Contains 2005 Annual Report
Projects in Sustainability by Liz Walker
*”This was my favorite, most challenging, and most valuable class.” *” Working in groups was fabulous. Learning through doing was great.” *” I loved the opportunity to get involved in the larger community.” Photo by Karl Fitzke
*”This was not just a class, it was a commitment and involvement that will continue beyond the semester. I’m now looking for jobs with a focus on sustainable development.” -Student comments Continuing the very productive partnership between Ithaca College (IC) and EcoVillage at Ithaca (EVI), EcoVillage education coordinator Elan Shapiro launched a new course, “Projects in Sustainability” in the Fall ‘05 semester. The course, which will be taught again in the Spring ‘06 semester, was funded by a four-year National Science Foundation grant received by IC and EVI. The highly successful course gave I.C. students a chance to learn about community sustainability ﬁrst-hand by being engaged, as key players, in projects that “made a difference” in local sustainable development on campus, at EVI and in the Ithaca community. Students worked in small teams with a mentor on one of the following projects: • Root cellar at EVI (with ecovillager Tina Nilsen-Hodges - see article) • Green Building in the Ithaca area (with Ithaca Green Building Alliance chair, Brent Katzman). Students helped promote the 2005 Green Building Open House and Solar Tour, and created “case studies” of green homes for the Alliance’s website. continued on page 3
EcoVillage kids enjoy a happy, carfree ride in the community.
EcoVillagers Drive Carsharing by Chris Somerfeldt
Thanks in part to the passion of EcoVillagers, Ithaca may soon join a handful of cities in the US in utilizing ‘carsharing,’ a system that can lower pollution, congestion and resource use, while expanding driver options, use of alternative transportation and even community spirit. At a recent Ithaca Carshare Summit organized by EVI resident Dan Roth, carshare experts from across the country gathered with over 50 inspired Ithacans--including the mayor--to explore how to launch carsharing in Ithaca . What is Car Sharing? Carsharing offers the use of a car without the burden of owning one. Typically, a cashare member can sign out and hop in a clean, dependable vehicle when needed, return it to the same parking spot, and pay for usage by the hour and mile. Targeting
those who drive less than 6,000 to 10,000 a year, carsharing can be lighter on the wallet--and the earth--than private ownership. The Costs of Cars With 60% of households owning two or more vehicles, the US may be the most car-obsessed country on earth. Or at least car-dependent. Yet even the government’s own website names vehicle exhaust as the single greatest source of human-made greenhouse gases. US dependence on foreign oil drives resource wars, while lung-burning pollution from ever-increascontinued on page 11
CH Photo page 2005 Annual Report Kid’s page Car Free@ EVI Permaculture
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Winter, 2006 1
Editorial: Walking the line between Disaster and Hope What a remarkable year it’s been! Hurricane Katrina slammed our national complacency with an in-yourface message about global warming, government incompetence, racism and poverty. As gasoline and natural gas prices soared, it brought growing public awareness of the problems of diminishing fossil fuels, and the costly wars needed to secure them. Many people have lost faith in the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. Meanwhile new evidence has come out that indicates global climate change is rapidly accelerating. Some scientists claim that we are beyond the point of no return. As the problems intensify, there is much more interest in solutions. In a recent New York Times article, Thomas Friedman declared, “Green is the new Red, White and Blue.” He pointed out that the most patriotic thing we can do is to curb our American appetite for fossil fuel overconsumption. This will strengthen our energy independence, create jobs, and decrease the rate of global warming. If Green is patriotic, then residents of EcoVillage at Ithaca share a profound love of country. Our “living laboratory” demonstrates a green lifestyle- one that integrates organic farming, green building, a vibrant, intergenerational community, and courses in the “science of sustainability.” People are eager to hear our message. The 2005 Annual Report highlights how far that message has travelled in the past year. EVI is now moving ahead on some major projects in 2006 - from our teaching partnership with Ithaca College to new adult learning programs based on an
Photo by Jonathan Dawson
by Liz Walker
Gaia Education Conference participants plan new educational curricuGaia Education Conference participants plan new educational curriculum.
international curriculum; from building the second neighborhood group (SONG) Common House to building a passive solar bus shelter; from hosting a course in Permaculture Design to children’s programs in Earth Arts. EVI played a lead role in organizing an Ithaca-wide “CarShare Summit” which just took place as this newsletter goes to print.
Australia, Mexico, Brazil, the U.S., Germany, Denmark, Scotland, Italy, Hungary and Senegal. After over a year of work, this group gathered to “test drive” the curriculum they had developed, which aims to distill the wisdom and experience of sustainable communities around the world and make it available to a wider public.
