A few months ago I wrote a poem expressing feelings of frustration towards city life, which you can read below. Most people who read it on Facebook were in agreeance with my gripes, although a few suggested my perspective was damning. A friendly stranger commented, suggesting I visit a place called Aldinga Arts Eco Village (AAEV), as it claims to be an “intentional community”, meaning it was created to bring together likeminded, community-oriented people. I liked what I saw on their website so decided to stop in on my way over to Adelaide.
Poem inspired by life in Melbourne
Tell me a place in 2018 “where good neighbours become good friends”.
And people are willing to make and keep plans, rather than say shit like, “Ahhh, it depends...”
Where can I live so I can walk to work, or ride whenever I choose?
I’m not spending two hours with my foot on the clutch, it’s something I simply refuse.
Show me a place where the trees are tall and dogs can walk off lead.
I want to see mismatched houses and old buildings covered in weed.
Tell me whose house I can visit unannounced and they’ll drop everything for a yarn.
I don’t care if it’s untidy, or the furniture’s unsightly, or they live out back in a barn.
Where can we met that’s not a cafe? Can we skip the overpriced bar?
I wanna’ go somewhere we haven’t been before, but you say you don’t want to “go too far”.
Tell me about a place that’s warm all year round, but close enough I can call Mum for free. Let’s try find a place where you can do you, and I can keep doing me.
I’ve flown thousands of miles, driven countless kilometres, only to find myself back in my ward.
I don’t know my neighbours, and it seems everyone’s wages go to food and drink they can barely afford.
I decided I liked AAEV as soon as I arrived on site and parked next to a decorated gypsy wagon (featured above). One of the locals told me it was painted by several members of the community and will become a food wagon in the future. She went on to explain there are lots of creative projects underway and offered to take me on a walking tour of the village. In short, here’s what I learnt.
- 44 km south of Adelaide, 2 km from the beach.
- Established over 15 years ago by a group of artists and permaculturists.
- A 2 minute walk from the town centre of Aldinga, which has all the standard facilities and conveniences.
- Residents are a dynamic bunch, ranging from babies to 90 year olds. Lots of creative types such as artists, builders and environmentalists. They acknowledge they must play an active role in the community for it to operate the way the founders and current residents intended. Their matched passion and dedication is what sets it apart from other villages.
- There’s a number of home cooks who offers her dishes to time-poor residents a few times a week.
- There’s an accomplished artist who facilitates group mosaic sessions to create sculptures and decorations to beautify the common areas.
- There are 180 homes and approximately 300 residents, about 70 of which are children. Most homes are owner-occupied, however there are a number of rentals and even a handful of properties on Airbnb.
- When you purchase a residential plot, you become a co-owner of approx. 5 acres of farm land. The entire community has a say it what it’s used for and who is in charge of maintaining the space. There are several voluntary committees which meet regularly to ensure projects succeed.
- Regular gatherings to cook wood fire pizzas and enjoy the open-air cinema.
- Art and construction projects involving all ages- they’re currently working on painting a mural on a shipping container.
- The knitting club makes welcome gifts for new comers.
- There’s approx. 20 acres of shared land for growing produce. For example, olives for oil, nuts, citrus trees and eggs from chickens.
- Yards have no boundaries so anyone can pick fruit and veg within reason- whoever’s tending to the plant uses signage to inform whether the fruit should be picked or left.
- Small businesses have begun operating on the front plots of land- offering Asian cuisine, coffee and vinyl records.
- Happy hour drinks are rotated between participants’ homes once a month and a resident hosts an open home to share their knowledge on sustainable practices.
- There are public library boxes scattered among the houses so residents can trade books 24/7.
- The community informally communicates through a private Facebook page. They use it to advertise goods for free/sale and organise trading.
Photos I took around the village
Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with nor a spokesperson for the community, and therefore some of information may be inaccurate. Please visit AAEV's official website for more information.