The Emerald Village is the type of place that many people dream of living at. Imagine you and your 9 great friends own a lush 9-acre property. Each couple has their own modest home. Everyone works communally, helping to look after each other's kids and regular family meals. You have a built in support system and there is always someone to listen to your daily thoughts when you step outside.
To me, it's an ideal way of living. You beat loneliness because you always have friends around, but you still have your own home to retreat to when you want to be alone. I wish we had more places like this in San Diego.
The group of 10 purchased the property in 2011, but the Emerald Village's earliest inception actually came from the co-founders attending Burning Man events.
They found much inspiration at these events but felt deeply saddened at the end of the week when everything they had worked to create was torn down and/or destroyed.
They craved a space where they could live in the magic they summoned all year long. There was a lot of talk about what steps would be needed to create such a space. Studying communal living while observing the struggles that most modern-day families endure made the answer obvious: they should purchase a living space where they could exist on a creative plane together. Communal living just made sense.
And so it began. 10 people (I can't even say friends because some had never even met each other) went in on a 9 acre property, some not even seeing the property before signing the papers to purchase it.
They entered into a whirlwind contractual agreement, pretty blind and naïve to what was to come in the future. It has not been all rainbows and sunshine they admit, and it was a huge adjustment jumping into this lifestyle. They are human, after all and have their differences. There are many meetings that are held and mutual agreements must be made. Everyone is an equal ownership and therefore, all their opinions have weight.
With that aside, what they have created is nothing short of magical. They do mindful meditation, qi gong, yoga, dance and flow arts, monthly men’s and women’s groups, regular sweat lodges, gardening, public events, art and so much more.
There is a very informative documentary on the process and journey of the Emerald Village and it is quite fascinating. I love how they didn't sugar coat things. It's quite clear that it is challenging at times. I will only be summarizing here so please take the time to watch the documentary if you'd like to learn more.
History of the property: This property has quite the history, once used to entertain the Rat Pack and other celebrities in the 40's, 50's and 60's. It was owned by the socialite couple Oliver and Patti Morris, who treated the once 200 acre property not just as their home but as a gathering space as well.
Patti was in public relations, handling publicity for movie stars, news conferences for presidential candidates and galas at the Beverly Hilton Hotel during its heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In her later years when she moved to Bonsall, she was notable for stopping large developments from happening in the area which has helped to maintain the tranquil environment we still can enjoy to this day.
Oliver was a hotelier, co-owning the Bel Air Hotel, the Carlsbad Inn and the old Mira Mar Hotel and Restaurant in Oceanside. Together the two created a gorgeous life in Gopher Canyon in which the torch has now been passed on.
Personal Experience: The way it came to me visiting the Emerald Village was nothing short of amazing synchronicity. I drive by their property almost daily and always felt a pull to it. I could tell something special was hidden behind that thick brush and would always do head turns while driving by to get little glimpses inside.
But far crazier than that was one day I was talking to my doctor about my website and he recommended I check out this commune in Bonsall. He described the property and people, which got me very interested. I told him I would look them up when I got home.
No more than 30 minutes later I got an Instagram message from one of the ladies who lives at the Emerald Village, inviting me to visit their property. She had never heard of my doctor and said her reaching out to me was completely irrelevant to him. That, my friends, is synchronicity!
I actually lived on a compound myself for 4 years called Taylor Pond. One of the main differences with Taylor Pond and the Emerald Village was that there was only one person in charge at Taylor Pond. He was our landlord and what he said went. At the Emerald Village, they are all equally in charge and I feel that can create a lot more challenges. If you have too many alpha personalities, for instance, problems will definitely arise.
When I visited I got to have brunch with a bunch of the residents. We enjoyed our meals while laid out on blankets on the lawn, conversing and getting to know each other. I then got a lengthy tour of the property and even got to see inside several of the homes! What they've created here is amazing. They do hold occasional events to the public, which I highly recommend attending.
The first house we toured was Oliver and Patti's main house. I was told that celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin hung out here:
This is their children's room. The stairs lead to a 2nd cot:
One of their common rooms which I was told was used to homeschool the kids during Covid:
Another one of the homes:
We visited in the winter, but this is their almost 200-year-old wisteria vine! I would love to re-visit when it's blooming!
One of the outdoor showers and "hallway of mirrors":
The mess hall which also has a stage for musical performances:
The gorgeous indoor pool:
We attended one of their events a couple weeks later to get a flavor of what they're like. This was their holiday market and was filled with unique vendors, fresh drinks, s'mores kits, live music and more! It was so much fun!!
This was one of the lovely vendors whom we purchased a cup from!