This is just a “slice of life” in learning how to live more sustainably as a community, one step at a time. We thank you, our wider community, for joining us in this endeavor.
I was fortunate to be one of several U.S. representatives. For two weeks we shared a sense of electric excitement. Some of the best educators in the world showed how they teach about everything from the global economy to local food production to developing leadership skills. The curriculum, just like ecovillages themselves, is holistic and covers social, environmental, economic and spiritual topics. It can be adapted to different venues and audiences, and taught in an introductory form over a weekend, or an in-depth course over a month.
International EcoVillage Education Launched Gaia Education, a new educational initiative with roots in the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), was ofﬁcially born in a small town north of Budapest, Hungary, on the summer solstice. Fourteen leading educators gathered from around the globe, representing ecovillages from
The EcoVillage at Ithaca Newsletter
EcoVillage at Ithaca is an internationally acclaimed experiment in sustainable community development. It is a non-proﬁt educational organization and a “living laboratory” that includes 175 acres of land, two organic farms, two cohousing communities, and ongoing educational projects. Liz Walker Editor Jim Bosjolie Layout and Photo Editor Published by EVI/CRESP Note: FRoG refers to First Resident Group and SoNG refers to the Second Neighborhood Group 2
The EcoVillage at Ithaca Newsletter
This initiative has been welcomed and endorsed by UNITAR and UNESCO as an important contribution to educational efforts under the umbrella of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Over the next two years, Gaia Education will teach the pilot program in UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves in Cuba and Slovenia and in numerous ecovillages related to the GEN network. In the U.S, EcoVillage at Ithaca will offer an introductory week-long course in July, 2006.
continued on page 11
photo by Jim Bosjolie
Root Cellar Possibilities at EcoVillage
IC students help residents take apart maple ﬂooring for the SoNG Common House
Solar Power at IC and EVI (with ecovillager Greg Pitts) Students worked with EVI and Finger Lakes Renewables to design and get permission to build a solar-powered fountain for the Chapel Pond, and to improve solar “trailers” used for education and portable power sources. The EVI solar trailer is currently providing electricity to build the EVI bus shelter. Biodiversity Management on Forested IC Land (with IC professor Jason Hamilton). Students developed and implemented a management plan on South Hill that preserves endangered plants and rare ecosystems, while allowing for college uses such as hiking and running trails. They also helped to create a biodiversity restoration plan at IC’s Newﬁeld Preserve that will keep local hunters happy. Sustainable Landscaping on IC Campus (with IC Professor Rene Borgella and Grounds manager Roger Casterline). The lawn surrounding the science building on campus was set aside to do experiments with lowmaintenance perennial landscaping that would save money and restore biodiversity.
Students learned a client-centered approach of looking at research and community engagement, called Participatory Action Research (PAR). As Elan put it, "So much of sustainability is about developing mutually beneﬁcial relationships. This course taught students about looking at what everyone's needs are." For instance,
in the Sustainable Landscaping project, students coordinated faculty, students, and groundskeepers to look at everything from soil microorganisms to wildlife habitat. "This never happened before," Elan said. "The people from Buildings and Grounds, the scientists from the building, and the students were all on ﬁre. They laid the groundwork for a comprehensive study of how acres of land on campus could be turned into perennial plantings. It was a real success story!" Other projects made similar breakthroughs. The root cellar project helped EVI residents to ﬁnd a low-tech, high labor strategy to creating decentralized, inexpensive root cellars. The Biodiversity Management group had to consider relationships with the IC sports teams on campus and the hunters who use the Newﬁeld preserve. The Green Building project students made high-quality connections with people who live in solar homes. And the Solar Fountain project helped students to learn about how to create decisions in a complex, multiple stakeholder situation, in addition to working with PV design.
Tina met weekly with these students, helping them develop a project plan, connecting them to resources, and facilitating their interaction with other members of the EVI community. Early in the semester, they developed a survey to determine interest in a root cellar for the village. Results of the survey were astounding: village members said that they would store and use more than 15,000 lbs of produce during the winter and spring months. In response to this information, students developed a plan for a decentralized root cellar system. It called for a root cellar for each Common House and one for each quadrant in the neighborhoods – residents of each quadrant would decide whether they want to build a root cellar for their winter storage needs or use simple root cellaring storage techniques in their homes and back yards. The students presented the results of this survey and recommendations to residents at a meeting in the Common House on December 1, 2005. Residents’ reaction to this report was positive. Another group of Ithaca College students will continue the research this spring, perhaps working with a local builder who will teach residents to build root cellars using natural building techniques.
The course's approach of building multiple teams which shared their progress on a regular basis proved to be highly effective as a teaching tool. And, as one student put it, "It was more effective because I was able to apply it to the real world." Ithaca College students are certainly lucky to have access to such fascinating, hands-on applications of alternative technologies for community sustainability.
