equipment that make village life easier. All who take part in the use of animal materials and foods help with the butchering, cleaning and preparation.
To the people of Ordinary, beauty is as important as function. Materials and tools are crafted with pride and with love. So that every individual has plenty of time to pursue his or her vocation and art, all community members share village maintenance, food production, animal husbandry, and other more mundane aspects of life. No one is overtaxed with such tasks, and all are encouraged to spend the bulk of their shared time in pursuits that please them.
Women and men who love tending the soil and plants lend more of their chore time to the gardens, orchards and fields. Those who delight in working with textiles spend more time spinning, weaving and designing fabrics. Others who love to cook are most often seen in the kitchens and bakeries.
Lest anyone begin to feel their work is more important, or more difficult, than the work of another, each member of the community spends a few hours a week working alongside others in areas totally unrelated to their own specialties.
That’s why one morning we see Rose and Sena, gardeners both, sitting in the “stuffy” library helping to catalog the oral history projects of the region. Another day, we see Noah, the librarian, helping to turn the compost piles. And when it rains, the entire village drops what they are doing and heads for the hay barn, where together, in a joyful dance, they mash straw into a muddy pit. After the mud party, when the rain has stopped, some villagers will form the mud into bricks and lay them to dry in the sun. Others will cart wheelbarrows full of the mud to the location of a young couple’s new home, where skilled hands and learning, teachers and students, will work together building and shaping a graceful cob cottage for the bride and groom to be.
In this story, Ordinary is typical of, though not identical to, similar villages all over the world–villages where people choose every day to live in harmony with the Earth and each other. I invite you to join me in creating the vision, through commentary, perhaps by telling the story yourself from the perspective of another villager, and through learning with me to build a world more like Ordinary in our daily lives.
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Next: The villagers