EcoVillage Ithaca is a rather unique place for children. With cars parked in the back, children can roam freely in 175 acres of nature. There are two ponds to swim in the summer and skate in winter, and several outdoor and indoor playgrounds to fool around. Children get to be free-range kids here; they can simply run over to their friend’s houses to get their friends to play. It’s not unusual here for parents not to know where their child is… and feel good about it! Children are safe and having fun somewhere.
And it’s not unusual to get a phone call from other parents asking if it is ok if your child stays for dinner.
Children of the founding families who’ve grown up here have wonderful memories! They often made life-long friendships that they treasure even as they move away to college or for work.
Nature and community are also a boon for parents. When children are free to play, parenting gets graced with the rarest of things… free time! There is less needs to shuttle children from activity to activity to get them out of the house. Something is always happening. There are blueberries to pick or apple cider to press. The inflatable tube to fool around in the pond. A neighbor has a new pet. Or a grandpa has put out a telescope and kids line up to marvel at the moon. The pressure of entertaining children doesn’t rest on parent’s shoulders so much.
Children make special bonds with adults whose interest they share. A musically inclined child might spend time with one of the many musicians in the village; another one hangs out with an adult in the wood shop, creating a bow and arrow. There are grandparents and retired people who love to spend time with children of the village. When parents feel overwhelmed, it’s easy to call on a neighbor to be with the children for a while. Oh, and then there are three of four common meals every week, which gives parents a break from cooking and cleaning up, if they want.
A first wave of children has grown up here and is starting to move out. A new generation of families has started to move in, and bring with them new ideas and energy. If you are curious about parenting here, and might like to join them, contact us. We are looking forward to getting to know you and your children.
Click here for a longer piece about parenting in community written by one of the dads in the village. And click here for a letter Gabe, on of the children who grew up here wrote on his 18th birthday.