Photo courtesy Earthbag Building
Sustainability - continued from page 1
Last semester EcoVillage resident Tina Nilsen-Hodges served as the project guide for two students who researched root cellar possibilities in EcoVillage as part of the Projects in Sustainability course offered through Ithaca College. This project was one of several mini-grants funded through the National Science Foundation’s “Science and Sustainability” partnership grant between Ithaca College and EVI.
Constructing an earthbag root cellar. Winter, 2006 3
SoNG Common House: Under Construction Photos and Text by Jim Bosjolie
November 1, 2005, Empty ﬁeld with storage shed
Installing a ﬁrm foundation (ﬁve feet deep)
First ﬂoor framing going up.
Trusses going up. Note that second ﬂoor is already framed.
Most trusses installed, subrooﬁng begun.
January 16, 2006 Exterior of Common House completely enclosed including subroof.
The EcoVillage at Ithaca Newsletter
2005 Annual Report
Photo by Jim Bosjolie
Greg Ramsey, architect, works on a Master Site Plan for EcoVillage at a design charette that took place September 15 - 19, 2005. Resident Bill Goodman looks on.
2005: Year in Review Like a seed on the wind, our message of sustainability was picked up and carried far and wide in 2005. Here are just a few of the ways that EVI has made a difference in the last year: Book: EVI Director Liz Walker’s book, EcoVillage at Ithaca: Pioneering a Sustainable Culture (New Society Publishers, June, 2005) has helped to introduce the concept of ecovillages to a much broader audience in the U.S. and abroad. It seems to ring a bell of hope and inspiration for many people, from professors to inner-city activists, from children to elders, from environmentalists to entrepreneurs. Permaculture Magazine (published in the U.K.) said: “I know of no book that more powerfully and honestly describes the reality of what it is like to create and to live in an intentional community... As the age of cheap oil draws to a close, we need living experiments in the reweaving of human-scale, locallybased social economies. As an illustration of how we can begin this process, even at the heart of the Empire, EVI is without
match. Enormous credit goes to Liz Walker for sharing its story so well with us.” Ripple effects from the book continue to eddy outwards. The publication has led to phenomenal publicity (see inside), speaking engagements around the country, and soon the book will be published in Korea and Japan. The book can be ordered through the EVI website. Sustainability Education: In addition to a mutually beneﬁcial partnership with Ithaca College, teaching courses in the “science of sustainability” (see article), EVI has played an important role in founding a new, international organization, Gaia Education, a project of the Global Ecovillage Network (see article.) EVI will pilot a one-week course based on the new curriculum July 8-15th. Picturing the Future: In the last year, we held three “Big Picture Forums” that helped our community to explore hopes, fears and goals for future development of the broader EVI vision. These led to a “Design Charette” in September with architect Greg Ramsey of Village Habitat Design. Residents, Board members
and visitors explored ideas for future housing (affordable, accessible, youth and elder-friendly), education (from college courses to residential workshops to alternative high school), village facilities (cafe, central green, gathering areas), green infrastructure (road-calming, remote parking, wind energy), business opportunities (farm-based businesses, eco-enterprise options), and connections between the human habitat and natural environs. The Design Charette produced a detailed “Program Document” and ideas for creative site plans. The next steps as a community are to decide which of the many options are the most viable and timely. Green Building: The long-awaited SONG Common House broke ground in October, 2005, and is now a two-story enclosed structure (see photos). The design includes many “green” features, such as recycled ﬂooring, solar electricity and solar hot-water, and super-insulation made from recycled newspapers. Many villagers are helping to build it, pitching in on sweat equity projects. While the Continued on page 7 Winter, 2006 5
Annual Report Highlights of 2005: PUBLICITY: Radio: •
20 major radio programs around the country (mostly regional NPR afﬁliates) did half-hour interviews with Liz Walker in conjunction with release of her book "Earthwatch” and “Viewpoints,” did briefer interviews, each syndicated to about 300 stations "Voice of America” did a 5 minute special on EVI that was broadcast worldwide to 100 million people on Thanksgiving weekend.
• • • • • • • • •
An Associated Press article about EVI by Melissa Mansﬁeld was picked up by hundreds of papers across the country in January, ‘05. Vegetarian Times, “The 20 Greenest Spots in the Country” (July ‘05), mention of EVI Earthlight (Spring ‘05) - EVI mentioned in article by Diana Christian Alternative Medicine, “Author chat” (Oct. ‘05), interview with Liz Walker Communities Magazine (Fall and Winter ‘05 issues) review and excerpt from EVI book Green Horizon (Winter ‘05) book review Permaculture Magazine (Winter ‘05) review of EVI book Positive News, a national alternative newspaper (summer and fall ‘05 issues), articles by Liz Walker. A Russian newspaper, Staryagazeta, carried an article about EVI. Ithaca Journal, (July ‘05), book review and West Haven Farm. The Ithaca Times (July ‘05) book review.
