About Stelle Community PDF Nyomtat Email
Írta: Stelle Community Association   
2009 május 17., vasárnap 12:19

Stelle (rhymes with bell) is a small community located amid the cornfields of northeast Illinois. Currently comprised of 44 households, the community was founded in 1973 by The Stelle Group, a small not-for-profit organization, in order to create a supportive environment where individual human development would be a foremost priority. During the early building of Stelle, when it was a private community, values such as personal responsibility, lifelong education, positive attitude, cooperation and democracy were sown. These early values continue to influence the way of life in Stelle and, as elements of its rich and unique heritage, remain a vital part of the community's identity.

A common theme of sustainability demonstrates itself through renewable energy applications as well as organic gardening and landscaping activities. Located halfway between Chicago and Champaign, Illinois, Stelle is virtually crime-free. Parents take full responsibility for raising their children, however, they receive much support from other community members. Children play and learn in an atmosphere of protected freedom. The shared focus on healthy human development creates the sense of belonging to an extended family.

Today no single organization oversees all aspects of community life... instead, different groups play various roles. The Stelle Community Association (SCA), which hosts this website, the Center for Sustainable Community (CSC), and numerous community cooperatives. The Stelle Group was founded in 1963 based on the book "The Ultimate Frontier" by Richard Kieninger (under the pen name Eklal Kueshana). It was responsible for building the community and establishing many of the values which still impress visitors to Stelle. The Stelle Group was disolved in 2006. The SCA, comprised of homeowners and tenants, is the governing body of the community. Involvement of all community members in this democratic body is encouraged but not required. The Center for Sustainable Community promotes the community through a yearly Earth Day open house in the spring and a yearly Solar Tour in October, as well as through other events and workshops. Midwest Permaculture is headquartered in Stelle.

Emphasis on self-reliance and self-sufficiency manifests through community ownership and operation of water and sewage treatment plants as well as The Stelle Telephone Company, America's first completely solar powered telephone mutual. The community water treatment plant is powered in part with electricity from a wind generator. Many homes utilize solar panels, and Stelle is the home for the Midwest sales office of SunWize Technologies a solar power manufacturer.

Self-reliance and self-sufficiency also manifest through numerous cooperatives, including a parent operated early learning Co-op known as The Learning Circle, a community Garden co-op, a Monday night dinner co-op, and a tool co-op. Cooperative living rather than communal living describes the community essence and this approach has birthed a unique set of community traditions. While cooperative spirit abounds, Stelle also is a place for pioneering individuals. All of the community's homes are privately owned. Residents support themselves in a variety of pursuits. This includes privately owned businesses located inside as well as outside the community. Some residents travel outside the community for employment.

There is widespread interest in holistic, preventive health practices. Homeopathy, nutrition, kinesiology, herbology, mental and emotional balancing, and physical fitness are popular in Stelle. Common activities such as organic gardening, shared meals, meditation, food preservation, and community beautification emerge from a shared respect for life. Stelle holds the distinction as the second smallest community to receive the Tree City Award from the National Arbor Day Foundation.


Cooperative efforts are more the norm than the exception in the Stelle community. Experience has shown that activities which incorporate a shared vision, pursued in a cooperative spirit, have increased chance of success and longevity.

Cooperative activities currently existing in Stelle are: A community garden co-op, a tool co-op, a Monday night dinner co-op and a Chicken co-op.

Stelle members also interact through frequent lunches, brunches, and dinners prepared by the community's many cooks. Shared activities include childcare, beautification projects, shopping, meal preparation for others during times of illness or childbirth, as well as making baby and wedding quilts (click here to see examples of some baby quilts displayed in the community center). Stelle residents also enjoy a number of unique traditions.

Our experience with cooperative efforts seems to show that less structure is better. We seem to work best together if the structure (rules and conventions of an organization) develops after the energy of the group has been brought together for a common cause. With this approach individuals are free to involve themselves in whatever manner they choose.

Garden Co-op

The Garden Co-op provides an enjoyable opportunity for exploring our sense of community while 'playing' with something we all love - FOOD. Besides providing wholesome sustenance for the body, this activity offers an opportunity to create together in a useful, unrestricted manner.

The basic operating principle is that anyone interested can become involved in the garden co-op at whatever level they wish. Harvests are shared during the growing season. Any food beyond what the membership can use is made available to non co-op members. Members choose which crops they will take stewardship over (grow for the general membership.) There is a common garden bed by the community pond open to the membership for planting. Some members have partitioned off part of their personal gardens for general co-op usage. Members are free to harvest from any area designated as a common bed, including the areas partitioned in the private gardens. Keeping the organizational structure loose allows members to engage in activities to which they are most attracted. We have found that some members prefer to plant while others prefer to harvest and still others prefer to preserve. Some members enjoy all activities. Members come together in small groups, as time and desire permits to perform the various tasks needed in a gardening project. Occasionally we all meet for a meal prepared from our garden produce (as much as possible). The growing season normally culminates with a fall harvest potluck dinner. Visitors are always welcome. Come by some time for a 'taste' of this activity.

Tool Co-op

Over the years, some residents have chosen to share tools in an effort to save money. Begun many years ago as a lawn mower co-op, the tool co-op has expanded to include a presser washer, a log splitter, a snow blower, a chain saw, a table saw, garden carts and many hand and power tools. Imagine having access to all these tools at a minimal per year cost. Another plus is that the tool co-op is located in the garage of the Center for Sustainable Community, which means members have a place to work without needing to use storage or work space in their own homes. Donate tools and become an automatic lifetime member - another small step in cooperation, simplification, and prudent use of resources.

Monday Night Dinner Co-op

Stelle has a Monday night dinner co-op where members partake of a shared dinner in the Community Center every Monday evening. Each week a different member is responsible to cook for the entire group. With approximately 20 members, each member can enjoy a delicious meal and conversation while only needing to cook a couple times per year. It is a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends and neighbors.

Utolsó frissítés: 2009 május 17., vasárnap 20:56
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