Recap: Ecovillages Lecture at Open Center

I was late in joining the drinking for Chiara’s birthday on Friday night, because I attended a lecture – EcoVillages: Where They Are, What They’re Doing, Why They’re Important. I know, NERD ALERT! But listen, the presenter, Diana Leafe Christian, was fascinating. She’s an author, speaker, workshop presenter, activist for intentional communities and all around groovy lady who lives and works (when not touring) at the Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina. She described Ecovillages as consisting of people who live together with a common goal in mind, whether that be ecological, economic, social, cultural, spiritual, environmental sustainability or all of the above.

She breezed through a plethora of slides from ecovillages all over the world, while listing off distinct (and similar) traits that defined (or connected) them all. I frantically took down notes that I felt were particularly inspiring:

Earthaven:
• Off-grid, passive solar homes (with special fridges made for off-grid), with water powered electric
• Metal roofs for water catchment, catchment tanks then gravity feed to the house(s)
• Some natural buildings, some hybrid (arguments for each)
• Some rammed earth floors – making those houses warmest in the winter, coolest in the summer
• Troughs for gray water to be naturally cleaned by organisms for use again in the home and garden
• Independent income community (not income sharing), with cottage industries on side to be hired both internally and externally
• Solar powered golfcarts (mopeds, anyone?)

Ecovillage at Ithaca
• Co-housing with common areas and optional group dinners
• Shared use of car(s)
• “Guys Baking Pies” (yearly event)

Los Angelas Ecovillage
If one woman and her followers can convince the housing dept of a major city to allow 2 adjacent apartment complexes deemed an “ecovillage” while also turning the street into a pedestrian only zone…well then the co-op with neighbors and environmental activism is just the icing on the (vegan) cake.

Dancing Rabbit (Missouri)
• Turned grain silos into cottages
• Hay bale insulation
• Make their own bio diesel fuel

Findhorn Foundation (Scotland)
• 40 off-grid house, some with green roofs
• Constructed wetlands inside a greenhouse (complete with gray water system)
• Cottages created out of whiskey barrels

Tlhogo Ecovillage (South Africa)
The Marquina Ecovillage and “El Poncho Living and Learning Center” (Bolivia)
Ecocentro IPEC (Brazil)
Diana only briefly mentioned these, but they’re all Sustainability Educational Centers, so I must do some more research on my own…

A few other ideas I jotted in the margin:
• U-pick berry farm
• Trout pond
• Mail order cottage industries
• Swales to catch water
• Voisin method for soil rotation

Crazy musings? We’ll see when I’m elbow deep in cow shit up in Redwood. Until next blog, I leave you with Jonthan Dawson’s 8 Common Characteristics for Successful Ecovillages:
1. Build low impact human settlements
2. Promote sustainable local economics (ie. alternative currency, investment opportunities, etc)
3. Grow and process own food (For own use and for commerce – either way shrinking footprint)
4. Engage in earth restoration
5. Fair Participatory Governance (ie. concensus, committees, etc)
6. Help others
7. Peace activism
8. Whole person education

Earthaven photo: gerryblog at Flickr

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6 thoughts on “Recap: Ecovillages Lecture at Open Center

  1. you should get in touch with our friend nic t. he lived “off the grid” in an earthship in new mexico and knows a lot about these sort of designs and resources. (we visited one on our honeymoon!) i’ll email the two of you to introduce?

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