Ecovillage at Ithaca Website for Ecovillage at Ithaca and its educational non-profit Learn@EcovillageIthaca Thu, 20 Oct 2016 14:40:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cleaning Up Junked Cars Tue, 18 Oct 2016 21:32:33 +0000 Young adults lead trek to dismantle car

Ray Vanek Johnson and others lead trek to dismantle car

Dissassembling a car

Disassembling a car

While walking much of the 175 acres of EVI land a few years ago, a young EcoVillage teenager , Ray Vanek, noticed much litter left from the previous owners, especially two cars abandoned in the woods. He thought this was not pleasant to look at as well as it not being healthy for the environment.  So he decided to do something about of it.  With the aid of his father, who helped him put together a plan to break up the cars, he put out the call for volunteers on the EcoVillage list serve, got some willing workers and cut up and carried out both of these cars over a period of time.

He was concerned that breaking up the cars and hauling them to a local recycler would require tools to which he did not have access, but was relieved to find that most of this dismembering could be done with a battery powered electric hacksaw and a refrigerator dolly. For the heavier pieces the village provided a tractor with a front-end loader to lift the engine into a member donated pickup truck. All this work did not happen over night and required a number of work parties over a series of months to complete.


Using an electric hacksaw to dismantle car

And complete it they did on September 16 of 2016 when the engine block was taken to the local scrap metal dealer for actual money in return. The teenager, Ray Vanek, now a young adult and a budding environmentalist, is happy with the results, but sees that more could be done to clean up and restore the land. He envisions more work parties in the near future to help restore the land to its natural state.

Carrying heavy axle

Carrying a heavy axle

Adding to collection

Adding to the collection


All set to take to the scrap metal dealer

Net-Zero Energy Building Design Workshop Fri, 07 Oct 2016 03:04:51 +0000 Monday, October 31, 2016 and Tuesday, November 1, 2016

This two-day training will focus on design and construction details to achieve net-zero energy use in new buildings. Join Ian Shapiro, founder of Taitem Engineering and co-author of the book Green Building Illustrated (Wiley, 2014) and author of the recently released Energy Audits and Improvements for Commercial Buildings (Wiley, 2016) and Liz Walker, co-founder of EcoVillage Ithaca, and Executive Director of its educational arm, Learn@Ecovillage, as they address fundamentals and strategies for zero energy design. Cohousing and ecovillage concepts will be covered as well as site visits to homes and commercial community buildings at EcoVillage’s three cohousing neighborhoods, emphasizing different green building approaches, styles and details, culminating in the newest neighborhood called TREE, one of the largest Passivhaus developments in North America, which includes a number of net zero homes.

Register for this event at :
A limited number of scholarships are available for students, women and low-income participants. Contact Liz Walker to apply at or (607) 272-5149.

Please see full details via the Word document here!

DROUGHT and the Farmer Mon, 18 Jul 2016 21:55:10 +0000 Climate change impacts us all, but the erratic weather it brings is especially hard on farmers, all over the world. Here in the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY, we are known for abundant water. So the recent dry spell with just 12% of the usual rain for the first two months of the growing season has been very tough. Wells and irrigation ponds have dried up, the grass has turned to “potato chip” texture, and our own three farms have been suffering.

EcoVillage irrigation pond runs dry.  Photo: Frank Muller

EcoVillage irrigation pond runs dry. Photo: Frank Muller

The following are excerpts from the last two CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) newsletters from West Haven Farm (on EVI land), written by Jen Bokaer-Smith.

June 28 and 29 CSA Newsletter

Here’s a little game: how many synonyms do you know for “dry”?  Maybe we should have a contest!  Also, how is it possible to be both dry and humid??  This is a combo we haven’t seen much since we started farming in 1992.  The irrigation pond is more like a mud puddle than a pond at this point, and the bull frogs are upset by the frog to water ratio.  We’re starting to see different kinds of birds around the pond— maybe some kind of kingfisher?  The eating is pretty good there, if you are a frog- or fish-eating bird.  Tomorrow John will call Bolton Point and make arrangements for them to put a huge water meter/backflow preventer on the fire hydrant outside the barn, so we can draw water from it.  We’ll stop pumping from the “pond” and pay the town to use municipal water for irrigation until it starts raining again and the pond can recharge.

July 5 and 6 CSA Newsletter.

