Several years before my retirement, I found myself investigating intentional communities in North Carolina. When my partner, Bob, read about Echo Hills and then visited in October of 2013, we began to consider what it would mean to move into a developing community. Despite obvious challenges that we would face, what we were drawn to was the group of people that we met when we visited for a weekend retreat in 2014. By spending time with this group of people over the course of 2 days, we were even more drawn to this community because of the comfort level that was established by sharing our stories and our dreams for the future. Essentially, the relationship building that was initiated would be the foundation of the community, which we came to realize was just as important as the physical construction process.
As we inched closer to the decision to build at Echo Hills, we were still full of questions, but with each wave of hesitation, we skyped with the developers, Ron and Laurie, and our fears were allayed. The big move to Asheville happened in the summer of 2015, when we pulled our 1985 RV into the driveway and began to watch the foundation and walls appear. As I sit here in January amid paint chips and countertop options, I am amazed at how far we have come and how smoothly the building has progressed. Our involvement on a daily basis has been facilitated by living at the site, first in the RV and then later in a room in the shared house on the property. Communication with the developer, the carpenter, and with each of the contractors has enhanced my understanding and appreciation of how complex the building of a home within a new development can be.
There are still many more details to be ironed out both for the house and for the overall development and at each juncture, questions arise and possibilities are discussed. We meet with community members on a weekly basis at Qi Gong and meditation practice and also meet periodically to discuss overall community concerns and plans for group projects.
Admittedly, moving to Echo Hills to build was a leap of faith, but my experience has taught me that what has been just as important as the house arising is the relationship building that has evolved over the course of these 2 years. I have learned a great deal about myself and have come to depend on the ease of communication with all of the community members, but in particular with Ron and Laurie with whom we have shared common space and meals and game playing and occasional colds. Without this connection I would not be as comfortable and positive about what lies ahead as I am right now, even amid the snowy blizzard that is blanketing our region at this moment. I am anxious to see the community grow as new members join our adventure, even if it is just to meet people who might or might not decide to build here.
I realize that I was fortunate to have been able to start building because I had already sold my house in Philadelphia, and I do hope that others will have the same opportunity, whether it is here or in another setting. I have learned that any development, large or small, with tiny homes or medium size homes or large homes will take patience and dedication and that not all of my questions could be answered in advance. Without Ron and Laurie’s experience and expertise as they managed the process of utility development and road construction and permitting and endless bureaucratic and legal barriers, Echo Hills would not be the haven I will enjoy for many years to come. I feel confident that what I have been offered is a good value as well as a very efficient and sustainable place to play and work and laugh among friends.
My gratitude for all of the players in this scenario is monumental – from the sellers of property to the idea creators to the investors to the craftsmen to the professionals and especially to each
and every individual I have encountered. Echo Hills is a work in progress and I feel blessed to have landed in this little corner of the world as new life and relationships and adventures unfold.