Common Ground Ecovillage has a strong core of committed members who are giving of their time, talent, and resources to building a community together. We are a growing group of individuals and families from the Triangle area, ranging in age from 20’s to 70’s. Except for a few retirees, we have middle-class jobs in the area as teachers, farmers, business managers, computer technicians, artists, musicians, and more. Here are some of our members:
I am a professor at a university in North Carolina (hint: think red), and think a lot about the socialization processes embedded in families and cultures (including those created by geography, ethnicity, or oppression). I am also very interested in the socialization of gender, and have heated but happy arguments with the more biologically-based family members about gender differences. I also have thought deeply about issues related to race for a long time, and have been able to investigate social and racial justice issues in my research. I work a lot (all right, my family might say all the time), and when not working (which I consider proof that I don’t work all the time), I am equally busy: gardening; fooling around with the cats, chickens, children; exercising in the form of yoga or hiking; or trying to create social change. Common Ground Ecovillage is creating a vision I am passionate about, and from which I have learned a lot – including many cooperative living skills which have benefited my family and my workplace and farming and forestry skills—I have a lot to learn and I love how this community continues to teach and inspire me.
Planning, Design, and Development Circle Operational Leader According to Wikipedia, I am “an American philosopher, teacher, and writer, author of widely used primers in critical thinking and ethical practice and [have] written a variety of unconventional books and essays on philosophical topics”, though apparently my thinking is also too wide-ranging and practical! I am companion of Amy and father of our two lovely and adventurous children; a carpenter and mason thanks to building from an early age with my architect father and jack-of-all-trades grandfather, both of whom also had longtime associations with Frank Lloyd Wright; a musician (vocal a capella groups mostly), avid backpacker and wilderness lover, chess player, watercolorist (thanks to my mother) and nature journalist, and urban gardener. I am the current record-holder for the number of nights camped out on the land.
Being the best mother I can be to this little guy entrusted in my care lead me to Common Ground. I believe it takes a village not only to rear children, but also to create substantial change that our society and planet will need to thrive toward our fullest potential. Each moment we spend with the people involved in this community and each task we complete help us to grow just a bit stronger in some way. Every step in my past from earning a BA in Motion Picture Production at Brooks Institute of Photography to studying Global Sustainability at UCLA and managing real estate investment properties has lead me here, with a burning desire to work passionately toward a better future for our children. I most specifically see that happening by reconnecting with the environment and our food. I am wholeheartedly inspired by this communities work in collaborative skills and conflict resolution tools. We look forward to living in a manner that most reflects our life’s mission here at Common Ground Ecovillage!
I am captivated by the natural world and its landscapes. Growing up in Northern Spain I was able to spend countless hours hiking mountains, meadows, and valleys. As a young adult, I spent a year living in a spiritual/ agrarian community and later devoted time and energy to another community. Both experiences created happy and fulfilling memories and showed me the amazing process of working and sharing life with people, seeing the trees and plants growing, participating in the multiple activities and human gatherings along with the constant evolution of the community itself.
Most recently, living in the suburbs of a big city the longing for a more meaningful and embracing lifestyle began, and so did the search for a community. After lengthy research of listings in the Intentional Communities website, my partner and I decided to make several visits to Common Ground Ecovillage and began getting to know the members. I am fascinated with the potential of this community and I am experiencing inspired and enthusiastic growth since we moved to North Carolina. It’s exciting to be a part of a cooperative, constructive, and brave future that requires tenacious effort to maintain our ties and connection with our Mother Earth Planet and its sentient beings. CGEV possesses the understanding, interest, and smart approach to becoming a lighthouse for healthy living in the North Carolina landscape.
I am a pioneering member of the Common Ground community inspired by creating a human world that belongs to the earth rather than the other way around. I have been nurturing an interest in living in intentional community for decades that received a revival when I met my current partner, Paul, 30 years ago. I set out to bring dedication, commitment, and love to the grand vision of CGEV while watering the tendrils of elderhood that offer support and guidance to the burgeoning community. I am vested in the governance and training circle and encourage myself and others to let go of ways of being that want to push, control, judge or inflict “power over” rather than “power with” dynamics. We must invite creativity, collaboration, and acceptance of change as the only constant to our work in community. Being in and among the land is what brings me life as I find deep nourishment in foraging, straying off path, and “liberating the spicebushes” thereby restoring the ecosystem here to a more native condition. I hope to continue exploring the uncharted pieces of our land and learning more about the other “queendoms” of flora and fauna that reside here.