I am sorry to complain about the weather part, but it really is bad.  We figured out that at our place we’ve had less than one inch of rain total in May and June–usually we get 6-8 inches during that period.  The deficit means that even with all of the watering we’re doing, the soil profile is profoundly dry very far down, so it’s taking more and more water to keep the soil wet.  Plus it’s been really windy, and that doesn’t help.  Last week I reported that John was going to get the town to open the hydrant in front of the barn so we could start using that water, now that the irrigation pond is a murky puddle.  Hooking up to town water requires a big backflow prevention device, to prevent messing up the integrity of the municipal water supply.  In previous droughts we’ve been able to borrow a backflow preventer from the town.  This time, it turns out lots of folks have the same idea—for example, the Ithaca City School District is watering sports fields—so there are no backflow preventers available from the town. Urgh.  If one isn’t returned to the town in the next few days we’re going to have to buy one ourselves.  Did we already say urgh?  This is like farming in California!  Except that we have winter.  At least we know here that at some point it’s bound to start raining again.

The crops are getting watered, and so they are growing.

Piloting Dynamic Governance Mon, 18 Jul 2016 21:21:22 +0000 by Mark Piechota

LEARN has planted the seed, and it is sprouting in the TREE neighborhood!

New Roots High School participates in DG Workshop Photo: Jim Bosjolie

New Roots High School participates in DG Workshop Photo: Jim Bosjolie

Over the past few years LEARN has been helping EcoVillage expand its understanding of how cohousing communities might organize and govern themselves more efficiently, more transparently and more kindly. Spearheaded by TREE resident Luigi Morelli and a small number of other residents, LEARN has brought visitors to the village to talk about “Dynamic Governance” (DG, also known as “Sociocracy.”) It has encouraged residents to take an on-line course in the subject, and it has co-sponsored a three-day weekend workshop in dynamic governance.

This partnership between the neighborhood and LEARN has deepened and is beginning to blossom. From these efforts a core group of residents spent three months crafting a proposal for piloting this new governance system, in April 2016 the TREE neighborhood approved the proposal, and in mid-June 2016 the eighteen-month pilot in “dynamic governance” launched.

DG involves changes both in structure and in processes.

Our multiple committees are now grouped into four decision-making Work Circles.

  • PALS (plants, animals, and land/water stewards)
  • Buildings & Grounds
  • Neighborhood Life
  • Administration

Each of the Work Circles has decision-making power in its sphere of responsibility and ensures that work gets done. With this power comes the responsibility for keeping the neighborhood informed about important imminent issues and decisions, and for making an effort to consider all perspectives as it crafts its final decisions.

A Coordinating Circle, composed of a leader and delegate from each work circle, coordinates, archives and communicates to the total membership the activities and decisions of the Work Circles.

The most comprehensive circle, composed of all TREE members and named the TREE Circle, makes decisions on major issues (such as significant/permanent changes to our community’s built environment, to our governance structure or to our financial, residential or legal responsibilities).  It also gathers for “community conversations” in order for the Work Circles to get broader input from TREE members.  And TREE anticipates joining together for celebrations and getting to know each other better through story telling, games, and other informal events.

Circle meetings and decision-making are guided by dynamic governance process guidelines:

  • In elections for filling roles,
  • In producing proposals that are reviewed at specified points in time and can be readily revised,
  • In decision-making that uses objections to improve proposals and that tests consent by “good enough for now and safe enough to try.”

Over the eighteen months, TREE will evaluate the pilot, refine the structures and processes as needed, and finally decide whether to continue with the structures and processes of dynamic governance, modify them, or return to TREE’s current mode of governance.

As the leader of the DG Team, I can say that TREE is thankful to LEARN for ‘planting the seed’ and inspiring us to undertake this adventure.

For a brief introduction to Dynamic Governance for intentional communities
take a look at this video

When Our Friends in Community Need Long-term Care Mon, 18 Jul 2016 14:38:41 +0000 By Martha Stettinius

Imagine…living in a home you love…in a neighborhood you love…throughout your growing older years. From go-go healthy aging through the Deep Aging™ years when need and frailty could dictate a move to a nursing home…imagine instead living in the bosom of your community. Is that possible?

The author with her mom, Judy, in a nursing home.

The author with her mom, Judy, in a nursing home.

Having helped care for aging parents, many boomers and Gen Xers are drawn to cohousing as a way to age not “in place” but “in community.” In fact, quite a few older, retired visitors to EcoVillage Ithaca (EVI) say that they’d love to move here “at some point” but that they are “not quite ready.” Their comments imply that they see cohousing as an alternative to assisted living or even nursing home care.