SPECIAL VISITORS: Spring/Summer: • Fellowship for Intentional Community, Spring organizational meeting • Ramapo College, NJ (administrators study the EVI-IC partnership) • Japanese delegation from Fukui University • Japanese Ecosystem Conservation Society • Geoff Chase (Dean at San Diego State University) • Steve Cochran, Interim Steward, US Partnership, UN Decade for Education on Sustainable Development • Cornell Adult University Fall/Winter: • Kiyokazu Shidara, Permaculture Institute of Japan (two visits) • Arthur Okner, Elder cohousing • Helena Norberg-Hodge, author, Ancient Futures, Learning from Ladakh • John Ikerd,author, Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense • Ithaca College Ecology class • Cayuga Community College • Cornell Design and Environmental Analysis
• • •
COURSES AT EVI: •
Online publicity: • •
Sustainlane.com (October, ‘05) interview with Liz Walker Fellowship of Intentional Communities (July ‘05) EVI book review
• • • •
The EcoVillage at Ithaca Newsletter
Training for Cornell Resident Hall Associates in sustainability strategies (with Sustainable Tompkins) Two half-day Faculty Development Workshops (EVI & IC faculty), May & Sept. '05 Two day-long Retreats for Sustainable Tompkins steering committee Three-day Introduction to Permaculture Workshop with Geoff Lawton (with Fingerlakes Permaculture Institute)
Sustainable Communities (taught by EVI resident Elan Shapiro & colleagues, Spring '05 Sustainable Projects course, Fall, '05 Independent studies on Wind and Photovoltaics (taught by resident Greg Pitts, Spring & Fall) Mini-grants on car-share feasibility (twice), elder legacy, education in sustainability, root cellar (twice) Cornell Graduate Engineering course,
"technical aspects of car-share feasibility" (Francis Vanek)
PRESENTATIONS: • • • • • • • • • •
AAC&U Conference, (Liz Walker & IC colleagues) Ball State Conference, (") Otterbein College (Jon Harrod, plenary speaker) Gaia Education (Liz Walker, plenary) Global EcoVillage Network - 10th Anniversary (Steve Gaarder, workshop) Second US Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions (Liz Walker, plenary speaker) Cornell Sustainable Enterprise class (300 students) Liz Walker, lecture Unitarian Universalist Church (Liz Walker, workshop) Ithaca College, CNS faculty (Greg Pitts, Elan Shapiro, workshop) US Partnership for UNDESD (Liz Walker - one hour conference call presentation with 50 key organizers from around the US) Ithaca Health Fund (Elan Shapiro, workshop)
EVI BOOK READINGS/ TALKS: •
• • • • •
Bookstores: Everyone's Books (Brattleboro, VT), Barnes & Noble (Ithaca, NY), The Bookery (Ithaca), Borders (Ithaca), Boulder Bookstore (CO) Kendall at Ithaca, NY, Kendall at Hanover, NH City Club of Boulder (CO) Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado Berkeley Ecology Center (CA) Swan's Market Cohousing (CA)
PUBLICATIONS: Allen-Gil, Bardaglio and Walker, “Greening the Campus”, Ball State Journal Allen-Gil, Walker, Thomas, Shevory and Shapiro,”Forming a Community Partnership to Enhance Education in Sustainability,” Intl Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol.6 No.4, 2005
RECOGNITION: The EVI-IC Partnership was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as one of 56 case studies in their Campus Ecology Yearbook for 2005
Year in Review continued from page 5
building was originally planned for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certiﬁcation, it proved too costly in time and energy for such a small project to do the paperwork necessary for certiﬁcation. Most LEED buildings are large commercial structures.
Organic Agriculture: After years of preparation, Katie Creeger planted thousands of raspberries and strawberry plants, despite the fact the summer of 2005 was the hottest and driest on record. Community members pitched in to help. West Haven Farm is seeking new owners, but farmers Jen and John Bokaer-Smith have vowed to stay on until suitable replacements are found. Building Community: It’s not easy to develop a strong sense of community among 60 varied households, with different ages, incomes and needs. The past year has seen some major conﬂicts. However, thanks largely to resident Julia Morgan, we now have seven “deepening relationships” groups - support groups that allow residents to get to know each other on a profound basis. Over half of the adults in the community have joined.
