Eco-friendly, self-sufficient, and off the beaten track – these types of communities have always fascinated me. What do they do? What do they eat? How do they get along? And, more importantly, could I do it?
This subterranean lodging (above) and the beautiful wisteria-covered Douglas Farm (below) are two of the unique dwellings built by islanders and run completely self-sufficiently that have truly piqued my interest this week.
I stumbled across the seemingly ‘modern’ concept of Lasqueti Island via The Mind Unleashed – an island just on the west coast of Canada where people live completely off the land, surrounded by nothing but water, and with no electricity for modern cons bar that which they generate through wholly natural and sustainable means.
The people of Lasqueti live out what seems an enviously blissful and simple life, on an island that is barely 12 miles long and 3 miles wide, ‘about the same size and shape as Manhattan’.
Let’s just take a minute to take this in folks. This is where they are:
And this is where they are on a global scale:
That’s a pretty amazing place to create a civilisation. Although, it is not ‘civilisation’ as we know it. There are no mobile phones on Lasqueti. There are no flushing toilets. There is no ‘economy’. There is no public transport system. Yet something about it seems tantalisingly attractive – and no wonder. Here is a little piece about life on the island that was borrowed from their website:
“Lasqueti is the place where the conversation is more likely to be about solar panels or composting toilets than about microwaves or toasters… Nobody can work a five-day week away from home because it takes three days’ work just to survive — to cut firewood, to maintain power, water, and waste systems, to work in your garden to produce your food.”
With only 400 people on the island, and no inclination to build the kind of technological minefield we have created for ourselves here on the ‘mainland’, you might assume that life gets claustrophobic, that people miss their modern amenities, their families and their ‘home’. But life on the island continues to burgeon, and creativity continues to thrive – it just goes in a more eco- and environmentally-friendly direction.
“[Lasqueti is] an island of individuals, with poets, artists, physicists, fishermen, loggers, tree planters, designers, professional musicians, published authors, some small scale manufacturers, some commercial agriculture, mariculture as well as professional consultants in education, engineering, forestry and alternate energy make up a population that Statistics Canada says is the most highly educated community in British Columbia.”
There is a Farmer’s Market every Saturday, where local people sell their produce and music is played. Wood carvings, in the form of spoons, ladles and salad bowls, and organic food such as fresh eggs, meat and vegetables, are all laid on the tables for fellow islanders to browse.
Perhaps what is most intriguing is the way in which people live, the very buildings and creations they inhabit. As Kirsten Cowart, writer on ‘The Mind Unleashed’, states:
“The island…features one cafe and one bar. They have also set up a free storage location where people can use the items there without any monetary exchange. They have truly learned how to share.”
However, I am not trying to paint this as some pastoral idyll. Obviously life on the island is not always going to be easy, nor is it going to be comfortable, and you are definitely going to have to come to terms with some of the human body’s less ‘refined’ instincts which the modern world has taught us to ignore. But this is of course dealt with the most honest, if nose-wrinkling, way possible – with ‘Shyte Regulations’, ‘Septic Fields’ and of course, the all-important, ‘Composting Toilet’.
Shyte Regulations aside, few can deny the islanders’ naturally high quality of life – and by ‘natural’ I mean ‘at one’ and ‘in conjunction with’ Nature.
It is a beautiful thought. I believe that many people often think, but will not say, ‘perhaps this is how it should be’, ‘perhaps this how it should always have been’. Perhaps the Lasqueti islanders hold a secret that we don’t. A secret that unleashes the modern world from its less ‘green’ constraints and brings them once again into harmony with Nature.
One can only hope.
Until next time…
You can visit Lasqueti by ferry. Ferry times and prices are below: