Is There a Better Way to Live? The Campbells on Are a Journey to Find Out

We’re delighted to be partnering with The Campbell family on their journey to discover whether there is a better way to live.  We will be bringing regular updates on their discoveries and learning from communal living from around the world.  Enjoy the first words and video from Campo and this family….

Human beings are inherently social and collectivist. For hundreds of thousands of years we lived in tribes, we shared resources, we believed that safety, prosperity and happiness were best achieved together. And yet as society has supposedly developed we seem to become increasingly isolated. Our homes have become our castles and those castles have walls and gates. Technology should be connecting us and yet more people than ever are suffering with mental health issues and feeling increasingly lonely. Not least the young.

We are setting out to explore whether there is a better way to live our lives. I’m writing this column from the amazing La Eco Villa community in Costa Rica. Our second stop in our global tour of research. As a film maker I will be documenting our journey as we discover the good, the bad and the ugly of communal living around the world.

Our idea is to take all our learning from our year away to then implement into our very own intentional living community back in Henley. An intentional community is a planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The purposes of intentional communities vary in different communities. They may include sharing resources, creating family orientated neighbourhoods and living ecologically sustainable lives, such as eco villages. We will be visiting a variety of different communities to help us build a community with the best chance of long term success in Henley.

Our first community residency was at the award winning Marmalade Lane in Cambridge for 3 weeks. We were staying in 2 of the guest rooms of the communal house. It was rather a squeeze for 5 of us but the communal facilities were extraordinary. We had shared communal meals alongside other residents, we used communal bikes to cycle into the city, and the children had a whole tribe of community kids to play with. The communal kitchen, that we were using only allowed vegetarian food to be prepared and so we embraced a vegetarian diet. No bad thing and unexpectedly delicious. The Marmalade Lane community was made up of 42 dwellings from houses to apartments and was truly multi-generational. (The size of the community in terms of dwellings is something shared with La Ecovilla here in Costa Rica.) Everyone was very welcoming but in all honesty it was tough being on constant display as a family because we had no personal space other than our rather small bedrooms. An interesting lesson into the value of personal space. That said there was a genuine sense of fellowship and extended family at Marmalade Lane which is difficult to put a value on.

Our first week and a bit in Costa Rica has been an assault on the senses. England in November and the tropics in November are very different. Adjusting to our beautiful new jungle home has been incredible. We have our own house here in La Ecovilla, so that’s a huge point of difference between our experience here and at Marmalade Lane. I have to say it’s made life an awful lot easier and less pressurised. We’ve had such a warm welcome here and the kids have just started 3 weeks at the local jungle school Casa Sula. Watching the children connect with nature in such a visceral way has been beautiful to witness. We had breakfast with a pair of toucans this morning whilst an iguana caught some morning rays. We’re really looking forward to sharing our learning with you over the course of the next 10 months via this column. A massive thank you to the column sponsor The Children’s Shop. They share in our vision of a more sustainable future and champion ethnical and sustainable independent brands. It’s amazing to have a brilliant local business supporting our mission. If you’d like to know more about our mission we have a website Until next week goodbye from Costa Rica. And as they say out here ‘Pura Vida’ 🙏

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