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What Does a Sustainable, Artisan Community Look Like?


An artisan community is often described as “utopia.” Ahh, that sounds nice. Is this the home of John Gult? We can only imagine everyone working together, putting their talents to use as they are needed, living off the resources of the land.

Recently I had the opportunity to tour a real-life sustainable artisan community that was established in the late 1800s.

Here’s what I found:

1. The founder of this community initially started this community because he was passionate about writing; so he purchased a printing press to bypass the naysayers and gatekeepers of the publishing industry.

2. When they expanded and needed to build more buildings, they called on the local farmers to bring their field stones. They paid the farmers for something the farmer couldn’t use and which they repurposed into building blocks.

3. Their mottos were so profound that they were inscribed in oak doors. Three of those doors remain today.


4. When visitors flocked to see this utopian community, the artisans built an inn to accommodate their guests and generate additional income.

5. In order to furnish the inn they created a furniture-making enterprise and then began selling their furniture.

6. The mastermind behind this entire community tragically died. This wasn’t the end of the community. They carried on for another 23 years.

Have you guessed what I’m talking about?

The Roycroft Artisan Campus is located in East Aurora, NY

The Roycroft Artisan Campus is located in East Aurora, NY

Elbert Hubbard was the passionate leader behind one of America’s original sustainable, artisan communities: The Roycroft. The sculpture in the photo above was made from recycled steel from torpedos. Ironically, it was torpedos that struck the Lusitania, bringing Elbert Hubbard to his untimely death.

Walking around the campus, I could only sense what it would have been like to solve the problems of the community with hard work, creativity and a genuine sense of purpose.

How Can We Emulate a Sustainable “Community” in our Lives?

1. Be in control of your creative pursuits. These days there are plenty of independent marketplaces for our arts and crafts – from self-publishing, and Pinterest.

2. You what you have to make what you want. Upcycling underutilized furniture or obsolete baby furniture into something that functions to your current needs instead of throwing out what you have and buying more is a Reduction Rebels best example of sustainable living.

3. Display your inspirational vision boards to keep you motivated. Paint words of wisdom on your steps or on a scrap of cardboard – just make sure you consume the words and images and visualize your goals.


4. Create a sense of community among your close friends and those who think like you (ahem, Reduction Rebels). If you haven’t already, check out my post on How Friends Save You Money.

I’d love to hear how you practice sustainability in your home!

I’m Cristin Frank (AKA Eve). I love all things frugal and crafty. My mindset is always on upcycling, repurposing, reducing waste and saving money – and Eve of Reduction is my roadmap. You might also want to check out my book, "Living Simple, Free & Happy."

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