Common problems and hopes for a common solution brought five families together in 1987. They purchased five acres of spruce forest on the Kenai Peninsula in South-Central Alaska and Ionia had its beginning. The founders came from different geographic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as different kinds of internal hardships and behavioral dysfunction. Through a process of trial and error, the families realized that individuals, families and communities are truly interdependent; that in order to sustainably change one thing, they had to change almost everything; and, that it is impossible to create change without embodying it. This kind of thinking has led to Ionia’s endurance.
The founding families were in the cold, poor of spirit and hungry for an optimistic direction. Separately, we found our way to simple macrobiotic food and common sense. By gathering, we were able to add the time necessary for real change and recovery.
Growing up at Ionia, the second generation has taken the tools of food, thought and gathering into renewable energy, outreach and a huge reservoir of social capital. Ionia’s future is the same as everyone else’s, except that two decades ago Ionians were under enough pressure to catch a wave of change – and now, Ionia has the shared multi-generational experience to demonstrate and inspire others who also need practical tools and hope.
Our community sets a precedent for walking into daunting challenges. That precedent, no matter how obscure or remote, can tip the scale toward positive change. The Ionian environment creates health which replaces indulgences and livability which resolves conflict. The Ionian experience of interconnection supersedes the pursuit of materialism. Ionia can help by reducing commonplace stigma toward the very young and the very old; toward mental illness, addiction, poverty and the unemployed.
Ionians recognize that the world today is filled with paradox. For example, individuals and countries go to war in order to achieve peace… pro-life versus pro-choice… liberal versus conservative… personal freedom at the expense of social consciousness. Ionians explore the subtle accuracies that lie within and in-between paradox. By winding down the pendulum of opposing forces, they become subtle and complimentary. It is in this direction that Ionians find both the livability of their community and the adventure of the future.
Ionia goes out of its way to make a safe, macrobiotic environment in which the children, families and community grow. We incorporate children into our daily activities, working with toddlers on our laps and babies on our backs. Parents are given the support and the time they need to take care of themselves, their pregnancies and their little ones. Ionia now has three generations. Young people raised in Ionia travel widely, absorbing cultures all over the world. Some settle elsewhere for long periods of time. Most spiral around toward rediscovering the Ionian dream. New young families, including many second generation Ionians, are now forging out the way of life at Ionia, shoulder to shoulder with the founders.