"Are you hippie proof?" Get Down at the Laytonville, CA EcoVillage!
Submitted by Willi on Mon, 30 Nov 2009 - 21:53
Laytonville, CA's EcoVillage
Latyonville has a new ecovillage! The Laytonville Ecovillage is just a mile out of town, walking distance to local schools and stores, and is surrounded by a beautiful mixed conifer forest. It fulfills the intent of the county's general plan to promote Laytonville as a sustainable and livable community, create housing closer to the town center, and encourage the use of green building practices* You're invited to join our working group and help us co-create an ecovillage!
An ecovillage is the intersection of community and sustainability. It's a place where people can live a green lifestyle and share an intentional community. Sound like a 60's pipe dream? Hardly! There are many well-known ecovillages, such The Farm in Tennessee, the upscale Ithaca Ecovillage in New York, Findhorn in Scotland, and the LA Ecovillage in Los Angeles. Hundreds of co-housing communities have sprung up in the United State since their introduction in the early 80s. And the Fellowship for Intentional
Community has over 2,000 ecovillage communities listed on its website (ic.org).
In Northern California there are many communities that formed land partnerships and have flourished. Organic farms, permaculture-based communities, and people simply coming together to share land and community have been around for many years. Village-scale living is common in most of the developing world and throughout Europe and has been the
norm for most of human history.
What, then, makes ecovillages unique? For starters, an ecovillage is an intentional community, meaning that the community design and agreements are worked out before embarking on shared ownership and community living. There are plenty of communities that started with good intentions and ended in failure, and over the years the communities movement has dedicated time to understanding what works and what doesn't work. One of the most popular books on this subject Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities, by author Diana Leafe Christian, thoroughly addresses the process for creating a successful community and acknowledges that the majority of communities have either failed or simply didn't get off the ground. By studying successful communities, she observed many of the things that work for these communities; such as a good decision-making process, good communication skills, clear agreements and documentation, realistic expectations, and, like any relationship, the emotional maturity to work through disagreements. (Diana is involved as a consultant to the development of the Laytonville Ecovillage.)
What's exciting about the ecovillage and intentional communities movement is that it offers tools and resources so that people can both start, and sustain, their communities. For example, in Sonoma County the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) offers a five-day workshop on how to start and sustain an ecovillage, as well as a host of courses on sustainability, gardening, permaculture, etc.
With the global ecological and economic crisis reaching all-time highs, more and more people want to shift their lifestyle in a green direction, lower their carbon footprint, and support local economies. Every day we hear about global warming, the decline of
carbon fuel, a tanked economy not seen since the Great Depression, increasing pollution levels in air and water, resource depletion, etc. all of which have a lot of people wondering if life in the status quo couldn't use a little improvement. Add to this the
fact that green is going mainstream, and many people are now realizing that how we choose to live is one way we can be more sustainable. Fortunately, the world is seeing huge advances in renewable energy technology, conservation, local organic farming, smart growth, efficient mass transit, and a host of green and sustainable alternatives to the status quo. An ecovillage is one such alternative, but a closer look at what an ecovillage is and how it works reveals that it's less of an "alternative" and more of a good idea.
Think of an ecovillage as a neighborhood with a set of commons and shared resources. Depending on the size and configuration of the land, there are many different community designs that can work. As such, ecovillages come in many sizes and shapes, both rural and urban, with varying degrees of personal space and privacy. One ecovillage might have private homes with lot's of space between neighbors, and another might have cluster housing with all the homes situated on one or two acres. Still another might have one main house with large kitchen and dining room, and a number of smaller cottages where people retreat for personal space and sleeping. Many communities have private homes that are walking distance to a commons where community meals and meetings can happen. People can have their own gardens, but there can also be a large community garden that benefits everyone (and in many cases provides food that can be sold at farmers markets and canned and preserved in large quantities). But regardless of size and scale, ecovillage living brings people together with shared values and offers the opportunity to bring the cost of buying and developing land down-way down!-from private ownership. And in today's market
where qualifying for loans is impossible for many, a lot of people are seeing the practicality of shared ownership.
At the Laytonville Ecovillage, a ten-acre property is being subdivided to allow for the legal development of up to eight homes. Rather than separating all of the parcels into private homesteads, we're developing an ecovillage model that focuses development on the first three parcels, and leaves the remaining four-acre parcel for habitat, gardening, solar energy generation, and a cottage. Parcel #1 has the original redwood-sided farmhouse, barn, well, and newly developed outdoor kitchen, solar showers, and cob pizza oven. It's the front door of the ecovillage and the community hub. Parcels #2 and #3 are undeveloped but have passed all the requirements by the state and county to allow for the development of two homes each.
Ownership can come about several ways. If you have the finances and resources to purchase land and build your own home, this is an available option. We're also developing an LLC (Limited Liability Company) that allows you to purchase shares in ownership. An undeveloped parcel sells for 155k. Split four ways, this brings the start-ups costs to 38k each! Rather than waiting for enough money to purchase property alone, you can share ownership with others and move forward with your dreams. A two acre parcel is more than enough space to support four people and allows you to legally share water, septic, and other resources that add considerable expense to development. This is the perfect second home for the already established homesteaders who are burdened with driving back and forth to work or school every day, or who want to find an easier place to live during the colder winter months. Shared ownership offers a low-cost way to further green your lifestyle while also enjoying the comforts of town living.
Education in sustainability will be part of the Laytonville Ecovillage. Last summer we worked with Living Mandala (livingmadala.com) to host our first permaculture design course and we'll be hosting another course next June. To further this effort, we've
recently begun collaborating with the Mendocino County-based Cloud Forest Institute, an international non-profit founded in 1996, to co-sponsor educational programs within this permaculture designed community. We plan on offering a number of workshops in sustainability, organic gardening, permaculture, solar and renewable energy, ecovillage living, and traditional land-based crafts seeking to showcase the knowledge of our local experts and artists.
One of the keys to a successful community is how we share. Many communities were started by sharing the expense of buying and developing land, and many failed because agreements
weren't clear or documented on paper, visions weren't realistic, and things changed once the reality of being on the ground with others hit home. The Laytonville Ecovillage is developing a community council (working group) that will be addressing these issues. The pathway in will involve your inspired participation in our council business and activities. Come and learn more about the Laytonville Ecovillage and how you can invest in a sustainable future.
OPEN HOUSE EVERY SECOND SUNDAY OF THE MONTH, 1-3:00PM. PLEASE RSVP.
For more information and to schedule a visit, contact:
Margaret Andrews with Pacific Properties: 707-354-3977
Devin Stubblefield with Regenerative Real Estate: 707-235-6854 Dan Antonioli: 510-652-7593 or dantonioli at earthlink dot net