Is that view realistic? Have any cohousing communities truly found a solution to the need for long-term care? Certainly it’s painful to build intimate friendships with our neighbors over years or decades only to watch them need more assistance with day-to-day tasks from driving, cooking, and cleaning to “activities of daily living” such as bathing, dressing, walking, and transferring. If a resident cannot afford to hire enough help, or if they have a cognitive impairment that makes it difficult for them to coordinate care on their own, friends and neighbors can feel stress as well as compassion.

In May, two of us from EVI joined 250 attendees at the Cohousing Association of the United States’ annual conference “Aging Better, Together: The Power of Community,” the first US cohousing conference to look closely at questions of aging in community.  Deena Freed, one of the founding members of EVI’s first neighborhood (FRoG) and a founding member of our Community Health and Aging Team (CHAT), and I were hoping that in the bustling Salt Lake City conference center we would find “the answer.” About a quarter of the presentations and breakout sessions focused squarely on long-term and end-of life care. Surely, we thought, another cohousing community has already grappled with these issues and found the solution!

Alas, the bad news according to experts at the conference is that no cohousing community in the world has figured out a way to help every resident receive the care they need to age in their home as long as they want to. Even the first senior cohousing communities that started in the US 15 years ago, whose members are now mostly over the age of 70, have no answers. Some senior cohousing communities, for example, included “caregiver suites” in their common houses with the intention of hiring a caregiver to provide hands-on care, but no community has hired such a caregiver or created guidelines around hiring and supervising a caregiver. And many of us at EVI have found that when we try to provide co-care for more than one resident at a time, people can struggle with “compassion fatigue.” Coordinating care can be complex and emotionally fraught.

The good news is that cohousing communities are all starting to have the same conversations, and we are trying to figure it out together! An exciting development, for example, is the Aging in Community Collaboratory developed by Janice Blanchard, a gerontologist and an international expert in aging in community. According to the Collaboratory website, in the spring of 2016 “22 individuals representing 8 cohousing communities and several unaffiliated cohousing enthusiasts” came together at Takoma Village Cohousing in Washington, DC. They will continue to work together online and in person for a year to custom-design co-care programs for individual communities that uniquely address their particular cohousing circumstances. The Collaboratory (a combination of “collaboration” and “laboratory”) is sponsored by Mid Atlantic Cohousing and co-facilitated at Takoma by Ann Zabaldo, the co-presenter of Blanchard’s breakout sessions at the “Aging Better, Together” conference.

EVI’s CHAT may seek grant funding to allow several EVI residents from each of our 3 neighborhoods to join the Collaboratory for the next cycle. Participants in the Collaboratory are motivated by the following vision and question:

EcoVillage residents play with Earth Ball". Photo credit: Jim Bosjolie

EcoVillage residents play with Earth Ball. Photo credit: Jim Bosjolie

Imagine…living in a home you love…in a neighborhood you love…throughout your growing older years. From go-go healthy aging through the Deep Aging™ years when need and frailty could dictate a move to a nursing home…imagine instead living in the bosom of your community. Is that possible?

Blanchard pointed out that with 10,000 boomers in the US turning 70 every day, long-term care is the “elephant in the living room” in cohousing. Although she believes that “cohousing is the best model of aging in community,” she says that “where the rubber hits the road is when we move beyond the glow of ‘active, vibrant aging’ into the shadows of our ‘twilight years.’” Absolutely no one in cohousing, she says, is willing to serve as a nursing aide, to help their friends and neighbors with long-term hands-on care for activities of daily living. So how, she asks, will these needs be met—particularly for middle-income folks with limited resources?

Is cohousing—including senior cohousing—viable for elders only if they are active and healthy (or wealthy), or can it truly serve as a model of how an intentional community can support all stages of the life cycle? After all, 70% of Americans 65 and older today will need an average of 3 years of long-term care—and for women the average is 5 years. It’s highly unlikely that a cohousing resident will be out kayaking one day and then die in their sleep.

Friendship, Intimacy, and Long-term Care: In cohousing, the aging friend who gradually needs more help lives not across town but a few feet down the path. After eating dinner with him at common house meals for years, after going out to concerts with him and to the Friends of the Library sale, after visiting him in the hospital and sharing holiday dinners and going for walks, how can we then look the other way when he needs help with shopping or driving or cooking? Will we wince when, a few years later, he needs help with more hands-on care and may need our assistance to coordinate it? What if that friend is one of the 22% of elders who are “elder orphans” with no family members to watch out for them? Does the intimacy we’ve built through years of friendship end when it comes to the “twilight years” between active aging and death? As vulnerable, frail human beings, we need each other; interdependence, not independence, keeps us strong.