Photo by Jim Bosjolie
In addition, the long-awaited bus shelter is also going up, after months of work by resident Francis Vanek in getting appropriate permits and insurance. The bus shelter, originally designed by students, will be passive solar, with a living roof, and provide much needed protection from the cold north winds during the winter. Two residents have been hired to build it, using solar electricity for their power tools.
The Fellowship for Intentional Community held its spring meeting at EcoVillage in May.
Reducing Energy Use: Residents Deena Berke, Jared Jones and Tina Nilsen-Hodges have formed the steering committee for an Energy Task Force which aims to ﬁnd ways to conserve energy, and when possible, convert to renewables. This is truly an energetic response to the concerns about “Peak Oil.” (Look for more in our next issue.) Partnerships: This past year may well stand out as the year of solidifying and building new partnerships. Some of them we’ve been developing for the past few years, such as Ithaca College, Cornell, Sustainable Tompkins, and West Hill Area Land Trust. (WHALT) Others are newer, including the Fellowship of Intentional Communities, the Global Ecovillage Network, Gaia Education, US Partnership
for the UN Decade for Education on Sustainable Development, the Fingerlakes Permaculture Institute, and Earth Arts/ Primitive Pursuits. Each partnership that we join allows us to inﬂuence, and in turn be inﬂuenced by others who share our values. Looking ahead at the coming year of 2006, we hope that EcoVillage at Ithaca, small as it is, can continue to inspire people to work towards a more sustainable way of life in their own communities. This will happen most effectively if we can grow our non-proﬁt, grassroots group into an organization that can meet the demands for information, consulting and skillbuilding that our society needs in order to make a transition to a more sustainable future.
Major Donors in 2005 Many, many thanks to our donors. We couldn’t do it without you!
Bill and Nancy Strong Theodore and Gertrude Winsberg
The White Oak Club ($1,000 and up) Martin Hatch Fund Elias Katz James and Priscilla Walker Margery and Alan Walker
The White Pines ($100-$499) Theodore Baldwin Donna and Daniel Bizzel (WHALT) Judith Beltz and Leonard Schreiber Nancy Brown Richard Crenshaw Joan Fox Christopher Henley Brent and Diana Katzman Vally Kovary
The Sugar Maples ($500-$999) Tia and David Andrew Will and Ellen Hunt Longhouse Cooperative (WHALT )
Joe and Michelle Nolan Daniel Ostrow Robert Silsbee John and Natasha Suter Claudia Viek William and Elaine Webber Steve Welzer Wild Goose B&B Alan and Pamela Willett In-Kind Services: Vally Kovary
Winter, 2006 7
Budgets for EV/CRESP and EVI, Inc. EV/CRESP Proﬁt and Loss, 2005
Starting Balance: Income: Individual Contributions Group Contributions Book Sales Fundraising Revenue Educational Materials Memberships CRESP allocation Total Income: Expenses: Payroll Contracted Services Supplies Hospitality Telephone Internet Postage Printing Travel Rent Book Purchase Fundraising Expenses Books, Tapes, Videos Bank, ﬁling fees Shared Administrative Expense Unemployment, disability, etc. Health Insurance Total Expense:
$10,271 10,176 1,310 6,321 14,730 58 6,043 600 $39,239 16,295 3,275 642 303 386 50 647 1,023 709 950 3,581 2,094 129 74 2,592 1,681 7,917 $42,347
EVI, Inc. Proﬁt and Loss, 2005
Starting Balance: Income: Martin Hatch Fund WHALT1 purchase donations Village Association (for taxes) Ithaca College (NSF grant) Coordination Mini-grants Farm Leases West Haven Berry Farm Earth Mentoring Program Design Charette USDA set-aside Interest
Expenses: Land taxes WHALT purchase (fees, closing) NSF Grant Coordination Mini-grants Design Charette (contract, travel) USDA late fee Earth Mentoring Program Cornell graduation (hospitality) Insurance Facilitation (Big Picture Forums) Accountant NYS Filing Fees Bank Fees Total Expense:
-$3,109 Net Income: $7,467 Closing Balance:
$6,625 (all accounts) 2,000 1,250 4,490 6,360 4,000 775 225 1,323 300 1,519 3 $ 22,245 5,490 399 6,360 3,500 2,488 100 1,200 350 218 480 1,408 200 60 $22,253 - $8 $6,617
(Footnotes) 1 The West Hill Area Land Trust (WHALT) was formed by EVI residents and neighbors to purchase land adjacent to EVI that was threatened by major development. Half of the land was set aside for a public park. The land was purchased at the end of 2004, but some transactions didn’t take place until January, 2005
EcoVillage/CRESP, a project of CRESP (a non-proﬁt afﬁated with Cornell University) is responsible for education, outreach and promotion of the EcoVillage concept through educational programs, partnerships, hosting visitors, and work with the media. EcoVillage at Ithaca Village Association, FROG, and SONG formed to build housing and the infrastructure to support the village. They are legally and ﬁnancially separate from the non-proﬁt educational organizations represented above.
