John Yu, Robin Perkins, and Tao Weilundemo (l-r) stand on the porch of the crumbling cabin where Weilundemo was born. In 2008, Weilundemo returned to rural Missouri to revive the long-abandoned Maya Creek commune that he lived in as a young child.
Tao Weilundemo salts the hide of deer that he shot that morning. After four years back at Maya Creek, this was the first deer that Weilundemo had shot.
John Yu and Robin Perkins ride in the back of the truck along the boundary of the Maya Creek property. In the northern reaches of the Ozarks, the commune is neighbored by small farms, homes, and patches of forest.
Tao Weilundemo rests for a moment while shoveling. When he first moved back to Maya Creek, Weilundemo lived in the garden’s homemade tipi, draped in old billboard tarps.
Tao Weilundemo holds up the head of the deer that he shot earlier in the morning while discussing possible uses for the brain. Residents and visitors at Maya Creek are learning as they go when it comes to life off the grid.
John Yu, left, shows Robin Perkins the small collection of solar panels during Perkins visit to Maya Creek. The original residents left the area in the 1980’s when the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant was built nearby.
Tao Weilundemo changes the music playing from his computer after dinner. While Maya Creek is separated from the outside world in many ways, the common kitchen area is equipped with solar powered wifi and Weilundemo continues to work as a web designer.
Tao Weilundemo and his dog Kita walk pass the duplex, the newest structure at Maya Creek. For much of the year, only three people live at Maya Creek, but residents hope to grow into a larger community in coming years.