"Do not be afraid to build castles in the sky. That is where they belong. But once the dreams are in place, your job is to build the foundation under them."
— Henry David Thoreau
Round River is a small group of friends working toward forming a community of neighbors (approximately 20-30 adults and children or 8-9 households) on a remote eighty acre parcel of land on the Kuskokwim river in Alaska's interior wilderness. To that end we are offering prospective members, after a mutual trial period of one full year, a one to two acre parcel of land with a fifty year renewable lease, at a cost of one dollar per year. Our dream is a community of cooperating neighbors living as self-sufficiently and sustainably as possible, in mutually beneficial relationship with each other and the land which nurtures us.
For more than ninety nine percent of our species existence we humans lived in the wilderness. Through this two and a half million year evolutionary history we became genetically, hence morphologically, psychologically, and spiritually adapted to living there. To wit, hands are far more suited to grasping tree limbs and tools than shuffling paper. The mind is more suited to the variety and heterogeneity of days, seasons, temperatures, light, and darkness. The stomach meant to eat a variety of unsullied foods, differing in different seasons. The feet meant to walk on soft earth instead of concrete. The lungs meant to breathe clean air. The body meant to exercise as a consequence of doing useful physical work. That is our genome. Wilderness is in our bones.
But by our natures we humans are also gregarious beings. We could not have come this far in our evolutionary journey alone. Today most of our relations with each other are based on individualism and competition rather than community and cooperation. Individualism and competition are touted as the very hallmarks of freedom, but what kind of freedom is it where our only choice of livelihood is within the context of an industrial/consumer culture over which we have little control. In such a culture we are not free but dependent. We are unable to produce most of the basic necessities of life - food, water, shelter, heat, clothing - ourselves. We rely on specialists to manufacture these necessities for us, having neither the time, the skills, nor the wherewithal to produce them ourselves. It is a way of life in which we are perpetually vulnerable to manipulation by those who view us, not as persons, but as economic objects. It is a way of life in which we lose the trust of our fellow human beings. Further, by living within an industrial/consumer culture we alienate ourselves from the natural world, the very world which nurtures us and has given us being. By losing this intimacy with nature, our understanding, compassion, and responsibility for the life we do not see withers. At Round River Community we believe that small scale cooperative living in the natural world is a happier, healthier, and ecologically saner alternative to the industrial/consumer society. Our purpose here is to offer individuals and families the opportunity to be as self sufficient as anyone can be in North America. With little cost but one's own labor, the necessities of life - food, water, shelter, and warmth - can come from the surrounding land. That is true freedom. Ultimately, as our community skills grow, we intend to supplant dependence fostering high technology with independence supporting simple technology such as hand tools instead of machinery. The Amish are a good example of how forswearing a little technology fosters kinship and cooperation.
The wilderness in which we live here in Alaska is what the rest of the earth must have been like before progress devoured it. The rivers still teem with fish, the skies with birds, the forests remain unlogged, the soil, water, and air unpolluted, and the woods abound in living creatures great and small. We intend to nurture in ourselves and our children a love of this land so that we might pass on values of ecologic responsibility, right livelihood, cooperation, and self sufficiency to future generations.