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Eco Justice Center offers inexpensive new getaway

Relax in nature for $30/night

Put down your cell phone, turn off your laptop, and escape the busyness of modern life with a night, several days or longer at an inexpensive new getaway right in Racine County.

The Dominican Sisters at the have built a new “hermitage” -- a cabin where you can sit and sleep quietly in the woods, for just $30 a night.

“Our dream is to be a place where the Racine community can gather and care for the Earth,” said Sister Janet on a warm fall day, as sunlight filtered by the trees shone brightly on the one-room cabin.

The cabin is on the sisters’ 15-acre property, just a short walk down a path from the main house and education center. Volunteers and contractors, using mostly recycled materials, built it.

The Eco-Justice Center is meant to be a place of “community, creativity, cultivation, and contemplation,” and Sister Janet hopes that overnight visitors find serenity in the woods.

“Contemplation means being still, being quiet, and spending time in nature,” she said. Even the word “hermitage” comes from the word “hermit,” she pointed out -- a person who lives alone.

Guests have included husbands and wives celebrating anniversaries, and lone travelers who want a quiet place to think and sleep.

The facility is not a glamorous, resort lodge; it’s a simple, but study National Park-style cabin without running water.

But it does have some lovely amenities -- a handmade quilt on the bed, hand-crafted black walnut flooring and countertops that were culled from a tree struck by lightning, binoculars, and a hand-turned prayer bowl. The shutters on the windows were made out of boards from an 1889 silo, and fashioned by volunteer Bill Sklba to look like quilt patterns, in honor of his wife, Clarice. There's a robin's nest in a little box near the front door.

Water for drinking and washing is kept in a large ceramic carafe on the counter, and there’s a composting toilet. Visitors who want to take a shower are welcome to use one in the main house.

Heat is provided by a little electric fireplace and baseboard heaters, and blankets and towels are stored inside an antique chest. A small hand-crafted endtable sits next to a recliner, and the other furniture was donated.

Outside the cabin, visitors are welcome to walk along the nature and deer trails into a small old growth forest. There’s a gate between the Eco-Justice Center and Cliffside Park, so those who are feeling more ambitious can head farther afield.

The Eco-Justice Center is home to chickens, alpacas, goats, and rabbits, and two recent visitors volunteered to feed the animals. Others have also helped with small projects, but that sort of thing is certainly not required. Primarily, the sisters hope that visitors rest, read, reflect, walk the labyrinth, draw, or do whatever refreshes their spirit. They can sit and watch the “graceful and beautiful alpacas,” said Sister Janet, or just look at the insects and trees, and pet the barn cats.

“We really believe that unless a person rests in nature, they won’t love it,” she said. “And if they don’t love it, they won’t save it.”

The rental fee is $30 per day. Linens, towels, dishes and cooking utensils are provided. Guests bring their own food. For more information or to make reservations call 262-681-8527.

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