Income and Time:  Of course, much of long-term care comes down to resources—of money and time. Is aging in cohousing only for the upper middle-class with the financial resources to hire help? Or can cohousing serve as an alternative for those of us who are likely to have to “spend down” our savings and impoverish ourselves to qualify for Medicaid-funded nursing home care? How many residents have the time to help coordinate care or provide meals, transportation and other care needs for their neighbors? Many of us in multigenerational cohousing, for example, are “sandwich generation” caregivers already stressed by caring for both children and aging parents, or we work full-time.

Building Community Support for Long-term Care: Blanchard recommends that cohousing communities build partnerships with outside organizations (such as the Village-to-Village network) so we’re not trying to do everything on our own. We also need to create care committees in our cohousing communities to coordinate assistance and support caregivers—committees that are elected and valued by our whole communities. And we need to define what level of co-care (if any) we are willing to provide. As Blanchard says, “we don’t need perfect solutions—just solutions that are good enough to get us through.”

EVI Presentation:  Deena and I found Janice’s breakout sessions particularly helpful, but we took copious notes throughout the conference and interviewed multiple speakers and attendees. We then presented our notes at a presentation at EVI in June. Over 50 EcoVillagers and a dozen special guests interested in aging in community participated in this discussion, including representatives from Ithaca’s new Village-to-Village Network nonprofit Love Living at Home, the county Office for the Aging, The Eden Alternative, and Binghamton University.

Looking Ahead:  Presentations and conversations at the “Aging Better, Together” conference implied that more and more cohousing villages are starting to look at long-term care in community as what one panel member called “cohousing’s natural fruition.” In the meantime, EVI continues to grapple with the national conundrum of long-term care on a very local scale. Our Community Health and Aging Team has been up and running for 4 years, leading discussions around many issues related to long-term and end-of-life care, and coordinating care, mostly short-term, for a few residents, but we still have much work to do. Twenty-four percent of our 240 residents are age 60 or over, while a typical rate “outside” is approximately 13%. Thanks to the “Aging Better, Together” conference, we more fully understand the challenges ahead and look forward to learning from and building bridges with other cohousing groups and outside organizations. Together we can do what we cannot do alone!


To receive a copy of the EVI presentation about the cohousing conference “Aging Better, Together: The Power of Community,” email Martha at Also, CHAT is seeking donations to cover the cost of Martha and Deena’s travel to the conference. Checks can be made out to Deena Freed and mailed to 110 Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca, NY  14950.  Thank you.

Martha Stettinius, Author

Martha Stettinius, Author

Martha Stettinius, who has lived at EcoVillage Ithaca with her husband and two children for 18 years and serves on the Community Health and Aging Team steering committee, is the author of the acclaimed book Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir.


Highlights of the Year: 2016 Annual Report Fri, 15 Jul 2016 22:12:42 +0000 2016 Annual Report - EcoVillage IthacaWhat is Learn@EcoVillage Ithaca and how are we making a difference?

We’re pleased to share our 2016 Annual Report with you. From working with National Geographic, to training professionals in green building design, to mentoring budding cohousing groups, there is a lot going on! You can read more here. (PDF)

From the Archives, Summer 1995: The Land Connection Tue, 12 Jul 2016 22:10:02 +0000 By Judy Green
Photo: Bill Webber

Photo: Bill Webber

Agriculture is a fundamental part of our vision for Eco Village at Ithaca. One of the most exciting aspects of our project is that we have the opportunity to keep a spectacu­larly beautiful piece of Tompkins County farmland in production.

The master site plan preserves most of our 176 acres as open space and minimizes the encroachment of housing and roadways onto our prime agricultural soils. But protecting farmland is only the beginning. Our plan is to develop an ecologically sound, economically viable farm business, or businesses, which will provide food for the village, keep land and soils productive, and provide a decent livelihood for one or more farming households. In the long run, agriculture and other land based activities may become the foundation of a truly sustainable, community-centered economy. In the meantime, the Agriculture and Land-Use Committee has suggested a set of working goals to help the Eco Village community make decisions about agriculture and land use issues.

