As you turn off the main road onto EcoVillage land, a new world awaits you.
A world that begins, after a short drive, at the Common House.
You're just in time for dinner
Won't you join us?
We usually have plenty of room.
and you can leave your kids in the playroom if you'd like.
After dinner, they may enjoy a story in the sitting room...
while you write a note of appreciation (if appropriate) and tack it on the encouragement board, a service
thoughtfully provided by a resident.
After this you can view the rest of the Common House and look into one of ten offices used by residents in their
businesses. Continuing on you then may travel...
downstairs to the laundry room. Three washers and three dryers serve 30 households!
Next door is the mat room - a general purpose area used for yoga/meditation in the morning, bigger kids play
area in the afternoon, and occasional meetings.
In the alcove off the mat room is the reuse room. Have something you don't want
anymore but it's still too good to throwout? Bring it to the reuse room.
Need new shoes/clothes/books/toys but don't want to pay the price?
Find it in the reuse room. There's never a charge, and it's a great way to recycle.
And that's most of it. The purpose of the Common House is to provide communally what you might otherwise
need in an individual home.
Now let's take a walk in the 'hood. Notice that the main thoroughfare is used as
a walkway and bicycle path and not a road..
making it easy to have a kids' sandbox right on the path. (Just add kids and stir)
All houses in both neighborhoods are duplexes with the front doors facing the 'street'.
The houses were constructed to be adequate in size, while keeping in mind that a lighter the ecological footprint
is better. They are very comfortable as this living room...
and bedroom attest.
District heating is the norm in the first neighborhood.This means that an
'Energy Center' houses...
twin gas boilers that heat six to eight units at thes ame time through a system of underground piping.
All homes in the village are super-insulated and utilize passive solar. As a village we use about 40%
less natural gas and electricity than other homes in the Northeast.
We hope this gives you a 'flavor' of the First Resident Group (or FROG). It has come along way since the
early days when there was no landscaping and no paved paths... But now let us go west of this common
house and visit...
the Second Neighorhood Group or SoNG
SoNG is the younger 'hood and houses do not adhere to a uniform house-model as found in FROG.
Landscaping still continues in SoNG.
Above is a schematic of the SoNG Common House. It was designed by an architect to fit the needs and budget
of the residents and generally finished in 2005. However...
due to budget constraints, this is what actually got built. Unlike FROG, it is located in the center of the
neighborhood with houses on either side. Note community garden on your left and recently built arbor.
Dwellings are laid out differently in SoNG, and open up into a large open area in the center. Use of this area
is yet to be determined, but may include play, plantings,and benches.
Now let's take a look inside an atypical SoNG house. (There are really no typical houses).
Here is the cheerful kitchen bathed in light from a southern view (all FROG and SoNG houses
face true south) ...
which flows into a dining/living room downstairs.
Upstairs, the master bedroom has a door that opens onto a balcony.
From the balcony you can clearly see the viewgap in the
neighborhood's center. It was designed so that the Common
House windows would have a southern vista.
This duplex is heated by a small, 92% efficient gas heater
which is typical for most of SONG.
In addition, almost half of SoNG homes have photovoltaics on the roof and generate electricity from the sun.
Some even have solar hot water (vertical tubes)
Now let's journey to the end of SoNG and look back at the Common House of the first neighborhood.
This gives you an idea of how large this neighborhood is. Both FROG and SoNG consist of 30 households
and are fully occupied with around 120 adults and about 60 children who range in age from toddlers to
people in their 80s. (figures vary over time)
But there is more to see than just the neighborhoods. EcoVillage at Ithaca lies on 175 acres of land
of which the two neighborhoods take up seven acres or less.
Actually, a minimum of 80% of the land is preserved as open space allowing for wildlife, recreation and
organic agriculture to coexist with cohousing.
There are many magical spaces in EcoVillage, and we wish to preserve them.
We also serve as land stewards as part of the larger cohousing community.
Therefore, education is an important part of the EcoVillage mission. We are partnering with Ithaca College
and the National Science Foundation to educate a new generation of students in sustainable management.
Here local ecoforester Mike DeMunn assists students in building a deer enclosure to help restore forest
biodiversity by protecting tree seedlings endangered by overgrazing deer.
Because of our educational commitment and outreach, we have attracted many
international visitors including Kioykazu Shidara, founder and Director of the
Permaculture Institute in Japan. While here he helped us gain a greater
understanding of permaculture principles.
But let's get back to our virtual walking tour. To the South of SoNG a chicken coop houses chickens.
Sometimes the chickens get out and follow feeders back to the houses.
(Photo by Bob Nickelsberg, TIME Magazine)
Continuing east, a sauna built by local residents appears (note the sod roof).
which can and has provided space for 10-15 people at a time.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the village pond, which provides swimming in summer,
skating in winter and fire protection for both neighborhoods.
There are also open fields for outdoor play...
(Photo by Stephanie Greenwood)
and community celebrations such as May Day.
And at the eastern end of FROG you will find a greenhouse belonging to West Haven Farm.
It is used for starting and growing crops as part of the eleven acre organic Community Supported Agriculture
(CSA) farm on the land.
Community Supported Agriculture is a topic in itself. Visitors who wish to learn more about this
subject and take a tour of the farm...
should visit West Haven Farm. CSA members shown here are helping out at the annual Weed-n-Feed on the
But now it's time to end our tour and head back to the neighborhood.
We hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of EcoVillage. If you'd like to take an actual tour, see our Visiting
page for further information. (Photo by Tim Allen)