Photo by Jim Bosjolie
Separate Entities: EcoVillage at Ithaca is a non-proﬁt organization which holds title to land in the Town of Ithaca upon which a model EcoVillage is being built. It handles land-related expenses including insurance and taxes. It does environmental projects with students of all ages.
Harvesting tomatoes from the garden 8
The EcoVillage at Ithaca Newsletter
Kids at EcoVillage
by Gabe Shapiro Age 9
the biggest festival of the year!!! We all dressed up in hilarious costumes and performed in front of at least 800 people and video cameras. We’re very thankful to our adult manager, Abigail Bokaer, for helping us with our costumes and our acts, and especially for keeping it fun for us.
Being a kid at EcoVillage is very special. There are no cars between the houses, 170 acres of trees and ﬁelds and ponds to play in, and almost 60 kids of all ages to play with. You can easily get babysitting and petsitting jobs, borrow missing ingredients from neighbors when you’re making brownies, and play dark tag late into the night. And when we get into trouble or have ﬁghts with each other, there are always adults around to help us learn conﬂict skills, even if it’s the last thing we want to do.
I think we are absolutely undoubtedly positively lucky to live here.
Outdoor Course Big Hit with EcoVillage Kids
by Megan Pugh and Dale Bryner
Recently a trained hip-hop teacher came to EcoVillage to teach a group of 8 hiphoppy kids. We’ve been meeting for a few months every Monday after school. After we had 6 classes, we showed off our cool moves to an enthusiastic audience of EcoVillagers. Since we liked it so much and it went so well, we formed a group of 6 and started another series. We’re still working on perfecting our next performance!
Earth Arts and Primitive Pursuits collaborated this fall and winter to bring EcoVillage kids a bi-monthly, creative, outdoor adventure dubbed Earth Mentoring. Sunday afternoon sessions with a serious emphasis on fun connected young people to the land through exploration, woodland villagebuilding, primitive skills, crafts, roaming and playing all kinds of awareness games. This pilot program was a huge success and all involved are looking forward to the next phase of this wonderful project which aims to help actualize the nature based goals of the EcoVillage community. Fourteen kids participated in the program which met four times for four hours each in November and December.
About a year ago, a group of kids founded a circus at EcoVillage. We practiced for a while, everyday after school. We wanted to be just like a professional circus, so we had a choreographer, director, ﬁnance manager, clowns, ringleader, gymnast and much more! Our ﬁrst circus looked more like a dance party than a circus, but people loved it and demanded another one. We’ve had 5 circuses so far. We were delighted when we got an invitation to perform in Circus Eccentrithaca at the Ithaca Festival,
Aviv Hilbig Bokaer: I liked making ﬁres and cooking cornbread and popcorn outside. I was in charge of food and whenever we made food it never seemed like it would be enough but it always was! Ceili Ayoung: Going out in the woods, visiting mother grapevine and building shelters. Mira Vanek: Making tea over the ﬁre. Ben Eastwater: I liked the stalking and the games. Shea Nolan: I liked making the ﬁre with the bow drill. Ray Vanek: All of it. So far I haven’t collected a favorite part. Aidan Ayoung: I liked that it was fun. I liked making ﬁre, making cordage and cooking, eating, playing games -- just about all of it was my favorite. I would like to do more here. I would like to see a group of us stay in the woods together for a whole week! Parents and program leaders plan to meet in January to plan for future programs at EVI.
Photo by Jim Bosjolie
Another great thing that includes kids in EcoVillage is Kids’ Council. Kids’ council is a group of kids that meet to talk about how we can have a say in community decisions and to plan more kid-related projects. Two adults, Tina and Jim, supervise and facilitate. We’ve erected a tree house, made a beautiful plot in the community garden, and created a BMX trail. You can never expect a large group of kids of different ages and personalities to get along perfectly with each other, though, so conﬂicts occur quite often. Luckily, Tina and Jim are there to help us resolve our problems.
When asked what they liked best about the program, participants said:
Smelling cedar smoke during Primitive Pursuits. Some liked it - some didn’t. Winter, 2006 9
Car-Free at EcoVillage: An Interview with Elisabeth Harrod by Liz Walker EVI’s location makes it a difﬁcult place to be car-free. We’re up on a steep hill about two miles from downtown, and the bus service is limited. Yet most of our residents have just one car, and ﬁve out of sixty households have made the plunge to give up their all-American identity by not owning a car at all. Most of these people are single adults who either work at home or can take the bus to work. But one family of four, with two young children, joined the car-free crowd when their car bit the dust a few months ago. I asked Elisabeth (Ellie) what it’s been like. Liz: How has having no car made a difference in your life?