Land Stewardship Circle Operational Leader I grew up in the relative seclusion of the woods of the rural Georgia piedmont. From as early as I can remember, my primary passion other than being outdoors was school, especially science. I followed that passion to an enjoyable career in neuroscience research. Since retiring from that endeavor I have taken up a second career in market farming and returned to the woods. What attracts me to Common Ground Ecovillage is its lovely piece of land and its core agrarian mission. I have been a member of Common Ground since 2015, and along with my wife Margret, are now farming a portion of the Common Ground land.
John enjoys spending time with his grandchildren. He is a photo enthusiast, and likes outdoor activities including biking. He works as a clinical social worker at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham. He lives with his wife, Maria Teresa.
The search for intentional community came from wanting to fulfill a way of living I had enjoyed for short periods. Gonzalo, my partner, found the CGEV website while we were living in Florida. The principles and intentions really caught my attention. They upheld the ideals I value and am trying to live by. Growing up biracial (Korean & White) I felt like I had to work extra hard to be accepted. In community I can offer my talents and let go of the fear of not being good at everything. We’re coming from such different experiences, orientations and filters. The work of weaving these together to make something alive & beautiful is art. It’s the art that thrills me.
Planning, Design, and Development Elected Representative With a varied background in landscape architecture, construction, business and nonprofit management, Katy is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to creating communities which integrate low-impact development with restorative agriculture and land conservation. She grew up as a “free-range” child on a small 100-acre farm near Atlanta, GA learning skills such as gardening, canning, animal husbandry, butchering (chickens), sewing, basic mechanics, and carpentry from her grandparents. Katy holds a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia, and has previously held professional licenses in real estate and commercial construction. She has worked as a civil engineering technician, onsite construction superintendent for multifamily communities, and senior VP for a national real estate development firm. In the latter role, she was responsible for pre-development activities including land acquisition, feasibility, permitting, rezoning, and coordination of design professionals. She co-founded and managed a Raleigh-based software company with her husband for almost 10 years, which was named as one of the Triangle’s “Fast 50” fastest growing private companies. After that, Katy served as statewide outreach coordinator for the NC Solar Center (now the NC Clean Energy Technology Center) at NCSU, and later as executive director for Sustainable North Carolina.
I moved to Chapel Hill from NYC in 1983 and have lived more than half of my life in North Carolina. In my adopted home I raised a son and lost a marriage. I have had the privilege of getting to know many older adults through my work as a social worker with the Orange County Dept. on Aging. Visiting in their homes and listing to their stories helps me feel rooted in Orange County. Some of what gives me energy is making music (mostly singing with others), observing nature, being courageous in relationships, and listening. The Common Ground Ecovillage circle meetings, structured by Sociocracy, are teaching me the joys of simply listening to others.
I have been involved in Common Ground Ecovillage since 2015, when my husband Jeffry and I were given a tour of the land and fell in love with it. From the beginning I have been involved with the Land Stewardship Circle; for four of those years serving as the circle’s Elected Representative. This has kept me connected with all things land-related, both the good (foraging, trail work, our flora and fauna…) and the less good (exotic invasives, trash clean-up, vegetable crop pests…). Since 2017 I have been very busy farming on the land, alongside Jeffry, other farmer- members, farmers-to-be, and volunteers. This has proved to be the single most important catalyst for deepening my connection to and gratitude for our land, the people of this community, and the food I eat.
I have had a lifelong interest in participating in and painting the natural world, and consider myself an amateur naturalist, careful observer, and botanical fine artist. I fantasize that someday I will have enough free time to create a series of watercolors documenting this bountiful, beautiful piece of unpaved paradise.
Maria Teresa G.
Maria Teresa, together with husband John W., moved to Durham from Omaha in 2015. She enjoys creative ventures of many kinds and outdoor adventures in the beauty of North Carolina. She is grateful for three great sons and being close to one, Felipe, and his wife Casey and their two children, Micaela and Theo. Originally from Cuba, Maria Teresa has enjoyed getting to know some others in the Latino community and volunteering with the Faith ID program. She is an industrial/organizational psychologist and serves as the director of Foundations of Christian Leadership at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School.
