Friday, December 28, 2007

Why Urban Ecovillages?

The concerns, motivations, and visions for the November 9-11 Developing Urban Ecovillages: Toward EcoCities gathering in Chicago included:

Uncertainties and missing opportunities.
Civilizations future is uncertain, facing multiple challenges of climate change, energy constraints, and resource depletion. Recent surprises in these areas have increased our concerns. Proposed solutions usually focus exclusively on changes in laws and technology, ignoring the proven potential of jointly enhancing community and sustainability with ecovillage type developments. The challenges are so daunting that increasing our social synergies is likely to make a significant difference.

The Promise of Ecovillages.
Cohousing residences are often half the size of comparable developments, while supporting a higher quality of life. Carbon emissions of long established ecovillages are comparable to those of the most advanced existing residential developments, such as BEDzed. In the course of their first four years in residence, new members progressively increase their environmental awareness and associated responsible behavior. And most importantly, they can be powerful laboratories, exploring and demonstrating the multiple ways community can extend the known boundaries of sustainability.

Developing Urban Ecovillages.
Start from where you are - the assets of your friends, neighbors and supportive organizations. Build on these to jointly enhance community and sustainability. We presented several examples in the program.

Toward EcoCities: Recognition that many aspects necessary for sustainability are generally illegal.
Cities that support ecovillage type developments with appropriate changes in building codes, zoning and other forms of assistance, are more likely to be successful in dealing with the challenges of the future. Municipalities across the world have moved in this direction. The Recode Portland proposal initiated the process in the
United States. Grassroots backing for these changes will be essential. We will discuss how such groups can be most effective.

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