Liz: What are some of the down-sides of not owning a car? Ellie: Well, when I take the bus, I usually have to walk to the Route 14 (about a mile away), with the kids in tow, and then a mile back, uphill. And the car-share cars (EVI currently has two) are almost always checked out. There are safety issues, like learning to adjust to a new car every time. Where is the horn? Is it automatic or standard? One time I even got a ticket for an expired inspection on a borrowed car. Luckily the owner offered to pay it. For long trips we rent a car, and that gets expensive. I have to think, is it worth it to stay an extra day? And I don’t have an “outdoor home” to put things, like the car-seats. But overall, it’s worth it. I’ve always wanted to live car-free. I think it’s a good thing to think hard about every trip. Finances are more present as an everyday reality. I like the connectivity. And it’s a great example for my kids.
Photo by Jim Bosjolie
Ellie: For a long time we had our car in the car-share program, so we were used to sharing, not being able to just hop in and go. I have to think very carefully before I go anywhere, because it’s a hassle to ﬁnd a car to borrow, I have to lug around two car-seats, and the money adds up. Lots of times I decide it’s just not worth it. I say “no” to my kids a lot. Instead, when you need something you can borrow it. The biggest positive is that our kids are growing up not feeling it’s their destiny to own a car. I thought the kids might have trouble with the idea, but Will (age 6) said, “That’s great. One day there’s not going to be oil, and we’re all going to ride horses anyway.” There was a thought that not having a car would save us money. But I try to be extraordinarily generous in borrowing a car. I pay $.40/mile, which covers gas, insurance, wear and tear, and I try to do something extra, like clean out the car. It makes ﬁnances much more visible. For instance if I take Will to see his friend, I pay $12 for the round-trip. But then I don’t get a $600 repair bill either. (Editor’s note: the average annual cost of owning a car in the U.S. is $6,200, including car payments, gas, insurance, repairs, etc. People who don’t own cars but use car-share programs typically save at least half of that cost.) The up-shot is that it is less convenient, but it’s more connective. By
calling around to borrow a car, I talk to more people, and we know more about each other’s lives. When we moved to EVI, there was one drawback. After living in Nantucket car-free, we didn’t want to own a car again. But between the topography, the weather, and the busy main road not being very safe, it seemed too hard. Now we are making that part of our vision a reality.
The EcoVillage at Ithaca Newsletter
Reporting car share mileage
Permaculture at EcoVillage by Jim Bosjolie and Karryn OlsonRamanujan On Sunday, November 21st, worldrenowned permaculture expert Geoff Lawton explained to a rapt community audience how permaculture elements could be utilized at EcoVillage. He shared this information at the community’s request after leading an Introduction to Permaculture course in the Common House from November 18 to 20. Speciﬁcally, Geoff examined the north ﬁeld, which is slated for development, and explained how he would look at the land with regards to water ﬂow, and then plan for road/pedestrian access and housing structures by working with the contours of the land. By looking at what the land is saying to us, he illustrated a permaculture approach by proposing a system of swales and ponds to capture and slow water down so it can seep into the soil. This would not only improve the health of the village’s existing pond, but also create more success in edible landscaping in the new neighborhood. Lawton’s proposed plan then placed access roads and ﬁnally, south-facing structures on the contour lines. The overall design would look like a tree with houses along the branches. According to a current deﬁnition from the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, “Permaculture is the conscious design of human settlements that are ecologically sound and economically viable.” The institute was recently formed by Ecovillage’s own Karryn OlsonRamanujan, with Stephen Gabriel and Michael Burns from the surrounding region. The Lawton weekend kicked off the Institute’s ﬁrst Permaculture Design Certiﬁcation course, which runs until March, and will be offered on an ongoing and affordable basis. In addition, FLPCI will hold an open forum or skill sharing event on the fourth Friday of each month, aiming to stimulate conversation and the exchange of resources (including information) toward all things sustainable. For more information, interested readers should check out their website at www. ﬂpci.org, or contact the institute at 607319-0737.