I see Common Ground as part of a bigger movement happening around the globe of people returning to land-based ways of living and being which I believe are the antidote to the ecological and social crises we are all facing. Drawing on my roots as the daughter of political activists growing up in New York City, I have a strong desire to be engaged in community and contribute meaningfully and ethically. I have been captivated by people living together in common since grade school, and even though I am quite introverted and sometimes prefer the company of other-than-human companions (namely the feline variety) I find joy in the thought of living nearby friends and being so close to the farm. Regularly lending a hand on the farm has taught me that you don’t have to be strong, you just have to be consistent. Age has not been a barrier to my contribution and connection to the land at CGEV and the beauty of community is that there is always something you can do and contribute. I hold a vision for every member of Common Ground to get their hands in the rich soil to see for themselves how nurturing and miraculous it is.
From a modest upbringing that instilled a strong work ethic, independence, and resilience (but, sadly, not a good sense of life-purpose early on), I now find myself in later years inspired to break through the “old story” of bootstrapping independence into the new story of interdependence with one another and with our, perhaps irreparably damaged, planet. I feel a strong and uncommon belonging to Common Ground, and I participate with immense joy and purpose in our vision of reunion with each other and with the non-human elements of a sorely injured and hurting natural world – all the while constructing a space to hold our collective failings, too. I so wish to help further accountability regarding our shared values and to see the inspiring aspirations of this community come truly into being – or Interbeing, to borrow from Thich Nhat Hanh.
I feel a deep sense of obligation to keep the CGEV dream alive from an inner place of joy and purpose. One of my favorite things is to give tours of our land to potential new members and enjoy the opportunity to observe the place I love so dearly through new eyes with each such visit. I am inspired – indeed, driven – to continue the work of this project for the benefit of generations to come to set the world on a course to a better (well… for now, I’ll settle for not-worse) place. It’s a massive undertaking and doesn’t leave much room for just waiting and hoping, so I’m in it for the sustained long-haul work of genuine social transformation.
Randy’s lived locally since the late 1960s which includes residing in a cohousing community for 23 years. He currently works in local government where he has enjoyed being involved in projects about local creeks, climate resilience and action, and other eco/environmental initiatives. Some interests/hobbies include: permaculture; natural building; beekeeping; local food; renewable energy; alternative transportation (meaning alternatives to fossil fuels, and driving); appropriate gadgets and gizmos (solar ovens, portable chicken coops, wood fired hot tubs, solar dehydrators, bike blenders…..); sharing stuff, responsibilities, decisions, and life in general; singing; and alternatives to power over, winner/loser, plutocratic, and hypertechnocratic paradigms. He’s been involved with Common Ground since the spring of 2014, with a few highlights being: building a little cob hut; beekeeping; care of the forest (aka, the “Wood Wide Web” project); making a short video; and serving initially on the PDD circle and more recently on the Land Stewardship Circle.
Rita currently resides in Raleigh with two great housemates. She’s been involved in Common Ground Ecovillage since 2013 and finds it a fulfilling way to spend her time. Having felt for a while more a consumer than a producer, she’s interested in creating a way of life that improves the world. Other things she enjoys doing are playing board games with her boyfriend, and spending time with her parents and their chocolate lab.
Although I am a fairly new member of Common Ground I have jumped in with both feet as I am often energized by leaping into change. I am a climate refugee from the wildfires of the west coast although I originally herald from rural Michigan as a one of 7 siblings. Those early years planted the seeds of living in an agrarian community since we had a small house; I became skilled at shared living and spent most of my time outside in the forest and at home in the natural world. Now more than ever as we face ecological crisis, I am passionate about cultivating deeper relationship with the earth and each other to create a more healing and restorative ecosystem for us to thrive in.
I have spent many years planning and creating intentional communities sparked in part by the desire to embark on the journey of motherhood yet realizing how isolating the nuclear family model is. Being a parent is one of the most beautiful and challenging parts of who I am. I live into a loving reciprocity with life and enjoy being of service and sharing my rich spirituality. I am a deep and expressive communicator and skilled conflict mediator of 30 years. I cherish bringing aliveness, intimacy, and play to this community and I am often dancing, singing, or creating magic in the kitchen.