The role of animals

Since many of us in Eco Village are vegetarians, the question of the place of farm animals in our community is a sensitive one. Many of us feel that animals have important contributions to make in an integrated, ecologically sound and community-oriented farming system. For one thing, they would provide our community with the highest quality, humanely raised milk, dairy products, meat, eggs, and wool, and possibly provide income for some of us.

For another, grazing animals such as cows or sheep would make productive and aesthetically pleasing use of our grass­lands resources. A well managed pasture system is, after all, one of the most environmentally friendly and beautiful forms of agriculture! Pigs and chickens can make good use of kitchen scraps, crop residues, and weeds, returning valuable nutrients in the form of meat and manure. And animals can also provide pest management and other services, for example weeder geese, chickens in orchards, pigs for garden tillage and compost-turning, goats for shrub and poison ivy control, horses for draft work and recreation.

But perhaps the most important role of animals is teaching us, and our children, about the interdependence and sacredness of all living things, and about responsibility, love, companionship, nurturing, birth, vitality, sickness and death. It is inevitable that loving and caring for animals also involves taking responsibility for their deaths in certain situations. Just how much of that responsibility we ought to take on is a question with which our community still needs to grapple.

The Agriculture Committee did conduct a survey of First Residents Group households to see, among other things, how much interest there is in consuming meat and dairy products. Based on the responses of 17 households, we estimate that the entire neighborhood of thirty households would need one milk cow, 40 laying hens, 400 broilers (meat chickens), and two pigs each year. The demand for beef is only about 160 pounds per year, far less than the weight of one steer. These results raise an interesting ethical question: Is it preferable to take the lives of 400 chickens each year or one steer? Or, as some will argue, why do either? One thing is clear, though. Determining the most appropriate roles for farm animals in Eco Village is going to be an ongoing discussion for quite a long time.

In the meantime, our chief challenge may be economic: How can we create a system which provides both affordable food for the residents and a fair return for the farmers? Part of the answer will be patience -allowing for the farming operations to grow and expand as Eco Village grows. Part of the answer will be flexibility -encouraging farming households to tap into other marketing opportunities outside of Eco Village in order to piece together a livelihood. And part of the answer may be in educating ourselves about the true cost of producing high quality food in an environmentally and socially-responsible way, resolving to pay the price even if it means compromising on some other aspect of our “standard of living.” After all, discovering and making commitments to a sustainable life-style is the essence of the journey we’ve begun here at Eco Village.

SUNY Potsdam’s Students EcoVillage Experience 2016 Sat, 21 May 2016 14:51:23 +0000 By Jennifer Fernandez

Visiting Potsdam Students (Jennifer is center with hands on hips)

Visiting Potsdam Students (Jennifer is center with hands on hips)

The Ecovillage is an incredible place to learn about sustainable living through an intentional community. This semester in the course “Environment and Society” taught by Dr. Sullivan-Catlin we discussed how the two (environment and society) are related, from conversations on how climate change is affecting our beautiful mother earth and its people to conversations on ways we can work together on a personal and structural level to improve our current environmental crisis.  This semester eight of us took the opportunity to take part in, learn about, and understand the lives of those living in an intentional sustainable community.  Many of us were not even sure what we were getting ourselves into when deciding to take on this learning opportunity.  Some of the students commented:

“It far surpassed my expectations! I am so thankful for everything I’ve learned on this trip.”

“I originally thought this was a bit crazy, but I learned that this place is both innovative and normal in comforting ways! This place is lovely and I would love to live here.”

Students learn community scale compostiing

Students learn community scale composting

“I was able to experience first-hand experience in farming and new life long tips such as composting, working as a community, and resolving conflicts. I would highly recommend this to other students.”

“This definitely met my expectations and hopes, even exceeded some. What you all do here is amazing. I learned more about community, hard-work, and communication here than I have in my college career (thus far).”

We were able to step out of our comfort zones and do things we would not normally do or be able to do within our college setting, such as clearing land for planting along solar arrays, cutting invasive honey-suckle, working on a farm, and learning about composting (which seemed to be everyone’s favorite workshop!). We were all so excited to learn from you all.  Thank you for the hospitality and sharing your insightful knowledgeable experiences with us! We all hope to visit again soon!

Clearing land along solar arrays

Clearing land along solar arrays

2016 Maypole Celebration Sun, 15 May 2016 14:25:36 +0000 After being on hiatus four long years due to Construction of TREE, the Maypole celebration has returned better than ever. The Community Life Committee took responsibility for its revival including selection of a new pole, a place to put it and installation of flowers on top and streamers on it. Then, using bells, drums and whistles, members walked through all three neighborhoods rousting out the residents to participate in the ceremony.