Cars have long been an Achilles’ heel of EcoVillage at Ithaca. While several EcoVillagers bus, bicycle or even walk the two miles to and from town, challenges of time, logistics and the steep hill mean high rates of car ownership and miles driven. The future center of the village is currently dominated by parked cars, and adding housing or an education center means even more. More carsharing could help avoid “Disney-like parking lots,” as one resident put it, to the beneﬁt of human and non-human inhabitants alike. Carsharing’s Host of Beneﬁts Fewer cars mean better land use, and more carsharing can lower parking requirements, reduce driving and number of cars; encourage walking, biking and mass transit; beneﬁt the poor and even increase conﬁdence in local, cooperative solutions to collective challenges. Carsharing tends to get city planners, bicycle enthusiasts, mass transit advocates, environmentalists, and even pedestrians excited. Every carshare vehicle put on the road takes many more off--between 6 and 23 cars--as members sell or avoid purchasing their own vehicles. And lighter trafﬁc means more efﬁcient driving, less air pollution and improved bicycle and pedestrian travel. Unlike private car ownership, carsharing actually lessens car-dependence. Employees with a carshare car available for daytime errands can take public transport to work. Carshares located near mass transit stations can be used to cover that “last mile” unreached by public transportation. Moreover, with costs linked directly to usage, carshare users reduce vehicle miles traveled an average of 44%. EcoVillage resident Deb Miller, takes a global view, asserting that “carsharing is more than just convenient, it’s a matter of
social justice.” In fact, not only can carsharing lessen US resource-hogging, it can beneﬁt its poorest citizens, who pay disproportionately high transportation costs for failing cars or taxis. Carsharing at EcoVillage Community life at EcoVillage has always enabled carsharing in the form of frequent car borrowing, carpooling and errandsharing. Still I was amazed how my own carlessness became inherently community-building. Riding the bus more, I’ve discussed global warming, racism, gardening and community life with other riders. I often carpool, combine errands or hitch a ride downtown, giving an EcoVillage neighbor and myself some eco-satisfaction and a precious few minutes to catch up. EcoVillage has more resources than ever to utilize carsharing in our quest for sustainable community. A group of student entrepreneurs have outlined a carshare enterprise that would create a pilot at EcoVillage and then expand to include the downtown and student communities. Resident Francis Vanek’s students researched replacing many of our cars with energy-efﬁcient hybrids and implementing a coordinated plan for meeting the transportation needs of all residents.
populations--even mixing carsharing and local government vehicles. After reviewing follow up plans, participants wrote down our next individual step or two, then erupted into spontaneous testimony of commitments to wild applause. As summit organizer Dan Roth proclaimed, “We have everything we need to create one of the most innovative, effective and exciting carshare systems in the country.” And we will! Gaia continued from page 2
May East, Gaia Education Program Director, based at the Findhorn Foundation community in northern Scotland, summed up the importance of the new initiative: “What this program offers - uniquely- is an educational package based on the experiences of communities around the world in designing and implementing sustainability-related initiatives. It offers both a conceptual road-map to a more sustainable society and the tools for achieving this.”
International contact: www.gen.org or
It was EcoVillagers’ interest in carsharing and an EVI/NSF sustainability mini-grant that propelled resident Dan Roth into the forward-looking world of carsharing and led him to organize the Ithaca Carshare Summit.
Note: this article was ﬁrst published in Positive News, August, 2005. It is reprinted with permission.
Creating Carsharing in Ithaca The sparkle of a good idea and the strength of genuine commitment permeated the Ithaca Carshare Summit held last month, a meeting of minds and resources from Cornell, Ithaca College, the City of Ithaca, TCAT, the Alternatives Federal Credit Union and area community members, including an impressive number of EcoVillagers. Participants eagerly absorbed the experiences of San Francisco and Boulder carshare organizers and considered possible Ithaca carshare startup scenarios. We dreamed of freeing families from second (or ﬁrst) cars, serving low-income residents, rampant carsharing for students, extending carsharing to suburban and rural
Photo by Jim Bosjolie
car sharing continued from page 1
ing trafﬁc congestion hurts our most vulnerable citizens at home. Contemplate the lifecycle environmental and social costs of car manufacturing and disposal, petroleum processing, roads and parking, and you begin to grasp the true cost of cars.
Biking to work. Winter, 2006 11
Get up-to-date information from the EcoVillage ofďŹ ce, 607-256-0000 or from our website www.ecovillage.ithaca.ny.us
Free Public Tour, 3 pm, the last Saturday of every month Spring Fair to celebrate opening of SoNG Common House: May 13, 2006 EcoVillage Experience Weekends: June 9-11 and Sept. 8-10 Creating Sustainable Communities: the Ecological Dimension - July 8 -16 Meetings:
Song meets the ďŹ rst Saturday, 9 am - 1pm and third Sunday of the month from 1-5 pm. Call or email for current schedule and to set up an orientation. FRoG meets on the second and fourth Sunday of the month from 2-5 pm. EVI Board of Directors meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 5:30 -7:30 pm Tours of the site: Available by appointment Email: email@example.com
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The EcoVillage at Ithaca Newsletter
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EVI Newsletter Winter 2006 - Great example of what takes place at a mainstream ecovillage that models comfortable sustainable diverse sub-ur...