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Orange Twin Conservation Community

February 24, 2010

I spent yesterday afternoon at Orange Twin, the conservation community a few miles north. Currently, it’s a single house with four human and three canine occupants, a few dozen chickens, a duck, and about 150 acres of woods (approximately 100 of which have a conservation easement on them). Laura Carter (Elf Power) took me on a tour of the grounds and told me all about the plans to erect a sustainable, cooperative housing community on the property.

The weather in Athens has been a bit fickle, but my tour took place during the shank of a beautiful day. I could not have asked for better weather, especially in February. Though my conversation with Laura was off the record, I was able to snap a bunch of pictures.

These old-fashioned gas pumps were the first thing I saw upon driving onto the Orange Twin grounds. The property has tons of things like these.

Soon after I arrived, Laura showed up in a pickup truck that belongs to another woman that lives at Orange Twin. Laura was spending the day driving back and forth to the house she rents in town; on this trip, she brought back trash cans, paint, chairs and various farming tools.

Near the house, there are a few different tent-like structures, housing bikes, tools or just trash.

Here are a few more of their vehicles.

Like any farm, Orange Twin is populated by plenty of animals. This is Fatty, Laura's old dog.

These are Gertrude and Alice, Laura's much younger dogs.

This is allegedly a duck, as its beak and webbed feet would seem to imply. But the rest of it looks like a chicken, and it's completely afraid of water. If it doesn't look like a duck, and it doesn't act like a duck...

These chickens are more secure about their identity.

Thus began my tour. On the left are generators and on the right, various "building materials" that are accumulating.

This is apparently a relic from the property's days as a Girl Scout camp.

Deeper into the woods is a serene little waterfall and swimming hole.

Deeper still, near the center of the property, is a pavilion with a hammock, a piano and a fireplace.

On the way back, we passed a makeshift amphitheater, where Orange Twin hosts shows (infrequently, given the hike it takes for bands and spectators to get out here).

Finally, we return to the Orange Twin house.

Here's another shot of the main house, this time from the front, as I was leaving.

What these pictures belie is just how big this place is. We spent a solid hour or two hiking around in the woods, and we only made it to around the halfway point. It took a lot of work for them to get Orange Twin to the state it’s in now, and given the ambitions they have for the future, they’ve got a lot more work ahead. And while they’re still just ambitions for the most part — including homes and wells and all sorts of off-the-grid amenities — there are much worse things toward which people can aspire.

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