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VII. Pedia Sapiens: A Genesis Future on Earth and the Ecosmos

4. Sustainable Ecovillages: me + We = US

    Pioneer Valley Cohousing shown here offers an exemplary case of intentional community. Founded some fifteen years ago, it resides on 23 acres in North Amherst, Massachusetts. Thirty five semi-attached dwellings are clustered together with a garden to preserve most of landscape in a wilderness state. About 100 people of every walk abide in a supportive peace and quiet rarely found elsewhere. Each residence has its own kitchen or members can share meals and friendships in a common house. Economic costs are reduced in half, which gives residents an opportunity to get a life. Cars are parked in a separate lot and often shared. This movement began in Scandanavia and has now spread to thousands of actual and planned ecovillages in the United States, Africa, and worldwide.

 
  Photo Credit to John Fabel and Kraus-Fitch Architects    

It is important to appreciate that humankind has not only realized an overall genesis cosmology but one whose nested development proceeds by the same creative complementary system at each stage. A dynamic, emergent scale of being and becoming results as the universal formative principles infuse and empower everywhere. From biomolecules to ecosystems, diverse, semi-autonomous entities and modules interrelate and combine symbiotically to generate a novel whole individual. The great benefit is that once found these common themes can be carried forward to facilitate the next evident phase of a reinhabitation of bioregions by way of the local self-organization of egalitarian, human-scale groupings. Rather than a homogeneous globalized organism, often opposed, an imminent evolutionary stage would be a biospheric network of urban and rural communities. Examples of constant guiding principles might be:

• An equitable, reciprocal partnership of women and men. (Complementarity)

• A mutuality of free individuals joined in shared relationship. (Creative Union)

• Spontaneous free association without central authority. (Self-organization)

• Modular personal diversity in a beneficial social unity. (Symbiosis)

• Coherent boundaries for self-referential communities. (Autopoiesis)

In an epilogue to The Human Web (2003), the eminent historian William McNeill makes just such a proposal. For thousands of years, homo sapiens dwelt in familial bands of 50 to 100 members. But with the fragmentation, diaspora and suburbanization of modern societies, this identity and cohesion has been lost. Based on this new view of evolution as a recurrence of the same cellular form, McNeill advises that our social future should again be composed of “primary communities” of a similar number of participants. Just as life originated eons ago by forming rudimentary protocells, so today a further phase may be facilitated by way of these "social protocells."

And such a worldwide movement, as noted above, is already underway for this is the typical size of cohousing settlements and ecovillages. Also known as intentional neighborhoods, its members gain the advantages of shared resources and land, reduced economic burden, and group support along with independent freedom of lifestyle. These books, magazines and websites introduce a vital option to a consumptive, unjust, violent and unsustainable civilization. Also included are entries to an organic, environmental architecture.

Cohousing Network. www.cohousing.org. A clearing house for these communities springing up in rural and urban settings across Europe and North America. On average, 100 people of all ages and situations reside in private, separate or attached, energy-efficient dwellings clustered about a multifunction common house. This compact mini-village leaves remaining land free for gardens or in its natural state.

Ecotopia Network. www.ecotopia.com/ecovillage. An eclectic international site for practical info such as appropriate technology and solar energy. Communities in Bolivia, Venezuela, Honduras are given as good examples.

Fellowship for Intentional Community. www.ic.org. This is the website for the journal Communities. Since many fledgling alternatives are not written up in books, this website and magazine reports on real efforts to live free and well in sensible harmony with neighbors and nature. This group also publishes the Communities Directory - A Guide to Intentional Communities and Cooperative Living.

Findhorn Foundation. www.ecovillagefindhorn.com. On the east coast of Scotland, near Inverness, resides a legendary intentional community. Founded over thirty years ago, Findhorn has become a center for local and global mindful self-sufficiency. Among various programs is the Ecovillage Project which emphasizes sustainable land use, ecological architecture, renewable energy, cooperative, social economies, inclusive decision-making processes, cultural and spiritual diversity, integrated holistic health care, worldwide networking, integral education.

On a global level there is an increasingly urgent need for positive models which demonstrate a viable, sustainable human and planetary future. Ecovillages or sustainable communities address this need, looking at sustainability not only in environmental but also in social, economic and spiritual terms.

Global Ecovillage Network. www.gaia.org. A portal for learning about ecological community development, activities and concerns. An extensive directory covers resource areas such as agriculture, education, alternative technology, energy, building, funding, business, health, community, permaculture, decision making, spirit and mind, ecological design, sustainability and environment, ecological living, urban ecology, economics, waste management, and ecovillage design.

Indigo Development. www.indigodev.com. A worthwhile think tank for “communities as living systems” and especially creating for ecologically sound industries.

Institute for Sustainable Communities. www.iscvt.org. Grass-roots resources for ...helping communities around the world address environmental, economic, and social challenges to build a better future shaped and shared by all.

Positive News From Around the World. www.positivenews.org.uk. This is the website for a subscription newspaper of the title name which is a unique report of good things people are doing everywhere to create a much saner and liveable planet. Typical articles are about urban community gardens, the Barefoot College program to bring solar electricity for water pumps to remote villages in the Himalayas, and a Great Rethinking conference.

Sustainable Communities Network. www.sustainable.org. An omnibus portal for all sorts of information about forming and maintaining positive life experiences in viable societies.

We Over Me Farm. www.weovermefarm.com. A PBS NewsHour report on September 16, 2016 (Google) brought to our notice this inner city, college based, endeavor for sustainable agriculture and community. And we find just wonderful that its name recognizes and resolves our social conflicts of individuals and groups, agendas and cooperation. Sadly, as the awful presidential election campaign is a vicious, destructive clash of me and We, animus and anima archetypes, which are naturally complementary. Why can no one see this?

u>Our Mission: To transform the health and well-being of under-resourced communities in southern Dallas by providing fresh, healthy, affordable food options and by educating and empowering future generations to take better care of themselves, their environments, and their communities.

Paul Quinn College is a private, historically black college located on 144 acres just south of downtown Dallas, Texas, United States. The college is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). Paul Quinn College is the oldest historically black college west of the Mississippi River and the nation's first urban work college.

Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures. www.yesmagazine.com. From Bainbridge Island, Washington State, a publication by the Positive Futures Network which reports on people, projects and institutions making vital contributions to a sustainable future. The Spring 2000 issue features “New Stories” from Thomas Berry, Mae-Wan Ho, Jean Houston, John Todd and Joanna Macy in search of an ecological cosmology.

Alexander, Christopher. The Phenomenon of Life. Berkeley, CA: Center for Environmental Structure, 2002. The first volume in the iconoclast architect’s long anticipated four volume series The Nature of Order. Although a strident effort is made to situate his human scale and friendly dwellings in an ecological rather than a mechanistic nature, research for the long overdue volume seems to have stopped around 1980. But this book along with Alexander’s earlier classic works such as A Pattern Language offer mindful alternatives to the present sterility of most buildings.

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