And participate they did, with around 50 community members circling the Maypole to the accompaniment of traditional music played on a hammered dulcimer, bodhran and fiddle. Afterwards, light refreshments were served in the TREE Common House including mead, a honeyed beer popular during the day. A good time was had by all, and the tradition looks promising to continue next year.  Go to for a  brief video of celebration highlights.

Installing flowers on top of pole

Installing flowers on top of pole

Members of the Community Life Committee after installing pole

Members of the Community Life Committee after installing pole

Calling out neighbors to attend the festivities.

Calling out neighbors to attend the festivities.


Picking up people as committee goes through the neighborhood.

Picking up people as committee goes through the neighborhood.

Music providers included a hammered dulcimer, bodhram and fiddle

Music providers included a hammered dulcimer, bodhram and fiddle

All ages could participate.

All ages could participate.


The idea was to weave over and under the ribbons

The idea was to weave over and under the ribbons






Getting from Here to There: Strategic Planning for EcoVillage Education Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:33:00 +0000 by Liz Walker

Vision: We envision a world in which people actively care for each other and the planet.

Mission: We provide transformative learning experiences for growing healthy, just and sustainable communities both locally and globally. We support and draw from a variety of practical and visionary resources, especially the living, learning community of EcoVillage Ithaca.

approved by Learn@EcoVillage Advisory Board, March 20, 2016

After 25 years of working hard to create a living model of an ecologically-oriented community, we’ve now successfully completed our third cohousing neighborhood, making EcoVillage Ithaca the largest, and one of the best-known cohousing communities in the world. It’s good to take a pause at the top of the mountain to consider the view ahead.

Dawn Montanye

Dawn Montanye

Learn@EcoVillage, the small non-profit organization which has provided the engine to bring EcoVillage Ithaca from vision to completion, is now taking time to consider how to best share “lessons learned” with the broader public and to support the Village as residents continue to seek knowledge and grow. Our Advisory Board recently hired resident Dawn Montanye, skilled in program management, to lead a five month Strategic Planning process.

The challenge is how to grow from an organization that has only two part-time staff people, yet serves a national and international audience, to one that has the ongoing funding to provide enough staff to meet the remarkably high demand for education on an integrated approach to sustainable living. This is not a small task!

Compost Workshop. Photo:  Jim Bosjolie

Compost Workshop. Photo: Jim Bosjolie

Over a quarter of EcoVillage adults have taken the time to meet with Dawn one-on-one or in forums to offer their ideas about the future of EcoVillage education. It’s clear that residents are both passionate learners and teachers. They have an interest in deepening their knowledge of topics such as aging in community, addressing climate change, local food production, diversity and equity, among others. They would like to see programs that share the EVI experience, create partnerships with local organizations, and serve low-income and marginalized groups.

In addition to interviewing village residents, Dawn and I have spent about an hour each with 17 different external partners, including representatives of regional colleges and universities, county planners, local business and non-profit leaders, and even national and international movers and shakers in the ecovillage movement.

SUNY Potsdam students. Photo: Jim Bosjolie

SUNY Potsdam students. Photo: Jim Bosjolie

Some striking feedback emerged from these external interviews. EVI and Learn@EcoVillage represent a unique niche in several ways: We’re consistently recognized as one of the top 5-25 sustainable communities in the world. There is more media coverage and more published research about EVI than any other ecovillage. We have special access to mainstream markets (most ecovillages don’t have this cross-over potential.)

The Learn@EcoVillage Advisory Board spent an exciting and productive day together in late March. After distilling lots of information and discussion, two overarching concepts emerged:

  • increase outreach and education to a more racially and economically diverse population of learners
  • provide and support demand driven learning and teaching opportunities for EcoVillage residents.

In addition, four working themes emerged to focus our educational programs:

  1. Youth, especially developing leadership
  2. Developing Sustainable Communities
  3. Aging in Community
  4. Professionals, working to leverage a cleaner, greener energy transition

SUNY Potsdam Alternative Spring Break. Photo: Jim Bosjolie

The Board, Dawn and I will spend the next few months figuring out how to translate these broad themes into workable goals and objectives. It will take a while to see what programs are financially feasible, and how we can best leverage our extensive experiences and the teaching expertise of residents and partners. As we pause on the mountain top, I trust that the path forward will gradually become clear as we find programs that address the deep hunger so many people feel for both community and connection with the Earth.